open thread – June 17-18, 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 :)

{ 1,156 comments… read them below }

  1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    I finally gave notice at my job! I wikl be free! My last day will be on the eighth–I had to tell my boss ahead of the two weeks time frame as I’m taking off all of next week for unavoidable reasons.

    His reaction when I explained everything and said I’d like to work til the 8th if that was okay with him? “Well, I guess that’s not really up to me, is it?” I legit stared at him for a moment because he truly does not get that it’s his business and he could tell me to leave on the spot if he wanted to. Just one more symptom of a guy completely clueless about how to manage, what his responsibilities should be, and how to treat his employees. And he wonders why people keep leaving.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      Be grateful he’s that clueless, otherwise, you’d be out of a job earlier than you wanted to be. Congrats on giving notice!

    2. Christina*

      I’m giving notice on Monday with only some small freelance stuff lined up and some contacts at creative contract agencies. My stomach is in knots, but I am so excited to be free from my insane manager.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Congrats, FDCA!
      Squirrels can’t help but behave like squirrels, it really tough to get them to act like a dog or a bird. Hold on to that thought.

  2. Shayland (ActualName)*


    It’s ActualName here. I’m changing my handle, and I’ll change my picture in a few.


    I got terminated from my summer camp job. It’s incredibly frustrating, because even before I came to the camp my accommodations weren’t interactive. I didn’t know what I needed, I didn’t know what would work… They just said, “hey, you’re dog’s going to be crated here, and during this activities you’ll be able to visit and take care of her.” It turned out that what that meant was she would be crated for twelves hours a day, and then tethered to my side in a tinny, cramped cabin.

    Yeah, I found out real quick that wasn’t going to work. I tried to make it work anyway. And I talked with so, so, so many of my co-workers and other staff members about it and about possible alternatives. But I never got to speak to the person who was ultimately in charge, except to say that I was ready to send Branka home, and that an alternative accommodation listed by my doctor would work instead. (This is because my supervisor turned out to be amazing and would really be able to provide me with the feed back, emotional support, and validation I would need to do my job.)

    I didn’t see it coming. My supervisor didn’t see it coming.

    Since my dog couldn’t do her f***ing job confined to a cage – and since a got reprimanded for the one time she actually could (and it was even brought up in my termination letter, that having my dog preform deep pressure therapy was not okay.) – I had to figure something else out. And I thought that I did.

    I just… never got to talk to anyone actually in charge of my accommodations about it, except for that one five second conversation. I had been told so, so, so many times that it was fine.

    Anyway…. it just all came as a shock. Because of some of the details I’m looking into getting legal help with this. I don’t really know, other than an apology, what I want to happen next.

    I had to be kept on suicide watch for a while, and then I got really sick. I’m still recovering… I don’t want my job back. I was really afraid of my supervisor’s supervisor. When I left so many people came up to tell me how incredibly sorry they were that they weren’t going to get to know me. So many of them said that they could already tell I was an incredible person…

    It was great, that they didn’t assume that my termination was my fault. A lot of them were scared and upset themselves. I didn’t know what to tell them.

    What the said they stressed they terminated me for? It wasn’t even a problem. My doctor and I just listed it on the paper work in case it would be. And literally the smallest possible change would be needed to accommodate it. One of my co-workers has a similar disability and she was fine!

    And my family is doing a lot of traveling this summer, and I know I’m not up to it because of this. I’ll be spending the weekend and most of next week alone with my dog and with my family’s dog.

    Anyway, I’m just…
    Really, really hurt.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I’m so sorry to read this. I’ve never heard of someone being let go due to an accommodation. Please take care of yourself.

    2. Karo*

      I have nothing to offer other than hugs and support. What they did to you is awful – all of it, from how they treated your dog to refusing to work with you on accommodations.

      1. Shayland (ActualName)*

        Hugs and support are still a huge help. And you forgot to list validation. That means a lot too. <3

    3. Caledonia*

      I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m glad that your supervisor was helpful and I hope that given time you can come back from this stronger. You sound like you did all you could do and more (by giving them an alternative to the dog) and they just behaved pretty crappily towards you.

      *internet hugs and cake*

      1. Shayland (ActualName)*

        Yeah, I’ve contacted the ACLU. I’m hoping to hear back from them. Otherwise I’m not really sure *how* to find a lawyer.

        1. Pwyll*

          If the ACLU declines, you can usually find lawyer referral services via a Google search for (state) or (county) or (city) + lawyer referral. Almost always the bar associations website pop up first, and they can help find you an appropriate Attorney.

          Additionally, in many states summer camps are highly regulated given they usually employ large numbers of minors. As such, you may want to figure out who regulates them in your state (in some, it’s the Department of Labor) and contact them, as this might be considered a licensing violation.

          I’m so sorry about this happening. Best of luck to you!

          1. Shayland (ActualName)*

            I’ve never heard of a referral service, actually, so that’s super helpful. The people who hired me are a local branch of a national organization (I have said who in the past, but I don’t want to mention it now because I don’t think the national group is to blame) and I was thinking of contacting the national organization about my experience to see what they can do. But I would really want a lawyer to help with it.

            Your second bit of advise is great to. I’m not sure if I should wait to hear from the ACLU before looking into other options or not (now that I have more of a clue what the next steps might be).

            Thanks for the luck and support? ~~ <3

            1. Fact & Fiction*

              As someone who formerly worked in the legal field, you are perfectly within your rights to contact more than one attorney to discuss your options. It’s only once you actually sign with a particular attorney that you would want to not discuss the potential case with anyone else.

              Also, I am so sorry you had to go through this. Give yourself plenty of extra care and gentleness while you deal with this. And I’m so happy you and your dog are out of a crappy situation!

        2. Lady Bug*

          You can also try your local law school, many have clinics run by students and they might be able to recommend someone if they cant help.

    4. CB499*

      I’m so sorry to hear about this!

      Just out of curiousity, is this a continuation of a previous post? I’m a bit confused and feel like I’m missing some background information.

      1. Shayland (ActualName)*

        Sort of. I was posting weekly in the open thread for a while about going to summer camp and requesting accommodations and all that.

        1. Q*

          I also am not familiar with the specifics but I think its terrible they expected you to crate your therapy dog all day. Or at all really. The whole purpose of those dogs is to be there next to you when needed. This sounds like a really bad situation for you and I hope you are able to get past it. Don’t let those people ruin your summer. You did nothing wrong.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Right? Crating a therapy dog literally defeats the entire purpose of having the dog there… wtf.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Crates were never intended to house the animal for more than a short period. Twelve hours sounds to me like they were making you abuse your own animal.

              I am thoroughly disgusted, and this is not even my issue. I hope you get some satisfaction if you pursue this.

            1. Meghan*

              That just makes the situation worse. What is the point of crating a service dog? Why would they EVER ask you to do that?

              1. Blurgle*

                And I see you’re talking to the ACLU; sorry.

                I asked because depending on the province there are public boards that handle such things (the local one is, confusingly for baseball fans, the MLB) without the need to see a lawyer first.

    5. Kelly L.*

      I’m so sorry. That sucks. I’m glad you and your dog are away from what sounds like a horrible place, but they are assholes.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I hope your lawyer tears them a new one…legally speaking, of course. They are jerks, and they deserve to be sued out of business so someone else with some sense, some compassion, and/or some empathy can take over.

    7. LawCat*

      Terrible! So sorry to hear this. Take care of yourself. It couldn’t hurt to consult a lawyer even if you ultimately decide you don’t want to deal with legal action. A friend of mine went through having an employer that failed to engage in the interactive process. It’s so messed up because it isn’t that flippin’ hard to just have conversations with an employee (maybe there isn’t a way to accommodate, but how can anyone know without discussing it?)

      Take care of yourself, that’s #1.

      1. Shayland (ActualName)*

        Thanks for the support. It’s so horrible because I was told by everyone that things were fine whenever I asked, and I asked often. There were so many times where I opened away to talk about my accommodations but nothing. And then of course when I was told about the changes that had been chosen for me… well I didn’t want to push. And I feel like they picked the most outrageous work arounds so they could claim it was unreasonable… which it was, but so many other things could have worked.

        I’m doing my best with the self care. So far that’s meant lots of dog cuddles and video games.

