open thread – May 6-7, 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 :)

{ 1,130 comments… read them below }

  1. Random Reader*

    I’m a part of a new task force trying to develop formal ways for employee recognition and appreciation. What are some of the ways your company appreciates you? It could be tangible things (money, physical awards) or less tangible (certain perks).

    1. costume teapot*

      Newcompany has a spot bonus program for big project related good jobs. They also have a monthly co-worker recognition program and they enter all recognized co-workers into a raffle for an e-gift certificate.

      1. Edward Rooney*

        My old company had a drawing once a month where other employees could enter people who helped make their life easier that month for a preferred parking spot in the garage.

      1. Spooky*

        Agreed! My company buys us all lunch every Friday, and it’s such a nice treat. Plus, it’s a great way to bond.

        1. INFJ*

          I also agree. You’d be surprised how much closer everyone feels after having a lunch out at a nearby restaurant, or even just a catered dessert party in a conference room for the department.

      2. Amy M in HR*

        Agreed. Our Director literally just bought the entire office doughnuts 30 minutes ago, a small gesture but it is so nice to walk into the break room and see boxes of goodies to eat! We do occasionally have lunch catered for the office as well and it is such an easy but appreciated gesture.

      3. Charlotte Collins*

        Just don’t forget to invite everyone involved to the lunch. There are still some feelings in my department from someone being forced to work late on a Friday unexpectedly right before the holidays to get something done just to undo it the following Monday and redo it all later. Then not get invited to the thank-you lunch for the project.

        1. The Strand*

          Wow, I would be looking for new employment tout suite if I was treated that way, after a rush project that was needed not once but twice. I can’t blame them a bit.

      4. Arielle*

        Food is great and I love a free lunch, but make sure it’s reasonably accommodating. Obviously you can’t cater to every single dietary need out there, but recognizing the more common ones (vegetarian, gluten free, nut allergy) goes a long way. Sitting with an empty plate while everyone else enjoys a reward of food you can’t eat is worse than getting nothing at all.

        1. A Teacher*

          Yep. It is teacher appreciation week and the PTO kindly bought us lunch-pulled pork is the main staple. A few of the teachers can’t eat it because they can’t eat pork due to religious observations. There are no vegetarian options. Pork, baked beans, and some potato thing I avoided.

      5. Rowan*

        If you go with office-wide food, just remember to account for a range of food restrictions and preferences. As the gluten-free vegetarian in the office, nothing bums me out more than a food treat (e.g., special donuts) or regular perk (like catered lunch on Fridays) that I can’t participate in.

      6. Lily Evans*

        Also, make sure you provide a lunch everyone can eat. My old job had a big lunch meeting and we were all pretty pumped for free lunch, it was really hyped up… then we got there and the big free lunch was just a deli platter. In an office where I think over 1/4 of the staff were vegetarians. They didn’t even provide hummus or anything that could be a protein substitute for the meat. Not even tuna, which I’ll eat when there’s no other option. Even the pasta salad side dish thing had meat. I had a delicious lettuce, tomato, and mayo sandwich that day and never trusted the offer of free lunch again.

          1. FiveWheels*

            Same here. I’m funny about what food I enjoy and dread any event with a set menu.

          2. Lily Evans*

            That’s what I normally do, but that day they’d literally been talking about this lunch for weeks in advance. It was a Big Thing. And the director of the department was one of the vegetarians, so I thought that surely there’d be a veggie option! But no. There were just tomatoes, that thick green lettuce that’s closer to a garnish than anything truly edible, carrots (which I have a bizarro allergy to), and red onions (ick).

            I’ve also run into trouble since I’m apparently the only vegetarian in the world who doesn’t think mushrooms and/or peppers are super delicious.

            1. Jay*

              Lily , finally one other person who thinks vegetarian options need not always be mushroom, squash or eggplant :-). Get the falafel, hummus or bean burrito or even veg chili.

          3. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

            I bring my own food, too. My dietary restrictions mean I’d go hungry the rest of the day during these food days if I didn’t.

    2. Florida*

      Not my current company, but I worked for a company once that rewarded employees by giving them a free casual day. (The company had a business casual dress code and super casual on Fridays. So the perk meant you could wear jeans/t-shirt any day.) This was highly coveted by employees and cost nothing to the employer.

      1. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

        Evil Law Firm allowed us to wear jeans every day for about four or five months as a thank-you for working the insane amounts of OT we were required to work.

        I think we all would have preferred cash.

    3. cjb1*

      Food, gift cards, even private email kudos from management is appreciated (not public announcements because as an introvert, that makes me feel super awkward)

      1. Feline*

        Acknowledgement directly from management. Not in a public meeting, which is when management thinks this sort of thing is most coveted, but by email or by dropping by your desk and saying “way to go.” Public kudos are mortifying to introverts, and they feel staged so that they’re to benefit management as well as the employee. Privately showing appreciation seems much more genuine.

        1. Trill*

          Yes!
          I once got a handwritten note mailed to my house from a VP of the huge hospital I worked for thanking me for my work after I received a top rating on my annual review. It only would have taken her a minute or two to write, but the fact that she made that effort to send it really made me feel valued.

    4. Beancounter in Texas*

      Money always feels nice. My former employer (small business) would cash out the credit card rewards points and get $50 gift cards to Target & WalMart, from which everyone picked one. The boss also had a TJ Maxx credit card (interior design company) and she’d hand out the $20 & $10 coupons that came with the credit card statement to employees. Those coupons are valid for a year!

      I temped with an office that had just won a competition with other departments and their reward was casual dress (i.e. nice jeans) everyday for a month. That was awesome.

    5. Rat Racer*

      If your company has the capital to give financial bonuses, I think these are always universally appreciated. Anything else may be appreciated by some but not others.

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        Adding my own data point here, I had a small bonus last year for helping win a pitch, and honestly, because it got rolled into my monthly salary, which was then direct debited into the household bank account and swallowed up into general expenses or savings, it just didn’t really feel that special and I quickly forgot about it.

        I think it would have made more of an impact on me if it was something I could immediately, tangibly enjoy – say a free half-day or a gift (always tricky, I know) announced with a little fanfare.

        I’m talking from the specific perspective here of someone who doesn’t live paycheck-to-paycheck and (apart from a mortgage) is debt-free.

      2. Honeybee*

        This. My company does financial bonuses that are a percentage of your income based on your performance and your contribution to the business.

    6. lfi*

      your birthday as a holiday was always a fun one. ;)

      my previous boss would always leave little notes saying that she appreciated my hard work on project x, so that always made me feel good too.

    7. Olive Hornby*

      My company gives cash (in the form of prepaid debit cards.) It’s pretty ideal, since other kinds of gifts might not be to everyone’s taste (watches, etc.), might be a hassle to use (certain gift cards), or might put the recipient in an awkward spot (gifts of food or liquor, especially, for vegetarians, abstainers, or those with allergies.)

    8. Charlotte Collins*

      My mother worked for a company that didn’t have assigned/special parking for C-suite staff, but did have special, closer parking for employees that had met certain goals or deserved some other type of recognition. I always thought this was a really great idea. The costs are very low, but the public recognition with an actual benefit must have been great.

      I worked for the Mouse years ago, and all employees used to get free tickets to the parks twice a year. It was a very popular program.

    9. Apollo Warbucks*

      E cards for a thank you and an option to include a gift card for a good bit of work that deserves a reward

    10. the.kat*

      I occasionally get gift cards inside a thank you card signed by the person I’ve done work for. I think the personal touch makes it feel extra special. Knowing that this person (the CEO) picked out a card and a gift card and signed it (even if he had his AA do the shopping) is nice.

      1. alter_ego*

        I was recently on the receiving end of this and I almost cried. It was totally unexpected and made a huge impact. I had had another company courting me, and it was a not insignificant factor in my decision to stay.

    11. Dawn*

      Make sure that your motivational efforts appeal to as many people as possible by having different types of motivation. Monetary, recognition, free food (such as breakfast or catered lunch once a quarter or whatever), “free” casual day like has been mentioned… different people are motivated by different things. For me, free food or a gift card are not a motivator at all, but if a SVP stopped by my desk to personally thank me for my hard work? Dude I will work overtime for a month and smile the entire time if that happens.

          1. Anon for This One...*

            I’d want it in writing to put in a review, which could theoretically put it in my paycheck down the road. :)

    12. RachelR*

      My company has a ping pong table and ps4, and, most importantly, trusts us to manage our time enough that we can use them during business hours when we need a break.

      1. HRG*

        I would love to play the occasional game of ping pong during work. I wish my office had this!

    13. KG*

      My company gives and extra day on long weekends during the summer. Meaning, if Monday was a holiday the office also closes on the Friday prior. We are also closed the week between Christmas and New Years.

      1. Klem*

        That is so great! As an admin, I’ve always had to work the week between Christmas and New Years. For some reason, management insists on keeping the office open, but everyone takes vacation, so there I am alone for what feels like the longest week of the year.

    14. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Mostly money, but accommodations, too. We get bonuses, and sometimes small gift cards for various things, including incentives to participate in health or commuting surveys, or for internal awards. We also have health and environmental initiatives, many of which were an employee’s idea but that the officers have decided to officially (and financially) support. The last part, feeling listened to, really helps.

    15. Your Weird Uncle*

      Not my company, but one that we work with, has a program where every year they select five employees to choose the art for their office. They have a huge campus with an eclectic feel, and it’s amazing to wander through it to see the art selection. It ranges from paintings of chickens to dog statues to human sculptures, and anything in between.

      Their perks are also amazing. They range from:
      free drinks (smoothies, espresso, lattes, etc.)
      subsidized chef-prepared meals
      a multi-floor slide (!)
      smore-making equipment (they have fireplaces dotted around the campus)
      individual offices for *every* employee
      a tree house retreat on campus
      employee-input into the new ‘theme’ of their office buildings (ranging from the Yoda parking lot to a Hogwarts-inspired castle office building)
      …and god knows what else. They have a ridiculous work/life balance, so they take really good care of their employees.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        I’ll trust you, but to me it sounds like they *don’t* have work-life balance — they expect you to spend every waking moment at the office campus, so they make it as nice/comfortable/”fun” as possible so it becomes your “life”. Beware the company cafeteria!

        1. Your Weird Uncle*

          You’re right; I meant that the work/life balance is ridiculously skewed in one direction (you can guess which way).

        2. paramilitarykeet*

          But….but..individual offices for every employee! I’m in an open office plan now and I think I would do ( almost) anything to get my office back.

      2. Emily*

        I’m pretty sure I know what company you’re talking about! The campus is fun to walk around, although I’ve heard really mixed things about actually working there.

        1. Your Weird Uncle*

          It is a fun campus! But yeah, I’m glad I don’t work there…I’ve heard the same things about it. Still, they hire a lot people out of my department (I work in higher ed) and since they give us a few nice perks, I’m not complaining.

      3. Windchime*

        Hey! I know where you work. I’ve been to your campus. Awesome place to visit, but yes–my impression is that they work you guys to death.

        1. Windchime*

          Oh, I see now that you don’t work there but you work *with* them. My company works with them as well and I have visited there a half-dozen times. Great campus, but they work their employees to death and most burn out within a year or two.

    16. De Minimis*

      Office-wide food on a semi-regular basis–we live in a city where every type of diet can be easily accommodated so it works out for us.

      We also have fairly generous leave, but that wouldn’t work for everyone.

    17. Tuxedo Cat*

      My employer has coupons employees can give each other for helping out. You redeem the coupons with the office admin assistants for treats (Oreo packs, king-sized candy bars, etc.).

      The company basically lets you bribe people with chocolate, and they provide the chocolate.

    18. ModernHypatia*

      I was on the inaugural committee for this at my previous job (public university, small campus) for staff: we did yearly nominations for seven awards (three broad categories by job type, one for people in their first couple of years there who’d made a big impact, one for people who’d been there for 25+ years, one for people who went way above and beyond, and one that could be changed year to year.)

      We sent cards to everyone nominated (with names of who nominated + a couple of sentences of why they were nominated, if the nominators gave permission), plus they got a reserved parking space they could have placed in any campus parking lot for the year. We encouraged them to bring their families and friends to a late afternoon party, and got someone who’d nominated them to speak about why they’d done a great job. (When I left, there was work on a website so info about people’s work could be up all the time, and there’d be a way to recognise particular departments or groups for projects.)

      My current workplace regularly arranges free tickets (because of the organization, we get a bunch donated too – cultural events, sports, etc.), book giveaways, occasional food events. There’s also a special recognition program: people can be nominated by anyone on campus. There’s a moderate amount of money that comes with that one, but I’m not clear how much, plus info about the person is shared on our intranet.

      1. ModernHypatia*

        Oh, and to add now I’ve seen comments about public vs. private recognition: We told people who’d won in advance, and announced it in email, so there wasn’t a surprise. It also meant that if someone really wanted to opt out of the party bit, they could, or if they were okay with being there, but not having someone say things about them, they could do that.

    19. Kyrielle*

      Things that have worked in the past:
      1) Money, or generic gift cards (Amazon or better yet, Visa). Specific gift cards only work if the giver knows the recipient as well as they think they do…I was grateful for the *thought* with the Starbucks gift card. My husband was more grateful for it than I was, since he actually will drink coffee and likes Starbucks. :) Yes, reasonable raises are also in this category.

      2) Food _can_ work, but be wary and make sure you know restrictions. I am very very unmotivated by pizza, for example. (On the other hand, fresh fruit, especially Edible Arrangements style, is kinda awesome. But I had a coworker who had to really limit his intake of fruit because of health issues. It varies!)

      3) Actual thank-yous. No, seriously, an emailed thank-you note is better than some of the “recognition” I’ve been given over the years. Especially if, when not coming from my boss, he is copied on it. :) Physical thank you cards are nice too, or saying it in the moment.

      4) Schedule flexibility for those who can perform well with it and whose job allows for it.

      Things that I have seen in the past that do not work well on average* in my experience:
      A) Cheesy “reward” objects, either given directly or selected through one of those horrible “employee recognition gifts” catalog by the employee. I cannot say how demotivating it is to put in your all, miss weekends with your family (or at least most of the waking hours thereof!), get something done…and be told that because you didn’t *travel* while doing it, you’re not eligible for the $250 restaurant gift card, but you can have your choice of various costume jewelry, a stand-alone spell check device (when, um, we do our job on computers), a ‘keep your dip warm’ crock pot that can’t actually get hot enough to cook, or various other similar-quality kitsch. And my X years of service pin? Well, at least it was small and easy to store. When would I ever use that?

      B) Winners anything, because it makes for losers. Either you’re recognizing them or you’re not, but don’t tie a desirable award to the “best” above and beyond in any given time frame. Either they went above and beyond or they didn’t. This is not a bell curve. (I realize more or less money will be spent on different people, and different people may have done more or less. I’m thinking here of the program where, no matter how many people did what, there was always one ‘best’ person per month. It added competition to what otherwise would have been a fairly nice recognition.)

      C) _Try_ not to make the recipient uncomfortable? Some people adore public recognition by being posted on some internal web site. Some people hate it and are demotivated by that because they don’t want you to single them out that way. I know that figuring out who is who can be hard; asking is potentially a good approach.

      But seriously…thank you notes. Earnest, honest, thank you notes. And money.

      * I do know people who loved getting some of these. But it’s not universal enough, IMX.

    20. Hillary*

      I used to work somewhere that did a candy bar and a $10 gift certificate to the gas station up the street (everyone drove) for small recognition – it was always a nice surprise. We could nominate each other, but the Ops manager always made sure he was handing out two or three at the weekly team meeting. I suspect he also tracked to make sure everyone was getting at least one a year. They also did annual bonuses and gift drawings for stuff we were actually interested in.

      The sales reps added on personal gifts to their support teams. I was given spa gift certificates, they tended to give the guys gift certificates to chipotle or other restaurants.

    21. The Other Dawn*

      Annual Employee Appreciation Week: An entire week devoted to us. Monday might be a gift (company apparel, like an LL Bean jacket with the logo, or some other item; employees seem to love this). Tuesday might be pie at lunchtime. Wednesday might be another gift. Thursday might be apples in the lunchroom and continental breakfast (we do this in October around apple season). Friday…well, Friday is the pizza truck. They set up tables outside and the pizza truck comes and cooks for us for a couple hours. We also get gelato and espresso. :)

      Also: Annual bonus based on profitability, ESOP, free wellness seminars, a few times a year a masseuse comes in, immediate recognition through an email announcement to the company saying what you did and how awesome you are, annual department Christmas party, the occasional free lunch, and some other stuff.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Oh, apparel! Yes this. If it’s at least decent quality and/or is funny, a company logo wearable (especially if some people have customer-facing roles) or a t-shirt can be great. I especially liked the ones that acknowledged a particular project on them…or the really excellent sweatshirt a bunch of us got one time. It was great quality and very comfortable. :)

        1. Lady Bug*

          But please please do not cheap out by buying only unisex (read: mens) clothing! Spend a few extra dollars getting a feminine cut. Otherwise, its just going to end up a yard work/painting/hair dying logo shirt.

      2. Feline*

        The mention of employee appreciation week reminds me I have a cautionary tale (not that anyone here would do such a thing). Don’t have an employee appreciation potluck. Because employees end up feeling especially unappreciated when you basically say, “Appreciate yourselves and throw yourselves a party!”

    22. Nico m*

      Are you sure the whole project is worthwhile?

      I think people want thanks & appreciation and cash bonuses & promotions. Not perks and gift cards.

      Also perks that shouldnt be perks, but should be normal, would piss me off even more.

      1. Liana*

        I like having perks and gift cards. I don’t necessarily need money, although I obviously wouldn’t say no to it, but extra PTO? Hell yes.

    23. Evie*

      Of all the things suggested, the only one that motivates me is sincere thanks when I’ve done something challenging.
      I hate food rewards- I’m not a dog.
      I hate tokens- I have too much stuff.
      Money rewards always seem fishy unless there are clear objective criteria for earning it & everyone in the company has a chance at it.
      We have an employee appreciation week & I participate in all the activities (including costumes) but they don’t make me feel appreciated & if it went away I’d be just as happy. Some people do seem to love it. Although from the outside I am one of those people.
      So no matter what you pick, some will be motivated, some won’t care & some will feel excluded or offended.

      1. Lily Evans*

        I feel like that’s a bit harsh on the food rewards. As long as the food is accommodating to everyone it can be nice to not have to plan/make/pay for lunch for a day.

    24. FiveWheels*

      For me…

      Money.

      Genuine thanks.

      Being taken aside and told I’m awesome.

      I’m a sucker for branded merchandise and really enjoy my job so anything with a company logo on it will be treasured.

      Tickets to events/nights out.

      Thoughtful gifts are appreciated even if I can’t use them – eg at Christmas a client gave me an excellent food present, and even though it wasn’t something I would eat it meant a lot that he thought of me.

      Extra time off is a burden rather than a perk – I work in law so there are never enough hours in the day anyway!

    25. orchidsandtea*

      I hate branded merch (I’m not a billboard, and I’m really picky about quality) and I’m gluten-free, so food isn’t necessarily a successful gift.

      I like money, and I like time off. Who doesn’t? But a paltry gift can feel dismissive. Don’t give me a $20 bonus unless you’re giving me a $20 gift card to the local ice cream shop, and you’re framing it as a “small treat to say thanks”.

      But a handwritten thank-you note? Be still my beating heart.

      Flexibility and trust that I can handle my stuff? Oh yes please.

      New challenges, and not nitpicking the final results? YES.

    26. Hnl123*

      Unlimited yoga classes! Somewhat of an odd perk but I LOVED it. Another company offered group fitness classes on site throughout the day and taking them counted as work time. Awesome perk. (They also had free breakfast every Friday for the whole building). A third company ai worked for paid 100% of our health insurance premiums. That was nice also.

    27. Recent Reader*

      A note from my manager saying that she values my contributions, with specific examples, would mean the world to me. And it wouldn’t cost anything!

    28. The Strand*

      Starbucks cards were given at one former employer. When it was my turn to recognize people, I didn’t have much of a budget. I provided cake, ice cream, soda, and snacks, and bought everyone Amazon gift cards through the website (not in a store). Even though they were small in amount ($5 a person for 30 people), people were really appreciative, using it to rent movies, buy books, digital music, games, or other stuff. The benefit over Starbucks or ITunes cards: not everyone listens to MP3s (I met an older woman who still buys LPs), not everyone likes coffee.

    29. Elizabeth West*

      The company gives us gift cards for Admin Day–yes, I know, but I’m not going to complain because hey, free shopping! I also got flowers from my actual boss this year, which isn’t necessary, but I enjoyed them.

      Food is always good, as is money. The only thing about gift cards that’s bad is when they count it as income in payroll. >:(

    30. Aphrael*

      My employer had a program where employees would be randomly contacted and asked to nominate coworkers. There was a list of options like “I know what I’m talking about,” “I am helpful” and “I am awesome.” People who got nominated would find a little card on their keyboard in the morning that said “Somebody noticed I am awesome” or whatever.

      It was kind of a nice way to recognize people on an ongoing basis, and people would collect the cards they got.

    31. SirTechSpec*

      My org is very employee-friendly. Here are some things that have made an impression on me:
      -Boss taking the time to say thank you, not just for big projects (though that’s important) but also acknowledging all the other stuff I/we do to keep things running
      -A nice card and Lindt truffles from my boss for the holidays
      -Formal recognition program (like employee of the month, but “as appropriate” rather than every month) with a submission form so anyone can nominate someone to be recognized as an individual or a team – we get a certificate and small gift card.
      -Potluck lunches for the workgroup once or twice a year – a chance to show a bit of personality, and we usually take time out to chat for a while as well. We don’t have many dietary restrictions but I’ve heard from those that do that this can be the only way to ensure there’s at least one thing you can eat (i.e. bring it yourself). Some people are amazing cooks, but everyone’s pretty good-natured about those of us who’d rather bring the silverware/drinks. ;)
      -All employee raises are based on our yearly performance evals. This is so obvious to me, and yet I hear it’s not all that common. (The rigid structure does mean you usually have to leave if you want a big raise all at once, and some of us would prefer tweaking the numbers to differ more sharply, but it’s expected that good performance pays off over time.)
      We’ve got good tangible+intangible benefits generally, but I’m assuming you’re talking about specific recognition of particular employees so I’ll stop there.

    32. Bob Howard*

      We were a research division whose main output was research reports for other divisions of the company. There was one group director (in charge of about 150 people) who made a point of reading every report from his group before approval for distribution. He would then have a 1:1 with the actual main author (however junior), where it became clear that he had read_and_fully_understood the whole thing. He could ask some very searching questions.

      It was surprisingly motivational, because at least someone senior had read your work and taken it in.

    33. AnotherFed*

      Being government, we are pretty limited in giving money and gifts. A couple of things that we can do are time off awards – even if it’s only an hour, it’s still nice – and a rotating ‘good job’ recognition newsletter spot or a payday chain email (so named because there was a winner every payday). The newsletter one was better written, but only got the already highly visible things. The payday email chain was good because the previous winner had to nominate the next winner (no repeats allowed within 6 months) and write up why, so it was a great mix of recognizing good mentorship, critical support roles that usually don’t see the limelight, process improvements (which you could then steal for your own work), and unintentionally hilarious brown-nosing.

      One thing my project team does very well, but informally, is to recognize high performers and above and beyond effort with better gear like bigger/extra monitors, a more portable development computer, SSD external hard drives, upgraded tools, etc. It’s still government property, but it is something that’s cool (to us geeks, at least) and makes work things a little bit easier – taking 5 lbs out of the pile of gear I have to carry-on when traveling to a work site 600 miles away, or shortening how long something takes by a few percent really helps.

    34. Evergreen*

      Not sure how big your company is; ours is easily 5000+. We have an online system where you can nominate someone in the company for doing something well (worked weekends to win a billion dollar contract to did a great job organising team lunch). The nominators manager approves, from where the nomination goes onto the nomination intranet site.

      The manager can decide to add ‘points’ to the nomination which accrue and can be redeemed for all kinds of stuff (gift cards, noise cancelling headphones, stereo systems, wine, etc etc etc – it’s basically a department store). People are really happy with the reward side.

      But what I particularly love is being able to publicly say ‘hey you did that thing well’, knowing their manager will see and everyone in the company can see. It’s a good way to make people feel appreciated for the little things and give everyone the ability to be heard.

      1. Shark Lady*

        Also an employee of a ginormous company, and we have a very similar system. The thank yous are public, and many people print out the little certificate and tack it up in their cubes. There’s also many levels of thank yous and recognitions, from a note saying, “Hey, you’re awesome and do great things!” to company-wide awards with monetary bonuses and ceremonies involved. Managers can also award points to their employees for a variety of reasons, and those points can be redeemed for anything from electronics to treats to plane tickets.

    35. Nye*

      Way back when I (briefly) had a real job, the company had an onsite summer picnic with grilling / ice cream sundae fixings / etc. What made it especially fun was that the CEO / C-suite / upper level management types were doing the grilling for everyone else. Gave the whole thing a nice, collegial vibe that I really appreciated.

    36. Laura*

      I work at a large public university with THOUSANDS of employees. There is a fair amount of turnover in my department, with many employees leaving after a year or two. The university does occasional things for employees– recently we had a “breakfast” that was little more than bread, fruit, and old yogurt.

      My department doesn’t really do anything specific, but since we are close-knit, we are often individually recognized for accomplishments by our coworkers. I would love tangible rewards, but my employer isn’t in a position to do that.

  2. petpet*

    I’m transferring departments at work!! I’ve been unhappy in my job for a long time, and this won’t solve all of my problems, but it’ll get me away from my terrible boss and baby-talking coworker, and I’ll get to develop some new skills!

      1. Leeza*

        OMG, I have 2 coworkers who like to baby talk to each other and I could literally puke from it. I hate listening to them. They think they’re cute, but they’re not!!!

        1. MoinMoin*

          I couldn’t even imagine how that would sound so I just asked my cubicle mate for a Kleenex in baby talk to see what it was like. Judging by her reaction, you show amazing restraint from only wanting to puke. Pretty sure she’d have murdered me where I stood had I not been the one to bring in bagels for the team this morning.

      2. petpet*

        Not to me, to her computer, the printer, the shredder and to herself. Constantly. She’s always muttering to herself and I only have to listen to it for one more week!

        1. cjb1*

          This is weird, but to make the best of it, imagine the printer is actually her child. She gave birth to the printer and fed it tons of paper and will eventually have to pay for this printer to get a higher education and an additional bypass tray… It’s hard work raising a printer.
          For some reason taking the ridiculousness to the max always makes me more amused by the situation and less annoyed by it.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      Baby-talking co-worker would put me over the edge! I’m so happy for you!

      1. Augh!!!!*

        Good to know I’m not the only one driven crazy by a baby-talking co-worker!

    2. Karo*

      I feel for you on the baby-talk part…It’s really disconcerting when a grown adult switches to baby voice.

    3. nep*

      Good for you.
      (Baby-talking co-worker??! Seriously — how can anyone think that’s OK?)
      Wishing you all the best.

  3. costume teapot*

    Following a company merger, I have effectively been demoted. Should I use my new title when job hunting, even though the new title CLEARLY SHOWS a demotion?

    1. cjb1*

      Unfortunately, I would have to say yes. Although it sucks. I wouldn’t want anyone to get the idea that I was trying to misrepresent something if they checked in with current manager or HR.

      Although I would list it as
      Current Company Name
      Old Company Name, Head Manager, 2010-2016
      Current Company Name, Lead Supervisor, 2016
      Tasks, Skills, Achievements…

      1. Silver Radicand*

        Agreed. It might even be worth putting “(after merger)” or something similar to highlight further that this was something out of your control similar to layoffs if the company you worked for didn’t change names.

        1. MoinMoin*

          Agreed! I was thinking like:
          Current Company Name
          Old Company Name, Head Manager, 2010-2016
          (Post Merge) Current Company Name, Lead Supervisor, 2016
          Tasks, Skills, Achievements…

          It doesn’t really speak negatively of your abilities and there’s no confusion as to why you’re looking to move on.

      2. EmilyG*

        I have a friend who worked in an industry with repeated mergers, and she did something like this, only with the top line indicating the merger:

        Teapots Unlimited (merged with Bob’s Deluxe Teas)
        – Bob’s Deluxe Teas, Teapot Management and Policies and Important Company Operations, 2010-2016
        – Teapots Unlimited, Paper Pusher, 2016
        Tasks, Skills, Achievements…

        I would find this clear and it would also kind of telegraph why you’re looking… Good luck!

    2. BRR*

      I would because it’s the truth. But you can list your past title on your resume with something like
      Teapots Inc (formerly Teapots Unlimited) 06/2011-present
      teapot assistant
      (teapot associate 06/2011-04/2016)

      But is your title just less or your responsibilities as well? If it’s just your title I wouldn’t worry too much. If it’s your responsibilities I would try to subtly throw in that you weren’t demoted due to your performance and if you were I would try and head it off in some way, again subtly.

      1. costume teapot*

        Oh yeah. Basically went from Teapot Management and Policies and Important Company Operations to Teapots Paper Pusher. =( Seeeeerious bummer.

        My biggest concern in listing both is that I don’t want it to LOOK like a demotion for merit, when it is really a demotion for “we dont have that role and already have a VP of Teapots with 30 years of experience” purposes.

        1. BRR*

          Maybe you could roll it into why you’re interested in the position in your cover letter. “I have been looking for a position with more responsibility following being moved to teapots pager pusher as part of my company’s merger.” Something along that lines.

    3. Beancounter in Texas*

      I’d use the title you think actually describes your responsibilities and put your official title in parentheses, with the forward, “Official title:”. Maybe explain it a little in your cover letter.

      But UGH.

    4. Rat Racer*

      I don’t know – I think it depends on how much your current company cares about titles. My company has such vague titles for employees that everyone basically makes up their own title (within reason – we’re not one of those creative start-ups where people get to call themselves “Logistics Wizard” or anything like that). Did your responsibilities change with the demotion or just your title?

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I think you should. And that’s also a perfectly good reason for you to be job-hunting. A lot of hiring managers are looking for a narrative—what’s this person’s story? Your story is a pretty easy one: I want to keep doing what I was doing and moving up, not moving down, and this merger moved me down.

    6. HR Recruiter*

      I would include both on your resume and explain in your cover letter the title change was due to a merger. Ppl will understand that its not a demotion because of your work but because of the merger. If they do an employment verification they will receive your new title.

    7. Nobody*

      Are the responsibilities similar enough that you could list the two positions together so it wouldn’t be immediately obvious that you got demoted? I had three jobs at the same place (student jobs when I was in college) with different titles but mostly overlapping responsibilities, and I listed them on my resume like this:

      Teapots University
      Teapot Maker, Coffeepot Maker, Lead Coffeepot Maker (08/2012-05/2016)
      – Responsibilities, skills, achievements
      – Etc.

    8. Pwyll*

      Perhaps work in a parenthetical or a small clause that states “after merger with larger firm”, to make it clear that the change was for that reason. It’s not terribly uncommon for a larger firm swallowing a smaller one to reallocate people in whatever positions are available. So, in an interview you could just say that: “After the merger they reassigned all of us because there were redundancies.” So long as that’s true, you could spin it that you were valuable enough to keep.

      I’m sorry this is happening though. :(

  4. The Other Dawn*

    I’d like some help with wording.

    I am taking part in a three-year leadership training program. We have one session each quarter, which started in January. Most of the people in the program (15) are already managers. A few of us were recently promoted to VP, or are already a VP. Others are assistant managers. A few are departments of one, but are treated as a manager. Supposedly, this program is for succession planning, as told to those of us in the program; that’s a major deal. Initially there was a lot of confusion amongst our group as to what the message is to the rest of the company, can we tell people, what do we tell them, will others be considered, etc. So, the company announced the program and the message to the rest of the company at this point seems to be more about leadership training for those who show promise as leaders, no matter what role they’re in.

    We’ve had two sessions, and several of us are feeling as though this is very remedial. Sure, leadership training around the touchy-feely stuff is important, but 95% of us are already in leadership roles and we wouldn’t be there if we weren’t already doing this stuff well. The outline of the program is vague: the soft skills, leadership –type stuff in year one, and then….I dunno. They said we’re in control of years two and three, since it’s a brand new program. We have no idea what that means, other than we’ll be working on company projects. So, that left us with more questions. We’re worried this might turn into a waste of time; three years is a long time!

    So, several of us are meeting in a couple weeks to gather our thoughts. We talked about it already and we feel that we’re not getting much out of it, if anything, and are concerned about the direction it will take. What we’d really like to see is maybe executive leaders coming in to talk about what they do (the big picture, as well as “a day in the life”), material that pertains directly to the company, stuff like that. Once that’s done we plan to meet with the training coordinator to give him our thoughts, concerns, etc.

    Any thoughts on how we can word it so as not to come off as complainers and make some headway? I know we should go with our ideas, but I’m wondering how we should go about this.

    1. KathyGeiss*

      I have been in a similar situation. Although I was in a 2 year program that was external to my company but within the industry. I focused my feedback on tangible specifics and worked really hard to separate what was constructive from what I just wanted to vent about.

      Maybe start by asking if there is an opportunity to better tailor the first year programming to participants needs. Encourage them to do a full assessment of current skills among the participants to help them align the focus.

      But, I would also caution not to reject soft skill training outright. My manager had been a manager – and a good one at that – a long time before she did some training that was more focused on the soft skills. I noticed a big improvement when she was back from the course and she was great before it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        We were thinking that the soft skills part could be done in one longer session at the beginning, rather than four three-hour sessions spread over the year. We don’t think, at least *I* don’t, that it should be disregarded completely.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Are you (and the others) clear on what you want? It sounds like you have some ideas for activities, but to what end? Getting clear on that can make it easier to ask for what you need.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        The way the program was explained to us is that it’s to prepare us to eventually run the company; all executive leaders are at or very close to retirement age. So, the end result for us would be that we know everything we need to know to do. With the size of the company (400+ employees), we wouldn’t be expected to be experts in all areas, but we should at least be somewhat knowledgeable so as to see the big picture.

