open thread – June 10-11, 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 :)

{ 1,202 comments… read them below }

  1. AFT123*

    Any tips on how to be a better social conversationalist in the workplace?

    When it seems like a casual conversation is winding down and I’m trying to use social cues to make an exit, I keep getting sucked back in, and it’s like the never ending chat session (or as we call it here, the Minnesota Long Goodbye). It happens with a lot of different people though so I think that I may be the problem! I’ve always got an exit excuse ready (bathroom, coffee, etc) but I can’t seem to figure out when to use it, like I’m maybe missing social cues or something. How can I get better at identifying appropriate breaks in conversation to make an exit without seeming abrupt, awkward, or rude?

    1. straws*

      I have this same problem, so I’m going to be following this! In my experience, some people just don’t allow that social cue though. In those cases, I tack my “exit excuse” onto the end of my own contribution. So I’ll say something related to the chat and then quickly tack on “I really have to go grab my coffee before I say something silly!” or something of that nature.

    2. Gaia*

      I usually find I do best when I can respond to what the other person said and then cut it off quickly.

      For example

      Other person “oh, did you see news article about XYZ”
      Me: “oh yea, that was crazy. What can you do? Well, I better get back to this here. Have a good day!”

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        Yeah, I’m really bad at this too, but what usually works (when I remember) is to have a specific thing to say I’m going to do paired with something that shows I did enjoy the conversation.

        “Okay, I have to go send such-and-such email. Catch you later!”
        “Anyway, I need to go ask Colleague this thing. Good talk, though!”
        “I think I’ve put off Awful Report from Heck long enough, haha! Have a good one!”
        “Time to get those files under control. Thanks for being my procrastination buddy!”

        1. Fawnling*

          This is exactly what I do! I used to be bad at social cues with long awkward pauses at the end of a conversation, so I say something like “Alright! Well, I’d better get back to doing (whatever), I’ll see you later!” and skedaddle on my way.

    3. Former Borders Refugee*

      Honestly, a lot of people won’t notice your exit as being abrupt. Just say, “I’m sorry, but I have to go see a guy about a dog, talk to you later!” and go.

      I have also been known, among friends, to say “your Minnesota Goodbye is perfection, but I NEED TO LEAVE (please take your hand off my car door).” But then, I moved out of Minnesota 13 years ago and I’m not great at being midwestern anymore.

    4. J3*

      I find that if you do it confidently and cheerily enough, you can totally just say something that doesn’t invite further comment and then walk away. You know, something like “Well, it sounds like I’ll really have to try whitewater rafting one of these days!”, flash a nice smile, and then just take off. The awkward feeling only comes when you’re talking, uncomfortably stand around silently for a couple of seconds, and then sort of wriggle away.

    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Oh god, the Minnesota Goodbye! It’s impossible. No advice, just commiseration.

      1. Megs*

        I’ve lived in MN for 15 years and I still haven’t figured out how to handle the Long Goodbye. My husband and I are both transplants and two of our best friends are a couple where he’s from NJ and she’s a native prone to the Long Goodbye. Sometime’s he’ll go and sit in the car while she’s still lingering at the door. Thankfully, we’re close enough friends that I can usually shove her out eventually and she doesn’t get mad about it.

        1. Nonprofit Anon*

          I’m a native, and I haven’t cracked the code. Eventually I think you just have to be rude. “Ok, bye, I’m leaving now.”

        2. Former Borders Refugee*

          What I do with my still-in-Minnesota family is go “MOM, YOU WILL SEE THEM AGAIN” and she gets the point. He should try that with her.

          When you’re trying to leave, and you’re stuck in the LG Loop, just keep moving. The LG is supposed to play out from the living room through the kitchen, and my grandfather took it to the “hand on his guests car door” point. You are shark, stop moving and DIE.

          1. Mabel*

            This is funny! Reminds me of my therapist. She never said anything about stopping when the appointment time was over. She just stood up and went over to her desk to check my next appt date while she was talking. It was a clear, non-abrupt way for me to know we were wrapping up. There might be times that could work with co-workers – if you had somewhere to walk to.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Never realized this is a Thing. Can you say something like, “Well, we better start the MLGB now, because I am going to have to get back to work here.”

        I did similar to a family member once, “I need to start saying good bye now because I absolutely have to hang up in 15 minutes.” She laughed. We hung up 15 minutes later.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Yep. We talk openly about the Minnesota Goodbye. Like, “Ok, we need to leave by 9. So let’s start saying goodbye now,” at 7:30.

    6. TL -*

      Just be okay with the awkward and focus on being friendly. (Seriously, awkward isn’t that big of a deal as long as you’re coming across as nice). It’s always okay to say, “Oh, I’m so sorry but I really have to make my meeting/get on this email/pay the assassin I hired to take out the current ruler so I can claim my rightful place on the throne.”

      As long as your tone of voice conveys that you did enjoy talking to them, you just have other places to be, people aren’t going to be offended if it’s a little awkward.

      1. Kyrielle*

        And if you have no better excuse, I find that a cheerful, even almost laughing “Well, I’ve probably wasted enough of your time” works. (If the conversation was in no way related to actual work. You don’t want to imply work topics are a waste of time.)

        1. The IT Manager*

          I had an ex who would try that on me and I didn’t let him.

          Ex: I should let you go; you probably have things to do.
          Me: No, I don’t have anything to do. Let’s keep talking.

          Finally I told him if he needed to end the call to own it and say so and not pretend he was doing me a favor by ending the call. OTOH that was personal calls in the evening when I didn’t have anything pressing. At work I don’t think I’d ever say I should stand there chatting about non-work stuff instead of getting back to work so it sounds like a good exit strategy.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Yeah, in personal conversations it isn’t as good an approach – as with not using it when discussing work at work. The person’s time *at work* is presumably more dedicated to work and so you can claim to be ‘wasting’ it on non-work topics. In a social situation the same claim is basically that spending time with you socially isn’t a good use of their leisure time which…why would they then be doing it?

            Also, as Marcy Marketer and others have noted, you need to be moving (this one works better face to face, where you can already be turning your body away and starting to walk as you say it). If you say it and just stand there, it is absolutely going to read to some people as though you are waiting for them to say “no, really, I’m enjoying the conversation, you don’t need to go!” And if they do, you didn’t get the result you were actually looking for, and if they don’t then it will probably feel awkward for them (and possibly for you; that standing around nothing-happening moment is awkward no matter what result you’re aiming for).

            Really, any exit line should be accompanied by something to begin your removal (and that should continue). Turn and walk away, or stand up and walk away. Don’t bolt into a sprint halfway through the sentence, obviously – you don’t want to _flee_ the conversation (even if you do actually want to flee it), but you want to clearly be leaving. It removes the ambiguous “pregnant pause” space which can be so awkward.

    7. Marcy Marketer*

      To be honest, it might not be you. Folks do this to me all the time, so I’ve taken to just leaving really quickly (if I’m not in my office) after I say: “Okay great. [Insert “thanks!” “talk to you later!” or “back to work!” depending on the context of the conversation]” Say it quickly, and high-tail it out of there!

      If they’re in my office, I get up and walk them to the door. I discovered this technique when I actually really needed to leave my office to go to the bathroom, and so I got up to leave and ended up kind of bumping the person along toward the door. It worked so well, I now use it all the time for specific people who talk forrrreverrrrr.

      If they’re at my office door and they’re good with social cues, I just smile and say “Awesome!” or “Cool!” and then look at my computer and start clicking/typing. Works like a charm!!!

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I’ve used the printer as an excuse. “Oh, I just sent something to the printer and need to grab it before it disappears [which actually happens at our shared printer]!” And then kind of scoot them out as I’m leaving my cube.

        But sometimes I’ll do the slow turn back to my computer and start typing. That usually helps if the talkative one sits by me and I can’t escape.

    8. Marcy*

      If it’s been a really protracted cycle, I ask “Oh, what time is it?” in a semi-worried voice, and then say “Oh, it’s already [noon], I’ve got to get back to this.” That makes it sound like we both lost track of time, and not like I’m trying to gnaw my leg off to get out of this conversation.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Wearing a watch is a perfect prop for this. I can casually glance at mine, and then go “Oh my! I’ve got to get moving!”

    9. Poppy*

      This is when an old fashioned (or techy) watch comes in handy. You can casually glance at it for a moment and it is usually a big sign to people that you need to be somewhere else. If they keep on going that is when you immediately say “I hate to interupt you but I have to get going, I’ll catch up with you later.” and then you bolt.

    10. Lily Evans*

      I have no advice, just commiseration. I worked with a woman who was the worst at taking social cues. Every chat with her lasted a minimum of 15 minutes and she could not take a hint. Once she cornered me in the bathroom literally as I was closing the stall door and I had to stand there talking to her when I really needed to use the bathroom for its intended purpose. It was horribly awkward.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If they can’t take a hint that is on them not you. Try the hint, if that fails then be direct. There’s all kinds of folks out there and some folks pick up on some cues but not other cues. Some folks don’t pick up on any cues. Speaking directly to those who miss cues is just a good skill to cultivate.

        As far as the bathroom scene… ugh… how could she not know? Okay well she didn’t. So next time try something like: “Sue, I literally have to go now. I will talk to you when I come out of the bathroom.” Shut the stall door and make sure she can hear you lock it.

        If she keeps talking, “Sue, I will talk to you when I come out of the bathroom, okay? This is really not the place to hang out and visit [talk about work, whatever].”

        I have even gone with, “This is my three minutes out from my work day and I am going to take it. I will be right with you when I come out.”

        Remember their failure to pick up on cues is NOT your fault nor your problem. All you need is a polite yet firm way to inform them of how you will handle the situation.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Scripts like that are so helpful for me! I’m so not a natural at setting boundaries in my interactions with people. It literally never even occurred to me to do anything but stand there politely and listen. Advice here and on Captain Awkward has worked wonders for overcoming my door-mat levels of what I’d been taught politeness is supposed to be!

      2. INFJ*

        Oh my god I hate the bathroom small talk. I almost always accidentally cut somebody off when I think they’re done talking and I need to dry my hands in the (very loud) Dyson dryer.

      3. anonderella*

        I am so the type to make it weirder…
        If she kept talking, like expecting me to ignore my bodily urges and have a conversation with her, I’d make hard eye contact, say “Are we doing this?”, close the door (ignoring her probably befuddled, ‘Doing what?’), say again “So we’re doing this? I think we’re doing this!” in an excited tone, and proceed to do my business.

        My all-time favorite is “I can’t talk to you right now – I’m praying.” I would never say it in any conceivably offensive way, and I would never mean it offensively, even though I am not religious. I just think it’s an awesome, short, polite way to shut down unwanted conversations, like when you’re in close proximity to someone but can’t leave (like a train/plane).

        Combining the scenarios would be pretty hilarious:
        Coworker is being chatty as you’re trying to close the stall; You: “I can’t talk to you right now – I’m praying.”

    11. CR*

      So much commiseration. One of my coworkers is VERY chatty and will literally keeping talking even after I’ve left the room.

    12. Kathryn*

      One idea: you can always say, “let’s catch up later, I have to get back to work.” Indicating that you want to spend time with them at some other point in time (even if you don’t) conveys warmth. Or, “I hate to interrupt you, but I have to get back to work,” is another one I like. I think phrases like that show sensitivity, because while you’re directly addressing what is happening–that you’re disconnecting from the conversation–you also maintain a sense of connection, and acknowledge the other person’s importance.

      But the main thing I think, is to realize that breaking off conversation is normal and that plenty of people are not sensitive about it at all.

    13. Honeybee*

      When I’m at work, I worry less about it seeming abrupt/awkward, because people generally understand (or should) that you’ve got to get back to work. So I have been known to exclaim “Oh snap, I really gotta finish this TPS report, nice talking to you guys!” and then zipping to my office.

    14. Argh!*

      Here’s what I say: “See ya later. I gotta get back to work.”

      It works every time.

    15. De Minimis*

      Minnesota Long Goodbye…that’s great!

      I’ve heard it called the “Mexican Goodbye,” but that’s more for family gatherings where the process of leaving can take hours. [heard about it from my Mexican-American inlaws….]

  2. anon who needs a name*

    I’ve gotten through most of the early steps of interviewing with one company (phone screening, phone calls with the team, assessment tests). I’ve made it to the in-person interview, but they’re asking me to fill out one of those old school paper applications with my last 10 years of employment, manager names, and salaries.

    They also ask for my social. I’m planning on not writing in my salary on the form, because that’s private, but do they really need my social at this point? Obviously I’d have no problem giving it if I’m hired, but I don’t know why they’d need it for an in-person interview.

    It’s one more thing that’s making me raise my eyebrow about the company. It’s a startup that quickly grew to 500 employees, but still with the startup feel. I’m excited to interview because I’m switching fields and this is the first interview I’ve received for a job outside my current field, but the HR rep has taken two to three days to get back to each of my emails (which were always in reply to an email she sent), and the VP I interviewed with kept on saying, “we don’t hire average people”. And when I stated my salary requirements, the HR rep said “well, we can revisit that at a later point”, which makes me think they might not agree to my salary range.

    1. Dawn*

      Paper applications are dumb and it sounds like they got bad hiring process advice at some point. Just leave your SSN off for now and if they ask about it say you’re happy to provide it if and when they need it for a background check.

      HR rep’s response time = totally normal.
      “Don’t hire average people”= industry speak, could be jargon or could be indicative that they have a very selective hiring process and only want to hire exceptional candidates
      “revisit at a later point” = that point in the process was not the right point to talk salary, and you didn’t throw out a number that made them internally jump up and down screaming “YES WE CAN GET THIS PERSON SO DAMN CHEAP OH MY GOD MY BONUS IS GONNA BE SO BIG THIS YEAR”

      1. anon who needs a name*

        Maybe I’m just surprised by the HR response time because I’ve always had them reply back within 24 hours when setting up interviews. I guess I’ve just been spoiled by quick HR responses!

        The hiring process is selective from what I gather, and the Glassdoor reviews state as much as well. It just threw me, but then again, I’ve only worked for corporate, so maybe it’s just a startup thing I’m not used to.

        The HR rep brought up salary first, which is the only reason I stated my range, but tbh I was a bit peeved HR wouldn’t list their salary range because I want to know if we’re even in the same ballpark.

    2. RG*

      Taking two to the days to respond to email isn’t unreasonable. I’m not sure why they would need your social, except to initiate a background check, but I’d expect them to notify you of that. The “average people” line sounds annoying but par for the course for a startup. And the HR rep may not be able to adjust the salary range, so that’s why you’ll revisit it later – with someone who can. Hope this allays some of your fears!

    3. Amy M in HR*

      Does the paper application mention anything about a background check? Some incorporate the consent for a background and/or reference check into the application (as we do at my place of business) and so need the SSN to complete them. If the consent is not included in the application itself I would hold off on sending it to them until they really need it.

      1. anon who needs a name*

        No, it’s similar to the types of paper applications I remember filling out for retail jobs in high school. The email that it was attached to said it was their application form, but nothing about a background check.

  3. Dawn*

    Question for everyone who’s at a good mid-point in their career: do you ever start feeling like “yeah, I’ve earned this, I’m super smart and great and can really do a smashing good job at what I do!”

    I know I have come so far from where I started straight out of college, and I know I do good work… here, in this position, at this company. I still feel like I have so much to learn, tho, and wonder if I’m really doing as well as I think I am… like maybe I’m doing great at *my* company, but would that really translate “in the real world” (meaning everywhere that isn’t where I currently work)?

    Am I going to get to a point where I go “Yeah I can totally kill it anywhere I go”?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, you’ll get to that point after you’ve been a couple of places. It took me until my third job out of college to really feel I could do well almost anywhere (as long as the expectations / responsibilities were reasonable for one person to accomplish).

      1. Dawn*

        Thanks. I’ve been out of college for 11 years now, but this is only my 5th year in my career path and only my 2nd company in said career path. I’m absolutely doing a great job here, but I kind of wonder if I’d be able to “run with the big dogs” if I was working in a bigger company. I also realize that I’ve been highly fortunate in my last role and in this role to be working with and reporting directly to the CXO level (worked closely with the CIO at my last job, currently report to and work with the President and the CEO of my current small company).

        I guess I expected things to be harder than they are and that I’d have to bust my chops to get to the point where I was advising company management what to do, but I guess I make a really good First Mate :)

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      Imposter syndrome. It’s really common, especially among women. If you google the phrase, lots of good resources come up!

      1. Regina 2*

        I hear imposter syndrome thrown around a LOT — what if you are capable of recognizing your abilities and those of others, and realizing, “Hey, I just don’t stack up.”

        I know I’m hard on myself, but I really don’t think I have what it takes to be a leader or director/senior executive, and I’m kind of tired of hearing “Oh, you just have imposter syndrome,” from people who don’t work with me or aren’t even at my company. (Not meaning to imply you specifically; just that I see it happen constantly.)

    3. AVP*

      I had this manager who was really, really amazing at his job and really great with people, very respected by all of our clients. We work on a project-to-project basis and one time, when we came off a particularly boring one, he said to me, “You know, thats the first time I’ve ever finished a project and not felt like I learned something new. Maybe I should move on to a different job.” He was around 40 at the time and I was floored at the thought that he was still learning new things and didn’t already know all there was to know going into a project (that was my impression somehow?), but also that his attitude was, if you feel like you know everything, it’s time to do something bigger or move on.

    4. Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      @Dawn. There’s a saying-“If something is true anywhere, it should be true everywhere”. So if you are an excellent worker at your current company, you will probably be an excellent worker at any company where you are utilizing your skills and bringing your best to the job. I’m in a similar position as you. I’m mid career and I’ve always done well at my jobs. I’ve never really lacked confidence in that area. I think the key to getting to the point where you can “totally kill it anywhere you go” is to never think that you know it all and to be willing to learn new things and then do well at them. And most of all, never lose your confidence.

      1. Dawn*

        “…you will probably be an excellent worker at any company where you are utilizing your skills and bringing your best to the job.”

        Thank you so much for this reality check :) I have always had AMAZING feedback at all of the jobs I’ve ever had, so this is a great reminder that hey, the only constant between all of those jobs was me… so I must be doing something right!

    5. designbot*

      You may come to feel that way or you may not. Some people never get there, whether because they aren’t actually killing it or because it’s just not in their mental makeup to be able to acknowledge it when they are. I’m about 9 years in and have just started to feel this way. The turning point for me was taking over for someone with twice my experience, being super intimidated by it, but eventually starting to hear several ways that I’m actually doing the job better than he did.

    6. Rat Racer*

      Here is my story. Background – I’m about 15 years into my career; 4 years in current job:

      – In my early days out of college I struggled a LOT. Although I’m not technically a millenial, I fit the stereotype: entitled to earn an A on everything I did; although I sucked at administrative tasks, and couldn’t understand why anyone cared that I was lousy at xeroxing when I was obviously sooooo smart (I mean, I went to an Ivy League College and everything) Ugh. I was a nightmare.

      – Over time, through fits and starts, I learned how to be a non-horrible employee, pay better attention to detail, follow rules, and found jobs that played better to my strengths. Over time, I managed to move up the ladder (or hopped onto higher perches on different ladders).

      – I am now in an awesome, fairly high-profile job, with challenging and exciting work that pays more than it should. It’s a good place to be. But after years of floundering, no matter where I go or what I do, I will never feel like I’m “killing it.” I know my strengths and weaknesses, and understand that although there are parts of my work that I excel at, there are things that will never come easily to me, and that I will continue to struggle with. Lacking an innate attention to detail plays out in many facets of my work and personal life, and is something I’ll always need to remind myself to do.

      TL;DR: in my experience, years in the workforce teaches you what you’re good at, and hard work and dedication can earn you the street cred you need to find jobs that play to these strengths. But very few get to rest on laurels – at least until we retire!

      1. Bibliovore*

        Rat Racer,

        I could have written this. With one addition. I did need to seek professional help with regards to my relationships with other, recognizing appropriate responses to issues and work-related social interactions as well as recognizing my own esteem-able acts and competencies.

    7. Daisy Steiner*

      It might sound a bit cruel, but I only usually feel competent when I compare myself to others’ incompetence – not at their jobs, but at mine. I’m a writer/copyeditor, and when someone comes to me for help with, say, an email, I always think “Oh, I’m sure it’s fine, there won’t be much I can do.” Then I see what they’ve got and I think “A-ha! Yes, I’m definitely a lot better at this than this person – let’s get rewriting.”

      It’s like you don’t realise how far you’ve climbed up a mountain until you look back at the tiny ant-people at the bottom.

    8. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I’m only a few years post-graduate-degree, but my moment was actually when I was transitioning to a job I hated/was bad at to a job I loved/was good at. The contrast between the two really drove it home that I was actually good at work!

    9. Nervous Accountant*

      oh my goodness, I was thinking of this too!
      7 years out of college, 2nd year in full time job, 5th since I started in this career.

      I feel like I”m doing well, but always have doubts if I’ll ever be “Good” at any other place. I have no inclination to leave anytime soon, just something in my mind right now.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Do you need to know you can totally kill it where ever you go?

      And what does killing it mean?
      Does it mean you know oceans of information and you can recite it off the top of your head?
      Does it mean that no matter what happens you always have the correct answer?
      I have my own little definition of killing it.
      I’d argue in favor of knowing yourself, knowing when you can piece an answer together and knowing when you have to ask for outside help. I also favor knowing that my life experiences are a resource, albeit a random resource, they are still my experiences and I can draw on them. Likewise, yourself. Keep throwing yourself into as many different situations as possible, very seldom is any experience wasted. When you can approach a situation and say, “oh this is similar to three years ago when I did X” or you can say, “hmm, not sure what to do here, but if I break it down, I will figure it out” these responses to me are “killing it”. The sureness of knowing that I can work at it and get it.

      Changes come up so fast and it’s all kinds of changes, not just tech or regs. I think the ability to work through a situation trumps the ability of knowing what to do all the time. Nothing is set in stone, everything is moving. Killing it, is being able to move in coordination with everything else. Some people would argue that you should be a step ahead. Maybe that is true, too. But being a step ahead takes even a bit more time.

      1. Dawn*

        Thanks for this, this is AWESOME! I’m definitely already at the point where I can figure my way out of pretty much anything. For me, since it doesn’t seem like “work”, and is actually fun and enjoyable for me, sometimes I can’t believe that anyone would pay me to enjoy myself as much as I do.

    11. ChrysantheMumsTheWord*

      I got to a point at my last job (after 10 years) where I felt like I was getting really complacent. It wasn’t “I know everything about everything” but rather “I have learned everything I can learn here” and need to take my awesome skills to somewhere that would be mutually beneficial (they get me; I get to learn something new and test what I think I know). I’ve been doing really well at my new job and feel I made the right move.

    12. Debbie Downer*

      Yes, I did reach a point in my career where I felt that I rocked, that I knew my shit and was on top of my career, on top of the world and that I was making good money. The future was wide open. It lasted for about 15 years.
      Then came the recession and in desperation I worked in some jobs that did not let me use the skills that I am best at, jobs that didn’t let me shine. This was followed by a couple of jobs where my contributions were not recognized or appreciated, where my supervisors did not recognize the value that I brought to the positions I held. (After leaving a couple of bad fits, I enjoyed finding out from former co-workers that my replacements ran into the same roadblocks I did and/or that they did not perform as well as I did. That was a small consolation. Very small.)
      As someone who is almost always looking for my next job, thanks to Alison (and a couple of other good websites) I feel like I’ve upped my game and gotten better at targeting potential employers and at getting my foot in the door and getting interviews. Most of the time I feel like I could do the job just fine, but there’s a lot of competition out there and I’m starting to think that I’ve reached a point where my age is working against me.
      I’ve come to think that employment is sort of like a game of musical chairs and at any one time there are always more applicants than actual jobs. The game is fixed and if you’re attractive and young, or the boss’s child, or the boss’s spouse, you have a big advantage. OTOH, if you’re older, or LGBT, or a member of a racial minority, or a bit overweight, or physically unattractive you’re going to have a more difficult time getting hired, even you do know your stuff.

  4. Jackie*

    We’ve been in the process of hiring someone for a role for some time now, and were all set to send an offer to a great candidate, but then hit a hurdle. The budget got cut (orders from above my department) and we have to basically put in a request to justify hiring more people.

    In the meantime, the hiring manager called the candidate to give him an update on the situation and tell him that we want to give him an offer but have to wait for approval.

    I thought that was kind of an odd call to make, since it’s pretty much just saying ‘you may or may not get an offer, we can’t tell you anything for certain’. Plus it might give false hope and complicate things for the candidate if they’re evaluating other offers.

    If you were the candidate, would you appreciate a call like that, even though it can’t promise you anything?

    1. animaniactoo*

      Yes, it’s essentially saying I’m still in the running even though things may not pan out. Whereas dead silence means I’m frustrated by the lack of a response and am probably close to mentally crossing this opportunity off, and focusing on other leads.

    2. ZSD*

      Yes, I would definitely appreciate that update! It would let me know that they wanted to hire me, which would make me feel good, but I would also know that I should continue pursuing other job options because this offer might not come through. This is *exactly* what job applicants wish more companies would do! The more transparency, the better.

    3. Sunflower*

      Personally I would. To me, that basically means, we want to give you the offier as long as we can. It’s not ‘we’re still debating whether to give you the offer’. If candidate has other offers, it opens the window for them to come back and say something as well.

    4. notfunny.*

      Yes. In addition to providing much needed information about why there is a delay, it also helps the candidate trust the hiring manager. Job searching involves lots of false hope and complications but sharing information (even if it’s just that the hiring manager doesn’t really have an update) helps people feel that their time is valuable and the person on the other end is thinking about them and their process. So, I’d say it’s a good call.

    5. BRR*

      The call is better than radio silence. I would be mad if I got an offer after no word for weeks. Hiring is typically a higher priority for the candidate than the company so the communication usually goes over well.

    6. Mike C.*

      Absolutely would want that call. If nothing else, it means that I’m not screwing up my interviews and that my references are great. Otherwise I’m left wondering what in the heck is happening.

      Also, the transparency makes your company look great.

    7. Sami*

      Yes, absolutely! I mean, why wouldn’t you want to communicate this to the candidate? Surely you don’t want to leave them hanging, right? It allows them to make decisions on whether or not to continue the process with your company (whatever it may be now) or decide to move on.

    8. Sarah*

      I would absolutely want that call! Continue to keep him in the loop about the process and where he is in his search too.

    9. NK*

      An ambiguous update is better than no update, IMO. You may get some candidates who are frustrated with the ambiguity (and that’s likely why many companies wouldn’t bother to make that call), but I still think it’s better than radio silence.

    10. Honeybee*

      Another vote for yes, for sure. That means that I can start the process of mulling over the interview/job/location with an eye towards making a decision. It may mean that when you do package up an offer for me, I may be able to respond more quickly because I have a heads-up.

    11. Argh!*

      I’ve been in that situation on the applicant side. Stuff happens. Hiring freezes, reorganization, new boss at the top… I think your people handled it fine.

    12. Engineer Woman*

      Another vote for “yes, I would want to receive such a call”. Definitely a confidence booster that you are wanted and rationale for wait to know if you get the job is understandable. You may not be able to wait, i.e. Get another offer and take it, but at least you know where you stand/stood for this particular job application.

    13. Chaordic One*

      Yes, I would appreciate it. It lets me know that I’m still in the running, and that I should also continue my job search because something better might come along from a different employer.

  5. straws*

    I’ve posted a couple of times about my micromanaging boss who feels that my department is unnecessary. Because of his hyper involvement, I have a number of responsibilities on my resume that I don’t have experience handling completely on my own. How do I communicate that I’m capable of a skill without badmouthing my boss when he won’t allow me to follow through with my own work? A good example (although far from the only one) is budgeting. Every year I go through the process of setting up a budget, and he then picks it apart and essentially removes anything but the bare-bones minimum. So I go into every year with no budget for emergencies or even normal expenses that aren’t locked in monthly (like, buying basic supplies). A lot of the jobs I’m looking at and applying for list budgeting as a necessary skill, so presumably they’ll ask for more information. I don’t have any examples of being successful at this though, because everything I do is tossed out because our resources are “better used” in other departments. How can I speak to being capable of something without actual history to discuss?

    1. KG*

      You’re still doing this responsibility, and based on what you say doing it properly. I don’t think you need to bring up that your boss ruins it. ‘Created annual budget for management approval’ could be a workaround.

      1. LCL*

        Or, created budget projections for entire year. Didn’t have final approval. This is a common way to do budgets in government work because there are so. many. numbers. And requirements for oversight and accountability. Managers delegate the entry of numbers, then fight about what will actually happen at their level. Because of my background, I would tend to question someone who claimed they had the authority to do the whole budget process.

    2. designbot*

      If it comes up in an interview, you can always say something like, “well this gets into the reason that I’m looking to move a bit actually. I create budgets for my department that speak to what I truly believe it needs to operate effectively based on my experience and (factors), but many of the contingencies and (stuff) remain unfunded without discussion. I am definitely looking for a situation where my input in this area can make a greater impact.”

    3. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      I budget at work too. And the thing about budgets is that they usually get a bit messed up when the higher-ups get their hands on them before they go to the board. Sounds like yours is drastically cut. It doesn’t mean you don’t have budgeting experience or skill. In fact if I were you, because your budget gets changed so much when it’s out of your hands, I’d keep a metric tracking spend (and revenue if that’s applicable) vs. the budget you set before it was changed, on a monthly basis. This is for your eyes only, just to see how good your estimations really are. Maybe you’re estimating spend too high or not challenging your department to look for ways to cut costs. Or maybe you’re spot on but your department isn’t long for this world because the company’s looking for ways to justify eliminating you. Either way I’m glad you’re looking for a new job, good luck!

    4. Argh!*

      You’ve been successful… with his unwelcome help. You created a budget that he can live with. You don’t have to tell potential employers that you got nitpicked to death.

      1. straws*

        This is a very good way of putting it and helps me feel more confident in what I’ve been able to do!

  6. RG*

    Two questions: has anyone here looked into our some security certifications, like CISSP? Also, does anyone here have experience in policy?

    1. Pwyll*

      Policy as in public policy? I’ve been a lobbyist in the past and might be able to answer a question or two, if it’s in an area of policy I worked in.

      1. Technical Editor*

        I think he means internet security policies that are driven by networking software and protocols. (I work in the business so this is just an educated guess).

        I have a friend who makes mega bucks doing Internet security and penetration testing. I’m not sure if he’s certified though. If you’re good at what you do, like in a lot of industries, certification isn’t really necessary. However, IT may be completely different and certifications may be the only way to switch into InfoSec.

        1. RG*

          Oh no, I meant policy as in public policy. And maybe general policies for companies, as opposed to specific networking policies. I’m approaching this from the other way, I think – I have a technical background, so I’m interested in learning the technical info to inform policy, if that makes sense. So to give an example, learning different aspects of security so that I can be a policy advisor for a city, not necessarily write out the policies. Hope that clarifies it!

      2. RG*

        Awesome! What kind of policy did you work in? I’m interested in tech policy. Also, what level of government did you work at/with most?

        1. Pwyll*

          We were a general purpose shop, but we did a lot of education work, and work involving highly regulated industries (finance, investments, tobacco, gambling). While we touched all levels of government, we worked bridging the gap between Federal and local officials (something called “Grasstops” organizing). Basically, when people wanted a Federal law changed, we would not only meet with the Senator or Rep to explain our clients’ views and draft research studies, but we’d also meet with local officials (mayors, city council, state reps) and ask THEM to support us and write letters to their Federal officials about how much of an impact our client’s stance would have on the local economy/population. We’d also do hyper-local work for national firms: either supporting or opposing actions that city councils or county executives were planning that would restrict sales, or mess with zoning, or whatnot.

          1. RG*

            That sounds incredibly interesting! How did you get involved with that? What was your background prior to working there?

            1. Pwyll*

              I started as a secretary at the firm, after a career as a secretary in other industries. I also spent most of my early career volunteering/working on campaigns. So, when I moved to a new state, I jumped at the chance to admin at a firm involved in politics. From there, I branched out from the secretarial duties and rose in the ranks until I left for law school.

              The thing with lobbying is that it’s all relationships. So, you’re more valuable to a firm if you have those relationships, either by working in a government political office, like a legislature, or from some other previous experiences. I got lucky in being in the right place at the right time. Now, if your interests are focused on just one single policy area, you can also break into the industry by becoming a subject matter expert. But that usually requires some kind of educational component (An MPP in that specific policy area; a Ph.D., being published, notorious professional experience, etc.) AND a demonstrable understanding of the political process. What I’ve usually told people who are interested in this field, though, is to make sure they’re volunteering for campaigns or non-profit policy groups. Anything that can demonstrate knowledge of the political process will be helpful, in addition to your subject matter knowledge.

              1. RG*

                Thanks! I’m actually on the board for a non-profit group, so it sounds like I’m on the right track! Now off to get started on those technical skills.

    2. Amy*

      My boyfriend has his CISSP (he works in security) – his take is that while it doesn’t really prepare you to do an actual security job, it’s definitely something that hiring managers like to see. His company sponsored him to take it/prep for it, which is probably the best way to go if you can get it. He found it kind of difficult to study for – questions you would have thought are straightforward are made more complicated by the answer options.

  7. Anonymous Guy*

    Major drama going on at my office. Yesterday the Human Resources Assistant sent out a company wide email with charts detailing each (past and current) employee’s salary going back eight years. Across the board women were paid 20-25% less then men doing the same jobs; a male manager was making more than a female manager, a male auditor was making more than a female auditor, etc. It can’t just be an experience or senority thing because every single man makes 20-25% more than every single women, without exception, and about 70 people work here. There were also scanned copies of notes and emails taken during salary negotiations where women were offered less at the outset and given a lower ceiling than men.