    8. LCL*

      I’m sorry that your supervisor turned out to be a jerk. I have read it is all too common that a supervisor will talk about being inclusive and accommodating people but when it comes down to actually having to do something they won’t. ‘Accomodating’ your need for a service dog by requiring her to be crated 12 hours a day is acting in bad faith and isn’t an accommodation at all, no matter what your supervisor said.
      Some good did come out of this-you were able to negotiate the job initially, and when it wasn’t what was presented you held to your ground. You didn’t quit, you were terminated because you wouldn’t put up with unacceptable conditions. That is something to be proud of.
      So chill with the doggies this weekend, have a beer if that’s what you do, and don’t think about any work plans until Monday.

      1. Shayland (ActualName)*

        Thanks so much for saying this <3

        When I was waiting to be picked up (since I don't drive) I was able to talk with someone I was close with and who was involved in my hiring. She told me about how great I was in the interview, and was able to give me so much great feed back. I really rocked it, and I know I did. I am proud. I did my best, I was under so, so much stress from the unclear communication, and I was actually pretty afraid of my supervisor.

        But I was still professional. I did bawl when they read the letter to me, and for a long time after words. By what I said was professional. I did my best.


        I'm actually too young to have a beer. My parents have offered sips of their drinks often in the past (they're trying to give me and my sibs a healthy relationship to alcohol). And I half serious, half jokingly asked if I could have a shot of something once I was home. They gave me ice cream instead.

        1. LJL*

          When I was in a similar situation, my BFF recommended a Reese’s Cup and a mindless novel. She was right. Passing on her advice in case it helps you too.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Ice cream (and doggie cuddles and video games) sounds like the best self-care ever. :D

          I’m sorry about this. They suck. They REALLY REALLY suck and now I want to kick them.

      2. Blurple*

        Absolutely. Acting in bad faith is the kindest way to put it!

        You should be proud of yourself for standing up for your needs and your rights. I’m proud of you, and I hope they piddle when they inevitably receive a call from your attorney.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Hahaha, off-topic, but there’s a TV ad for an injury law firm where the bad employer is reading email or talking to someone, who then says, “But they hired Widget Law Firm!” And the person freaks out or drops their coffee cup.

          I’d love to see one where they piddle. XD

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Awww…she’s gorgeous! Bernese Mountain Dog?

        I would seriously want to spend half an hour giving her pets and scritches (but wouldn’t, because she’s a service dog and needs to not be distracted). But she seriously reminds me of a dog my husband and I saw being walked by his people. When I said “Such a pretty dog,” and the people let him approach, he proceeded to plop down on my foot, lean back against my leg, and lean his head back to look up at me just like “I like you! PET ME!”

        1. WorkerBee 23*

          She’s so soft & fuzzy! (Well, I assume, anyway.) We have three mutts who are all mostly black – with distinct eyebrows too! – so I have a soft spot for them!

          My son has epilepsy & we have looked into getting a service dog for him. I cannot imagine anyone thinking this situation would be ok. I am so bummed for you.

        2. Shayland (ActualName)*

          We think she’s a Newfoundland, actually. But, since she’s a rescue we may never really know. (I know that their are dog DNA tests but ehh… I don’t really want to shell out a hundred dollars or so just to find out.)

          And she’s fluffer than she looks. :3
          I had to give her a summer hair cut (called a “lamb cut”) because of the heat. I took off about an inch and a fourth of fur all over. It completely changed the texture, and she really does look like a little black lamp.

      2. Fact & Fiction*

        That dog is just gorgeous! And you should definitely feel proud for standing up for yourself. I’m sorry to hear you received negativity about accommodations for your service dog. You have every right to have the accommodations you deserve and don’t let anyone ever make you feel otherwise.

      3. catsAreCool*

        Your dog is so beautiful! She looks like she’s smiling at the camera. How anyone could want you to crate such a sweet dog? I would think all the kids would want to come up and pet her.

    9. AF*

      One more possible suggestion – have you contacted the agency/organization through which you got your dog? They may have information or resources to help – possibly even an advocate who could speak to your former employer on your behalf, while you wait to find a lawyer. A call to your state’s Department of Labor might be a good idea as well.

      And I second what everyone said that whoever is responsible for this is an absolutely horrible human being. I hope you get resolution soon and can take some time to relax.

    10. Mimmy*

      I don’t blame you for being hurt one bit. A service animal is there to help you function, NOT to be crated for 12 hours a day. Is this a sleep-away camp?

      I’d say at the very least you should consider consulting with a lawyer. As someone else said, you do not have to commit to taking legal action, but this way, you at least know what your rights are.

      Another good resource: Every state has a “protection and advocacy” agency that works to promote the rights of people with disabilities. They have lawyers and advocates that can at the very least advise you about your rights. I’ll put the link in a separate reply (links automatically go to moderation). I’ll also include a link from the Job Accommodations Network about service animals.

      Best of luck – chin up!

      1. Shayland (ActualName)*

        Yep, it was sleep away camp.

        Thanks for the links as well, I’ll definitely look into it.

    11. overeducated*

      I’m so sorry this happened, I know you were nervous but excited about the job and did so much preparation trying to make it work. Having to go through that process is not an easy thing and the mental cost of all of that effort and worry is real, but the self-advocacy you did shows a lot of courage and persistence. I really hope that next time you get a job your supervisors and organization will be more willing to communicate transparently and find actually practical and workable accommodations.

      It sucks for the kids too, it’s good to be around people who are different in various ways AND to grow up seeing that if they have different needs they can still belong and do the same things as others. They will also have that example taken away because the camp couldn’t walk the walk.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Exactly! And I do NOT understand why on earth any organization wound WANT to crate a service dog and would think that was at all acceptable. I mean, I can see needing to balance camper safety/fears if any have dog phobias with the needs of the person/service dog, but plenty of places manage to make that work in a way that doesn’t separate person from service dog. I’m just shaking my head at this whole situation. It’s mind-boggling. I mean, if they weren’t going to truly accommodate you and your dog they should have never hired you. It’s not like they gave it a true, good faith effort and things just didn’t work out…

    12. zd*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. Some people are the worst. Sending lots and lots of hugs to you and your beautiful dog who worked so hard to do her job under crazy circumstances.

    13. SophieChotek*

      I am sorry to hear that. It sounds like they did nothing to try to work with would have been a feasible solution.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I think I am getting this, you asked a bizillion times about bringing your service dog. They said no problem, bring the dog.
      I am envisioning that you had to bring a bunch of clothes because you would be staying at this place. So there’s packing and planning and all that.
      You get there. They change the plan and basically make you lock your dog in a crate for 12 hours at a clip? And here you are stuck, you have to stay.
      I cannot imagine. I would be absolutely livid if someone made me put my dog in a crate for 12 hours at a clip and my dog is not a service animal. I don’t need him, I just enjoy his company. Now, were you allowed to feed and water the dog? Where you allowed to take him out to “go” every few hours?

      I have a huge problem with this. If they think this is okay to do to an animal then what the h*** are they doing with those kids?! There is a known correlation between animal and child abuse.

      You know what I think…. There has to be an agency that certifies them, you know, keeps them licensed so they can operate. I think if it were me I would be calling that certifying agency and reporting what happened and asking for an investigation. No way on earth would I want any kid of mine around these people.

      If they made me lock my dog up like that it would be almost like they locked me in a crate too. grrr. This is most upsetting. I grew up in a time where crates were called cages and it was considered cruel to put an animal in a cage. Now they have been re-marketed as a “tool” to help the animal. Yeah. okay. I wish you the best as you follow up on this one. Let us know how it goes for you.

      1. Shayland (ActualName)*

        I did ask a bunch, didn’t I? I was super stressed about it, and I had to turn in the paperwork later than they asked because the doctor they needed to fill it out was out of the country. Yeah, I packed a whole bunch of stuff, even bought a new bag of food since the one I had would run out while I was at camp, and a bunch of different books and crafts / camping supplies to donate.

        I felt like I couldn’t do anything when I found out what the conditions were, like, I’d already been late on the paperwork, and they made a huge deal out of me bringing to dog in the first place, and I just… dunno.

        I was told that I could take my dog out to potty, but the time frame they imagined was only three-ish times a day. And in reality, because they wanted me to walk her to a specific place and then let her do her business there, it was something I could really only do (after a long, long day of work) once.

        Unfortunately I was fired before any camper’s actually arrived so I can’t comment on that. I really do think it was just that this one person in power hated either me or my dog or both of us, to the point where I’m worried she was antagonizing my dog while the dog was caged.

        I’ll wait till I can speak with a lawyer before I decide who I talk to next, I don’t want the camp to think I’m antagonizing them, or something like that.

        Thanks so much for the validation.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Antagonizing a caged animal? REALLY? This is not a person who should be around children. The way she treated you, the way she treated your dog, these are all clues. I hope you find someone who is keenly interested in how this person behaves.