        1. TootsNYC*

          “We feel that we’re not getting enough information directly from the company’s leaders. A lot of what we’re covering are things we actually already know. And especially since the purpose of the gathering were to prepare us with knowledge of how higher-level management decisions are made, and to understand the higher viewpoint of how the departments work together, we thought it would be a better use of our time to hear directly from the people who might be retiring. It would be more direct to the purpose.”

    3. Dana*

      I’d start with my goals. What I would like to gain from this program, what would I like to learn more about, etc. Then add what ways I thought the program could help facilitate that.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like they may need two different sections of the course geared to the student’s rank in the company. A newbie will need more of the remedial stuff but long term employees tend to have questions that are tough and take time to explain solutions. Could some of the remedial stuff be videoed and kept on hand? Newbies could watch the video basics and then join the course with the more experienced folks after that.

      That said, three years is a heck of a long time for classroom training. Can they shorten it? Or pace it out differently, for example, people who have been managing for three years get section five. People who have been managing five years get another section, etc.

    5. it happens*

      You’ve gotten a lot of good advice already. No doubt HR went to TPTB to say – ‘you guys are awesome, but the calendar says you’ve all vested pretty nice retirement plans and will likely want to use them within the next five years, maybe it’s time we started getting the next line ready, without making them any promises of course’ and TPTB, said ‘ok, sounds good, make it so, here’s the list.’ Except HR doesn’t really know what you need to be at the next level and no one is likely to be able to tell them… As a group you’re the best ones to define it – sitting down with different executives to talk through their real job descriptions – how much of their time is spent on external affairs (clients/industry/government/press), developing people, internal stuff with other executives, budgeting, strategy, staff oversight, and oh yeah, subject matter expertise work – could both help you understand what you might be facing in the future and what you need to learn about to prepare for it. A big part of the leap from manager to executive is juggling all this while making it look like anyone could do it. Getting the insight from the people who are doing it now and the knowledge and tools from those who can give an external perspective would be very helpful.
      The tone of the group’s approach back to HR will be critical – forward-looking and goal-oriented.
      Good luck

  5. SunnyD*

    So I think my boss read my mind. I posted last week about an assistant coming on board with our team and my wanting more responsibility and how I was nervous learning opportunities would be taken away from me. I was going to chat with my boss yesterday about what this new person means for my job and she gave me an event to do on my own! It’s a small one and I’m excited and hoping this means more to come. Regardless, I still think it’s important for her and I to have that conversation about what she is ideally hoping to happen for my position and what changes to expect for me.

    We’ll be sitting down on Monday, all 3 of us together, for the first time to discuss divvying up responsibilities and such. Should I have this one-on-one talk with my boss today before we all sit down or wait until after? Would it be awkward to have it after?

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I think you need to talk to your boss before you have the all-three-of-you-together conversation. You can frame it as what the vision is for your job. It will be more comfortable to advocate for what you want beforehand, and you will head off any surprises that might otherwise come out in the three-way conversation. Having that conversation afterward with your boss would be late, in my opinion, and you risk bringing up changes after the fact that your boss thought were already settled, which would likely annoy her.

    2. Thursdaye*

      If I were your boss, I’d want to know about your concerns, before having the group conversation on Monday. I think it depends on your relationship with your boss, but if I were hiring an assistant to help a high performer and they had concerns about their learning opportunities, I’d want to address that. Good luck!

    3. TootsNYC*

      do it before. Bosses hate to backtrack; it’s inefficient communication.

      And do it in the confidence that it sounds like she truly does see the advent of this admin person as a way to move you into more independence and away from the purely support stuff.

  6. A Whole New World*

    I had an interview on April 20th, a Wednesday (an in-person interview following up a phone interview from the previous week if that matters). They said they hoped to reach out to me and the other two finalists by the end of the following week (April 29th) one way or the other with their final decision. However they also said that they had a big event going on that week that might eat up a lot of their time and have to push their decision deadline back.

    So now it is May 6th, a week after the promised response and two and a half weeks after the in-person interview. This is a company that contacted me for the phone interview less than two weeks after I submitted my application. They moved surprisingly quickly and seem to really want to fill this position soon. Even Knowing that they did have the big event going on and thus a reason for the delay, should I reach out to them or just let them be?

    (This is normally a question I wouldn’t ask, because I know what you’re supposed to do is submit an application and forget about it, not hang on and worry about it. But this is the first job in a long time that I’ve actually been excited about, and that I have confirmation I’m one of the finalists, so that’s what’s driving my eagerness and anxiety to hear back from them.)

    1. Florida*

      I’m in the leave-it-be camp. I know how hard it is to be patient, though, so I feel for you.

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      I’d send a quick email to check in and then forget about it. Chances are they haven’t made a decision yet, but following up after a week is reasonable.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        I agree. I think a polite short email that simply restates your interest to follow up a week after is fine. I might wait until Monday to send it out.

    3. HR Recruiter*

      I’d wait a bit longer. So many things can happen to delay things. It’d be ok to send a quick follow up email next week. But after that you have to leave it or you risk becoming annoying.

  7. NoProfitNoProblems*

    I’ve vented here before our terrible intern, who messed up important documents, doesn’t do what you ask her to do (and worse, doesn’t let you know about it), and has a terrible attitude. However, lately she has been promoted to a paying position! So she is officially a colleague, and this past week I have had to rely on her for one specific task while another colleague is out of the office. I found out yesterday that she’s been complaining about me to both her managers, one of whom is my friend and has also been having problems with her. I thought about writing up a long AskAManager letter, but I decided to have fun and write from the other point of view instead (using real phrases that were conveyed to me!) For clarification, painting teapots is a very simple task, and ‘Lucy’ is my friend. I am Jane, of course.

    “Dear AskAManager,
    I am seriously about to LOSE IT on my worker, whom I will name Jane. She hasn’t liked me from the start, but this week we have to work together while our coworker Tara is out. I told Tara that I had free time, so I volunteered to paint teapots for her while she’s gone. However, Jane will not stop hounding me about painting teapots! I have a considerable amount of other duties, so sometimes I just don’t have time to paint teapots that day.

    There was an incident earlier this week, which I have already talked to my manager Eliza about. Jane put a box with a missing teapot on my desk and told me to ‘look into it’. I firmly let her know that I don’t have time, and that I didn’t even have time to paint the single teapot I was assigned that day. However, she just repeated that I should ‘look into it’ when I had time. I don’t have time!

    Thursday was the breaking point, though. She asked me if I had painted a specific teapot, and I told her I hadn’t had time yet. And then a mere hour later, she reminded me that since I’m not in on Friday, all the teapots needed to be painted by end of business Thursday. This irritates me, because she keeps bugging me about them and doesn’t even need them until Friday.

    I went straight to my other manager Lucy to vent about it. (Well, her title is technically manager, but she’s really more like my peer). Lucy was not as sympathetic as I expected. She kept telling me that a lot of people in the office, herself included, wanted more regular updates which I was apparently not providing. I just don’t see the point in sending updates when the work isn’t done, though. And apparently she was a little surprised to see my email asking for advice on my first call, and told me that she’d been expecting me to make calls since I started six months ago. I’ve been sending emails instead, and it’s been working out fine, so I don’t see why that matters.

    Anyway, my real manager Eliza is coming back from a big conference next week, so I fully expect this problem with Jane to be resolved. But how can I let her know in the meantime that she can’t keep telling me what to do?”

    Sigh. So that’s been my week. There’s a million more things I could say about her, believe me….

    1. Technical Editor & Resume Reviewer*

      I just have to say that I love this exercise of seeing a problem from the other person’s point of view. It may have been fun, but it can also be enlightening to those of us (me included) that have tense relationships with some coworkers. I consider myself highly empathetic, but I might just try this technique to see if I can make additional headway with one of my coworkers.

      Thank you!

      1. NoProfitNoProblems*

        Truth be told, I sometimes do use this tactic for real insight, not just for fun. In this case, though, I’m just not sure what she’s thinking or how she’s thinking it…So in those situations, it’s a great exercise for some light-hearted venting :P

        1. Rat Racer*

          Do you actually think she’s super busy, or is she lazy/inefficient/procrastinate-y? I’m wondering what she’s been doing since she doesn’t have time for any of the things listed in the email.

          1. NoProfitNoProblems*

            I’m sure that she is busy, but I don’t think she’s any busier than anyone else in our understaffed office. I mainly think she’s a combination of lazy, inefficient, and procrastinate-y, with a healthy dose of “no one has ever, ever explained workplace expectations to her”. (Truly, I blame her manager most with this one)

            I base this on what I’ve seen from other people in her position before, and from direct experience from ‘painting teapots’ every day. On the very same day that she told Tara (whom she likes) that she had time to paint teapots, she told her manager Lucy that she didn’t have time to do something that her job requires her to do. I mentioned in the letter that she apparently just recently had her first call when she should have been making them for months now: it’s because she hates making calls. I and several others in the office have simply stopped giving her tasks because we learned that they won’t get done, so there’s likely only a few people funneling tasks to her right now.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I am biased. I tend to believe that truly busy people do not have time to say they are too busy. They just say “yep” and throw it on the to-do pile. It gets done at some point because they do not waste precious minutes talking about how busy they are. Just my opinion, though.

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      Very interesting perspective. I usually try to see where the other person is coming from, but the thought behind this is impressive.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      I have used this with students before when there has been a big blow-up between them (and I’ll admit it’s really only been useful with the girls.) I love the ideas of using it with work issues, too.

    4. Temperance*

      I thought about writing a post from the perspective of my horrible intern from last summer, but it would anger and depress me too much. I hate rich kids with connections, and will never, ever hire one.

      (Dear AAM, I don’t understand why Temperance keeps insisting that I need to learn Excel. She has been handling reports and spreadsheets before I started, so I don’t see why she’s insisting that I learn so I can do data entry for her. I also don’t understand why when she gives me a research assignment and I can’t find results, she tells me to keep looking. I CAN’T FIND THE RESULTS. Whatever, I only took this job because my dad said I needed work experience on my resume.)

      1. NoProfitNoProblems*

        Ha! My sympathies. I can have a good sense of humor about her because I’m not managing her, but I get all the horror stories from my friend who actually is (or is supposed to). For the record, she’s neither rich nor a kid, but the only reason’s she’s here is because her mom also works here.

      2. Pwyll*

        Research interns are the best (worst). My personal favorite is the one who proudly proclaimed that the answer didn’t exist and was unknowable. It was the first result on Google. Ugh!

        1. Temperance*

          She was a general intern for me, so by research, I seriously just needed her to Google and find nonprofits that fit certain criteria near our offices. It wasn’t hard, just a huge time suck for me.

          I have to LOL at the “didn’t exist and was unknowable”. It would have been hard for me not to just screenshot Google and email it to her.

            1. SirTechSpec*

              I’m normally against lmgtfy.com in an office setting, but this might be the one use case where it’d be appropriate…

        2. me too*

          I had a report who would frequently skip the first, very relevant result on Google and skip to somewhere in the middle of page 2, where the answer was not relevant…I was not really sad when he gave notice.

      3. MoinMoin*

        lol! Yes, I think this is a great exercise too, but I think I’d have a lot of trouble getting beyond, “Dear AAM, I’m a big whiner and don’t like to work and MoinMoin doesn’t agree. Good thing I think opinions are just as valid as facts! Okay, off to sit in the bathroom and go on Facebook for an hour. YOLO!”

        1. NoProfitNoProblems*

          Ha, I’m a big believer in that everyone seems reasonable to themselves, so I tried to operate from that point of view, but I still think I produced a ‘letter’ that anyone reading closely would conclude is ridiculous. And I purposely excluded the worst of what she does, because I truly don’t think she’s aware that her behavior is problematic in any way.

  8. BRR*

    What tips do people have for being productive while working from home? I wrote about this before but I’m definitely not as productive at home. I have a good desk set up. I don’t have anybody distracting me. I have solved the problem of it being too quiet at home.

    I think it’s because I have a really long commute (which is a reason I just don’t go into the office five days a week), my two WFH days are the only time I have the house to myself, my productivity overall is super high so it goes unnoticed, and my ADD is not helping. My problem is I’m not doing enough work and tend to get caught up in other things that I can only do when home like paying bills.

    1. Florida*

      This seems counter intuitive, but sometimes I leave home and go to a coffee shop. There is so other stuff I can be doing at home. At the coffee shop, however, I have only my computer, so I have to stay more focused.

      1. BRR*

        I think that’s a great suggestion and would do this except my job is far easier with two monitors and I deal with mildly sensitive information.

        Thank you for weighing in!

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Can you go to a library? Some of them have semi-private computer spaces (although you can’t camp out on a computer all day) that might work. I have a friend who does a shared workspace thing with other people, as he does not have an actual office in his city. That is an expense his company likely picks up; I understand if you didn’t want to assume additional expense.

      2. Tau*

        This is basically how I survived my PhD. I’m pretty sure most of my thesis got written in coffee shops!

    2. danr*

      Block out time for only doing business work when you’re home. My method was to use the morning commute time for sleeping and breakfast, then work my usual schedule until quitting time. I would then use the rest of the time for household chores. Also, don’t start household chores during lunch. Use that time to eat and unwind a bit. By following this routine I found that I got more done at home than at the office.

      1. ActualName*

        This has never worked for me because I have such a bad sense of how time passes, but I’m sure it will work well for some.

        For those with less bad time sense issues than I, I’ve found having a clock that chimes every hour on the hour to help, and there is a google chrome extension (Animal Crossing Music, but I’m sure there are others) that play different music every hour. This has all been too passive and easily for me to ignore but in case it might help someone else, I’m posting it here.

    3. Allison*

      What motivates me is knowing that if I slack off while working from home and my manager catches on, I could lose the privilege. So I actually aim to crank out more work to prove I can handle it. That’s not to say I don’t do “home stuff” like laundry, bills, dishes, etc. while working from home, but I try to balance it with work and use those chores as breaks.

    4. Rat Racer*

      This is interesting, because I work from home full time, and my house could be burning down and I wouldn’t notice. I think that when I used to work from home 1 day a week at old job, it was harder because it wasn’t my regular routine. At current job, the reason I continue to run on my rat wheel even though dishes, laundry, and bills are waiting for me to tend to them, is because my work piles up at an astronomical rate if I don’t keep running.

      I’m procrastinating on AAM because I’m so tired this morning (flight home from East Coast was delayed by 2 hours and I only got 4 hours sleep as a result) but my count of unread email is ticking up as I type this.

      So, I guess my question to you is this: how much does it matter if you’re not as productive at home? Do you pay the price when you get back to the office the next day? Or is it a matter of principle, or out of concern that your manager might notice that you’re less productive and take the privilege away?

      1. BRR*

        Thank you for the reply. Part of me thinks it’s about getting into the routine. I get more done at home now than when I started. I do find it difficult to WFH two days a week and at the office three because it’s hard to really have a “home base” and

        It’s partially a matter of principle, partially out of concern more about my general performance, and slightly about having more to do when I’m in the office.

        1. Rat Racer*

          Yeah, feeling unproductive sucks just in and of itself, even if there are no tangible consequences. One thing I tried once upon a time was to build my regular work routines into my work at home schedule. Like, I would pack myself a lunch the night before, which (a) kept me from procrastinating around what to eat for lunch and (b) kept me from snacking during the day. I also used to get dressed and showered even though I wasn’t going anywhere, thinking that Pajamas and messy hair were not conducive to productivity.

          Note: after 3 years in this work at home environment, I absolutely do NOT do either of those things anymore. Change out of pajamas, why would I ever…?

    5. Meemzi*

      I also have ADD and it’s nearly impossible for me to work at home. (I don’t WFH, but I’m a college student and I don’t even try to do homework at home anymore.) In between classes I use the computer lab at school. If I can’t get all my work done and I have to finish at home, I turn to the time-honored tradition of take-a-10mg-and-get-it-done-just-before-the-deadline. I also move my laptop into the kitchen because my desk is strongly associated with leisure time.

      The key for me is being work-meemzi, not home-meemzi. No snacks, no other tasks, no cat snuggles, no conversation. No phone.

    6. INTP*

      Pomodoro technique – Technically this is to set a timer for 25/5 minutes, and you work 25 and rest or do other things 5, but 15/5 is about right for me for mentally demanding tasks. It helps me avoid opening a new website to “take a mental break” and then get sucked in for half an hour before I realize it, but also avoid hyperfocusing until my brain is dead for the rest of the day. Maybe you have a good rhythm for work versus mental rest in the office but just can’t work it out at home. The hardest thing for me at home is also just getting started on my workday, so it’s less daunting if I say, I’m just going to focus for 15 minutes, and then I develop momentum and can continue working.

    7. Amy M in HR*

      I have never worked from home, but this worked for me when I was finishing my degree and had many full days at home of homework to complete/papers to write.
      I bought a kitchen timer and set it for 45 or 60 minutes at a time. During that time I did not leave my desk and only worked on what I needed to do. When the timer went off I would take a five minute break (use the bathroom, grab a snack) and then reset it for another 60 minutes. I always made sure after 4 or 5 hours that I took a lunch break for an hour as well. Somehow that stupid timer kept me on task, as I knew there would be an end in sight (my 5 minute break) and I just focused on one hour increments.
      I hope you find something that works for you!

      1. ActualName*

        Personally I can not stand the clicking sound those timers make while they are counting down. And I also don’t like timers online because I can’t see the time ticking down while I’m working.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          You could put it in the next room–you won’t hear the clicking, but you’ll still hear when it goes off. I’m sure there are also timers that don’t make any noise, though.

        2. Betty (the other Betty)*

          Oh, the ticking, ticking, ticking makes me crazy. I bought a wind up timer to use for Pomodoro-ing and ended up donating it to the charity thrift store about 4 days later.

          I use the timer on my phone now, and trained myself that NOT checking the timer is part of the technique. I won’t miss the timer going off, and there is really no reason I need to know exactly how much time in my 25 minute work period is left.

        3. TootsNYC*

          And I like the ticking sound because it’s a constant reminder to do something.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          My boss uses her cell phone alarm as a time reminder to take some drops she has to have frequently through out the day. No ticking involved.

    8. IT_Guy*

      I keep to my regular sleep/work/lunch/work schedule. I also have a room set up that is my ‘office’ and I try to use it for just work related stuff.

      Stay away from the fridge….. The fridge is not your friend

    9. Manders*

      On my home computer, I created two accounts: a fun account with all my games and shopping and social media passwords saved, and a work account where everything is as locked down as I can get it and Leechblock prevents me from accessing my favorite time sinks. It won’t prevent you from getting up and wandering away to do physical tasks, but it can cut down on digital distractions.

    10. Emmie*

      I work nearly exclusively from home. These are the things that help me:
      * Do all my home tasks at night before you work the next day. I get really distracted by home things that need to be done like laundry, cleaning (I am pretty obsessive about this), and paying bills.
      * Be honest with yourself. Is WFH really for you? If you are more productive in the office, go there.
      * Could you be “slacking” b/c you are hyper-productive in the office already? If your productivity bar is high, are you still accomplishing a normal workload at home?
      * Have multiple spaces you can work from at home, if possible. I have dual monitors in my office, but am going to set up a table / chair on my deck to give myself a change of pace or maybe get a stand up desk.
      * Set clear goals to accomplish during your WFH days.
      * Set a lot of your meetings for remote days. If you are not productive w/ actual projects, why not do some of your teleconferences on those days?
      * Do personal enrichment projects on those WFH days.
      * Get dressed every day. Working in your PJs seems like a good idea until it’s 10 am and you realize you’re still dirty and un-kept. :)
      The others gave really good advice too that I should follow. I might buy a timer this weekend! And, I need to avoid the kitchen. But after I make this snack run.

    11. ActualName*

      My trick is this – instead of telling myself I have to sit down and do X I break it into teeny tiny steps and say and go through each. So it’s, I have to sit at my desk, I have to log into my computer, I have to open the program I want, and so on. I do a lot of writing, so I’ll then, for example say, I have to write 200 words and then I can stop. When I get to 200 I ask myself if I can keep going. If I can, and usual I can, I do. At some point I’ll hit a road block. When that happens I move onto another bit of work I have to do or I go walk my dog. If I find myself on facebook or otherwise procrastinating I’ll say, “Okay, now I need to take the dog out.” I have text to speech so getting away from the computer is very easy, as I can still listen to whatever I was focusing on while I walk away.

      Taking a walk with the dog, just getting out of the house for five minutes, is a huge help and I find it really helps me focus and recenter.

    12. ActualName*

      Oh, I should add, I don’t have ADD but I do have autism, so my advice is coming from a place of nurodivergence. Just FIY incase my advice seems weird or strange.

    13. MoinMoin*

      Use a site blocker to keep you from sitting around refreshing AAM all day like I do, still get dressed as if you’re going to work to help you be in the work mindset, try the Pomodoro technique, and try to get addicted to the feeling of accomplishing things. That last one I struggle with, but whenever I procrastinate on doing something forever and then finally get myself to start I get all excited. “This is amazing! I’m doing this thing I’ve avoided for no reason! Pretty soon I won’t be wasting mental energy dreading doing it because it’ll be done! This is easier than I thought! My brain is bigger than everybody’s!” I try to be really mindful of that feeling and convince myself it’s a good feeling I want to replicate all the time. Sometimes I even succeed! Sometimes I’m so impressed with myself for doing literally anything that I reward myself by immediately getting off task and hypocritically giving advice on AAM instead.

    14. twenty points for the copier*

      I think I do things differently than most, but I work from home full time and have been pretty productive. I am fine with doing tasks around the house during the day. “Slacking” in a way that is a change of pace but still productive helps me get in gear to get work things done.

      I find I fall down rabbit holes both ways – either on the internet but also into rabbit holes of work where it’s suddenly 8 PM and I’m starving but I want to keep working. When I need to start a productivity session, I change something up. Usually I put on classical or ambient music and tell myself music time = focus time. I also sometimes use changing between my standing desk and sitting on the couch as a way to signal it’s time to change things up and get focused again.

      Giving myself a little more freedom (which works for me because I’m self-employed ,no kids, and work with people in other time zones) to realize that my work schedule may be 9-11, 12-2, 3-3:30, 4-8 instead of a more typical straight-through day has made me more productive. Feeling guilty about slacking makes me do less – reminding myself how much more I enjoy getting things done than reading the internet for hours is much more helpful.

  9. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    How much notice do you get, or want, for travel?

    Normally I have a lot of notice, a month or so, but recently my boss was giving me grief about wanting to know if I’d have to make a trip two weeks out. I wouldn’t have cared too much otherwise, but I’m going to be out of the office for most of next week and I’d like to know so I can schedule accordingly. My boss knows all this, but when I asked what the plan was he said “you’ll know when you need to know and now you don’t need to know.” But if I have only three days in the office between that conversation and my trip…I do need to know to budget my time accordingly!

    I am confident this varies widely by industry, but I’m just curious to see what kind of notice other people get.

    1. Kristine*

      I travel a lot for work, so I usually know a month or two out because I can spend up to 50% of my time on the road. But there are usually 2-3 instances a year of “you need to be on a plane tomorrow night”.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      As little as two days, as much as a couple of months. If the notice is short and I push back, there’s varying level of understanding depending on whom I’m working with. (Seems to depend more on individual colleagues than on company).

    3. Tuxedo Cat*

      I’m in IT client support. Typically I know 1-3 months in advance, but there’s always the possibility of a last-minute emergency trip.

    4. HigherEd*

      Sometimes I know as much as a year in advance if its an annual event. More commonly 2 months to know that I will be travelling, 2 weeks to have all the details and the booking. This is about 50% international travel.

      And sometimes, like last Friday when I was on vacation, I get a call with a travel emergency and I left for the trip on Monday morning. (And came back Tuesday night.)

    5. AVP*

      I get about 2 weeks.

      What really drives me crazy (but I know is unavoidable) is that often we’ll get wind that a trip may be coming, so I’ll know about it a month in advance, but the client won’t confirm the contract until a week or less before. They can assure us that it’s definitely happening, but without a contract I’m not spending any money or making any arrangements that can’t be cancelled. And then we run around crazy for those few days until the leave date. Grr.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Could your company put something in the contract that states they have to confirm onsite visits by X amount of time beforehand? If they don’t meet the deadline, the contract is void and they would have to start over. Cancellations would be handled differently, obviously. If it’s a pervasive problem, it might be worth putting some language in there to cover it.

    6. AnotherFed*

      For me, it depends a lot on the destination and duration of travel. If it’s international and/or more than a week, I usually have a rough idea several months out. For 1-2 day trips, it can be as short notice as the day before, and good luck finding a travel approver still in the office at 4PM!

  10. Who the eff is Hank?*

    Should I use a job offer to leverage a raise at my current job? I just had a glowing review and my manager said I deserve a raise but she doesn’t have the standing to get me one right now because she is quitting (today is her last day). I am underpaid, making an entry level salary for a 3-5 years experience role (I have 5). My new job offer would be a 40% raise for the exact same work but I don’t want to start over at a new company and team if I don’t have to. Should I reveal the offer to my new manager and see if my current company can match it?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      My friend did this and they told her to take the other job since they couldn’t match it. She was forced to quit and hated the new gig.

      So…no.

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        That is exactly the risk. If the current company gives you a raise, then nothing is lost. If you get told to take the other offer, then you get a 40% raise.
        But really will you regret not taking the raise one way or another? It sounds like you are early in your career and making more money now will pay bigger dividends for the next 20 years at least.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          If the current company gives you a raise, then nothing is lost.

          I disagree. A lot is lost. Now they know you’re unhappy and have been looking for and applying for other jobs. The first chance they have to replace you, they will, because they know, in all likelihood, you’ll probably keep looking. They’d rather dump you than have you dump them.

          1. James M*

            It’s unconventional and won’t work for everyone, but I make it obvious that I consider other jobs and will do interviews (just for the time off and the free lunch and the practice) when I’m *not* unhappy. Started doing this early at my last two jobs (all amicable situations from start to finish) and it’s not been seen as either a big deal or as a joke. It has, I am certain, gotten me raises and courtesies without any need to negotiate for them.

            The normal approach is to let your interview skills wither while you grind at a job, and then it’s unusual when you do pursue some opportunity. For me, the hardest part of this has been to learn how to turn down jobs without burning bridges.

    2. Collie*

      Hank is is a bird in the family Columbidae formerly considered conspecific with the spice imperial pigeon (Ducula myristicivora).

      DFTBA

      1. Spooky*

        HANK is the acronym for Honor Architecture but Nix the Kremlin, a radical left-wing architecture group in Russia that aims to destroy all buildings decorated with more than three colors.

    3. Spooky*

      Honestly, I’ve never heard of this situation having a positive outcome. At my last job, a coworker did this, and her current job matched her salary, so she turned down the other offer. Three weeks later, they fired her for “lack of loyalty” and because they “just couldn’t trust her any more.” Turns out they posted her job as soon as she revealed she had an offer, and cut her as soon as they had a replacement ready to start. Of course, by that time, it was too late to go back and take the other offer, so she ended up with nothing. Don’t do it.

      (love the username, though!)

    4. Florida*

      You can reveal it an try to get the company to match, but also be prepared to leave. Two things can happen: First, they won’t be able to match it, so you will leave. Second, they might be able to match it or at least come close, making it worthwhile for you to stay, but they don’t want you to stay. Some employers believe that once you start looking, you clearly want to leave Current Job, so they want you to leave as well.

      1. LawCat*

        Well, come on, there is third thing that can happen: Company matches because they want you to stay and you take it. Everyone is happy.

        1. LawCat*

          I would think the success would be impacted by how much of the job relies on it being a particular person. Generic Teapot Assembler may not have as good an outcome as Personal Teapot Designer with a solid client base.

        2. Florida*

          You are right. I had said be prepared to leave, so I meant that those were two things that would cause you to leave. I wasn’t clear enough.
          I’m not against OP revealing it. I’m just saying if the only option you would be happy with is staying, then don’t reveal it.

    5. Beancounter in Texas*

      I wouldn’t necessarily say that you have offer in hand, but ask your company if they can match what the offer states. Be prepared to give notice and move on though.

    6. Dawn*

      There’s a reason you wanted to leave in the first place. I have never, ever, EVER in my 10+ professional years heard anyone who tried this tactic and then stayed at their original job say that they’re glad that they did and everything worked out well in the end.

      1. Who the eff is Hank?*

        Well, part of the reason I wanted to leave is now leaving the company. The other part is pay. And I feel like a 40% increase is something I just can’t turn down, even if I don’t like the new company as much.

        1. John*

          I’ve actually seen it work sometimes. However, here’s the thing: the person who recognizes how great you are is walking out the door. New Manager may not share the same view (or have enough info on which to value your work) so may be less inclined to counter.

          We had a great employee resign a last fall for a better offer and we countered, though she ultimately decided other factors compelled her to take the new job. But none of those involved with the decision to counter had any animus toward her nor did it make them question her loyalty. What it made them question was why our company hadn’t adjusted her salary over time as her value to the organization grew.

          Many companies try to reserve counteroffers for irreplaceable staff. Otherwise, everyone seeking a raise will try the ploy of bringing in outside offers.

          Good managers don’t fall for that loyalty BS. They didn’t get to where they were by shortchanging their worth.

          All that said, 40% is a lot, and many employers may decide to counter would compel them to go well north of the range your position is worth to the company.

          1. Rocky*

            Exactly! I assume that all my reports are keeping their eye out for opportunities. I have someone pretty great who just resigned, and I told him that if it was just about salary, I’d see what we could do. But the new offer was kind of his dream job, so we didn’t walk down that road.

            I’d also add that a 40% raise for doing your current job probably isn’t going to happen, but if you are really exceptional, promoting you into a different position with a commensurate raise *could be* possible. I interviewed someone once who told me mid-way through the process that her employer had found out she was interviewing, and she’d been given a promotion and two new staff positions that were previously in the “we’ll think about it” zone.

            I’m flabbergasted at all the comments that this is a terrible idea. It must be a difference in industry norms, because it’s totally normal in my environment.

    7. Sunflower*

      Will your old boss be talking with new boss at all? If so, have your old boss go to bat and encourage the new boss to get a raise for you. If that’s not possible, talk to your new manager about getting a raise without bringing up the offer. Show her the review and say ‘I’ve done some research and XX,XXX is the standard for this position/experience. Can we get me up to that number?’ If she can’t, only bring up the offer if you’re 100% sure you’re going to walk away if they can’t match it. Using new offers as leverage for a raise at your current job can bring up a lot of bad feelings- esp for a new manager who doesn’t know you and could just view you as ‘that woman who has one foot out the door’. My friend works in recruiting and sees this all the time. She said most of the time it leaves a really sour taste in the current employer’s mouth and they will never view you the same again.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        I’d also be wary if you do go to the new manager and if she says that they can’t match that number now, but they might be able to in the future once she better knows your work. If you don’t have something in writing that your salary will be raised within X months, then there’s a good chance the employer won’t be revisiting it, and you’ll have lost your chance at that 40% increase at the other job.

      2. Sunflower*

        Also- how much do you really like your job? You say you don’t want to start over at another company- is your company really great or are you just comfortable there? I see that a lot with people who have gotten very comfortable in their job and it leads to them staying in jobs much longer than they should (or want to). If you ever plan to get another job outside this company, you’ll have to start over at some point, somewhere. It’s the nature of life (and work). There may be a lot of reasons to not take the job but not wanting to start over at a new company because it’s just too much of an inconvenience shouldn’t be one of them.

      3. Jade*

        I second this. You clearly realize you are being underpaid for your work- not just because of experience, but because your performance has been rated as top-tier. I’d go to the new manager and try to renegotiate your salary based on that alone- don’t even bring up the offer- and if they say no, then I guess you have to decide whether a 40% increase in salary is worth more to you than the comfort and familiarity of staying at your current job (by the way, I think “I’m too comfortable here” is a trap too many people get caught up in when faced with the prospect of moving on to new opportunities).

    8. Q*

      I had planned to do this but the job offer never came through, :( If you plan to do it be prepared to follow through and take the new job.

    9. MaggiePi*

      I say move on. Alison has written a lot about counter-offers and I encourage you to read a few.
      Remember you’ll likely end up in the same position next time you are/feel due for the raise. And if they do give you a raise now but feel like you are “overpaid,” you likely won’t see another one or a long long time.

    10. NacSacJack*

      I don’t know if it was here or in other articles I have read, but most people who stay at the current job once an offer is matched, only stay for another six months. Take the pay issue out of the equation. You’re five years in and they still treat you like you are entry level.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I’ll be the exception to the rule… I leveraged another offer into a healthy pay increase and, 4 years later, I’m still here.

    11. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yeah, I can see using an offer to get an extra 5-10%, maybe, but even if you get a 40% raise, IMO either they’re going to just string you along until they can replace you with someone they can underpay, or they were very well aware that they were underpaying you by almost 30% and were simply hoping to get away with that for as long as possible. Neither scenario is a healthy one. While I can understand not proactively keeping people at or above the market rate, they should be trying to stay competitive if they want to keep their best employees.

      tl;dr version: take the offer, the other company seems to better appreciate your abilities.

    12. BRR*

      Nope nope nope. Search AAM for why to never accept a counter offer. Also this would be a bad way to start a new relationship with your new manager in my opinion.

    13. Rocky*

      I’m surprised by all the comments saying this never works out well. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to get a raise from my employer unless you have a competing offer, which is about the only thing they’ll take as evidence that you should be paid more. Someone I work with is very highly valued by our employer, but he got fed up at some point, and got a competing offer that our employer couldn’t match at that time. He took the competing offer, but our employer got it together to woo him back a short time later. My husband was working at Law Firm A and liked it even though the pay was crap, got a better offer from Non-Profit B, went back to Law Firm A and asked for a match (Law Firm A came close), and then used that to negotiate a better offer from Non-Profit B. That was four years ago, and Law Firm A still tries to hire him back. Then I have plenty of colleagues who have been offered plum-sounding jobs in academia that are revealed in the end game to have dismal salaries, and end up staying where they are.