    The Human Resources Assistant was fired and a memo was sent out saying she was fired for breaching confidential information, even though only the only identifying information released was names and salary information, not personal information like SSN’s or addresses. I’m thinking this weekend I’m going to update my resume and start looking for another job. Hope everyone is having a better day than us.

    1. AFT123*

      Oh goodness, that is some drama!! I sort of want to hug the HR woman who got fired for this for revealing that information, though I’m not sure it will do any good. WOW!!

      1. AFT123*

        Please, please keep us updated on the outcome on subsequent Friday threads!! This seems like it has the potential to be newsworthy, or at the very least, go viral.

      2. designbot*

        I’m really curious as to her motivations, what she thought would come of it, etc. Did she know she needed to leave and this her way of going out with a bang? Or did she have hopes that she could stay after doing that?

        1. CMT*

          Or she wanted to call attention to this huge ethical problem because of her conscience, even though she knew it would mean being fired.

          1. RVA Cat*

            She’s like the Edward Snowden of the pay gap. At least she doesn’t have to flee the country….

          2. Ex Resume Reviewer*

            This is my thought. I would feel sick looking at that info and not being able to do anything about it.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Wow. I would be upset also, though hardly surprised. (Certainly might help give you a sense of range in the industry, at least at one particular company.)

      Any idea what prompted HR person to send the memo/chart out?

      1. Anonymous Guy*

        She was only hired four months ago and she ended the email by saying “now I can sleep at night”. So my colleagues and I think she found out about it and it wasn’t something she could ethically be on board with.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Damn, good for her.

          I’m sorry you are all going through this — especially the women who have had their salaries unfairly depressed! — and yeah, it doesn’t seem like a good time to dust off the resume.

          1. Laurel Gray*

            Because I love numbers: If Jack, Chrissy, Janet and Terri all worked at this company as staff accountants where the average pay was $55k, HRHero would have exposed Jack as earning between $66k-68750. Absolutely crazy.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          If you ever run across her, tell her she’s my hero. An internet stranger thinks she totally rocks.

          1. kristinyc*

            Ditto to that. Wow.

            I’m sorry she lost her job over that, but I’m sure there are many feminist organizations that would be thrilled to hire her specifically because she did that.

          2. Book Person*

            Exactly. I had to restrain myself from jumping up and giving her a standing ovation at my desk. Well done to her.

        3. Minion*

          Wow. My mouth was hanging open when I read that email closing! I wonder what she’ll say when asked why she left her last job now.
          Wonder what employers would think if she told the truth exactly like it happened without spinning it or anything. Just, “I realized about 4 months in that the men employed there were consistently, across the board, making 20-25% more than the women regardless of experience or seniority. I spoke to my boss about it and s/he blew it off, so I sent a company wide email detailing the practice with salaries to back it up. I was fired the next day, but I can sleep at night knowing I did the right thing.”
          I’d love to know what any hiring managers/hr people would say to this.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Eh, she was only there four months. I’m guessing she’ll just leave it off her resume.

              1. Anonymous Educator*

                I don’t think it’s necessarily a big deal, but it’s something to keep in mind.

          2. designbot*

            “I discovered highly unethical practices in the company that I could in good conscience be a party to.”

          3. F.*

            I wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot pole for any position requiring confidentiality or professional judgement. Although her heart was in the right place, and the company’s compensation policy absolutely is wrong IF the salary differences are based solely on gender, what she did would absolutely destroy any trust that was placed in her. The way she went about this was very misguided.

            1. Creag an Tuire*

              The company was violating the law and basic ethics. How odious does an employer have to be before you’re allowed to be “unprofessional” and call them out?

              1. TOS*

                Well, it’s bigger than just the numbers.

                She was given access to sensitive information and used it in a way that caused upheaval.

                As someone who does analyses on these numbers, there are often mitigating factors when you are comparing September apples to February apples, as well as juicing oranges to navel oranges. Did the analysis speak to experience? High volume work with low volume work? Just straight salary & title? Not enough information to be reliable. Certainly enough information to upset the entire workforce.

                It will be great for everyone to go to work AND have an EEOC investigation, and be upset if there is no finding of discrimination (yes, this happens)

                1. Creag an Tuire*

                  And that guy standing over the body with a bloody knife might just be an innocent bystander who picked the worst possible time to start selling Cutco, but I don’t think it’s unethical for somebody to raise the alarm regardless.

                2. Observer*

                  That’s almost certainly no the case. If you were talking about one or two cases, I would believe it. But, in every single case. You are really claiming that it’s probable that in EVERY SINGLE POSITION IN THE COMPANY *only men* were found qualified for the higher skilled / value positions and *only women* were found qualified for lower skilled value positions? That really doesn’t pass the smell test (or what my son calls the giggle test.)

            2. SAHM*

              I guess she could have contacted her State Labor board about the gender inequality of pay- since this would most definitely violate it, but she may have done that and been told it wasn’t prosecutable or that it would take years or whatever. I think the way she went about it instead probably generated a quicker change than going through “proper” channels.
              Overall, she’s shown that she’d rather deal with people ethically and honestly which I think is a huge plus even if the way she went about it was – unusual.

            3. The Rat-Catcher*

              Well… if EVERY man makes more than EVERY woman in a company of ~70, I’d find a non-gender-based explanation extremely hard to swallow.

              1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

                Not to mention the fact that every sing woman was given a lower ceiling for the job range across the board regardless of years of experience.

                How could anyone say this IS NOT sex discrimination?

                Navel vs Juicing oranges indeed. I’m an analyst and this is clear as day!

    3. esra*

      Daaaaaang. I mean, I understand the wrongness of that from a professional/employer position, but still. Three cheers for HR Assistant.

    4. Pearl*

      Wow. I’m sorry that the HR admin was fired, but what information for the company to have been hiding. If I was in your shoes I’d be looking elsewhere too.

    5. Gaia*


      So, I can actually understand why they fired the Assistant. I would be livid if my salary information was released.

      But also, your company sucks and that information needed to get out there to the people so that complaints can be made (and possibly discrimination lawsuits filed).


      1. Anon for today*

        Agreed. The assistant didn’t necessarily do the “right” thing, but I totally understand why she did it and sympathize with her situation. I would definitely be job hunting as I could see the entire work place becoming VERY uncomfortable after this.

        1. Gaia*

          There is a remote possibility that she may be protected as a whistleblower depending on what she did prior to emailing this out.

          I am sorry for her. I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same if I were in her shoes. That is so messed up. This is what women fear is happening and I can’t say it enough – your company sucks. This wasn’t an accident.

          1. some1*

            I don’t think so. She could have made the point without including people’s names (and presumably she didn’t have permission to do that). Your employer can’t prohibit you from disclosing your own salary, but HR/payroll/managers can’t really do that without a business need.

            1. Beezus*

              They can do it without a business need, that wouldn’t be illegal, it’s just usually not in their best interests to do so.

      2. AVP*

        I’m sure she know that firing was a very strong possibility when she sent that, though, and hopefully prepared for it.

        I would love to see how the CEO explains away the pay differential.

      3. Cafe au Lait*

        Mine is public knowledge. If you know how to search for it, you’ll find it. The joys of working for the government/education.

        1. Minion*

          Mine is mostly public knowledge. I work for a nonprofit that’s very heavily federally funded, so when the position I’m in was advertised it had the non-negotiable starting salary listed in the ad.
          Also, every employee here has access to the salary scale, so they can go look at any time and see what anyone makes, including the Executive Director.
          I don’t think the general public has access to it anywhere, but I’m sure it would be released if anyone asked for it.

        2. Laurel Gray*

          People tend to be very private about their salaries which I think plays a small role in the pay gap. When people don’t know what a “fair” wage is, they either low ball themselves or price themselves out of consideration and with negative consequences at times too. The only way both men and women will know better is for everyone to acknowledge that pay inequality exists and be more transparent about salary (job descriptions, promotions, review websites, career counseling etc).

          1. JennyFair*

            Why would women low ball or price themselves too high, but men wouldn’t? I don’t think that’s a valid theory, unless there’s some demonstrable underlying reason why women would give such wildly wrong salary bids and men wouldn’t.

            1. Brett*

              It actually comes more from the other end (just like in this instance). Women are given a lower initial offer and tagged with a higher ceiling, so they are given signals to lowball themselves and can more easily price themselves out of consideration. Without salary transparency, they have no idea that has happened for reasons not based on their qualifications. Same thing happens with minority candidates.
              More importantly, when this happens early in your career you are more likely to impact your value latter in your career; and early in your career you don’t have the experience to recognize when you are being lowballed because of your race, gender, ethnicity, etc
              (And sometimes it is not intentional. I’ve mentioned before how last job had an influential manager who gave offers based on where you went to high school. Since he happened to go to an all boys catholic high school that was 90%+ white, and placed more value on similar high schools, this resulted in him giving far better opening and final offers to white catholic males who grew up in the area.)

              Short answer: Women are giving “wildly wrong” salary bids because discriminating employers set different negotiation parameters for them than men.

              1. JennyFair*

                Right, that’s what I’m saying. Women aren’t lowballing themselves, they are *being* lowballed.

                1. Anonymous Educator*

                  Yeah, but without salary transparency, you may not even fight being lowballed, because you don’t know you’re being lowballed.

                2. Laurel Gray*

                  Hi Jenny, Brett explained my point better than I could. FWIW, I was talking about both men and women and the topic of discussing salary. If men and women were more transparent with one another, I think women would identify that the different negotiation parameters do in fact exist and could further fight to push toward equality.

            2. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

              Women are socialized to take up less space physically and rhetorically and men are socialized to attribute success to their inherent worth. We as a society teach women to be grateful for what they have and men that they earned everything they have.

        3. Merry and Bright*

          Ditto for me. No secrets there. Know my grade and location and you know my salary.

      4. Artemesia*

        This is the kind of deal where the USSC basically said ‘you can’t sue because you didn’t do it timely but the women didn;t KNOW they were being discriminated against because salary information was ‘confidential” Now these women know; time for a law suit; kudos to the HR assistant.

      5. The IT Manager*

        Why would you be livid if your salary information was released? Why do people feel salary is “private” information? When salary information is secret stuff like the fact that a company consistently pays women less is unknown. Salary transparency is a good thing because it prevents makes systematic discrimination visible.

        1. Gaia*

          Because my salary is between my employer and me – not the entire company. What I negotiated for and what the company felt was my value is not the business of anyone else. Even my closest friends and family do not know what I earn.

          There are ways to be transparent without saying “Gaia earns $XX,XXX.”

          1. Honeybee*

            Why, though? I think that’s the question. It’s clear that you believe that along with other people, but why is salary information private?

            1. Gaia*

              Because it is no one’s business. Financial affairs are complex matters and a lot of deep social beliefs go along with these. For instance, someone who makes X is believed, by society, to be “poor” but someone who makes X + Y is “middle class.” There are stigmas around certain salary levels. There are assumptions that are made. But more than anything it is just not anyone else’s business. I also don’t discuss my rent, car payment, electric bill, etc.

              It is just private.

            2. Canton*

              Isn’t it enough that I don’t what everyone else to know what I make? Why does there need to be a big reason?

        2. EA*

          Yea, it baffles me. My parents raised me to NOT TALK ABOUT MONEY EVER. I don’t think secrecy helps much so I don’t live that way.

          Within my peer group we usually disclose. Coworkers I know some (but I never ask), but I do answer honestly if someone asks me.

          I think it is some quirk of American culture companies like to exploit in salary negotiations.

          1. RKB*

            This is so interesting! My entire family works in the public sector and I do too. My boyfriend and his parents do too! It’s only upon reading this thread that apparently salary is taboo! I can Google everyone’s and know in ten minutes.

        3. Lady Bug*

          Because then some people decide they get to comment on how you spend your money. While I’d happily tell those people to mind their own damn business, I’d rather not have to deal with it.

    6. ZSD*

      I’m sorry she got fired, but it’s awesome that this has come out. Have TPTB announced any salary increases for the women? Have they explained how they’re going to make this right?

      1. Anonymous Guy*

        The managers and supervisors have been in a meeting all morning. A few women have already resigned and everyone is walking on eggshells because management doesn’t want us to talk about it.

        1. Mike C.*

          That’s great that they don’t want you to talk about it but if you want to, you’re federally protected.

          1. Cordelia Naismith*

            This. You have the legal right to discuss salary with your co-workers. Getting fired for that would be a violation of federal law.

        2. animaniactoo*

          I sincerely hope that if they convince any of the women who have resigned or are thinking of doing so to stay, that the women insist not only on being brought up to equivalent salary, but also some retroactive pay.

          Considering that they were offered less from the start, it sounds like they’ve got a damn good discrimination basis lawsuit if they chose to pursue it.

        3. Boop*

          I wonder what the impact would be if every woman resigned immediately? I understand that’s not an option for most people (definitely isn’t for me!), but it would be kind of awesome.

          That said, I would totally fire the HR Assistant for that stunt. As an employee I totally get and appreciate it, as an HR rep it horrifies me.

          1. Mike C.*

            If you’re firing people for exposing illegal wage discrimination, you have much larger issues to worry about.

            1. Gaia*

              She was fired for revealing confidential information. She may or may not be considered a whistleblower (it really depends on what she did leading up to this email). If she is a whistleblower, she absolutely should not have been fired. If she just revealed confidential information, I’d probably have fired her, too.

              But paradoxically, I’d also have released the information. So….

              1. Mike C.*

                My point here is that firing the person isn’t going to solve anything, and the lawsuit and possible legal (charges? investigation? sanctions? what’s the right word here?) and public outrage from the press is going to dwarf anything else.

                It’s like going after Daniel Ellsberg for releasing the Pentagon Papers.

              2. SAHM*

                But how confidential is the information, really? I mean, from an employee standpoint you can share your salary with anyone you want to and that’s a right protected by law. There is also no legal right for the company to keep the salary confidential either, since some companies keep that stuff available to their employees to look at. She also didn’t share it outside the company, so there’s no NDA sort of risk, it was company information shared within the company. So I’m not really certain besides, company politics, why this is so “Oh but it’s confidential!”

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Well, the law does specifically allow for employers to penalize (including firing) employees who share confidential salary info about others. The law protects you in sharing your own salary, but not in sharing other people’s if your job gives you access to that info.

                  From an employer standpoint, the concern would be that she can’t be trusted to handle other confidential information with discretion, and some jobs truly require that trust.

                  (To be clear, I love what she did, as long as she was prepared for the consequence.)

            2. Boop*

              No, the wage discrimination is totally appalling. I would want to fire her because she revealed confidential information in a completely inappropriate way. Her heart was in the right place, and I agree with her intent, but the execution was not good. It calls into question her discretion and ability to maintain confidentiality in other matters (HIPAA, FMLA, etc.).

              1. Creag an Tuire*

                Why? She’s not their lawyer, doctor, or confessor; she’s not required to ignore actual, honest-to-catnip lawbreaking to keep a confidence.

              2. Mike C.*

                That a name and salary information is “confidential” is completely arbitrary. It can’t be used to commit identity theft, it’s not medical history and many occupations (particularly those in high positions or in the public sector) already publish such information.

                In the case of disclosing HIPAA/FMLA and similar data, that disclosure causes serious harm to the individual, this does not. The disclosures of such information are also illegal, again this is not. That’s all before we get to the fact that she was informing people that they were being harmed by illegal activity.

                You can’t observe one action under one set of conditions and extrapolate that to all other similar actions under any type of conditions. That doesn’t make any sense.

          2. Minion*

            I’d love to see everyone at the company, in a show of solidarity, resign at once. The men too. Of course, they don’t necessarily have any incentive to do so other than showing their support for pay equality, but lots of people stand up for groups they’re not necessarily a member of, so why not?

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              I worked at a place where the two men in the department also left when we discovered I was being paid less because I am a woman. It felt really good to go from a department of three to a department of zero, as we left all within a few weeks of each other.

            2. Anonymous Educator*

              I’m very curious as to how people can just resign without having another job lined up. Maybe it’s because I’m in a high cost of living area (i.e., the most expensive city in the U.S.), but if I resigned tomorrow, my spouse and I wouldn’t be able to pay our rent.

              Looking for another job? Sure. Resigning right away? Couldn’t do it.

              1. Minion*

                Well, you know…that would be an awesome thing, but it’s probably not feasible for most people. Just something that would be really great to see.

                But, just thinking along those lines, isn’t that what happens when a union goes on strike? Everyone who’s a member has to go on strike as well, regardless of their ability to pay rent/buy groceries, etc. And, of course that’s kind of foisted on people and not a choice, but it’s the same in that everyone walks out at the same time.

                Regardless, I think it would be great if it could happen that way.

                1. Mike C.*

                  First off, it is a choice – there are significant votes that happen before a strike occurs. Folks tend to separate the union from the workers who make up the union, but forget that the workers and the union are one and the same.

                  Strikes happen as a last resort in response to not getting anywhere with negotiations. Since everyone knows when the contract ends, employees can save money (and since they’re unionized, they’re going to have higher wages than otherwise) for the lean times. It’s easy to see which way the wind is blowing and know if there is going to be trouble.

                  Finally, many unions save up the fees and handout “strike pay” for extended strikes.

                2. Gaia*

                  Mike C,

                  I will say that for some people it is not a choice. I saw this first hand when my Grandfather who was a member of a large, nationwide union, was forced to strike over a less than .5% difference in pay. No one at his site voted to support the strike, but the nationwide union did. The company declared bankruptcy, he lost his pension, medical benefits and was left without a job at age 57. Over a .5% difference in pay.

                3. Chinook*

                  Ditto on not all union members agreeing to strike action. When I was a teacher, our school burned down and students lost a month of school until we could get back up and running in makeshift buildings. 6 months later, in the same school year, our local teacher’s union, which covered about 20 schools, took a strike vote. Now, no one in our school wanted to strike because a)it would be exponentially detrimental to our students who had already lost a month of their school year and b)we didn’t want to add fuel to the idea of them never rebuilding our school in that town. Luckily, the strike for the district was defeated (they decided to let another district do it to make a point that later led to losing about 1,000 teaching jobs throughout the province)but I know for a fact that there would have been a lot of teachers at my school who were trying to find a loophole to keep their classes going so that our students would be able to make their minimum required educational hours to pass.

              2. Lily in NYC*

                Everyone’s financial situation is different. Maybe the person had a partner with a high salary. Maybe they save well and have no debt. I would probably be able to live without a salary for about a year before I would feel the pinch. But I’d be way too nervous to resign without a job lined up; I’m too risk averse.

        4. Alston*

          Oooooh, let us know what happens after the meeting! Did the women who resigned talk about it before they left?

        5. Engineer Woman*

          Oh no. Women resigning right away is knee-jerk reaction. They should stay and fight to have pay gap dissolved and even for back pay (if can show in specific case that they were affected by the lower offer / lower ceiling at hire). I would be livid if I had tried to negotiate for an on-par-with-a-male coworker (unknown at that time of course) but told my salary range topped at $X for example only to find now John-Bob doing same job as me is paid 20%+ more!

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            In fairness to them, we don’t know it was a knee-jerk reaction. They could have already been dissatisfied with their treatment there, and this was just the final straw for them.

    7. LizB*

      Wow. Good for the HR Assistant in bringing this out into the open. I wonder if it could have been done without names, even, but with each salary labeled with the gender and seniority of the employee (e.g. female, 8yrs at company). Some people really like to keep their salary private… I personally wouldn’t mind mine being shared to expose a disparity like this, but not everyone will feel that way.

      1. JMegan*

        It’s funny that she didn’t remove the names, because she could have made the same point without them. I mean, if you’re going to go to all the trouble of making a chart like that, then why not take that one extra step?

        But OTOH, if know you’re going to be fired anyway (which she almost certainly did), then I guess the details don’t matter. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?

        1. Ad Astra*

          She could have, but I think including the names makes it easier for people to erase possible “Well maybe this person is more qualified than that person” hypotheticals.

        2. Brett*

          Odds are in a company of 700 that many people could be personally identifiable anyway just with gender, title, and experience level

      2. Gaia*

        I am torn, on one hand I don’t want my salary information shared but on the other, as a woman, I would be less angry if it was to expose something so gross.

        And I would imagine she used names so people would know, for sure, what the impact on them was.

      3. T3k*

        Probably not. Judging by the huge disparity, and trying to hide it, this company probably would have still fired her even if she just revealed the gender and salary amount because it’s doing what they feared: upsetting the women and now making them want to find a new job or possibly a lawsuit over discrimination.

        1. LizB*

          Oh, I didn’t think that would have prevented her being fired; the company was definitely going to find an excuse to fire her after she exposed their terrible practices. I was more thinking about any individual employees who would consider this a breach of their privacy.

      4. CMT*

        I wonder if it would have been taken as seriously? Like, the company could have claimed it was all made up without the names. But if you see your name on there and it matches what you’re making, it makes the whole thing more credible.

        1. Mike C.*

          Yeah, I have to agree there. That, and there’s no well accepted standard for “how to expose your employer for illegal wage discrimination”. There’s nothing here that can really be used to identity theft, so I think enough common sense care was taken.

      5. Tomato Frog*

        She could’ve made the point without names, but I doubt people would have been as likely to take the point without names.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          This. “Male analyst makes more than female analyst” really doesn’t say as much as “Greg the analyst makes $70k and Dharma the analyst makes $55k” when you know that both started at interns and entered the company at the same time with the same job functions and skills.

    8. JMegan*

      Names + salary information probably is confidential, even if no SSNs etc were included. And it sounds like a pretty deliberate act in the part of the HR assistant – hopefully she had her desk packed up before she hit Send!

      But yes, I would definitely be laying low for a while, until the poop clears out from the fan.

      1. Anna*

        Confidential in what sense? There’s no legal reason (I don’t think from what I’ve read here) an HR person doesn’t talk about who’s making what; it’s just Not Done and probably for a variety of pretty good reasons, but then again this is an exact example of why confidentiality (real or imposed) around salaries is problematic. If she had sent it without names, it would have been a lot harder to make the very obvious connection between gender and pay.

        1. SAHM*

          Yea, that’s why I’m wondering why it’s so “confidential”. It’s not as if she shared the company salary info outside of the company…

    9. it happens*

      I really hope that she already had another job lined up and did this as her goodbye act. Have to wonder what the fallout will be and whether the company will fix the discrepancies.

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it’s sad that she felt compelled to share that. In other words, there are still loads of people who say “The wage gap is a myth!” and “If women were really paid less, why would you hire a man?” Unfortunately, your company is not unique in this regard.

      1. Anxa*

        I just cannot wrap my head around the “if women are paid less, they’d have all the jobs” argument.

        As if business situations are always made objectively and rationally.

      2. Pwyll*

        I had this exact conversation with my libertarian family last week, with their insistence that the wage gap was a liberal conspiracy to make women feel victimized. No study, no story, no anecdote would change their mind, they’re all false, doctored or an isolated event. Sigh.

      3. Beancounter in Texas*

        I hear the opposite. “Women are too expensive to insure. They’re going to be gone for at least 12 weeks when they have a baby, and even then, they might not come back to work and I’ll have to find, hire and train someone new all over again. It’s not worth the headache of hiring a woman in the first place.”

        I don’t think it was commented here, but I read someone’s comment online that “Men are praised for securing a job and earning an income. Women are expected to appreciate it.” I think that hits the nail on the head.

    11. Katie the Fed*

      They should take the data to an employment lawyer – there’s an EEO issue there.

    12. Kristine*

      Your (former) HR assistant is my hero. I wish someone in our HR department would get to that level of bitch eating crackers with the pay gap in our office. I know for a fact that the men on my team who do the exact same job as me (some of them with less seniority and experience) make close to 50% more than me and the other women. But there’s no way for me to bring it up on my own without sounding paranoid and petty. I hope this move doesn’t hamper her career options going forward.

      1. Artemesia*

        ‘petty’ is just one of those words designed to keep women down. You can bet it wouldn’t be ‘petty’ if the guys on your team were underpaid and complained about it.

        1. Anna*

          Exactly this. Petty is constantly bringing up a past wrong. Justified is going to HR and saying WTF is up with the pay disparity?

    13. lulu*

      That’s amazing. Ideally she would have blacked out the names, but good for her for getting the information out there. 20 to 25% is a huge gap across the board. Hopefully some of the women end up suing the company.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        If it’s a small enough company, you can probably guess who’s who, even if the names are blurred/blacked out.

        1. Anna*

          And it would be a lot more difficult to make the connection she was trying to make; that there is systemic discrimination in how much the women at the company are paid compared to how much men are being paid.

    14. Mustache Cat*

      Wow. That is amazing. Okay, and objectively what the HR Assistant did was wrong and unprofessional and yada yada, but she is also my hero for life.

      I hope every single woman starts getting paid what they deserve and/or quit and get better jobs.

          1. Friday Brain All Week Long*

            Yes, please update!! Are you in CA? We have a fair pay law that is *supposed* to protect against this sort of thing now. But it requires employees figuring out what other employees are making and in the private sector that’s just not a thing that happens.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Sometimes – hell, often – there’s a higher moral standard than what’s “professional” or what you’re supposed to do according to your job. This is absolutely a case where the ends justify the means.

        And I hope she can join in on that lawsuit. She was probably being underpaid, too.

    15. Mike C.*

      That assistant is a hero. Also, unless there are some very quick salary changes, you may want to consider seeking a labor lawyer as well. Gender discrimination in pay was outlawed so long ago that it was covered in an episode of Mad Men.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        If you want to read about another hero, Google google spreadsheet erica baker.

        1. Minion*

          Great read. I don’t get the mindset of not going after them for retaliation, which it was.

          1. JennyFair*

            Oh, I do. Walking away and truly letting go of it can be a good thing, and her employer got the message, her coworkers were empowered, etc.

        2. Mike C.*

          I remember this!

          It’s amazing to me how such a data oriented company couldn’t bother doing a multiple-regression on salaries based on race, gender and so on. It’s like two steps in Minitab.

      2. Artemesia*

        But rarely does it get fixed. Also rarely is the issue so perfectly clear as this. I hope copies were made immediately before it was taken down.

    16. JennyFair*

      Well done, her! (Not at all well done to the folks who fired her instead of, you know, doing the right thing)

    17. Rebecca*

      I’m anxious to see how your company handles this. Will they give the women a raise, lower the men’s pay, or make everyone meet in the middle? How on earth will they explain this? At the very least, every woman there should demand a group meeting and ask what is going to be done.

      How awful.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      Well, now we see why the info had to be confidential. They had to hide what they were doing.

      I wish the assistant all the best in her next endeavor. I have to guess that she saw enough problems there that she would have left anyway.

      You will have to keep us posted on how this lands. I hope management works to correct its wrongs.

    19. Chaordic One*

      It sounds like a gutsy and courageous move on her part.
      If you ever see her again, tell she’s my hero.

  8. Anon for this*

    I’ve been thinking lately about how promotions and internal hiring should work, and I’d love to hear about how other people’s organizations handle it.

    What started my reflection was hearing that my “grand boss” (two bosses up) at my last job resigned, and three of his direct reports and one former direct report (who had shifted to another department internally) had applied for his job.

    The organization used a formal hiring process, asking them each for cover letters and resumes, doing an exercise before interviews, and so on. This seemed odd to me… what did they think they were going to learn in a 2 hour interview that they didn’t already know based on the 3+ years each of these people had worked for them?

    1. notfunny.*

      Getting promoted within my department required (and still does) a formal hiring process with cover letters, updated resumes, formal interviews and the like. Even with the same boss that you currently have! It feels weird, but also gives the hiring manager similar information to what external candidates are sharing.

    2. enough*

      The cover letter can tell you the level of enthusiasm the candidates have for the job and company. After all a lot of people apply for the promotion for the salary bump not for the responsibility/growth. The resume can shoe who embellishes and who down plays their roles. And it will remind the hiring committee of other experiences the candidates have that might be helpful in the new position.
      Also and maybe more importantly it may bring more transparency to the selection.

    3. AVP*

      I think that interview could actually be pretty useful! It gives the HM the chance to ask bigger picture questions and reflect a little more than day-to-day operations allow for.

    4. hbc*

      We interviewed an internal candidate for a position who said we didn’t need that position, and he was only applying for the pay and so someone else wouldn’t screw it up. You never know what people will say.

      There’s also the possibility that someone will reveal something positive you didn’t know about. As in, you’d prefer someone in that position who can get a security clearance, and you find out that they got one during an internship way back when so that part of the work is already done.

      1. Anon Again*

        I was on a hiring committee where the same kind of thing happened. Two employees, same level, applied when their manager left. One treated it like they were interviewing for a job they actually wanted. The other didn’t bother to do a resume or a cover letter, and revealed in the interview that they would be furious if their coworker got the position because they had seniority, and therefore ‘deserved it.’

        Lots of dropped jaws at that one. Especially considering (no surprise here, given the attitude) the one with seniority was actually quite lackluster/bad at the existing job, and had made no effort whatsoever to improve over the years.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      I think there should definitely be a process and it should be the same across the board. I like the idea of a resume and cover letter.

      I was once passed over for an internal promotion where there was no clear process, just a selection, and I’m still kind of bitter about it. It reeks of favoritism when you do it that way and don’t have a transparent process.

      1. Windchime*

        We recently had a peer promoted to be manager over part of our team. There was no job posting, no interviews. Just an email one day that Fred was now the manager, and here is the list of people who will be reporting to him. It made people really resentful that the job was not posted as they usually are, and it also made it really hard for Fred to manage effectively. People didn’t understand why/how he was randomly promoted.

    6. Anonymity*

      For the lower rungs on the ladder here, promotions seem to happen if your manager can make a strong case for it and is willing to push for it up the chain of command where the ultimate approval rests.
      The further up the ladder you’re going, the harder the boss has to work to get it, but it’s not until team leader level (a step below supervisor) that there’s a formal application process involved.

    7. Emilia Bedelia*

      Also, if the person had past experience in the position that they don’t use in their current job, it gives them a chance to talk about their other experiences that may not have come up in the past.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      If you have been with a company for any length of time it is possible that the bosses no longer know what you said on your original resume. This could be because they forgot or because they joined the company after you and never read your resume.

      I had a job where I knew more about my coworkers’ previous jobs than our new boss did. She never read the resumes so she never got herself caught up on that information. Meanwhile, she needed someone to do X or Y and just assumed that none of us were qualified. Instead of asking us she hired a new person AND had him trained. Meanwhile, qualified people were already in place. One of many dysfunctional things….

      After seeing this, I agree a resume and cover letter are the way to go.

    9. Jaydee*

      We had the same sort of process when a manager resigned. Internal candidates submitted resumes, references, were interviewed. It’s entirely possible to learn new things in that process or to confirm things you already know about the candidates. Also, job interviews go both ways. I don’t want to accept a significantly different job without asking questions about it and finding out whether it’s a good fit. Just like the employer can assume that Jane will be a better manager than Wakeen but decide after the interviews that Wakeen is really the best choice, Wakeen could also go into the interview assuming he would want a promotion to manager and come out realizing he really wouldn’t.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        That’s a really good point. My division announced earlier this year they were going to stop handing out promotions and start posting the positions for people not just in our division, but within our company as a whole, to apply and interview for. People were pissed about the way upper management had been doing promotions up to that point (e.g. they were promoting people they liked) and complained about it on the division’s year end survey. I didn’t know whether I liked the whole posting idea, especially since I think they’ll still end up promoting whoever they like and hang out with outside of work anyway, but maybe I’m wrong and this process will get them to really see who’s all working for them and what we bring to the table without necessarily having to be their “friend.”

  9. Tired Worker*

    I’m going anon for this one. I’ve had a really bad couple of work weeks. For confidentiality, I won’t get into details, but I’m a project manager, and I’ve got a client who is never going to be satisfied. The client has run their concerns up 5 levels of my bosses all the way up to my division president. I will take my share of the blame for the project problems, but a lot of it is we say “X” and they hear “Y”. They have some valid points. Others are not. Bottom line, we’ve taken many project rescue steps. . .daily calls, multiple people on the call so we have witnesses, other. We’re doing what we can. [Not that it’s worth much, but the client has another project going on with a competitor’s team across town, and they’ve also mentioned how the competitor isn’t meeting their expectations. Hard to please.]

    But. . .I’ve worked in my industry for over 15 years, and this has just pushed me over the edge. I’ve been working 50-60 hr weeks since the project started, and yet all I get from the client is complaints.

    I’m at a point where I’m wondering why I’m doing this job. I fight an uphill battle every day. Every day I go to work and hear how shitty I am from someone on the client’s team. The client’s PM gets on the phone and tells my boss’s boss everything we’re doing wrong. I’m working 12 hr days for no reason apparently. At this point, there is a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on, and I’m tired of being questioned and defending myself. My project sponsor has my back and is taking his lumps, too, but it’s still exhausting.

    I seriously don’t need this anymore. I don’t have thick skin. Up the last couple weeks, I was determined to fight through this and be successful, but it’s become so adversarial that I am ready to quit. Not just my project, but the company and the whole career. It has almost always been like this, but I’ve done it so long that I’ve become kind of blind to the fact that it doesn’t HAVE to be like this at work. (It shouldn’t matter, but I’m a woman in a company that is 10% women and in a role that is like 2% women. I don’t feel like my gender is an issue related to THIS mess, but when you’re in this type of environment, you do a certain amount of fighting for yourself every day anyway. I only have so much fight in me.)