          Meanwhile, I hope you do not become too defeated by this. There are many good employers out there that would be happy to have you and your little buddy. Hang in there.

  3. Anonymous Admin*

    What’s a good way to ask for a new title?

    I was hired into my nonprofit organization a little over a year ago as an Administrative Assistant. There are other admins in other branches of our org, and our job descriptions revolve mainly around filing, answering the phones, doing some light accounts payable stuff, and doing logistical planning for small events. This is what other admins in our organization actually do.

    However, for the past nine months, I’ve increasingly been spending my time doing assessment activities–our organization has detected a real need to do more evaluation of our programs, and because of my academic background, I’ve been tasked with most of this work. I’ve compiled analyses of previous programs, interviewed our constituents regarding our impact on them, facilitated focus groups, and helped design assessment processes for future programs. Some of my reports have been featured in our publications as well. I spend about 60% of my time doing this type of work; some days I do only these tasks.

    I’m thrilled that I get to do this stuff–it’s a dream job, and I’m given a lot of autonomy and responsibility–but I’m concerned that it’s so badly misaligned with my title. I worry that future potential employers won’t understand how an Administrative Assistant could have been tasked with these duties, but more importantly, I’m worried about the perception our constituents might have. When I contact potential interviewees, for example, I’ve gotten strange responses asking if I’m contacting them on behalf of the person who will be doing the interview (thinking, I’m sure, that they wouldn’t send a secretary to conduct a case study). Likewise, when senior staff members are introducing me to focus groups, they struggle to describe my role, since we usually use job titles in these types of introductions. (“This is Anon, and she is our Admin…I mean, uh…she’s here representing Our Org today” is usually the type of spiel they give for me.)

    How can I talk about this with our leadership without seeming vain? I don’t just want a better title for the sake of having it–I think there is an actual need to provide better optics in terms of the authority I command with people outside our organization. Any tips?

    1. Meghan*

      I accomplished this in almost the exact same situation (nonprofit, hired to be an administrative assistant, duties were not anything like the other administrative assistants) by being really abundantly clear with my supervisor and my supervisor’s supervisor in regards to how my title was making it more difficult for me to do what my actual job turned out to be, especially in regards to our constituents. I prepared examples (e-mails, call reports, any praise or compliments that I had received in writing from constituents) and presented them to my supervisor at my review. It took another 6-8 months to get the title change, but when it came, it was basically a promotion. Good luck to you.

      1. Koko*

        This is spot on. At a previous job I helped a colleague get a new title because, although he was a Comms Director, we were a small shop and he had increasingly begun guiding our legislative advocacy strategy and meeting with important funders because he knew our strategy well enough to answer detailed questions about it. But a Comms Director sounds like someone who promotes the company’s public agenda – and a funder wants to talk to someone actually setting the agenda and doing the work, not someone in charge of making our accomplishments sound good in the press.

        I was the person in charge of setting up meetings with potential funders and was having a hard time getting them to accept meetings with him, so after consulting with him I went to our ED on his behalf/with his support to suggest his title be changed to Campaign Strategy Director. There was a clear business case for the change, boss agreed, and my instincts were right – I got way more interest from funders in meeting with him post-title-change.

    2. Meg Murry*

      If you can’t get an official title change, can you get a second title related to the project. For instance, could you ask if you could call yourself “Assessment Coordinator for the XYZ Project” or similar? So your title is still “Adminstrative Assistant” but you can say “I’m Jane at Teapots R US, and I’m the Assessment Coordinator for the XYZ Project” or “I’m Jane at Teapots R US, and I’m responsible for coordinating [or conducting?] the assessments for the XYZ Project” if you think the first example is overstepping.

      In my industry isn’t pretty common to have an official title that is more of a payscale catergorization than a true statement of what you actually do, and then specific roles for individual projects – so I might be the Project Manager for 3 projects, and then I’m assisting on 4 other projects, I’m the Lead on the Safety Team, etc. I’ve found that when I just introduce myself as a Teapot Researcher to clients, people just smile and nod, but if I say either “I’m the Project Manager for [your project].” or “I’m assisting Jane with your Teapot Spout Analysis project” that seems to work better to give them some context as to why they care that I’m talking to them.

    3. LotusEclair1984*

      “Given my duties of X, Y, Z, I think the title of _ Coordinator more accurately describes my role.”

    4. Mimmy*

      I’m starting to wonder if “administrative assistant’ is a catchall title or, at the very least, a payroll categorization (as someone already suggested). It’s more palatable than “secretary” but I think most still don’t associate the title with anything other than office management or other clerical functions.

      Sounds like you’re not the only one there that’s unsure of how to describe your role. I wonder if it’s worth talking to them, or least your supervisor, and try to get on the same page when introducing you in focus groups or to other constituents. I’m very interested in the type of work you’ve been doing, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be referred to as the “administrative assistant”, lol.

      1. Anonymous Admin*

        It can be a very awkward thing. And it’s even trickier when different people in your own organization understand your role in very divergent ways. It’s not uncommon that Joe from Accounting will come up to me and say, “Hey, I noticed the dishwasher needs emptying,” and I have to say, “Yes, I will take care of that, as soon as I finish developing this survey instrument for our developmental assessment.”

        But I don’t mind doing both types of tasks if that’s what it takes to get to do the fun stuff! I just want a title that better encompasses my non-dishwashing tasks.

    5. Jadelyn*

      Solidarity to you – I’m in almost exactly the same place. I was hired as an HR Assistant for a nonprofit, originally to do data entry and filing, but my computer skills and analytical skills quickly got me placed on several projects working directly for VPs and SVPs of the org. I’ve literally been the one to create and/or develop 99% of the HR-related analytics and metrics they’re now using – they had NONE of that before I was here – and since the start of this year, I’ve been tapped to support the official HR Systems Specialist with our HRIS implementation. I am now the person who represents my half of the (bicoastal, with the two halves semi-independent of each other) organization on calls and meetings with the HRIS vendor and am part of the decision-making on configuration questions, I provide end-user support for our employees and troubleshooting for other members of my team, I am basically an associate sysadmin…but my title is still HR Assistant. In fact I’ve actually gotten so busy with the project-, analysis- and HRIS-related side of what I do that we’re bringing in a second HR Assistant to pick up some of my bigger admin-related stuff like recruiting coordinator duties and filing and stuff, because our VP is getting cranky about having to share my time with regular admin tasks and wants me to work directly with him 90% of the time.

      And while I’d love a raise to go with it (I’m underpaid even for an actual HR Assistant), what I want most of all is the title change to acknowledge what I’m actually doing for the organization.

      To that end, I’ve gone and found a variety of job descriptions for similar HR positions like HRIS Specialist, HR Systems Associate, etc. and gone through them, highlighting all the responsibilities that I’m currently doing, then tallied up the “congruence” score of each one (and compared that to how much of my original JD I’m still doing), and I’m going to present that to the VP and my manager at my quarterly review in a few weeks as substantiation for my requesting a title change.

      So all of that is to say, I feel your pain, I’d recommend looking at the descriptions of responsibilities for job titles closer to what you’re doing and what you want to be titled and use that to support your request…and I wish you the best of luck!

      1. Anonymous Admin*

        I have casually hunted around at other job titles so I could suggest some alternatives when this conversation comes up with my supervisor…I’d never thought of doing a congruence score tally! I love the rigor of that idea.

        Between something like that and Meghan’s suggestion about collecting emails/call records demonstrating that this title discrepancy could be an issue, I might have a solid argument on my hands.

        1. Meghan*

          There is absolutely nothing wrong with making your case. It can feel awkward, but it is very possible that they are unsure of what you actually want. Go in with plenty of documentation, and remain confident in your request. I wish you the best of luck.

        2. Koko*

          This can also vary a lot depending on how rigid and bureaucratic your company is, but a lot of managers would jump at the chance to grant this request from a top performer, assuming the title requested is a reasonable one. It’s rare that managers can provide a benefit without costing the company anything, but a title change is (usually, assuming there aren’t bureaucratic rules that saw otherwise) completely free.

    6. CM*

      I like the suggestions here and think you have a strong argument for a title change. However, in the event that you don’t get the title change or it takes a long time, would it be possible to describe your role instead of using your title? Like signing emails as “Anon Admin, Teapot Distribution Program” instead of “Administrative Assistant.” Or you could contact people and say, “I’m with Our Org and am responsible for assessment of our Teapot Distribution Program,” without mentioning your title. You could ask colleagues to do that as well.