      1. Nancypie*

        I did accept a counter-offer years ago. It has worked out fine but I’m really lucky. I didn’t go into it with staying at my job as the plan, but felt really bad and had lots of regret right after giving notice. I generally felt bad all around and would never have expected to work at the company I declined. Oddly enough, I now work at that company due to corporate mergers. It was so long ago, though, so no impact that I can tell.

    14. Charlotte*

      Another idea, if you’re sure you’re leaving, is to bring up the offer to your current company to find out if they will match the offer, and if they say yes, you go back to the offering company and see if they’ll raise their offer. If they say yes, you’ll get more, and if they say no, you’ll still get a 40% increase. Either way in this scenario though, you should leave your current company, for the reasons others have suggested.

    15. Jen*

      I’ve done this and had a report do it. Here’s what I’d suggest: have a frank conversation with your manager about the work you are doing and market rate vs your title/salary. If they act shocked like there is no way you are worth (market rate), then you can simply thank them, accept the other job, and tell them afterward.

      Your manager may also be open to a conversation- perhaps work with you on a path to promotion, or straight up do a comp adjustment. It might not be 40% (doubt it), so be really prepared for this.

      In my case, I had someone that transferred to my team who was paid probably 70% of market. I couldn’t just randomly
      Give her a pay bump, but I met with HR and had a plan in place. She came to me, and we had a great convo since i was already a few steps ahead of her. She got a new role/promotion and with it, I was able to do a massive salary hike. I think I got her within 85% of market for the new role, which was 100% market of the old role, and set her up for big bumps in coming years.

      I had someone on my team come to me with a job offer that was 25% above what they made and I encouraged them to take it. They were pod market (in my opinion, and i did my homework); I wasn’t going to promote him, and if his priority was salary it was a good move for him. I didn’t fault him for asking, and let him know he was welcome to stay.

      My own situation- I was paid below market and got a promo that was below market. I told my boss what market was, that all others in my role made 25% more and were male, and she went to HR and worked magic and I got the offer + 25%.

    16. TootsNYC*

      40% is huge, and your manager couldn’t even get you 4%.

      Take the new job, and cultivate a great relationship with this old boss as a reference. I’d consider cultivating her as a mentor, depending on what I thought about her “not enough standing” meant. It might mean she’s savvy and plugged in to how office dynamics work, and would have good advice. It might mean she’s sort of lame on the “power dynamics” front. You know her; you ought to be able to decide whether she’s savvy or not.

      Sometimes you absolutely have to move out to move up. And I totally agree with the idea that getting pay jumps in the early years can add up.

      You are, after all, working for money.
      Unless you think there’s something horrible about the new job, it’s time to go.

    17. Teapot analyst*

      I was in this EXACT situation last fall – down to the number. My employer countered with 40%, which was completely unexpected to me, and then I was faced with a very difficult decision. I think you need to figure out what YOU want and what you’re looking for. What led you to look for opportunities in the first place? Was it solely pay? If so, bringing it up and hoping for a counter is not a bad plan…but if there are other questions that won’t be answered or solved unless you leave, you may just need to go.

      After much deliberation, I did end up leaving and while I had a hard time in the first month or so transitioning, it has since been fantastic. It’s a remarkable opportunity and I am so incredibly glad that I took the risk to try something new.

  11. TakeMeToAtlanta*

    Happy Friday everyone!

    What are weird things you’d love to negotiate at the offer stage? Even the most ridiculous things are encouraged :)

    For me, I’d love to just be able to wear gym clothes all day – so much more comfortable for me.

    1. Dangerfield*

      I’d like it set in stone that I am not required to wear shoes for any longer than is absolutely necessary.

    2. Kristine*

      Yes, yoga pants every day! Also would negotiate for getting to bring my cats to the office, a pick-me-up budget (like getting cupcakes delivered on a crappy day), and flexible hours so I could take mid-day exercise classes. I know the last one might not be too weird in some places, but flexible hours at Not Done where I work.

      1. Anonymous Cookie*

        Check out BetaBrand dot com for dress yoga pants. I’d leave a direct link, but it would probably get stuck in the moderation queue.

        1. TaxAnon*

          Yessss I recently bought some and love them! I’m funny shaped and have the worst time finding dress pants that fit well. The dress yoga pants fit perfectly and they’re so comfy!

          1. Jess*

            I have been looking at those but wondering about the underwear situation… are the Betabrand dress yoga pants prone to VPL?

        2. Windchime*

          A young woman I work with wears these. I didn’t even know they were Beta brand until she told me. She always looks great.

    3. Elle*

      Another person for yoga pants. And if I am running behind on my Fitbit steps, that I may walk vigorously around the office until I am caught up.

    4. Cass*

      I’d love if my dog could come to work with me! I don’t anticipate that ever happening though…

      1. Amy S*

        Ooh same here! Mostly so my pup could be with me, but also so he could serve as my foot warmer. :)

    5. cjb1*

      B.O. level of co-workers must be kept at appropriate levels (mostly joking)
      On a slightly more serious note, the company’s ability to provide stress-reducing things during work hours. Ice cream bar for lunch, puppy playdates, power napping time, etc. I’m a huge introvert/planner/type A and need regular stress-reduction things thrown into my schedule. It’d be nice if they would occasionally break up the work day.

    6. Lillian McGee*

      An office with a south-facing window (or any direction that isn’t blocked by a skyscraper…)

      1. Windchime*

        I would take any window at all. And a private or semi-private office (depending on who my office mate might be). I would love to be able to close the door and WORK without interruptions. Oh, that’s another thing–meeting-free days. I would love a couple of those every week.

    7. Daisy Steiner*

      Only ever working during daylight hours. This would cut down the winter shifts dramatically!

    8. Beancounter in Texas*

      A chauffeur to take me home. Commuting to work isn’t bad, I review my day ahead as I drive and listen to the radio chatter. After work, UGH. I’m tired, I’m usually running almost late to pick up my daughter from daycare, I have dinner to figure out and cook, and then wrangling of getting a toddler to bed. Having someone drive my car so I can relax for just a little bit and not battle traffic home would be wonderful.

      1. Chameleon*

        Oh, that would be heavenly. My drive is awful, especially since I can’t carpool (odd hours). I usually take the bus so I can relax, but the stop is a fifteen-minute walk away uphill.

        Even better, a high-speed light-rail directly from my office to my house. ^_^

      2. PollyQ*

        I sort of had this, years ago. After I slipped and strained some ligaments at work, my employer paid the cab fare for me to come into the office. (This was ~20 years ago, so work from home was not yet a thing). It was GREAT, esp. since I was then living in Boston, and it was one of the snowiest winters on record.

    9. Master Bean Counter*

      My own office! If the sales department ever moves here I will finally have one.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I second the office. Right now I’d be happy with an actual cube. But I would love an office. I’d be more productive in a broom closet than in this open-office plan.

      2. Raia*

        Yes to the office! An office where I can lock all 6 things I own in my workplace and make it so no one else touches it/unplugs it/kills my set-up.

    10. Dawn*

      Company pays my gym membership, and nothing will ever interfere with my gym time. Ever. No matter how much gym time I have a day.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        This! Not only covering the gym membership, but also allowing me to set a guaranteed workout time.

    11. INTP*

      A space heater at my desk
      Yoga pants dress code
      No smokers, perfume wearers, or people with cat hair on their clothing allowed within 30 feet of me (FWIW I love cats but am so allergic to them that I actually have allergic reactions to cat owners sometimes)
      I am allowed to reheat Indian food in the microwave whenever I want
      All work lunches will provide an actual, filling, tasty gluten free vegetarian option
      Under no circumstances will I ever have to fly coach for work travel
      Total flexibility in work schedule. I am allowed to fit my day around my gym’s yoga schedule, my own whims, etc.
      Free fruit, kind bars, hummus, and san pellegrino in the break room at all times
      The office coffee shall be high quality espresso

        1. INTP*

          Hah!

          But seriously, I feel like it should be obvious that if you, the hypothetical omnivore, would not get full from eating iceberg lettuce and cherry tomatoes, then neither will we. We all have roughly the same size stomachs and caloric needs!

      1. BabyAttorney*

        A long time ago I got over the idea that I would not impress people if they saw cat hair on my clothing. It is a fact of life I Just cannot avoid anymore.

        BUT I WORRY ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE BEING ALLERGIC SO MUCH!

      2. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

        I’m with you on the never flying coach, gluten free food options, and high quality espresso in the break room, INTP.

      3. GH in SoCAl*

        My last job had all of these except the total flexibility. We did have to show up at the office 10-6, unless we were WFH on a project deadline. But we had all the space heaters, kind bars, humus, fruit, fancy waters, espresso, and custom lunches our hearts desired. And I wore Lucy “City” Yoga pants 4 days out of 5.

        I should count my blessings more often.

      4. Honeybee*

        +1 million to that last one. Also, the coffee machines will never be broken. Ever!

      5. Anonymousaur*

        We actually have Pelligrino stocked in the kitchen and I have no idea why but I’m all for it…

    12. LCL*

      Catered custom lunches every day.
      Permission to bring the dog to work, and someone to watch him when I am busy. I would never bring Mr Dog to the office in reality, he is a very friendly hunting dog. In a new place he will inspect everything, jump on the furniture, inspect all bags and pull out everything that interests him, grab plastic bottles or cardboard and carry them around and chew on them, run around, whine if he wants something that you put out of reach but he can still smell, go to closed doors and whine and lick the door, etc.

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

      I want my own private bathroom. And a recliner desk. And all the free Pepsi I can drink.

        1. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

          Me too. I actually go home whenever I need to use the restroom (I’m a major germaphobe so I don’t do public restrooms unless it’s an emergency and I can’t make it across the street to my place).

    14. Minion*

      Not wearing a bra. First thing I do at home is take it off and fling it as far from me as I can get it.

    15. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      -a free kitten for therapeutic value
      -an expense account for organic salad bar/produce of choice
      -free gym membership
      -business trips to beach sun-laden areas
      -Starbucks expense account….

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

        Oh yes, kittens. “Yes I’d love to take this job and your offer is quite generous, but I require regular head boops throughout the day.”

    16. nerfmobile*

      Space heater/electric blanket for cold days
      For hot days, my favorite kind of ice cubes always available
      Send out dry cleaning/shoe repair/mail/packages from the office
      An office or cubicle of my own, but near an open conversational space to meet up with people

    17. ginger ale for all*

      I want a better office location. One away from the break room microwave. Because whenever a coworker is heating something up, they want to talk and I have ADD and find the constant four or five minute interruptions drive me batty. I have a hard time refocusing.

    18. Ihmmy*

      -no dress code / can wear comfy clothes, as long as my bits are covered who cares
      -free, GOOD coffee
      -free underground parking once a month for all staff – I work on campus so parking is always a pain, and I really don’t mind busing, but some days I have errands and we work in a building that has a parkade underneath
      -nap room
      -yoga / stretching / light workout room
      -windows that open for fresh air
      -able to tell students they are being ridiculous and being allowed to send out lmgtfy links
      -close the main office at lunch, or at least for activities billed as “team building” – it’s not when one of us has to stay here
      -room dividers / temporary walls for when I’m elbow deep in a project and don’t want people bother me, but still want to work at my desk.

    19. Rob aka Mediancat*

      An office cat. A comfortable chair. And a chilled Pepsi Max delivered to me every morning when I arrive, and every lunch.

    20. Laura*

      I wish I could have known I’d be in a cubicle right next to the break room. I would have negotiated a curtain or blanket to block the entryway to my cube from passersby. They ALWAYS want to stop and chat right when I’m in the middle of something… or when I’m trying to unwind at lunch and read AAM. :)

    21. mondegreen*

      A window, definitely. I have much more energy and go through much less asprin when I can work by natural light for a chunk of the day. (Alternately, a place where I could bring a full-spectrum lamp, some plants, and a chair cushion without coming across as a diva.)

  12. Aella*

    I have just applied for a job in another city, where I have 0 social circle. (It’s a good job, nearer family, lots of exciting travel, etc…)

    I feel slightly sick.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      It ain’t over til the fat lady sings. Get an offer first. Then feel sick. :)

    2. Lefty*

      Made a move for work about 2.5 years ago… it’s been surprisingly empowering. I love the work I do now, the on-site staff are great, the change of venue made me learn about a new city, and it’s my new “home” town. If I did it again, I’d tell myself to get involved earlier with those things I love to do instead of only focusing on have-to-dos (moving/car registration/finding a new grocery store/pharmacy/dry cleaner/cable hookups) AND to let homesickness sink in if it happens. I fought the homesickness instead of just owning & processing it right away. It’s healthier for me to process. Maybe that will help you too, if you find yourself in that situation.

      Hope it works out for you! Best of luck!

    3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      It’s amazing, scary but amazing! I live by the phrase “going where my whimsical nature takes me” so I have ended up in new cities a lot over my career.

      The biggest thing is being comfortable being alone for the first few weeks. Explore the city alone, eat alone in restaurants you want to try, figure out where your new local spots are.

      Then get involved. For me, I have had the best luck with Meetup groups. I tend to pick ladies social groups, but I have also met friends through more interest-based groups.

    4. the.kat*

      I would suggest making a list of “must-haves” in your current location and establishing those in your new town. For me, that included a place to buy fresh fruit, good coffee and a place to meet new people. Then, work on matching those things to your new location. You can do it! It’s scary and awesome.

    5. BBBizAnalyst*

      I did this 3 years ago and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my short career. It’s good to have a fresh start.

    6. Honeybee*

      I moved cross-country 9 months ago to a city in which I had no social circle. It’s really okay – you build a new one up :)

  13. cjb1*

    This is a long read regarding leaving a job during maternity leave so I appreciate it if you do read my novel. : )

    My husband has recently won a music performing job with the military, which requires us to relocate to Washington DC (awesome, exciting and nerve-wracking). We are on a military timeline and it could be anywhere from 3 to 9 months before we move.

    My current manager knows about his job and the fact that I will be leaving. They have always been encouraging and supportive. I have immensely appreciated this and don’t want to take advantage of them.

    Here’s where it gets sticky…

    I am the sole provider for our family currently and am due with our second child on 9/2. And will be on maternity leave from Sept – Nov. I’m the only person with my skillset at this company so they will have to hire a temp or full-time replacement during my leave.

    Getting to the meat of the question, when should I give official notice? The way I see it I have 3 options:

    1. Give my notice now saying I am not coming back after maternity leave (however, that may put my husband and I in a bind with no maternity leave pay and our insurance lapsing – not good at any time, but especially not with a birth/baby).

    2. Give my notice during maternity leave (which doesn’t necessarily seem ideal for the company, but would be best for us).

    3. Say I am coming back after maternity leave even if just for a short time period to help train a new hire and wrap up the end of the year (I’m not sure this is even helpful for the company and I’m not sure it will even be possible to keep this promise).

    Right now I’m leaning towards #3 but I will also tell the owners I may or may not return and let them decide if they want to provide me the maternity pay. Then I will pay out of pocket for my insurance coverage if they do not want to offer my maternity pay. This avoids a lapse in insurance coverage and ensures I’m being totally upfront with my plans and lastly in case something falls through with my husband’s job, my job is still protected while I’m on maternity leave and I can always come back.

    TL;DR: When is the best time to give notice at a job if you are going on maternity leave and may or may not come back due to spouse’s recent job win (but no signed contract)? 1. Give notice now. 2. Give notice during leave when the job transition for spouse is finalized. 3. Attempt to return after maternity leave and give notice then (with the caveat that you may or may not return and you accept the fact that maternity benefits may not be paid out due to the fact you might not be returning).

    THANKS!!!!

      1. Anon for this*

        SO SORRY! Somehow this got submitted as a response to your question, when I was trying to delete it.

        If your bosses are reasonable, I’d go with number 3. Sounds like they are supportive and want the best for you. Also if you’re the only person with the skillset, they will almost certainly want some additional training time from you for the new person–your knowledge and skills will be really valuable to the team. If you get closer to the deadline and learn you will be relocating sooner, you can revisit it then, but starting from a “cards on the table” position with a reasonable boss is usually a good solution.

      2. cjb1*

        Not sure I understand. You might have left this on the wrong comment, @Anon for this.
        Or the sugar from my donut hasn’t kicked in yet. : )

        1. cjb1*

          Thanks, I think I just need some reassurance that that is truly the way to go. It’s just my tendency to help the company out keeps pushing me to just leave so I can train someone permanent and they don’t have to worry about the temp.

    1. Ms. FS*

      Give notice when you know exactly when you will be leaving. So if you end up finding out while on leave, give notice then. If you don’t know until after leave, then give notice then. Wait until you have contract, start date, etc. at husband’s new job.

      1. cjb1*

        Thank you for your insight. I’m sure this is probably the best way to go about it for everyone.

    2. cjb1*

      Some more insight into my tendency to want to be overly nice and just leave before maternity leave with a clean break: The previous person in my position left with a one day notice during her maternity leave, so it makes it even harder for me to give notice during my leave as well. I don’t want the company (primarily older white men) to get the impression women always leave after they have children – despite the fact I worked past my due date with first child and came back to work for 2 years after her.

      1. Ash PA*

        Just keep in mind that if you do not return from maternity leave, your company has the right to demand repayment of their portion of your insurance premiums they paid during this time.

        1. cjb1*

          Is that for sure? Even if it is not in their company documentation?
          I haven’t been able to find a clear documentation of that policy anywhere in my company’s information or online from a legitimate source.

          1. cjb1*

            Nevermind. Finally found it on the US DOL website. And you are right. It is not in the company handbook so I guess I’ll just have to ask HR. Thanks for that information!

      2. Honeybee*

        That’s really noble of you and as a woman, I understand your desire. However, you have to make choices that are best for you, too, not just for fighting the good fight. You’ve already proven that women don’t always leave after they have children, and this is a completely different circumstance (you’re moving for your spouse’s work, not deciding to be a SAHM).

        Besides, if they stereotype all women because of the actions of one or two, they’re the ones being idiots, not you.

    3. edj3*

      Guessing your husband got a gig with one of the field bands? If so, will he be going to basic training? I know not all branches of the military require that field band members go but some do.

      Is there a way for you to work remotely for your company from DC? Are you interested in that option? Because I think that’s something to consider too. If your husband does have to go through basic training, he still has to graduate from that prior to his field assignment. Something to consider.

      I was a military musician – it’s a lot of fun, he’ll have a blast once he’s there :)

      1. cjb1*

        Small world! : ) Your guess is correct. He’ll be with the Navy Premier Band and it does require basic (which of course throws a whole other wrench in this chaos). He’s passed MEPS previously – we just have to find out if it has expired or not. So it’s just a signed contract and basic training we are waiting on.

        Remote employment has been heavily discouraged (I asked about working from home for 1-2 days per week with my last child since I have a 1 hour commute, but was turned down instantly). We had someone abuse the system 10 years ago and they’ve never gotten over it. Although I have heard through the grapevine that someone might be getting it here soon. It’s definitely something I might consider, but highly doubt that with a toddler and an infant that I’ll be able to keep up without using daycare…and I’d like to avoid that huge expense. : )

        What group were you with? How did you like it?

      2. cjb1*

        Small world. : ) You’re right. He’ll be with the Navy premier band. He does need to do basic training, which of course puts a whole other plot twist in the chaos. He’s already passed MEPS about a year ago so we just have to see if that has expired yet. If not, he just has to sign and go through basic training.

        I attempted to do remote work for 1-2 days after my first child since I had a 1 hour commute, but it was immediately turned down as “never an option”. They had an issue about 10 years ago with someone abusing it and they’ve never gotten over it. I have heard that they might be starting it back up with someone else, however, with a toddler and an infant, I can’t really do remote work efficiently with daycare. And I think I’d like to avoid that huge expense. : )

        What group were you with? Where were you stationed? What did you like most about it and least about it? I’m looking forward to it for us – it’s going to be an awesome adventure.

        1. edj3*

          Army here–not a field band, but in the field. My basic training was at Ft. McClellan, AIT was at Little Creek (Navy base and was used by Army, Navy & Marines–he won’t need that being in the premier band but I did at age 18). My first duty assignment was in NJ then Germany. After active duty, I had a break in service and then joined a Reserve band for another 7 years.

          I loved the travel, performing essentially the same line up got boring (hey audiences love those standards because they are standards), marching was meh (main instrument is oboe so I marched with a piccolo) and I loved singing lead for our stage band/small combos. It’s a great lifestyle and he will have a blast.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I totally looked into this when I was in music college after I read an article about the Army band/choir in a professor’s magazine (I wanted to be in the choir). But I never did it, because they told me to visit the local Army recruiter and he knew NOTHING about the music stuff and all he did was laugh at my aspiration and flirt with me. Completely turned me off the military altogether. I was still under 21 and impressionable, and that was my impression. :(

    4. it happens*

      That is exciting! I think the advice about going with #3 is right. Especially since there is no contract or start date yet – who knows what might change in the meantime?
      Given that you will have to relocate for the military, I would ask the official military people if there are any special protections for you as a trailing spouse (especially the repayment of medical premiums during maternity leave if you are given short notice to relocate.) And, maybe current employer would look more favorably at telework for a military spouse… If you can find adequate child care, that is.

      1. Granite*

        Also ongoing WFH is different than doing it short term for transition purposes.

  14. Just Me*

    I have two interviews coming up next week – Yay!

    But, I’m stressing about how to handle the time away from the office. I’ll need to be out 8am-3pm the first day and 8am-1pm the next day. At this point I’m planning to just let everyone know that I’m sick the first day and then reiterate that I’m still feeling sick the next day. I feel so bad about this plan though!! First, I have a terrible poker face and hate lying. But also, I’m hardly ever out of the office and work closely with several people who will legitimately feel bad for me if they think I’m sick enough to stay away from the office AND off email for most of the day. Are there any other options? We plan vacation out much farther in advance and I don’t have any good reason to be taking two days off in the middle of a work week without prior notice…..

    1. KR*

      Can a family member conveniently need a drive to an appointment on those two days, or could you develop a toothache (start complaining today!), “go to the dentist” the first day and “get the filling” the second day?

      1. SevenSixOne*

        This is what I do if it’s not practical/possible to just use 2 days PTO for something like this.

    2. cjb1*

      I heavily lean towards not lying about being sick because it so often backfires (someone you know sees you / when and if you give notice, they will wonder when you had time for interviews). Plus, like you said, it just doesn’t feel right to lie.

      Is it possible to just say you need the vacation days for a personal matter and you realize it might be difficult to accommodate, but it is a necessity for you? Are you sure it will really be questioned with you taking 2 vacation days “for personal reasons”?

    3. pieces of flair*

      Can you just say you need time off for “appointments?” They’ll probably assume medical, but you’re not actually lying.

      1. beefy*

        This is what I did recently. I felt bad…but not too bad, especially once I got the job.

    4. Q*

      When I am interviewing, I say I won’t be in due to a personal issue I need to attend to. It’s the truth and people tend to not follow up on personal issues.

    5. AT*

      How about this – Your utility company is coming out to trim the trees and they notified you they will be dropping the cable/power lines temporarily while they work. You want to be home in case something goes wrong or the power is out longer than expected. Your internet obviously doesn’t work during this time, then when the lines go back up, you’re still having internet issues so Comcast is coming out in the morning to try and fix it.

      I think just saying you need to take PTO for an appointment or personal thing is probably easier :)

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        Why don’t you just knock down the lines yourself? Then you can even take pictures as proof.
        I second this, asking for personal PTO is probably easier :)

    6. Older not yet Wiser*

      Here’s how I recently handled taking a morning off for an interview: “I’m having trouble with a tooth that’s giving me pain and I have an appointment this Thursday at 9:00.” Both of these statements were true. It’s just that the appointment on Thursday was the interview and had nothing to do with my painful tooth.

  15. Stranger than fiction*

    Hey all you wonderful writers out there, could you please help me settle an argument? When a company name is two letters and an &, is the proper way to enter it in a database A&E or A & E? In other words, spaces or no spaces?

    1. Dangerfield*

      All the examples I can think of write it as A&E on their official channels, so I’d go with that.

    2. esra*

      If it were words you’d have the space, but none for only letters would be my instinct.

    3. Florida*

      I’d go for the way the company writes it. For example, down here SeaWorld is a company. They spell it with no space between the two words and the S and W capitalized, so that how everyone else should spell it as well.

      Often databases have the option of putting in the official name, plus alternative names. I would put one as an alternative. That way, people can search for it either way.

          1. Florida*

            That’s better than what I’ve been doing. I’ve been calling it “two words with no space between them and capital letters for each word.” PascalCase is way better.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        That’s funny, because company names like that, we leave it no spaces. Whenever I’ve looked up one of the companies with the & in the middle, it’s had no spaces, and that’s what I’ve always thought to be correct, but tell that to our 20 yrs employed here admin that insists on putting the spaces (which also causes crazy results when you search on it)

    4. Hillary*

      I’d go with however they spell it on their W-9 (says the person who has an amazing number of customers that try to game the phone book. AAAAA Services anyone?)

      1. Snork Maiden*

        We have some that do that as well, except in this day of Google, it often backfires. “Did you mean “Aaron’s Teapot Delivery?” Often times Google will autocorrect it to a company that’s half a continent away!

    5. Pwyll*

      If being absolutely correct is important, I look them up on the Secretary of State’s Website and literally copy and paste what the official charter says. There’s so much variation between A&E, Inc.; A & E, Inc., A&E INC., etc. that I’d rather just use what’s on their official government records.

    6. Granite*

      The key here is that it’s a database, so I’d put consistency as more important than technical correctness. To be easily searchable, folks need to know what format they should expect to be used.

  16. MsMaryMary*

    Oh, I’ve been waiting for the open thread. Knowing how everyone here feels about forced team building activities at work, I have something to share with all of you.

    I visited a health fair this week, which included several local business related to health and fitness. One of those businesses was a fitness studio specializing boxing classes for individuals and groups. The woman representing them at the health fair was pushing private group classes, like for birthday parties. Or for corporate outings! They gave me a brochure and I just had to share. I don’t want to dox them so I reworded a few things to try protect their anonymity (but the exclamation points are all theirs). The brochure also features a picture of a man and a woman wearing suits while sparring in a boxing ring.

    “Give your team a fighting chance! Get out of the Boardroom and into the Boxing Ring! Schedule your next team building adventure or work retreat at Wakeen’s Boxing Studio! An action-packed Fitness Boxing class will punch up the excitement in your work environment. This unconventional activity is great for morale building, breaking the ice between departments, and is an unequalled stress reliever. Take your team boxing and be the coolest boss on the block! At Wakeen’s Boxing Studio, we build champions!”

    1. Lillian McGee*

      Haha! An excuse to punch the very people I’ve been fantasizing about punching for years!

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Just watched the first season of Agent Carter, and this is part of what I found so appealing. I could identify with how she was treated at work, and she got a chance to fight her co-workers! And win!

    2. Mockingjay*

      Because nothing says bonding like your colleague knocking your tooth out…

      Think about this. A chance for those of us on the support teams (see Fig. 1, Org chart: bottom row) to put the superior beings on the Engineering teams (see Fig. 1, Org chart: top row) in their rightful place. (See Fig. 2, Updated Org chart: one row only.)

      I’m going to fantasize through lunch. *evil grin*

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      That sounds about as appealing as having my head held under water as a trust exercise.

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

        Trust that waterboarding is not actually drowning you…

    4. Michaela*

      Oh my goodness. Yes, a team-building exercise that will trigger my PTSD and send me into a flashback is a great idea.

      I need a cup of tea just to deal with the concept.

    5. Elsajeni*

      I won’t lie, I would LOVE this. The only thing I’d like more would be the one-day professional wrestling fantasy camp that I just found out exists in my city.

    6. anon for this*

      I work in a library and noticed that one of our problem patrons had also enrolled in karate at the same time as I had and we would be getting the chance to spar in class. The library staff started cheering me on and encouraged me to practice as much as possible. Some even sent me you tube fight clips for inspiration. The problem patron dropped out before sparring started though. We still see the guy in the library though although he scurries away when he sees me.

      1. MsMaryMary*

        Based on other pictures from their website, I suspect the classes are closer to tae-bo/kickboxing. You may get to whale on a punching bag, but I’m not sure you’d actually get to punch any coworkers. At least not on purpose.

        I’m not going to take my coworkers boxing, but when I was just out of college I did go on a work team building outing to play whirlyball (which is like lacrosse played in bumper cars). There was a company-funded open bar for a few hours too. Most everyone was in their 20s and thought it was great fun, but I ended up with a bruise the size of a baseball from bouncing around in the bumper car.

    7. SpaceySteph*

      I was on the party planning committee at work for awhile and we joked about having one of those inflatable boxing rings (with the blow up gloves, you know) at the upcoming team picnic.
      We all loved the idea of getting to punch our coworkers… management was less enthused :-)

  17. Christian Troy*

    I have a question about hiring managers making comments about age.

    Without going into a lot of boring details, I’ve been job searching for over a year. I have a master’s degree and some entry level experiences in my field but feel like I’m losing out to more experienced candidates.

    Anyway, I started applying for lower level positions and have gotten mixed results. Some managers have made comments about my age both directly and indirectly. They’ve made comments that the other coordinators are right out of college and in their early 20s and they like that an older woman like me could help them, even though we’d all have the same position and salaries. There are also comments about how they think it’s cool someone as old as me would want the position. The managers have also said they think I’m more than qualified for the job and coming in with a lot more experience than the other coordinators.

    Like, honestly these comments bother me A LOT because it sounds like I’m going to be bored and don’t fit in with the typical person filling the job. I’d be relocating for the position so there is also some “risk” involved. At the same time, I need a job and don’t want to drag my search out any further.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Not Karen*

      Wow, that’s really inappropriate of them to comment on your age. Age has nothing to do with one’s ability to do or not do a job. If you can, try reworking the conversation back to your qualifications.

    2. HR Recruiter*

      Yuck! Like AAM always says they are showing you who they really are. If they are that inappropriate in an interview what are they going to be like to work for? On the one hand it sounds like you really need a job so you might be able to tolerate them for a short time but on the other you said you’d be relocating which sounds like a big leap for a potential bad boss.

    3. Q*

      I’ve been in a similar position. I got my degree about 15 years later than “normal” and so at one position I was looking at I would be starting out with recent grads. Ultimately I passed but if you need the job and everything else is a good fit it might be worth it,

    4. Pwyll*

      From the phrasing it sounds like they might be intending this to be a compliment: that having someone with more experience in this role could serve as a peer role model to the fresh-from-college folks, and you’ll likely need less training on professional norms, but they’re instead discussing it in terms of age rather than experience/maturity.

      It’s not terribly positive, but for your own sanity perhaps try interpreting it as a compliment?

    5. AnotherFed*

      Given your last paragraph, I think these interviewers communicated exactly what they needed to – that many of your coworkers are going to be fresh out of school, have little workplace experience, and be in need of professional guidance. Some places might even be trying to hint that the typical new hire is pretty immature. It’s up to you to decide if you’re willing to put up with that.

      However, it sounds like you probably need to ask probing questions about your typical coworkers at other jobs, too. Places that have new college grads as most of their entry/mid level employees are going to have similar culture problems…

      1. Christian Troy*

        I think you hit the nail on the head why I feel so weird about the comments. I feel like deep down it is a culture mistmatch because while I would love to have more management responsibilities, it feels like if I’m in the exact same positions as these college kids, it’s not going to gel. But I feel like saying culture mismatch as a reason to not want a job feels like a luxury when you’ve been searching for so long.

    6. Pineapple Incident*

      Sorry I’m super late to the party here, but I wanted to throw in my 2 cents since this is an interesting question. I definitely think it’s important to weight the appropriateness of how some of these comments are delivered, because there’s a way to say that a person with more experience than their typical candidate would be an exciting asset to have (“other coordinators are right out of college and in their early 20s and they like that an older woman like me could help them” or any other shade of that is totally NOT a good way to put this). I know would appreciate having someone who was in a similar position but who had more life and work experience than I do (I’m very entry-level professionally). I’m sure that’s the kind of thing these managers are attempting to convey when they’re speaking with you, but it sounds like 3 of the 4 you’ve mentioned here are doing it very wrong..

      Depending on what other information you can glean about this or any similar position before you’re hypothetically offered it, it may be worth taking the risk. It obviously depends on how willing you are to be a sort of mentor figure to other people in your position who might not be as far along in their career as you are. And obviously you don’t want to work with people who think saying they’d like an older woman like you to work with their youngins is professional.

  18. Anonymous Cookie*

    Hypothetical question: how would you proceed if you applied for an internal position and a person you supervise also applied for the same position?

    1. regina phalange*

      that is a tricky one. does the person you hypothetically supervise deserve the position or is this a stretch for them? are they a good performer? sometimes people will apply for things where them getting it is a pipe dream, but they still do so to express interest and also you never know. I would support them if you can. I am not sure if telling them you also applied is the way to go, then again if you get it and they don’t, they might wonder why you didn’t tell them. So as you can see, I can’t make a decision on this one LOL.

      1. Anonymous Cookie*

        The employee is an excellent performer and the supervisor is very supportive of the employee’s goals. The position is a challenging one that would be a growth opportunity.

    2. Colette*

      Give a fair, honest reference if you’re asked. You may also want to let your employee know you also applied so that they can find other references. Other than that, there’s nothing you can or should do.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I would just leave it up to the hiring committee / department to figure it out, and if they ask you for a recommendation for your direct report, you be as honest as you can about both positives and negatives (don’t sabotage that person).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I assume you mean how would I talk to the employee about it if I were the supervisor?
      I would focus on the fact that neither one of us has control over the final decision. IF the employee is a good worker. I would honestly tell them that I felt the decision makers were in a tough spot having to decide this one. And I would say (if I believed it) that either one of us would be a good choice on their part. As a supervisor, I would still feel a little complimented if my subordinate got the job. It still reflects well on me in some ways.