    I hit the wall, where everything was great until it wasn’t. I’m completely worn out and burned out, but I can’t tell if it is just negative self-talk, or if I should take this as a sign to get out now. Honestly, I’m on vacation in another state right now (2 days PTO that I couldn’t cancel), and when I’m not typing this, I’m working on a report for work. Life is short, and I am tired of putting my personal life to the side, particularly when it’s not appreciated or worthwhile. If it was this one project one time, I could get through it, but in my life of work, it’s common. We had one of our top senior PMs removed from a very large project (just after successfully executing a different large project) because the client thought he was incompetent. A PM coworker in my department was also fired a few months ago. You don’t know where you stand when your project goes sideways.

    1. AMT 2*

      that sounds horrible…. for what its worth, it doesn’t sound like negative thinking at all, more like your brain is finally recognizing the reality of the situation you’re in, one that seems unlikely to improve. You don’t have to make a hard and fast decision to leave – start looking at other job options and sending out resumes, possibly once you start you will realize either you don’t want to switch to something new or you will feel so relieved and hopeful you’ll know its the right decision. Good luck!

    2. DoDah*

      Hi Tired,

      Firstly let me say how sorry I am to hear about your situation. I’ve been in SW for 20 years and in the last 3-5 I’ve noticed an increase of “temper tantrum throwing” clients and ISVs willing to let their PMs take the hit. The last project I’m recalling was clearly oversold (and there was a bit of scope creep) and another was actually a development issue. On both–the PM essentially was slammed both internally and externally. It’s unfortunate, but I think PMs are often scapegoated for issues beyond their control. I don’t have much advice but I do have much sympathy. I hope it gets better.

      1. Tired Worker*

        Thank you, DoDah. The issues you describe contributed to this project, too. For one, we received the request for proposal on Monday and presented a proposal the following Monday, and were on the project site the next Monday. We didn’t have enough information at the proposal to know what we were getting into, and the scope was vague enough that scope creep can’t be identified as scope creep. The biggest issue is that the client asked us for swag pricing for some things a few DAYS into a years-long project, and explicitly said they knew they shouldn’t be asking for this yet, that we didn’t have time to do it right, and we would never be held to that price. Well, you know how that went. Ha ha ha. The price was based on a motor scooter, and they now want an Airbus and wonder why the price is 4x what we said before. And they ask what changed, like it’s not effing obvious to everyone on their side already.

        Sympathy is much appreciated.

      2. Christopher Tracy*

        Not a PM, but this sounds very similar to what happens in my line of work. Clients and agents complain about everything under the sun, and upper management rarely sticks up for us because they’re so scared to lose their business even when we should let some of these people walk because they’re pains in the asses who cost us money anyway.

    3. Clever Name*

      Is there a way you can say, “I’m not working on this project anymore. The client clearly isn’t happy, and I’d like to give it to someone else”? In a perfect world, your company would say to the client, “I’m afraid we are not able to give you the level of service you are expecting on this project. We will give you all the data and documentation we have generated thus far. We wish you luck.”

      1. Tired Worker*

        I have had that thought. The bad news is we’re not that busy otherwise so I don’t wabt to pull myself off. I secretly hope they will pull me, or the client will request it.

        Company wise, they have basically threatened to smear our name in the industry. Two levels up, we’re like, “so?” but the higher ups want to keep trying to please them as long as they let us.

        1. Wheezy Weasel*

          I’d not let the clock run out on having your boss pull you or the client fire you. If you can go on record with the boss saying ‘I think the company would be better served by a change of PM on this customer’ it might help down the road. That’s especially true if you’ve seen other PM’s damaged from being removed involuntarily. You might even bring that up. Your story seems to indicate that the company values the client’s business more than their internal team members.

          I can sympathize with the larger issue: being a PM is like being paid to be someone’s nagging babysitter. Not a parent, with the ability to have real consequences for the kids, but someone with no power and being paid for their temporary ability to be a parent.

          I do think there are companies that understand the value of backing their staff, but they also are the companies that don’t let sales oversell a product, actually hold a customer to a contract document, expect and demand change orders, etc. They also tend to have good metrics about how bad business practice would lose the company in the long run: what’s the cost to replace a solid PM and train their replacement? What’s that worth in terms of the increased revenue from a client that’s already badmouthing us?

      2. DoDah*

        This is a good point. In OtherRoles, I’ve fired clients. Can you do a cost-benefit on what the project is costing the employer? (Besides the soft cost of your burn-out).

    4. David McWilliams*

      Geez. That sounds rough, and I’m sorry you’re dealing with it. And it sounds like you’re not on vacation if you’re doing work right now.

      On the plus side, you probably have leverage with your employer because I doubt that anyone above you wants to take on all of the crap that you’re dealing with right now (or try and hire someone to take over this tire fire of a client midstream). Maybe they can give you an extra week of vacation when this is all said and done? Or something else to make it worthwhile?

      1. Tired Worker*

        My manager did say to not bill PTO this week if I’m doing work, so there’s that.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This may or may not apply to your setting: The times I have seen this is when the client/customer is scamming the company. Basically stealing but on the sophisticated side of stealing.

      I think that your best defense is to encourage your management to keep an eye on the money. Watch for all the different ways they are getting free work/materials/etc out of your company. They are asking for things that they should not be asking for or are not generally granted to other customers. They ask for too many redos to the point that everyone questions the need for the redo. Watch out for too many bosses- people who call up and want you to add just one more thing. And btw, how many just one more things are they asking for, does anyone have a handle on that?

      The big picture here is that these people are such an energy suck your company might not be able to take on more work. Encourage TPTB to look at the big picture. Ask how long they can sustain this.

    6. Jules the First*

      Can you find time to actually take a holiday? I know you’re busy working through your vacation right now, but it really sounds like you need a break, even if it’s just you checking into a spa for a day without your phone or laptop.

      Either way, hugs and virtual cookies and chin up…I once had a client who refused to acknowledge my existence. Like, I’d answer a question in the project meeting and then we’d all sit in awkward silence until my male colleague repeated what I’d just said. So it can always be worse…. :)

    7. Jennifer*

      I know how you feel. The more bitching you hear, the more drained you are.

      I wish I could switch industries too, but job hunting in other ones is even worse than job hunting in the one I’m in where I supposedly am more likely to qualify for jobs.

    8. Anonacat*

      Take some sick leave. Seriously. If you go to the doctor you can probably get a certificate saying that you need stress leave – it sounds like uou would qualify.

      What a shittY situation, I feel for you.

  10. anon o*

    I am pretty sure I’ve seen this discussed here before but I can’t find it but I’ve really been struggling lately with workload and how to deal with it with others. It’s hard to say to someone, “sorry I can’t answer your question because I don’t have enough time to do my job properly and your inquiry isn’t important enough for me to waste time” – to both co-workers and external contacts. My manager (company owner) is not helpful or supportive. (Yes, I’m trying to find a new job but I’m in a shrinking industry, which is the source of the problem to begin with. Most people I deal with are in the same boat.)

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you can just shorten

      sorry I can’t answer your question because I don’t have enough time to do my job properly and your inquiry isn’t important enough for me to waste time


      sorry I can’t answer your question because I’m too busy

      If you don’t have enough time to do your job properly, it will spill out and affect both your co-workers and external contacts. There’s no way around that. There’s only so much liquid that will fit in a cup, unless you get another cup… or less liquid.

    2. Clever Name*

      I’ve gotten pretty good at saying no without actually saying no. Often, I’ll say, “Sure! I can get to that in 2 weeks. Does that work for you?” That works for project requests. If they are asking for a 5 minute task, you can say, “I’m working on a tight deadline right now, and I really can’t break away, but I can get that to you tomorrow afternoon!” Often people will just say “nevermind” and either do it themselves or find someone else to do it.

    3. Beancounter in Texas*

      A former IT guy who supported a large team by himself had the knack for being the most calm and patient with me when I asked for a small project to be done. He’d listen, take notes, ask questions, and then say, “Is it okay if I tackle this in a few days or next week? I’ve got a big project with a deadline right now.” Nothing I ever gave him was ever really pressing, but I appreciated his feedback about his schedule. I really appreciated that he never seemed stressed out or under pressure and distracted when I spoke with him (but I think that’s a superhuman skill).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      “That is not a service we provide.’
      “We are unable to do these types of things right now.”
      “Please call Jane over at X, she can get this quickly for you.” (Keep a good list of contacts.)
      “I don’t have that information on hand to give to you.”

  11. LizB*

    Mileage question! I am fairly new to tracking mileage/getting reimbursed for it, and I’m still not 100% sure how to do it. My manager is unhelpful. Hoping I can get some folks here to tell me if I’m doing it right, especially the whole deducting-my-normal-commute thing.

    I have a “home base” office, but I can work from anywhere (home, cafes, libraries, client sites, etc.). My job requires me to go out to client sites on a regular basis (maybe 5 times a week on average, could be as many as 10 times in a busy week). Many of these client sites are actually fairly close to my house, so it’s more efficient not to go into the office before I go there.

    Here’s a day I frequently have:

    Work at Home
    Travel from Home to Client Site #1
    Travel from Client Site #1 to Office
    Travel from Office to Client Site #2
    Travel from Client Site #2 to Home.

    Usually when I have a day like this, I’ll put in a mileage entry for Home->Site1->Office and deduct my 1-way commute, then another for Office->Site#2->Home and deduct my 1-way commute. My logic is that I’m sort of stopping by the client sites on my way between home and office.

    Another common day:

    Work at Home
    Travel from Home to Client Site #1
    Travel from Client Site #1 to Client Site #2
    Travel from Client Site #2 to Home

    If I do this, I put in one mileage entry for Home->Site1->Site2->Home and deduct my 2-way commute. My logic is that even though I could have worked the whole day at home and not done any driving, I still need to subtract the amount I would theoretically have driven if I had gone to the office.

    And the last example day:

    Go in to Office
    Travel from Office to Client Site
    Travel from Client Site back to Office
    Go Home at end of day

    If I do this, I don’t deduct my commute, because I did my whole normal commute on top of the driving to client sites.

    Does this sound right? Am I missing something, or am I OK?

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      If I do this, I don’t deduct my commute, because I did my whole normal commute on top of the driving to client sites.

      Do you mean you only track the travel from the office to the client site, and back again, with no deduction to that number? If so that sounds okay — although if in doubt, check with your HR department since some employers have their own rules on what they’ll reimburse. (For example, while commutes are usually deducted, if at my job I have to drive to an event outside my “region”, say for an all-staff meeting at the home office in Capital City, I get reimbursed for the whole home-to-Capital City trip, no deductions necessary.)

    2. Michelle*

      You never claim theoretical mileage, only actual. You also never claim your drive to or from work. So if the job site is your first drive of the day, it is never counted, even if it’s 100 miles away. Same with your drive home. Everyone drives to and from a job, and some people have very long commutes, but nobody gets paid mileage for it. The distance you WOULD have driven in a fictional universe is irrelevant, and you’re lying on your mileage reports if using anything other than your actual miles driven.

      1. LizB*

        You also never claim your drive to or from work. Really? This isn’t what I’ve heard before — never claim your drive to or from your office, yes, but unusual work sites are fair game. So if I start work at home, then drive 100 miles to a client site and 100 miles back, then finish my day working from home, I wouldn’t be able to claim it? That doesn’t seem right to me.

        It’s also probably useful to mention that my supervisor has asked my team to log as much mileage as possible for Reasons. He would not be happy with me if I drove 200 miles for work and didn’t put it on my sheet. Maybe that’s a unique situation, though.

        1. CMT*

          This is what I remember from training to do taxes at an IRS VITA site. But I know the IRS has a lot of information on this. I’d double check.

          1. LizB*

            When you say “this,” do you mean what I said or what Michelle said? I’ll check on the IRS website and see what I can find out.

        2. Grey*

          So if I start work at home, then drive 100 miles to a client site and 100 miles back, then finish my day working from home, I wouldn’t be able to claim it? That doesn’t seem right to me.

          Claim it, but subtract the distance between your home and your office. That’s how my company does it.

          It seems fair to me. That way they’re not paying for the distance you choose to live from work. And they’re also not paying you if the trip is shorter than your usual commute to work.

        3. Michelle*

          Your company can reimburse however it likes, but if it is to be tax deductible (probably the reason they’re asking you to do so much of it!) then it must meet the IRS guidelines. If you have a regular place of work, where you go pretty much every day, and then have to go someplace new, that drive is legitimately mileage. In this poster’s case, my interpretation was that there was not an ordinary place of work, but that the poster would leave from home or from some random spot most of the time (like an outside salesperson who sees new clients every day but doesn’t work from the office much). In that case, the IRS considers that you are “commuting” to wherever you go first in a day. So the company can reimburse you for that mileage as pay, like a bonus, but not tax-free reimbursement. And yes, 100 miles may have been an exaggeration, the IRS considers any drive within your metro area to be non-claimable, so depends on where you live if you could fit 100 miles within the boundaries! :-)

      2. Cookie*

        That may be your experience, but it’s definitely not true everywhere. I’m a social worker making home visits all day and our office allows us to count whatever trip is shorter. So if I go from home to client’s house and the mileage amount is less than the office to the client’s house, I can count it. But if I go from home to the client’s house and the mileage is more than going from the office to the client’s house, I can only be reimbursed for the office to the client’s house (even though that’s not the trip I actually took).

      3. Creag an Tuire*

        You also never claim your drive to or from work. So if the job site is your first drive of the day, it is never counted, even if it’s 100 miles away.

        Nooo, that’s not true. Or rather, different company policies may vary, but for the IRS deduction (which is what most companies that reimburse mileage follow), your “commute” is non-deductable, but only travel to your main office or an site where you “expect to work more than 1 year” is a commute — travel to temporary job sites is deductible.


        1. Michelle*

          There may not be enough info in the original poster’s message to determine, but this is the case only if the main office is the poster’s REGULAR office. If, as the poster says, the job can be done “wherever” and it is up to 10 times a week that the work is done off-site, then my take was that the IRS would consider this a situation of having no principal office. In that case, such as in that of a traveling salesperson who doesn’t use the office as a place of regular business, then the first and last trips of the day are considered commutes and not tax deductible. (I’m not sure the IRS defines this anywhere, what “having a principal office” means in practicality.) So that was the basis of my reply. Instead, as you say, if the poster does have a main office but just sometimes reports to a temporary office (client home), then yes, mileage is claimable, whether leaving from work or from home. And again, that is the distance from home, not a theoretical distance from the office or anywhere else.

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            I got the impression that OP does have a “regular” office that s/he is at least once most workdays, and I think that’s good enough. (My previous job had a lot of employees similar to OP who spent the majority of their workday in the field with clients, and would frequently visit a client straight from home, etc., but they had a “main office” where their desk and office mail was and where they debriefed with management, and they handled mileage as OP describes above.)

            Of course, unless you’re deducting the mileage from your taxes yourself (which you can’t do if it’s reimbursed by the company), just follow your HR’s instructions and let them worry about it. :)

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It’s really completely up to the company, so if you normally work at home and going into the office is an on-demand thing, and your boss and accounting departments won’t give you any guidance even after you’ve specifically asked for it, I’d be tempted to put in for the home-office-home part, too, and see what they say.

      But in the second scenario, I don’t think you have to deduct anything. You would have worked at home all day and not gone into the office except for the client visits, so put the mileage you drove. No need to deduct theoretical mileage, as Michelle put it. I have actually done this often, made site visits on days that I would otherwise work from home all day, and I put down my total actual mileage for the day, because I would not be going into the office on that day regardless.

      1. LizB*

        Technically I “normally” work in the office and can work elsewhere when I choose/when it makes sense — in practice, I mostly work outside the office, but on paper it’s my usual work space. So I don’t think your first paragraph really applies, unfortunately.

        Your second paragraph is interesting. I may need to check with the accounting department to see if I could do that. I really got very little guidance on how to handle this, and I haven’t gotten in trouble so far, but it can’t hurt to check on the details.

      2. Mela*

        For the IRS, you definitely need to deduct theoretical mileage, because those are miles you would have been driving had you gone into the office.

    4. Sibley*

      Here’s what I did when I drove all over.

      Total mileage for the day
      subtract normal commute distance to the office
      = chargeable mileage

      This is easy if it’s the same client all day, but if it’s multiple clients then you’d also need to track mileage for each client, so harder.

    5. afiendishthingy*

      We can also work from whereever, but I always submit the mileage as office – client – office, or if I do go from one client to another, office – client 1 – client 2 – office. This is how my coworker explained it when I started two years ago, so hopefully I’ve been doing it right. I’m often actually going from office to client to home or home to client to office or home to client to home, but I always put the office as start and end point anyway. It makes sense because then I’m not counting my regular commute from home to office as part of it.

    6. KK*

      There is a lot of misinformation in this subthread regarding the mileage calculation and the IRS. Publication 463 especially figure b will help a lot and it is fairly straightforward once you look at the illustration to figure out your situation for tax purposes.

      That being said most businesses have a policy on how they want you to calculate it for reimbursement. However if you keep good records and they don’t allow the full mileage allowable for tax purposes you can deduct the difference on your taxes.

      Source: I am a former Internal Revenue Agent (tax auditor)

  12. Adam*

    Question: When you apply at a specific company and are interviewed but rejected for a position, how long do you usually wait before applying at that same company again?

    Context: I applied to an organization that by all accounts is a great place to work. I was thrilled to get an interview that I went to two months ago and I felt overall that it went really well. But ultimately I didn’t get the job, or at least I assume I didn’t as I interviewed with the hiring manager and team, followed up as we discussed I would, and then proceeded to never hear from them again. Frustrating and disappointing, but it happens and I’ve moved on.

    I’d still be open to the possibility of working there, and my last experience I’d be willing to chalk up to just that one hiring manager as I never talked with an HR person and only briefly with a recruiter. The vast majority of my contact was with the hiring manager for the position. It’s a decent sized organization, I believe a staff of at least 150+, and I could easily apply for similar positions in different departments.

    I’m just curious what your personal “buffer period” is between applications in a situation like this and if you approach it any differently since you already interviewed there once.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I didn’t wait very long before I applied again at my current company, but it was a job they posted in a different department, so it really didn’t look like I was going for the same / similar job again. I honestly can’t recall the timeline and I don’t have my records with me. I think it might have been a couple of months between postings.

    2. Kai*

      I think the larger the organization, the less of a buffer period you need. If it’s just a small company and there’s maybe one or two people who will notice your applications coming in over and over, that could get weird. But, for example, I’ve applied for a lot of university jobs and don’t care too much about applying for one or two jobs at the same college at once. It’s highly unlikely that anyone will notice.

    3. Laura*

      Since they just never got back to you, I would wait a few months before applying again. But by all means, do apply. Just make sure the job is one that you are absolutely qualified for.

  13. Puff and stuff*

    My company has asked me to move from the east coast to the midwest for my job. We just went through a team reorganization and now I report to a director in our midwest office and am on her team. I’m her only remote employee and she admits she’s a bad remote manager and wants me to move to the midwest office. The problem is that I’m a married homeowner so we’d have to sell our house (which we bought just last year) and my husband would have to find a new job.

    I asked about relocation cost reimbursement and was told there wouldn’t be any. Since they’re not “requiring” me to move to the midwest office, they would consider it a voluntary move and would not pay the cost of the move. I told my boss that moving would be a large disrupter to my life and I wasn’t confident it would make sense for me. She said that if I remained in the east coast office then I would not be eligible for future promotions because she can’t effectively evaluate my work ethic and skills remotely.

    This is such a pickle…any advice?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Could you stay put for now and then move later, and still be eligible for advancement? My ideal solution would be to stay remote for 6 mo/1 yr & look for another job. The move sounds like a huge financial and personal expense, with a lot of risk and uncertainty on the back end. You don’t know if the new manager will work out. You don’t know if you working for her will work out, even if you do move.

      IME, we’ve had some remote workers for both the reason you describe, and because the worker moved and the dept let them stay on. Long-term, it never did work out, so I think your manager could be right, but maybe all you need is for it to work out until you find something new.

    2. AMT 2*

      Does moving offer any actual incentives for you? Aside from being eligible for promotions (which really means nothing – just because your manager would say you are eligible is no guarantee of it ever happening), if there is no relocation reimbursement or concrete improvement in job (salary, title, new responsibilities, whatever) then it sounds like it may not offer you any benefits – unless you actually want to relocate, if you and spouse have been wanting to move to a new area that’s a different thing altogether. But if you are happy where you are it doesn’t sound like relocating will be beneficial in any way.

    3. blackcat*

      Do you *want* to move to a different part of the country? Beyond the house & husband, what is your life in your current city like? How much does your husband like his job, and how likely is it he could find something comparable in Midwest city?

      The best I’ve got is look for a new job and/or see about internal transfers…. because even if your are excited to move, your boss is being pretty unreasonable here. She should either transfer you and pay for you to move, lay you you off (with lots of warning, because your job no longer exists in your current location, and this way you could get unemployment), or properly manage you remotely. Refusing to do any of those things is a big red flag to me…

    4. Sunflower*

      Do you want to live in the Mid-west city and How important is it for you to advance in this company?

      Personally it sounds like moving there is not something you have an interest in and unless you have a strong desire to stay at this specific company, I would consider moving on. I like AnotherAllison’s advice of asking to stay remote and job searching.

    5. Victoria, Please*

      Your manager wants you to upend your life because SHE is a bad remote manager? I think she needs to write into AAM for advice on how to get better!

      Meanwhile I agree with AnotherAlison, don’t decide now. But do come up with a set of metrics that you and your manager can live with for a trial period.

        1. nonegiven*

          My son works in distributed team now and at his last job. His last job, he was the only worker at his manager’s location. The rest of the team weren’t in the same time zone and not all in the same country. It’s apparently fairly common at both places. I think it was one of his managers’ first remote team and she did a conference panel on what she had learned about managing a highly distributed team.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      It sounds as if they want to have their cake and eat it too. Either it’s voluntary, in which case, you don’t have to do it and there are no repercussions on your career or advancement; or it’s not voluntary, in which case, they should pay your relocation costs.

      Since you have a house and you don’t want your husband to find a new job, you should perhaps be looking for a new job yourself. It’s really down to:

      1 new job + 1 new house + 1 move


      1 new job

      1. Mustache Cat*

        ^^^Yep. I agree with that math, although obviously it might depend on what your fields are and how easy it is to get new jobs.

    7. Mike C.*

      How in the hell is this a “voluntary move” when your manager is going to deny you future promotions if you don’t? Have you spoken to HR about what your manager has said?

    8. Artemesia*

      I would be looking for another job very aggressively and staying put until that plays out. It is one thing if you would both like to move to the midwest but uprooting his job and selling a house are big sacrifices; I would only do it if you really want to make this move certainly not because your manager is a bad manager.

      I say this as someone whose husband uprooted his career to follow her career; it was sooooo much harder than we expected. He had been super successful where we were and so we thought it would be no big deal for him to relocate; it was very hard at that point in his career and without local connections in the mid size southern city we moved to. It was our deal, he never complained and we made it work over time. BUT it was really hard and I would never have done it if I had realized what it would cost us both financially and in terms of psychological wear and tear. At the least I would look at options for you to do something else assuming he likes his job and you like the area where you live.

      My daughter moved to the midwest from the west coast; the difference was that she and her husband wanted to make the move. A couple of years after the move, the company shut down the midwest office and she was out of a job so making the sacrifice does not mean your job is secure. Only make this move if you want to live in this new area and your husband can find good opportunities as well.

    9. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

      Maybe this is harsh, but I think they are telling you they just aren’t that into you. They aren’t really willing to work with your where you are (not eligible for promotion) nor are really working with you to move (no relocation costs). I’d be job hunting.

  14. Anon for today*

    When you’re in the initial contact stages of an interview and the hiring manager asks what your salary expectations are, if you haven’t been able to figure out a reasonable salary for the position ahead of time how does it sound when you say something like this?

    “At this stage in my career I’m focusing on positions where the range begins around $45K and goes up from there depending on the position and offered benefits.”

    1. Dawn*

      I *really really* like the suggested wording that was in the comments here a few months ago of “I wouldn’t consider leaving my current company for less than $X” where X is the amount of money it would take for you to actually seriously consider leaving for another job.

      I’ve been mulling over that since then and have realized that’s a great number to decide on ahead of time. I know that for me there are serious perks of my job (no overtime, relaxed office, commute is literally a mile, 5 min walk to my gym) that have zero to do with my salary and I wouldn’t even begin to consider leaving *even if it was for a “dream job”* unless my starting salary was at least (current salary)+ $15000. It has less to do with “oh what’s the common salary range for my position” and way more to do with “what would it take to actually hire me away from where I am”

      1. Crystal Vu*

        This is really helpful to me right now. Thank you for bringing that comment up again.

      2. The Rat-Catcher*

        That is a great point! I think it’s kind of the flip side of employers wanting to be sneaky about their salary ranges. Like, most of us have a livable salary X, below which we can’t make it work, correct? It doesn’t matter if what you’re offering me is playing with unicorns all day and every Friday at lunchtime is happy hour and then we all go home – if you’re paying less than X, I can’t do it – why waste my and your time?

  15. BRR*

    Question regarding job hopping.

    So I started a new job last October after being let go last September although I technically resigned. It’s not a great fit (although not terrible) and it’s a super long commute that has made me miserable. This week I was contacted by a former colleague, who works at a new organization, about an opening. It would be a small step up career wise and a 10% raise (she gave me the salary range).

    I’m putting the cart before the horse but I had some questions about the situation and specifically for anybody who has job hopped. I have a shaky job history and I’m concerned about leaving a job that I’m doing awesome at for a new one. My history is 6 months internship then 6 months full-time at one organization where I was fired but have a good reference from (it was largely bad management), 2 years at my previous job where I was on a PIP i didn’t pass, and 8 months at my current job. Has anybody gotten a good reference from the short job they’ve had? Is it a bad idea to even consider leaving my current job?

    1. Adam*

      I could go either way on this. I guess it would depend on the weighing of the cost and benefits of staying versus leaving. If your current job really is making you miserable than I’d say find a way out as life is too short to be unhappy perpetually and all that jazz. But if you take this new job (or any other) I would posit the caveat that you should probably expect to bunker down and stay there for at least two years to mitigate your previous history a little bit.

      Good luck!

    2. Graciosa*

      If you develop a good track record – which at this point, means at least 3 years at your job before a move – people will, over time, forgive you for early career job hopping.

      But your track record right now is not good, and another move at this point would not help it – even with a small raise or promotion.

      The time when this really hurts you is as you approach mid-career (10+ years). That’s about the point when job hoppers start to stall out and are surpassed by people with solid job histories.

      The issue is not the move, it’s that there is knowledge and skill development that occurs only after a decent run at a job. Short stints aren’t enough to develop this kind of depth, and after about 10 years, the key promotions that determine your career potential require it. I say this as a hiring manager for jobs at this level – someone with fewer years of experience (say one 5 or 7 year stint at a single employer, albeit with a promotion or two) will win out over someone with 10-12 years in the industry at more than 3-4 employers, even if every move was technically a raise or promotion.

      I wouldn’t move again at this point if you want to really develop your long term potential, but there are always people who will trade a small short term gain for something yet to come.

      1. BRR*

        Thank you for weighing in. What is best for me personally and what is best for me career wise are not lining up at the moment and I really appreciate the outside perspective.

    3. Gaia*

      I hire people in my role and…you don’t have a great history here.

      6 months internship is self evident. They are always time set and so I would expect that to be short.
      6 months and fired – doesn’t look great to me, but if it is the first job out of school and you have a good explanation for why it happened and what you learned? Ok.
      2 years and failed PIP – good amount of time, but I’d want to know what you learned from the PIP and how you will do better in your next role (I’d also consider this terminated and two terminations in a row would make me nervous)
      8 months and moving – you are a job hopper. You have had 3 jobs in 3 years (assuming no long gaps between jobs) and two of those you were fired from. That would make me nervous. You would need a great cover letter talking about what you are great at, how you have grown and learned from these experiences. You’d also need a really good reason for why you are leaving this job so soon.

      I will say, if you stuck it out to 2 years at current job, my worry would go down. And, for future hopes, I was a job hopper. I had 7 jobs in 5 years. I’ve now hit 2 years in my current role and I am going nowhere because my last two jobs were under 1 year each. I know I have to show long term stability here to make up for that. But it can be done. You can get past “job hopper” and get to the point where it no longer matters.

      1. BRR*

        Yeah my history really isn’t great. It’s just so hard when I really don’t like my current job but was basically forced to take it. The person who contacted me knows I’ve only been in my current position for a short time although I’ve accomplished a lot and it’s the exact type of track record she wants for the position she talked to me about. She was eager to recruit me and we didn’t talk about why I would be willing to leave. Is a long commute a good reason for wanting to leave a job if I add it to more responsibility? Explaining that I thought it would be easier to do the commute but was wrong.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The problem is the pattern, so it’s less about showing you had an acceptable reason for leaving this job. If you go to the next job and stay for like six years, you’ll be fine. But you can’t predict what would happen with the new job — you might hate it, they might fire or lay you off, etc. And then you’d really be in a bind, where good jobs aren’t going to want to consider you because of the overall pattern of the job history.

          1. BRR*

            I feel so special when you reply. But ugh. None of this information is surprising. It’s just depressing that I had a potential way to make my situation less stressful and I most likely will have to pass it up. I’m still going to interview and hopefully they will give me some red flags so I don’t feel bad.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I wouldn’t say that! I’d say don’t interview if you’re 100% sure you wouldn’t take it, but it’s okay to interview if you’re unsure (in fact, you should never be sure you would take it, because you need to learn more).

                1. BRR*

                  I think Laura is saying the same thing. Don’t interview if I would under no circumstances take it (and I wouldn’t do that as it’s a waste of time and takes the spot from someone else). I’m debating things in the big picture now but I haven’t ruled it out entirely as I really could use some relief in this aspect of my life.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Ah, got it. I’d also add: It’s not that you absolutely can’t take this job. It’s just a risk assessment, and you just want to make sure you’re considering all the factors.

                3. BRR*

                  Definitely @ the can still take it. I wanted to start thinking about it now though because it’s complicated. I don’t want to do serious damage to my career but I’m just not happy where I am now. I also know I can’t make an informed decision yet because I haven’t interviewed yet and don’t have an offer. On the plus side I at least have worked with the manager.

            1. Gaia*

              I’m not saying you absolutely cannot take the job if it really is a better move for you. But if you do, you absolutely MUST stay for quite awhile. And I don’t mean 2 years. I mean 4 or 5 years. So make sure it really is a good fit and you really will be happy there.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I would stay where you are unless you’re absolutely certain that you would stay at the new job (provided you get it) for at least 3 years, preferably 5 or more. If you’re not confident in that, I’d stay where you are.

      1. BRR*

        Thank you for your advice. I definitely agree with your thinking. While I’m not in the position of having to make a decision yet, I wanted to give it the necessary time to digest as my contact indicated that I am a very strong contender for the role.

    5. Lindsay J*

      Just wanted to offer some solidarity here.

      I just started in my new career track. I spent 11 months in my first position, and kind of just started floating out applications because I was severely under-paid. I got two interviews and an offer making $7 an hour more than I was previously making, so I took it and figured I would just stay in this position for a few years to ease the job hopping issue.

      I’ve been here 6 months, I am bored out of my skull, and really want to leave. My boss wrote me up a week ago and we just don’t generally have the best relationship. But I feel stuck here for at least another year or two in order to assuage the whole job-hopping fear. It’s not fun now, but I’d rather stick it out now and be eligible for better positions later, than move to some mostly equivalent job now but have my applications ignored for better positions in a few years because they can choose somebody who shows more stability in their career.

      It sucks now though.

      1. BRR*

        Thanks for the reply. I’m sorry you’re in a similar situation. At least I know the position would not be boring and I previously worked with the manager. This is also a mid-career position so I’d be more ok staying there awhile.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I am happy to see Alison recommends going to the interview if you are actually considering it.

      I do have a tidbit to think about. I had taken jobs where I did 2-3 years here and there. I was not impressed with me. I decided that if I moved again, part of the decision to accept a particular job was mustering the determination to succeed no matter what. So where does that determination come from? Well, there should be something about the job that is of good value to you. In my case, it was an improvement in pay, the hours coincided with my husband’s and I decided to set personal financial goals. My suggestion is to have several well thought out reasons for the move, one is not enough. Know your reasons well, like with the personal financial goals that helped keep me on track when the other reasons did not. Overall, the bosses at that job said I did a super job and I stayed quite a while.

      If you decide to stay put, it’s not the end of the world. Decide that there are advantages to having the job situation stabilized for the moment. Decide to roll up your sleeves and know your job better than anyone in the place. Finding personal goals can be very helpful in balancing a tedious job with tiny or seemingly unimportant goals also. It’s this type of thinking that helped me settle into a job and stay.

  16. Katie the Fed*

    Just a general gripe:

    I’m a woman who sits next to the alcove with a few printers, fax machine, scanner, etc. that serve a large area (including people I don’t know). But everyone knows where admin support it. It’s not me.

    So at least 3 times a week I get interrupted in the middle of whatever I’m working on by people who want me to explain to them how to use the scanner or fax, or have a problem with the printer. Again, I’m not a support person – I have my own job and just happen to sit next to the machines.

    This morning, someone interrupted me while I was working on something to ask me to print a test page on the printer. My guess is he was too lazy to walk back to his own desk. I told him I was doing something else and asked if he could use his own computer.

    I’ve taken the approach of being fairly unhelpful or deliberately clueless, unless they’re super nice or I’m just feeling extra helpful. So if someone tells me the printer is out of toner I might say “ok? you should probably let the admins know.” Or if they ask me how to use the fax I say “sorry, I don’t have anything to do with those machines.”