    7. Bigglesworth*

      I’m in a similar boat, except I already made my petition. I work in higher ed and although my title is “Admin Assistant for Student Services”, I don’t really do much of the admin stuff anymore. I’ve picked up a lot of the basic advising tasks, am part of a few committees that change school policies, and several other non-admin job duties. I searched other schools and found out that my role was most similar to a junior advisor. I printed off several of these job descriptions to bring to my annual review. One of the issues I mentioned is that my fellow staff and the faculty keep coming to me to do party planning and other admin duties, which are all duties that my predecessor took with her when she switched roles. Because I’m an Admin, people have difficulty understanding that my actual duties are not typical for our org. It felt a little awkward petitioning for a new title and raise, but I’m glad I did it.

      I will say that in my company a raise/title change is a long and convoluted process and is hopefully very different from yours. It’s basically made so that once you find out what the process is, you’ll decide it’s too much work and let the petition drop. (Yeah, it’s not a good company to work for.) I was told that we’re in the middle of a hiring freeze and I would need to come back in October to repetition. I first petitioned in March. It would probably take another six months after that to get it approved and put into place. Needless to say, I’m looking for a new job elsewhere.

      I wish you the best and hope you have better luck!

  4. Starting a new job*

    I wrote a little about this last week, but it was pretty late, so I’m trying again.

    I’m starting a new job that I feel is a stretch for me. After 3 interviews and rigorous background checks, they offered it to me but I still feel I somehow don’t deserve it and they’ll figure out that I’m not worth what they’ll be paying me.

    Anyone have encouraging stories about starting a job they weren’t 100% qualified for? (I’m probably 80-90% there, but there are a couple things from the job description that I haven’t done – of which they are aware).

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Yes. I felt like an imposter and was so nervous. I watched others closely, wirjed to gain understanding of the work, asked for clarification on difficult items after I’d tried to resolve it myself, and would research difficult concepts in my own time.

    2. Kyrielle*

      You can absolutely do it. There will be a learning curve, and they expect that, since they know about it! Going for a job where you have most of it and can pick up the rest is a bit unnerving, but it’s also totally normal and will work.

      My first job out of college wanted 3+ years of experience; I hadn’t even had an internship. They wanted a particular software language and OS experience…I had the first, but not the second. And I knew nothing about the group of people they were writing software for. I got the job. I rocked the job; I learned a lot, I learned fast.

      My current job was again a stretch (ironically, back to using the software language and OS I learned in college, although there have been changes in the intervening years!), including not knowing much about the gruop of people I’m now writing software for. They seem pretty happy with me. One thing I did for my own peace of mind, and I’m so glad I did, is I asked the senior technical guy what he thought a typical learning curve entering this role from where I did might be…he told me it could take a year to come up to speed! So when I felt like I was still at sea at 3 months, I took a deep breath and reminded myself they _expected_ a year’s learning curve. Sometimes it’s nice to know the time frame they think is normal to learn X, because odds are, they’ve calibrated it on watching other people learn X before. They have a much better idea what you don’t know (and how long it takes before opportunities to provide exposure to all of it come up) than you will.

      Being able to learn is more important than knowing, in almost every case (and the ones where that isn’t true, the people hiring *hire for that knowledge* – if you don’t trust your ability, trust the folks that hired you, knowing what you’d need to learn).

      1. Calliope~*

        After an hour phone interview for the position I’m in now, I flat out told my now supervisor that no, I was not qualified for the position after all, and no, I did not think I should come in for an interview. She said Calliope, I just spent an hour talking to you and I can tell you that you are indeed qualified and I want to talk with you further.

        I agreed to the actual interview still believing I’d be in way over my head but figured I could use the practice so I went. It was a six person panel and I’m told that after weeks of interviewing others, once I interviewed it was a unanimous choice and I *still* didn’t believe this would work. The pay is pretty meh, but the benefits are super and jobs are scarce where I live so I agreed to give it a go, knowing that I’m not signing my life away if it wasn’t a good fit and I HATED the job I was in at the time with a passion so it couldn’t be worse.

        Fast forward 9 months later, and I had the highest success rate in the state for those in my role! (And we have concrete, data driven performance measures that we’re required by both the federal and state govts!)

        They’re currently changing the way some things are done and I’m in the running with a couple others for the senior position and I’ve worked her just shy of three years now :)

        Hope my success story helps!

        1. Calliope~*

          oops.. that was supposed to be to “Starting a New Job” not “Kyrielle”… Sorry!

    3. Hoppy*

      Take it but be careful.

      I was in the same pot. Got hired as a staff accountant with some bookkeeping experience that felt inadequate for the job desc. I felt like an idiot when I first started but they saw something in me. I would say I was 75% qualified.

      It was tough at first, they’d forget I had zero exp with X, Y, Z but plopped it on my desk with no guidance. I wanted to cry somedays. But I started researching their programs and the few things I did not know… both at work and home. I started getting it and asked really stupid questions.

      Just ask for help – go to your supervisor and ask “what can I do to learn about these things I haven’t done” and they may give you tips/resources to get up to speed.

    4. Megs*

      I’m pretty sure I’ve never felt 100% qualified for a job – I just try and view it as having room to grow and develop, and try and remember that they hired ME – I almost certainly didn’t trick them and they’re not going to change their mind any minute now (why yes, I do get the impostor syndrome from time to time). I hate hate hate the first few weeks at a job, but it always gets better after that. I bet you’ll get there too!

    5. Jubilance*

      I’ve been there. In the moment you’re going to feel like you’re drowning and that you have to work so hard to keep your head above water. You’ll feel like a failure but trust me, you’ll be doing a great job. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself credit for your accomplishments, no matter how small. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and also resources/training materials/courses you can take/etc to get you training in the areas that you don’t know. Have regular communication and feedback with your leader to understand how you’re doing and their expectations.

      You can do this!

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Agreed with all of this, especially the part about not hesitating to ask for help. I still regularly ask my supervisor and manager for help, as well as other team members, and everyone thinks I’m doing a great job.

    6. KathyGeiss*

      An internal position came available 2 years before I was probably ready for it. But I applied anyway because they don’t become available that often. It was nerve wracking but I was honest about my short comings with my manager and we worked through it. The biggest factor in my success was relying on the rest of the team. I work with great people and they were all quite supportive of the move and helped me improve as I went.

    7. AliceW*

      I’ve always only applied for jobs way above my “pay grade” knowing I could do the job and figuring I would put in a lot of extra time to get up to speed. It’s just a matter of confidence and knowing what you are capable of. “Fake it till you make it” has always been my motto. It has always worked for me. Project confidence and others will believe in you. Good luck.

    8. Laura*

      Don’t stress! When I was hired on to my current job, I felt “qualified” for about 70% of it, and honestly wasn’t that knowledgeable about the stuff I DID know (since I joined a very different organization than the ones I’d previously been at).

      No employer expects you to hit the ground running on Day 1 and feel totally comfortable with everything. It takes time… just let it happen! I’m still reminding myself of this over four months after starting here.

    9. anonderella*

      So, this may or may not be ok to do (it feels… stalker-y, even if it isn’t), and it may or may not be useful info for anyone else :

      When I started at my current job six months ago, I was told everything would be changing; and it’s true, they’ve changed so much about my role and responsibilities, no one except me actually knows what all I’m responsible for – not even my boss, because my role is just too widely-encompassing (and.. it keeps evolving every day.). As part of my receptionist role (also is first office job) I have had to organize a lot of older info, like company contacts, etc. Once I got a hold of a few old company directories, I googled/Linkd-in-ed a few of the people who have held my role over the past decade and a half (it wasn’t that hard, hardly anyone leaves this particular mid-western state and I don’t know why) and looked at what they have done since then, what they had going on before that role if that info was available, and just generally compared my professional progress and goals with their accomplishments. It wasn’t to map out an exact path for myself, just to get some additional info on what, if anything, I might be currently missing that would help me succeed in my role here.

      It actually made me feel a lot better, and gave some concrete weight to what was otherwise a mire, of confusing past requirements and present and future expectations of my role. Even if I don’t know how long they lasted at my role, or if they did well or were even fired, it gives me an idea of what’s out there, when previously I just felt lost.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      80-90%? You’re fine.

      If you only took jobs that you were 100% qualified for, then you would just do the same thing all the time. Think about it. You’d never take any job that was the least bit different because then you would be less than 100% qualified.

      Trust others to know how to do their jobs. Trust that the hiring people know what the background of a successful candidate looks like.