      If I were the employee, it would be easier. I would expect the hiring manager/committee to lean in favor of my boss. So I would just give a nod to that, “Boss, I think that they will pick you because you have been here longer/have more experience with x/are more familiar with the ins and outs of our company and arena.”

      If I had a bad boss or subordinate I would keep it simple and just wish her well.

  19. regina phalange*

    Any advice for trying to lead by example? I’ve been encouraged to do so and feel like I’m failing miserably at it. I have team members that I do not manage who consistently make the same mistakes, even when they see me lead meetings where we agree upon option A, for example. But, if I’m not in meetings with them, they will suggest options B or C, options that negatively impact multiple teams. So even though they see me lead teams to the most efficient decision, and they see me fix their mistakes when they don’t do the same, they STILL make the same mistakes. So I don’t know if I am failing in my quest or if this is just a lost cause.

    1. Colett*

      Have you been clear about what you want them to do? Have you asked them why they make the recommendations they do? Have you walked them through your thought process?

      Leading by example is good, but it’s not the only tool tousle.

    2. AVP*

      Do you explain clearly why A is the right option? They may need coaching on how to think through these decisions, when and how consider other teams’ needs, what efficiency looks like on a high level…some of these decisions can be very obvious to some people and very opaque to others.

      1. regina phalange*

        Yep, I’ve explained all that and have asked them about their thought process as well. They will always agree A is better but then the next time it’s lather rinse repeat.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Then ask them why they chose B after they had agreed to do A.
          I used to say things like “we work hard enough without reinventing the wheel every time we need something with a round shape to it.” I focused on how hard we work and would it be nice to have some things nailed down so we do not have to keep discussing these points/ redoing work/doing things the harder or slower way.

          While I do understand it feels like pulling teeth, go back in each time they pick B or C and ask them why. Listen to the reason, even if it sounds like a bunch of stuttering. This is key. Making people explain why is sometimes MORE painful than giving them a lecture. Make them do the talking. Lecturing is very passive, all the recipient has to do is stand there and nod. If you stand there with the expectation of a well-constructed answer this can get very uncomfortable very fast. After a bit they will decide to do what they agreed to do rather than explain the inexpiable.

  20. Going academic?*

    I am a finalist for a staff (non-faculty) position at a local university. I have a meeting with the provost on Monday morning, which I think is the last step in the hiring process. Can anyone in the academic field help me with what to expect/prepare for? Thanks!

    1. Anonymous Cookie*

      If it’s anything similar to what I’ve experienced, the provost might be a tie breaker if the search committee can’t come to a decision or the provost might need to sign off on the person the search committee selects. Depending on your role, you might be asked questions about how you see yourself fitting into the department and university.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Depends on how invested the provost is in the decision and/or the department, frankly. I’ve met the provost and the president on searches where it was clear that everyone above a certain level was put in front of that person because they wanted to meet the person, but it wasn’t necessarily a “hard interview.” I’ve also been in front of presidents/provosts who took a VERY active role and asked probing questions about background, biggest achievements and questions about professional failures/regrets.

      Sometimes, they want to see if the person in question has the conversational skills to be able to converse about their field with an interested (and high-ranking) layperson.

      All that said, for this conversation, I would definitely be thinking about the ‘big-picture” implications of the role/field you’re interviewing for and how they affect student learning (or whatever your bailiwick is) and improve the institution’s ability to attract prospective students/potential donors, address alumni/community complaints, improve outcomes, etc. Good Luck!

    3. Laura*

      I work at a university, and my last interview was much the same. It seemed like they were just using the interview to make sure I was legit; I got the impression that they’d already decided to hire me. At this stage, the interview will probably be a lot of talking about the role and how your skills would directly help out there. Take it easy! It’ll probably be fairly casual. Good luck!

  21. anon1mous*

    so it’s now about 3 weeks into having two levels above me out. i now directly report to a VP.. and it’s so refreshing. she listens to what i have to say, gives feedback, and has brought me in to discussions i know i normally wouldn’t be brought in to. i’ve put my potential job search on hold because i feel like i’m starting to grow again here.

    when they eventually hire my boss, and boss’s boss will return.. how do i bring this up – that i’d like this relationship to continue? i don’t want to become stagnant again or left out of things; i have ideas, a vision, and more importantly, when i was hired i was told i’d be able to learn, grow, and further cultivate my career here. any advice is much appreciated.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “I’ve loved the chance to work more closely with you. You’ve given me such helpful feedback and insights and helped me grow professionally, and to be candid, I didn’t have that dynamic with Jane and I really value it. If there were a way to continue some of our conversations from time to time, I’d love that.”

  22. Amadeo*

    So, I accepted a position at another school across the river from home and gave my notice here yesterday, with a heavy heart. The new salary at the new position is much nicer than what I am making here at soon to be old job, but it was never about the money, only job security, which no one in my department could give me (stupid state budget).

    I am sad, and will be a little worried about my current coworkers for a while after I leave, my position is likely to be swept and left unfilled (my boss even grabbed her head when I told her, but she does understand, she’s frustrated too). I realize that it won’t really be my problem anymore after the end of this month, but when you love your coworkers…

    I’m sure other folks here have probably run into this at some point, so I just wanted to vent a little and commiserate, even though I’m looking forward to all of the new things I will learn at the newJob.

  23. Petri Dish*

    STEM folks (other than tech) please help me select some good wording to describe my niche side job on my resume.

    I have a lab-based day job but recently I’ve got a freelance side job. Basically I do copy editing on academic publications for ESOL clients overseas. I do things like abstracts, grant proposals, and journal articles because it is customary in the clients’ country to publish abstracts in English, even when the rest of the paper is written in their native language. Many academics in that country can read and understand English, but the writing often has a lot of errors. However, in that country custom dictates that I am referred to as a “revisora”, not an editor (they are very different jobs there).

    Suggestions?

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      Are you writing your resume in another language (Portuguese?) or in English? If in English, I would use the name for the type of editing you think you are doing (copy-editing or line-editing for ESL writers I’m guessing). I do the same with one of my previous job titles in German that has two English equivalents — I pick the translation that is most informative.

      1. Petri Dish*

        English resume. Thanks! Sometimes I work with a translator, sometimes directly with clients, and I was explaining the Cambridge comma to the translator just the other day!

    2. LadyKelvin*

      I’m in academics too and I would consider you a copy-editor. I’d go with what you are called in English rather than in the country’s language. Especially because you are applying to jobs in English so you want the actual duties of your work to be clear

      1. Petri Dish*

        Thanks. I’m strongly favoring “Freelance Copy Editor Specializing in XXX” and then putting “revising academic publications for ESOL clients” in the description of duties (I use a one line description of duties on my resume, then bullet achievements). I feel a little weird about using copy editor as a title though, primarily because my training is in STEM Laboratory Stuff (ok, there was a good deal of technical writing training in there. I write a mean SOP!). I got into this sideline sort of accidentally. I did a LOT of proofreading for international students when I was a student. Then I got a reputation as a good writer because I’ve gotten grants funded and various proposals for other things accepted. Then at one point I was the only native English speaker in my lab so I edited a paper for some ESOL colleagues, which was later published in a journal that is fairly prestigious in our field. Now I get clients overseas because I have a couple of friends in this particular country who give me referrals. It is also sort of related to a hobby of mine: I am moderately literate in 5 languages in addition to English because I find language learning interesting. I speak terribly but if you dropped me in the country where my clients are right now I could make myself understood and walk around without being too stressed.

    3. LadyKelvin*

      My office mate just came out as trans, and he (she?) hasn’t told us what pronouns, etc s/he would like us to use. I’m assuming she because she wears female clothes, etc but our reaction when we found out (via facebook) was “oh, ok then” and that was it. But be clear what you want to be called. That would make things in our office a lot less awkward sometimes.

      1. anonnymoose*

        You just need to ask them. Be polite, but don’t guess. They have 0 responsibility to explain themselves to anyone, no matter how confused you may be.

        “Hey X, this is a little out of the blue, but what are your preferred pronouns?” “Oh, they’re Y!” “Thanks, so how was your weekend?”

    4. Chameleon*

      The scientific journals I’ve submitted to refer to this service as “Language Editing” so maybe list is as Freelance Translator and Language Editor. It makes pretty clear that you are correcting the English only, not acting as a full editor.

      1. Petri Dish*

        Thanks! That’s a good suggestion too, except I do zero translation myself. I either get a document in English from the client or my translator friend sends me her translation plus the original document. I read well enough to make clarifications to her translation by referring to the original, but my command of that language isn’t good enough for me to translate a technical document myself. My clients are trying to avoid the hefty fees from the professional translation firms in their country. These firms are not only expensive but sometimes their work is shoddy and non-English speaking clients end up publishing in questionable journals because the reputable journals won’t accept the manuscripts riddled with minor, yet obvious, errors.

  24. Bend & Snap*

    I know we’re not supposed to submit questions here that we’ve written to Alison for, but how long does that rule apply? I submitted a question in October and was told it would be answered.

    The situation is coming to a head and I really do need advice.

    1. cjb1*

      I think just the past 1-2 months would definitely be a sufficient amount of time. I say, ask away!

    2. Pwyll*

      Perhaps ping her via e-mail just to be sure it wasn’t lost in the shuffle? (I’d only recommend that if it’s been, as you say, 6 months since you submitted)

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh dear. Definitely feel free to post it here, but if you wouldn’t mind, would you also email me so I can figure out what went wrong in my system (since I told you I’d answer it)?

  25. esra*

    Design types: Have any of you had luck finding remote jobs? I am starting what, I anticipate, will probably a long search for a remote gig I can stay with for a while. I’ve been looking on freshgigs and jobspresso, but any suggestions for job boards etc for remote positions would be much appreciated.

    1. Nanc*

      We always post our freelance remote positions on LinkedIn. We’ve found this gets the best response for our particular niche (we hire designers and writers for a particular industry) so it’s worth creating a job notification alert or following companies you’re interested in working with. We’ve had so many negative experiences with a variety of freelance job boards that we’ve just dropped that route. I’m sure there are good ones out there but at a certain point we (meaning me!) were so inundated with unqualified (and pushy, needy) applicants we made the decision to use the LinkedIn hiring process.

      You might also target and poke around the careers pages of particular companies. Big companies often have a pool of preferred freelancers who get the first crack at the jobs. You may have to go through the vendor application process (designers usually fall under either pr/marketing or professional services in the list) as a start. Be forewarned those applications can be long and tedious; fortunately, many of them let you save an application in process while you go and look up the name of first grade teacher’s favorite childhood pet.

      Also, we found one of our long term freelancers via a declined applicant. The applicant realized it wasn’t a good fit during the phone interview but she said she knew someone she thought would be perfect and sent her our way. You just never know how it will happen–so good luck.

    2. AnonymousMarketer*

      Indeed actually has a lot of remote positions if you check on there.

  26. TransAnon*

    I am transgender and planning to come out at work in the next few weeks. I work in a small group – there are only five of us, including my boss – and am pretty close and friendly with everyone. I plan on telling everyone in person, but I’m not sure what exactly to say, or what kind of information to offer or include when I talk to them.

    So, if you had a trans colleague, what kind of things would you want to know? What kind of background information would you want to have? Are there any questions that you would want to ask (even of you wouldn’t neccessarily actually ask them)?

    1. Dangerfield*

      I would want to know what name and pronouns they wanted me to use, and if there was anything the office could do to provide support. I think I’d also want to know if it was something you were happy to chit-chat about or if you’d prefer to just announce it and have it be accepted and move on.

      1. cjb1*

        ^this pretty much nails it. I think most people (me included) would just like to know what you want and what we can do to support it.

    2. Fawnling*

      Hi! Maybe explain why it is important and respectful for them to call you by your preferred pronouns? I am not trans but I do often see cis folks ignoring preferred pronouns because they don’t understand the demoralizing effect it may have and think it is “just a word”.

      1. Karo*

        I would wait on this step until someone is dismissive or rude. Saying it up front would put my hackles up, whereas sharing the new name and pronoun would be super helpful.

      2. blackcat*

        +1

        Some people fail at switching pronouns unless they make a big effort. Even very well-meaning people may think that slipping up occasionally doesn’t matter, so saying that it’s very important to you could be helpful.

        (Or, maybe it’s not. But if it is, it’s ok to say it!)

    3. KR*

      What their preferred pronouns are, and how they would like us to handle vendors and other people in the industry!
      Example, say you come out and then the next week a vendor you work closely with mentions you, do you want people to correct them (“Actually, it’s Wakeen not Roberta!” “Wakeen uses male pronouns – I thought I heard you say ‘she’ there.”), let it slide, or let you deal with it?

      1. Elsajeni*

        Yes, I’d want to know this for sure — if I talk to someone who knows you but refers to you by the wrong name/pronouns, should I correct them? Does it make a difference whether they seem to be getting it wrong in an unintentional way (like, they haven’t talked to you since you came out and don’t know, or they fumble around a bit and seem unsure which pronoun is right) or deliberately? Are there specific people you don’t want to tell yet (or ever)? That kind of thing.

        1. Elsajeni*

          (Edit: to the extent that makes sense for your type of job, of course. In my job, this would be useful information — there are a lot of people who I deal with frequently enough that they know my name, but infrequently enough that I could change my name and they wouldn’t find out about it for months. But if your coworkers are unlikely to run into this situation, no need to stress about it.)

    4. LQ*

      Name, pronoun, people I should be careful about saying what around (like if there are people you aren’t telling, how to deal with that).

      I’m going to say if I wasn’t close, this conversation would make me uncomfortable, but because it would feel like anything beyond those three things would be more than I should know. I would be unconcerned that a coworker was transgender, but I might be bothered that they wanted to share personal stuff with me. So if someone you think would be accepting seems uncomfortable, it might just be the sharing, not the transgender part that is making them uncomfortable. That said, you might want to start with the name/pronoun/cautions and then let them ask questions. (If you think they’ll get into questions you don’t want to ask though you might want to be ready to shut that down.)

      Good luck!

    5. Anoners*

      I’m excited for you to let your colleagues know! Honestly, maybe I live in a delusional Canadian mindset, but there probably is less mystery on behalf on your colleagues now that transgender rights are so in the media (in the sense of them asking you tons of personal questions). I have a few trans friends, and they would all probably handle it a different way. I’d go with whatever you feel comfortable with. Sounds like you’re all super tight so they’ll probably be into hearing about your transition/choosing your new name (if you did), things like that. :)

    6. Creag an Tuire*

      I feel like the only question that would be -appropriate- for me to ask is “So, do I still call you Wakeen or is there another name you prefer to go by now? And just double-checking, from now on I’m supposed to use the other pronoun when talking about you in the third person, right? Apologies in advance if my memory occasionally slips.”

    7. Lillian McGee*

      I think I would just want you to be very clear and specific about the things that you would expect me to change about my language when you come out–for example will I need to start using a different set of pronouns, a different name, etc…
      I hope you get their full support and encouragement!

    8. Master Bean Counter*

      For me, just tell me how you want to be addressed. Forgive if my brain slips at first and just keep doing awesome work.

    9. Florida*

      What everyone said, but also something like, “I know this might be a new situation for people. I don’t want it to be awkward for anyone, so if you are unsure of anything, please ask.”

      Recognize that for some co-workers (depending on where you live, where you work, etc.), they might be fairly unfamiliar with transitioning and not know how to handle certain situations. Let them know that they can ask without judgment.

      1. Honeybee*

        Wellllll I’m not sure I’d say that quite like that unless I was really okay with them just asking. The person that the transition is MOST awkward for is the person transitioning. And it’s really not trans people’s responsibility to make cis people feel less awkward about their transition. (It’s great if the trans person feels that way and wants to do it, but they shouldn’t feel obligated to).

        Also, some questions – like what pronoun to use – are legitimate work-related questions, but sometimes some people tend to try to use their One Minority Friend as their teacher/an endless font of information, appropriate or not, in the area of their marginalized identity. Which is okay if the person in question really wants to do that, but can be invasive and rude and sometimes offensive depending on the context and what the question is. And even if the person in question likes to educate, doing it over and over again for weeks, months, years on end can be exhausting.

        So I’m not sure I’d say that, although I would try to be as gracious as possible when people asked me (legitimate) questions.

    10. AnotherAlison*

      People may be curious about the restroom situation. Might be easier to lay it out there that you plan to begin using the facilities for your gender so no one is surprised.

      1. Pwyll*

        Given the recent politicization of all the restroom bills, I’m not sure I would call specific attention to that issue unless asked. There are lots of things that will change based on her adopting the gender that corresponds with her identity, and I think the most important of them are: what is her name, what pronouns should people use, how should people correct customers/coworkers/etc. Instead of actively bringing up something that is controversial to many folks, I’d probably just address it with my boss and HR so the message from them should anyone ask is: “Mary is a woman, so of course she’s using the women’s room.”

    11. Temperance*

      I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know a lot about trans issues here: I would appreciate a website with a FAQ or 101 attached. (That’s what I send around when I invite people to events serving the trans community, or when I ask someone to represent a trans client.) TLDEF has some great resources.

      I saw a very nice coming-out note that my boss’s son’s teacher sent to the class parents, outlining how he planned to come out to the kids, and inviting the parents to ask him questions as well. He let them know that he expected people to mess up pronouns on occasion, or use Ms. instead of Mr. (his class is 5 and 6 year olds), and he was fine.

    12. Meemzi*

      Buy a cake that says, “Congrats to TransAnon on (your pronoun) coming out!” Tell them, “I know you have a bunch of questions, so take a few minutes to check out these trusted resources and then I’ll answer your questions over cake. Here are some things you should Not Do. See you in the break room in 10!”

      I’m not sure if I’m serious about the cake. But any announcement is an occasion for cake, so… Cake, anyone?

    13. Undine*

      Someone at work did this. She told me earlier, before fully coming out. She did it by email over the weekend, so I’ve just looked through my email to see what she did. This was in a much larger office and so she needed it kept private, so the email says something about Private: Personal matter. She also in that case had some things to say about handling rumors, which won’t be your problem. Too long to look though right this moment, but things I notice:

      They talked to HR and management first, and I think an overall plan was worked out on how to handle it. If you haven’t done that, I would recommend where to start.

      She wrote a long personal letter about how she had made this choice and what she was planning to do. Some of what the letter addressed was what could people expect in the months to come. She also said if we had questions, we could ask her or Hr (but obviously that depends on your level of comfort). I don’t want to pull quotes because this is so personal. Some of it was defusing negative attitudes (“This is not a choice”), some was to explain how she came to this decision, and some was to set expectations — how her appearance was going to change, when she would start her new name/pronoun, etc.

      She also attached another document that looked kind of like a presentation, almost (although it was a word doc and had more connective text than a powerpoint would).

      Overall, it looked very much to me as though she had found some places online that had recommendations on how to come out as trans at work. I would definitely look for something like that, if you haven’t already. The end of this document references the following doc:
      The Layperson’s Guide to Understanding Trans* Experience and Identity

      But she didn’t send that everybody, just the people she talked to directly. Then later, there was an official announcement from her boss, which told of the change then included the following:

      “I ask you all to welcome Cersei to Westeros Teapots on Monday as the same well-respected individual that we have known for many years as Jaime. This is a very brave and personal endeavor that we get to support Cersei with. There will be mistakes in how we all refer to her and it will not be easy, however this is hardest for Cersei and she is very aware and accepting that we will make mistakes.”

      I would definitely get your boss on your side if you can.

        1. TransAnon*

          Me too! I was planning to tell my boss first anyway, so that she can talk to HR and get a head start on anything that needs to be done in that respect. If she seems open to it, perhaps I’ll drop a hint about sending a similar message to the other staff we don’t work closely with.

    14. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Everyone else said it very well, so I’ll just say good luck! I’ll be rooting for you here at my desk! :)

      Oh! Coworkers probably won’t ask, but if you have a tentative schedule for SRS and you’re comfortable discussing it with them, it might be good to let them know that you will probably need about x weeks of medical leave, probably around x months from now. Not really their business, but then they just might want to make sure they can cover your tasks at work, and maybe visit or send you get-well wishes, since you’re close.

    15. matcha123*

      If you were my coworker, I think I’d just say “okay” and inside I’d be hoping that my reaction wasn’t offensive or disappointing. I’m not big on personal announcements, so you’d probably get the same reaction as someone who says they’re getting married or having a baby: “oh. ok.”

      I think that if you are going to go by a different name or something, it would be helpful to know that early on. I guess I’d feel better if you let me what you expect from me, if anything.

      1. Shell*

        I’m also a person who defaults to “okay” and moving on. TransAnon, if any of your coworkers aren’t curious about further details, please don’t take it personally!

        For me, all I would want to know is any preferred names/pronouns, and your white/blacklist of people to mention this to. Is it okay to use your preferred name/pronouns (if any) with Jane, but not with Joe? If random customer John Smith refers to you by the wrong name/pronouns, should I correct them?

        Otherwise, my reaction would be “okay, sure” and move on. The process is so personal and individual to each trans person, I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking for details even if I were curious. There may be people who are curious for further details, but there may be others who just won’t ask and any chitchat would have to be initiated by you. If you have any of the latter, please don’t take it to mean they dislike you or anything like that.

        1. TransAnon*

          Honestly, I’m kind of hoping that everyone has the “Oh, okay” and move on reaction. That would certainly take a lot of the stress away!

          It’s also why I was curious to hear what people would want to know – my coworkers are the type that might just accept it and not ask, so I want to make sure I hit two or three of the key points up front so they don’t have to feel awkward a couple weeks down the road coming back with questions.

          1. another-anon*

            Late to the game here, but I might consider telling my colleagues separately, rather than in a group. I know I definitely wouldn’t ask questions in front of my coworkers, even if I had them. Unless this makes it more awkward for you!

    16. LadyKelvin*

      My office mate just came out as trans, and he (she?) hasn’t told us what pronouns, etc s/he would like us to use. I’m assuming she because she wears female clothes, etc but our reaction when we found out (via facebook) was “oh, ok then” and that was it. But be clear what you want to be called. That would make things in our office a lot less awkward sometimes.

    17. ActualName*

      Hey! I’m trans too!
      Coming out is hard, especally the first time. I don’t think there is the right time or the right words or any of that. All you can do is your best. And be warned: You never really stop coming out. But it does get easier. The interactions no longer hold that same significance and it just becomes a part of life.

      1. TransAnon*

        Yeah, I am prepared for the first couple of conversations to be super awkward, especially because they will be with the ‘important people’, and I’m going to be super nervous no matter what. But I’ll never get better at it if I don’t practice, right? :)

        1. LabMonkey*

          I’m also trans and…kind of out at work? (My coworkers at one job just sort of ignored my coming out and I’m still baffled about what to do there.) Most people, I find, are very much of the “oh, ok” persuasion if you give them the name/pronouns run down. I get more pushback because I’m nonbinary and don’t use gendered pronouns, but most of my binary trans friends don’t really get questions. People are familiar with the concept. Good luck!

          1. Also trans and out a work*

            I’ve been out as genderqueer at work for about 6 years now and I’ve had a few different jobs in that time. The most supportive manager worked with me to create a briefing document for my immediate co-workers laying out my preferences for how to handle different scenarios (eg that I want colleagues to correct other colleagues when they misgender but leave it up to me when I’m at external events etc etc). The wider team just got a three sentence explanation in the weekly staff newsletter.

    18. Karo*

      My advice would be to be as open as you can be with it. Tell them your name and what pronouns you want to use, and what to say to people who refer to you incorrectly. If you’re planning on transitioning, tell them what they should say to people who ask. Also let them know that you’re open to questions, and that you promise not to get offended unless they’re purposefully being jerks (NB: this does not mean that you have to answer the questions just listen to them and tell them nicely if they crossed a line).

      My husband has a co-worker who may be cross-dressing, may be transgender, may be transitioning. Even though they’re friends, he doesn’t want to ask the co-worker any of these things, but he sometimes get asked by other co-workers. He obviously doesn’t want to speak for the co-worker and say that the co-worker is transgender, but he also doesn’t want to brush it off and say “oh Robb just likes to crossdress” or something equally insensitive. Also, when his co-worker presents as a woman, he knows to use she/Sansa (and him/Robb on days when the co-worker presents as a man), but neither of us know what pronoun to use in the general sense. I’m Facebook friends with the co-worker, where she identifies as Sansa, but if I’m talking with my husband about his day and I ask about a project they’re working on together, do I ask after Sansa or Robb? Those are the questions that plague me!

      1. Honeybee*

        I would not promise not to be offended unless a person is intentionally being a jerk. Intent isn’t magic. If I accidentally run over your foot with my shopping cart, you’re allowed to say “Ow! That hurt!” and I wouldn’t get miffed that you were hurt because it was an accident. I think it’s the same thing – even if a person is well-intentioned, there’s nothing wrong with a trans person feeling hurt and/or clarifying that what they said was offensive – that’s the only way the speaker will learn not to say it again.

      2. LabMonkey*

        That might be what this person is happy with, though. Genderfluid is a not super unusual thing (and some people who are fluid id as trans, and some don’t). I’d maybe just ask Sansa how she wants this handled, same as anyone else.

    19. anonnymoose*

      Someone transitioned in my office several years ago. Change in pronouns and slight change in name. We were individually called into our respective boss’ office and told about it, including the change in bathroom. They asked if we had any questions and kind of directed us to the local HR rep and that was it. From what I know, everyone was pretty cool about it.

      I would suggest you talk to your boss first and figure out the best way to handle it. You shouldn’t have to field a lot of awkward questions, this isn’t a presentation.

    20. Granite*

      I’ll add two comments. One, along the lines of what others have said, focus on what they need to know (name and pronouns, how to handle vendors, etc.) Try not to make it more complicated than it needs to be.

      The other, unfair as it is, is to show compassion for folks that are clearly trying to get everything right and screw up on occasion. There was a great article I’ll try to find a link to on this topic. The summary is that folks who were most conscious of trying not to be perceived as biased (whether they were biased or not) were the most likely to make mistakes. IIRC, the idea was that because they were so focused on not screwing up, it actually changed their perception of time such that they rushed to decisions and made more errors.

    21. Ultraviolet*

      I’d mostly want to know their preferred pronouns. Also, if there are people we work with like a remote team or vendors or frequent customers who they’re not going to contact and come out to at the same time as the main office, how would they like me to handle that? (I’d primarily want to hear whether there’s anyone that my colleague would prefer to come out to personally but there’s a chance that I’d end up talking to before they could.)

    22. Elizabeth West*

      I want to call you what you want to be called and let you know I’m available if you want to talk about it. If not, that’s cool too. :) I would also want to know if you want me to refer people to you if they have questions.

      I’ve dealt with a trans vendor (a cleaning person) at a different job–one day, the person I had known as Wakeen came in wearing makeup and a blouse and said, “I’m going by Cecily now; please call me that.” I was like, sure thing. She did want to talk about it, and we chatted a bit here and there before I left that job and didn’t see her anymore.

      1. Stablegoat*

        I just have to say how much I ADORE the responses to this thread. You lovely people inspire hope in humanity.

    23. LabMonkey*

      I know you said it’s a small group, but if it’s a large org you might have some policies in place around this already that could be helpful. Having your manager behind you and supportive will be helpful – they can also be the one to field any questions the others have. Even if you’re cool to answer stuff, I might still recommend having your boss do it as it makes the support from the company a lot more explicit in the hopefully unlikely event anyone is bothered (and ideally lets people ask their invasive questions and get it out of their systems without bothering you).

      You’re great and this will make you even better. Happy whatever kind of transition you decide is right for you!

  27. Fawnling*

    I just left one toxic job for another and I don’t know what to do.

    I started Monday at the place I interned at in college just under a year ago. I was there two years and became an integral part of the department despite being an intern (they make sure that you know your place in the hierarchy). I worked closely with Bill and Wanda, the two people in the department, and they both praised my abilities and knowledge. Bill even told me I was “different than the other interns” in terms of work ethic .

    After graduating I moved on to another job outside the company. I was told I would be moved into a permanent position after my internship but they could not get the budget approved and I could not wait and continue my internship without being in school. Wanda had a host of issues that prevented her from working and eventually had to quit, so her position opened several months after I had left and I applied.

    6 months later I have the job! And it’s awful. Bill is now my equal and on the first day he:
    – Said he couldn’t trust me
    – Said my work was sloppy. When I asked him what he meant by that he said he expected me to remember how to do everything.
    – Told me to “Stop acting like an intern” when I asked a question.
    – Has micromanaged every aspect of my being since I have returned.

    For example, if I have a window or application open on my monitor he will walk behind me and question why I have it open or what I’m doing or looking at. If I say or do something that he thinks is wrong, he says “NOOOO. No no no. You’re doing that all wrong.” then come over and do it for me instead of showing me what I did wrong. Even in conversation he starts every sentence is response to me with “No.” It can literally be a difference of opinion or method, not necessarily incorrect, yet he will make a huge deal. The department is a literal disaster and when I arrived Monday morning I had to move boxes and equipment just to get to my keyboard. Things disappear off my desk and Bill puts things on my desk all day, then tells me in an accusatory tone not to put anything on his desk (I haven’t). My defenses are constantly up and I have a sour attitude when we communicate now. I am generally a happy and pleasant person.

    It is incredibly demoralizing and humiliating. He also does this in front of peers and interns and it leaves me feeling incompetent and embarrassed. He does not treat me like an equal and did not treat Wanda in this way. I wake up several times during the night with a stomach ache and anxiety in preparation of coming to work and three times this week I have went home and cried because I feel so disrespected. I spoke with my boss on Monday morning in passing, “Hey, is everything okay with Bill? He seems stressed and said he didn’t trust me.” and boss seemed surprised but came back on Tuesday and made excuses for his behavior. I honestly feel like quitting and I’ve only been here 5 days.

    What the hell do I do? I feel like I made a huge mistake leaving Toxic Workplace 1. I wasn’t completely happy there but at least I still felt like myself.

          1. Fawnling*

            After talking with manager on day 1 he said he wanted me to let him know if Bill said anything else along the lines of “I don’t trust you” but I’m conflicted since it’s literally my first week on the job. I don’t want to be that person that has issues with people on their first week.

            My manager also snapped his fingers at me to get my attention yesterday, but that’s a whole other issue in itself.

            1. Christy*

              Your manager WANTS you to tell him! It’s only been a week–give the manager a chance to fix the problem that is Bill. He specifically told you to tell him if there’s a problem with Bill, so listen to him! It sounds like your manager has your back, so let him have your back.

            2. neverjaunty*

              Snapped his fingers? FFS.

              Yes, talk to your manager, who probably has a really good idea already there is a problem. But start looking to get out now.

            3. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Your manager specifically asked you to tell him, so he clearly knows there’s an issue with Bill. Tell him. Your manager made it clear he doesn’t want you to suffer in silence. I’d actually be annoyed if I told someone “tell me if this happens” and they didn’t!

            4. Elizabeth West*

              Bill is still thinking of himself as your manager/trainer. You’re not an intern anymore, but you are in his mind. Your manager may have to set him straight. Definitely say something. If you’re equals, he is not in charge of you any more, though he may be required to train you. But new employee training is NOT the same thing as when you were an intern.

    1. esra*

      1. This doesn’t sound like it’s about you, Bill is having some issues and that’s on him.
      2. Honestly, I would start looking again.
      3. If you feel like it would make you feel better in the meantime, it sounds like it might be worth having a sitdown with Bill. You can let him know that if you are doing something wrong or need to ask a question, that it would be more helpful if he could let you know what’s wrong so you can improve. The tactic I’ve found best when dealing with unprofessional people is to be painfully professional and neutral.

      1. Fawnling*

        I’ll definitely do this. I’ve been getting emotional and defensive because it’s honestly so embarrassing for him to do. I left a place where I was promoted to a managerial role in a couple of months because of my experience and knowledge (IT) and it’s just a different procedure here that will take time to get used to. One of the interns was back here a few moments ago when Bill started his “no no no”s that sounded like reprimanding a dog and his eyes got really wide.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Bill is the only one who should be embarrassed. He is bullying you and making a complete @$$ of himself. Sounds like he has a complex because you were a “mere” intern and are now his equal. That’s his problem to get over.

          Be straightforward with your boss about how Bill’s behavior is interfering with your work. That said, it does not bode well that your boss is brushing you off and that there’s apparently a culture of disrespect (“know your place” – what is this, King’s Landing?).

    2. Dawn*

      “Bill is now my equal”

      A- your situation sucks, and a million internet hugs to you!

      B- Bill is your co-worker now, and if you rocked your internship as well as it sounds like you did Bill might very well be afraid you’re going to upstage him and he’ll [instert concern here- no longer be the star, have to start pulling his weight, can’t walk all over you like he could with Wanda]. Push back on Bill- he has ZERO authority over you, fill your boss in on what’s happening, and remember that transitioning to a new job (even if it’s at a place you’ve been before) is fraught with bumps and adjustments for everyone and try not to take things personally. And remember that it’s BILL who has the problem here, NOT YOU.

    3. T3k*

      If it were me, I’d be very blunt and go “Look, during my internship you praised my work, said I was a great intern, etc. and now you’re telling me that I’ve apparently been doing this wrong the entire time. If I was doing it wrong as an intern, why didn’t you say something?” or something along those lines. But if you’re not that kind of person, is there a way to sit down and talk with him, possibly with an intermediary?

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      Stop letting Bill have this power over you. He’s acting like an ass. If he comments on your computer screen the appropriate response is, “Why are you looking?”
      Put it in your head that you and Bill are now equals. If he says something inappropriate just look at him and say “wow.” Then turn away.
      But really the best thing to do in this situation is go to your boss and tell her that the way Bill is acting is actually impeding you from learning your job and being productive, make it about the impact on the work, not personality issues. You could move on, and should, but you are going to run into Bills where ever you go.