    I wonder if I should be more helpful, but I also feel like it encourages people to be lazy and not go through the proper channels to solve their own problems. Meh.

    1. Graciosa*

      I wouldn’t be more helpful.

      You need to be polite – which you are – but you don’t need to enable this kind of laziness / stupidity.

      Nor do you need to encourage the idea that knowledge of office equipment was included with the ovaries.

    2. LizB*

      Ugh, that’s annoying. I think unhelpful/clueless is a fine approach — you have things to do! Can you get the admins to type up some nice cheat sheets of how to scan/fax/other typical tasks, plus a sign saying “please visit the admin desk with questions/if supplies are low”, and post them by the printer? It wouldn’t stop all the interruptions, but you could easily refer people to the sign without using too much brain power.

    3. Sadsack*

      I would do what you are doing. One more thing that might minimize the number of interruptions would be to ask the admin to post a sign at the machines addressing FAQ and also stating which admin to contact if help is needed.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        Yes. We don’t have this exact problem where I work (because the people who sit closest to the machines are the admins who oversee them as part of their duties), but after some recent issues with the copy machine, it was helpful to have TPTB clarify that, yes, you should ask Jane if you’re not sure how to use the fax machine or unjam the copier. (I always felt awkward because I feared I’d be distracting them from more important work, even if they weren’t obviously engaged in a highly focused task.)

    4. T3k*

      I’d honestly stick to what you were doing (not helping, telling them to notify the admins, etc). You have your own job to do, as you said, and they need to get it in their heads you’re not the one to bug about the printers, especially the lazy ones.

    5. esra*

      I am in a similar position and even though it’s tough to me because I’m a Fixer Who Likes to Fix Things, I purposefully do not help people with the printer.

      Semi-related thing I wonder: Does being an executive make you forget how to load a paper tray, or did they just never learn? I am continually boggled that someone making ten times what I do can’t figure out the extremely straight forward printer instructions, or how to unwrap paper.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I think it’s a learned helplessness, and I think I’m doing my part by NOT helping them. I’m teaching them to fish. Because they’re not learning as long as they can get away with it (especially the older guys – they seem to to be the worst). Sorry, but I don’t possess magical secret knowledge on this stuff. You too can learn if you just make an effort.

        I like to help people in general too though – I’ll go out of my way to help tourists use the Metro, for example. But this stuff is just lazy.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Having experienced the same thing, my best guess is that some folks just haven’t had to do it in 10, 20, 30 years, and the machines have changed a lot since then and gotten more high-tech, so even if they could figure out how to load the paper, they’re intimidated by it and worried they’ll break something.

        1. animaniactoo*

          We had a printer that we were supposed to call IT to change the toner for. Because apparently some of the parts of the printer were easily breakable if you weren’t really careful in how you changed the toner.

          My suggested solution to that was getting another printer. Because it’s ridiculous to file a ticket with IT to change toner on a laser printer, which means that’s just a bad product, bad design, and the workaround should not be making people have to wait for the printer to be back in service when it runs out of toner. One of the IT guys said “That’s what I said!” They still waited a full 2 years before they replaced the printer.

          Not sure what my point here is other than that they may have good cause to fear breaking something.

          1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

            Then they still need to consult the person whose actual job it is to address the issue and not some random conveniently located female. The admins know how to handle it; Katie the Fed is just as likely to break it as the next not-a-secretary.

      3. T3k*

        I know someone who’s head boss (not their direct boss, but like the head of the whole department) is like this. If the printer is out of paper, he’ll go bug the nearest person to fill it, but what he does is follow them back to the printer, watch them unwrap the paper and put it into the printer. Every. Time. He won’t ever bother to do it himself; in fact, he’s been known to walk halfway across the building to find someone to do it if everyone in between is busy with other things (usually on the phone or in the middle of important conversations).

      4. The Rat-Catcher*

        I feel both this and weird about accepting praise for the most menial things. Like getting epic amounts of praise for being “smart” enough to “figure out” how to change the toner in the copier. The copier tells you how to do it! Step by step! It’s not super secret admin powers!

        1. So Very Anonymous*

          I actually internally sideeye that kind of praise because it often seems like a justification for the other person NOT to learn how to change the toner: oh, it’s so HARD! You’re such a GENIUS! I could never be like YOU! …. And then they don’t have to. It’s a kind of learned helplessness.

    6. AnotherAlison*

      Ugh, so annoying. I’d keep doing what you’re doing. In my view, it’s the right thing to do. If it doesn’t exist, you may put a big sign on the printer that says “Contact Dave at x1234 for printer support.”

      I sit next to two of our department administrative assistants. So, if both of them are away from their desk, I get asked their questions. Someone recently asked me if I had any paper clips. I gave the guy a few paper clips, but meanwhile I’m thinking, “You know the supply room is two floors down, right? They have paper clips. You can have your own box! At your desk!”

      1. Jules the First*

        I’ve actually started saying this “Sure, Dave, you can have a few of my paperclips. But did you know that if you go to the supply room on the fourth floor, they’ll give you a whole box? For free!” while looking wide eyed and innocent.

        Hmmm. Maybe my friend in legal is right and I am evil….

    7. Ama*

      I think you are doing just the right thing in not giving them the answer if it isn’t your job. It *has* been my job in the past and I know how quickly those “quick” questions can start adding up to the bulk of your day.

      Maybe the people who *are* supposed to answer those questions could put up a sign by the machine saying “for questions about these machines, see Jane”? When it was my job my desk wasn’t even on the same floor as our main printer/copier/fax but it was very close to my boss’s office — so we put up the sign to remind people they should come down to get my help first instead of bugging my boss every time the copier jammed.

    8. Anononon*

      I think those responses are perfectly fine, maybe just combine them into one go-to phrase. I just think the key is to say it super pleasantly and like you are trying to cheerfully help them out with who to talk to.

    9. SophieChotek*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t be more helpful.

      It’s not your job and the more helpful you are, the more people will expect you to help out.

      I am sure it’s frustrating for the person there, thinking “well Person X is right here, why can’t they help me?” but honestly, if it is a lot of disruptions and these are things they should know how to do or there is a dedicated person whose job it is to help with these issues (then maybe their desk should be moved.)

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      I think because you’re a woman, you definitely should keep doing what you’re doing and not be overly helpful. There is way too much sexism of that kind in the workplace (“Oh, a woman? She must help with emotional labor in the office and any kind of assisting—whether it’s little procedures or fetching coffee”) still, so no need to reinforce that. It’s not your job.

    11. NJ Anon*

      Keep doing what you are doing! I used to sit next to the only color printer in the organization. Constantly got asked about it. My standard answer was “sorry, don’t know, never use it.: which was true.

    12. LCL*

      Keep doing what you are doing. Sometimes I find myself in the same situation, expected to help because I am on the same floor. Sometimes I will say sure, and subject the asker to a long technical explanation and the history of the purchase of that particular model. They never ask twice…

    13. Pwyll*

      So annoying. I hate gendering things, but I so feel like this happens to women more often. When I was early in my career I was an admin in charge of and near the printers, but a female Manager was just ever so slightly closer. Every. Single. Day. people would interrupt her (and she was in an office, with the door closed!) to ask her how to use the printer. I tried to play interference to redirect people to me, I put a sign up next to the Printer and my desk “Ask me about the printer!” yet it seemed nothing I could do could stop people from going to the Advertising Manager about the printer jam.

      I think you’re absolutely right to be politely unhelpful.

    14. Persphone Mulberry*

      Absolutely, positively do not be more helpful.

      I was in a similar position at my last job, with the added bonus of those support tasks originally being my job and getting taken off my plate so I could focus on higher level work. The only way I was able to retrain the entire office was by consistently, politely refusing to help and redirecting them to the correct person.

    15. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      I’ve been in this situation before too and I tell people to go to Admin or IT, whoever owns the problem.

      1. Friday Brain All Week Long*

        Also, when I sat next to the printer and I heard it jam, that was a good time for me to take a bathroom break before the Person Who Now Needed Help showed up.

    16. BRR*

      I don’t know what your job is but I’m pretty sure no aspect of it includes helping people use the printer. You absolutely don’t need to be more helpful. I might approach it from a funny angle and say or make a sign about all problems should be solved office space style.

    17. Artemesia*

      You really really need to get your workstation moved. As long as you sit there, this is going to be your life. Put up a sign and you are that prickly person. Refuse to help and you are that ‘b(*&’ who won’t even lift a finger to help. There is no way you get left along sitting there surrounded by cranky machinery. A sign that says ‘if you have difficulties with the equipment please contact Corinne who provides support for these stations’ will help a little and you can refer to it. ‘I really don’t know (I really can’t interrupt this to do that) but Corinne should be able to help’

      Of course every time you say this you have been interrupted. You need to find another possible work station and then press strongly to be moved there because interruptions are hurting your productivity.

      And if you are at all helpful this will become your job.

      1. Amy S*

        I agree completely. The only true solution is to have your workstation moved. I like the idea of a sign, but I feel this will only work for staff members who are observant and/or conscientious. Unfortunately not everyone falls under those categories.

      2. nonegiven*

        Put up a sign and don’t answer any general questions from that vicinity unless they actually come over and get your attention. Then be unhelpful.
        “Oh, did you say something? The printer? Sorry, I don’t know, ask the admins.”

    18. Rebecca in Dallas*

      No, do not be more helpful. This used to happen to me all the time when I sat near our copier/fax machine. I can guarantee you that if it was a guy sitting next to the copier/fax machine nobody would ask him for help as much as they asked me. IT actually posted the instruction manual (it was one of those big fold-out sheets) by the machine so anybody could read the instructions if they didn’t know how to do something.

      My coworker and I sit outside of our manager’s office and she (coworker) has taken it upon herself to be the keeper of our manager’s door. If someone stops by and our manager isn’t there, she’ll say, “Oh, she just went to the printer/to lunch, she should be back soon.” Or, “I think she’s in a meeting, I’ll check her Outlook calendar for you.” UGH, you are not her admin and you shouldn’t want people to treat you like one either!

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Also, am I the only one who is thinking of Mad Men when the (enormous, 1961 model) of copier was put in Peggy’s office?

    19. OOF*

      I think you’re handling this perfectly! Please please do not start helping people who have other resources and/or are perfectly capable of handling this themselves. I think your current technique is the exact thing that keeps your role clear, and I for one applaud it!

    20. Yachtie*

      Can you put up a sign that instructs people where to go for help with these machines?

    21. Jules the First*

      I sometimes go for ‘gosh, I can never figure that out either. I wonder who else you could ask?’

      Or, if you don’t mind being the office weirdo, ‘Oh, I never touch the copier when mercury is in retrograde.’

    22. Ultraviolet*

      So frustrating! 3 times a week is a lot too, man.

      I think “I don’t have anything to do with those machines” is the best response. For the people who are super nice or who might be new, I could go for “The admins can help you with that.”

      I also think some signs and instructions would be useful. The area with our copier/scanner/fax has step-by-step instructions on the wall for doing the most common tasks and they’re really handy. And signs that say, “Requests for printer support should be made to so-and-so” might help.

      Is it possible to rearrange your workspace so that it’s harder for people at the printer to make eye contact with you?

  17. Daisy Dukes*

    Any advise for overcoming the “guilt” of leaving your job? I’m in a team of 3 people, including myself and my supervisor. My other coworker has told me he’s in final stages of interviewing with another company. If I’m the last one, I’ll feel so guilty leaving with no replacement.

    Any tips?

    1. Anxa*


      I’m in a constant state of fighting the the urge to wait for a better time to apply for a new job. I work one-on-one with students. It feels so wrong to leave in the middle of a semester, but the pay situation is just not sustainable.

    2. Dawn*

      Your company would fire you with zero hesitation if it’d help their bottom line or if it would align with the overall goals for the company as a whole.

      You should quit with zero hesitation if it helps your personal bottom line (mental or monetary) or if it aligns with your overall goals for your career/life as a whole.

      It’s just business!

      1. Daisy Dukes*

        So true! Follow up: my boss will definitely spin this to either make me feel guilty, get mad at me, and/or say that I couldn’t handle the pressure.

        Besides holding my ground and staying professional, any phrases that help me get through that conversation?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Umbridge: “But you can’t leave me with no replacement! I / Arthur / Mafalda don’t know how to do your job!”

          You (neutral): “I understand. I’ve made procedural documents for everything I do, and they should walk you through it. I’ve put my client notes [or whatever] on the shared drive so everyone who needs to can access them. I’ll be giving two weeks notice, and I’m caught up as of now, so we can work on wrapping anything you need me to before I leave.”

          Umbridge: *whine whine whine complain arrgggbbbbbllle*

          You: “I understand. [Repeat as needed]”

          Umbridge: “Perhaps you can’t handle the pressure!”

          You (pleasant): “Hmm, I don’t think so. Is there anything else I can do to help ease the transition?”

          Or whatever–YMMV.

    3. T3k*

      I tell myself, at the end of the day, I have to look out for my best interests, because my boss sure wasn’t. I was the only designer where I was though, so I decided to give a longer than normal notice (4 weeks) for them to find someone new. Well, turns out I might as well have given the traditional 2 weeks because the boss didn’t even bother interviewing for someone until almost a week before my final day and then brought in someone for me to train in my last 2 days.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I know how you feel, but honestly… Businesses live on. Organizations live on. Schools live on. And if the business/org./school is structured in such a way that it would essentially collapse when one person leaves, then it deserves to collapse. That’s not your fault. And, remember—you’re probably leaving for a reason!

    5. SophieChotek*

      As others have said, they could fire you/replace you/downsize tomorrow.

      Part of the nature of employment is for managers, etc. learning to work with the unexpected.

      When you write “leaving your job” do you mean you are also interviewing/thinking of starting elsewhere, or theoretical query? Either way — no.

    6. Karo*

      I’m going through that now. Honestly, I’ve just kept reminding myself that I have to do what’s right for me. I have a great boss, but if it comes down to me or him I can’t sacrifice myself to make his life easier.

      Your boss will find someone to replace you. He may be in a tough spot for awhile, but he’ll rearrange priorities, get done what he can, and keep on keeping on. I mean, what would you do if they decide to not replace your colleague? Never look for another job? I’m guessing not.

    7. Mike C.*

      I found that cashing the larger paycheck from the new job and eventually buying a sports car helped a great deal.

      More seriously, I kept contact with a few folks I used to work with and let them know when new jobs were opening up. One guy actually made it and has been happy ever since.

    8. Artemesia*

      Any time you feel guilty remind yourself that if it were in the companies interests to do so they would fire you in a heartbeat even if you had a new baby, had just signed a mortgage, had just turned down another job offer out of loyalty. The only employer to consider being ‘loyal’ to is one that actually has gone to the matt for you. e.g. my father early in his career had a serious allergic reaction to penicillin that nearly killed him; he was in the hospital for 6 weeks and out of work for 3 mos. His employer carried him and paid him for this entire period although he was still fairly junior (he had worked there about 3 or 4 years) He remained extremely loyal to this company for his lifetime. If a small company gave you a long paid maternity leave or some such then being extra concerned about them makes sense — but even then you need to do what is best for you — just you give transition a bit more thought if they did something extraordinary.

    9. Jodi*

      It’s the nature of the game. This is how people have resumes – you move on to bigger and better things.

    10. HelenaV*

      Yep. There right now. Applying for internal positions for advancement, but I LOVE my current role, my colleagues are fantastic, and we are very overstretched. My manager is so lovely and so supportive with all my applications, which almost makes it worse. :(

      I keep telling myself that it’s a natural ‘circle of life’- I’ll be documenting processes for everything I do routinely and leaving detailed plans for any half finished projects. It’s made a bit easier by the fact that I’m mentoring someone who has a real aptitude for the role and a drive to do it well- it feels right that I’d be handing it over to her so she can develop herself to where I am now. As a bonus, she’s a temp and this might get her into a permanent job, which is a nice plus. (And the role I’m applying for might help my team from a different angle anyway.)

    11. Joanna*

      Remind yourself that now our society is one in which people no longer usually work for the same company their entire career, people changing jobs occasionally is a necessity and something good employers know how to deal with. As long as you leave your work in order, properly clean out your office and work the appropriate notice period, there is nothing to feel guilty about.

  18. Michelle*

    I recently left a horrible company that had wonderful people. As a top executive, I had arranged two years ago for there to be annual reviews with wage increases guaranteed for all employees. I’ve just learned that this is not happening this year, and there has not been any official announcement changing or postponing the review date. (When the person who told me this asked HR, they said they wanted to develop a new program, but clearly weren’t actively working on it.) Is this legal? Once the date new pay is set to begin and doesn’t, do the workers have any rights? If do, what should they do? Thanks!

    1. RG*

      I’d say it’s legal, unless there is something in writing, signed by a company representative and the particular employee involved, starting that the said employee will receive a salary increase on a particular day. IANAL though.

    2. Ell like L*

      As long as they aren’t changing pay retroactively, or breaking a legal contract (a policy =/= a contract either) then they’re totally within their rights to freeze or end annual wage increases. It’s ridiculous that they aren’t actively speaking to employees about it, but you don’t have any rights to hold them to an old policy.

    3. BRR*

      As long as there is no contract you can change pay going forward. But if all employees knew they were going to get a raise then it was taken away it’s going to absolutely kill morale.

  19. Sera*

    Question about people’s experiences with the school-to-career experience: are you doing what you always wanted to (whether since childhood or during school) or did it take a few detours to get there?

    1. Blue Anne*

      I’m doing something totally different. When I was in high school I thought I would be a stage manager, and I was definitely on track to do that – stage managed every production our school and the middle school put on, had a great internship with a prestigious professional company, lots of theater-focused classes.

      Then I ran away to Scotland for college, studied Philosophy and worked with kids a lot, and figured I’d be a Religious Ed teacher. Got myself on good track for that too, teaching placements, running a girl guide unit, all that kind of stuff.

      Now I work in business/accounting. My family is mystified, but I love it. I wish I’d found it earlier, but I was always told I was bad at math (no, I scored highly, just not as astronomically well as in English) and my mother discouraged me from studying business. I come from an Ivory Tower, social sciences and humanities family, and I think they’re very snobbish about dealing with money and things. Like Victorian aristocrats looking down on merchants. Drives me nuts

      1. Tau*

        My family is mystified, but I love it. I wish I’d found it earlier, but I was always told I was bad at math (no, I scored highly, just not as astronomically well as in English) and my mother discouraged me from studying business.

        It’s funny how that sort of thing works, isn’t it? I looked at some of my old report cards from high school not so long ago and was pretty surprised to notice that my highest marks were generally in the languages and my STEM marks were usually good but not, well, astronomically so. You’d think I’d have ended up doing language things…

        …but I come from a STEM academic family and so it was always clear that I was Good At Maths And Science, slightly less good marks were just flukes/me not putting the work in/me having a mental block about something and not in any way indicative of my overall ability. Being good at languages was considered more of a random ability I had than actually important, and so although I contemplated studying philosophy or German literature (and suspect in retrospect I would have most enjoyed doing linguistics), I did maths. Also via running off to Scotland, as it happens. :) Anyway, looking back it’s so easy to see how I could have done something else if my surroundings had been slightly less STEM-focused!

        …and I have to say, the Ivory Tower snobbish-about-dealing-with-money thing sounds familiar…

      2. Sera*

        Your ‘Ivory Tower’ sentence intrigues me. What kind of jobs do people from those sort of backgrounds consider prestigious enough?

        (I’m thinking back to Downton Abbey, where they seemed to scoff at people who work but I never really figured out what they did for a living…)

    2. Dawn*


      Short answer: no

      Long answer: it took me forever to figure out what I was good at. I chose my college major (web design) because it was my then boyfriend’s major and it didn’t seem like it’d be too hard to do. The program at my college was horrible and I didn’t get a very good education out of it (my fault and the school’s fault).

      I absolutely and completely fell into my career (business analyst) and I will tell anyone that. I think I’m a better business analyst because I’ve had so many different jobs and seen so many good and bad decisions made by companies- and I can also empathize with employees on a deeper level because I HAVE BEEN THERE. Right now I sit one office away from my company’s call center in my own office with a nice cushy salary and highly respected with company management and I try not to forget for even ONE second that it wasn’t too long ago that I would have been in the other room making $10 an hour with no benefits employed by a temp company.

      1. Miaw*

        Would you mind telling me how you had managed to got into your business analyst career? I also have a BFA (in Digital Animation) and I have been trying to break into the business field. It has been tough because I do not have a business degree.

        1. Dawn*

          I was lucky in that I was originally hired at my last company to be head of customer support for a new product they were making, and then when my temp-to-hire date came up they said hey, we’re moving this position over to IT, you can either go over there and work in this position or stay in this silo and work as a Research Analyst. I decided I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into customer support so I took the RA position. The RA position was way more like BA by the end, so that helped a lot, and I landed a BA position at the company I’m at now.

          From my research, the traditional “Big 4” consulting firms want fresh MFA’s so they can work them half to death and mold them into whatever they want them to be, so if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea don’t go that route. At its absolute core, being a Business Analyst is about solving problems, so if you’re good at problem-solving as a whole and good at talking to people those are a great start for being a BA. I bought the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge guide and read the whole thing then went back over my resume and put my job duties into “BA” language. Once I did that I definitely realized how much my Research Analyst position was more of a BA position, job-duty wise.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not doing anything remotely related to what I always wanted to do. And my job now didn’t exist when I was a kid! I had one career in mind when I was in school and got all the relevant degrees. I had romanticized ideas of what that job would be like. I did that job for a while. Then I quit. I meandered a bit, and now I’m doing something I’m good at and enjoy that is not the least bit romanticizeable.

    4. Tau*

      One detour in my case: I’m doing my plan B, which I came up with during uni as I thought it’d be a good idea to have a backup in case plan A didn’t work out. Plan A was plan A from the time I was a teenager (in fact, if you include variations, since I was old enough to really know what a career was) up until a few years ago, but I realised then that I would be deeply miserable in that job and reconsidered. Thankfully, plan B is working out pretty great so far!

    5. Tired Worker*

      Oh God. See my post above for the downside, but yes, I’m doing what I planned to do since 9th grade. During childhood, I wanted to be a cartoonist, so I’m not doing that, but to me it still somewhat unbelievable that I’m actually living the plan 20 years after high school.

    6. Coffee and Mountains*

      Yes/No/Kind of?
      I wanted to be a meterologist forever. Then I heard, “physics and calculus” and decided I wanted no part of that, even before I knew what they were. I went ivory tower for undergrad, and it never occurred to me that people were asking me what I was going to do with my degree for a reason “teach? go to law school?”. I’m in the first generation of my family that went to college, so they didn’t really know how to prepare me (let’s face it, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway).
      I floundered for a year or so and decided to go into a field that required a Masters’ degree with a specific focus. While at graduate school I found that I loved the general profession as a whole, which was good because it made it easier to find a job when I graduated. All through college and afterwards, I ended up in supervisory roles, just by luck at first (got promoted) and then because I had experience. When I got my Master’s, this ended up getting me a job as a manager in my degree field, but not necessarily in the area where I wanted to end up. I struggled a lot with being a manager, but thanks to this website, I’ve learned so much and worked hard to be a good manager. I went through a time when I really didn’t want to do it anymore, and I was in therapy, and my therapist said to me, “you are a natural leader. I can see that. Why don’t you stop fighting it, because whether you do or not, you’re still going to end up doing it. Might as well be the best one and come to terms with it.” So, I am a manager, even more so than my original intended profession. But I do work in that field.
      Soon, I will be C-level in my field, and I’m heading to the area of work I always wanted to be in. It’s all fallen together in a weird way, although definitely not in the way I anticipated. I think your career path is always a mix of what you want to do, what you think you want to do, and what you’re really really good at and can do. The people that head straight in to what exactly they thought they would be doing are rare, but that’s ok.

    7. Dynamic Beige*

      Yes and no.

      In high school, I worked on the yearbook, did photo club, made posters for upcoming events. I decided that I would like to do something that involved photos, typography and layouts… which I thought meant working on magazines. Because the commercial internet — hell, computers — hadn’t really taken over yet.

      So I went to college, got my Communication & Design and then wound up doing slides for a living. It does deal with photos, typography and layouts, just not in any way I had ever considered before or even knew was available. It’s a career I fell into but I’m still doing it 20 years later, so it’s stuck in some way. It’s all I’ve ever done, so I don’t even know about changing careers, I think the only thing I’d be qualified to do is teach what I know. Or consulting on what I know.

    8. Muriel Heslop*

      Well, since I am not writing my acceptance speech for the upcoming Tonys…no, I’m not.

      Really, I always wanted to be a spy. I like people, problem-solving, figuring out why people do what they do, operating with relative autonomy. Instead, I’ve spent my career teaching and working with teenagers. Lots of intrigue (of a different sort) and a lot of the same skills. I probably would have really hated the bureaucracy of spying like I hate it in education.

    9. SophieChotek*

      No. I am not doing what I always wanted to do.

      I got my degrees in what I always wanted to do but could not get a job in my field.

      Still waiting for detours to take to a place where I won’t feel so dissatisfied and depressed about my employment situation.

    10. TheCatsFault*

      Mostly yes, although “what I want to do professionally” has changed a little as I learn more and more.

      I first learned C++ at 16 and decided from there that I wanted to be a computer programmer. That’s so open ended, right? There are so many ways to be “a computer programmer.” I took my best crack at it and got a quickie AB at a vo-tech school where the coursework was heavy with hands-on programming/software/systems work. Got my first full time programming job by the time I was 20, and have been in some sort of development position ever since. Several years into my career, I learned that I like fooling around with data and databases a lot more than writing application code. So I shifted my track a bit to specialize in business intelligence/data architecture.

      I’m happy with all of it. I get paid to be a nerd and for the most part, not talk to people all day long. Achievement unlocked.

    11. RG*

      I’ve heard that while you don’t necessarily end up in the job you wanted, if you like your current job/career it’ll be for the same reasons. Like many other girls, I wanted to be a marine biologist. While I’m not doing that, the aspects of complex problem solving and active learning show up prominently in my current job, as a software developer. The ability to sink my teeth into a good problem is something I’ve always wanted in a career, even subconsciously.

    12. animaniactoo*

      Not even close. Although there is some thought that someday I’ll transfer back or something. Many people think I’d be good at my original career goal. But I was not a dedicated student at the time, and bumped and bruised my way into my current pretty decent career.

      For clarification, my original goal (started college for it and all) was Secondary Ed Math teacher. Instead I ended up proofreader/typesetter > layout tech/photo retoucher > computer artist > children’s furniture designer.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Children’s furniture designer sounds so interesting. Please talk about this some time if you can – I love hearing about jobs that are off the beaten path.

    13. LizB*

      Pretty much, yeah! I mean, I guess I didn’t know when I was a kid that my particular position existed — I was very sheltered, and nobody I knew well needed human services assistance (or if they did, they didn’t talk about it). I was thrilled to discover this field in college, and it combines all the elements I’ve always wanted in a position: help people, work with kids/teens, give advice, even use some of my writing skills.

      Of course, I’m only a few years out of college, so maybe in the future I’ll switch fields and discover what I REALLY wanted to do all along. But I’m pretty happy where I am. :)

    14. Skippy*

      I always tell anyone who asks I fell into my job (investment management) by accident, and it’s not really what I want to be doing. I like it well enough and I can do it OK: it’s not my passion but the money is good, I like my company and love my coworkers so I can stick it for as long as I need to.

      I have a BSc in Zoology & Geography but because life is weird and I made a series of shocking decisions I ended up working various part-time jobs (teaching assistant, farm worker, cleaning, bartending/waitress) for a while straight out of university. Once circumstances dictated I had to get a full-time job I had to take the first thing going, which happened to be a call-centre job. From there I went into the admin side of things, then when it became apparent my then-employer was about to be losing contracts and making a lot of lay-offs (I worked in the purchasing office, and when you’re down to one supplier who’ll work with you as the rest are owed too much money to keep supplying you know things are bad) I took my tale of woe to my boyfriend. He mentioned an admin job at his company (but in a different office) which I applied for and got. I was bored to tears but the money was good for what it was and the company was not about to go under. I essentially irritated people until they gave me more interesting things to do and let me take professional exams, and with full credit to the current head of my office, who has supported me throughout, and a fair bit of luck I am now a fully-qualified investment manager having started out typing the letters, ordering the supplies and opening the post.

      In an ideal world I’d be on a sub-Antarctic island studying seabirds, or poking about in a stream looking at invertebrates, or something equally solitary and biological but life is, as mentioned, weird and this job is something I seem to be good at despite my expectations. Once the child is no longer requiring funding (ha!) and I have enough saved up to keep body and soul together I’ll be off and doing what I really want to do, but don’t tell my current employer that :)

    15. Elizabeth West*


      I’m doing it (writing) but outside a day job. Over time, I’ve worked up to a slightly better day job, but I’m still a drone by day / creator of worlds by night.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Yeah, same here. I’m paid for writing…but not much!

        I also have a second side gig doing the thing I thought I wanted to do in my mid-20s. My main job is one I never even knew existed until I fell into it.

    16. Ama*

      Heh, I was just joking to my boyfriend the other day that I have two English degrees and I spend all my time reading hard science papers and dealing with issues in medical research, where my brother has a Computer Science degree and just got a job writing and/editing a website (and he really moved around; he worked for a software development company, then was in the military for several years).

      Now technically I am using my degrees (I do a lot of writing in this job), and the website my brother works for is focused on a sport he’s been involved in since elementary school, but at the same time it does feel a bit like we’ve swapped career tracks. But to a large extent both of us have jobs that we didn’t realize were options when we started college.

    17. justsomeone*

      Not really? I’m neither President nor on track to be. I’m also not a journalist. I went to school for Journalism, but quickly realized that I did not like many aspects of it. Especially the lack of money in traditional journalism. So I went down a PR/Marketing track. Still not sure it’s what I want. Looking at some related tracks that might make more sense. I’ll also never be President because I realized I hate our political system.

      1. CherryScary*

        Are you me? Thought I would minor in PolySci and be a politics reporter. HA. Then I moved into marketing, and now I’m thinking of looking into data analytics. And like some of the above posters, I always thought I was much better at English than science and math (Though I took advanced tracks in both in high school, I had to fight a lot more to get B’s in STEM subjects).

    18. Clever Name*

      Let’s see, my earliest career aspirations were judge or bullfighter. I’m doing neither of those. In high school, I thought I’d be a park ranger or something like that and live in a cabin. Not doing that either.

      I’ve always loved nature and the outdoors, so I majored in biology. Got a MS in a related field, and worked in that area for a few years. I’m currently in consulting and I do a combination of biology-related stuff and the related field I got my MS in. So while I do feel that my job aligns with what I loved as a kid, I certainly didn’t think, “I want to be in consulting!”.

    19. Former Retail Manager*

      I am personally doing what I went to school for which is what I wanted to do once I chose a major and saw it through. I will say that I finished my degree in my late 20’s and I took a few years off, and just worked full time during that time, to figure out what I really wanted to do (and what had a good long-term career outlook) before pursuing a degree.

      However, if that is not your case, I wouldn’t be too stressed. It really depends upon what your major is. Many people end up with degrees in areas that they realize they don’t like or aren’t well suited for. If you can use the skills you learned and parlay them into something you enjoy, are good at, and enables you to support yourself, that’s great. As they say, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Things rarely work out as you plan or hope. Do your due diligence and accept the best opportunities that come your way. Good luck!

    20. Jules the First*

      Well, that’s a tough one, because as a kid I never had a particular career in mind. When people asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I said ‘get paid to learn new things’ which in most peoples’ minds translated to ‘teacher’ or some kind of STEM research.

      There have been no detours, and I absolutely have a job where I get paid to learn new things, but it’s not a job title I set out to have – in fact, I had no idea what the job title was until I’d been doing it for a few years (my first employer didn’t believe in job titles, so no one had one).

    21. Al Lo*

      Sort of. I got my undergrad in theatre, and while I didn’t ever dream of being an actor, necessarily, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with it. At some point during college, I realized that I loved producing theatre, and eventually I got my MFA in Producing and have basically been working in that field my whole career.

      However, I’ve had periods where I’ve been temping or working at Starbucks while working small contract gigs; I haven’t always worked in the kind of performing arts that I’m most passionate about; and I haven’t started my own theatre company (which was forefront in my mind during college). The goals and dreams have shifted and changed, but yes, overall, I’ve been working pretty consistently in my chosen field for my whole professional life in some form or another.

      Currently, everything I earn (with the exception of stuff like the occasional pet-sitting gig or what have you) is in the creative industries. For me, that’s always been my greatest marker of success: Can my household (because my husband also works in the arts) earn enough to have a comfortable lifestyle solely in the arts? It’s a tough field, and there are a lot of people who work elsewhere to supplement, which is awesome, but my goal is always to make it by being in this field.

    22. Oryx*

      Sort of — I am writing, but it’s mostly a side job on top of my normal 9-5. I actually DID do that job I wanted since college but got burned out on it after about ten years and switched to something related but with way less customer service.

    23. Lindsay J*

      So many detours.

      When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a vet, but when I got older I realized I would have to put animals to sleep, deal with abuse cases, situations where the owners couldn’t or wouldn’t give the care needed.

      When I was in high school I wanted to be music teacher. I was a band nerd and loved it. And also, I’ve always just kind of been a contrary person in general and music was one of the few things I wasn’t naturally good which made me more determined to succeed. I switched majors after a confluence of things happened, including failing piano 3 once and piano 4 twice, working with a high school band and realizing that I didn’t really have the skills needed to teach the kids and that further I was kind of dreading going there every week.