      I agree with what others have said here. And I would like to add, when we start feeling overwhelmed by a new job one good thing to do is increase our commitment to doing a good job. Fully commit. Decide to learn everything possible about the job. Decide to ask when you don’t know. Decide to take full responsibility for any mistakes you make annnd, here’s a kicker, decide to learn from the mistake in such a way that you never make the same mistake twice.

      I have two part time jobs. If I said what both jobs were I would be super-idenfying myself. So I have to skip that part. Both jobs were new fields to me. I can hobble along by using some of the things I have learned in life and previous jobs, but that only helps me from time to time. The way I got started with both jobs is I made a major commitment to myself to do a good job. I got extra rest because each day I jumped in full charge and came home pretty tired. Both my bosses are happy with me. It’s not because of what I know. It’s because of how I handle the stuff that I don’t know. There is always something different each day at the jobs. I make notes to myself and notes to my boss. Sometimes asking a good question is more important than knowing an answer. I ask good questions. I try things. And if the boss is having difficulty with something, I look for ways to make it easier.

      Use that worry to increase your determination to be a great employee.
      You’ll be fine. I can tell from here.

    11. NicoleK*

      At last job, I felt that I only met 70% of the requirements but Old Boss offered me the position. Months later she told me that she was glad she hired me.

  5. Interviewing Blind*

    Anyone with journalistic/publishing experience care to lend some insight?

    My question is — is it typical to share the draft of the interview article with the interview subject before it goes live? Is it typical to allow the interview subject to have some involvement (if so, how much?) in the editing process?

    I currently volunteer for an organization doing long-form interview articles with various individuals (mostly artists). Not sure if anyone is familiar, but they’re similar to the types of long-form interviews you’d see in literary magazines, The Believer, etc. Many times these are published Q&A style, but ours are actually edited into a long-form narrative structure, no questions, just continuous voice, if that makes a difference.

    I have zero experience with this, it’s a very small non-profit, and I don’t know that the people i report to have the capacity to give me a lot of guidance on this. The subject matter we’re interviewing about can often be very sensitive and personal, so I want to make sure my interview subjects are always 100% comfortable with what gets published. But I also want to adhere to standard norms around this type of work.

    So far, I did NOT share the original edit with 2 people, because I thought that’s what was typical, but DID share it with another person – because she asked. Her interview was extremely dense and vulnerable in some areas, so I wanted her to be comfortable. This became an extremely involved editing process with her where we went line by line and curated things — all before sending it to my actual editor at the organization.

    I have more interviews coming up and just want to know what is standard. As I said, these articles often deal with vulnerable subject matter, so ultimately I am totally fine doing whatever it takes to make sure people feel safe sharing — but just feel a little awkward not knowing the professional norms here.

    1. ThatGirl*

      As a former newspaper editor, no, we never allowed subjects to review drafts of stories. The most anyone quoted got was their quotes, in context, to confirm they were OK. And even then it was up to the reporter/editor to make the final call. In my opinion subjects should NEVER have editorial review; worst-case is a simple review with no say in the edits.

      That said, your organization should be the one setting their own standards. It does not sound like hard news and there may be some leeway? So perhaps those who work for more literary publications can offer different insight.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      For hard journalism, no, it’s not common practice to preview the piece. For blog writing or writing for company-owned properties, it’s a common courtesy/potentially mandatory depending on the subject.

    3. ZSD*

      I work at a nonprofit. On the rare occasion we do interviews, we do let the interviewees look at pieces before they go out so that they can approve their quotes. I would think this would be common as long as you and the interviewees are “on the same side,” trying to influence public opinion/policy in the same way. If it were some sort of expose’ or ride-along type piece, I would think you wouldn’t give them the chance to review it.
      But I’m interested to hear what others say.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, this is how we handle things at my org. Most of the people we interview are handling really complicated scientific concepts (it’s usually research we’ve funded), and since the publications team is trying to translate those concepts to a lay audience, having the researchers check what we’ve written is really the best way to make sure we haven’t oversimplified or misinterpreted a study. However, we also don’t present the pieces as anything remotely resembling real, objective journalism style pieces. These are publicity pieces promoting our organization’s work and that is very clear throughout our publications.

        I have occasionally encountered a subject who wants to get very granular about editing, but the level of involvement you describe does sound a bit unusual. Mostly what we get is corrections on terminology.

    4. HappyWriter*

      In my experience, it’s *not* the norm to share an article with an interview subject before it’s published. I’m a freelance writer. In a few cases, I’ve had a client ask me to let an interview subject read the article before we publish, but that’s the exception, not the norm. And if I interview someone other than a client and they specifically ask to see the article before it’s published, I only offer them their own isolated quotes – not the whole article.

      Like you said, letting a subject review the article adds an extra layer of editing and can change the perspective from which the article is written. It’s not really staying true to the idea of journalistic objectivity.

      1. Catty hack*

        Agreed. It’s not the norm to share articles with the interviewee before they go out. Partly because it adds an extra layer of editing, mainly because it goes against the grain of journalistic objectively (but, hey, if they want a perfectly manicured promo piece, I’m more than happy to give them the number for the sales team! :P )

        That being said, I have had pieces which have gone back to the source before it goes in the publication. Usually it’s quotes in context and, to be honest, it’s usually for my own fact checking more than anything else. But I’ve also been at publications where entire pieces have gone back to sources for sign out on occasion so it really depends on where you are, what sort of piece it is. etc.

        I’d say a good rule is to make sure people know that, when you send things back, it’s for fact-checking purposes only and they don’t have any say over style. I’d also make it clear that you have final say, and point out that it could change anyway once it gets to the sub-editor and/or the editor. I’d also put a deadline down on things and make it clear to them that, regardless of whether or not they feel like they’re done tweaking with it by X date, it’s going to the editor then!

        (And, if it makes you feel better, I’ve once had somebody ask if they could change an entire page layout because they thought their colour scheme and picture ideas would better suit their interview…which lasted about two-thirds of a column in length. No points for guessing what the answer was.)

    5. Lily in NYC*

      I used to work for two very well-known national weekly magazines. We would never, ever share an article with a subject before publication nor would we allow conditions on our interviews. But I can see how it would be different for your situation – so I think you have flexibility to do what you think is best.

    6. Z*

      What That Girl and Bend & Snap said. As a recovering newspaper employee, subjects were not allowed review.

      1. Recent Grad*

        Interviewing Blind, it sounds like you’re working on some sort of newsletter or marketing piece? My day job involves writing for a trade magazine, but I also freelance straight-up journalism for a local news site. For the former, we incur mighty wrath if we DON’T allow the source to review their quotes and any data points, but I never offer a full read out, and I make it clear that changes will only be allowed for inaccuracies, not differences of opinion in word choice. For the latter, I would never allow someone to review/change a quote. I make it clear when I reach out that it’s on the record, and I usually record interviews (with permission!) as a CYA measure.

        If it’s a running Q&A and not straight quotes that’s a little tougher because you don’t want to distort the source’s voice, and people screw up basic facts when they’re on the spot more than you’d think. A happy medium would be to pull out any facts into bullet points and email them to the source.
        For example: You started working at teapots ltd. in 1994, correct?

    7. NarrowDoorways*

      Medical publisher. Nooope, we don’t ever allow sources to review the whole story, as we try to present from a non-biased place. One a source sees other source material, they almost always throw a fit.

      We do also individual quotes to be reviewed–if asked–for accuracy, if the topic is a complex one.

    8. Big City Editor*

      No, in journalism, you do not share a draft with the subject before the story is published. What I have done in the past is let someone review their quotes IF the subject matter is very complex or I need to fact check something. Organizations not in the news business operate differently and often allow the interview subject to review (or even edit) the draft.

    9. Kara*

      Not a ton of experience in the industry aside from J-School a few years ago! We were told no, you don’t share the entire story with a source. We were in charge of fact-checking each other’s stories, and that included calling or emailing them and getting confirmation on all facts or quotes within the article. (i.e. “Age: 24”; You said: “I love running!”) Then they either confirm or deny it. When I was asked to see the entire article, I said that wasn’t our process, but I would be happy to make sure they saw a link or got a copy once it was finished. No one, in my experience, got upset at that.

      However, you’re at an organization, not a newspaper or magazine, so things won’t go by the “rules” and may very well have their own process set up. Ask around to get that so you’ll know for the next time.

    10. Christopher Tracy*

      My question is — is it typical to share the draft of the interview article with the interview subject before it goes live? Is it typical to allow the interview subject to have some involvement (if so, how much?) in the editing process?

      No – not typical at all.