    5. NarrowDoorways*

      Where is your boss?! Go to your boss? What is this crazy? Not ok, Bill! Not ok!

    6. Lucky*

      I’m so sorry. I don’t have any specific advice, but Bill is a jerk.

      Okay, maybe a bit of advice. You say that you & Bill are now equals, and Bill doesn’t seem to like that so he’s gaslighting and undermining and bullying you. Push back, respectively but firmly. When he looks over your shoulder and asks why you have a window or application open, tell him you’re in the middle of something and don’t have time to talk. If he says you’re doing something wrong (as in, ‘this isn’t the way we do things here,’ not ‘you just plugged your mouse into the toaster’), respond ‘this is my responsibility, so you can either tell me the correct way to do the thing, or you can let me do it my way.’ If he tells you not to put anything on his desk, look puzzled and respond ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about’ and walk away. And when he does this in front of your peers and the interns, remember that no matter what Bill thinks, you *are* his equal. He is not the boss of you.

      I worked with a bully like Bill when I was very new to the workplace, and I remember the stress and anxiety and crying at the end of the day. It sucks, and Bill sucks for bullying you. One thing I did was to practice how I would react to him in the mirror at home. Literally, while putting on my mascara, blow-drying my hair, I would have imaginary conversations like ‘that’s one way to do that thing, but I’m going to keep doing it my way’ or ‘thanks, but I’ve got this covered’ or simply ‘no thanks,’ with a neutral face and pleasant tone.

      But again, Bill is a jerk.

    7. Q*

      Bill is a jerk and I’m sorry you have to deal with him. I’d suggest standing up for yourself and pushing back but that might set him off even worse.

    8. BRR*

      Sounds like Bill is having an issue with you now being an equal or is upset that Wanda is gone. Let your manager know again.

      Have you also asked Bill directly? Like “Bill, you gave me a lot of positive feedback when I was interning here. Is there something that happened since I’ve started as full-time employee?” I woudl try and treat everything like facts. That it’s not your perception of the situation.

    9. Jay Esse*

      I am new to AAM and have never commented but this hit home for me – I used to work in a toxic environment where I regularly woke up in the middle of the night dreading going to work. I just want to say I am so sorry for what you are going through! It helped me to take very deep breaths while laying down and remind myself of all the things I had coming up in the next few days or weeks that were fun or positive. You are more than this job.

    10. Bumble*

      I’m in a similar situation and I am thinking about leaving without another job lined up because it is so bad. I have a boss like “Bill,” except everyone is on his side, including head boss. The problem though is that it isn’t just Bill that I have to worry about- the others make comments, so I feel like I have 10 bullies. It’s horrible and incredibly toxic. I cried every night this week and once or twice in the morning going to work. I want to quit without any job lined up because it is so bad, but I know it will be difficult to find a job and I have bills to pay, plus I need the insurance.

      Hang in there, Fawnling. Report Bill when he gets out of line and just do your best until you get get promoted, switch departments, or find a new place to work.

  28. Seren*

    I think I’m frustrated at work. The job is a new venture for the company and the policies are very much “build as we go.” We still don’t have anything established on, like, leaving the office understaffed because everyone wants lunch at 12, etc. Few people put the needs of the business on par with personal needs and wants. I feel like I never get to sit down and I am constantly running around and doing work, but at the end of the day I’ve done low numbers. What gives? And then when I go home, I fall into bed, I hardly open my eyes, and my brain just starts running with negativity about my numbers. My manager wants to be hands off and trust us and I get that, but then I don’t feel like I have someone to turn to about improving my job performance. Help!!!

    1. Mirilla*

      Well being hands off is good but when you need help that’s what he/she is there for. I would ask anyway!

      1. Seren*

        You’re right. My manager was off this week so it wasn’t possible to ask, but yes, I should ask for more feedback about what my hang-up is. And/or write a lunch policy that they can review and implement from the top down.

        Bad news, the manager may not even know the answer and ask me to look for an answer myself again… Which was so successful this past week. Ugh.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Lunch breaks. Tell your boss. I worked several places with lunch break problems. One place was so bad that I did not get my first 15 minute break until I was six hours into my shift. And this was a very physical job. I told the boss that something needed to be done. After that everyone had assigned breaks. If you did not leave on time, you waited until everyone else was done to take your break.

      You never get to sit down. I am not sure if this means you have no break OR you cannot do the parts of your job where you need to sit down. Your workplace sounds chaotic. Go situation by situation and ask yourself, “do I really need to run?”.
      Sometimes you can use words, “The paper towels are kept in the upper cabinet to the left of the sink.” Describe rather than do.
      Sometimes you can double up, as in, you need to go see Mary about A. Is there anything else that needs to go to Mary as long as you are going that way? Bob’s desk is next to Mary’s so you could take B and C with you.
      If you find yourself looking for the same info/items over and over, start using a little note pad to jot this stuff down. That way you do not have to figure it out all over again.
      I had one job where all my pants had to have pockets. I randomly needed a pen and a couple other small items through out the day. I would put these items in my pocket each morning as part of getting dressed. I’d take them out at night and leave them on the bathroom counter for the next morning. I do think I needed to chain the pen to myself because I never could keep a pen all day.

      The way to get a handle on the chaos is to look at your recurring problems and try to find helpful solutions that you will make part of your routine. Don’t worry about the problems that are unique right now. Just handle the recurring difficulties, nail them down first. I hope you chuckle. I was working a couple jobs. At the end of the day, if I was really tired, I could not for the life of me remember which phone number I was at. I made labels and attached it to my phones at the jobs. Problem over.

  29. bassclefchick*

    Well, my current assignment is about to end. MAYBE end of month, but probably 2 more weeks. And, of course, because I have SO much anxiety about job hunting…I have nothing new lined up. I’ve told my current service and am signed up with two others. But I haven’t had an interview in months. I’ve sent out some resumes and attended an open hiring event for a major healthcare provider in the area, but nothing ever pans out.

    On the plus side, there’s about to be a permanent spot open on another team here. They just got a new manager from outside the company. And I know here from my previous assignment! Spoke to her yesterday and she seemed enthusiastic about talking with me about the position. AND she remembered me! We didn’t work together directly, but we had met and knew the same people. She’s having me sit with one of her team members next week!

    So, not AT ALL a sure thing, but I’m very cautiously optimistic about my chances at FINALLY finding a permanent job. And if this one doesn’t work out, well, that’s my life.

  30. Nicole J.*

    I’m always looking for part-time event staff, and many of the CVs I get through are from young people looking for a casual job or summer work. A fair number of them are really not good (I know it’s hard to write a CV when there’s not much to put on it or you’re not sure what should go on it.)

    Would it be appropriate to give feedback ? If so, does anyone have suggested wording for a way to give polite but effective feedback, in a way that doesn’t crush someone who may be sending out their first ever CV/application? I’m in the UK if that makes any difference…

    1. Dangerfield*

      If you’re willing to give feedback, could you perhaps put a line in the rejection asking if they’d like it?

    2. KR*

      Young people need money too! You may see a CV from a young person and think they want a casual job, but they might be trying to pay their rent and just not have a very good CV.

      1. Nicole J.*

        Well, I’m mainly talking 15+, so mostly they are living with parents now and looking just for part-time work, extra money etc. Should’ve been more specific!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If you can, why not put in your ad/job description that their CV needs to show X, Y and Z? Just tell them point blank what you are looking for.
          This is a group of people who are mostly relying on their parents’ advice. The parents’ advice could be obsolete or the parents could be neglectful of the teen in some unseen manner.
          I know for a fact my parents would NOT have helped me write a CV/resume. And there was no one around me who would, either. I know I missed out on opportunities because adults would say, “WELL, YOU SHOULD KNOW!!!” I missed those genes at birth for some reason.
          Tell them up front in your ad that CVs lacking X, Y and Z information will not be considered, or whatever it is you want them to know and do.

    3. T3k*

      Maybe offer feedback so they have the option to ask for it? I’d have loved it if someone was actually willing to give me advice on mine, instead of sending out applications all over and wondering why you never hear back.

    4. Colette*

      Is there a resource you can point them to, or can you create a short reference doc you can include with your rejection? I’d be leery about offering individual advice but general advice would be a nice thing to do.

    5. Florida*

      I might be in the minority, but I would not give feedback. If one of the candidates ASKS you what they can do to improve their resume, yes, by all means help them. I would not give unsolicited feedback.

      1. Anna*

        It sounds like Nicole J. is leaning in that direction, but I also think it’s different for very young people versus people who are actually adults.

        1. Nicole J.*

          I honestly don’t know if I should or whether it would be better to leave it.

        2. Florida*

          I think unless you are a parent, teacher, or manager, where your job is to give feedback, it is best to ask people if they want advice, regardless of their age.

          “If I can help you in any way in your job search, or if you’d like any tips on your resume, please me know. I’m happy to help.” compared to “You probably don’t know this, but an objective statement is not necessary…”

          Why would you give advice to someone who is not interested in it? Ask first, “Would you like advice about that?” Wait until they say Yes before you respond.

    6. Emilia Bedelia*

      When I applied to internships, a lot of them had a “guide for applications” or similar on the application page. It would have things like “what should be on your resume”,” tips for writing a cover letter “, general things like spelling/grammar tips, etc- just general tips that would be applicable to anyone. If this is a position aimed at inexperienced people, perhaps a guide like this would help cut down on truly uninformed applications from the beginning.

      1. LadyKelvin*

        I like this idea. When I was applying for jobs as a teen I am sure that my CV and cover letter was awful, but both my parents are self-employed business owners (with little to no staff) and it is not something they teach in high school so I had no idea what I was doing. I used google/whatever the search was back then to find help but as we all know, most sites are really outdated and not helpful at all. So a guide for applications page which has links to sites you recommend for good CV and cover letters would be really helpful and it would help you filter out those who actually care and took the time to read the tips and those who don’t and just submitted what they had.

    7. Foxtrot*

      I’m actually curious about this situation from the other side. I was rejected this week from an internship I really wanted. It’s a large company and I’ve applied in the past, and I make it farther and farther in the selection process each time. But I am graduating in December so I’m kind of at my last opportunity to apply for a fall spot in this next round. (They hire mostly from the intern pool so I have to get in as an intern if I want to work there full time.)
      I want to respond and ask for feedback on what I can do to improve my resume and my chances, but I want it to seem like I am actually open to constructive criticism. I don’t want to argue with their decision or leave a bad taste in their mouth. Are there phrases that I should or shouldn’t use in the email asking for feedback?

        1. Foxtrot*

          Thank you! I sent out the email this evening so hopefully I heard back next week.

  31. LQ*

    Good things I want to share!
    I had a really good performance review. I talked to my boss a bit about my concern with some people not taking my non-technical skills seriously. He said he really didn’t think that was a concern for leadership, that my non-technical skills are well recognized there. And he said that he’d look at getting me a nice big juicy project that might have a good chunk of non-technical skills work (which would be stretch work too) after the monster I have to manage this year is over.

    AND THEN!
    He suggested I go to the leadership training that is a big deal kind of training, so I’m going to work on the application for that.

    I’m considering reaching out to a couple of people I know who have gone through the training and asking them about the applications, training, etc. Good idea? Presumptuous? Weird? (Most of these people would be above me in the org, but I have a couple I have good relationships with.)

  32. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    It’s been a while, but I wanted to pop back in with an update from the last couple months:

    My husband is fine from his prostate cancer diagnosis, things have settled, and his health is fine with watchful waiting as his guide. Unfortunately, I had some health issues shortly after his scare that continued to change my perspective on my career and my work. I realized I was in a job that had changed so much (from development and coaching into number crunching and accoutning) that it didn’t fulfill me, and I disagreed so much with the strategic direction that I could no longer pretend to support it. To my surprise, once I decided to toss resume out there, I found something very quickly.

    I switched to a new role in a different group at my company that is much more suited to my experience. I have a boss who is very communicative and sees me as a peer and partner rather than a subordinate. He gives me daily feedback and supportd my full ownership in my domain, including backing me on decisions and giving me freedom to fail. He told me specifically why he hired me – interesting, everything he values in me is precisely what my old org thought wasn’t important.

    Also, the overhead from the old org to the new org is day and night. Old org, I had been pushing through an initiative that dragged for 3 months because of newfangled process. New org, I resolved a similar issue in less than week thanks to a different culture and removal of a leash. Things are good.

    Our family is intact, happy, and taking everything day by day. The transition has been rough, but everyone here reminded me that sometimes, asking for help is OK and that I had earned the chance to back off and be human for a while. My new boss is a champion of family first – he took a PTO day to spnd with his son while we were in an execution cycle – so I’ve felt comfortable being open coming in, and he’s more understanding than I could have imagined. It’s been a good turnaround, and thanks to those here for your support and encouragement while I was totally overwhelmed a few months ago. Been reading here for years, and this experience helped remind me why this isn’t just another career blog on the Intertubes.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You used adversity to help you demand more and expect more out of life and work. Good for you. This is really an inspirational story, thanks for sharing. Glad you guys are doing a bit better.

  33. Nervous Accountant*

    So thankful for this thread! I plan on leading a quick (15-20 minute) meeting on Monday to talk to my team and I need advice/pointers. This will be my first time leading anything.

    Background info—-

    My job duties and job title changed recently to something thats a small step up in terms of responsibilities. One of the biggest changes is that I now have my own support team, rather than being a support. (not sure to call this a promotion bc there was no pay increase).

    In the past, we’ve been encouraged to meet with our teams, even for 15-20 minutes just to set expectations and talk about how to..do all of this. It’s a small group and we all more or less get along with each other (except for Creepy Coworker).

    The only direction I have from my mgr so far is that we’re basically responsible for our own stuff for now. Even though they’re our support team, they have their own duties (one handles the bookkeeping, another has his own small set of clients etc), but if I need help or I’m away, they’re my team to support me. I can also introduce my clients to them as my team. If I’m away, I guess they can somehow cover for me (which, tbh is a HUGE change from CC or Mister “I know you’re away on vacation right now but deal with this when you get back because Im swamped w my own work and refuse to help you” aka CC).

    errr anyway, my 3 support staff are being shared by 4 other accountants.

    Questions:

    1. How to conduct this meeting? Just a few thoughts I had: “This is a good group dynamic, and your other accountants may or may not meet iwth you, keep in mind this i my first time as a DA so this is a learning experience bla bla bla–I know not to overwhelm you, but the major major thing I want is communication, I had these issues with __ and I want to avoid that.” (obv much more clear and concise than this).

    2. What can I do to make sure my team is taken care of? Given I’m sharing them with 4 others who may or may not overload them with work? That’s the main complaint I’ve heard. (I’m not sure I agree 100% with this though). As a (former) support myself, my biggest complaint was lack of communication. I supported two accountants since last year, and this was the major issue I had with them both, in different ways.

    and 3. I briefly mentioned this in last week’s open thread that I wanted to take on more leadership opportunities and work my way up to reviewer/team leader/manager. Not this year or even next year, but within the next 3-5 years. I haven’t really spoken to my boss or manager about it yet. I feel like this (having my own team) is an opportunity to grow and succeed, and I hope I can do it well. Should I wait until my performance evaluation to bring it up or should I bring it up now? How can I set up a plan? Do they do that with me? Is it even appropriate to say to my current manager “eventually I want your role”??

    Really appreciate any advice!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I totally get the issues about communication. Rather than spending precious minutes talking about communication, just begin communicating. This puts you at starting at question two. Just go ahead and ask them what they need. Then listen. If it is reasonable to do so help get them as much as you can. Sometimes I have had to say, “I get what you are telling me, but I have to be open, I do not think we will be able to get x for our use.” People do not mind the “no” word as much as they really object to being told “I will look into it” and what the boss really means is NO. Just say NO when the answer is NO.

      If they are complaining about work loads see if you can build and maintain a chart of what they have on their plate. Maybe you can only list the major projects, so then just do that.

      Ask them what their ideas are for reducing the number of steps or for streamlining workflows. Tell them to email/talk with you anytime an idea occurs to them. Tricky part: A first their ideas may not be great. Show them how to mold their idea into a great idea.
      Be sincere. They will test you to see if you are sincere. Listen and follow up each time. If they actually have a good idea then implement their idea. They will bring you more ideas if they know they can count on you and once they get a feel for what types of ideas you will implement.

      They will take care of you IF they feel you are taking care of them.

      If I were in your shoes, I would go tell the boss right now that leadership really interests you. Ask him what goals he has in mind for you in this new position. Ask if there will be any different talking points on your next eval that you should be working on right now. If you want ask him about common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

      No, don’t say “I want your job” to your boss. ;) But do show interest in leadership, tell him you are interested in building a concrete plan so you can grow. (Notice you are not saying so you can get a better position, you are expressing interest in making yourself more valuable to the company. If you are of more value, you should get promotions. At least in a healthy company.) Ask his advice from time to time. Ask him what he reads to keep himself up to speed.

      Back to communicating. Most people start with “So how’s it going?” and they get the answer “okay”. This is when you roll up your sleeves and really think along with them. Lightly, say, “hey how did you make out with the [difficult] Smith file yesterday?” Or if you remember that Jane was not returning their phone call, inquire as to how that is going. “Has Jane answered you yet?” If you want communication sometimes you have to go down to specifics to show that you are indeed following along with what they are doing.

  34. anon ca*

    What is the best way to approach a networking email to a high-level connection you may need in the near future? One of the C-suite execs (several levels up from me) at my large company moved to another large company across the country last year, which happens to be in the area that I may be moving to soon. Luckily I had done enough work directly for him that he definitely knows me and would recognize my name in an email. I want to reach out to him to maintain the connection, but I’m not ready to tell him that I may be moving out there. The move is far from a sure thing and I would stay at my current company if we don’t move, so I don’t want word to get out that I may be moving/looking. It would likely be 3-4 months down the road that this decision would be made and I’d be ready to ask him about opportunities at his company. What is the best way to approach such an email? I feel so awkward about this kind of thing!

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I’d say the first step is to get on LinkedIn with them–then you can follow up in the future when you are actually moving to that area. I would suggest something like the following:

      “Dear Cee Suite,
      I just wanted to write and say that I really enjoyed working with you on Project ABC in the past. (insert stuff about what you learned or what you continue to use from that experience) Since you’re now at Across The Country Company, I’d like to connect on LinkedIn. Hoping our paths cross professionally in the future,

      Anon CA”

      1. anon CA*

        I just checked – he’s actually not on LinkedIn! I will have to do something similar over email.

    2. Pwyll*

      +1 to the LinkedIn comment. Do that now.

      Then, when you’ve decided to move and you’re closer to the move, especially if you’re going to go out there to look for housing or whatever, shoot a message to him (or his executive assistant, if that’s how he operates) and ask for a quick coffee as you enjoyed working with him on project ABC, you’re moving to the area, and will be out visiting to look for jobs/apartments. Attach your resume, and state that you understand if he’s unavailable and if so would appreciate if he’d keep you in mind for anything he hears opening up.

      I wouldn’t do more than that, though. Make it short and sweet, and as Alison says, then move on and let it be a pleasant surprise if he accepts the coffee invitation.

  35. Haru*

    How do you successfully ask your manager to allow you to work from home 1-2 days a week? I can’t say I want to work from home to avoid distractions since our office is quiet throughout the day. Would it be relevant to mention that he manages other people in another office in another state, so this wouldn’t be that different? I was thinking of suggesting a trial period to test if my work productivity increases during that period. Currently, my manager allows me to work from home when he’s out of the office (which happens 3-4 times a year), when the weather is bad, or when I have to work on weekends if I ask him.

    A few months ago, our office was moved and my commute went from 2 hours round trip to a little over three hours, assuming traffic isn’t bad. There were things I disliked about my job, but before my salary and autonomy I have at work made it worth it enough that I wasn’t interested in job searching. Is there a way to say that eventually I’ll be leaving this job and the commute is the main reason without actually saying I started job searching? Would it be unreasonable to say working from home once or twice a week would make me a lot happier?

    During past performance evaluations, my manager has praised me for completing messy projects with minimal oversight and direction. In the last year, when I asked my manager a question, which happens less than once a week, its usually I have this problem, should I do X because of this or Y because of that, so any conversation we have is about 3-5 minutes depending on if he needs more background information before answering. Compared to the other people he manages, I rarely talk to him in person or through email. Also, each year, more of my work is being reviewed directly by a partner without my manager looking at it first, so I’m also interacting with my manager less because of that. So, I feel really nervous about asking my manager to let me work from home.

    Also, one issue he has when I ask to work from home is that he feels it’s easier to explain things in person. I was thinking of saying that by explaining things in writing, there will be something to refer to next time a similar question is asked. Right now, most information is passed from senior or manager to staff accountant when they have time to explains something. There isn’t any written instructions unless its for something general. And since there are several projects that we do for a few days a month and then don’t get done until 2-3 months later, the instructions have to be explained to the staff again.

    1. Colette*

      Well, I don’t think you can disregard his preferences because written documentation would be good.

      Is there a reason you can’t just ask, and explain that the increased commute is getting to you?

      1. Haru*

        I am planning on asking soon. I just wanted to ask if there is anything that I should or shouldn’t say.

      2. Haru*

        I feel reluctant to ask since his commute increased by the same when our office moved, so it doesn’t seem like a valid reason?

        1. Colette*

          It’s totally valid. Different people have different preferences about commuting. What’s ok for him might not be ok for you

    2. BRR*

      I would just come out an ask if there is a possibility of you telecommuting on a regular basis. Then you can get into things like your past performance, that you’ve had no issues with your output while working from home, and be prepared about the explaining things. Is phone an ok option for him?

  36. Tiffany Youngblood*

    Hi y’all,

    So I’m a Volunteer Coordinator at a small-ish nonprofit. I’ve been here about 2 months and am working on my first-ever budget presentation for the board. They’ve never had a budget for the Vol. Coordinator position before (those expenses have come out of other budgets like marketing, resource development, etc), so not only is that going to be different for them, but I’m going to be asking for some significant software that isn’t cheap. I’ve got the backing of my Executive Director to do this because quite frankly, our current software is stuck in the 90’s and we are never going to grow if we don’t get something better. I know how good this software is, I know why it’s necessary, and at some point in time I’ve done all the research that gives me that knowledge. I’m struggling to figure out how to get the board to understand all this that I’ve known for years? I’ve got all these thoughts and ideas for the presentation, but I feel like I’m not able to focus and figure out what’s the best way to do this. I’ve got less than 2 weeks, so I know I need to get on this, but I can’t even figure out where to start. If anyone has any advice, I’d sure like to hear it.

      1. S0phieChotek*

        Yes. How will the cost for it now “pay for itself” in the next X years?
        Efficiency, better tracking of donations, more security?

        Anyway to know if other major companies/non-profits use it? Show it’s a best practise/common in field. (We don’t want to be “behind”?)

        Maybe try to pretend you love old software/just used to old software and don’t know much about software–what words/examples might convince you?

    1. the.kat*

      Can you provide them with a few (2-3) options while laying out your case for your preferred? I’ve founded when dealing with boards, they don’t like to feel “backed into a corner” and love, love, love supported and well-researched brief cases. Make the case for your suggestion by highlighting the perks of the new system, make a case for staying exactly where you are and highlight the missed opportunities, and offer a third option, maybe a different, cheaper system that has less features.

      Give them options and make sure that you mention how it’ll help them as well. Will this new system save time? Let you do other work? Help someone else out? All of those are good things. GOOD LUCK!

      1. the.kat*

        Also, have more prepped than you show. I cannot tell you the amount of times they’ve asked for something (details, hardware specs, etc.) I didn’t have in the presentation. Luckily, I’ve gotten used to this and try to make sure I’m holding all the pieces without bogging them down on details.

    2. AVP*

      I don’t know if this is “done” in the nonprofit world, so hopefully someone who works in your industry can chime in… but can you point to other competitors who are successfully using the software?

      Sometimes if my boss is freaking out about a costly upgrade, I’m able to say something like: Well, here’s the option that I recommend, it costs X, which, yes, is pricey, but it only updates once per year and it’s used by HBO, Showtime, and ABC to manage their workflow. On the other hand, there is this other cheaper one but it’s used only by Viacom* and you know they have a reputation for not managing their flows very well, so I think that goes to show you why the higher-end option could be a better match for us.

      *I am just slotting in random company names here, no offense to anyone at Viacom!

    3. Mockingjay*

      Is this standalone software for you to use, or will the other staff be using it too?

      If group software, make sure your presentation accounts for sustainment costs. These can be sneaky, unexpected costs, because they may not be seen at the time of purchase.

      – Annual Licensing Fees: per user or Enterprise (say 50 or 100 users). Note that an Enterprise license can be cheaper than paying for individual users.
      – Hardware. Will the new software run on existing systems? Will it require new laptops and/or servers?
      – Support. What Help Desk support comes with the package? For how long?
      – End-of-Life Date. Software companies ‘debut’ new packages about every 3 years. Some force you to upgrade, others will support previous versions for a few more years.

      I like the.kat’s idea of showing the board the software options you considered, and why you went with the one you picked. Do a few slides with tables. Slide 1: Problem statement: Our org needs a software package to do x, y, and z. Slide 2: compares functions (fulfilling x, y, and z) offered by Software A, B, C. Slide 3: shows costs of A, B, and C. And so on. Break up slide 2 as needed: one slide for x function, one for y… Less is more when it comes to presenting.

      Good luck on the presentation! Let us know how it goes.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I forgot to include Training costs. Who will need help learning to use basic/special features of the software? Is training (online, Help desk, course) included or separate?

    4. CMT*

      2 months seems pretty early to start recommending major changes. There could be reasons for keeping the old software that you’re just not aware of yet. Plus, if it’s really expensive it might not fit with their budget priorities.

    5. Bluebell*

      At previous nonprofit positions I made the case for prospect research databases. It never went to the full board but I did have to present to our development committee. I told them my reasons for wanting the database, described the top three options with their features and prices, and ranked them. I discussed what peer organizations used and how the organization would benefit. There was a recent study done that calculated the hourly value of volunteer time for each state; that could be a great statistic to use as you make your case.

  37. always anon*

    What is the deal with recruiters sending vague messages via LinkedIn with no mention of the company or salary? I know this must be standard practice for them, but almost every single one who has messaged me refuses to reveal that information until we speak on the phone. It seems like a huge waste of time.

    Has anyone had any luck getting a job through a recruiter? Most of the ones who contact me send me jobs way below my experience level (I’ve had a few send me entry level jobs even though I have almost 10 years of work experience) or jobs that are for significantly less money.

    The last one I had sent me a job that looked interesting, but it was two hours outside of the city on no public transport lines and for $20K less than my current salary. Worst of all, after we talked, the recruiter tried to convince me that it was a great company and I should consider the offer, even after I had said I’m not looking for a salary decrease or to buy a car (especially considering that parking and traffic is a nightmare in my city). My current city commute is a ten minute subway ride or a 20ish minute walk, so a 2 hour drive would be a big step down in terms of commute.

    I’ve been actively searching for new jobs (and also trying to switch industries) for awhile and it seems like I only get contacted by recruiters and not for any of the applications I send in, but most of the recruiters are so frustrating! I feel like they’re not even reading my resume or LinkedIn profile and just mass spamming job listings.

    1. Kat*

      I can answer your first question – I work at a recruiting firm. Very often the recruiters have an agreement with the client to keep information confidential including name of company, salary, and location until the candidate expresses concrete interest (like sending a resume). This is because some of the searches are sensitive – like the new hire hasn’t been made public yet, or there is someone in that position that is going to be replaced and doesn’t know, etc – at least for the higher positions. On the flip side, the recruiter will also be expected to keep candidate’s personal info like name, contact information, etc to themselves until the client wants to set up an interview.

      It’s true that all recruiting firms are not created equal. I’d suggest Googling for a firm that specializes in your field and contacting them.

      1. always anon*

        I understand the reasoning behind it, but it’s incredibly frustrating to be contacted by recruiters and not have any details to get me interested in the position beyond a vague description. Salary and location are a big deal and I don’t want to waste my time on a phone call if it turns out neither of those things work for me.

        1. Kat*

          I definitely get it and I’ve been in your shoes before! I think if the recruiter can’t offer you at least some of that info up front – especially location, they should at least be able to tell you the metro area – it’s time to find a new recruiter. Good luck on your job hunt!

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      A lot of recruiters suck. But, there are good ones. Good ones share details of the job up front. I got my current job through a message from a recruiter on Linkedin.

  38. overeducated*

    AAM people! I am soon no longer to be overeducated and underemployed!!!

    I got one offer on Wednesday and have until next Wednesday to decide. I’m also leaving in…15 minutes…for a meeting with someone who said they “want to extend me an offer,” but also want to “make sure I’m comfortable” and I guess feel things out more before doing so formally. (They know I have to respond to this other offer.) What kind of questions do you ask at a meeting like that when you haven’t actually been offered the job yet? Is that time for negotiation or do you wait until later to express those needs?

    I’ll definitely be updating later if it turns out I do have a choice to make…the two jobs are very, very different in very many ways. And even if not, I’ll still be excited for the one offer, provided my family can make the relocation work. Wish me luck!

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I’d ask any questions about the work, the expectations, etc. Wait to negotiate on compensations specifics until they’ve made an offer, including what the benefits are. Of course, they could give you that information verbally during this meeting, so be prepared to discuss it. And you don’t have to accept right away–ask for time to review and to get back to them in a day/week. Good Luck!

      1. overeducated*

        They did give me the information verbally but I have never negotiated anything before and didn’t know how to approach it, so I guess if I try I will have to get back to the hiring manager over the phone :/ I was expecting low pay and knew there were no health benefits, but I was a little surprised by how poor the PTO and weekend/holiday work schedule are on top of that. If I tried to negotiate anything I would really, really like an extra week of vacation, but I’m not sure if that’s negotiable or not given that they have an “employee handbook” that lays it out.

  39. A Beth*

    At what point do you stop waiting for a job situation to improve and just cut your losses? I have a job I mostly love–I’m really great at it, I have wonderful colleagues, I kind of run my own show. I just don’t make enough money, and no efforts by my bosses for the past 5 years (I’ve been here 7) have resulted in a salary bump. I support more people than I used to, I have taken on extensive projects, and while I did get a one-time bonus I still work 3 other jobs to make ends meet.

    I have started applying for other jobs, both internally and externally; the internal position I’m most interested in is a lateral move but would be much better for future growth, and it’s in the one department I always said I’d be willing to leave mine for. BUT there’s new upper-level leadership coming in next month and several of my colleagues and I have been working on a proposal to change our job titles/pay.

    I guess my question is: do I keep skipping opportunities in the hopes that HR will wake up and pay me more? If it hasn’t happened now, it’s probably not going to, right? Or do I just keep plugging away at my part-time jobs because I am mostly really satisfied with my job?

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      I would move on, but it’s really your call. If you have to work 4 jobs to make ends meet, have taken on more responsibilities and haven’t gotten a raise in FIVE YEARS, I would take that as a sign to leave. That must be exhausting working so many jobs – I hope things get better!

      1. A Beth*

        I have gotten cost of living raises each year, but none that correlate to the actual extra work I do. And the other jobs are pretty fun–but I’m tired of it. I bought Alison’s book yesterday so here’s to moving on!

      2. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

        In agreement with all of this. You had a nice run, but now it’s time to move on to someplace that will actually pay you what you’re worth. I can’t imagine working four jobs just to get by – I’d have a nervous breakdown.

    2. NK*

      I would apply for the other job. If you have three side jobs to make ends meet, it’s hard to imagine you’d get the type of pay raise that would make it be worthwhile, and I imagine subsequent raises aren’t going to be easy to come by if you get the one you’re proposing. If this other job is in a group you’re interested in and growth is a priority to you, I would absolutely apply.

    3. Creag an Tuire*

      You’re working -three- other jobs to make ends meet? And you’d like a salary that allows you to only work one job?

      I’m afraid the odds of you getting a pay raise of that scale without moving to another job are pretty much zero. For comparison my wife recently got a 4% raise in the same job, which is considered very good — but it doesn’t sound like 4% will get you where you need to be.

      I don’t expect new management to help much — it would be one thing if your problem was with working conditions/culture, but your issue is with the company budget — they’ve budgeted the position to cost $X, and they’re unlikely to increase that substantially (which would require them to cut back other priorities), unless -forced-; and forced in this context means “our good employee (you) left for better pay and we’ve only been able to hire schlubs to replace her because we’re offering too far below market rate”.

      Good luck with your search!

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Seven years? Definitely move on. And I would avoid the internal move. Even though it “would be much better for future growth,” a stingy organization will be stingy across departments, generally speaking. Sure, a director will make more than an assistant, but if they don’t give raises to assistants, they probably also don’t give raises to directors.

      Apply externally. Get out of there.

    5. Ok*

      If it hasn’t happened in 5 years, it’s not going to happen. Past time to move on.

    6. Q*

      I know is tough and scary to move on but you have to do what’s best for you and this situation is not good. No one should have to work so many jobs just to make ends meet.

    7. Dawn*

      “do I keep skipping opportunities in the hopes that HR will wake up and pay me more?”

      NO. I think the business world version of “When someone tells you they’re an @$$hole, you believe them” is “when a company tells you they’re not going to ever give you a raise, you believe them.”

      It won’t get better, or it might get a little better but nowhere near as better as you deserve!

    8. Kat*

      I was recently in your shoes. I had to work overnights on the weekend to make ends meet, even though I loved my work and my direct team. The rest of the office was very dramatic and there was a lot of office politics. I had to make a move to pay my bills and I’m happy I did; I love where I work now and there is no drama. I decided I needed more time with my family and more money, and moving jobs was the way to achieve that.

  40. University Fundraiser*

    Help managing a manager who doesn’t believe in scheduling?