      So I switched my major to speech pathology and audiology. That time period was when depression really hit me for the first time, and I failed several semesters of school. I ultimately graduated, but I knew I wouldn’t have the grades or – more importantly – the professor recommendations to go to grad school. And I just didn’t really enjoy it; I don’t really have a nurturing or warm personality type at all, I didn’t really feel intellectually challenged, and I felt like speech pathology required social skills (both to teach children the appropriate social skills, and also to build and maintain a client base) that I didn’t really have.

      I kind of fell into the amusement park industry; there’s a big amusement park in my home town and that’s pretty much everyone’s first job. And I stayed after that and was promoted to senior supervisor for my department over time. I enjoyed it and loved the people I worked with, but ultimately the seasonal nature of the job and the low pay became a problem. I also worked in an old time photo studio which I consider to be the same field and was also a lot of fun, but most of our pay was based on sales incentives and I’m not a good sales person so that wasn’t really sustainable.

      Now I work for airlines. My first job was basically as a stock clerk – maintaining an accurate inventory, making sure parts went where they needed to go. Now I work with paperwork, basically ensuring that the aircraft logbook and all the paperwork has been filled out, entered into the computer, and retained in a way that will satisfy the FAA if/when they come looking for something. I like working for airlines – the benefits are cool, there are a lot of areas to move around to, the atmosphere is nice and relaxed, I don’t have to talk to very many people in a day, etc. I’m hoping to eventually move into more of an analytical or planning role. However, if 10 years ago you had given me 100 guesses as to what I would be doing now this wouldn’t have made the list.

    24. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Not even a little bit. I had dozens of varied career aspirations as a youth (where youth = ages 4-25), but none of them was teaching. I had tons of friends in high school who wanted to (and eventually did) become teachers, and I was like, ugh, no thank you. Then I graduated from college with zero interest in any of the obvious career paths my degree offered, joined the Peace Corps, and discovered that I love teaching kids to read and speak and write in English. And now that’s what I do, and it’s great!

    25. The Rat-Catcher*

      B.S. in chemistry currently employed as an admin here!

      I don’t love being an admin. I get bored to tears (although my workload has picked up a bit since I’m having to do all my maternity-leave work in advance, so that’s helping). But it’s an 8-5 with good benefits and flexibility to be there for my kid (or kids, as they are soon to be). It’s good enough for now, in other words. I try not to think so much about Where My Career is Going because it just makes me sad. I instead try to enjoy the fact that my job doesn’t interfere with other important/enjoyable aspects of my life.

      Still hope to be a chemist someday though.

    26. CobraRon*

      Yes, mostly. In junior high I got to do some programming at school, decided that was what I wanted to do. Got a BS in Computer Science, now with about 30 years of programming. However, I had thought I’d do business application development, but ended up in embedded programming (mostly telecommunications).

      Working on getting into Career 2.0 now, in real estate.

    27. Aardvark*

      Nope! I thought I’d be a scientist or a teacher. I have a degree in each but I work in IT.
      In retrospect, I always wanted to work with computers and technical skills have always come kind of naturally to me, but for some reason I internalized that girls weren’t good at tech and didn’t pursue it until much later. (Maybe because when I went to school, all the CS programs were highly impacted and only superstars could get in?) However, everything I’ve done before this job is helpful in a kind of sideways way–a science degree (even in a useless corner of STEM) means I’ve spent a lot of time thinking analytically. Having an MA, even in an unrelated field, means I have experience evaluating data, critically thinking about/applying research, and conducting my own (very limited) studies. I don’t really think of them as detours since I use a lot of the underlying skills regularly.

      1. Anxa*

        I a starting to wonder if I’d be any good at CS or other tech fields. I always assumed I wasn’t cut out for it be I wasn’t ‘into computers’. I couldn’t imagine toying aroun w something so expensive, and the real computer classes in high school were mostly built around students who were already experienced with it.

        I wish they had classes between computer applications (office) and the advanced, almost independent study type classes.

    28. Shark Lady*

      No, I’ve taken a roundabout way to get where I am. As a child I really really REALLY wanted to be an ER doctor (and my family is full of dentists, biologists, a chemist and a pharmacist, so of course they encouraged that). Then in high school I embraced my love and talent for music and decided that since I liked music and helping people learn things that I was going to go into music education.
      I completed my undergraduate degree in music ed, and got a job as an elementary general music teacher. That lasted for 2 years, until a combination of factors made me realize that classroom teaching was Not For Me. So I decided to go back to school for vocal performance and be an opera singer. That was great while I was working on my masters’, but I realized shortly after that freelancing and making my passion my career was a Very Bad Idea in my case. I hate freelancing and find it incredibly stressful, and noticed that I was starting to find singing a burden rather than a joy.
      But I had moved to a new area and needed a job, so I started temping. I was placed at a very large multinational bank. I liked the work and my coworkers, they loved me, and 13 weeks later I was hired on permanently. Thus ends the tale of how Shark Lady ended up in banking operations. I never thought I would like banking, but I find it incredibly interesting and mentally satisfying work, and I’m excited to see where my career goes from here. I still sing, but for personal satisfaction rather than pursuing it as a career.

    29. AnotherFed*

      Well, I’m not Indiana Jones or an astronaut, but absolutely no one who knew me as a kid is surprised by where I ended up. It was pretty clear from an early age that I was headed towards something STEM related, and while nobody would have guessed the particular flavour of engineering I ended up with (that I fell into by total chance when I took an internship in college), it’s pretty consistent: solve weird problems, figure out how things work, and do things nobody realized were possible.

    30. KW10*

      Yes to doing what I wanted to in school – but it’s definitely not what I dreamed I’d do as a kid! When I was little I wanted to be a teacher – I think because I liked school and admired (most of) my teachers. Then for a few years in middle school I was briefly convinced I would be Artist … luckily I soon realized I’m not really very good at art, lol. By college – ok maybe more like halfway through college – I got really interested in international development, especially in a specific region of the world. There was a detour of almost 5 years when I first graduated and only could find a job as basically an admin in a different field… but then I managed to switch into an intl devel job with the focus I wanted… Yay! Not that it’s prefect in all ways but overall I love it and it feels so good to be doing what I’m interested in.

    31. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      So many detours.

      Firstly I had no real idea what I wanted to do as a kid. I had creative interests but not enough talent or passion to pursue them as even a half-hearted career goal. And I was under a lot of pressure to be a doctor/lawyer/athlete like my extended family so I took those options off the table out of spite. Without any alternatives presented to me… I felt pretty lost and ended up going to college only to get out of the house.

      I’m good at most subjects in school, but I actually like work better. I also like tech… and it’s taken a long time to figure out what I like about tech, what realm I’m good at in that broad category and to worm my way into it. About 6 years and some real lucky breaks, truthfully.

    32. Christopher Tracy*

      I’m doing part of what I wanted to do. I wanted to write, sing, and act as a child. I’m a published author (six books out in total), beginning work on my next, and just stopped doing theater work a couple of years ago to focus on the book thing (I’ll go back on the audition grind shortly).

      However, I have a day job in risk management/insurance, and that is not a career move I saw coming at all. In fact, I didn’t even know risk management was a thing growing up. I wish I had because I would have gone to school with a risk management or insurance program instead of the school I went to where I majored in communications/journalism. I just find commercial risk management and insurance fascinating. There’s so much that goes into this stuff, and the little niche industries my company in particular serves are very cool.

    33. Silver*

      I have an Applied Science degree and was well on my way to Med School when I ran off to England for 2 years. Ended up taking some short courses in Assistant Directing for film that led me to working on some short films when I got back home. Then I moved to a major capital city in my country and worked my way up at a TV station. Long story short I’m now managing the planning dep for the distribution arm of a major motion picture studio in my country.

      I never would have seen myself here, as a kid I wanted to be a lawyer, or a doctor, or a journalist. But I love my job and I can’t believe I get paid to work with TV shows all day.

  20. Coffee and Mountains*

    I am leaving a job where I am fully vested in a pension. If the amount is under $15,000 I can get a lump sum. I have a Roth IRA, but if I understand correctly, I can’t roll the pension lump sum into it if it is over the maximum yearly contribution. Is there another way I can take the lump sum? I am mid-30s and the pension isn’t covered by PBGC, which is why I want out if I can — I’m not confident I’ll get any money in 30 years if I leave it.

    1. it happens*

      IANAL/A – you can roll the lump sum into a regular IRA to start. You can then choose each year whether you want to convert some of the regular IRA into a Roth, with its annual limits on both income and amount to deposit. Remember, you need to pay income tax on the money that you convert to a Roth. Find a low cost provider to open the account and handle the paperwork.
      (Background – Roth IRAs are funded from money that you’ve already recognized as income and paid tax on so the distributions in the future are not taxed, regular IRAs are funded with tax-deductible dollars so their future distributions are taxed as income.)

    2. enough*

      I don’t believe there are any limits on the amount of a roll over. But because of the tax consequences of taxed and not taxed contributions it usually is more prudent to roll a pension over to a traditional IRA and then convert monies to a Roth over time to avoid forcing yourself into a higher federal income bracket.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Although it has been a while, I rolled a sum larger than 15k to a traditional IRA with no problem.
        At that time it was large enough that the company would have kept it for me, but I wanted the money in something that was my own. The rollover was not necessary, but I did it anyway.

  21. Free Wheelie*

    I was recently hire as a researcher for a nonprofit. I have a Phd and all the other requisite technical skills. I am in a wheelchair. And now after a few weeks on the job, it appears that lots of the job and just being a good employee requires doing little things that I cannot do such as transporting loads of material to conferences, vacuming the kitchen, picking things up from the copy place on my way home, etc. These tasks have now been left up to lower level staff to pick up the slack, and they are starting to resent me. What do i do? I don’t want to seem like I’m not contributing or refuse to be a team player. I know working for a non-profit means you are short staffed, but because of my disability i just cannot perform manual labor tasks. My boss has been cool about it, but who knows if this will end up being a problem in the long run.

    1. Not Karen*

      working for a non-profit means you are short staffed

      Um, what? I’ve worked for two non-profits and neither of them have been short-staffed.

      A poorly run company is a poorly run company. Doesn’t matter what they do with their revenue.

        1. Nonprofit Anon*

          Yeah, it just totally depends. I’ve worked mostly at very small nonprofits (like under 5 staff total), and while I wouldn’t necessarily describe us as short-staffed, I would say that there is a culture of everyone pitching in to a variety of tasks, even if they don’t align with your job description.

          My last two gigs have been at larger, well-funded nonprofits. We’re not at all understaffed. Perhaps the opposite.

    2. TL -*

      They shouldn’t resent you for not doing things you can’t do!

      Are there other ways you can help out – maybe being the printer guru or offering to organize things that need to happen (ie, you can’t vacuum, but maybe you can put together a cleaning schedule and wipe off the counters daily or something like that?)

      Also, you have a PhD. So it’s fair to say that your time is more valuable and you shouldn’t be doing a lot of low-level stuff instead of planing out experiments/analyzing data, as well – the lower level staff shouldn’t have the bulk of their job be grunt work but they should probably be doing more of it.

    3. Victoria, Please*

      Wince. That’s a tough one. Could you maybe take on some of the emotional labor? I will tote boxes all day long but I haaaate arranging lunches and stuff, and would love you if you took that off my desk!

    4. lulu*

      Did anyone say anything directly to you? Because I can’t believe anyone would resent you for not being able to perform these tasks. And it must have been clearly apparent to whoever hired you that you wouldn’t be able to do it. You were hired for your technical skills, so relax and just focus on doing an awesome job as a researcher. If people actually give you a hard time, bring it up with your manager.

      On another note, I have worked for nonprofits before and was never expected to vacuum the kitchen. There’s something odd about the culture of your organization.

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      It really seems that lower level staff should be vacuuming the kitchen and running errands anyway, not the person with the PhD. Not because you’re better than them, but because you’re probably being paid more, and you time could be spent better on things that will provide more value. You know, the things they can’t do because they don’t have the education and technical skills.

      I’d certainly be pleasant to them, notice and thank them when they are doing a good job at anything they are doing. Find other ways to be a team player – and praising them to their bosses (when appropriate) is always appreciated.

    6. Kate the Little Teapot*

      So, this is an example of reasonable accommodation under the ADA – these tasks aren’t “essential” to your role. This is how it is supposed to work and you should not feel guilty. If you are busy at your job and doing as much actual work as other people, it is fine for you to not pitch in in this way. You also are an upper-level staff member and you are supposed to be doing less of this than lower-level folks anyway because your time is more expensive.

      Having said that, since you’re worried about not being a team player, are there other tasks you CAN perform to pick up some slack around the office?

      It sounds like part of the issue is theater here in that the tasks you perform at your computer aren’t very visible to people in the way manual labor is, so you need to actively verbally let the lower-level staff know both that you are doing additional tasks to pitch in and that you notice and appreciate when they do these tasks.

      Something like “hey, thank you for picking up the stuff from the copy place, I’ll take care of /that weekly data entry task you hate/” or “I’ll call in the order with the copy place so you just have to pick it up” or “Hey, thanks for transporting all this material to this conference, I’ll sit in the booth and talk to people so you can enjoy the sessions” or even “I see you vacuumed twice this week, I really appreciate that, your Friday lunch is on me” or volunteering to take notes at meetings and distribute them so these staff members don’t have to.

      It also might be possible to look into getting either a volunteer or someone who might benefit from flexible minimum wage work (perhaps you could give a formerly incarcerated person or a disabled person a first chance at work) to do some of these tasks, though. You could then take over the burden of managing that person.

    7. Terra*

      Yeah, stuff like this sucks because it’s clearly not your fault you can’t help with certain things but it also sucks that the lower level staff are getting stuck with the added tasks when they were probably already very busy and are likely not getting any additional pay or perks for picking up the slack. My advice would be to do anything you can do, even if it takes longer or is helping someone else do it or means looking for stuff that isn’t technically part of your job, it lets people know that you aren’t trying to make their lives more difficult by leaving everything to them. Also make sure to express your thanks to the people who are picking up the slack, and if you have any sway with upper management potentially tell them you’re willing to speak highly of them when it comes time for promotions/raises. Assuming that you make significantly more than the lower level staff and can afford it then it probably couldn’t hurt to occasionally throw money at the problem and offer to buy donuts or pizza for everyone as a treat/thank you/pick me up.

      Basically not only don’t be a jerk but go out of your way to let the people who are doing the things you feel you would be responsible for doing if you could know that you appreciate them and wish you could help more and you want to help make their lives suck less if you can. Being an underling at any job is not fun but having a nice person at a higher level can make it suck less.

    8. Katie the Fed*

      You need to tell your boss what’s going on – that you’re getting grief from staff who are picking up tasks that you are physically unable to do. Ask if you need to put in a formal reasonable accomodation request, but make it clear you expect that snarky behavior of the staff to stop immediately.

      1. OhNo*

        Fellow wheelchair user here, and this is exactly what you need to do. Even if they’re not making direct comments, you should still mention that you’re getting the impression that they resent you for not helping with these physical-labor type tasks. If you have a good boss, they should be willing to nip it in the bud before it festers.

        If you want to court their good will (which you shouldn’t need to do, but might want to, depending on your situation), you could also ask if there’s something you can take over for them in return – some small task that they usually have to do, like organizing something, ordering something, that sort of thing.

        Also, like the rest of the commenters said, your coworkers are jerks. I’ve been in a wheelchair my whole working life, and I’ve never encountered people that resent me for something I can’t do because of my disability. These people need a reality check in the worst way.

    9. BRR*

      Wait who was doing them before? I’m not sure how they’re showing their resentment but they’re kind of assholes for being resentful that you aren’t doing it. I would make sure to show appreciation for them doing these tasks and try to take on any shitty tasks that you can do.

    10. Anon Moose*

      Yeah, what everyone else said. However, nonprofits are weird and if this continues to bug you, maybe you could “contribute” in other ways? In my experience, if you volunteer to be the organizing point person on holiday parties, staff outings etc all may be forgiven.

    11. Clever Name*

      I just have to say that your coworkers are assholes. You are *in a wheelchair* and they’re all pissy because you can’t sweep the floor and carry heavy boxes? Maybe if your coworkers developed a little empathy and thought about what life is like for a person who faces so many barriers to something so basic- moving through the environment. I bet these same coworkers illegally park in handicap parking spots.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My guess would be this is transferring. They are transferring their anger with management over other things to anger with OP. In other words, they are not really angry with OP, but they are really angry with management. OP is just closer, more handy. It might be helpful to know this, OP, because if you can offer sympathy to some of their complaints, they may adjust their complaints about you.

        My suggestion is to go to your boss and explain you cannot do x, y and z, but you would like to do a bit more than what you are doing because you see people could use a hand. Hopefully you can develop some suggestions of things that are doable for you and offer those suggestions.

    12. Student*

      You have a PhD. You shouldn’t be the person best positioned to vacuum or act as a courier for transporting business supplies. If the prior person in your position did it, it was a poor use of resources. You are moving to a more normal state of business by unloading those responsibilities on people lower on the totem pole.

      It is possible they resent you for a number of reasons. However, I’d start by assuming good faith and trying to clear the air: “I’ve noticed you do X, which gives me the impression you’re unhappy because of these new duties. What’s going on?” Firmly insist these are their responsibility, and that you have the authority to delegate this to them (and/or get your boss to chime in, if needed for authority), but hear them out to see what’s specifically going wrong. Consider whether these new duties, on top of their prior duties, might be too much for the staff to handle. If they are over-committed, work with them to prioritize the important things, or ask your boss to do that if it is his responsibility.

  22. Hlyssande*

    I could use some advice or commiseration on something.

    My team has recently been reorganized into a more global one under a new VP and reporting chain. As part of this, we’ve been working on standardizing processes globally. The person who was set to lead the standardization team for the application I admin for left, so they put his coworker who is more abrasive and less experienced into that role. Which was annoying, but fine – we could deal with it as peers.

    However, the second phase of this reorg has hit and now that person is my functional supervisor. I am not okay with this, but it’s hard to articulate. The other person who is now under him is even more frustrated, because this is essentially a demotion for her – previously, she was leading a team and has a senior analyst role after 10 years doing it. I’m uncomfortable reporting to him as well. I’m not saying that because I know he’s younger and less experienced, but he definitely still has a mindset geared toward his specific world area as the bestestestest regarding processes and how things should go. I don’t feel like it’s going to go well.

    Locally I still report to the same supervisor I did before (though she’s now the manager above my functional supervisor) and I’ve clicked really well with her – she’s been fantastic in regards to my adventures in finding the right medications for depression etc, schedule flexibility, appointments, and all of that stuff. I definitely don’t click like that with him and I’m worried how things will turn out going forward.

    I know I need to work on my resume (and I did buy Alison’s book awhile ago!) and just get out, but it’s so hard. The benefits at this company are pretty amazing (I get dental?!!! Really good health insurance?!!). I’ve been told that they’re most likely going to just bump my salary to meet the new requirements. I don’t like what this company does (think big oil) and I definitely don’t fit all that well with the culture, but it’s such a comfortable rut to stay in.


    1. Crystal Vu*

      No advice, just commiseration. I got demoted last fall, put under someone who used to be my peer. Other aspects of my role have changed for the worse as well. I’ve been job hunting for the last four months, finally, so hopefully you will get the mental boost you need to do up your resume and start hunting. It can take a while for that necessary steam to build up and nudge you out of your comfortable rut, so I hear ya.

    2. Jules the First*

      While you look for something new, can you try and think of it not as a demotion but as being trusted to teach this guy how a good team is supposed to work? We all know how badly a project can go with a new manager in charge, and how much a good team can do to gently and subtly mentor-up to a new manager.

      This then frees you up emotionally to go to your supervisor and say from a place of calm professionalism ‘look, I’m really struggling with working under Wakeen and I could really use some advice on how to express my concerns about his process design.’ This then highlights to your awesome supervisor that there may be places where Wakeen needs coaching, and also lets her know that you may end up leaving if she does nothing about Wakeen…and judging by how accommodating she’s been, she may not be keen on letting that happen!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      “I don’t like what this company does (think big oil) and I definitely don’t fit all that well with the culture, but it’s such a comfortable rut to stay in.”

      All three of these are dandy stand-alone reasons to move on and you have three of them in one sentence. The problem with comfortable ruts is that they morph into hells on earth.

      Why not do a compromise? Decide that it’s comfy in the rut and that affords you the luxury of looking around for something that is actually better. Set a goal, a year? two years? Decide within that time frame you can pick a well chosen position to move to. Instead of leaving for the sake of leaving, leave for the opportunity to enrich your career and improve your worklife.

      Consider that the annoying person might be a symptom not the main problem.

  23. Blue Anne*

    I need some advice on how to approach unethical behavior at my new workplace.

    I’ve been working here about a month. It’s a “middleman” type business between manufacturers and restaurants, mostly; we buy the industrial tea machines from the manufacturers and sell (or lease, or rent) them to tea shops. There are only 12-15 employees, spread around the country, we’ve been in business for a few years, and there’s serious expansion on the horizon. Business is good. Record-keeping has been TERRIBLE, which is why they brought me on, and I’m really enjoying the challenge of sorting out all the messes and getting financial processes in place.

    But, business is good in part because the company is run by a husband-wife team who are both very savvy, cut-throat businesspeople. One is an incredible salesperson and the other a great strategist. Cool. But they take it to extremes that I find unethical, and this is sometimes affecting my work. For example, I referred an account to collections, and quickly received a call back from the client who was in a towering rage over the immediately threatening and condescending first call from the collections agent. He called her “sweetheart” and said he was going to send the police to collect her tea machine, within 3 minutes on the first call. Made me very uncomfortable – but my bosses laughed, said the collections guy is a personal friend and they love his methods.

    Another example; yesterday I get a call from a woman who’s been losing sleep all night because a sales guy told her he’d already charged her card when she changed her mind about a purchase and that it couldn’t be reversed. I couldn’t find any charge, and if it had been charged I would have been able to reverse it. I talked to the sales guy and he said it was a sales tactic he found distasteful but they were being pushed to use by Sales Boss.

    I don’t know what to do when this stuff comes up. I don’t think treating relationships this way is good for business, and furthermore, I’m sure some of it gets into shaky legal ground. I’ve already gotten some respect for wading straight in to sorting out big problems, but I’m still the new person and not really comfortable telling the bosses I disapprove of their practices. (Yet?) At the same time I’m not comfortable just letting it slide, and you know, I’m going to have to refer more people to that collections guy pretty soon.

    Argh. I don’t know what to do. How would you handle this?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I would quit. If that kind of behavior is endorsed by the top you can’t do anything.

    2. ElCee*

      I don’t have a ton of sympathy for the client referred to collections–I mean, the collection agent’s rudeness isn’t really your business and she was referred because (I assume) she hadn’t paid her bill.
      To my mind there’s crappy sales tactics/rudeness/poor behavior–which you might have a chance at changing if you bring up the fact that it generally pays better to not be an assh*le–and then there’s unethical behavior. I think your second example skirts closer to unethical behavior than the first.
      In any case, I don’t know much about sales other than that treating customers bad, especially in the Internet age, can come back to bite a company, and you might want to point that out to the bosspeople with concrete examples as you come across them. (The client who lost sleep might defect to a competitor as soon as one appears, etc.) If you do it in a constructive, “I was hired to help your bottom line”-sort of way, it might work.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        The collections stuff is illegal, is the problem. And even if someone didn’t pay a bill, they don’t deserve to be harassed and threatened.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Yeah, those are my two big concerns with the collections stuff. Like… there are other bits which I find questionable and I’m not going to post here because I’m 80% sure they’re illegal and I’m still researching.

          But even if I send someone to collections, there is NO reason to start with that tone. This isn’t the first time I’ve worked in collections or with collection agencies. A lot of the time when I hand someone over to collections it’s because they’re playing hard-to-contact and just need the fear of god put in them. You know how you can do that? You can do that with a scary, official letter from a collections agency saying that they will be starting legal proceedings. That’s all it takes in 90% of cases I send to collections. You absolutely don’t need to be yelling threats and insults at someone as soon as they pick up the phone.

          It bothers me because, you know, I do this work, and I do it well, and I pride myself on excellent customer service. Collections and customer service are not mutually exclusive.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think what you have said here is an EXCELLENT thing you might be able to say to your bosses at some point.

            Maybe you can get them to consider some written policies so that “WE stay within legal boundaries and normal practices”.

            The sales guy that said the charge could not be reversed is lucky he has never met me. At some point someone will raise a big stink involving the AG, BBB and who knows who else. Nothing wrong with pointing that out.

            I think I would start the convo by saying, “You hired me for x, y and z reasons. I need to tell you some things that might be hard to hear but please understand this is what you are paying me for to handle these tougher questions” then launch into your concerns.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I agree that the first is just not nice, but not necessarily unethical, as the collections agent should be doing whatever they can within the law to have the debt repaid. I’m not sure about that one, but I’d give it a pass, as debts should be paid, and by the time you have to send a debt to collections you’ve probably given up on the customer ever purchasing from you again. (If they have the money for a new purchase, you should collect on the debt before you sell to them again.)

      The second is pretty sleazy, and just shows poor business sense. Scamming and/or alienating customers is usually only practiced by those who can’t make a living on their product or service alone. I believe that it’s at least as much work to sustain that type of business as it is to actually work hard and deliver a quality service or product that will do as well or better than aggressively scamming customers.

      Moreover, after the second example in particular I’d be worried about how the owners treat their employees. Customers should be considered an asset to be cultivated, as should employees. The fact that these owners see customers as something to be used and exploited would indicate to me that they probably see their employees the same way.

    4. CMT*

      Even if you do stay long enough to get some clout, I seriously doubt the husband and wife are ever going to change their ways.

    5. Anon for this*

      Both of these examples actually seem like potential unfair debt collection practices or unfair and deceptive acts and practices. I have lawyer friends who would be salivating and mumbling about treble damages, especially if these are not just one-off incidents (it sounds like the debt collector uses these tactics regularly.

      I think you should strongly encourage your bosses to get advice from a good business lawyer on this. They might be able to fly under the radar as a small business, but the more they grow the bigger a target they’ll be and the more opportunities they will have to make costly, illegal mistakes.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Both of these examples actually seem like potential unfair debt collection practices

        This is exactly what they are – violations of the FDCPA. I used to work at a debt collecting law firm in the foreclosure arena, and this stuff was not allowed by us or our clients (the banks). We could have been sued if we adopted these tactics.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Thank you, it’s really useful to know what we’re actually in violation of. I’m going to research this and present it to my bosses.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Not if they’re collecting the debt for the original debtor. The FDCPA only applies to third-party debt collection. The collections agent sounds like they could be an employee or at least an independent contractor working directly for the original debtor.

  24. anonintheuk*

    Got turned down for an interview because following a phone chat, the interviewer’s feedback was that I could do the job standing on my head. Bah humbug.

    1. Pwyll*

      A friend reaching the end of her rope of unemployment once had an interviewer telephone her back to say, “We’re not offering you the position because you could do this in your sleep.” She responded, “Are you offering a sleeping position?” Apparently there was a long silence, the interviewer said, “No.” and promptly hung up.

      Still, sigh, that stinks. Hang in there!

  25. Nava*

    For people who work directly with patrons in scheduled shifts, but have preparatory and administrative work to do… how do you do it?

    I am part-time, hourly, and work tutoring students. To do my job, I need to have a certain level of content knowledge and adaptability. In theory, I should be able to do back-to-back sessions all day long.

    I feel like a fraud, though. I have good grades in the courses I tutor, but I feel like there are still gaps in my knowledge. Especially because I tutor 12+ courses (all for similar subjects).

    I feel much more confident and helpful when I have time to prepare. And I used to have quite a bit of down time. Now I’m more senior (some position, just with more experience). I still have a good chunk (usually 2-8 hours week, depending on cancellations) of time, but it’s unpredictable, fragmented, and never quite enough.

    I feel like I could be a lot more efficient if I could just block off a day or two a week to do the administrative work, create contents, read up on the materials, and do more observations. And that’s what I planned to do this summer, but we’re far busier than expected. This is a great problem to have (professionally and financially….less likely to have cut hours).

    I just don’t know how to step up my game without working off the clock. I am more of a marathon worker (have many ADHD symptoms).

    Any other hourly educators out there? Professionals with similar issues?
    How do you do it? Or do I just accept that there’s not a lot of room to grow here?

    1. animaniactoo*

      On the preparing materials – this is the piece that many people never see about teachers. They spend a TON of time at home, preparing lesson plans, researching, etc. So, you will probably never be able to block off an entire day. You can likely block off a 1 or 2 hour period.

      And as a former student and tutor – when you’re not sure on the content, just be clear about that to the student. Subject areas are wide, it’s not at all unnatural to not know a specific piece of information. What you want to be able to do is either note it to investigate and revisit it on the next session, or have the tools on hand to find the information. Which you use depends on how much of the tutoring session it’s going to take up, but one of the best things you can do as a tutor is to be able to help students find good reference materials and know how to consult them (i.e. not just read the entire thing, but have overviewed enough to have a decent sense of where the answer in this particular book is likely to be found, be able to think critically about what info they need so they can narrow down to look for what they need more efficiently, etc.)

    2. Blue_eyes*

      You’ll probably have to put in off the clock hours to do the preparation for sessions. I worked for two years as a tutor and homeschool teacher after I left classroom teaching and I decided my hourly rate knowing that I would be putting in time outside of student sessions. Depending on the student and the subject I would say I put in 1-2 hours of prep time for every 5 hours of face time with a student. Everyone I’ve known who teaches or tutors does prep work on their own time, there’s pretty much no way around it in this kind of work.

  26. Chameleon*

    I just had a job offer for a teaching position (lecturer) at a four-year university but I don’t know if I can take it.

    Pro: I don’t have a lot of experience (I’m a fresh PhD) so I haven’t been interviewed much; it’s exactly the kind of classes I want to teach; most of the class material has been written and extensively used so my prep time would be minimal.

    Con: It’s a three-hour commute each way. Meaning 13-14 hour days twice a week, plus another 8 hour day once a week. I have a toddler and I would never see her on those days; I don’t have childcare lined up yet (my current nanny is having a baby soon and probably won’t be available); we only have one car meaning either my husband would be stuck at home or we’d need to buy a new car, which would probably eat up the entire amount I’d get paid; it’s a temporary position so moving would be problematic (though what if it ends up being more permanent? Which happened to the friend who recommended me to the position…)

    Basically, if it were even an hour closer it would be a “dream job” for a beginning teacher…but I don’t know if I can handle the commute. My husband is against it, my friends say it’s worth the opportunity. I have no idea what to do, and I am seeing myself regret whatever I decide to do. :(

    1. blackcat*

      So my husband took a job 2 hours away after getting his PhD. I am also in academia.

      Our solution: a studio apartment 2 blocks from his office. He leaves Monday am, comes back Thursday pm.

      This sucks. I do not recommend it. But it is better than a multi-hour commute both ways 3x per week (he needs to be there Mon, Tues, Thurs). Our big difference is that we have no kid. If we had a kid, there is no f-ing way I’d put with this for more than a year. If the job is a 1 year job, it might be worth it for the experience. If it’s any longer than that, I’d say don’t do it.

      Also keep in mind that to get most subsequent jobs (even teaching focused ones) you’ll need to be producing some research. You may not be able to do that with that type of a commute.

      I’m guessing your friends are in academia, too? Folks in academia have a really skewed perspective on this. The fact that people are expected to make huge sacrifices for jobs that don’t pay nearly enough to justify it is why both my husband and I are going to bail on academia within the next 2 years (also know as when we hope to have a kid).

      You may get more advice from folks experienced with this if you head over to the forums of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

      1. overeducated*

        High five! I bailed on academia successfully this spring, in large part because we have a kid and I’m not willing to make those sacrifices. Spouse is still in it but so far he’s had an easier ride.

      2. Blue Anne*

        Just wanted to say from the perspective of the kid… my dad did that for a few years too. We were living in NJ and it was a top police brass job that legally required him to have a residence in NYC. He got a tiny apartment and came home every weekend. I was 12 and it sucked but I understood and he took me to the movies on the weekends.

        And actually, now that I think of it, my mom did that when I was a toddler. She was teaching at a university in upstate new york and just went, and took me with her. It was far enough that she actually took a short flight, I remember her telling me that I would without fail throw up on a stewardess every time. We would come back every few weeks, I think. I was 2? Or 3? So I didn’t see my dad during that time either for similar reasons. I literally do not even remember this at all. I just remember my mom talking about it. It didn’t do any lasting damage as far as I can tell.

        Now I’m 27 and very proud of the work both of my parents have done.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          My dad did this too. For over a year when I was around 8-9 he commuted from the West Coast to the Midwest every week. He would fly out Monday morning and come back Friday night. It was not great, but we made it work

          1. Silver*

            There is a family anecdote featuring toddler me and my father who was working in another city during the week and coming home for weekends.
            Apparently as he was preparing to leave one Sunday night I asked him if he was going home already. Poor dad felt so guilty he went looking for a job in the city we lived in the next day.

    2. TL -*

      If you want to go into academia – with the academic job market the way it is, I would say go for it. The opportunities are not plentiful.
      If you maybe want to go into academia and maybe want to do something else, then I would lean more towards the “it’s a big disruption for something you’re not fully invested in,” side.

      1. Chameleon*

        I don’t actually have any interest in being full faculty. I want to be a lecturer. I am actually pretty interested in CC jobs, which are more plentiful, if not always in the exact topic I love.

    3. dear liza dear liza*

      That’s a seriously harsh commute. And if you live anywhere that gets snow or has lots of traffic- ugh!