    11. How Did You Know?*

      I’ve been a freelance writer for almost 10 years for a very niche publication that focuses on Olympic sports. As a courtesy, I always let the people I interview review the article before it goes to print. I do this to make sure that I’ve quoted them correctly and in context. It’s not a hard news publication, which as others have noted have different standards.

      1. BarManager*

        As someone interviewed semi-regularly for publications, I wish more would let me review. I am misquoted (or my new favorite, take a few quotations and cobbling them together) and it’s almost always because the writer doesn’t have a a great understanding of the complex nature of the subject. I can be a fast talker, so I’ve been working on dumbing down/speaking slower so as to be less often mis-quoted. It’s a pretty big bummer.

        This goes for both lifestyle/blog type writing as well as things like the SF Chronicle and SJ Mercury :(

        1. Bibliovore*

          This. As a noted expert in the field, I have been weirdly misquoted. I appreciate when a journalist calls back or emails the quotes to me. They never send the whole article and I am okay with that. Just read AnonyMouse…yes they are usually just like that– Confirming… In position at TeaPot University for 15 years? Your title is Curator of TeaPot Art History?

    12. AnonyMouse*

      I work at a national media organization. We do not share drafts for review, and we rarely send back quotes for review. However, I do sometimes send over a list of facts in bullet point format.

      For example,”Can you please check the following:
      * Your name is Jane Doe, your title is teapot coordinator
      * Your organization makes custom teapots, they cost $X to $Y.
      * The process of making a teapot is as follows: first, you do this, then you do that, finally you do this.”

      I use the bullet points to emphasize that I’m just checking facts and this isn’t the language in the story.

      In my line of work, I don’t think that everyone needs to be 100% comfortable with what’s published (this may not be the case for your nonprofit). I’ve written stories reporting on companies doing shady things, or broken news on an announcement ahead of the official company press release. In those cases my subjects aren’t going to be 100% comfortable… BUT. it’s really important to me that they never be surprised. If I’m going to write something about you that is negative, you’ll know before hand, you’ll have time to respond and give your perspective.
      So I think it’s important that your subjects know roughly what the format and gist of your narrative, and that you are upfront with them about any parts that aren’t positive — that doesn’t mean change it if they don’t like it, it means give them a chance to have a response, and be fair and unbiased.

    13. Macedon*

      As everyone’s said: don’t give them drafts. Even if you’re not in hard news, imho, unless you’re writing an advertorial. In that case, disclaim it as such and God speed.

      What you can do for an especially good contact is read back their quotes to them and perhaps allow cosmetic edits (that do not change the meaning of the quote). It is exclusively up to you to implement any changes, however. It’s also at your discretion to honour or decline any requests to exclude any quotes or information that was supplied to you on the record.

  6. Sunflower*

    I have my annual review coming up on Monday. I’ve been here about 10 months and am wondering how to get the most out of it.

    If you were my manager, what would you want your employee to ask or get out of this?

    I’ve mentioned before that I’m not yet where I was hoping to be here and I really want to take on more responsibilty but I can’t tell if my lack of training is based off us being super busy or if boss doesn’t trust me. It’s difficult because the person in my job before took on much more responsbiliyt than me because she was without a manaher for quite a while so I’m not sure how close to her level I should be expecitng to work at. So I am wondering how and how much of this to bring up. My boss is very open about me coming to her with concerns so I want to make sure I’m getting hte most out of this!

    1. Rabbit*

      If you’re boss is open to hearing concerns, why not bring up what you said? You want to take on more responsibility [that’s great!] and you want to know from your manager how you’re doing. As you have the conversation, you could bring in that you know that the previous person took on more tasks, and figure out what makes sense. But don’t phrase the conversation as a total comparison as the former employee — you want to focus on how you’re doing and how you can improve.

  7. Open Thread Anon*

    Yesterday was particularly bad. In addition to humiliation related to what I was wearing at work thanks to bad information and people ignoring company-wide emails saying to dress down and issues going on with my parents, my manager continues to use a passive aggressive style and then turn around and act friendly. Maybe their style is unintentional, but they’re up too many levels for me to try to address it. This has been ongoing and it’s severely impacting my confidence in my work, especially as this attitude is consistent in others in my department. I’m really worried about the impact it will have on me when I’m finally able to move into another job. I can own to making mistakes but as the most junior person, I’d expect an approach that involves more understanding and teaching than slanted comments. There’s also just a general lack of respect for me that I can’t articulate well or describe when it’s not happening, but it’s there and so exhausting to deal with. I don’t know. Happy to hear advice if it comes, but mostly just venting/lamenting.

    1. Adam V*

      I’m sorry to hear that. No real advice other than “keep putting on a brave face”, unfortunately. :(

    2. Beancounter in Texas*

      Ditto. It’s not a good fit. When you do move onto another job, if you can afford it (and I’d be saving like a mad man to afford it), take a couple of weeks off in-between to decompress. I left a toxic boss with the same attitude almost two months ago, and it took me five weeks to really own myself again, and regain my self-esteem.

      1. Open Thread Anon*

        That’s my plan. I have a significant amount of savings and could theoretically quit on the spot but I’m trying to avoid a gap on my resume. At the very least, I’m aiming for a week, but two would be nice. Thanks for the encouragement!

    3. Jadelyn*

      Re the not being able to articulate or describe outside of the moments it’s happening, I really recommend keeping a written journal of some kind. I use my tumblr blog for this and tag any work-related venting as “work fuckery” – that way, later on I can go back through and see if there are patterns, remind myself that I’m not crazy or being oversensitive about things, etc. You might be more comfortable with just a Google doc you access from your phone or something, or an email-to-self sent from your phone to your personal email address. If you don’t have a smartphone or have access to it during work, keep written notes tucked in a pocket or purse and transcribe those into electronic format later on. Try to include quotes verbatim or as close as possible, context of what was happening at the time, etc. since you probably won’t remember details like that later on.

      But this all comes with a caveat – whatever you do, DO NOT KEEP THIS RECORD ON ANY WORK PROPERTY. Not on a notebook you keep at your desk, not on your work computer, not via your work email. You do NOT want to deal with the fallout of someone finding out you’re keeping that kind of record.

      1. Open Thread Anon*

        Great idea! I hadn’t thought of that before. Since I was little I’ve been told I’m too sensitive, so I worry that that might actually be true…but on the flip side, I’ve been in positions before where I felt good about what I was doing even when I made mistakes. So maybe not. I’m just really confused and hurt. =\ It’s tough when a lot of it comes through in written (or spoken, sometimes) tone.

        1. Jadelyn*

          It’s funny, I started doing it because I was worried that I was oversensitive to things, actually. My father was abusive in a couple of different ways, and as a result I know my perception of some things is a bit skewed from the norm…one of the big things being I have an AWFUL time dealing with my own mistakes in a healthy way or accepting critical feedback, so when something goes wrong I have a hard time figuring out if someone is being a jerk or if I’m just taking legit criticism too personally. So I started posting (and tagging) to ask my friends and followers for feedback – like, “this thing happened, am I crazy to be upset or is this legit not okay?” – and then discovered how useful it was for going back later to give yourself a sense of perspective about things.

          (As it turned out, with my supervisor at the time, it absolutely was not me that was the problem there. She’s on her way out now due to being caught out in a string of lies and unprofessional use of her position to manipulate situations in her favor, so I’m feeling pretty vindicated, lol. Thankfully my current manager is FANTASTIC – and very understanding of my tendency to take things personally, to the point where she proactively helps me frame feedback and reassures me when I’m starting to worry, so I’m finally actually developing the ability to cope with mistakes and not panicking when people find out I’m human.)

          1. GreenTeaPot*

            Jadelyn, I was in your situation through most of my career. I’m so glad you are so savvy and self aware…

        2. Not So NewReader*

          So let’s go with this, let’s say we know for a fact that you are too sensitive. (I sincerely doubt it, but let’s go with it, just to see where it can lead.) Journalling is a great way to look for patterns in behaviors, yours and theirs.
          Usually the truth is in the middle. They are jerks sometimes and sometimes we are just over sensitive- that is probably reality.
          One thing I started doing years ago, is to watch what I say and see if I change my reaction then does the situation change because of my change? I found that many times it does. So part of your journalling you could do a few sentences on “Would I do anything differently the next time X happens? What did I like about how I handled it? Was I proud of my professional self?” Doing the like part is important, because that is YOU. Keep the parts of your reaction that reflect the best professional you. Make a new plan for the parts of your reaction that you do not think is professional.

          Because this can be a time consuming and emotionally exhausting process, I suggest only focusing on one incident per day. Take the one that stung the most or caught you off guard the most. Expect your daily choices to vary – that is okay- you are sorting through a lot of stuff.