    My new boss is brilliant but unfortunately, believes everyone is available at all times. This is somewhat easier to accomplish during the work day, but I generally keep a very packed after work/weekend schedule that is booked months in advance. I’m good at saying “I cannot attend because”, or “I have a hard stop at…” and being flexible when there is nothing (or something moveable) on my calendar.

    But his tendency to not ask often puts me in an uncomfortable position of saying no to pretty important people.

    1. Lefty*

      I’d address the pattern of it in a neutral time (when it hasn’t just been an immediate problem for you). “Wesley, I’ve noticed that you often ask me to attend the Spout Designers meetings the day before they’re scheduled. I’d really like to be involved with those, is there a way for me to get the schedule ahead of time to make sure I block off time?”

    2. BRR*

      “I generally keep a very packed after work/weekend schedule but I would like to be able to attend these events/when things like this come up. Would it be possible to get more notice because I really want to take part in X.”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I can’t tell from here- but it sounds like he is saying you will show up without asking you first.

      Tell him to please check with you first before telling someone you will be available. Explain that you have had to say no in some very awkward instances.

  41. Daisy Dukes*

    I’m wearing custom orthotics for arch support. Any recommendations for a work friendly shoe with the orthotics? Note: I’m a size 5.5 :)

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      How thick are the orthotics? I used to wear custom orthotics (size 6) and found that Nine West flats fit them just fine — the leather was flexible enough to adjust to the orthotic under my foot (but I had really, really thin orthotics!).

    2. Rovannen*

      SAS Free Time. I wear custom orthotics, both feet. The insoles come out and the inside of the shoe is flat so that your custom inserts will fit. They are a bit spendy, $150.00 a pair, but vey well made.

    3. Katiedid*

      This might be too late for you to see, but I have found that may of the reviews on Zappos talk about whether or not shoes work with orthotics. I don’t wear them, but I’ve seen that in many of the reviews and thought it might help. They also are good about saying if shoes run narrow or wide or small (length). You can also filter by size. I’ve also had really good luck with their customer service to ask questions and their extremely generous (and quick!) return policies lets you try shoes on and return them if they don’t work, no questions asked. And I swear I don’t work there – I just really like getting shoes from them!

  42. T3k*

    Anyone have advice on what to wear to a summit? It’s my first time going to one and I don’t have a clue what to wear or bring. It is a games related summit if that helps.

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      No advice, but you know you’re from Colorado when you see summit and immediately think “why is this person asking what to wear up to a mountain?”

      1. Laura*

        Soooooo true. You can take me out of Colorado, but you can’t take Colorado out of me!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it depends where your summit is and what time of year. I had a “summit” at one of my jobs, and the location was in the Northeast (of the U.S.) in the autumn, so it was quite chilly, especially at night. We had different expected dress for during the day (planning sessions) and at night (play time). I would ask the summit organizer what she or he would recommend.

      1. T3k*

        It’s in the southeast in a few weeks, so we’re looking at around 85F weather and it’s a whole day of speakers, so most likely no changing clothes.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, this is definitely one of those things you’d have to ask the organizer about (or even a fellow employee who’s attended in the past). Even some fairly formal workplaces will sometimes let you dress down for a retreat. But… they may also want you to dress up, and there may be significant air conditioning there.

    3. Chameleon*

      Also entirely depends on your field. If you are going to a business conference, you’d wear a suit; if a scientific conference, maybe even jeans and a t-shirt. “Games-related” can be a pretty wide field (developers? programmers? management?) so I think it’s hard for us to give concrete ideas.

      I second the advice to ask co-workers that have been before, if possible, and maybe bring some items that can be dressed up or down as needed. (Like, black pants that can be matched with a knit top if casual, or a blouse and jacket if formal). Also, find out if there are any special events planned! It’s no fun to go to the big dance party on the last night wearing the same oversize sweater you wore the rest of the week.

    4. Honeybee*

      I work in video games, and everyone would just wear to a summit what they wear to work, which is everything from smart casual to just casual. Jeans and a nice shirt or blazer with some nice shoes would be “dressy”; jeans and a t-shirt would be normal. My boss’s boss was the keynote speaker at a games summit a few months back and he wore jeans, a blazer over a t-shirt and some smart shoes.

  43. Journal Entries*

    Good news! (For me, anyway) I have an interview and I’m their top candidate! The hiring manager asked what it would take to “get me in the chair” and I said I’d like to interview in person and see the company (everything was over the phone up to that point). If I get an offer is it better to accept on the spot (I’m pretty sure I’m going to take the job) or wait a bit?
    And what are some good perks to negotiate for if they won’t come up on the salary? Any other questions I should be asking?
    Any help would be appreciated!

    1. BRR*

      Ask to be able to look it over. You should legitimately want to look it over and see the benefits in detail and questions may not come up right away. If you can’t get salary you can ask for more vacation time, work from home, flexible schedule, professional development opportunities. I wouldn’t ask for all of those though and get things in writing and I would also politely ask if HR or hiring manager’s boss approved it. I’ve seen on here enough times where the hiring manager says yes but doesn’t have the power to grant it.

  44. TaxAnon*

    I was offered a job as a tax manager with a new company, at old job I was a tax associate. The salary they offered me was less than $1k more than I make as an associate! (~50k to 51k) I countered and asked for $58k. The controller sounded shocked and said that that was a lot more than they were prepared to pay. She’s supposed to call me back today with an answer but man, that really killed my enthusiasm! Is counter offering for $7k more really that huge of a deal? They’re a midsize private company.

    1. TaxAnon*

      To clarify, I stupidly disclosed my current salary. Now I’m wondering if they offered it to me primarily because they thought they could get me for cheaper than other candidates. Ugh.

      1. BRR*

        First, they suck. They know what they offered compared to what you make (which they shouldn’t be asking because they know what they want to pay for the position).

        Second, look at benefits. This can make the deal sweeter or it could erase the raise all together. I know some tax jobs can have very long hours, does this one offer a better work life balance?

        Third, it sounds like you countered with 14% if my math is right. That’s a little high usually BUT, I 100% support you doing it because it sounds like they low balled you.

        Fourth, if they made you an offer primarily because they thought they could get you for cheap. RUN. In general their low offer would make me look for other red flags.

        1. TaxAnon*

          It would be a nice reduction in hours but also a reduction in PTO. Insurance is comparable.

          This is not likely to be a long term job but a chance to get some career growth much sooner than I would at my current employer.

      2. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        Well, that was dumb because you are smart and know what you are worth! So yay, you!

    2. Faith*

      What is the market rate for your region for a tax manager salary? There are multiple organizations that publish free industry salary guides and even provide breakdown by company size (ie. This is how much a tax manager earns on average at a small company, this is mid-size, this is large). Then you should be able to at least get a feel for whether your salary expectations are reasonable. To be honest, 51K seems really low for a tax manager unless you are in a very low cost of living region.

      1. TaxAnon*

        Tax manager salaries in my region are generally $70-90k but this role is for a manager of specialty transaction tax rather than general federal & state tax, so I expected it to be lower, such as the 60-65k range.

    3. AFT123*

      I am not super familiar with your industry, but this doesn’t seem an unreasonable request to me. If you’re moving up (as opposed to laterally) than I think an employer should be expecting you’re going to be looking for a bump.

  45. J*

    Advice on writing performance reviews? My staff are all solid performers but the nature of the work is more clerical and customer service. It’s hard to think of goals and better ways to say “keep doing what you’re doing.” They are also happy to keep doing their jobs until they retire.

    1. TaxAnon*

      Documentation? Such as updating training manuals or documenting proper customer service procedures?

    2. Stephanie*

      It’s ok to have a few goals along the lines of “Continue to provide excellent ….”

      Are there any training/professional development goals to add? Things like more in depth software training, cross-training among workers, developing internal best practices documentation?

      Keep in mind that for folks who are happy doing their current jobs through retirement, many of them are happy to have the “keep doing a good job” goals.

  46. E.*

    I’m going to be interviewing candidates next week for a position on my team, and I have no idea how to do it. This is my first post-college job, and I’ve been here for a bit less than a year, so I’m very, very junior. But I work in a pretty specialized technical field (specifically something within software engineering) and we’re trying to replace the only person here who knew more about it than me, so there’s no one else who can do the interview.
    So… how do you interview people, especially for a senior technical position, and especially especially when you’re like three levels below the position you’re trying to fill?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Someone in another role who would be on the same level or higher, should also interview them. Ideally, their future manager is interviewing candidates about the higher-level activities that you don’t see in your position.

      It could also be worth bringing in a subject matter consultant to do the interviews, or to hire a consultant as a contractor to cover the work short-term, and then interview and hire their replacement.

    2. HR Recruiter*

      Are you doing the interview alone? Hopefully you will have a manager or someone experienced interviewing with you. Part of interviewing is finding out who’s a good fit, reliable, and honest. It takes some practice to be able to get good at detecting those things. The other part is making sure they know their stuff, which is where I assume you come in. Ask them some technical questions to ensure they know as much as they claim. You may even be able to google questions or use a resources from a professional organization in your field.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      You should ask them how they will fix the issues in your group. You should ask them how they problem solve. They should be able to give you pretty specific step by step ways of how they’d go about it. If you get a bunch of hand wavy answers then run!

  47. Papyrus*

    I’m starting the process of changing careers, and I applied to a job that I think would be a good stepping stone between the career I have now and the career I want. Right now I’m an accountant, and I want to be a Teapot Coder, and the job I’m applying to is Teapot Billing. I think I can bring a lot of my accounting skills to the billing position, but the reason I want this job is I want to eventually be a coder for the same company once I finish my coding education. I haven’t gotten an interview yet, but would it be wise to mention that my ultimate goal is to be a coder? Would this help me, or would they think I’m not serious about the billing position?

    1. BRR*

      Don’t do it. If you’re applying for a position, it’s not a great idea to say that you intend to leave it.They need someone for teapot billing and you want to show that you can fill their teapot billing needs.

    2. Honeybee*

      Nope. At best, they’ll think you’ll only stay on long enough to tune your coding skills and then leave the department, forcing them to do a job search again. Just discuss the job you’re actually applying for, and keep your future aspirations to yourself.

      At *some* companies it can be appropriate to ask or discuss lateral moves within company – but I wouldn’t necessarily bring it up unless the situation feels ripe. Someone else brought it up at my last interview as a perk of working at my company (that people move around internally a lot). I also asked a question that was something like “When people leave the team, why do they normally leave?” and that answer may give you a sense of whether people move around internally, although it may not. (I asked because I was looking for anything like work/life imbalance issues, boredom, a lack of ability to move up, etc.)

  48. Lily Evans*

    I was talking to a coworker at my old job the other day, and I’m so glad I left. From what she told me I feel like I caught the first lifeboat off the Titanic. By the end of the year, counting planned retirements, that department will have lost about 1/3 of their staff and budget cuts mean it’s going to be a huge fight with administration to replace anyone, so the workloads of everyone left behind are doubling (even tripling in some cases).

    Also, I told the story a while ago about the coworker who really wanted me to date her son, apparently she’s still disappointed that I never went out with him. She still brings it up to my friend there. Apparently there’s a lack of sweet, subservient women in the sea. As someone who hates awkward conversations, and doubly hates men who expect me to act like their mother, I’m really counting that as a bullet dodged.

    1. Jade*

      Isn’t it a great feeling to be free? I used to work in retail, and every time I step foot in that store I have old coworkers telling me how things have only gotten worse since I left. Bullets dodged.

    2. Honeybee*

      Also, you’d have her as your boyfriend’s mother. And if she could get you to do this one thing by badgering you into it, imagine all of the other changes she’d try to badger you into doing if you were actually dating him! Nah, bullet dodged for real.

  49. AFT123*

    I asked my boss at my newer job for a mini-review type meeting next week. I’ll have been here for 4 months, and it generally takes at least 6 to ramp up into a fully functioning employee here. I have a ton of downtime that I’ve been trying to fill with self-directed online learning and just trying to keep plugging away, but I want to get his feedback and make sure I’m heading in the right direction and at the right pace. Any suggestions for questions I can bring to the meeting to ask about?

    Happy Friday!

  50. Home Alone*

    I applied for a position via an industry job board website. The application went through to a recruiter, which is fine. But the recruiter is asking for my job salaries, benefits, bonuses, etc. from the past 3 years, before I can be considered.

    I know Alison’s take on HR departments asking for this info, but are the rules the same for recruiters?

    1. HR Recruiter*

      Is it a 3rd party recruiter? If so they have multiple clients and openings and will want more information to put in their database for potential openings. But either way its still weird. I’d ask if this was really necessary at this point.

      1. Home Alone*

        It is 3rd party.
        What also ticks me off was a line in the email that said, “you may have included some or all the following information, however, please reply this email with the answers to my questions…”
        Every bit of information requested (except salary history) was in my cover letter and resume, so it sounds like he or she is a tad too lazy to read.

  51. Dynamic Beige*

    One of today’s letters was about creating a hostile workplace. But since a lot of the legal information is US-based, I was wondering if anyone knew what the criteria are for Canada/Ontario?

    I was speaking with a friend of mine last night and she is in a situation where she is being bullied in her office. There have been a lot of letters recently where the manager is BFFs with someone who is being uh… unprofessional in many ways. It’s like that, Office Bully makes comments/does things, manager is laughing right along.

    I told her to document everything because if she doesn’t, she won’t have a paper trail when/if the OB takes it that one step too far. But she’s all “I don’t want to get confrontational” — my point then wasn’t this isn’t for attack, it’s for defence. She doesn’t think the manager would do anything, I said, it’s for HR, not the manager since they are part of the problem.

    Anyway, does anyone know if the same age/sex/race/protected class/sexuality things apply or are similar up here?

    1. Anoners*

      I would say the law is probably stronger in Ontario Canada than the US. There are a few sources they should check out (you can pretty much just google these phrases):

      Ontario Ministry of Labour – Harassment and Violence
      Ontario Ministry of Labour – Bill 168
      Ontario Ministry of Labour – Your Guide the to ESA
      Ontario Human Rights Commission – Protected Grounds / they also have tons of supplementary topics and guides

      Also, the Ontario Ministry of Labour has a help line, so they could call that. Just google Ontario Ministry of Labour – Contact Us

      Also also, the Law Society of Upper Canada has a free referral service where you can talk to a lawyer in the area you need free for 30 mins.

      Also, also, also, there are a ton of legal opinions on this topic in Ontario. Just google “Ontario” followed by the issues they’re facing.

    2. fposte*

      You could start by looking at the Ontario Department of Labour’s site on Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment. It suggests the provincial protections are broader than in most of the U.S.

    3. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Yes absolutely those rights are protected up here! Anoners gave some good references … the Ministry of Labour has some great info up and are normally very helpful when they’re called for information. If your friend is concerned about remaining anonymous she should take the appropriate steps but generally yes, employees here are protected from discrimination and harassment.

    4. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Yes absolutely employees here are protected from harassment and discrimination. The sources Anoners provided are great. The Ministry of Labour (for Ontario) I has tons of info online.

  52. HardwoodFloors*

    Can anyone suggest ways to eliminate/lessen pain from leg/hamstring/calf muscle cramps? This pain is a directly a result of the workplace not allowing water at the desk, having limited breaks and poor air quality that leaves me dehydrated. I often am awoken during the night with pain. Does anyone use a supplement that helps? Thanks.

      1. Chameleon*

        Almonds are also a great source of potassium if, like me, you don’t like bananas.

        Also, if you can just stand up and stretch for a few seconds every half-hour or so, that might help. Make sure to stretch your lower back as well, since the nerves there enervate your legs and impingement can cause leg pain.

      2. GH in SoCAl*

        Also Potassium and Sodium are sort of “opposites,” so in addition to adding potassium it will likely help if you cut down on sodium. My leg cramps at night have disappeared since I went on a low-sodium diet for other reasons. (It’s hard to cut out sodium, it’s lurking everywhere, but try cutting it down if you can. And if you eat Almonds for the potassium go for unsalted ones!)

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      I have this problem, too! Make sure you are consuming lots of water when you can (before and after work) and that you get enough potassium. (If you like bananas, add them to your diet.) I’ve found that when I wake up from it, the following helps:
      1. Stretch your hamstring by bending your foot up toward your shin as far as it will go. You might need to use the floor as a brace to get a really good stretch.
      2. Drink a big glass of water.
      3. Take an aspirin or other pain med if the cramp is bad.
      4. Drink another big glass of water.
      5. Walk around until the cramp starts to subside.

      Also, you might want to look into whether your workplace is violating OSHA requirements.

      1. HardwoodFloors*

        Do you think I should cut out the coffee (in the car mug on inbound commute) because coffee can remove water from one’s body? I only drink one mug in early AM but I will eliminate anything that will help ease these leg pains.

        1. Anon for This One...*

          If caffeine affects your sleep, you might. But I just try to drink more water to compensate. (I drink a lot of tea…) But I have found that drinking some milk at night helps me. (This might be purely psychological.)

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Last I read coffee pulls calcium out of the body at four times the normal clip. Yeah, if you are losing calcium at a fast clip your legs will hurt.
          If the pain is from the knees down then that is potassium, we can be pretty sure about that one. If it’s your entire leg, then there are more minerals to consider. Coffee will pull lots of stuff out of our systems.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      You might try a good quality magnesium supplement. I’ve also heard that eating bananas is good for leg cramps so maybe potassium?

    3. Partly Cloudy*

      Another job should help.

      Wow. No water, no breaks, no air?

      Potassium is supposed to help with cramps, and bananas are a good source of potassium if you don’t want to take a pill. Maybe stretching out (at home, of course) before and after work, too? Hot baths?

    4. GigglyPuff*

      Stretches might help, in the morning and evening.
      Also one thing I learned when I was going thru a little dehydration and kept getting muscle cramps, is the correct way to sketch your leg. For example if you’re laying in bed and start stretching your leg out, don’t point your foot, keep your foot level and try to stretch thru the heel. This will help keep the muscle from spasming.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        There is a YouTube video of yoga for sciatica that has really helped me with ongoing hip, hamstring and calf pain (I do not have sciatica). Strengthening and stretching the muscles might help make them more resilient in your very unusual circumstances!

    5. Lily Evans*

      My mom swears that drinking vodka tonics before bed helped her leg cramps at night. Something in the tonic water is supposed to help cramps (the vodka was just an added bonus).

      1. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

        Yeah, my mom drinks tonic water before bed because she used to wake up with terrible cramps in her legs. She doesn’t have that problem when she drinks the water.

    6. Viktoria*

      Wow, why no water at desk? Combined with limited breaks makes this a terrible idea. I have a health condition that means I’d have to pursue an accommodation for this. Could you see your doctor? If she would back up your theory that it’s due to hydration, maybe a doctor’s note could make them reconsider this harebrained policy?

      1. Viktoria*

        Also, the limited breaks may be problematic, legally speaking, assuming it includes bathroom breaks. OSHA is a little wishy washy about this but Alison wrote about it here: https://www.askamanager.org/2012/01/update-on-employers-who-want-to-monitor-your-bathroom-usage.html

        And finally, if you are concerned about the air quality, that would be within OSHA’s purview as well. I am not sure of the exact procedure but you should be able to request that they come inspect your workplace. Their website says it is confidential. https://www.osha.gov/workers/file_complaint.html

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Potassium – if the pain is from the knees down. Cantaloupes are also high in potassium. You can also take a supplement form, too. Any supplements you choose, chose a good company with a reputation for a consistent quality product. Health food store people can help you by filling you in on a company’s reputation.

      Magnesium might be the first one to try if the pain is in your whole leg. They make supplements in citrate form because that is believed to be the most digestible. Your body will break it down and actually use it.

      If you prefer you can make your own electrolyte drink- this will give you several minerals and your body can use what it needs of the group. (These things are spendy so I make my own.)
      1 quart of water
      1/4 teaspoon sea salt
      1/4 teaspoon baking soda
      1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)

      Drink two quarts per day for 3-4 days. This is in addition to regular drinks of water. I know two quarts is a lot, so see what is doable for you. It’s not an all or nothing thing, some attempt will get you some level of result.

      With taking minerals there are two things to watch. If you feel groggy/sleepy, stop taking them and just wait to see if they kick in and start working. This might be a day or two. Additionally, not to be personal, but watch your bowels. Loose stools are a sign of too high a dose of minerals. In this case dial back what you are taking.

      I had a job where I could not drink water while working. I ended up leaving. A dehydrated body is a sitting duck for a bunch of problems. No job is worth it to me.

  53. ali*

    I didn’t get this in last week, but Alison encouraged me to post it here. My friend wrote this the day after she got laid off from a teaching job that she loved, and it just really resonated with me. I think all of us who have ever been laid off feel this same way.
    ———————————————————–
    What it feels like to be a “Restructure Reduction”

    Well. You’re up at 4am, for one thing, trying to sort out what it means to completely reinvent your professional life – AGAIN – for the third time in a decade. You know you weren’t fired –
    Oh, and calling it a lay-off doesn’t change the reality that you were totally just fired –
    You know you weren’t fired because you suck. That is both the good news and the bad.
    You think back to slightly-less-than 24 hours ago when you joked that you felt like Schrodinger’s Cat as you waited for your appointment. Especially funny because you are 90% sure the cat is stone-cold dead and the box is a coffin, not a thought experiment. Ha ha ha, you just keep smiling no matter what.

    The minute your respected supervisor –
    And thank everything you got the respected supervisor and not the impersonal HR Rep –
    The minute your respected supervisor makes eye contact you know and you hold it together so she can get through her prepared speech and you apologize for her having to do that and you try to say all the right, thoughtful, positive things while your hopes and dreams hemorrhage out through your heart and your spleen and then you see the tears she is holding back and you projectile weep – apologizing again for not holding it together while she is being so kind and so professional.

    So you leave the building for an hour to give yourself time to get yourself back together because you still have a class to teach. For the millionth time you take in the river and think how lucky you have been to get to see this view every work day, how much its moods have become your own. This day it is dark and stormy at one end, painfully bright and foggy at the other, with a shining ribbon of placid spiraling silence in-between.
    You text and weep, text and weep, until finally settling on a boat tie-out (is that even what it is called?) to just let the wind flow through the empty space where your stable future used to be.

    Realizing the time you pull yourself together and push up the steeper hill away from the river thinking – correctly – that expending the extra energy will help press back the tears so you can get through the rest of our day. You make a spur-of-the-minute decision to shift your class plan to an interactive final (which you’ve been toying with for two weeks anyway) and you pull together last minute supplies which, for once, are easy to find because you had pre-emptively taken all of your personal items home a week ago.

    You enter the classroom with a smile and announce, “Surprise, no review, we’re just doing the final now!” and laugh as the students react. You love this class and know they can handle it, they do not disappoint as they immediately group up and tackle the challenge. You listen to the talking and laughing as they move around the room completing their tasks. Suddenly it is over – too soon, too soon – and then they are surrounding you. They know. Of course they know, there are no secrets on a small campus. Some are crying, some are smiling encouragement, some are angry – one even vows to write a strongly worded letter and you laughingly extend that vow to include checking for grammatical errors.

    They ask for hugs and you give them, for the first time not caring if it is OK or not OK – they need the reassurance and the human contact and – hell – you’ve already been fired so what harm will a hug do now? Some of them don’t want to leave and they stay steadfast – talking of nothing and everything – until the very last second of your class time.

    You spend two more hours tying up loose ends: sending emails and making phone calls as your colleagues commiserate and try to hide the pitying looks they don’t want to be having. You leave early, hauling the last things that were yours to the car in a conference bag. You will spend more time on this campus in the coming weeks but the space is no longer yours – no use denying it any longer.

    For the next hours your life is a flurry of phone calls, texts, emails, social media messages, conversations, and a bath for the dog who found something seriously dead in which to roll. You fall asleep easily, wondering why the gravity of your situation isn’t crushing you. Then your eyes shoot open at 4am, mind racing as you try to figure out who you are now that who you chose to be – who you love to be – is off the table through no fault, no choice, no action of your own.

    © Regan Wann 2016

  54. Reference Woes*

    So, I desperately need a new job because current workplace is killing my soul with regular 70-80 hour work weeks, but because this is my first job, and I don’t want people contacting my current supervisors, what can I do about references?

    The difficult part is that I have a large gap due to illness and depression, so it’s been 4+ years out of school. Even just getting professor references have been difficult, I’ve been flat out rejected because it’s been too long. I’m trying to find time to volunteer, but the 70-80 hour work weeks make that difficult.

    What can I do about this situation? I’ve completely turned my life around and my current supervisors would give me glowing references, but I can’t use them until I leave. And of course, I can’t leave unless I manage this reference situation.

    Anyone have any advice for options I’m overlooking? Considering just biting the bullet, stop sleeping, and just try to find 3 different volunteer positions to scrounge up references that way.

    1. Lou*

      You could try the volunteering route, but as you mentioned, you don’t really have the time outside of your crazy work schedule. Do you work with any clients? Any consultants? Anyone outside of your company that can reasonably vouch for your work? If not, I would let the hiring manager know when it comes to that stage. I’m sure if you explain your situation, they would be pretty understanding. Some may make a conditional job offer contingent on your current manager giving you a good reference, which I don’t know how those typically work out. Some may ask for personal references. This is a tough one. I’d be interested to see how others respond. In the meantime, I wish you the best of luck on your job hunt!

      1. Reference Woes*

        We do have a client whose project I’ve been working on since I joined, but I currently play a pretty vital and highly visible role for them, so telling the client I want to leave would be even worse than telling my bosses.

        Thanks for your suggestion though! I will keep brainstorming.

    2. Creag an Tuire*

      How long have you been at your current job? Do you have any -former- co-workers who would agree to be references?

      1. Reference Woes*

        I’ve been here about two years. We’ve had people leave, but no one I’ve worked too closely with unfortunately.

    3. Chameleon*

      I’m sure you know the situation best, but are your bosses the type to actually hold it against you if you bring up your concerns? Would they fire you right out?

      If you think they might be sympathetic, you could tell them that the position is getting to be untenable and ask for their advice. Maybe there is some way to get your hours down somewhat? Or at least, if they admit that the position cannot change, they will be sympathetic to your looking? In which case you may be able to use them as references after all.

      I know that’s risky, so don’t do it if you have doubts. But I’ve found that people often are more understanding than we fear.

  55. Off-Topic*

    Alison, I’ve noticed the auto-play videos have returned to the top of the comments section. Is there any way to remove them? They are awful.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They’ve changed that ad above the comments so that sound plays when your cursor is over it (but not when you’ve scrolled past it). I’ve asked them to develop a version that doesn’t do that, and they’re working on it but aren’t able to give me an ETA. (I removed it altogether earlier this month when they first made this change to it, and site revenue plunged … so it’s back, but I’ve made it clear they need to fix this.)

      1. Alston*

        I actually am sometimes getting sound from the add when I am no where near it. I’ll randomly get a few seconds of sound.

  56. Lavender*

    I am actively looking for a new job for a number of reasons, including lack of professional development opportunities. I was wondering how I should respond to questions about my reason for seeking a new opportunity, should they come up. Normally I’d respond by discussing how much I want to work for x organization or that I’m interested in working in my field of study. That line of reasoning doesn’t always apply though. So I was wondering how it would sound if I said that I’m looking to leave my current job because the travel requirements increased from less than 5% to 15% – this is actually true and I wouldn’t want to work for an organization that requires that much travel. Another reason would be that my responsibilities have decreased. They have decided to create a new position (on the payroll and all) since one of our contractors quit. Naturally this new person would assume some of the responsibilities I had undertaken – more substantive work that was tacked onto my position because this position has a less demanding workload. Anyway, I’ve just been mulling over this. It hasn’t given me any anxiety yet.

    1. BRR*

      I’m guessing there are reasons you’re applying for the jobs you’re applying to, so can you say those? It also sounds like you might be able to say you want less travel after your current role changed (this has happened before on AAM) and more responsibilities.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Travel. Why not preemptively ask how much travel the new job involves. Then when you get to the part about why are you leaving, you can just point back at the increased travel as one of your concerns.
      OTH, if they ask you why you are leaving and you have not gotten to ask about travel yet, then say something, “I am glad you asked because there are a couple of things that I am considering about a new job. One of which is travel. I am suddenly traveling more at my current job and I don’t enjoy it that much. Does your position here require much travel?”

  57. Intrepid*

    I’m coming to the end of my current fellowship and looking for the next thing. My boss has a great network which I’d really like to be able to utilize, and he’s offered to put me in touch/recommend me/generally help my search.

    My problem comes is that I’ve been a bit of a generalist, and most roles are a bit more specialized. Now, I find several aspects of Teapotery interesting, and I’d be happy to work on spouts, handles, or lids. I’m also interested in a few pan-teapot issues like gloss vs. matte teapots, which intersects but is distinct from any of the other bits. I think they’ll intersect down the line when I’m senior enough to work on “teapot appendages,” but I’m fine if they don’t, and in any case I could see myself happily spending the next 5-10 years on any of these various bits until I reach that seniority. There aren’t many more generalist positions currently in reach for me.

    If I present jobs I’m (considering) applying for, I’m afraid I’ll look scattered. Part of this is that I’ve been in non-profit land, where I’m expected to be PASSIONATE about my particular teapot piece; part of it is that I have the skills I need to begin any of these tracks, but I’ll develop different tertiary skills in the next few years depending on what I do (first).

    How do I ask for my boss’ help job-searching without dinging myself for not being focused or passionate enough?

    1. BRR*

      Are you sure you’ll be “dinged” for that? Can you say you find multiple parts of teapotery interesting?

      1. Intrepid*

        I’ve noticed while talking to a variety of people in the field that, yes, it’s expected that I have a passion for– or at least align myself with– one thing. Part of this, too, is that a lot of my work experience is in teapot handles but I’m less excited about working on teapot butts than I am about working on lids, for example.

        I do think that explaining it here has been one of my more successful explanations, but the vibe I get is very much that I should have A Passion and A Strategy for working with a particular teapot bit.

        1. Rad Radost*

          “I spent several years focused on Lawful Neutral teapots, but my desire to learn more about teapot alignment as a whole led me to more recent study in adjacent teapots such as Lawful Good and Chaotic Neutral.”

          I sympathize and I wish you the best. I would also love to see a Chaotic Neutral teapot.

  58. Rosa*

    Is there anything to do about a job that you don’t like but still need to stick around another year for? I was originally planning on leaving this summer (making it a year) but I recently got promoted and leaving two months after a month of training is not going to make me look good. I guess I could get a hobby, but it’s still 8 hours a day that I’m dreading.

    1. T3k*

      Well, look at it this way: there’s never going to be a good time to leave. What are you going to do if you stick it out another year, plan to put in your resignation, but a big project comes up, or 3 others quit a few months before you planned to? Are you going to stick it out yet another year because of that? You could try to find a better way to ease the transition though, if you can afford to stay on a bit longer than the normal 2 weeks notice, which might smooth over any ill feelings that you’d be leaving so soon after training/promotion.

      1. Rosa*

        Actually I’d feel totally fine leaving at any other time. The work is not project based at all, it’s one task you do over and over again all day, every day. And there’s probably 40-50 people in this position, so they’ll survive. This is my one and only job so it’s not like I have other strong performances to point to while job searching. That’s pretty much why am telling myself to stay a while.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Why not compromise? Start quietly and selectively searching now. Depending on how selective you are (and other factors) it could take 6 months to a year to find something. By then your quandary would be lessened because more time has passed.

  59. Confused Publisher*

    No question this week; just wanting to share that I’ve just finished the work week on a high. My manager – I was just moved to her team a few weeks ago – told me several times this week that she felt very secure entrusting time-sensitive, complex work to me because she knows for a fact that it will get done, and to a high standard. Still recovering from a passive-aggressive manager I had for a long time, I didn’t realise what a huge compliment that was until later.
    And today, I delivered something earlier than I thought I would have it ready, and she simply winked at me and said ‘I told you so!’
    Having a manager who believes in you makes all the difference. I’m still grinning hugely.

    1. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

      That’s really good. Congrats on finally getting a supportive manager!

  60. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

    Would you rather be paid well (potentially overpaid) but bored out of your mind, or take a pay cut to be more engaged and busy?

    I’m in the former situation and I feel guilty about wanting to leave, but I seriously cannot deal with being bored, and there is nothing else to do. I’m at a mid-senior level but work for a small company, and there’s really not much else I can do without taking work away from other people. I would like to move on, but I don’t know if I could be paid enough to meet other goals, like paying off my mortgage early.

    1. Colette*

      Which is more of important to you?

      I’ve taken a pay cut for a job (well, hours) that I like more, and for me it was worth it, but I can live the life I want financially (including maintaining an emergency fund) on my current salary.

      Is there a third option? Can you find a more challenging job that pays what you’re currently making?

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        I’ve been looking, but I get the impression I am overpaid. (I do some things outside of the scope of my job so am compensated more for it. But I’m looking for positions that focus on what the main portion of my job is). I get interviews, and the only offer I’ve received was for a super-dysfunctional place.

        I’m not sure which is more important to me – that’s where my struggle is. They both feel important to me, so the third option would be ideal!

    2. De Minimis*

      I’m in this position now….I think I’d rather take the more engaging job. I’m paid the most I’ve ever been paid and the benefits are the best I’ve ever had [even as a former fed employee] but the job involves a lot of low-level clerical work most of the time, and the accounting I’m doing is more related to data entry. There are two people above me who do work that is more similar to what I’m used to doing, and they aren’t going anywhere.

      I’m not really bored and am busy all the time, but the work itself isn’t interesting, and it’s more like the stuff I was doing as a temporary accounting clerk when I was in college. I am concerned when it’s time to move on to another job [probably within a couple of years] that this won’t look great on my resume–the job title itself also looks like a downgrade, but it’s due to our weird job title conventions that we have here. At the same time, I’m responsible for more things–there are real impacts if I make a mistake, but I don’t know if that’s something you would put on the resume.