      But- academia is rough. How temporary are we talking? One semester, one year, three years? Did the chair give you a sense of how likely it would be to turn permanent? And would you be guaranteed to get it? At my public university, we have to do a new search when a permanent position opens; we can’t just hire the contingent faculty who currently teach the classes.

      What’s the job market like for your field? For a lot of PhD’s, any job in academia is a huge deal. The longer you are post-degree and without a position, the less viable you become. What does your adviser say?

      Sorry- more questions than answers!

      1. Chameleon*

        It’s only one, maybe two quarters right now (10 weeks plus finals). It is definitely not sure to be longer, but as I mentioned, my friend started in this position and has been renewed since, about two years. So it might turn permanent…but equally might not.

        1. overeducated*

          If it’s that short, it’s a chance to take the sort of position that’s your goal, and you don’t have or expect other offers, that pushes me much more toward encouraging you to do it. 10 weeks plus finals is not a long time in the grand scheme of things, even with a toddler. If it’s awful, you can choose not to renew if offered.

          1. Anon for this*

            Yeah, I would agree on that. You might be able to buy a fairly cheap but functional car for your husband to drive in-town so you can take the main one for your commute. Or even look at a short-term lease or long-term car rental option.

            You might also look at finding a grad student or another lecturer or professor who would be interested in making a few bucks by letting you stay with them part of the week while you’re teaching. Being away from your daughter and husband that much would suck, but for only a semester it would be doable if this is really an opportunity that would lead to better jobs down the road.

    4. overeducated*

      Oof, that sounds pretty rough. I feel like it depends on what your end goal is. If you 100% want to teach at the college level, you have to think about whether this is your best chance of getting an offer for the next year that you don’t have to move for. Not taking it is taking a calculated risk that you can find something better. It depends on where you live and your field, but I live in a major city with lots of universities and couldn’t even find an adjunct gig for my first year out of grad school. On the other hand, if I could teach a really popular intro course like Rhet/Comp or Psych 101, I might have had an easier time. 2 really long days and 1 regular day is tough but endurable for a year to help get you there, you won’t be commuting every day, and paying for transportation can be worth the cost of the experience you would gain. (Take this from someone in a one car family, with a toddler, who commuted 2 hours each way, 2-3 days a week, for the past 6 months.) So if teaching is the end goal, and there are no other offers on the table, I’d say take it.

      This is assuming you could move in the future for the next job though. If staying local now and in the future is more important, you might need to compromise on the type of work you do instead.

      The good things about this situation are that 1) if you feel like you could regret whatever you decide to do, that also means there is no obvious “right” or “wrong” decision, so either one can be right depending on what tradeoffs you prioritize, and 2) a year is just not that long. An awful commute is slightly less awful with a known end date.

      Good luck with your decision! When in doubt, ask your gut….

    5. Yachtie*

      I think once your commute reaches a certain point (like three hours one-way!), the most logical step would be to move closer to your new employer. If that’s not possible and the uber commute isn’t feasible, then you should move-on from this opportunity.

    6. Kittens*

      Wow, this is why I’m trying to break into academia now (before I have kids). Even just having a dog at home makes it difficult to stand my 1.5 hour commute and low wages, but we can afford a pupsitter (much much cheaper than sitter for a baby because dogs can be left alone for short periods of time among many other factors). I guess I would say it all depends on (1) your area – cost of living, under or over saturation of positions (my area is heavily oversaturated so I’m lucky to have even the part-time gig I have), and, given that, (2) likelihood of finding a good position with the same opportunities closer.

    7. zd*

      This is so out there, but just throwing out ideas that might help: can you look for temporary housing closer, or maybe in between your home and your new job? rent out/sublet your current place, and find a temporary or furnished month-to-month rental? If it’s a college town, there is probably a decent market in temp housing.

      It might eat in to what you will be making, but if you are able to rent out your current house, it might come close to breaking even. And getting started in academia is rough, having one first job on your resume could be a huge help. Just encouraging you to think about some out of the box solutions to see if there’s a way to make this work for a semester or two, and get your career started, could be worth the compromise.

      Either way, good luck and congrats on your PhD, Doctor Chameleon!!

      1. Felix*

        I concur with the suggestions to look for accommodations closer by the job. I dated a guy for a while that had jobs in two cities. He had a house in one and rented just a room from a lovely couple in the other as it was more cost effective than a whole apartment (and came with some company).

        I work in academia and I strongly suggest taking this position. You need more teaching experience to get something more ideal for ou down the road, and the longer you are out of school without teaching, the harder it will be to find another offer.

        Good luck!!

    8. Sophia in the DMV*

      Can you take a train? Not driving and using that time for work can make a lot of difference

  27. super anon*

    this has been a crazy and emotional work week! i came back from vacation and it went a little bit off the rails and took an entirely different approach to my toxic workplace situation.

    1. i posted about the situation two weeks aso, but i fired one of my direct reports. his response to the firing was “ok. cool.”, which really wasn’t what i was expecting. i also found it odd that i felt pretty emotional afterwards. it was a really cut and dry situation, but after i felt totally drained and like i wanted to cry? it was odd.

    2. i lost my mind and finally told my boss about my toxic coworker who has been trying to undermine me and thinks she is my boss (she isn’t). i opened the conversation by telling him that i am wildly unhappy, feel like i don’t belong in the org and that i shouldn’t be there, that i’m struggling in my role, that my toxic coworker is making my life miserable, and then i’m at the point where i don’t want to leave because i love my work, but i would take another opportunity if offered to me. i had decided that what i had been doing wasn’t working, and why not try something wild and talk to my boss. if he decided to fire me because of the conversation and my honesty, whatever. that isn’t a place i’d want to work anyway.. and i’m luckily in a decent financial situation to be able to do that. the conversation seems to have went really well.. my boss was totally shocked. apparently i’m a high performer and a superstar and he thought everything was fine! he gave me direction i was needing, and we found a way to

    3. i decided to mend fences with my toxic coworker/our admin after the conversation with my boss and extend an olive branch to her – even though she has been totally ignoring me and acting like i don’t exist for a month. i have a major project and event in the next month that i need her to help me with and figured why not? at least i can say i tried.

    yeah… it didn’t go well. she told me she would only start talking to me again and work with me if i accepted 50% of the blame for the tension between us. i said no, because you can’t refuse to work with someone on that basis – that is incredibly unprofessional and does nothing to help anyone. after that she told me i was being abusive, insensitive, and rude, started talking condescendingly to me, and then when i tried to apologize to her she kicked me out of her office because i had made the conversation hostile and unsafe. i never once raised my voice to her – i spoke in a calm, even tone for the 5 minutes we were speaking. i immediately emailed my boss to tell him what happened and to offer a solution. at this point i can’t imagine what else i could do to resolve the situation, she’s made it clear she wants nothing to do with me, nor to engage in conversation like mature, professional adults.

    tl;dr: difficult conversations are difficult. talk to your boss if you’re unhappy and struggling – it’s better than doing nothing and the outcome might surprise you. toxic coworkers are often irrational and difficult to work with, even when you try your best to make it work.


    1. overeducated*

      Oh man. I’m glad your boss is on your side and aware of the issues, but this coworker is just terrible terrible terrible.

    2. Mustache Cat*

      Ugh that sucks. I’m sorry you have to deal with such a person. Insisting that you accept 50% of the blame? WTF, honestly. It sounds like she’s manipulating you and holding power over you by forcing you to feel like you have to apologize, and then not even accepting that apology. It’s a power move. I hope your boss actually comes down on this person and you don’t have to deal with her manipulations anymore.

    3. BuildMeUp*

      Wow. I’m sorry about your coworker. Honestly, I would say to stop apologizing to her. She can say you’re being abusive all she wants, but that doesn’t make it true, and apologizing just validates her view of the situation.

      Is there any way you can manage the project and event next month without her? I would talk to your boss again, specifically about that. If she knows you need her help, she will try to hold it over you. Hopefully there’s someone else you could bring in to help instead. Either way, your boss really needs to make it clear to your coworker that her behavior needs to stop.

      1. super anon*

        Oh I should have specified – I accidentally cut her off while she was speaking and she said that I had made the conversation unsafe. I tried to apologize and tell her that wasn’t my intent, but then she told me there was no point in talking to her because now I was speaking over her and being disrespectful. Then she told me I had made the conversation hostile and unsafe and to leave. It was an absolutely infuriating exchange and I have no idea how I managed to stay so calm during it. I’m also really baffled by her immaturity and behaviour – she’s nearly 20 years older than me and yet I feel like the reasonable adult in our interactions. :/

        I can manage and plan the event myself, but unfortunately I need her help for the specifics around financials and reimbursement, etc. That’s her area of expertise as admin, so it’s a bit difficult for me to do it on my own without her.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe I see things too cut and dried. If one coworker refuses to speak to another coworker in the course of doing their job, then that coworker is not capable of filling a basic requirement of the job: communication. I think it’s grounds for dismissal. But I have no patience for people who think the social rules used in kindergarten apply to adult jobs. There are dozens of people out there who would love to have her job and be very happy to talk with you about whatever you needed.

      “You can’t speak to a coworker in the course of your work day? BYE. SEE YA.”

      I worked with one woman who decided not to talk to me. I don’t know- bad hair day? Not sure, she never said. One day, I realized/had reason to believe that her inability to speak to me probably extended to emergency situations, also. For example, if the building caught fire, she would not bother telling me if I did not notice on my own. This woman’s behavior brought on safety issues that should never come up in a workplace.

  28. T3k*

    Is it too drastic to be upfront? I quit my last job and am in the process of finding a new one. I had an interview for a local place last week and am waiting to hear back in another week from them, while still applying around. One such one was a very small online based group trying to scrape together an MMO. I messaged them saying I was interested and they responded back if I was ok with royalty based pay. I had iffy feelings about it so I decided to be upfront and say I was in the process of trying to find a job that could pay the bills, but if it didn’t conflict with hours I wouldn’t mind working with them. Never heard anything back, so I guess they do mind? Or was I too upfront?

    In other news, I’ve noticed the ones who actually contact me to talk tend to not look at my online site (sharing my portfolio is pretty common in this field) and they’re ones I never really submitted a cover letter for. I’m not sure how to take that.

    (I apologize if this shows up twice. Some reason it thinks it posted but it’s now showing up at all to me)

    1. Megs*

      I think in this case your comment probably came off as “I don’t really want to work for you under these conditions but I’ll do it anyhow because I need the cash.” Whether you meant it that way or not, I’m not surprised they decided not to go ahead. I guess I’m not sure what the distinction is between them minding and you being too upfront. If you’re upfront about something that matters to them, then yes, it could affect your candidacy. You could have been less upfront about it, but it sounds like this wouldn’t really fit what you and they are looking for in any case, so no harm no foul I guess?

      1. T3k*

        Ah, I didn’t realize that’s how it could have come off as. Meh, oh well. I wasn’t losing any sleep worrying over it and now it’s clear it wouldn’t have been a good fit for me if they were looking for someone who had no other job and was ok working only 10-15 hours for very little pay.

          1. T3k*

            Yeah, I was having iffy feelings all around about that job right after I applied. But at least they cleared up those feelings for me!

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          Holy crap. If they seriously expect their candidates for a 10-15 hr/wk job paid on a royalty basis to have *no other job*, who do they honestly think they’re going to get?

          1. T3k*

            I’m starting to think they were *maybe* aiming for college students (not high schoolers as they required at least a HS diploma). But yeah, it’d explain why their website was very disjointed if they get someone who then leaves a few months later for a job that can pay the bills.

  29. Francis J. Dillon*

    My agency just won a really, really prestigious award for our industry! Now, I didn’t help in the winning campaign, but I did help put the award proposal together. Would it be okay to add in “Organized and compiled winning Golden Teapot Award presentation, June 2016.” to my resume? Or should I just leave it off and save it for an interview story?

    1. CMT*

      Since you weren’t actually involved in the award-winning project, I’d save that resume space for something more valuable.

    2. Aardvark*

      If the jobs you are applying for include putting together award proposals or similar tasks, then yes. Otherwise, probably not.

  30. Anna No Mouse*

    Quick question on the new overtime rules: this applies to all employers, correct? Not just to those with more than 50 employees? Does anyone here know?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Even in organizations with less than $500,000 in revenue, employees are covered as individuals if they engage in interstate commerce, which can include making/receiving interstate telephone calls, using interstate mails, or sending/receiving interstate emails.

        1. Pwyll*

          Which effectively, in 99.9% of the cases, means everyone. Even the factory worker who doesn’t access a computer or phone, if the goods a likely to cross state lines.

          Not to mention a bulk of states incorporate the Federal laws by reference, so the new dollar amounts automatically become state law as well.

    1. enough*

      If there are any exemptions it will be job/industry specific and not based on the size of the company.

  31. Newbie Networker*

    Networking question- so I met a CEO entrepreneur a little while back and he gave me his contact info and said “really if I can help you in any way please let me know” So I did contact him with some thoughts about his work and he suggested and CC’ed his assistant to get in touch with me. So what do I do now? His company is based in a different part of the country, but they have consultants. Not sure how to handle this. Thanks for any advice

  32. The Other Dawn*

    Along the lines of this morning’s question as to whether someone is too laid back to be a manager, is there such as thing as being too calm and unflappable?

    Over the years I’ve seen a lot, mainly because I was with a company, which was in a very highly regulated industry, for almost 20 years and I saw many dysfunctional things (and people). I went through all the growing pains of a startup and then the chaos and uncertainty of the company failure. As a result, there really isn’t anything that puts me in a state of panic, upset, etc. Outwardly, anyway. In my mind I might be totally freaking out hoping for a high ledge, but on the outside I’m like, “OK, x happened. It totally sucks, but let’s see how we can fix this. If (insert catastrophic fallout) happens, we will get through it.”

    Recently we had a few things happen that could have been really, really bad for us in our dealing with regulators. It turned out they were only moderately bad and not the serious crisis we thought they were originally. Because I’ve dealt with these things before, I told my boss what I’ve seen in the past, what could happen, how we might handle it to minimize damage, etc. He was freaking out while I was just like, “Yes, it happened and it sucks. Here’s what we’ll do to fix it and what we’ll do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” And when the person who caused the issue told me about it (on my first day back from vacation, of course), she was crying. I kind of said just what I mentioned in the first paragraph. That it happened and we’ll get through it.

    To my direct reports, it seems to help them calm down and not worry constantly that the sky is falling. And I know there’s value in being like this when in a leadership role, because leaders need to be level-headed and on an even keel as much as possible. But I’m wondering how higher ups might read this in general. Would they think I’m just too blasé about things, or that I don’t care? I sometimes wonder if my boss things I don’t take things seriously enough. When I’ve brought it up, as in, “I hope I don’t seem flippant about it or like I don’t care, but I’ve seen so much that not much rattles me anymore,” he usually says how this is new to him and our company and department hasn’t experienced these issues before. He doesn’t seem upset, just more like “here’s where I’m coming from.”

    1. Coffee and Mountains*

      I think the key is how you approach it. If you just said, “eh. no big deal.”, that might be seen as being a little too blase. But looking at it the way you are, where you’re addressing potential consequences and courses of action, I think that’s actually a really good way to be.

    2. Beem*

      My boss is kinda like this and while I really appreciate it, it always makes me wonder how I will know if something really bad happens. If I screw up majorly in a way that I’m not experienced enough to know how bad, will I be able to tell how bad it is? Will I just be soothed by his calming voice and shrug and go about my business because it seemed not so bad?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I totally get that! I try to always explain that yes, this is awful, and I do let people vent for a few minutes so they know I’m listening and that it’s OK that they feel that way. I then explain what could happen–no matter how bad– and why, but that if we do x then we could minimize the damage. I try to make sure they know that it’s a big deal and it shouldn’t have happened.

    3. Anna Nonimus*

      Being calm and unflappable is fine, I think, as long as you acknowledge that there’s a problem or perception of a problem. My main internal customer right now is almost always in worried mode and often in a mild state of panic. I’ll acknowledge that yes, her boss is making this project more difficult by requiring changes and moving around the schedule. “But that’s okay. We’ll take X that we’ve already completed, finish up a streamlined version of Y, and I’ve got some stuff on Z that will speed that bit up. Remember what we did last time and how much she loved it? Don’t worry, we got this.”

      Sometimes it’s useful to be the personification of a nice soothing cup of tea.

    4. Jules the First*

      Many years ago I had a vacation booked, and a client moved their deadline so that it now conflicted with my vacation. I casually mentioned to my boss that of course I was going to cancel the vacation and he looked stunned and said no, no, go – I used to do it without you all the time, I’ll be fine. I got back four days later and in our first catch up he looked at me and said ‘I take it all back. I really missed you on that one because you’re always so calm and rational when I’m freaking out and I know that when you say everything will be fine you really mean it’.

      The key to remaining calm and unflappable without alienating your resident panickers is that you have to make sure you acknowledge their panic – so rather than saying ‘I’ve seen so much that nothing rattles me anymore’ you say something like ‘oh god, this is so terrifying the first time it happens to you; here’s what’s going to happen now and here’s how we solve this’ or ‘that’s terrible – you must be really freaking out right now! let’s come up with a way to fix this’

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I think that’s something I’m missing. Well, not missing completely. But I think I could do more of “I understand how scary this is.” Thanks!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Just went through a smaller example of this idea- I am the calm one and others are freaking.

      X happened. On a scale of 1-10, x is a 5. It’s not the end of the world but it’s not something to glaze over. Left unchecked it would become a bfd. On the good news side, everyone was looking at the situation and talking openly. One person was inconsolable. No matter what I said or anyone said, nothing was going to calm her down. Fortunately, others in the group were absorbing and processing what I was saying. I landed on, “While this is not good, it is fixable and I have seen worse situations.” oh my. The inconsolable person fell apart. A couple of other people nodded in agreement with me. And everyone else just agreed to keep following the problem to a solution. Three different reactions.

      As you are saying, previous experiences can really pay off in these tight situations. You know that you know. The people who nodded in agreement had previous experiences. The people who just agreed to keep working at things understood that somehow things would be changed/adjusted. The inconsolable person left.

      This is one of those times where it is good to use more words not less. Explain things a couple different ways, basically say the same thing over and over but present it in different ways or from different angles. Not every set of words reaches everyone, especially if they are panicking. Telling stories is good also. Stories teach, stories can calm people and stories help people to see that life can go on.

      Also know for a fact that you may not reach everyone no matter what you say. It does not happen often, but it happens enough. I am usually surprised by the person who chooses to leave. I have to remind myself that usually the people who want to stay are the ones who are asking questions, they are looking for a path through the problem. So while you may explain things several times, the fact that they are opening the topic with you telegraphs that they are willing to work at calming down. It’s the crying people with the ultimatums that probably will not last.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        During our last Big Thing, my team asked a ton of questions, which was great. Eventually I had to shut it down, though, because it was really just speculating as to what a regulator will do, how they’ll react, etc. And it’s just impossible to figure that out until they actually arrive on site. My senior person, the one who caused the error along with the person that came to me crying (team leader of another department) didn’t break down this time like I thought she would, which was nice. She was understandably a bit distraught but it was a big improvement over the last time something big happened. I think she finally knows that I’m not going to yell, scream and fire people on the spot, and that helped calm her a bit.

  33. LawCat*

    I applied to job I’m extremely interested in this week. I’ll call this one Dream Job. My skills and experience all align nicely with the position and the pay, benefits, location, type of work, and type of organization all align to exactly the kind of thing that I am looking for. I haven’t heard from them, but the application period only closed on Wednesday.

    I have a call to return this morning another place I applied a couple weeks ago that wants to schedule an interview. I am interested, but not nearly as interested as I am in Dream Job. It does not hit as many of the things I am looking for.

    Is it okay for me at some point to call HR at Dream Job and inquire about their process/timeline before they reach out to me?

    1. Anononon*

      Don’t do it, way too premature on all sides. Also, at this time, there’s no reason that you need to know about Dream Job’s process. You don’t have an offer/deadline from Job B yet, and, most importantly, you don’t even know if you’re going to get an interview with Dream Job yet.

    2. NJ Anon*

      I ask about timeliness in phone screens and interviews. It helps in my decision making. I currently have 3 in person interviews coming up. One is taking their time, one wants someone to start yesterday and the other is somewhere in between.

    3. Ell like L*

      Noooope don’t do that. A. If you think about it as your dream job you’re bound to be disappointed.
      B. They haven’t expressed interest yet. They’re probably reviewing applications. Following up early isn’t going to reflect well on you.

      You need to put this job out of your head and keep plowing through. Let it be a nice surprise if they give you a call (my favorite AAM advice)

    4. BRR*

      Nope. This will at best not help your candidacy and might hurt it. And you’re not likely to know their timeline at the end of it and it’s possible/likely they won’t stick to their timeline.

    5. LawCat*

      Okay, thanks guys. It’s just frustrating because Dream Job is government, which can be notoriously slow (I’ve been called for interviews for government *months* after application before when I’ve already accepted and started working somewhere else.)

      1. Pwyll*

        If it’s Federal, it can take upwards of 6 months to even hear back in some agencies!

        This is one of those times that Alison’s “Assume you didn’t get it and move on” advice makes sense. Worst case scenario, you get the offer a few months into the new job, and you leave to accept your Dream Job. You get to do that once in your career, methinks.

  34. SophieChotek*

    Just Curious: Do you have to make-up national holidays that you get off?

    I was talking to a friend who lives in Asia and they have a four-day holiday weekend because of Dragon Boat Festival. However, she said last weekend she had to work Saturday to “make-up” for the holiday and office being closed this weekend.

    I understand that with some/many positions, the office being closed X days may result in more work/catch-up work longer days for employees before/after days-when-office-is-closed-due-to-holidays, but do others have companies that require them to come in on a “normal” day off (i.e. weekend) to “make-up”?

    (And retail/food industry is often different and open all the time, including Christmas, etc.)

    (Out of curiosity I googled about this and ran across some random comments that said employers are not required to give days off during holidays or are not required to give alternate day if holiday falls on a weekend. The closest I found was a query to LA Times in 1994.)

    1. Ell like L*

      Current job, definitely not. At my last job though we had “paid holidays” that we were strongly encouraged to work on. If we chose not to, we had to do a makeup day though.

    2. Ad Astra*

      Nope, employers aren’t required to give holidays off. In most full-time “professional” (so, white collar and many varieties of blue collar) jobs, you get paid for the holiday off and do not have to make up the hours, though you may unofficially have to fit five days of work into four days. For jobs like newspaper reporter or emergency room doctor, someone always has to work holidays, and they usually get some kind of comp time for that, or they get to take their holiday on a different day.

      This is the expectation, and this is what it takes to recruit qualified applicants to most jobs, but there’s nothing requiring companies to do this.

    3. Megs*

      I have never heard of this in professional office jobs. When I did retail and food service, I had never heard of holidays. But in terms of legality in the US, I’d agree with the LA Times article – I generally can’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t be legal to require making up or working on national holidays assuming other applicable labor laws are followed.

      1. TGIF*

        In Canada we have a certain number of statuatory holidays (9ish) that the employer must either give off or give a day to compensate. These include Canada Day, Christmas Day, St Jean-Baptiste day (Quebec) etc. These are either federally or provincially regulated. I’ve never worked a job where I didn’t either get them off or get a comp day.

        1. Tau*

          Same in the UK: we have a minimum holiday allowance that the eight bank holidays are counted as part of. So you have to get 20 days holiday if you get bank holidays off, but 28 days if you don’t. (My company doesn’t, and I’m actually quite fond of the system – I get to book the holiday off if I want it off, or work it and take the holiday another time if I don’t. Basically the opposite as in the question!)

  35. super anon*

    one more actual question! are any of you psychologists?

    i’ve been thinking about what i want to do with my life, and the idea of becoming a psychologist is really starting to appeal to me. unfortunately i don’t have my BA in psychology, so i would need to take a full semester’s worth of pre-reqs to even apply, plus do stats, and take the GRE to even apply. i can’t do math at all and i’m unsure if i can get a 80%+ in the course to even be a competitive applicant to the program.

    i’ve looked at becoming an RCC (you only need a masters to do it), bu the average pay is $10,000 less than what i make now with a bachelors, which i can’t justify the cost and loss of income during that 2 years of a masters for. however, if i can get a phd and become a registered psychologist i could make 100,000 – 200,000 a year, depending on if i work in a clinic or a private practice. it will take me probably 6 years at the least to do a phd (assuming i even get accepted) , meaning i’ll be 33 by the time i reenter the workforce in this career.

    so, if you’re a psychologist, is it worth it? do you like your job? how draining is it to work with people every day? do you prefer private practice to working in a clinic? is it better to work with a special population and specialize your skills, or to be a general psychologist and help everyone?

    1. overeducated*

      Not a psychologist here, but friends with a bunch of people with psychology PhDs :) My only warning would be that good clinical psychology programs have really, really low acceptance rates, so if you go to the effort and expense of taking prereqs and GREs, it’s worth having a plan B. I know some brilliant people with degrees from elite colleges who couldn’t get into one, and social psych is fascinating but doesn’t open the door to practicing. If you do it, though, 33 is not very old to reenter the workforce with a PhD.

      1. super anon*

        i should have mentioned that i work for a top ranked university and do student recruitment graduate programs!

        the competitiveness is what is making me question myself and the decision. the reason i’m thinking of doing it is that i’m a member of a special population that is underserved in all aspects of health and i could make a lot of money specializing in that type of practice. because i work at the university i can take the pre-reqs for free, but i’m scared i won’t be able to get 80%+ in those pre-reqs, especially the stats course. i haven’t taken math since i was 16 in high school, which was over 10 years ago. whats more, i’m even more concerned that i can get into the MA program, but won’t get into the PhD, which is hyper competitive. however, if i can get in at both levels i will have pretty much guaranteed funding to do the degree. ah!

        aside from that, my CGPA is much higher than the competitive average, and i think my work & life experience would help strengthen my application. it’s just, the uncertainty of getting into the PhD program, and how old I’ll be when I finally finish that’s holding me back from deciding to try to do this.

        1. overeducated*

          I think it sounds like you could do some really socially meaningful work in psychology, then! But the good thing is you don’t have to make the full decision now, do you? You can just start taking pre-reqs for free, since that would be step one anyway, and if you dislike them or don’t score well enough, you can reevaluate and look into other mental health related options from there. It seems like the odds are in your favor now, and there isn’t much to lose from trying except time. Even so, the time you spend on the courses could still help you make a switch to another career focused on health care equity issues.

          Don’t be too worried about stats – they’re much more interpretive and less abstract than “real” math, and if you like fields like psychology that sort of straddle the scientific/humanistic divide, you might find them really interesting. You could also dip your toes into a mini online intro course through Coursera or something to feel more comfortable before you start.

          And again, finishing a PhD at 33 is NOT that old. Probably most people I know from grad school, in all fields, are in their 30s by the time they finish. And then you’ve still got 30-40 years of a career left ahead of you, so it’s worth making sure you’re doing what you want going forward.

        2. Red*

          You’ll be the same age in five years whether you try the PhD program or not. The question is, do you want to be that age with a PhD or without one?

      2. MMSW*

        What is appealing to you about becoming a psychologist? If you are interested in counseling or doing individual therapy you might look into getting a Masters in Social Work or Counseling- these can be terminal degrees or go on to a PhD in Social Work Counseling or Psychology. You probably wouldn’t need any pre-reqs depending on the program

        1. super anon*

          There’s a few reasons why I’m interested. I started going to therapy recently and realizing how much of a positive impact its had on my life is incredible. I’m a member of a special population and right now there’s a big push to get people of my race into health careers at all levels. People of my race have significantly lower health outcomes than the non-X race population, and due to a number of factors, a significant number of people of my race are generally distrustful of service providers who aren’t of our race. Unfortunately, due to low education rates, etc there are very few people of my race who are even qualified to go on to do Masters & PhD level work. I am one of a handful who could potentially get a PhD in this field and go on to be a registered psychologist. In my (major) city there are only 3 counsellors out of 500+ listed who work in this specialty, but none of them are my race, and none are registered psychologists. There is a huge demand for this and I think it’s a way I can make a significant contribution to my community in a meaningful way.

          The other thing that got me thinking of it was that my therapist asked me if I’ve ever considered going into psychology. I made an observation to her about raising children that abolutely floored her – she told me that even psychology grad students who are in their placements would have a difficult time making the connection & observation i had made to her, and i’m completely untrained and have never taken a psychology course in my life. I hadn’t thought it was that big of a deal – to me the connection is obvious and logical and really, quite in your face. Of course, this isn’t a reason on its own to pursue a field, but I think it’s worth looking in to.

          I did research and I have a lot of the other qualities that make someone a good therapist – I have great listening skills, I’m observant and good at making connections, I’m patient, and I’m very opened minded – even when confronted with someone who holds different moral values than I do.

          I like what I do now, but I always wanted to continue on to graduate degrees, I just never knew in what. It’s just trying to figure out if I would be good at being a psychologist and like doing it.

    2. PsychWife*

      ONLY become a psychologist if you are prepared to go all the way to PhD. It is what academia refers to as an easy bachelors degree for almost anyone, unfortunately. Depending on who you choose to work with – type of clients- will determine your satisfaction. But keep in mind you also have to have business skills to make the six figure incomes. Coming out of school you’ll not see those figures at first. Psychoogy is difficult as it is always giving of yourself to others. It doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad day or if your life is in turmoil, you have to be there for the clients. And it’s more difficult if you’re working for an agency or hospital. Then you have the politics to deal with with an ever changing policy system that is shifting from a therapeutic model to a medical model that insists on improvement. Some of you patients/clients will not be able to improve, only stable. So what that means is insurance doesn’t want to pay for services.

      RCCs on the other hand can be quite rewarding. You can actually get a life coaching certificate from a quality school such as ICF in San Francisco or others. However, being a life coach is a continual marketing job. You’ll be an entrepreneur able to easily make 6 figures but constantly filling the pipeline with new contacts or businesses. Business coaches can do well, but it is a very competitive field.

      If you feel this is a calling, or you’re just not satisfied with what you do now this is a bit of information that may help you decide to jump in the deep end and make the change or try something different. I hope the small smattering helps!

    3. animaniactoo*

      My godmother is a psychologist and has talked to me about following the same route, because she thinks I’d be really good at it. In one of our conversations, we talked about the drain thing. She told me that if you go this route, you have to really go and get all your own issues settled yourself, because if not, you’ll bring it into sessions with you and that’s what will drain you.

    4. Coffee Ninja*

      I don’t know where you’re located, but I work in mental health on the east coast (near a large city) and most PhDs are closer to the $100,000 mark. That’s with a thriving private practice; to go much higher you’d need to be a psychiatrist. The trend in mental health is for clinics to rely on more master’s-level clinicians (LCSWs, LPCs, etc.) because they are cheaper to employ.

      I would encourage you to identify major employers in your area and look at their job listings. Even if you’re mainly interested in a private practice, it will give you an idea of the setup in your area. Professional associations, especially local chapters, can also be helpful: American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, etc.

      1. super anon*

        I’m Canadian, if that makes a difference. I live in a large city and plan on practicing here. Psychiatrists here make $300k+ from the research I’ve done.. but I don’t think I have what it takes to get into medical school to become one.

        When I look at RCC’s, and job postings for masters level counsellors, they fall in the $50k range, which is less than I make now and not worthwhile for me to go into more debt to do, no matter how well I think I’d do it.

        I suppose I would need to do a cost-benefit analysis as well.. if it’s worth the time and effort I’ll put into the education, or if I should just stay in my current career – even if it’s something I wouldn’t really want to do for the rest of my life.

  36. Jane for Hire*

    I signed up with a staffing agency earlier this year after relocating. My project manager shared several opportunities with me over two months, none of which I was hired for unfortunately. I stayed in contact, checking in every few weeks, but she quit sending me opportunities and communicating with me back in April. I have seen other opportunities available through her colleagues that I want to pursue but am worried that doing so will get me blacklisted or that I will fall back into another limbo. On the other hand, I really need to get back to work. Any advice on how to switch recruiters or how to move forward?

    1. Bryson*

      Can you call her and just say you’re checking in and available for work? She may have just forgotten about you or accidentally taken you off a mailing list or something. Maybe calling her will put you back in her mind. Staffing agencies can be tricky because they may WANT to place you but they might not have any clients looking to fill a position for you.

      1. Jane for Hire*

        I have, but she does not respond. The last time I heard from her, she told me that I had to work exclusively with her even for opportunities managed by other PMs. I certainly understand why that is, but when I can’t get her to engage with me, it makes me somewhat skeptical on top of mildly frustrated, especially when I see postings for jobs that I know I am qualified for. I have no idea if this is normal or something on her end. Part of me wants to reach out to someone else and work with him or her, but I am also uncertain if this approach is agency-wide.

        1. SAHM*

          I don’t see why you couldn’t. What is she going to do? Fire you from a staffing agency that hasn’t been helping you? What have you to loose?

        2. zd*

          You should reach out to her specifically about each of those postings you see. “I saw the Teapot Designer position that Other PM is hiring for and I’m extremely interested in being considered. I have attached an updated resume and cover letter targeting that job. Please let me know what the next step would be.” You can reduce the amount of work it takes on her end to put you forward for a job. And she probably is looking at a commission if her recruit is picked for a job, so it should be in her best interests to respond to you at that point.

          If she doesn’t respond at all to you after 3 of those specific messages, then in my opinion you are justified in reaching out to another PM. However, you might still be blacklisted if that is violating a strict policy of this agency. But in that case, these people are not helping you get a job anyway, which is the whole point, so you should give up on them entirely, because they are just wasting your time. Find another agency or focus on other avenues to get a job.