          It could emerge that you just work with a bunch of jerks who don’t even respect each other, it’s not you rather it’s a way of life for them. I think what will happen is that by writing out incidents, you will just decide that it’s too much to worry about incidents A, B and C. You’ll decide that you need to just focus on E and F when those incidents occur. And you’ll make other types of decisions about your work place also.

          Walking is also good for clearing the cobwebs out of the brain and gaining mental clarity on stuff.

      2. Lapsed Academic*

        I also recommend working with memory protocols. I had a toxic boss in my last job (wonderful colleagues except for the one the boss was also sleeping with) and memory protocols were what kept me from losing my mind, because it gave me the option to get a reality check from the outside if I needed.

        (And I also recommend taking a break between jobs if you can. I took a planned break that turned into a very long unplanned break, but it took a long time until I was again in a position that bordered “normal”.)

  8. bassclefchick*

    Well, it’s my first week of unemployment since my temp assignment ended. Feeling a bit useless right now. I had two interviews this week for other temp assignments that both went really well. I did my “job” of applying for 4 jobs this week per my unemployment benefits rules. So, I guess I’ll just have to keep taking a step at a time and eventually it will work itself out.

    Thanks, everyone for all the encouragement! It really is appreciated!

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      You’re not useless, so please try not to feel that way. Just keep doing what you’re doing, practice some self-care, and try to stay positive. You’ll find something new soon.

    2. Dawn*

      Been there, done that, didn’t get the t-shirt… at least TWICE. ALL THE HUGS TO YOU!!! You are NOT useless- that I promise- and something else will come along. In between applying for jobs do make sure to take some time for yourself AND take some time to tackle projects that have been put off because you’ve been working (clean out the pantry maybe?) Then when New Job comes along you’ll feel refreshed and like you tackled some personal chores!

    3. bassclefchick*

      Thanks! My husband and I went to our local botanical garden (he works a split shift) so I could get out of the house. I’ve set my schedule to do the job hunting/applications in the beginning of the week so I have the end of the week to do things for myself.

    4. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      Four jobs a week! Four!??

      There are not four new jobs a week in my field!

  9. Tuckerman*

    Just wanted to share something nice that happened at work. My coworker asked me to water her plants while she was on vacation and in exchange for the favor, she sent me a link to a travel podcast she thought I’d enjoy. Happy to water her plants, but her gesture was a nice touch.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      You are way better than I am at this! I tried to take care of my coworker’s plants when she was out for a month and I gave them too much water and killed them. She brought me back a beautiful pendant as a gift and I felt so guilty! But I redeemed myself last year by watching her cats and not killing them.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I killed my friend’s fish while she was in England.

        (Well, not really, they were terminally ill already. I wish she’d told me they had fish plague or whatever before she left–it would have saved me a lot of panic and dread and guilt!)

        1. Rat Racer*

          I feel terrible for laughing at these – because poor fish – but the concept of hospice care for terminally fish is making me LOL. Long, long time ago, my grandmother of blessed memory was in charge of watching my 2 sisters and me while my parents went to Europe. She also charged with watching the Kindergarten’s turtle, which was on loan to us for the first month of the summer. Turned out the turtle had shell cancer and had to be euthanized in a freezer. My grandmother, who thought it was totally inappropriate to keep a reptile as a pet, was devastated and never forgave my father for putting her in charge of a terminally ill turtle.

          1. Laura*

            Well, that’s the saddest turtle story I’ve ever read. Certainly didn’t expect it here on AAM! Poor thing.

            1. Rat Racer*

              I think that the turtle was probably old, and that euthanization was the kindest option for it. It was very sad at the time. 30 years later, I can’t help but laugh a little bit though at the absurdity of my very prim grandmother gingerly wrapping the turtle in a napkin to take it to the vet at my youngest sister’s insistence that he was sick and not acting like himself (which was apparently correct).

            1. Artemesia*

              Somewhat little known fact. Turtle shells are in fact the ribs of the turtle; they come from the rib genes and structures.

        2. Laura*

          I adopted a goldfish in college and it died a slow, probably-painful death due to some sort of fish plague. It was heartbreaking! Fish are more emotion-inducing than I thought.

  10. Folklorist*

    ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!! Do something you’ve been putting off and come back here and let us know. Dooooo ittttt.

    I’m going to finish a tedious project that got dumped on me earlier this week so I can work on Fun Stuff come Monday!

    1. alice*

      You’re reading my mind! Yesterday I started cleaning out our ticket system (closing inactive ones basically and following up on old ones). Turns out we had an open ticket from 2013. 2013!

        1. alice*

          Sort of … we let it go and the customer forgot about it. It’s getting taken care of this week. I’m just glad the guy didn’t get too upset about us dropping the ball. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about this one.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’ve got a few open tickets from 2013. We did a huge push to fix all the possible accessibility issues, and the minor issues that would require a ton of effort to fix were left open as things to avoid/fix the next time we redesign the site from the ground up.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      But I don’t wanna! I’m feeling lazy and I have a sore throat and just want to sit on my butt and complain all day.

    3. CherryScary*

      Email response drafted to not-so-pleasant person. Just waiting on my supervisor to give it a once over.

    4. LizB*

      I’m going to get my case notes and paperwork 100% up to date today! I made myself a list of things that need to be updated. It’s a long list. But I’m going to get it done!

    5. Sarianna*

      Updated my last-few-months’ tasks list to reflect what has been done and what no longer needs to be done. Booyah!

    6. Busytrap*

      Love this! I used it as a kick in the rear to draft a presentation for a meeting next Thursday updating the PTB on the most boring-est topic ever project I got stuck leading because our CEO lost confidence in the guy who was supposed to be running it. I’ve been putting this off for almost four months. Now I can go into the weekend with it dunzo and off my mind instead of procrastinating on it until Wednesday night. :) Huzzah!

    7. overeducated*

      I just replied to an email I’d been putting off and updated a budget spreadsheet for maybe the last time. Still procrastinating on sending two more difficult emails though. I have to notify a couple of outside collaborators that I’m moving on, and I’m not sure they’ll be happy about the direction I’m taking because we’ll no longer be able to work together.

    8. BananaKarenina*

      Trying to “thaw” myself by applying for teaching positions for the fall. Resume is revamped, but I hate the cover letter process. On top of that, I am trying to figure out where I would want to relocate within my state, which complicates things. (I live in CA). Thanks for the kick in the butt!

    9. Calliope~*

      I’m going to sign off and go submit my timesheet/expense report; and I’ve finally decided that my paper for my class I’m taking is “good enough” and I will stop worrying about ‘tweaking’ it just a bit more. :)

    10. Shayland (ActualName)*

      I just went out to the creek with my dog and took a whole bunch of photos of her playing in the water and woods. Then I took her in for a bath and trimmed her nails. The bath I’d been putting off since we got back from camp.

      I love these posts every week. Even when I don’t comment I take their advice, and I try to remember to do it other days as well.

      1. Folklorist*

        I’m so glad they help! I stopped doing them EVERY week because 1) I would forget to post right at/near 11am, so they wouldn’t be high enough for lots of people to see, and 2) I think that putting them in more randomly is more of a jolt (so people don’t just scroll past going “yeah, yeah, yeah…”). Also, it started being a chore instead of a fun “all in this together!” thing!

    11. Ralph S. Mouse*

      You should have caught me on Tuesday:

      – Brought six months’ worth of recycling to new recycling center
      – Installed blinds on a metal door
      – Did a return without receipt I’ve been sitting on for almost three months
      – Caught up with the dishes (it was bad)
      – Bought a can of paint (needed to pick a color and get it mixed)
      – Sent a Strongly Worded Email I’d been dreading having to send
      – Bought a saw and decimated a bush that thought it was a tree

      …and some other crap I can’t recall. The errand-type stuff might not sound like much to most people, but I have really bad anxiety about anything that involves having to ask for help, ask for accommodations, visit a place where I don’t know the routine, or even doing things like standing in front of the saws trying to figure out which one I need. So it was a big deal for me. I figured I’d cram it all into one day as long as I was out.

    12. Silver Radicand*

      I ordered a sign, put together an after action report, and called a customer back! Now onto refunds.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Not at work today, but I mailed a book I bought for my dad to him. He won’t get it until Monday, but that’s okay. I’l call him on Father’s Day and let him know it’s on the way.