    3. Nobody*

      I’d rather be paid well. I’m never bored — if I have the time, I’m always finding little improvements to make things better. I keep a running list of ideas, and on the rare occasion things are slow, I look at my list and pick something to work on.

      But honestly, even if there were nothing to do and I ran out of things on my list, I’d still take the higher pay.

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        See, I’m always finding things to improve too, and there’s a lot of room for improvement here, but I’ve run out of things/pet-projects. I work extremely fast, too. And, I try to do professional development when I’m bored … but there’s a limit to the amount I’m able to do at work.

      2. Honeybee*

        Yeah, this. I’m really good at occupying myself, and I’d rather have the money.

    4. Oryx*

      Been there, done that. I took a pay cut for a far busier position and am so glad I did.

    5. orchidsandtea*

      Currently, overpaid and bored souds great to me. I’m overextended in my personal life, money’s tight (student loans are great, y’all), I’m a little bored at work, and yet I need to work late most nights.

      On the other hand, if we were financially stable, I’d forgo luxuries in order to have a happy challenge.

    6. matcha123*

      Could you find something to study during the day? Something that could apply to your present job but would help with future ones? Like becoming more familiar with WordPress, etc.?

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        I have been doing that (it’s a good suggestion)- I work in supply chain, so I just got my CSCP certification. I’m taking an Excel dashboard course, I’m studying business statistics. It definitely helps!

    7. Tau*

      Pay cut and busy 100% of the way. I mean, it does depend on the amounts involved, but as long as the latter is money I can live on reasonably well I don’t think I’d think long about it.

      Of course, mileages will vary. My answer is quite heavily weighted by two facts: first, that I am lucky enough to have no debt and a decent financial safety net, second, that I have Asperger’s and have had major executive function problems making me completely incapable of getting work done in the past where I’m flat-out terrified they might come back. Basically, I’m worried that a bad job could make that flare up again and tank my career, so I have a very vested interest in ensuring that my jobs are interesting and I don’t run out of work.

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        Thanks for sharing. I have no debt (besides a mortgage that we can still pay easily with one income) and a financial safety net so that is something I will start taking into consideration more.

    8. CMT*

      Definitely the latter! The main reason I hate my job is because I’m constantly so bored.

    9. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

      Well, if it were me, I’d take being overpaid and bored just because my student loan bills are ridiculous, so I’d like to be able to pay those off quicker. I’ve also worked in highly stressful and, sometimes, toxic environments for the past five or six years, so I’m at the point where I really need a break from the grind. But if I didn’t have that kind of job history, or the amount of bills I have, I’d take less pay and something more engaging.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I cannot deal with boredom. I guess if I only had two choices I would chose less pay and more busy. I get a particular type of headache when I am bored and once the headache starts I cannot function. I think having a physical reaction to boredom drives my choices.

      But looking a bit deeper, it’s a basic human need to know one is making a difference, one is making a real contribution. We are talking basic need like food and water are basic needs. Of course, it’s a sliding scale, some people need to make a difference more than others feel the need. It’s good to think about this and it’s good to know where we sit on the spectrum. Just to keep adding more wrinkles here, sometimes we change where we are on the spectrum- we can move up or down depending on numerous other factors in our lives.

    11. NicoleK*

      It seems like a simple question, but my answer would depend on other factors:

      1. current financial status
      2. relationship with manager and colleagues
      3. work environment
      4. potential for other projects or opportunities in the pipeline
      5. home life
      6. previous job (important if previous job was insanely busy or insanely toxic)

  61. LizB*

    I wish my organization would hire more IT people. The people we have are lovely, but there are only a few of them for a large organization, and they get swamped with work very quickly. Last week they started a planned upgrade of all computers in the organization to a new operating system… and discovered after the first batch of upgrades (which included my entire 40-person division) that half the installs were stopping partway through, leaving people without necessary parameters and applications. So the big upgrade project has been put on hold, and most people in my division (including me) have resorted to just going to the IT office to beg them to install the things we need to do our work. I feel bad for being so pushy, but I got about two things done in all of Monday and Tuesday because my computer was incapable of doing the other fifty things I needed to do. Technology can be such a pain sometimes.

  62. Persephone Mulberry*

    HELP: Using a PC keyboard with a Mac

    I’ve been a PC person pretty much my whole life, but I have a Mac at my new job, which is fine except for the dinky Apple keyboard (how do people live without 10-key pads and both a backspace and a delete key?!). So they got me a new PC keyboard, and now I need to figure out how to get my keyboard shortcuts to work “properly” (i.e. the way I’m used to – using the CTRL key, not the “Command” (ALT) key).

    I’ve got OS X El Capitan v.10.11.4 and a Logitech K520 keyboard.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      I have a Mac keyboard at work and it has a 10-key pad and a Delete key (no backspace though). FYI.

      Sorry, I have no idea how to make your PC keyboard talk to your Mac. I’ve been a PC person all my life too and this job (that I’ve been at for 1.5 years) is the first time I’ve used a Mac. I Google how to do stuff A LOT. It usually helps.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Huh? Why didn’t they get you an Apple extended keyboard? That’s what I have and they both have the number pad off to the right.

      The apple key “should” correspond with the ALT key. I’ve never tried that, but if you can ALT+C for copy on the Mac and it works, that’s the only real difference, IMO

    3. Mimmy*

      I have this at home, so I feel your pain – two years in and I *still* miss the old PC keyboard!!

    4. Lore*

      I just made the switch myself and the standard keyboard we use is this:
      http://www.apple.com/shop/product/MB110LL/B/apple-keyboard-with-numeric-keypad-english-usa?fnode=56

      It’s a little smaller and a lot thinner than the PC version so it’s throwing off my touch-typing a little bit but otherwise seems to have all the functions I’m used to (except that I keep accidentally hitting the “open CD drive” button where I’m used to having “print screen.”

      But if you can’t replace, then go into System Preferences, select Keyboard, and then click on Modifier Keys. These are the settings they recommend:

      PC Ctrl => Mac Control
      Windows key => Mac Option
      PC Option/Alt => Mac Command

      But I think if you want your PC shortcuts to work the way you’re used to you might instead want to map PC Ctl to Mac Command and Option/Alt to Mac Control. Either way, this should be the place where you can play around with settings.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Thanks – I found the Modifier Key settings, but couldn’t seem to get them to map correctly – even with the default settings sometimes Alt acts as Ctrl and sometimes it’s the Windows key, depending on the application. So I can’t even relearn the shortcuts because they’re not consistent.

        I’m thinking I’ll just need to request an actual Mac-layout keyboard.

        1. Honeybee*

          If you do request one, here’s my favorite Logitech Mac keyboard:

          http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005L38VPC/ref=psdc_12879431_t3_B004MF11MU

          It’s solar powered, wireless, and although it’s a chiclet-style keyboard it’s a bit thicker and more substantial than the Apple keyboards. It feels much better to type on. And it has both a number pad and a backspace and delete key (they are both called “delete”, but the actual delete key has a little icon to let you know it goes in the opposite direction from backspace).

    5. Jessica (tc)*

      I had this same problem, and I finally found something to help me remap the keys easily. I don’t know if it will work in your situation, but I’ll post a link below.

      My main reason was getting the keys to work the same way that my PC at home worked, because switching back and forth was taking up precious work time at both work and home. I kept using the wrong set at home and at work, so I just took that issue away completely.

    6. Honeybee*

      There’s a way to go into your keyboard settings on a Mac and change what the keys do. You can make it, for example, so that the left CTRL key corresponds to Command and the right CTRL key is a regular CTRL. I’ve used PC keyboards with a Mac before and I made it so the Windows key corresponded to the Command key (because I need CTRL!)

      Otherwise the keyboard shortcuts on a Mac are relatively similar to the Windows shortcuts.

  63. INTP*

    Has anyone begun freelancing/side hustling while working another job? How do you maintain a work-life balance?

    I work close to full time (32 hours) at my regular job. My long-term goal is to be a full-time freelancer, and I have been getting some freelancing work. But I am having a hard time balancing accepting enough work to keep momentum and continue to be a go-to vendor for my clients with not exhausting myself or letting it impact my day job. I don’t have a specific question to voice, just…I could use any tips on this topic, or general stories (whatever you feel might be helpful) from people who have gone through this phase in their careers.

    1. matcha123*

      I do a lot of freelancing on the side. In my case, it doesn’t pay a whole lot. Maybe an extra $300 a month in “good” months. I don’t really have any advice aside from feeling the same way. I got to the point where I was doing something almost every day and my weekends were gone. I wasn’t even saying money.
      Only recently have my side jobs slowed to the point where I feel comfortable telling people that I want to/will take time off.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      I don’t have a client based side hustle but I do have to really balance making sure I’m dedicating enough time to maintenance and building work on my side hustle. One thing that helps is having dedicated time every day to work on my side hustle (for me, usually 7-9am and then a full weekend day) and a clear to-do list that rolls up to clear goals.

  64. matcha123*

    I’ve been working for most of my life. I know what some of my friends do for a living, but it’s a mystery for most of them. Is it common to talk with friends about their jobs? I’ve always seen that as a private conversation.
    Additionally, I’ve heard stories where people hear about something totally random and find themselves in a job they never imagined they’d be doing. How do people hear about these things? It seems like talking about work is one subject that I have to avoid when I’m with friends.

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think what you do for a living is private, but often it’s not easy to explain to someone in a different industry.

    2. Creag an Tuire*

      Assuming you’re in the US, it’s very common to small talk/vent about work, yes. I’m not sure why it’s a topic you “have to avoid” socially, unless you work for the CIA or the Mafia.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I like to talk about work socially, but it usually only works out when the other person has some sort of connection to what I do. It doesn’t have to be in my field. I talk work with a friend who is an HR director in telecom and another who is a nonprofit ED, and I’m an engineering project manager. We can relate because enough aspects of our jobs are the same (demanding work, travel, being a female manager, etc). I don’t typically talk work with my nurse sister, or some friends who have what I will lump together as part-time mom jobs (preschool or daycare workers, part time admins in small offices, etc).

      1. matcha123*

        Maybe this is it.
        I mainly do translation. Translators are a scattered group of people and most of the professional translators are kind of loners.
        My other group of friends went to grad school and post about flying to various places for work, but not much about the work itself.

    4. T3k*

      I talk all the time to my friends about their jobs. Since most of us are in the similar boat of either unemployed, underemployed, underpaid, overworked, or just dealing with incompetent bosses, it gives us a chance to vent to someone not attached to where we work about our sucky job life.

    5. College Career Counselor*

      If I recall correctly, you’re outside the U.S., so there may be different cultural norms for talking about work? I’m in the U.S. and talk about work with my spouse, colleagues, family and friends a LOT (hey, it’s where we spend most of our waking hours).

      Cultural preferences about work-talk notwithstanding, do you have friends you feel comfortable talking to about your desire to do something different? That’s not asking them to divulge the secrets/joys/horrors of their workplace, but it’s more of a request for advice/information about what they think you might be good at doing next.

      I ask all kinds of questions about what people do for a living and what they like and don’t like about it because I’m a career counselor. That’s useful background information for me to have when working with students, alumni, and career changers. If you don’t have a nosy career counselor type in your circle, perhaps you can ask friends for introductions to other people to do some informational interviewing with them to learn about the work, how your background might (or might not) apply, etc. I have to say, in my (admittedly North American) experience, most people have something to say about their work, whether they love it or hate it, and don’t find inquiries off-putting (unless you’re asking about their personal salary or something like that).

      1. matcha123*

        You are correct, I currently work overseas, but I was born and raised in the US. When I was growing up, “What you do for a living” was kind of taboo in my house. My parent has struggled to find stable work for decades, despite having a Master’s and that topic always touched a nerve. So, I grew up thinking that topics like what someone does for a living, how much money they make and the like were super taboo and only served to put down others.

        Many of my friends seem pretty secretive about their jobs, too. Which makes things really hard. No one posts their job title on Facebook. Even in private I’ve always felt like I can’t ask them about what they do.

        I’ve said to friends that I want to branch into something new, and all of them have been supportive. But when they ask what I’m looking to do, I’m stuck. I have no idea what’s out there and the interesting jobs I do find seem like such a stretch that it would be a waste of time to apply.

        1. Rad Radost*

          Privately discussing work is easier than on social media–it’s just getting them started that’s tricky. Use a light fluffy intro segue like ‘what are your coworkers like?’ or ‘huh, sometimes I wonder how I would explain my job to a kid’ or ‘wild curiosity: what are your benefits like?’

          People are reluctant to talk about work in any kind of documented form in case something lurches out of the depths of Google to bite them.

          Reading recent, modern autobiographies helps me work out problems sometimes. The author sees things from a different perspective, they have different priorities, and they’re not trying to sell you on much, except the idea that they had an interesting life. It’s kind of… mental triangulation. Helps with perspective.

          I wish you luck!

    6. Lillian McGee*

      There’s a little bit of an odd dynamic in my core group of friends. Only two of us have “white-collar” type jobs, and the others all have either a “blue-collar”-ish(?) or retail job. Us white collars can talk about work to each other but the others zone out completely. The retailers talk about customers quite a lot, which is entertaining. The blue collars seldom talk about their job except to complain about their managers/the hours.

      I think maybe the difference lies in whether we actually enjoy our work or not. Maybe my friends who don’t like their jobs don’t like hearing about me liking mine!!??

      In my peripheral friend group (mostly college friends) work is a regular topic of conversation just like anything might be. Perhaps because we are all more or less on the same level.

    7. CheeryO*

      I talk about work with my friends all the time, but I suspect that, like my family, they don’t actually understand what I do (which is fine, since I don’t completely understand what some of them do, either!). They’ve all latched onto something I did in an internship years ago, and they think that’s what I do all the time.

      As to your second point, I did kind of fall into a job that I didn’t really know existed. I switched my major in college to something that I happened upon in the course catalog that looked interesting to me, and it stuck. There are only a couple options for someone with my degree, so I ended up in a state government agency doing work that I never would have though of doing. I think it’s like anything else in life – in addition to working hard and keeping your eyes open for opportunities, you need a little luck sometimes.

    8. NicoleK*

      Lately, I’ve been spending alot of time with former colleagues so yes, the conversation is mainly about work

    9. Not So NewReader*

      What I love (not) is when friends describe what they do and I still don’t know what they do. That kind of stops that train of conversation. I did have one family member say that I was not bright enough to understand what they do. I told them they were probably right and I wandered off to talk to other people. To this day, I do not think Bright Mind figured out what went wrong in that conversation.

      I grew up in a family where you did not discuss work. It’s part of being an adult, just do it, and don’t talk about it. Looking back on it, I realize that they probably did not know that much about careers/management/laws and so on. So there really was not much to discuss. I can remember one dear family member saying, “So I told the employee, ‘what do you mean you want instructions on how to weld? Just pick up the welding unit and start.’ ” Uh. wow. Questions are discouraged.

      Another mechanism at play is that generally, if people closest to us try to help with jobs, money, etc, we tend to think of them as intruding. Close friends/family can serve a specific purpose, but not all purposes.

      I have said this before and I still think it’s relevant. Alison’s blog here, is filling a HUGE unmet need out there. People need a place to go where they can ask questions and get real, doable answers. OP, if the people around you are not giving you work conversation, then hang out here. There is never a shortage of people who WILL talk with you.

      How people find jobs they never dreamed they would be doing: I think it is the people you meet as you go through your work day. Your coworker starts yakking about her daughter’s company looking for a new employee. Or you find out about companies in your area that you never heard of through vendors, customers, water cooler discussions etc. Or someone notices you are really good at x and you say to yourself, “other people notice this about me, also, and I never saw it before. Maybe I should investigate more work in doing x.”

      For me, I started having more success finding the types of work I want when I STOPPED looking at the people closest to me, meaning close friends and family. It was the people that were in next layer out from the closest people who were the most helpful.

  65. Lily*

    So, I am a recent graduate and got a new job recently. Now, I just realize how hopelessly unqualified I am about it. I should have realized I shouldn’t have taken this job when I knew that the manager had inflated sense of my abilities. But, I thought that I could pull it off.Now, I don’t know. My supervisor could technically do the job herself since she has the tech skills and industry knowledge and I just feel I am a waste of space. It’s been two weeks and people just explain things to me and I just feel like complete idiot. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Papyrus*

      It’s only been two weeks and you’re still being trained. I’m sure it’s overwhelming now, but I bet what you’re learning will eventually “click” and then you’ll have more confidence about the job. Don’t give up just yet!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Two weeks is a bit early to be beating yourself up about it. When I left teaching, I got a fairly technical job I was extremely unqualified for (both on paper and in reality), and it was very intimidating. There was almost no documentation (the documentation that existed was outdated or very densely written). It took me almost four months to get up and running. It took me a full year to feel good about processes and then to start improving those processes. Roll up those sleeves! You are in for a ride!

    3. AnotherAlison*

      This is so normal. Most of our new grads are useless for 6 months, and that’s even ones who have interned here. We’re a big company, but our new hires’ managers and coworkers can all do the jobs of the new hires. That’s not the point. They know, so they can train you. Even in jobs I’ve been promoted to, I still feel like I’m fairly useless for a couple months. : )

      I’m thinking only a GED-only required type of job would allow someone to be successful after two weeks.

    4. Shell*

      I was grossly underqualified for my current job (transferable skills, great. Actual experience? Nope). My boss sat beside me my entire work day for three weeks. I was constantly asking her questions for months. I would go home and crash right into bed for a nap because I was so mentally drained.

      At the three month mark I overheard my sales guy in the next cube talking to a customer on the phone (he asked me a question over the cube wall and the customer asked him who he was talking to). He said, and I quote, “Shell is 150% better than [predecssor]”.

      Two weeks is far too early to say that you’re ultimately unsuitable for this job. I didn’t feel confident until my one year mark.

      1. Honeybee*

        When I first started I was meeting with my manager every single day asking questions. There was also a coworker who was responsible for training, and he deliberately moved his desk to be near me when I started so he could be available for questions and help. I sometimes wondered if he regretted it because I asked him questions pretty much all day for the first couple months. (He didn’t – he was always patient and gracious. He loves training people.)

    5. Master Bean Counter*

      Just about everybody feels like an idiot two weeks into a job. Just relax and re-evaluate everything in another 6 weeks.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Totally normal. I’ve been at my job for three years and there is still stuff I don’t know. Your supervisor doesn’t want to do the job–she wants you to do it. Two weeks is barely enough time to learn where all the bathrooms are.

      Do you take notes when people show you how to do stuff? That helps me a lot–it helps things stick in my head, and I also have something to refer to later. I type them up after I take them and keep them in a procedurals folder. Also, if you don’t understand something they’re telling you, speak up! Often people explain a thing thinking you’re up to speed on something else, and they don’t realize you’re not.

      Hang in there–you will be fine! :D

    7. Shark Lady*

      It’s completely normal to feel this way! The first week at my current job, I was completely overwhelmed by all the things I had to learn. I had never worked in banking before and had absolutely NO IDEA what people were talking about. But I took lots of notes and asked lots of questions–by the end of the second week, I didn’t feel like I was drowning anymore, but it still took about a month to six weeks for me to feel even a little competent. I was a sponge for knowledge–I wanted to know how things worked, and took copious notes whenever my supervisors and coworkers would explain things to me. Now, a year later, I am one of my department’s top performers and get asked to train our temps and new hires.
      It’s ok that you don’t have the knowledge and skills right now. You will gain them by listening to your coworkers, and trying things, and making mistakes. Is there a procedures manual you can refer to or reference materials to read? How about industry publications and websites? Some jobs have a steeper learning curve than others. Hang in there!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Just in case you wanted to hear it one more time: this is normal.

      My current job was a big change for me. I had some of the puzzle pieces necessary to make it work, but not that many of them. By month number three I said “I will never, ever get this job.” By month number six, I thought, “Damn, I am actually figuring this out.” It was a few days later I changed my mind and decided that I will never get this job, but it is okay because experienced people are struggling. That is the nature of the work. I love my boss and she loves me. We both understand that the work is difficult and the brain drain is incredible. We keep showing up because we both enjoy how it challenges our thinking, we dovetail well and we enjoy listening to each other’s thoughts on things. I have been at the job for four years. As long as I demonstrate I am bringing my brain to the table, I will be employed indefinitely, I think.

      School does not prepare you for the work place. Hang tough. Be sincere, show up every day and do your best, then go to bed early at night because this can really tire a person out. Make notes to yourself, develop a list of contacts if appropriate, make a list of your passwords, nail down the basics. And just have the sheer brass to keep going when everything around you says nooo. It does get better.

    9. Honeybee*

      Of course your manager can do the job, but she needs you to do the job so she can focus on managery stuff.

      Two weeks is nothing. I have a PhD and my first full-time job after my PhD and postdoc was a research-related job that was basically in my field, just a different subfield. Two weeks in I had barely learned where the bathrooms were and how to physically navigate our lab space! I literally got lost in the hallways in our labs for about 15 minutes before someone came by and saved me, and I think that was more than two weeks in. I’ve been here for 9 months and there are still some things I am learning how to do.

      Every new person takes a while to get up to speed – even if that person is a senior hire, they have to learn how to do things at the new company. And if they’re a junior hire, your job is expecting you to not really know what to do for the 6 months or so. Give yourself some more time.

  66. intldevt*

    I am on a 2 year contract, expiring in the fall, with my current employer, though I have a long history with them (internships, part time work, some consultancy work, etc.). I’m a strong performer overall. Ideally, I would love to keep working with this company, but *definitely* not in the role that I currently have (business development). I would be interested in a shift to project management, but I’m more or less okay with doing what I’m doing now until a position opens up in project management.

    This week I just received my letter from HR saying “we’d love to have you for 2 more years, sign on the dotted line!” So now is the time to advise my boss that I’m eager for a change…ahhhh! Any advice or scripts for this conversation?

    1. Dawn*

      Gush about how great the company is and how much you love working there and how honored you are about getting two more years. Then go into the serious part of “Yeah I really really really want to transition to the Project Management team, do you see that being a possibility, if so when, and btw I’m happy to continue with Biz Dev until that transition but I really really really want to go be a Project Manager”

      I think the gushing and enthusiasm for the employer is the key here- you want to show them that you’re THRILLED to stick around, but that you’d really like to be moved to another division.

  67. Anon for This One...*

    We recently received the new performance review competencies. Barring the fact that we’re a third of the way into the year, and we just found out how we’re being reviewed in 2016, I have other concerns. One of the competencies listed is “Drive and Passion.” Does anyone else have a similar thing in their reviews? How do you even quantify that? It all seems very buzzword-y to me. (I do not work in an industry you would associate with “passion.”)

    1. Mockingjay*

      We have loyalty and commitment. (And one other, but that will out the company.)

      I could never quantify these. I just write up my accomplishments for the year, and stuff a couple in each category. “Loyalty: wrote winning proposal to secure future teapot production work.” “Commitment: developed standard processes for teapot spout manufacture.”

      I don’t try to explain why these things demonstrate the quality. Because I can’t.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Drive and passion might be shown by your follow up, do you see things through to their conclusion? It also can be shown by your keen observations, do you notice things that may become a problem later but you fix it now? An employee who is concerned about doing their best each day could be described as having drive and passion.

  68. sy*

    My boss recently asked me if I am interested in moving to a leadership position or ‘something else’

    I’m not exactly sure what she means by something else, but I’ve toyed with the idea of moving to a different department for a while, namely because I think there will be more career growth in the long term. I work in customer support and I feel like even if you’re a manager in customer support, you’re still in support. The thing is, all of my managers are wonderful. They’re flexible, they understand normal life stuff, they have had my back on countless occasions. I feel like they’ve been grooming me for leadership over the past year. Do I go be on the bottom of a new department and work my way up career wise, or do I stay in my department with the support albatross but otherwise an excellent work environment?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Look over what they are suggesting for you. Knowledge is power, the more you know the easier it will be to decide. You have already decided to get out of the customer end of the deal, that is one decision. Now you have the separate decision of what to do. Line up your options. If you have more than one option, then pick something that is in line with your natural abilities. I always joke that no one would ever hire me to fix cars. I have absolutely no ability there. So even something like working in the parts department might be a bad plan for me. It’s not in line with any of my natural abilities, I probably will not be successful in the parts department. Select something that looks like you will probably succeed in the long run after you get through the learning curve.

  69. ACA*

    So last week, my primary boss publicly (well, in an email to multiple people) deferred to my expertise in something. And the other day, I was adding content to a website for another of my bosses, and asked if it was ok for me to make a wording change to improve clarity – and he told me I could make any changes I wanted, because he trusts me implicitly.

    Is…is this what it feels like to be appreciated? I’ve had so many toxic bosses that I didn’t think it would ever happen.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t even call that being appreciated. I’d just call that recognizing that you can do your job, which is what most bosses should do. Being appreciated would be something like “This is amazing! You did an excellent job with X, Y, and Z. Here’s a raise.” Congrats on a non-toxic boss finally!

      1. Confused Publisher*

        Yes! I’ve had a similar week with my new manager which I posted about up-thread. It’s just the best feeling. Congratulations! :)

    2. Beancounter in Texas*

      OMG, I would LOVE that. I’d be as confused as you for a bit, having just left a disparaging toxic boss. I think you’re feeling appreciation because someone actually trusts you. Good. :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      A wise boss knows that giving employees some areas to call their own helps to retain the employee. Sounds like your boss wants to keep you interested in the job and engaged in the job. Congrats.

  70. librarygirl*

    I’ve just been asked to replace our kitchen signs. You know the type, Do your own dishes your mother doesn’t work here, which has lead me looking for not overly passive aggressive, professional yet fun ones.

    So out of curiosity what are the best and worst work kitchen signs you’ve seen?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Nothing for kitchen signs, but we have them in the ladies’ room. Part of it says “please remain seated for the entire performance.” I thought that was amusing.

      1. Laura*

        Oh this is great. I am so filing this one away for when we might need it next. Any suggestions for chronic don’t-check-to-see-if-things-are-fully-flushed issues?

    2. Lillian McGee*

      I took a few WW1 propaganda posters from the Library of Congress website and edited them into kitchen cleanliness propaganda posters. I enjoyed them but over the years they’ve all disappeared. One of them was a smiling cartoon soldier that said “KEEP HIM SMILING – CLEAN UP SPILLS IN THE MICROWAVE” or something.

      …I may still have the files buried in my computer somewhere

      1. librarygirl*

        What a great idea! I may have to steal it. I just made a “Keep calm and do your own dishes.” poster.

    3. KR*

      THIS FRIDGE WILL BE CLEANED OUT EVERY SATURDAY…… and then it is never cleaned out on Saturdays.

    4. Dang*

      Our work kitchen has a picture of the Most Interesting Man in the world with this caption: “I don’t always eat with dishes, but when I do, I put them in the dishwasher.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I brought a dish drainer in so we could wash stuff and dry it without wasting paper towels, but people fill it up and then leave their stuff in it for AGES. So I put a sign over the dish drainer that says Please put your dishes away after washing or take them home so that others may use the dish drainer. Thanks and has a picture of SpongeBob mopping all the dishes in the Krusty Krab kitchen.

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        I like that one! I once worked at a place that recommended putting a piece of wax paper over your meal to prevent exploded food all over the microwave, “just like granny used to do with her coal-burning microwave.” That always used to make me smile for some reason, plus it’s good advice that has stuck with me..,

    5. Kristinemc*

      Probably not appropriate in some workplaces, but I saw one once that said “Treat your dishes like your partner: Don’t let others do them.” and cracked up.

    6. CascoBay*

      Fun fact: putting the image of human eyes on signs like this will help alter real-life behavior, the same way we are more likely to do the right thing if a real person is watching.

  71. Kali*

    Woohoo! I’ve finally made the decision to quit my job and focus on my/my husband’s photography business full time. It’ll be a few months before I actually pull the plug, but it feels good to have made the decision.

    For those of you who struck out on your own, what was the catalyst?

    1. Betty (the other Betty)*

      The company I was working for was bought out by a rival. It felt like the world’s longest buyout since the government wasn’t sure they were going to let the deal go through, so I didn’t leave until 11 months after the announcement. During that time, I considered applying to stay on with the new mega-company, but they were offering less pay and fewer benefits than I had been getting. No thanks. I also interviewed for a couple of jobs, and didn’t get either.

      After I left, I lived on savings for a month or so, sent out resumes, and started thinking about running my own company (aka freelance) as a graphic designer. Then I got a call from a person who had been a freelancer for me, now working for a company that needed a freelancer with my skills. The rest is history (as they say): I’m now in my 8th year of freelancing! I’ve had the kind of luck that comes along with hard work. And even when pay is inconsistent or hours are weird, I am so happy that I made the leap.

      Good luck!

  72. Regular poster, Anon for this comment*

    I’m feeling kinda down at work even though I shouldn’t, not sure how to cope.

    Just finished a massive project that got huge accolades, but now feel kind of empty since it’s over and my life was literally just work and overtime for the last 6 months, not sure what to do with free time.

    Contract also just got renewed, should be happy but I feel meh about it. I’m also still sharing an office with 6 new staff members and I hate all the questions I’m forced to answer because I’m the only one who knows the answers. I hate that they all look to me to set the tone- I’m SO TIRED. I literally banked 100 overtime hours last month alone. Also getting so grumpy because of the sound of this one guys swallowing- omg can you drink ANY louder? I use earphones most of the day but also don’t want to look stand off-ish…

    I go on holiday soon to use up my OT, but I don’t have any plans since I literally didn’t have time to make any and am feeling bitter about that. I like my job, and I like my co-workers, but I feel so exhausted and burnt out…. It’s hard to be excited about the new opportunity.

    1. Erica*

      “… but now feel kind of empty since it’s over and my life was literally just work and overtime for the last 6 months, not sure what to do with free time.”

      Ugh I know that feeling! What helps me is giving myself permission to mourn the end of a project, but also permission to decompress and do mindless things. I know that doesn’t work for everyone though.

      1. Regular poster, Anon for this comment*

        Thank you! I wasn’t quite sure how to put my finger on it- but I am mourning a bit. How do you let yourself mourn?

        1. Erica*

          Sometimes it’s just a matter of acknowledging that you feel sad and that that sadness is normal! Sometimes people around you will be all “oh, you must be so happy that you can relax now!” and you feel like you must be crazy because you arent’t happy at all.

          I also think your body just physically holds onto a lot to keep you going during a really stressful, intensive project, and sometimes everything can come crashing down on you. So it may be a good idea to slow down and check in with yourself, make sure you’re taking care of yourself health-wise, getting enough sleep, and so on.

          1. Regular poster, Anon for this comment*

            This is such good advice and exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you!!

    2. Chameleon*

      Regarding lack of vacation plans, sometimes you can get *great* deals on last-minute trips as resorts are scrambling to fill empty rooms (especially right now, before the big summer rush). Maybe a trip somewhere warm and sunny will help your mood!

    3. LC*

      It’s normal to be tired after finishing a big project! I’ve heard writers call the period after you’ve finished a novel “postpartum depression,” and I think it applies to other projects too. It can be hard to return to normal when you’ve spent so much time with your blinders on to get that One Thing done.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Why do you have to plan ANYTHING for your time off? You are tired, and you do sound tired too. Why not do a staycation? Sleep in, play video games (those are always good for dumping out all that is in our brains), read a book or do whatever.

      Your body and mind are already telling you what to do, you can’t plan an activity because you can’t do an activity. Just veg out for a week or however long.

  73. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

    How did handle performance reviews when you know you haven’t done very well?

    I’m another recent grad (working as a consultant, as you can tell from my username ;)) I like it a lot and my company, colleagues and boss are all great.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t performed up to par. I haven’t been doing terribly but I havent been a top performer either.

    I have some good explanations though.

    One of my parents are involved in a very publicised court case and it has been extremely stressful. They’re falsely accused but it has been a circus and my industry is directly involved meaning there has been talk at work.
    I’ve been open with the fact that one of the defendants is my parent and my boss in particular has been extremely supportive.

    I’ve also been sick A LOT and it culminated in two months off work after it was discovered I had several pulmonary embolisms.

    My boss has been super supportive here too, and I was given a light work load when I returned from leave a month or so ago.

    But all thus means my work, even before I got acutely ill, hasn’t been great. I’ve been sloppy and unfocused. I know what kind if feedback I’ll get and plan to own up to it and do my best to show this was not how I intend to go on.

    Is there anything more I can do? What should I propose as solutions?

    1. Dawn*

      Well, how do you propose to not continue being sloppy and unfocused? I can propose everything from meditation to ease stress to snorting coke for bursts of manic energy but a plan without a goal is just a dream.

      Think carefully about what your problems have been, and think about the root cause of those issues. Solutions/gameplans should arise naturally from there.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Grief and sadnesses like what you are experiencing tend to take away our ability to concentrate.

        The big tell-tale for me here, is your bosses are supporting you. That means that they see something in you that you are not thinking about right now. Develop a simple but doable plan for your main problem areas. Let’s say your XYZ report contains numerous small mistakes. A plan might be for you to run the report a day earlier and check it then save it. Come in the next day, when you are fresh and check it again. Then hand it in.
        That is a realistic plan. Move on to the next area you want to improve and make a plan for it. Write it down if need be.

  74. Mimmy*

    I just wanted to give a shout out to “anon for this” and “EW” for their responses on my post last week about policy analysis and the related question about writing assignments!

    I think this and/or evaluation (of policy, programs or curriculum–not sure yet) is going to be my long-term goal. I just have to now figure out how I’m going to get there. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a proper job so I have a lot of catching up to do. I have been engaged in what I call “skilled” volunteering – reading grant proposals, serving on several committees and councils – but I think I may need some “boots on the ground” experience first because I believe having that front line perspective will help in the long run. Three things:

    1. My self-confidence if I were to re-enter via direct services is shaky at best. That’s a long story right there.

    2. While my primary interest (disability) is the same, sub-interests are divergent: postsecondary education and human services. I wonder if it’s possible to do both?