        3. Christopher Tracy*

          She probably doesn’t work there anymore. Reach out to the person listed as the agency contact on the job ad you’re interested in and ask.

  37. Applesauced*

    Without thinking, I packed myself lunch made up of last night’s dinner leftovers.
    I just realized it’s salmon.
    I’m a loyal AAM reader so I know microwaving fish at the office is verboten, so I am going to have cold salmon for lunch. Just wanted to share!

      1. mazzy*

        LOL so true! Had an otherwise smart coworker cooking eggs in the office the other day. We are next to a strip mall with lots of eateries and breakfast places, no reason to cook at all, let alone something smelly. I had to go on a walk because it smelt like flatulence and the air was still musty an hour later. Seriously people!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s awesome. :)

        I always eat my leftovers cold. I love leftovers, and for some reason, they’re better cold. I have learned from several years of reading AAM that this makes me a Weirdo.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I microwave fish. I am not ashamed.

      Usually, it’s something that I can heat up really quickly, not something that needs extended cooking time. But mostly I just eat tuna from a pouch if I’m going to do fish. It’s no worse than the people who constantly burn popcorn around here.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      Eh, reheating fish (especially salmon) tends to make it kind of dry and unappetizing in my opinion. Cold is definitely the way to go!

    3. Laura*

      Hey, I had salmon for dinner last night too! I had no idea what I was doing… it was my first time cooking a slab of fish. It was good, but I’m saving the leftovers for this weekend. ;)

    4. Anonsiewonsie*

      I didn’t microwave it, but I did have a tuna fish sandwich today. I apologized to my next door co-worker, whose response was, “Tuna’s great! I love tuna!” lol

    5. Anonyby*

      Thank you! Someone in my office has recently started to microwave fish (after years of having no issues here), I’m super unhappy about it. (Fish is the one thing that is not allowed to be cooked inside houses I live in, because I have major issues with the smell.)

  38. overeducated*

    The two year position I accepted last month was just publicly announced, and I got a “congratulations! i’d love to hear about your work when you move to City!” email from the executive director of my field’s biggest professional organization. That was a pleasant surprise! :D

    One of my biggest worries about this position is that it has such a clear end date, but perhaps it’ll help me with some pretty valuable networking toward the next one….

  39. Regular going anon*

    Need advice on sharing an office. Used to have my own. Now recently in shared office with just one other co-worker who is new. It’s incredibly awkward, I’ve shared in other roles and got on swimmingly with my office mates, to the point where we would go for lunch everyday. New guy, let’s call him Simon is SO AWKWARD. He comes across to me as super needy, for instance every time I do talk to him, he gets kinda desperate and won’t stop talking.

    I knew of him before he started and was looking forward to having him join the team. Now I dread our daily interactions.

    It doesn’t help that I can’t stand he way he smells. It’s not BO, he has excellent hygiene, just his natural odour I find offensively strong. It’s not cologne, kinda like that smell of your boyfriends slightly musky armpit (which doesn’t smell bad if the smell works for you!). But this guy, ALL DAY LONG I feel like I’m drowning in his man armpit. To be fair, no one else has mentioned this to me, it’s probably not that strong, we don’t have a window …. I’ve only ever once before felt his way about someone’s smell (and it wax a female friend). HELP!!! I’m so worried I’m coming across as a giant b*tch to him and am trying to be friendly but I’m also SO grumpy at the situation, which I feel like I can’t address.

    1. AFT123*

      OMG – there is one certain kind of men’s deodorant that makes me absolutely nauseous. My brother wears it, and my husband bought some and was wearing it when I realized that is what was making me want to toss my lunch. I thew the whole tube away. To be fair, I have always had a super sniffing nose (perfume is a huge hobby of mine) and I’m really attuned to smells in general.

      Maybe you can say to the guy “I’m so sorry and you’re going to think I’m absolutely ridiculous, but I think your deodorant scent has been making me sick to my stomach! Is there any chance at all you might be willing to change brands or scents or something?”

      Of course, if it’s not his deodorant, then I have no clue LOL.

      For what it’s worth, the deodorant that I can’t handle is Old Spice in the “Bearglove” scent. “Wolfthorn” is lovely though :) Hubby switched to a clear solid in one of the fresh or ocean scents. Much better.

      1. SJ*

        My best friend and I (both women) wear Wolfthorn! She turned me on to it. I kinda want to just smell my armpits all day, but I figured that might look weird at work.

        1. AFT123*

          Wolfthorn is so good. To me, it smells like those old school rainbow lollipops, haha. Unfortunately, the fragrance spray (cologne?) doesn’t smell anything like the deodorant!

    2. Rebecca in Dallas*

      No advice, but I can relate! I always end up getting driven crazy by whoever I sit by. My current cube-mate is seriously the nicest guy (he’s actually the one who hired me, he’s stepped down to a non-management position since then), but OMG just the various noises throughout the day are making me batty.

        1. Ismis*

          Earphones? Just say you need them to concentrate…. If you are chatting, just say – “ok, better get back to it!” and put the earphones in while turning away.

          The smell…. sorry, out of ideas at the moment! Maybe make an extra strong cup of coffee so you can smell that instead of him? Not sure if that’s a really dumb idea or not.

          1. Regular going anon*

            That’s actually not a bad idea. I don’t drink coffee and generally stick to black teas, but there are some really fragrant herbal teas that would work almost like snake freshener! I could brew one every morning and afternoon.

            I did have funny thought- what if he feels the same about me? Lol that would be rich.

            I strongly believe in not having to share an office and really hope I have a job one day that can impact how to make people’s work lives better in terms of policy and such.

        2. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Yeah, I just put in my headphones when I need to. I’ve convinced him (and the rest of our “pod”) that I get really focused on what I’m doing and that’s why I’m not involving myself in their conversations.

          Also, he’s about my grandad’s age and sometimes I’ll imagine him as my granddad. I would want someone to be patient with my granddad and so I try to do the same for him.

      1. Clever Name*

        I’m so glad you said this, because I’ve pretty much grown to despise over half of my office mates. The one office mate I loved people described as “antisocial”. But he was so quiet. We never talked. It was refreshing.

        1. Regular going anon*

          We should start a support group. The swallowing noises and his phone demeanour are killing me. Also, WHY MUST HE TALK SO LOUDLY?

        2. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Yes, I figured this out about myself when I was in college and lived in the dorms. If I’m around you too much, you will eventually drive me crazy. I really miss my old cube-mate, she was so quiet and we rarely talked to each other during the day. Hmmm… I hope I wasn’t driving her crazy!

    3. Laura*

      Oh my God, I had a friend in high school who was like that. It wasn’t a bad smell, just… noticeable. And it never went away.

  40. Dazed and Confused*

    Hi everyone,
    I’ve been interviewing for a company that I love, am unbelievably excited about, and would love to work with. I’ve gone through 2 phone interviews and last I heard they said they wanted to fly me out for an in-person but most of the team would be gone for a conference so the hiring manager asked me to get back in touch with them in a week to schedule. I did just that and received a response that explained that they are still working through a “headcount and resourcing” and asked if I could give them a week to “figure out where they will be adding additional resources.” I’m kind of hung up on how to respond and also feeling a bit anxious. Any advice/thoughts/tell me what to do because I don’t know anymore would be appreciated.

    1. notfunny.*

      keep looking – keep finding things to apply to and look forward. you have no idea what’s going to happen with this role and organization so it’s going to be frustrating to wait around with no guarantees. but there are other things out there and you never know what you might find!

    2. Ell like L*

      I think you could just respond with: “Absolutely. I can contact you again in a week.” or if they’re the ones who want to reach out to you “Absolutely, I look forward to hearing from you soon.” Don’t overthink it :)
      And yes, like notfunny said, keep looking in the meantime.

    3. BRR*

      Thank them for keeping you updated, reiterate your enthusiasm, and assume you didn’t get the job and move on.

  41. I'm over it*

    My company is toxic. Really toxic actually. The toxicity is coming from the owner. The GM told me yesterday she is quitting and the place will collapse with out her. And honestly without me. She is what makes this place worth it basically. There are some huge perks like extreme flexibility, independence, and location.

    So now I’m debating wether to stay or not. I’m probably going to try to make a quick exit but the few perks are holding me back.

    It might be a race to see who can get a new job first and give notice.

    The fall out will be bad.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Any chance you could step into GM role and help change the toxic workplace?

      Otherwise, sorry to hear the GM that makes place worth it is leaving.

      No advice, but you have my sympathy.

    2. Laura*

      Would you want to be the one to pull the company out of the toilet? If not, get out of there.

  42. Marie*

    I got into grad school! I’m going to be studying for a master’s in analytics. Anybody working in the field? What do you do and how do you like it?

    1. Kate the Little Teapot*

      Not yet but I’m taking Coursera courses in analytics and thinking about whether I want to go back to grad school!

  43. Oryx*

    Cliques at work are the worst. I’m 35, which is way too old to be dealing with high-school Mean Girl mentality of some of my team members.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I got back from vacation to discover that my co-workers had turned the department into romper room. If I wanted to manager kindergartners, I’d have gone into teaching…

  44. Dynamic Beige*

    Someone recently told me about a pen that also does voice recordings and they link up to the notes you take, provided you use their special paper.

    Apparently, this has been around for several years now but I have never heard of it before. Given that recording people without their consent is against the law (depending on your jurisdiction) or at least considered to be rude… I was wondering what people’s takes on this might be.

    I mean, I can see that there is a lot of benefit to having a tool like this for note taking in meetings, especially because of the linking up to what you’ve written. I know that I have been in meetings, made a note and then later when looking them over “uh… what we were talking about then?” having forgotten the pertinent fact. I can also see how this would be valuable for note taking in lectures or anywhere else when being able to refer back to the conversation would be useful. Words are wind, after all.

    I have been on the point of suggesting to a few posters that they invest in one for use around the office/dealing with their workplace bullies (I have not purchased one myself so I don’t know how well they work). Because taking a note “must follow up with Boss about TPS reports, as per Coworker’s request” while the coworker is being snide would be a very subtle way of documenting abuse. However, legalities.


    1. Elizabeth West*

      A couple of my team use these–I think they do check first with clients re recording, but they do the note-taking thing. No one sees their notes or would hear any recordings but them.

      I think it’s good practice to always ask first, if you’re going to record a session, even if it would be totally legal (an interview, etc.) because people can be weird about that. But IANAL.

  45. learningToCode*

    How do you deal with imposter syndrome?

    I’ve been out of college for about 3 years now. When I hit 2 years in my career, I can be promoted to the next level of software engineer (there’s 4, top being lead). My degree isn’t in CS or programming; I just learn as I go. My manager claims that if it was up to him, I’d be leading a project since I’ve shown my abilities far exceed expectations for a level 1 or 2 and at least meet what he would expect of a 3. My one coworker claims I’m the second best programmer he’s ever met (1st being our favored lead). How do I balance thinking they’re nuts and that I’m too new at this, yet having to have confidence in my abilities for a resume and interviewing and such down the line?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I struggle with the same thing. My degrees have nothing to do with computers, but my entire job now is computers, and I do a ton of scripting. I’ve had experienced professionals compliment me on my code, but I still feel like an imposter, because I sometimes see people using fancy terms I know nothing about. I excel at my job, so barring taking on a lot of student loan debt, I have no desire to go back to school and be “officially” qualified to do my job.

    2. GlorifiedPlumber*

      Screw balance…

      If your co-workers generally think you are good, you probably are. Have you ever lied to a coworker and told them they are awesome when they are not? Nope, you generally keep your mouth shut. So if they’re heaping praise, you deserve it.

      Push (nicely) for promotions, take on more responsibility, do whatever you can to enable others on your team for success, learn what you can…

      Screw balance, go out and get it!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Proving to ourselves that we do know our subject takes time. I think speeding up the process can be helped by investing in ourselves. Take a course or two. You can only sit in class for so long saying to yourself “yep, I KNOW all this” and then your own perception of yourself will have to change. OR you will learn a bunch of stuff and that will be a huge confidence boost. Either way, you can find that part of you that knows you can do the job.

  46. NY interview and recs*

    I’m interviewing in NY next week! The company is based in Hell’s Kitchen and they’re putting me up in a hotel in Midtown. Anything I should keep in mind when interviewing in NY? I’ve visited before, but never for job interviews.

    Also, I’m staying over the weekend, so anyone have any good recommendations for places to eat?

      1. NY interview and recs*

        Not anything extreme like $100 for an entree, but pretty large. I’m willing to pay more for good food.

        1. animaniactoo*

          In the treating yourself to an above average but not outrageously pricy meal, my family and I have all really enjoyed Molyvos. Greek restaurant on 7th Avenue in the 50s.

    1. BRR*

      The usual plan plenty of time to get there. Watch the weather. I personally find it sucks getting anywhere when it’s raining. Also if it’s hot, you might get sweaty in interview wear so look at the temperatures.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      If you’re planning to walk to the interview, keep in mind that it can be very, very humid. Pick your outfit with that in mind. I usually wear a sleeveless blouse and don’t throw on my blazer until I reach the building (I’m a woman). If you’re planning to grab a cab to the interview, keep in mind that there is a lot of traffic congestion and the travel time will always be 15 minutes longer than Google Maps tells you.

      Try to get out of Midtown whenever you can; that part of the City is the worst! Hell’s Kitchen has some really great Thai restaurants. For cheap(er) but good eats, I like The Meatball Shop (there are several locations), Flex Mussels, and Parma.

    3. Sunflower*

      It can be SO STICKY during the summer so defintely keep that in mind, esp if you’re walking to the interview. Same with taking the subway- the stations are sweltering but the cars have A/C. Cabs take forever during rush hours- like 20 minutes to go 5 blocks. If you can get there conviently by walking or subway, avoid cabs. Also make sure you bring a water bottle to rehydrate once you’re there.

      I would DEF plan time to freshen up once you get to the office before the interview. Ask the receptionist if there is a restroom you can use. I sweat a lot so I’d bring deorderant and some oil absorbing papers.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        And also know that this is SUPER normal– every single interview I did in NYC (and I went on a lot), I arrived slightly early and asked for the ladies’ room and no one blinked. I have also changed shoes in more lobbies than I can count. Unless you are a supersonic person, do not attempt to walk more than a block or two in uncomfortable shoes. If this means you have to carry an extra tote bag, then do that, and I promise, no one will look askance at you.

    4. Applesauced*

      Trains – Have your MetroCard in your hand when you get to the tunstile. Some entrances are for one direction only, double check before swiping. Move into the car. Assume there will be delays and plan to get there early, check the MTA website for service updates.

      Food – Gotham West Market is in Hells Kitchen (Ample Hills ice cream is THE BEST). I love El Centro for Mexican on 9th at 54th Street. 9th and 10th are WAY more interesting than Times Square and Broadway.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Perfect tips for the subway. I would add, make sure to let people get out of the car first.

        Gotham West Market is awesome. Try Breads Bakery (two locations: Union Square or Lincoln Center) for awesome pastries. Shake Shack is always good for inexpensive but tasty food that is sort of a local specialty. Definitely make time for a walk on the High Line and/or a visit to Central Park. The weather this time of year is lovely for being outside (when you don’t have to wear business clothes).

    5. Noo Yawker*

      Han Bat (Korean) on 35th st. between 5th and 6th Ave is great — Koreatown is around 32nd… I suggest walking down that block if you’re in the mood for Korean. There are a ton of options and you get to see the Empire State Bldg up close!

      Ninth Ave. also has a ton of restaurants from 43rd to the mid-50s. Avoid restaurants in the Times Square area — pricey chains that you can find anywhere else in America. When out-of-town relatives visited, we took them to Ellen’s Stardust Diner (1650 Broadway, New York, NY 10019 — on the corner of 51st and Broadway) and they loved it. The servers are aspiring/current Broadway people and they’ll do a short performance. Wow, can they sing!!

      Grand Central on 42nd St. (East Side — keep walking east past Madison Ave) has a ton of options for a quick meal in their food court. The station architecture and inside is BEAUTIFUL… and you’ll be close to the NY Public Library on 5th Ave and 42nd (original Ghostbusters!!). If you have time to go to the Metropolitan Museum — you can easily spend a whole day there. I could go on and on and on. And don’t forget a walk through Central Park.

      If you see a packed subway with just one almost-empty car — avoid. Usually that means A/C isn’t working!

  47. Mkb*

    My husband was training a remote colleague on something the other day which involved her sharing her screen with him over skype for business. Midway through she starting iming with another colleague where they both proceeded to crap talk about him (likely not realizing she was still sharing her screen.) My husband saw the whole thing and was really upset about it. He didn’t say anything but made an excuse to get off the call. To give a little more back story, they are all the same level and he was helping to train this employee on something she didn’t know how to do.

    If it was me I would have said something in the moment like “just so you know, I can see your screen” or possibly spoken to their boss about it. I’m just wondering what other people would do in this situation.

      1. Sadsack*

        Me, too. A former manager told me that this happened to him once and he said, “Hey, that’s enough with the IMs.”. The conversation immediately shut down.

    1. Ell like L*

      I think saying something in the moment is best, but I would honestly probably be too shocked. Afterwards I would probably broach the subject though, since I’m pretty direct. I would want to see if there was something I could fix and that might give me some peace of mind to move forward with that person.

    2. Phoebe*

      Yeah, that would make me feel pretty awful, too. But, at least now he knows that she’s willing to trash talk her co-workers. That’s good information to have.

  48. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    I have some questions about Canadian employment.

    Disclaimer: This is not some “I’m going to move out of the US if the election doesn’t go my way!!” thing, but there are cultural institutions in Canada hiring relevant positions and I would want to work at them if they were located in the states. It just so happens that they aren’t.

    The language used in the app is “all applicants must be legally entitled to work in Canada (Canadian Citizen or have Permanent Resident Status). ” Per the Canadian government site, I am capable of meeting the eligibility requirements. It’s sounding like this job is off the table because I’m not a citizen nor do I have permanent resident status. But what I’m trying to figure out now is if there’s anyway to get… I don’t know… pre-approved? So that employers know if you were to get a job you could get into the country? Or what the language would look like to signify that they are open to international candidates who are eligible for work permits. Basically any information on applying for jobs in Canada is welcome, as the job sites I follow regularly feature interesting Canadian postings.

    1. Anoners*

      Hrm. Are you planning on being in Canada indefinitely? If you are, you’d probably need start the road to getting your PR card (or become a student for a few years). The gov. websites have information on all the various types of ways you can work in Canada (

      Honestly, I would say most companies hire candidates already in Canada (not specifically Canadian citizens, but people who are already eligible to work and are physically located here). If you have a in-demand skill you would have a better chance of getting in (there’s a skill shortage here, and the gov. has a listing of roles that qualify for special work programs).

      If you’re coming here without a job lined up, the bigger cities are probably going have more opportunities for you (Toronto is great, but I’m biased). Also, French is great to have (if you by chance have it).

      Best of luck! :)

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

        If I got a job I liked I’d be absolutely willing to stay indefinitely.

        If my primary interest were “living in Canada” I’d definitely relocate to one of the larger cities and try to find something there, but the goal is to get a job that I can make my career so I’m looking far and wide (or maybe that’s a bad technique and I just need to commit to one country)

  49. Bend & Snap*

    I need to know if I’m overreacting. I got thumped at work for not being in the office enough. Not because my work wasn’t getting done–but because I used a fair amount of PTO all together to care for a sick child and go to court for my divorce.

    We used to be able to work from home when needed but now we have new leadership who likes butts in seats and that has ended. So today I’m sitting here at my desk with a massive head cold and without the ability to work remotely. This applies to my whole department.

    I love my job and work for wonderful people but this no remote work thing is a KILLER, especially since a) I’ve regularly worked at home for the last 10 years and b) my job involves a lot of writing and other things that require concentration, and I’m in a cube in a very noisy part of the office. I used to write at home.

    My company is being acquired and I don’t know if this will change or if I will even have a job after (although signs point to yes at least in the short term) but I don’t know if I’m overreacting. I’m happy with my pay but really unhappy with my quality of life since the measurement for success moved from quality of work to whether or not I’m physically in the office.

    Soooo thoughts?

    1. Beem*

      Eeeelgh. Can you talk to leadership about it?

      “For the reasons listed, I really appreciated the ability to work from home. Can you tell me more about why you need me in the office? Do you have any concerns about my work quality? I’m worried that my work quality will suffer if I can’t work somewhere quieter and I’m also concerned that I might stop biting heads off if people keep screaming into their phones. Any thoughts?”

      1. Bend & Snap*

        I talked to my manager and was basically told that it came from the top and we can’t do anything about it. Bummer.

        1. catsAreCool*

          Sometimes the leaders are the ones who get dumped in mergers. Maybe the next one will allow more telecommuting.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      I feel for you. My company just got a new CEO who wants to behave like it’s still 1984 where everyone has to be in the office all the time. If you’re not in the office, with your butt in your seat at your desk, then you’re not really working. It’s a stupid, petty, antiquated thing for him to be wasting his time on, but he is. Because there’s nothing more critical for him to be focusing on, right? *eyeroll*

      And on top of that we keep hearing HR chirp about how we want to “attract, develop, and retain a world-class workforce.” If you’re not allowing people to work remotely in 2016 (and this excludes jobs where it really is necessary to be in the office every day), the best candidates are going to go elsewhere.

    3. Sibley*

      That sort of thing would prompt me to find a new job, but I can do that very easily. Not sure about you.

    4. Jules the First*

      Awwww. Sympathies…

      I cracked my pelvis in a riding accident in October and my boss made me come to work as soon as the doctor let me out of bed (accident on Saturday, was back at work on Wednesday) because apparently it was more important that I worked in agony in the office for half a day, than at home for the equivalent of a full day (because with a cracked pelvis you are not allowed to sit – you can lie flat, or you can stand up, and even with a decade of practice at a standing desk, I can’t stand for 9 hours straight with a cracked pelvis!). Beacuse, you know, we had deadlines…

  50. Amy S*

    I have recently inherited the role of IT support at my office, and my IT knowledge is extremely limited. Fortunately we outsource most of our IT needs to an outside vendor, but I need to learn how to set up new staff computers and trouble shoot basic issues (email, server and printer problems). Anyone have advice on resources I can use to learn more about IT?

    1. Lillian McGee*

      I was lucky that the former IT person left “how to” manuals for a lot of things. Maybe the vendor can walk you through how to set up new computers. For troubleshooting, honestly Google is what I use. Whatever problem you are encountering I can pretty much guarantee you someone else has already asked about it on a message board somewhere! There may also be a subreddit dedicated to IT questions.

      1. nonegiven*

        More than one subreddit.
        They talk about the ability to Google gets them through 80% of what they don’t know.

    2. Dawn*

      Google. Ask anyone who’s made their way up the ranks in IT and they will ALL tell you it’s thanks to Google! Anytime you have a problem type in (model of whatever has the problem) + (issue that you’re currently having) and you’ll find the answer. You might have to read through a few results and dig through some online forums, but you’ll find the answer!

      1. Anonymous Educator*


        I do support and have for years, and I still Google stuff every week… if not every day!

    3. PF*

      Google is a great start. The more specific you can be in your queries – for example, exact wording of error messages – the better luck you’ll have. Depending on the kinds of things you’re doing, you’ll start to recognize good sources for certain types of issues.

      What general field are you in? There are listservs that you can subscribe to (or even just read through the archives) or submit questions to, but they are often area-specific.

      And finally, this comic is uncannily accurate …

      1. Amy S*

        Ha! I love that comic!

        I work in the sports industry, but we are also considered not-for-profit. Most of the issues people seem to experience are 1) why am I not connected to the wifi? or 2) why is the printer printing funny? I feel like I can figure these things out and honestly I have learned that a lot of the times, the answer to the problem is “restart your computer.”

        I appreciate the suggestions from everyone to use Google. I usually do this myself (when experiencing issues on my home PC) and it generally does the trick. I’ll start using it for the workplace, too!

        1. Dawn*

          Ohhhh my god the catchphrase from “The IT Crowd” – “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?” is so, so spot on it’s ridiculous.

          1. Amy S*

            A good friend of mine works in IT and I recently called him to tell him about this change in my role. He told me I *have* to watch The IT Crowd. I will be checking it out over the weekend!

  51. mazzy*

    PSA/old advice but people keep breaking it!

    Customize your application materials. How the heck do you expect me to see you differently than the 300 other people with canned materials? Not to mention that since some job sites such as linkedin send “applicants” that didn’t actually apply, I have a hard time telling if the people with “dear sir I am applying to the position posted on the net” type cover letters actually applied or not.

    Also please delete the summary if you don’t have a common theme, if you’ve had a series of white collar jobs but no specific career per se. “History of redesigning Web portals for growing startups” is a summary. “Organized professional with a track record of exceeding goals” is NOT a summary. If you use overly grandiose language in some places, I’m not going to know if you are exaggerating in other places.

    Also, have achievements to discuss. Not just duties assigned! And this is a personal one, but if you had no personal achievements, try to build in team goals or achievement. It will at least give a sense of what your priorities were in the role.

    The biggest mistake I see is applicants making their materials so generic that they can apply to everything (I’m guessing that is why they make the resume and cover letter generic). But at least some hiring managers don’t hire that way. I’d much rather talk to someone who’s materials point to their working in a niche, which shows ability to learn, etc.

    I know this isn’t going to be a popular comment but I want to get it out there because it’s sad to see good people shooting themselves in the foot with their job hunting strategies.

    1. anon who needs a name*

      I agree to a point. I have a “generic” cover letter for specific positions I apply for. So, for a project management job listing, I use the same letter, but swap out the company and some of the achievements. For a content based job listing, I have another letter where I just swap out some details. I have a long, overly detailed resume that I pick and choose bullet points from to use on the resume I actually apply with.

      A lot of job listings are pretty similar in what they’re asking for, so it saves me a lot of time if I already have a customized template where I can change a few small details.

      My opening and closing paragraph is always the same though. It’s just the body I customize. I rarely feel the need to rewrite the opening and closing to make it unique.

      1. Felicia*

        90% of the applicants for an entry level position Ive seen dont even put the name of the company or the specific job title so youre way ahead of most people and I consider your way of doing it still customized

    2. me too*

      I’m hiring right now for an entry-level librarian. I’m disappointed so many candidates are missing the opportunity to use their cover letters to strengthen their applications. We have plenty of soft skills in our ad, but the cover letters tend to be very generic: I’m applying for x position, let me put in narrative form my resume, thank you, good-bye.

      So, job hunters, when it says a requirement is something like “interest in technology” or “enthusiasm for working with the public”- use your cover letter to demonstrate those! Tell me a little story about how you love Macs, or why you like working with people. I want to interview you, I really do!

      1. T3k*

        Kind of funny, but on the subject of cover letters, the past jobs I’ve held and the interviews I’ve had were with businesses I didn’t write a cover letter for. The ones I did, the most I heard back after applying were the generic “we decided not to move forward with your application” types.

        1. me too*

          And for sure this can be profession-specific. I’m at a university library. Cover letters can make or break a candidate’s application.

      2. Chaordic One*

        In my experience, a lot of job seekers think these things are obvious from their resume and from the job application (even though they’re not).

      3. ModernHypatia*

        This! And if the job has multiple roles (the one I’m hiring for right now does) say something about each of them.

        We’re not expecting equal experience in all three (one requires some specific skills, one is basic comfort with HTML and CSS editing, and one is somewhere in the middle, but I’m looking for someone who understands that it has a ‘helping people directly’ component.) But the applications that actually talk about all three, even briefly, are comparatively few and going straight to the top of my pile.

    3. Audiophile*

      I have what I call a master cover letter. I change some things but it largely stays the same. It’s resulted in many interviews, where I’ve been complimented on my cover letter.

      1. Tau*

        I did this while applying for jobs – same introductory paragraph with a fill-in-the-blank for the job role, minor variation on the second paragraph, unique third paragraph. (I’m a decent writer, but I’m a really slow writer. If I had to write a unique cover letter for every job I still wouldn’t have one). No specific compliments, but it seemed to work out okay!

    4. So Annonny Nonny Mous for this one*

      Oh I am so on YOUR side! We’ve been recruiting for a position for the past 2 weeks and we ask for one thing: a cover letter and resume as one doc named a specific way (and we give naming convention examples). We list 3 things we’d like addressed in the cover letter, even if it’s just to say you don’t have experience in that area (which is not a deal breaker unless you have no experience in all 3 areas in which case . . . why are you applying?!) and a short description of which area in the position is of the most interest to you. 70% of the applicants so far (about 300 total) have sent only a resume. Of the other 30% none answered the questions in the cover letter and most of them simply said something like my resume is attached below.

      For you job hunters, I get that it’s time consuming and frustrating but in our industry attention to detail is an absolute must and if you don’t follow the application directions, it raises big giant crimson banners about attention to detail.

      Oh, I see another 17 applications have just come in so I guess my break is over . . .

      1. Mazzy*

        About that portion of our resumes bother to look up the address/address our company name in multiple places in the cover letter/add something specific to the job to the cover letter. I don’t care if you pick an old address or the address of a company with the same name because looking up addresses on google isn’t the skill I want, but putting 10 minutes into the application to at least look up an address does help.

        Here are some quotes:

        “Dear hiring manager,
        I’m writing to show my enthusiasm for the position posted on indeed. ” (never reference position or company!)

        Someone also wrote this as an objective
        “Start a meaningful career path that will utilize my skills and experiences,while giving me room for professional and personal growth.”

        ” Assertively use the telephone as an organizing tool to communicate to union the members.” – I liked this one too

  52. Lillian McGee*

    Oh, boy… so I took some advice from a couple open threads ago about a wedding gift for the boss (a DIY book of recipes from staff) and posed the idea to the management team via email on Wednesday. No response. Radio silence! And this group is good with emails so I know they got it and are choosing not to respond.

    I knew morale was an issue but I didn’t think it was this bad. I might be the only one who still likes the boss. They could at least tell me “no, this is a terrible idea and the staff would hate it!”

    So now I don’t know what to do. Part of the problem with morale is that we are losing funding and thus people so less people are having to do more work and that blows. The other problem is that the boss gets unnecessarily defensive about things and communicates poorly and… tends not to ‘rise above’ the crappy attitudes of the staff but rather flings it right back at them. I often find myself defending the boss and feel caught in the middle. Everyone is being crappy to each other I think and I’m not sure there’s anything to be done!

    1. lulu*

      This is the type of gift that works well if you like the person, as in you feel weird gifting up or you don’t have the money for that, but you don’t mind spending time making something special for them. In your case because of the tensions in your workplace, it might not be the best idea. Talk to a few of your colleagues one on one to confirm. Maybe just a card to pass around to sign?

    2. CMT*

      Are you in the middle somewhere between your boss and these staff? I’m curious as to why you find yourself defending your boss to them. If you’re doing it to try to make the atmosphere more palatable, I understand. But if you’re doing it out of a sense of obligation or duty to your boss, I’d stop. It’s probably going to cause you more stress than it’s worth.

  53. Simurgh*

    I’m applying for jobs and I am not sure how best to represent a long period of temping. I worked on and off with a bunch of different agencies doing random office work for a year and a half. I have a short term position between now and then, so all these temp jobs are high up on my resume and taking up tons of real estate that I should be using to show my skills. I really wish I could just not include any of it. The jobs are not relevant to my field at all and honestly I’d rather get pecked to death by emus than do the kind of work I was doing again. If I don’t account for it though it’ll leave a huge recent gap that I can’t explain otherwise. What would you do to represent those positions while de-emphasizing them? Thanks

    1. Megs*

      I think it’s totally fine to aggregate temping jobs so long as it’s clear what you’re doing. I’m in a less extreme case since I’ve only been temping for two companies, but I keep them to one line sort of like this:

      Agency X, Agency Y May 2015 – 2016
      Contract Attorney
      Couple of lines about what I’ve been doing generally.

      I think people understand that since it’s temp work, there’s some random layoff time off in there and lots of different projects. If you’ve worked for more than say three agencies maybe just pick the ones you’ve done the most/best work for so you can keep that on one line.

      1. Megs*

        One entry, I mean. As for deemphasizing, I’m not sure how to do that other than aggregating if you’re trying to fill a significant employment hole (as I am). I’m a firm believer that resumes don’t need to cover every single little job, but they do need to be chronological.

    2. Nickibee*

      I recommend dividing your employment history into two sections: Relevant Experience and Other Experience. Stick the temp jobs under the Other section and only provide bare bones information about them like Megs suggests

  54. Audiophile*

    Google Analytics question:
    Has anyone used it in with Constant Contact?I just did for an email I sent out and unfortunately, it broke the link to the second website. In all fairness to Constant Contact, they do warn that this is a possibility but it would be nice if you could test this before the email goes live.

    Second question: Has anyone gone through Google’s certification process for Google Analtyics? I’ve been thinking about it, because I really want to utilize the reports, we get a fair amount of web traffic per month but I’ll definitely need to be able to explain it to the higher ups, since until I started they weren’t aware that the website wasn’t even tracking.

    1. SophieChotek*

      I just asked that myself down below. Hopefully one of us will get an answer.

      Regarding Constant Contact — no I have not. I was afraid of what you wrote might happen, so I thought I better play it safe. Constant Contact is a constant headache to me. Their analytics reports are so annoying to export — having to export each piece (bounces, opens, etc.) separately, and all you get is an excel file that you will have to manually work through all the data is a nightmare. (IMO).

      1. Audiophile*

        I should have inspected the second site to see if it had analytics enabled but I didn’t. This was my mistake. This was my first time enabling that feature on Constant Contact, because all the other emails were too “vital” to test it out with.

        I haven’t exported any of the data from Constant Contact, it’s hard enough dealing with GA and it took me long enough to correct the original mistake(s) that were made.

  55. Interview help needed*

    Hello! Me again. Thanks to everyone who responded last week! My phone interview went… eh. :\ I’m not sure, honestly. They said I would hear back from them yesterday or today, so we’ll see what they thought. I still think I’m a great fit for the position, just that the interview itself was a lil’ awkward.

    Thanks again friends! :) love this community.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Yay!!! I was just going to say, I haaaaaate phone interviews. I understand their purpose in the grand scheme of the hiring process, but I’ve never had one that didn’t feel completely awkward.

  56. Cafe au Lait*

    Anyone have tips on dealing with a coworker who uses “I need to use the restroom” as an excuse for getting out of work? Whenever I ask my coworker to cover the public service desk, or cover me for a fifteen minute break, or spot a desk work for five minutes, she always needs to use the bathroom first. It’s so predictable that I’ve started asking her ten to fifteen minutes ahead of when I need her at the PSD to accommodate this quirk. (If I can).

    We have an open concept office, and my coworker overshares everything. I know her bathroom schedule down to five-minute blocks. (I shouldn’t, but I do).

    Today I took too long returning from my break as I was taking care of something she left undone. She freaked out because “What if I had to use the bathroom?” (I would’ve stopped what I was doing and returned to the desk). I really wanted to respond “It’s not your bathroom time yet; you’ve still got an hour.”

    I don’t really want to start tracking bathroom time so I prove to my boss that she uses it as an excuse to stay off the desk.

    1. Beem*

      Hah, I wonder if she had some sort of embarrassing bathroom issue that could have been prevented if only she had gone when she had the chance.

    2. some1*

      The only thing that even remotely worked for me when I was a receptionist was to plan my breaks ahead of time. Like “I am taking lunch at X time and a break at Y time.” It kind of sucks not to have the flexibility to step away whenever you want, but it eliminated that kind of stuff.

    3. E*

      Can you give her plenty of notice for when you need her to cover? For example, if you need her in 15 minutes, you can give her a heads up and to take a quick bathroom break before that coverage starts. If you’ve tried this a few times with no luck, I’d then go to your boss and ask how he/she recommends handling the issue. If your coworker’s job duties include covering for your breaks and such, the boss needs to reinforce the requirements to her.

      1. Cafe au Lait*

        I already do that. Part of the problem is that she won’t leave to use the bathroom until it’s time to cover to the desk.

        It really got to me today since something came for me in the mail, and she left the tote in the middle of the walkway. I saw it when I took my break, and choose to take care of it. She freaked out about my not returning immediately from break as “she might also need a bathroom break.” It was an extra 10 minutes.

    4. Student*

      “Covering the desk when needed is one of your responsibilities. When it’s your turn to handle it, I need you there on time and fully responsible for this role. If you need to leave the desk during this time, such as for restroom breaks, you need to find someone else to cover for you on your own – here’s one possible alternate to contact.”

      Then ask the co-worker and alternate to send you a short note when they’re covering the desk, so you can see if she fully unloads this duty on the alternate every time or only in reasonable situations. Take it to the boss that co-worker is not fulfilling her PSD responsibilities if that’s what you find, and tell boss you need her to talk to co-worker or find a better choice for helping you with PSD.

    5. Dangerfield*

      I can kind of empathise with the bathroom anxiety! Even if I don’t need to go, I can get super anxious thinking that I might not be able to if I did need to, which inevitably becomes not being sure whether I need to go or not, which feeds into the anxiety. But it sounds like whatever issue she has is interfering with her life, whether that issue be anxiety or just laziness.

      Presumably there’s an arrangement for when one of you is out of the office and therefore there isn’t any cover?

      1. Cafe au Lait*

        Not really. Mostly we have front line desk staff. (We’re back in the office). If a front-line staffer is here, she’s pretty free to do what she needs to do. Today, our front-line staff didn’t show up. She stayed in the back while I worked the desk.

        Usually there’s more than one person here. So if I was called away while she was covering me, then someone could step in. Either she doesn’t remember this, or believes she can’t ask. I’m not sure which.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Find some go-to sentences and use them each time. Say these things before she even asks.

      “You know you can use the bathroom any time you want. You do not have to wait for me to return in order to use the bathroom.”
      “Just like yesterday, you can ask Mary to cover, if you need to use the restroom.”

      You might want to explain to her that covering the desk is part of her job, it’s not going to go away. And no one has a problem if she needs a restroom.

      Optionally, if she is an oversharer and you see an opportunity, you could mention that dehydration can cause problems with urgency and frequency of bathroom use.

      I kinda feel bad for her- I was that person that would have to “go” at bad times. I was really under hydrated and I could get nervous both of which seemed to make me need to run to the bathroom at the worst time. It would help to know that I could use the bathroom and I also found it helpful to learn the job/task better, too. Try to find out if she has any problems while watching the desk.

  57. The Other Dawn*

    I mentioned in a few posts that I’m part of a branch new leadership development program at my company. We had some concerns, so a few of us sat down with the head of Training to pitch some ideas, share concerns, etc. We found out that it’s leadership skills only for the whole three years (it was originally positioned as more of a succession planning type of program).

    Apparently, they’ve acted on one of our suggestions already: we are all now attending the annual strategic planning session with the executives! I can’t wait! But now I have to worry that I won’t have anything important to contribute…. (a common worry of mine).

  58. Don't say my name!*

    This might be long and I’m sorry. Not sure I want advice, just venting, though if you have some that’s great.

    OldBoss retired. I got a new Boss. NewBoss (way more corporate than OldBoss) has been changing stuff up, which makes me anxious, because my entire job is changing. TeamLead has been talking about how the document prep I’ve been doing a lot of may get phased out (I don’t know if this is true, but she has access to more info than I do). One of the things I’m most anxious about is being phased out myself–particularly because I don’t know what tasks I’ll be taking on for this new department, and I’ve been afraid that one or more of them will be beyond my capabilities (I have a learning disability with *koff m@th koff*–and you probably know who this is now but don’t say my name!).

    I have let my anxiety get the better of me. But I took some time off to zen out and came back to work feeling much better. Except NewBoss called me into a meeting and I was put on a PIP.

    The you’ve-been-acting-like-a-jerk part of it is fair, but terrifyingly, the next item was a thing about MSXcel training. I’m not very good in MSXcel because I’m not good with numbers, and I had mentioned this to Newboss in a conversation about my current tasks. I asked if this was something I was doing now that she wasn’t happy with, or something I’d be taking on in the future. She said it was a future task, and that she needed me to become proficient in the program for it. This was literally the first I’d heard of this mysterious task.

    Not knowing what it was (she did not and would not say) but assuming that if she asked for proficiency that it meant something m@th-y, I had to do it–I played the ADA card. I explained what the LD was, how it affected my working with certain items, and that if I were to do data entry only and a spreadsheet were set up ahead of time like the one I’ve been working with successfully for the last few years, then it was probably fine. But I would need some accommodation to do anything else, especially if figures were involved. And I was happy to do the MSXcel training, blah blah helpful, whatever.

    Yes, I shot myself in the foot by being hesitant and anxious. So no need to pile on.

    I had to get paperwork from the testing I did a few years ago for VR. The doctor was very helpful and nice and I met with HR and explained everything. NewBoss also spoke with HR and suspended the training for now until they can figure out accommodations. By that, I’m guessing that yes, this WAS a very m@th-intensive thing.

    I really thought I wouldn’t have to worry about this anymore when I got this job. Apparently not. Hidden disabilities SUCK. No one believes you. I’m just glad I had that resource (the doctor) and that it was right there when I needed it. They could absolutely fire me for being BEC, though I’m taking the PIP seriously and doing my best to fix that. I suppose they can still let me go if the accommodations don’t help–like if it’s something I still can’t do even with them. That’s the part that has me in knots.

    If that happens, I will be right back where I started before I came here. It took me ages to find a job where I didn’t have the worry about the LD, and now it’s all ruined. I just. can. not. even. *headdesk headdesk headdesk*

    1. fposte*

      How frustrating! I know you really liked this job under the old boss, so this is a really disappointing turn. I’m so glad you spoke up about the LD, though. Big hugs and fingers crossed for you!

    2. Tau*

      Oh no! Virtual hugs to you, that sucks. :( I’m so sorry you felt forced to disclose – here’s hoping it works out and your boss is good about it.

      Also, I can’t help but think that if you have been doing your job just fine all along, then whatever this mysterious task is can’t be an essential part of the job… which means that “[name withheld] not doing it and someone else taking it on” ought to be a reasonable accommodation! :|

      1. Don't say my name!*

        Well, I don’t KNOW what it is–that’s the problem. Our tiny department is getting absorbed into the department NB runs, so my job is changing, and I’m supposed to be taking on new tasks as the admin for Shiny New Department. I had asked her questions about it but the actual tasks were not defined; I’m just getting these random things in dribs and drabs. Like “Bob is going to show you how to do this weekly report.” He was doing it and now I do it. TeamLead (who is in our original department) is handing off little things she used to do that she doesn’t have time for anymore because they have her doing new stuff too. (She warned me to chill, but my anxiety was so high I could not until I took that time off.)

        The doc said I could perform my job except I would need X accommodations, but the job description in the paperwork I had to get filled out was from when I was hired in 2012. It’s about to become a whole different job.

        This is exactly what I was most afraid of–that the essential functions of the job would change and I could no longer do them, even with accommodation. I don’t know if they would try to transfer me to something else or just fire me.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This so sucks, I am so sorry.

          Can you take a preemptive step of finding out if there is another job in the company that would be right up your alley?

          I totally get the worry/dread. Sometimes we can cut off some of that by taking our own steps forward without waiting for inputs.

          Is there a way you can contact Old Boss and talk the situation over with him?Maybe he would have ideas.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Most likely scenario, based on what you’ve described: There’s lots of stuff NB can have you do, and since she didn’t know about the math issue, one of the tasks she was planning for you was math-based. Now she knows, so she’s changing that plan. That happens, and people adjust! I can think of lots of times when I’d been planning to move task X to someone and then learned that person was terrible at it or couldn’t do it for some other reason, and I just adjusted the plan. That’s pretty common!

          It does not sound like the math task was going to be an essential part of the new role. It sounds like you got to see a new job description, so hopefully that gives you a sense of whether math is infusing big parts of the new role or not? But it doesn’t sound like it will. I would bet that if you focus on having a great attitude to counteract whatever was going on before the PIP, this will work out okay.

          1. Don't say my name!*

            Thanks for chiming in, Alison–I hope so.
            The job description is what they provided for the accommodation paperwork I had to give the doctor, and it was not the new one–it’s the old one from when I was first hired. I hope she’ll be cool and flexible like you. I’m having a hard time trusting her now (and I’m sure she feels the same!) but I’m trying.

            Not So NewReader: I could–we’re friends on FB now that she no longer works there–but I’m not sure there’s anything she could do to advise. I’m not FB friends with anyone actually at work, and only two people other than the ones involved know what’s going on. I probably won’t bother her with it, though I’m sure if the worst happened, she’d give me a good reference.

            I’m just trying to do like Alison says and have a better attitude about everything, without acting like I don’t care anymore.

  59. Daisy Dukes*

    Are employers typically open to doing phone interviews instead of in person?

    I don’t want to keep calling out for multiple in person rounds.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think typically they’ll do a phone screen, but after that they’ll generally want in-person interviews.

      I did once go through an entire hiring process via phone / Skype without once doing an in-person. It was a bit weird, but it ended up okay (i.e., I was lucky).

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        That last one was for a cross-country job search, but the other cross-country job searches I flew out for—once with the flight paid for by the employer.

      2. Laura*

        I was hired for my first “real” job after a phone interview and two Skype interviews. Though I appreciate the company for being understanding that I was out of state, I wish I’d been able to do an in-person interview. The moment I stepped into the office for orientation, I got a bad feeling… and I was right, it wasn’t the right workplace for me at all.

    2. Allisonthe5th*

      Depending on employer, many will be willing to do one or two over Skype, but you are going to have to show up in person, too. People get a better vibe of someone in person.

    3. BRR*

      Not usually. And if they are I would concerned about who they have hired. I believe you’re well within your rights to ask for a phone screen first.

  60. TheLazyB*

    1) Does anyone here do survey design? Use survey software that isn’t survey monkey?
    Lots of shake up in my team at the minute and it’s an opportunity for me to learn more about that part of my team’s work. Our survey software is weird though which doesn’t help.

    2) I’ve been in my job for just under a year and I’m finally starting to understand how our incredibly complicated structure fits together. I’m wanting to ask more about it and find out more about linkages but am shy especially as I feel like i should have got a grip on it before now! But this wouldn’t be a bad thing for me to do…. right?! I am getting training and stuff which I’m really excited about but feel a bit like everyone is busy and I shouldn’t!
    I also was looking for a specific framework that part of my team developed the other day and couldn’t find it on our intranet; I’m sure it should be there but it might just be that I’m looking the wrong places!! Asking is perfectly reasonable, right?!

    Here closes this extremely insecure post ;)

    1. Merry and Bright*

      Not just you. Not by a long chalk. My team are still trying to work out structures and stuff and most of us have been here at least a year.

      No advice available on survey stuff though(!) Agree intranets aren’t always the best. Sometimes I find things in the oddest places by putting a key word in the search box. Then I save it firmly into my favourites list (which is getting pretty long now!

      1. TheLazyB*

        Thank goodness for that….. that is very reassuring :D it’s possible that I do the same thing!!

    2. happypup*

      I do survey design! I’ve used Qualtrics, Typeform and Google Forms for surveys (in addition to surveymonkey) and they’ve all got their pluses and minuses. Is there anything specific you’re looking to find out?

    3. TheLazyB*

      We use something else. It’s…. not very intuitive. As much as anything else I’m wanting to know a) that someone else works on surveys as because before my current job I wouldn’t have thought about people using surveys outside universityresearch or marketing, and B) wondering how we can improve our invitation emails. Also if you have a cohort of people, how do you decide whether to survey them all or a sample? Thank you for anything anyone can share! :)

      1. Andrew*

        I program surveys (Sawtooth Software) and do help out a little bit with invitation emails when we occasionally have to invite people ourselves. Who are you inviting to the surveys and what kind of surveys are they? For instance, a survey of your current customers about what they want to see offered vs a survey of people who cancelled a service about why they left would have fairly different needs for an invite email.

  61. SophieChotek*

    Google Analytics Certification – Query

    Last week in open thread I think someone mentioned getting certified with Google Analytics through Google and it was free (?)

    Could people experienced with that tell me more about the program? time requirements? “Homework” requirements?

    For someone with a non-tech background who also is supposed to be the person in charge of the Google Analytics for my company’s department, I am concerned it will be way over my head, but on the other hand, with no background at all in tech/coding/web-building, I’m not sure how helpful I’ll be with the Google Analytics without some sort of tutorials and training.

    Thanks for advice/expertise.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      It is free. And it doesn’t take too much to implement (you have to paste some code into your website). But understanding how to set up everything on the dashboard side and understand and keep track of all the metrics… that takes a bit of work.

      1. Audiophile*

        I think Sophie is asking about the certification, not the analytics program itself.

        Sophie, it is free to my knowledge. Google made this change about a year ago, I’m guessing they weren’t getting enough revenue from charging people.

        I’d still love to hear from someone who’s gone through the certification process (either paid or free.)

    2. Kate the Little Teapot*


      Why don’t you take a look at the first free course in Google’s Analytics Academy site and then see if you need certification and feel like it’s something you want to do?

      I honestly think that your technical knowledge is less of an issue in terms of GA because they will teach you a lot of what you need and there are very good resources you can point technical people at in terms of actually inserting code which is very simple. However, you do need to have a lot of comfort with business and marketing analytics and manipulating dashboards, so I would say that your ability to learn how to understand those concepts is more important than your ability to understand code.

      I am certified. I would say that you probably don’t need certification unless you work at an agency or you want to teach or you will be launching many websites or you just enjoy this sort of thing. The certification is free, but the multiple choice questions are very detailed and the certification takes a lot of studying. I enjoyed it, and it took me probably about 40h of studying spread over a month, but I am extremely good at analytics and comfortable with technology.

      I also teach analytics and would be willing to work out a remote class for AAM commenters, or individual rates, or something similar, if you need more handholding.

      Ask me more questions, I’ll tell you no lies.

  62. Skippy*

    I got a promotion this week! I started in a completely new field/job in November and Wednesday I got bumped up to the next role in the ladder!!!

  63. Beem*

    I’m so burnt out on my babysitting job. Getting paid $10/hr (!) in Southern California (!) to watch two kids (!) ages 3 and 5 (!) and driving 30 miles (!) each way has gotten really old, so…

    I’m quitting my babysitting job today! Giving two weeks notice, though, of course.

    Their other nanny quit because she wanted more money and she’s a mother of 4! Of course she should get more than $10/hr for her time!

    1. ElCee*

      Good! You were being grossly underpaid. I made $10/hr when I was in my teens (many years ago and they lived within walking distance.) I am sure you will quickly find a employer who pays you way better.

    2. Allisonthe5th*

      Oh my gosh, yes! Quit! 20 years ago I got $10-$15/hour when I walked down the street in my Midwestern town. I was “on call” for $10/hour and got $15 for actually watching 2 kids. Oh and I was 12.

    3. Ad Astra*

      Oooh, yeah, that’s an incredibly low wage for a nanny (as opposed to, like, someone who babysits for 3 hours on a Friday night) with two kids.

    4. Laura*

      You were insanely underpaid. I am so sorry, and I hope you never get in that situation again.

    5. Jen*

      Come to Massachusetts. I will pay you $15/hr to watch my easy and toilet trained 3 year old.

      Probs wouldn’t make up for the commute, though ;)

  64. levsha*

    This is a pretty sensitive question, but I’m curious about what commenters think.

    I am a young white woman who does some community outreach for my organization in DC. My organization, like many, has us address people both internally and externally by their first names. As a young person, I am getting increasingly comfortable with this, but one situation where it makes me super uncomfortable is when I’m addressing an older black community member/leader. I’ve noticed that in the black native Washingtonian community that Mr./Mrs. is much more the norm with older folks. I am also super aware that not so long ago white people of all ages felt free to call black people by their first names or boy/girl, and many of the generation I am addressing actually lived through that time period. It feels weird to change my address based on age and race, but it often feels way worse not to, so I’ve often settled on avoiding names or starting off with the Mr./Mrs. when it seems to be appropriate.

    I don’t know what advice I’m looking for per se, but I would love to hear some other perspectives on this from commenters!

    1. KimberlyR*

      I live in the South and I always customize my greeting to people based on what our cultural norms are. Although I’m more likely to address older people as Mr./Ms., I am even more likely to do so if it is an older black man or woman. In my area, this is an expected sign of respect. (I don’t know that anyone would say anything or correct me if I didn’t do it, but its expected that if you want to be respectful, you do it.) In general, we will address them by Mr. Firstname or Ms. Firstname, unless they have indicated that they prefer Mr. or Ms. Lastname.

      Regardless of age or race, I always use sir and ma’am.

      1. Megs*

        Norms jinx!

        To elaborate on the discomfort piece, I think that modifying one’s form of address based on available information is not dissimilar from the discussion earlier today about asking coworkers not to call one by a particular mode of address. I can see why you might be uncomfortable not addressing everyone the same way, but to look at it from a different perspective, I think it’s (almost) always best to defer to any individual in terms of how they wish to be addressed. In this case, you don’t know for sure since these are strangers, but you do have some information indicating what they would prefer, and I don’t see anything wrong with using that information to inform your decisions.

    2. Megs*

      I am not black, older, or someone who has ever lived anywhere remotely southern, BUT I have heard that this can be a big respect issue for people in those groups and I think you’re right to be conscious of the norms of the communities you’re working with.

    3. Milton*

      You could always go with, “Hello Mr. Smith, or do you prefer Rodger?”

      I totally get that it feels weird to address someone differently based on age/race/other factor, but I’d think of it more a cultural competence…you’re aware and respect the fact that a group of people may prefer X (ex. in this culture we always remove our shoes and wear slippers in the house) but not shocked when a person from that group does things “differently” (“oh, feel free to keep your shoes on:) )

    4. notfunny.*

      Can you ask someone? Either someone in your organization or someone from the community that you trust who will tell you what is appropriate and respectful? I have colleagues who work with community partners and they address them as Mrs./Mr. (this is actually in the midwest) — but I would find out from someone who has more information. I think it’s good that you are right to think carefully about this and I hope you get an answer. I would likely go with Mr./Mrs.

    5. overeducated*

      I think erring on the side of being more respectful can never hurt. (Unless they respond “it’s DOCTOR!” but the first name wouldn’t help in that case either.)

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I was raised (and I’m not black, old or southern) to always call adults Mr./Mrs./Ms. LastName. It was fine when I was 9 but now, I just can’t break that habit, even when they ask me to use their first name because I’m an adult and stuff.

        So I say, call whoever you’re working with Mr./Mrs./Ms. and allow them to correct you with what they wish to be called. It’s much better to get a “that’s OK dear, you can call me Ada” than to just assume and call her that to begin with, IMO.

    6. LQ*

      When I was a young white woman I did community outreach in a primarily black neighborhood. I asked, a lot. I was very lucky to have some extremely understanding people to mentor me and I asked a lot questions, but I got a run down of not only all the major players but how they preferred to be addressed, all the things I should know. (And a tour of the neighborhood with many history lessons along the way.) If you have a mentor figure I cannot recommend asking them enough. For me it shifted from group to group and from setting to setting. There was a lot of nuance around it and not only did asking help me learn, but also made it clear that I wanted to learn and wasn’t coming in sure I knew everything. (Which made things much easier for me.)

    7. DC*

      Call them by their last names- you will feel more comfortable and they will probably appreciate it. If they prefer first name they’ll correct you. Also maybe bring this up to someone at your org. If they are good at what they do they will appreciate your perspective on this.

    8. levsha*

      Thanks everyone! I appreciate the (apparent) consensus that cultural competency trumps organizational norms, at least in a good organization. I have asked people, but mostly I’ve gotten a lot of “yeah it’s tricky do what feels right.” I’ll be more confident in my Mr./Mrs. Lastname choice now!

    9. Ad Astra*

      I think you’re right to trust your gut and go with Mr. Wilson or Mrs. Edwards until they ask you to call them by their first names. Even I (a young, white woman) don’t have a problem with being called Ms. Astra, even though I would prefer Ad. It’s the safest path.

    10. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Like others have said, I would err on the side of being respectful. It’s a cultural norms thing, especially in the South.

      When I worked for Old Company as a manager, the company had a HUGE initiative to have everyone address everyone as their first name. I was transferred to a store where the demographic was primarily African American and they all called me Miss Rebecca and so I referred to most of them the same way. (I’m white, if it makes a difference.)

    11. Former Retail Manager*

      White female, 35, in the South…..haven’t done community outreach but have dealt with the public extensively. For older people in general (currently 50+), regardless of race, I always use Mr. or Mrs. Last Name. It is a respect thing here. My mother is 71, white, and does not want to be called Georgia by someone who doesn’t know her. As others have said, if the individual strongly prefers that you call them by their first name, they will let you know. Go with your gut.

    12. stevenz*

      The norms of your organisation don’t necessarily extend beyond your four walls, no matter how commendable. Go with Mr, Ms, or Mrs. I believe there is a cultural expectation in the black community – and probably others – of increased respect for older people. And it’s a good practice in my opinion.

  65. Starting a new job*

    I’m starting a new job soon, and the more senior I get, the more nervous I get at new jobs because I know the expectations are going to be higher right off the bat. I know the more experience you have, the more they expect you to hit the ground running but what exactly does that mean? Is it frowned upon to ask a lot of questions as you learn the lay of the land? How quickly should you be up to speed (I know this probably varies by industry and job…)?

    1. Laura*

      It definitely depends on the industry and workplace. I have a new coworker who is from the industry, but new to my organization. Her training has been very assumptive that she knows NOTHING, which I think is really helpful to her. Every organization has different expectations and ways of doing things, so I think it’s better to just start from scratch as often as you can.

  66. Anon for this one, just in case*

    What would you do? Coworkers call me by my last name instead of my first name and I don’t like it. I work in a remote location so all communication with the rest of my company is done by phone and email. We have a few people with the same first name so at least one of them goes by her last name and has since I’ve been with the company (slightly less than a year.) There is someone with the same name as me at our corporate headquarters and, until yesterday, there were 2. (The other one resigned yesterday while she was out on medical leave.) The other Samename and I don’t have the same or similar jobs at all, and there is almost never an email chain or conference call that we’re both on at the same time. Even so, on calls I will announce my presence as “Firstname in Mytown” so everyone knows which one of us it is.

    Recently, people have started calling me by my last name in casual conversation. Its mostly people in the same department as someone with a common name in our company that regularly goes by her last name. My problem, besides the fact that I like my first name and prefer to be called by it, is that my last name is becoming a common first name and I foresee a day when someone with my last name as their first name joins the company. (For example, think of my name as Jane Lawrence. One day, someone named Lawrence could join the company and then I will still end up sharing the name I am called.)

    Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Is it reasonable to expect people to call me by actual name, even if someone else in the company also has that same name? And if so, how do I casually correct it without making a big deal out of it or making people mad?

    1. Megs*

      Hah, the post earlier today has a ton of discussion on just this issue. The consensus was that yes, it is reasonable to expect people to call you by the name you ask them to call you, and it’s best to just correct in real time, be nice but don’t back down.

      1. Anon for this one, just in case*

        I totally missed that! I will go back and reread. Thanks so much!

    2. Laura*

      I am in the same position you are, but the “other Laura” works at another location. I just accept that people will call me what they call me. Unless it gets out of hand, I’m not going to bring it up. This isn’t the hill to die on.

    3. Student*

      Say, “I prefer to be called Jane, thanks” in the moment and then move on with normal conversation. If it takes more than occasional reminders, take aside the primary perpetrator and say privately, “I really prefer to be called Jane. Could you please stop referring to me as Lawrence? Thanks!” and repeat as necessary. If only one person digs in and does it to be obnoxious, try hard to not respond to them unless they use your preferred name and otherwise don’t let it visibly annoy you. If everyone digs in and does it to be obnoxious, either give up the battle or look for a new job with less-crappy co-workers.

    4. Jules the First*

      In my last office, one of our new hires had the same first name as the owner of the company (let’s call him Steven). For a while we called the new hire ‘New Steven’, but our poor receptionist was getting confused about when people were calling to speak to New Steven and when they were calling to speak to big boss Steven. So people started calling New Steven just ‘Steve’. Which it turns out he hates.

      A few weeks into the saga, he and I were in a meeting and about halfway through the meeting, the client started calling him Miles. New Steven carefully pointed out that his name was actually Steven. The client apologised profusely and said that he looked like someone he used to work with whose name was Miles but kept calling him Miles – no – Steven all afternoon. A few days later, New Steven sent a quick note around the office commenting that in light of the confusion, he would now be known as Miles since it seemed both easier for his primary client and for the office in general….eight years and three offices later, he’s still known to most of his colleagues as Miles (though he is still Steven in his personal life). He calls it his professional alter-ego….

      1. Ellen Ripley*

        My spouse once worked at a small company that had four or five Michaels working there. One was Michael, one was Mike, one was Mikey, etc. Somehow someone decided to start calling one of the Michaels Sven, and with his okay he became Sven at work for several years. When I first met him he was introduced as Sven and it was several months before I knew that that wasn’t even his name. We still run into him occasionally and I still think of him as Sven.

  67. Mallory Janis Ian*

    Procrastination suffering going on here! I am dying because I let a report deadline slip up on me and it is due soon. Last year our annual report was due on July 15, and this year, in their infinite wisdom, the college has moved it up to June 15. I have been saving snippets of information all year long and all I have to do is edit last year’s report with all the updated info, but I wish I had started compiling it sooner. Plus I went away on a 20th anniversary trip with my husband, from which I lost two days’ time to work on it this week. I’m glad I went on the trip, but I’m feeling the pain now. And now I’m getting off the AAM procrastination machine and returning to the dreaded task. :-(

    1. SJ*

      This happened to some coworkers of mine! We were at a conference a few weeks ago and several of them were panicking a bit over the earlier annual report deadline. good luck!

  68. Bowserkitty*

    My final day of conferences is today – I am so looking forward to sleeping in. Most of my days have been 10 hours minimum, with one day being 12 and another 14. I don’t know how people do it!

  69. Ann Furthermore*

    If this is too much on the personal side, please remove and I’ll post it on the Sunday thread.

    Does anyone have any tips for cooling down quickly after a lunchtime workout? I’ve started walking over my lunch hour, which I really enjoy. It gets my step count way up by mid-day, which is motivating. I only go for about 20 minutes, but since it’s so hot out, I’m all sweaty by the time I get back.

    So far I’ve been just hanging out in the locker room for about 5 minutes when I’m done to cool down a bit, and then taking a quick shower. It’s working OK, but I do still feel a little overheated and disheveled when I get back to my desk, but I don’t think anyone else notices. If I had a big meeting or presentation in the afternoon, I would skip the lunchtime walk, but since that’s usually not the case, it’s not that big a deal.

    1. JennyFair*

      When I bike to work, I like to use witch hazel (usually diluted) on a washcloth for my face, etc. Since it’s an astringent, it cools down some of the redness and heat.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Do you get changed to go out and do your walk? That wet washcloth on the neck might help you be cooler while you’re outside. There are products that are neck coolers which are full of hydrating beads so not as wet/messy as a washcloth. Also, you might consider wearing a big sun hat. Or, can you do your walk somewhere indoors like a shopping mall?

    3. T3k*

      After I work out, I tend to splash cold water on my face until it doesn’t feel so heated (takes about a minute for me).

      1. Laura*

        This is the most effective way to cool down– it’s protocol for people with heat exhaustion!

  70. Jackie*

    I just need to vent a tiny bit. I am so very very frustrated with my current employee search. I am hiring teachers. My job posting is 100% clear that they must be certified to teach in my province. There is zero ambiguity about that. Is is stated both in the text of the ad as well as there is a yes/no question that asks before they submit their application.

    >50% of the applications I’ve gotten over the last couple days answer “no” to having a valid teaching certificate for our province.

    1. E*

      Applicants often don’t read postings very closely. Is there any way you can edit the job posting so that this key requirement is nearer to the beginning of the posting (and in bold preferably)? 50% is a high amount of ineligible applicants, in my experience.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      It’s frustrating that so many people don’t seem to be able to read a job posting that has very clear requirements. At least they are answering the certification question honestly. Since you have a certification question in the application, is it easy to just sort out the applicants who aren’t qualified? Every hiring process I’ve heard of always yields some unqualified candidates, at least yours are easy to identify.

    3. Jules the First*

      Can your IT department tweak the system so that it rejects their application if the tick ‘no’?

  71. Ayla K*

    Does anyone have any tips or advice on transitioning back into full-time work after 3-4 months of unemployment? I feel like I’ve gotten really used to having all this free time (sleep in, go to the gym whenever, run errands and make calls when it’s convenient, binge garbage TV in the afternoon) and it’s going to be a bit of a shock to go back to having this routine and being “on” for 8-10 hours/day.

    I was fully employed for 5 years before this unemployment period, so it won’t be new or anything, I’m just worried that I won’t be able to ‘ease’ into anything.

    1. Ell like L*

      Can you start now by creating a schedule for yourself? Wake up early, go to the gym and watch tv after working hours, and put the “work” like errands and calls during working hours. That might ease the shock to the system.

      If you’re starting work ASAP though I would make sure you leave time for errands etc. on the weekends, so you can come home from work for a couple of weeks and be lazy. Giving yourself the evenings free as much as possible will probably help ease the pressure of being at work all day.

      1. Ayla K*

        …but all the best garbage TV is on between 3 and 5!!

        You’re absolutely right – I really should be better about keeping myself to a routine. I do function much better when I have a routine and unemployment has been really hard on me, mentally. I’m going to work on this and build myself a weekly schedule I can stick to. Thanks!

    2. Blue_eyes*

      Creating a schedule like Ell like L suggested is a good idea. I would also try mentally reframing it by acknowledging that the transition will be hard no matter what you do. Could you cook some extra food to put in the freezer and do other things that will make life easier for the first couple weeks when you’re back at work?

    3. Laura*

      I was unemployed for a single month, and I still found it hard to transition back!

      Make a schedule! Plan out your days, even if you feel like you don’t need to. Start waking up earlier and going to be later. It’s helpful to start approaching your day as a “work” day when you have a list of things to accomplish (i.e. go to the store, do X workout, vacuum, clean the bathroom, etc.).

      Good luck! And congratulations!

  72. LisaLee*

    I am applying for a government-funded job (not technicially a federal position, but with similar requirements). The job description states that the position is not relocation authorized, which I am taking to mean they will not pay for relocating. And that’s fine with me, but how do I indicate in my cover letter that I still REALLY want the job and am okay with paying to move? Right now I have “Although I currently reside in X, I am planning on relocating to Y this year.” But would it be better to say, “I understand this position is not eligible for relocating funding, and I am more than willing to pay these costs if offered the job”? Or is that too forward?

    1. Megs*

      Your first wording seems totally reasonable and less clunky than the second. The couple of federal jobs I’ve interviewed for both had similar no relocation language and I didn’t even bother to address it in my cover letter (and got an interview both times which I also paid for). Both of those jobs were in D.C., however, and I suspect they don’t have the remote applicant bias there that other places might.

    2. CMT*

      There are a couple of letters about this in the archive! I have sent out cover letters that say I’m willing to pay for the expenses of interviewing and relocating.

  73. Argghhh to Strangers Contacting me at Work