    3. I don’t (can’t) drive – that’s probably going to be a potential barrier in the long run.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated (please be gentle! lol)

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      Is Uber an option?

      If you legitimately cannot drive, could this be an ADA accommodation?

      1. Mimmy*

        I’ve thought about that – I was concerned about expenses, but you could be right about the ADA piece (I’m studying the ADA right now so you’d think I know this :P )

    2. ModernHypatia*

      Playing catchup, and hoping you see this – but one thing that springs to mind is a mix of your interests. There’s an increased interest in transition programs to help support people with disabilities transition from K12 education to college (or the workforce), both in terms of working directly with students, or in terms of working with disability services departments at universities. But there’s also a fair bit of ‘how do we figure out best practices for this’ and ‘how do we share ideas and practical tips for issues or needs that don’t come up very often for any single school’ and so on, some of which turn into policy or other similar positions at state agencies, non-profit orgs focusing on specific needs, etc.

      My impression from talking to people actually doing the work is that people come into it from all sorts of different backgrounds. (I’m a librarian who helps support people doing some of this, among many other tasks: if you click on my website, there’s a bunch more info in my last few posts. Feel free to email me from there if you’d like to chat more by email).

      It’s also a line of work where people are at least somewhat more aware that driving may not be a thing everyone can do or does: where I work, it’s a mix of the Ride service for the metro area, people taking Uber, people taking cabs, public transit and people arranging carpooling, depending on what they need/how regular their schedule is.

      1. Mimmy*

        Thank you! I have a paper due tomorrow evening that I have to get moving on, but I will likely email you early next week.

  75. JoAnna*

    Not work related, but AAM related.

    The management company for my neighborhood’s homeowner’s association is called AAM. Every time I get mail from them, I get a little excited that Alison found my address and is sending me mail. And then I realize… nope, it’s HOA mail. Sigh.

    Also, AAM’s HQ is only a few blocks from where I work, so when I drive home I pass a big sign that says AAM, too. :D

  76. Amber Rose*

    My world’s on fire, how ’bout yours? To quote Smashmouth. With fires chasing thousands of people into our city and the oil industry crippled by a wall of fire surrounding the oilsands, business is slow and the future is dim. Where should I work next?

    Sorry. I’m feeling pessimistic today. Silver linings! My employee competency review went well. They wanna send me for college classes on personal development. Also I need an auditing course. It’s kinda cool, assuming we don’t shut down.

    But the issue is apparently I don’t volunteer to learn new things. I utterly lack ambition. Is that so bad? I’m happy with where I am and what I do. Am I doomed because I’m content?

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      I wouldn’t say you’re doomed because you’re content; you’re doomed at that employer because you’re content. I’d say it’s a mismatch of culture. Different people work for different reasons and that’s okay, in my book at least.

      I hope the fires die soon. I saw the NASA picture this morning. It is horrendous.

      1. Hellanon*

        Yeah, those fires are scary – one of the sites said that since they are crown fires, the flames can be 100m high. I live in SoCal and we know from fires, but generally not the ones big enough to make their own weather…

  77. Beancounter in Texas*

    I think my former employer may owe me more money. I’d like reader’s opinions about whether my job duties were exempt or not. I’ve been through the FLSA Advisor and I think my job fails with the discretion and independent judgment factor.

    I was a bookkeeper. My job was micromanaged; horribly, horribly micromanaged. All of my work was required to be reviewed before it was finalized (not after the fact). I briefly supervised a temp employee, but I did not have hiring or firing capabilities. Clients would not contact me directly with questions; they would contact my boss (the owner) who would request that I investigate what happened and much of the time she would reply to the client. She would direct how I should resolve any problems with the client. She was semi-involved in specific bookkeeping processes, specifying that she wanted customer deposits handled a specific way and she wanted check stubs stapled to the back of paid bills. (I defied her on the check stubs.)

    I was not required by my former employer to punch a clock or otherwise record my hours worked, but I did so independently. I worked 50+hrs/week for months and I calculate that I may be due almost $3,000 in gross wages if my job was indeed non-exempt. She paid me as a salaried exempt employee. My offer letter only offers a salary without the exemption classification noted. What is your opinion?

    1. TaxAnon*

      I think the best thing to do is report it to your state labor board and let them investigate – it costs you nothing and since you’ve already left there’s no real risk.

    2. LTR*

      A couple of thoughts:

      1. It sounds like you fail the executive exemption since you don’t supervise 2 or more F/T employees (have hire/fire authority).
      2. Not a computer/outside sales person.
      3. Exempt professional, maybe. Does your job require specialized knowledge (undergraduate or beyond)?
      4. Exempt administrative – Did you make decisions about matters of significance (create policy/directives)?

      It doesn’t sound like your exempt. Was your pay ever docked if you didn’t work at least 40 hours in a week? I would start by calling the DOL Wage and Hour Division, or just Google your state’s labor department.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        Re: specialized knowledge: I wouldn’t say it is required, but it is certainly helpful to the CPA who comes behind me.

        My pay was never docked, but I was salaried. Not necessarily non-exempt.

    3. BRR*

      I’m leaning towards non-exempt but this wouldn’t be the hill I’d die on. There are criteria for your classification but they’re a little ambiguous. Also do you need a reference? If yes I’d let it go. I know on here a lot of people are misclassified but I’m not sure if people have had success challenging it, especially for back wages.

      1. SAHM*

        Oh, I’ve had success! I filed with the Ca Labor dept before I was laid off, because I was an Admin and was being treated like a exempt employee. It took them a few months (filed in Dec/Jan was laid off Feb didn’t get my “case” reviewed until almost June) but I got a nice settlement. Especially when I showed up with an email horrible boss sent me basically forbidding me from taking a lunch-which is a HUGE no no. Her lawyers literally blanched when they saw that email. I COULD have let it go to court and probably gotten 3x the amount, but I was just emotionally done with the whole thing.

      2. Beancounter in Texas*

        Unfortunately, the bridge is already burned. I won’t be asking for a reference from my former boss – the owner of the company. I might do some good for the rest of the employees who are being treated exempt when the jobs are not.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      I would have leaned toward exempt but I googled it and the leaning is the other way.

      Google:

      bookkeeper exempt or nonexempt

      and see if you want to pursue this further.

  78. Minion*

    I’m having a hard time focusing at work and concentrating on what I’m supposed to be doing. I haven’t been called out on it yet, but if this continues – leaving things to the last minute, having a huge pile of filing to do b/c I don’t keep up with it, wasting time with things that don’t matter and avoiding the things that really need doing – it will certainly become apparent at some point.
    I’ve struggled with this all my life and I’ve seen my doctor but keep getting a diagnosis of depression, which is true enough, but the anti-depressants have no effect on my ability to focus or my motivation to get things done or increase my energy level in any way. It may be ADHD, but I don’t know how to get a diagnosis or an evaluation for that.
    So, what would you all recommend to help me stay focused and on task and, as an aside – anyone who has actually been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, would you share how you managed to get a diagnosis and any resources to help?

    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      The pomodoro method!
      Google it!
      I do 10 minutes work – 5 minutes break when I really can’t focus.

      I’m much the same. I do have some sort of ADD but for reasons I wasn’t given a diagnosis.

      Walking to work helps me, as well as standing up and working.

    2. anonnymoose*

      I believe you’d need a neuropsych evaluation to get ADD or ADHD diagnosis. Your doctor should be able to refer you to one, or you can just search online (depending on if you need a referral per your insurance). They do all these weird little tests with pictures, story telling, puzzles, and in the end they know what’s up with your head! I got diagnosed with executive functioning disorder at 17 years old. I knew it wasn’t quite ADD and had never even heard of EFD before.

    3. breadrolls*

      Hi! I was actually officially diagnosed with ADHD last month at the age of 23, and your problems sounds super familiar to me.

      Being diagnosed was two steps for me:

      1) Seeing a psychiatrist for a regular consultation, describing my symptoms and telling him that I suspected I had ADHD, and asking for a referral to a specialist for diagnostic testing. I let him know I wanted the kind of evaluation than can be used to request accomodations for when I (hopefully) go to law school next year.

      2) 5 hours of neuropsych tests. I received a full written report and official diagnoses about 7 weeks later.

      As a side note, you can be prescribed drugs for ADHD with a less official assessment (I started taking meds after that first psychiatry appointment) if your symptoms seem clear enough to your doctor. And I also was diagnosed with comorbid depression, so if you’re thinking ADHD but have been diagnosed with depression before, both could be true. Think about whether and to what extent things like executive dysfunction and inattention map to your mood. “Down” periods make my ADHD symptoms worse, but those symptoms are always there even on my best days.

      As for help outside of drugs or therapy (both of which I highly recommend if they’re available to you), resources like ADDitude magazine, the actuallyadhd tumblr, and other communities like that are great places for commiseration and seeing what has worked for others. My personal favorite work helpers are: handwritten lists (one notepad for to-do lists, ranked, and one for notes to self), email flags, and calendar reminders.

      As an addendum: cost for any ADHD testing is 100% down to your insurance, basically. It can either be very manageable or horrifyingly expensive.

      I hope some of that was helpful!

    4. PollyQ*

      the anti-depressants have no effect on my ability to focus or my motivation to get things done or increase my energy level in any way

      Not an MD, but a a long-term sufferer of depression, it sounds to me like the anti-depressants you’re taking aren’t doing the full job. You may want to try tinkering with doses or types of medication. If you haven’t seen a therapist, try finding one that’s an MD with experience/specialization in meds.

      Good luck!

  79. Lucky charm*

    When you are out of the office, do you have a back-up?

    When i plan to be out the office, I work extra hard beforehand so that my coworkers dont have to handle anything in my absence.

    My coworkers leave and dump stuff on me and dont bother to ask me or even give me a heads up about it.

    im not talking about unplanned absences (like a sick day or true emergency) but planned days out. any ideas?

    1. Jennifer*

      If they’re not willing to back you up, and your supervisor isn’t making them back you up, I’m not sure what to tell you. I’d ask the supervisor to make them back you up. That’s the policy in my office: at the very least, your docket should be mostly cleared by the time you come back. Of course, there will still be a giant pile for hours from all the people who sent you e-mails privately.

    2. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      I have struggled with this problem, too. My org runs 24/7–I work M-F 7a-4p and my primary colleague works M-Th 9a-7p and there are two other groups that care for our projects on nights and weekends. I have always made sure that the night and weekend teams would have nothing to do but care for emergencies however my partner/colleague was consistently leaving me tasks to accomplish on Friday that she could have easily arranged/cared for on Thursday. I was left frustrated and resentful.
      I love my work but this was really tearing me up–finally I began to deal with it by having direct conversations with the offender. I directly described the impact of her leaving work for me & others and asked her to care for XYZ on Thursday before she leaves rather than leave it for me on Friday. I would say this has reduced the problem by 90%.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      My old boss would back me up, but now there isn’t anyone. I don’t really have anyone to direct stuff to. I need to ask my new boss about that–I’m glad you asked this question. The only outside thing is if customers can’t download a report, but I suppose they could ask their consultant for help and they can call IT. Anything I get sent will sit there until I return. So I try to get caught up.

  80. Erica*

    Uggh I need to vent. Got a verbal offer for an amazing job that would be a real step up for me (first full-time job in my field, first job at a creative agency) back in January. Was told I’d get a formal offer by the end of the month. Turns out the job was contingent on settling a contract. The hiring manager kept me updated on the status up until two weeks ago. Now it’s been radio silence.

    Is there anything I can do? Part of me wants to try emailing my one other contact there, maybe even calling. But I know if they really wanted to hire me I would have heard from them by now.

    I just can’t believe anyone would be so rude. Not responding after an interview is one thing (although still rude IMO), but after two interviews, a skills test, a verbal offer, and four months of being told it was happening? I am just so disheartened. I’ve continued job searching and really ramped it up for the past two weeks, and I have some other irons in the fire, but it’s been really hard to let go.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      You could email your contact but I’d move on. I’m sorry. This really sucks.

    2. Creag an Tuire*

      That is pretty rude, though if you’re feeling charitable I’d assume that the contract in question fell through and now everything is f***ed; in the midst of all the damage control somebody forgot to tell you the bad news.

      1. Erica*

        I think that’s a little of what’s going on, but most updates have been replies to emails from me asking the status (the hiring manager told me early on in the process to feel free to check in often; I’d been keeping it to every other week or less). Now no replies to my emails at all.

  81. anonnymoose*

    I had an interview this week (fingers crossed) and I think it went well. Every day that passes since then, I get some fresh thoughts about what I could have done better in the interview and questions that I should be prepared for (next time, if there is a next time). All thanks to AAM! Since it’s higher ed, there’s no negotiating salary or vacation etc., but I’m okay with that. The trickier thing was “How soon would you be available?” Er… I guess 2 weeks? They were flexible about contacting references and avoiding the current job references.

    At my current job, my boss has been nothing but supportive of me since I started 5 years ago (this week!). I definitely feel guilty about leaving, especially since a key player on our team just left after 22 yrs. That departure is what spurred me to start looking, but I’ve been thinking about leaving for about two years. I need a change of pace and different environment.

    I’m choosing not to tell my boss about my job search because I don’t know how long it will take. I would love to give him a heads up so he can put the position out there, but I don’t want to risk them hiring my replacement before I leave! I mean, I could train them, but the bigger problems are 1) there is very little to train them on and that is part of why I am leaving and 2) if my job search takes a while, current job might say “okay well we really don’t need you anymore” before I have secured a new position. I’m unfortunately not in a financial position to go without work for very long.

    No questions here really, just thinking out loud.

  82. Rye-Ann*

    Just curious if my boyfriend’s benefits situation is normal. We’re in the US but I would be curious about what other countries’ norms are too. Anyway, he is a full-time hourly/non exempt employee at a very small company which has been around for at least 5 years.

    His benefits won’t kick in until he’s been there for a year. This seems like a really long time to me, but I’m pretty new to the workplace so I don’t know what the “average” amount of time is. What do you all think?

      1. Judy*

        The longest I’ve seen for health insurance is 90 days, and the rest of the companies started on hire or the first of the next month. I’ve certainly seen a year for things like 401k match, matching gifts, etc even when the health insurance started on day 1.

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      I think that’s a long time. In my jobs, there has been a waiting period of 30 days for most benefits except 401K and profit sharing.

    2. anonnymoose*

      In my only retail experience, I believe it was 30-90 days for either insurance and/or 401k contributions (my own were deducted, but company didn’t match under a certain amount of time had passed). At some of the higher ed jobs I’m investigating, university contributions to the retirement plan don’t start until 2 years of employment!

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Every single place I’ve worked for that has provided benefits has given me the benefits either immediately upon hire or 30 days afterwards. I’ve never had to wait a full year. What industry is he in?

      1. Rye-Ann*

        I don’t want to get too specific because it’s a pretty niche industry, but he was hired to do some 3D design-related stuff. In practice he’s actually doing a lot of manufacturing labor for them on top of that.

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

      That’s… a really long time. Like nothing for a year? I do insurance enrollments (not health insurance, but the other stuff no one pays attention to) and I’d say on average most of my groups are 60-90 days, and many are 0-30. I think I only have one that has a 6 month waiting period and that’s for LTD, their other coverages are a few months. My very first job I got benefits right away but I couldn’t contribute to the 401k or take vacation time until I’d been there a year.

      1. Rye-Ann*

        My understanding is that yeah, he gets no benefits for a year. No PTO, no insurance…I’m not sure if they even do 401K for anyone.

    5. Anonsie*

      As someone with a chronic illness who couldn’t have a gap of more than a month, that strikes me as beyond insane. Plus, isn’t the only allowable gap you can have for health insurance 3 months at this point? So you’d not only have no benefits from your employer but would need to go get and pay for an exchange policy, which are pricy as hell.

      1. Rye-Ann*

        Yeah, he’s probably going to have to take the tax penalty this year, though I don’t know the details of how that all works. :\

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      P.S. If you’re in the U.S., you have to have insurance, or you get penalized (barring certain poverty exemptions). So basically your boyfriend’s employer is asking him to front the insurance costs for a full year instead of the employer doing it. That’s not illegal, but it’s super scummy. And, frankly, (even though this ship has probably already sailed) it’s something you can negotiate. Negotiations aren’t always about raw salary in dollars.

      1. Rye-Ann*

        This is his first job out of school, so he didn’t really have a ton of bargaining power in terms of experience. Plus, he’s also pretty underpaid, so I highly doubt he could have convinced them to change their benefits policy. :\ I hear you though.

    7. PeachTea*

      If he’s full time, a year is too long for health benefits. With the Affordable Care Act, the company would get penalized for not offering him coverage. They could still do it, but they’ll have to pay a fine. I had to wait 60 days at my current job and only because I’m hourly, non-exempt (we only offer coverage to full time employees, but since this is a restaurant, it’s impossible to know on an individual restaurant level who will work over 30 hours or not. So we have a 60 day wait and if you’re average is over 30 hrs, you get coverage. If not, you have to wait until open enrollment to try again. If your average hours dip below 30 at open enrollment, you won’t be able to re-enroll). Our exempt employees get healthcare on the 1st of the month following their hire date (example, hired April 16 means coverage starts May 1). We do have to wait a year for employer 401K matching, short-term disability, and vacation. With 401K, we can put in from day one, but they won’t match until after a year. Vacation is also the biggest thing negotiated. I negotiated two weeks at start so I didn’t have to wait.

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        I was about to mention the ACA, but OP says her boyfriend works somewhere “super small” — so note that as with so many rules, the ACA mandate does not apply to businesses with less than 50 FTEs.

    8. Charlotte*

      Small company–my health insurance kicked in from day one, but 401(k) benefits didn’t kick in until a year after I had started.

    9. Astor*

      In Canada, I worked at a company where management/execs received benefits on their first day, other office workers received benefits after three months, and those in caretaker-type positions (janitors, maintenance, etc) received benefits after twelve months. I suspect that’s an unfortunately common breakdown.

      1. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

        Alex is hilarious, lol. He pulled no punches when it came to talking about his mother.

  83. Anon for this*

    We are hiring for a couple of roles on my team. Several of the candidates we’ve seen are older than the average for the roles — a few have been laid off from higher job titles and have clearly been looking around for a while.

    I’ve noticed that a couple of people involved in the hiring process (including my boss, who is otherwise awesome) have said “s/he’s too old.” They’re thinking mostly about the team dynamic — nearly everyone on my team is early-40s or younger, and there’s a LOT of socializing outside of work.

    Beyond the fact that it’s illegal for us to discriminate against those over 40, as someone who is getting near 40 myself, I hate the idea that if I were to be let go by my employer, I could get silently passed over because of my age. I think my boss and my other colleagues care too much about how well someone would fit into the team personality-wise.

    That being said, *I* have a concern with some of the candidates who come in having held higher job titles than the person they’d be reporting to. I always ask whether they’d be comfortable taking direction from someone who would have reported to them back in the day, but I feel like a direct question like that makes it too obvious what the answer I want to hear is, and it always just gets an “Of course I can do that!” But given past experience, I’m not sure that’s enough. (On the other hand, I recently interviewed someone who’s older but was making a career change, so she had less experience — and her vibe was that she would have had no ego at all about reporting to a younger person. I’m currently advocating to hire her.)

    Any advice, AAM-ers? Both on what kinds of questions I can ask of highly experienced candidates for junior jobs, and how I can try and persuade my boss and colleagues not to discriminate?

    1. Observer*

      I think you want to ask about experiences with the dynamic, in general. eg “Have you ever dealt with someone who thought they were more qualified than their supervisor? How did you / their supervisor handle it?” What the person says and and describes the situation as whole should be enlightening.

    2. Nancypie*

      I would encourage everyone in the interviewing process to talk about it. The candidate, if hired, should not undermine her manager. The he manager should hopefully be thrilled at having someone on the team who can do high level work. One thing in particular I would want to make sure is that the candidate still has her pulse on the tasks that someone at the lower level is expected to do. The age stuff is silly, people of all ages can socialize and bring interesting perspectives. Also, no one should have to socialize.

    3. INTP*

      My general experience is that while people might not mind taking a job below their past experience at first, eventually, when the newness of the job and the fear of being jobless wear off, and little things start to annoy them, it will be a major factor in their dissatisfaction, how much they think they deserve promotions and raises, etc.

      And this isn’t about people over 40 – I see the same pattern in people in their 20s and 30s whenever there is a “step down” in title or pay. They might even voluntarily take a pay raise to switch jobs laterally – but in a couple of years when they start to feel itchy feet again, “I took a paycut to work here” will factor into their list of grievances.

      So, I guess, I don’t know that there’s any question I can think of where someone could really convince me that they would never be bothered by reporting to someone less experienced. It will always eventually become that job that wasn’t good enough but they took out of desperation, once the desperation wears off. Obviously, that’s different from someone making a career change or who was out of the workforce and is simply older, not over-experienced. For that candidate, continue to advocate for her and point out her strong suits above the other candidates, and that a varied age group has major benefits (like ime, much less interpersonal drama than a homogeneous team).

    4. Student*

      Challenge them on their criteria. “Are we hiring a drinking buddy, or a competent colleague?” “Does somebody need to be your buddy on day 1 to really do this job well?” “If all our team members have similar experiences and expectations, we’ll have blind spots as a team. Having diverse backgrounds makes our team stronger against the unexpected. This person brings perspective on [specifics] that we just don’t have.”

      1. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

        This is a very good point and great suggestions for questions to ask the colleagues. However, I don’t think it’s generally a bad idea for people to consider personality fit when hiring either as long as it’s not the overriding decision making factor of course. Having a team that likes and respects each other and enjoys spending time together does make the day go by quicker. I can put up with some of the sketchy stuff I see happening in my division with the higher-ups because I like my coworkers a lot. If they were insufferable, I’d probably be looking again.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      We haven’t had a lot of good experiences, hiring “overqualified” people for more junior jobs.

      As a 55 year old woman, I’m especially sensitive to the notion that someone is too old for a job. :\ If you can get people to divorce age from experience/qualifications/previous job titles, you’ll be doing the world (and the company) a service.

      The problem we have, which has not been solved up, is more experienced or over qualified people questioning our processes before just learning. There’s a time for questioning and improvement suggestions but it’s not when you are first learning a job. It’s created a headache enough times that now we (usually) only hire experienced people into commiserate job titles (management or independent task level).

      I still kind of stubbornly want to rescue the world and I’d love to have a better plan to help people of an age who are out of a job find a home with us.

  84. Anon Accountant*

    I wanted to thank all of you for the great advice. It’s helped me to be more assertive and confident at work and stand up for myself more.

    My favorite recent example: I needed blank checks ordered for 2 clients and couldn’t get either of 2 bosses to use their firm credit cards to order the checks. The one had a lot of excuses as to “I don’t have my card today” and the other said “use your card. I won’t get reimbursed by the company”. Yes well he’s a partner so he owns a portion of the firm so…

    I haven’t been reimbursed for mileage or other expenses in about 4 months. The totals for the checks and envelopes would be over $400 and I told him very confidently “I cannot use my personal credit card for this expenses and I haven’t been reimbursed in 4 months. However I can order the checks and call you to enter the credit card to complete the purchase so I won’t be handling your credit card at all”. He was upset and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t use my own card but I held firm and repeated my previous statement. He gave in, used his company card and yelled at me “this is the last time we are doing this!”.

    Before I would’ve caved in and stewed about not getting reimbursed timely. Thanks to great language on this site I asserted myself and it felt great!

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Way to go you! It is sometimes uncomfortable to stand up for yourself, but worth it. And I’ve found that the more you do it, the easier it gets.

      I was asked to pay for a recurring business expense myself and submit for reimbursement. It didn’t feel right — this was something I needed for work and wouldn’t pay for otherwise, the only thing people in my role ever used expense reports for was (VERY) occasional travel, I wasn’t QUITE living paycheck to paycheck but didn’t have much extra cash to float, and I didn’t want to share my personal payment information with the business site (especially since the licenses were recycled and I could see the name, address, and payment info from the LAST person to use this one, who hadn’t worked at the company for over a year). I think the only reason most people were asked to use their own payment methods was because they were located remotely at their homes. I was in the main office. So I pushed back with my boss’s boss, the director of the department. He really didn’t seem to understand my concerns (and of course he was making twice what I was making and probably submitted expense reports regularly.) It came down to “I will do this if it’s required [because I am a Good Employee and not insubordinate], but I would really prefer another solution.” 15 minutes after that meeting, the director sent over someone from IT with the IT purchasing card to enter into the subscription site. And I continued to send IT the quarterly renewal receipts (for their department expense reports) for the next 4 years.

  85. Cafe au Lait*

    I have a question! My boss wants to be “kept in the loop” or cc’d on all emails from me to my peers in other departments. This isn’t because I’m a low performer, but rather because she works in a different building, and we don’t have a lot of face time together. (Only the bare minimum necessary for performance reviews, so twice a year).

    I understand her need for wanting to be kept in the loop, but I feel like there should be a better way than cc’ing her on all the emails I send. It honestly creates this loop where I think it makes me look bad to my peers, I feel incompetent, and my boss doesn’t fully read the emails so I end up rewriting all the emails I’ve sent.

    Any suggestions on alternative ways to handle this, or how to approach this with her?

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      Perhaps you could state that you’d rather avoid flooding her inbox with emails that don’t require action on her part. How about a brief periodical email with updates about your work?

        1. Silver Radicand*

          When I started as a manager at an somewhat remote location, I gave email updates and it worked grand. It was a good way to get my questions answered when needed as well.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      BCC her instead? Probably not a good idea, as she won’t be BCCed on any replies, plus it might be easy for your coworker to slight your boss, and you don’t want to have to edit that out before replying. I CC my boss on almost everything, so that he’s not taken by surprise by anything I’m working on if the client asks him about it. Keeping your boss apprised of where your projects are is a good idea, and really, this should cut down on your need to do face-to-face status updates.

    3. Sadsack*

      Why not suggest a weekly or biweekly update meeting? You could frame it as being efficient without bombarding her with emails. The meetings could be as short as 15 minutes if you don’t have a lot to discuss.

      1. Nancypie*

        I second this. I am currently copied into a massive email chain on a project that a direct report handles and it is way too much. I’m not reading them, and have asked to be alerted if I need to. Yes to weekly report, that works great!

    4. fposte*

      I don’t think peers care all that much, but tell me more about the rewriting of emails. Do you mean you then have to answer her questions about the email discussion so you end up with a meta-conversation?

      That could be your pivot point–propose your alternative then. End of day briefings? End of week briefings? Pick which makes sense and seems likeliest to fly. If she’s particularly rigid, suggest it as an experiment for a few weeks so she doesn’t feel like she’s saying yes for forever right out of the box.

      1. Cafe au Lait*

        Yep, a meta-conversation. It’ll go something like this:

        Email 1: Hey Jane, following up from your question yesterday about Teapot carving. I looked into if teapots could be finished with a vanilla glaze instead of ganache. We can do that. I’ll go ahead and process the teapots on my desk with the vanilla glaze instead of ganache.
        Email from Boss: What did Jane ask you yesterday?
        Email from Jane (cc’ing everyone involved): Thanks, Cafe! I need the teapots by the end of the month. If you are able to get the teapots to me in fourteen days, I can send the client their entire tea and teapot order. Originally the client was told that the tea and teapots would ship separately as this is a custom order. If you can get them to me early, great; if it takes until the end of the month, we will still be fulfilling the original contract terms.
        Email from boss: What’s the timeline on the vanilla glazed teapots.

        I spend way too much time crafting emails so I give her the full situation but without trying to sound like I’m going behind her back and not looping her in on issues. But sometimes I see colleagues and when they ask how work is going, it jogs my memory about an issue. It’s always easiest to create a solution face to face than by email.

        I try to BCC when I can. But today she responded to a blind CC with “I should be cc’d on this, but not a blind copy.” I don’t really feel that she needs to be involved in the minutia of the decision; the outcome will be ‘yes or no’ not “Let’s choose from options A, B, C, or D.”

        I do like including her on emails when there’s an especially tricky issue at hand, or I’m dealing with an incredibly difficult faculty member. (Especially the latter). But it’s the peer-to-peer, minor issues that are driving me crazy.

    5. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I’d just go with it. I had a boss like this– exact same problem where I’d cc him, but then a week later still have to re-send or tell him what the email said. BUT I’d also reframe it in your head– it doesn’t make you look bad, it shows that your boss has your back and is aware and supportive of what you’re doing/requesting!

    6. AnotherAlison*

      Since I work on projects, we often have a project email box set up. My project sponsor doesn’t want to be cc’d on everything because he sponsors multiple jobs & would go insane with all that email. Instead, I CC the project email, and he just adds the project emails to his outlook so he can go read the files from that inbox when he wants to catch up. These addresses are usually something like Project @ Ourplace . com, so it doesn’t look like someone is micromanaging you.

  86. Professional Sweater Folder*

    Alison suggested that I post this on the open thread, so here we go.

    Right now an area in my province is suffering from one of the worst wild fires in the province’s history. Hundreds, and possibly thousands of people have lost everything. 

    The businesses in the province are very good and even well known for their fundraising during tragedies. Yesterday alone I was asked at seven different businesses for donations. I prefer to donate directly to the relief effort, so I don’t feel uncomfortable with turning down change jars at cash desks.

    But yesterday I was put in a very awkward position. I received an email from my home insurance provider talking about the relief effort and how they were acting in light of the events.

    At first I thought it was just mostly letting customers know what they could do if they were affected, as well as letting us know that two of their locations in the city where the fires are happening have been lost, but all employees have been accounted for and are safe. But then there was one part at the end of the email that made me feel very uncomfortable. 

    They started talking about how four of their employees have lost their homes and all their possessions. They talked about how the company takes a very human approach to insurance (one of the reasons I chose them) and how they believe in helping one another during hard times. The email then asked me if I would consider donating to the relief effort and offered two links at the bottom of the email. The first link was to direct donate directly to the employees of the insurance company, and the second one was for the generic relief effort.

    I have since actually followed the link and found that they’re only asking for a $5 donation unless we want to donate more. They’ve raised over $5,000 already, but get this, the goal amount is $100,000.

    I felt that it was very unprofessional for the company to reach out to their customers for private donations. This is especially concerning considering this is a home insurance company. It makes me feel like if I were to lose my home in a fire, the company could not provide the support I needed. While I don’t expect the company to provide for all of their employees or clients’ costs, it makes me feel unsettled.

    What do you think? Was this just tacky and unprofessional behavior? Or should I consider reevaluating my insurance provider?

    1. Jade*

      First impression- yeah I find it a little weird to be asking for private donations for their employees. They could have just started a relief fund within the company, asking people who work there to donate for their coworkers. That wouldn’t have been weird at all. But yeah it is a bit weird to be hitting up your customers- some of whom may have been affected by the fire directly or who at least have been affected by seeing their cities burn- to single out donations for their employees rather than just a general relief fund.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Tacky and unprofessional, though understandable. It’s like asking for a donation at the grocery checkout (an unfortunate trend); it’s not a good time to ask planners to donate, as many of us like to do research and plan out our giving. Plus, it’s kind of like telling your client you were late to the meeting because you had really bad diarrhea because of the tacos you had for lunch, and boy did it take forever to….well, you get the idea. Nobody usually wants to hear that much personal info during a business meeting/transaction.

      Honestly, they should have gotten their employees relief from a regular service charity, and then they can ask employees and even clients to support that charity’s work, that would seem less icky.

      1. fposte*

        But the grocery store checkout donations aren’t asking you to donate to grocery store employees, at least not around here. I think I’d be fine with an “if you wish to donate to relief, here’s where,” but the “donate to our employees” thing would make me raise an eyebrow.

    3. Manders*

      Yeah, this would also make me feel weird since their purpose as a company is insuring people so they *don’t* have to rely on donations. I think a wiser move would have been telling people their own employees are fully covered, but it would be nice to make a donation in those employees’ names or in honor of those employees to a separately run relief effort.

      I totally see how a well-intentioned company spokesperson could do this, though. It’s a PR flub but not a reason to switch insurance unless you have reason to suspect that they’re being shady about not paying damages for their own employees.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      That seems really weird, but mostly because it is an insurance company and I think we all have “GoFundMe” fatigue at this point, anyway.

      I ran this through my mental model as if it was Generic Big Retailers Canadian operations sending a similar email to all their customers (ones who have a bigretailer . com account or whatever), it would seem less weird, but I decided it was still weird. It seems they should be reaching out to the unaffected employees to help coworkers, not to their customers. Or, if they were setting up general relief funds to the community, then it might be okay to reach out to customers.

      The only thing that I would be okay helping a private business with would be a business who was only located in Ft Mac and their entire operation was destroyed/displaced, and they needed help from non-local customers.

    5. Nobody*

      I agree that it’s in really poor taste for a company to ask its customers to donate to its employees. I don’t think it would be so bad if they were raising money for the general relief effort and told their employees’ stories as examples of people affected by the wild fires, but asking customers to give money directly to the employees is tacky and unprofessional. What’s worse is that it looks like they are trying to use this as a PR stunt to show what a great company it is because they care so much about their employees.

      Also, these are employees of a home insurance company… Do they not have homeowners’ insurance?!

    6. Amber Rose*

      I don’t like it. Right now, we’re all busting our butts sending money to the Red Cross so everyone affected can be helped equally. If these were fire fighters that might be a different story but my gut reaction is “what makes your employees deserve more than all the other people suffering out there? What are you doing for them?” It gives me a lesser version of the disgust I felt when Walmart asked for food donations so their employees could have Christmas.

      If it were me, I’d probably tell them off and let them know this lapse in judgement caused me to reconsider using their services… but it isn’t me and honestly, this is probably a misguided attempt at showing caring. It may not be worth the hassle to fight them on it.

    7. I'm Not Phyllis*

      I agree with you that it’s in poor taste. Normally they would do this among themselves (employees) and maybe have an optional donation bin/collection jar at any public-facing location. I’m in Ontario and am just devastated by the fires in Alberta – our hearts are with you!