  11. Emilia Bedelia*

    I accepted a random Linked In request a very long time ago from someone I don’t know- I think they’re a recruiter or something in my industry. They sent me a “happy Independence day” message last year. I ignored it.
    This week, I was updating my profile and decided to remove them as a connection as they don’t post anything interesting or helpful and their connections didn’t seem worthwhile either. A few minutes after, they message me saying “thank you for being unprofessional by NOT replying to my message sent on 7/5/2015”. (Does linked in tell people when they are removed? That’s annoying, if so! Or creepy, if not) So it looks like my instincts to remove them were right!

    Who does this?? Why??

    1. Kyrielle*

      Creeps? Fools? That’s so bizarre. Definitely just reinforcing your decision. Why on earth would a “happy Independence day” message need a reply? And if they were going to be hurt about it, why only when you removed them, almost a year later?


    2. Lillian McGee*

      That kinda crap, plus having sales people track down my name and office number, led me to deactivate my LinkedIn profile. So much more trouble than it’s worth.

      1. IT_Guy*

        I’m really tired of the happy puppy/baby whatever posts that people keep posting and sharing on LinkedIn. I’ve made a it a policy of removing them as a connection if they do. Nobody has ever commented but if they do, I plan on replying “LinkedIn is a professional connection site and those posts belong on FaceBook”

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          That and a bunch of opinions on stuff in the news. I don’t want to hear your political opinions at work, so why would I want to read them on LinkedIn?

        2. MM*

          I have too many connections that I don’t know, who live to far away, and who don’t share anything I’m interested in. I’m job hunting and would like to curate my network to somethign that could actually be helpful but have been holding off worried about how it might seem. Might steal your line

    3. White Mage*

      I’m assuming that they might have gotten a notification that you updated your profile since at the time you were still linked, then by the time they went to check it you were removed.

      But yeah that is incredibly rude. Ridiculous.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I don’t remember if that was one of the types of notifications, but I turned all mine off in the settings a few years ago and it’s been awesome.

    4. anonderella*

      Send them an AAM link to the articles talking about not sending emails while angry…

    5. Megs*

      Pfff. I don’t reply to rando LinkedIn messages all the time. That person was being a butt.

    6. Audiophile*

      I regularly ignore messages from recruiters. I’ve never had one contact me that actually seemed like they read my profile.

      1. Rat Racer*

        Gah! me three! Happened to a friend’s husband and their whole house had to be fumigated.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Not “paid” business, but while I was staffing an event in Atlantic City recently, staffers found bedbugs in their hotel that the event had arranged for them.

      (I consider myself VERY lucky that I was not in that hotel!)

    2. Lillian McGee*

      We deal with housing related legal issues in my office so we regularly find live bedbugs crawling around in client interview areas. Some of our staff have brought bedbugs home after doing home visits with clients. So far we’ve avoided a full-on infestation in the office but I’d call it blind luck!

    3. Sunflower*

      I never have but know people who have. It’s not an indication that the hotel is dirty- it happens in nice, chain hotels.

      I travel a good amount and make none of the pre-cautions some people do like checking the bed or anything but if it makes you feel better. I do always make sure to put my luggage on a cart or rack – not the floor – since I think it’s harder to catch them living in the carpet.

      FWIW I know people who stayed in hotels during the time bed bugs were found and they never had an issue with them.

    4. LawCat*

      No, thankfully! But I would obsessively check all the corners of the bed where there are folds in the sheets, always used the luggage rack, and didn’t leave anything on the floor (not even shoes) because I was paranoid about it.

    5. March*

      Not on business trips, but I did have a run-in with them on vacation last month. They’re unfortunately not uncommon in a lot of hotels, since it’s so easy for them to spread if you’re not careful.

        1. March*

          I got lucky and managed to handle my stuff before anything went inside! Everything got bagged and washed in nice hot water, so the house was fine.

    6. zd*

      A commenter on a site once told a story about her husband bringing them home from a business trip. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to sleep in a hotel again. She said they got the advice to put your suitcase with all your stuff in the bathtub. But that was during that spike of incidents in NYC a few years back.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        There was! It was creepy. There was one movie theater in Manhattan I avoided because there was a report of bed bugs that seemed pretty stubborn and consistent. Ugh. Haven’t gone there since 2010!

    7. Laura*

      Not business, but I did see them once in a hotel in Vienna while studying abroad. Now I check EVERY hotel I go into.

      Some good precautions:
      1. Don’t put your suitcase on a hotel room’s carpet until you’ve thoroughly checked the beds for bed bugs
      2. Don’t put your suitcase on the bed, ever. Use luggage racks.
      3. Upon returning home, don’t set your suitcase on carpet. Remove all clothing and put it in trash bags until you can wash everything in HOT water

      1. Chaordic One*

        I’ve always heard that you should put your suitcase in the bathtub or shower.

        If you have a lot of luggage, maybe put something on the linoleum floor of the bathroom or kitchen.

    8. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      No, but if you do I would call your doctor and ask them what you should do. They have strict protocols for bed bug control and can probably help you deal with the problem.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I don’t think a doctor would be much help, unless you had an unusually severe allergic reaction. Usually people just treat them as you wound any other bug bite, maybe put an analgesic cream continaing hydrocortizone, such as “Hydrocort” and perhaps bandaging or covering the bites. If you didn’t feel comfortable treating the bug bites yourself, you could go to an urgent care clinic and have a physician’s assistant, or even a nurse treat them.

        You might want to call one of those bed-bug sniffing dog services where they bring in a trained dog who can smell where any bedbugs might be hiding, and then an exterminator, because a competent one would have experience dealing with the problem and would know the kind of places where they like to hide.

    9. Fleur*

      Bedbugs are terrifying because they’re so difficult to get rid of! Our office has a lot of traveling consultants and we had an almost month long infestation (periodic reappearances) followed by two more months of monitoring before being declared free. No one could figure out who brought it in, but the day they were discovered, I went straight home and washed everything I could in hot water. Thankfully, beyond some psychosomatic itching, I did not bring any bedbugs home, but it’s absolutely awful. And of course, nobody complied with office requested to leave their suitcases in the hotel. This is just asking for that ordeal to repeat.

  12. Imogen*

    Does anyone get annoyed at the way job-hunting is portrayed on television shows? Not o much the nature of the jobs themselves, but the way in which some characters get jobs.

    The one that particularly irks me is when the character’s qualifications/skills don’t meet the job description/requirements /at all/, but they get the role based on an impassioned speech along the lines ‘just give me a chance and I’ll prove myself!”. Then the person hiring would be so impressed with their passion that they’d offer them the role on the spot (or later that day if the process was /really/ drawn out)!

    Obviously it’s necessary for the narrative (and usually they would be right in that they’d good at what they said they’d be good at), but would that ever be good enough to convince someone to give you a job without the right background or experience?

    (Also, I sometimes wonder if younger people who are new to the job market would ever get the impression that these things were much easier than in real life.)

    Okay I probably shouldn’t think too much into these things and just enjoy the show, but oh if only the job-hunting process could be so simple!

    1. ZSD*

      I was bothered by the whole letter-of-recommendation ending of _Up in the Air_. Nobody just carries around letters of recommendation, and if they did, hiring managers probably wouldn’t give them much weight. But the guy interviewing Anna Kendrick says, “Well, this guy says I’d be lucky to have you,” and hires her.

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      Yeah. It especially annoys me if it’s for a hard to get into industry like book publishing or the movie industry. it evokes that whole “follow your dream” mentality, which I find ridiculous. And then I get annoyed that most of these actors are getting paid more than I’ll make in years for one episode. And then I have to tell myself to stop being annoyed and just enjoy the TV show.

      I do sometimes wonder if some people think workplaces are like what they see on TV. I had a coworker who said she’d love to work in an office like on Parks and Rec. And while Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows, I’d go insane if I had to work someplace like that. I love Leslie Knope, but there’s no way I’d ever want to work for someone like her. Ron Swanson is my ideal boss. Leaves people alone, lets them get shit done, and doesn’t try to involve himself in their personal lives.

    3. Ralph S. Mouse*

      (Also, I sometimes wonder if younger people who are new to the job market would ever get the impression that these things were much easier than in real life.)

      Oh, it’s not just young people. When I graduated into the worst part of the recent recession, I swear my stepmother’s perspective on job hunting was 2/3 “only ever worked outside the home for pin money” and 1/3 “thinks everything on TV is a documentary.”

    4. City Worker*

      Or when they lose their job because of miscommunication and manage to get it back. If I were HR, I’d be pissed if I had to do all that termination paperwork and it was for naught!

    5. Joanna*

      The trope that irks me is when a young, new to New York (or other big city) character who appears to lack much relevant work experience quickly gets an interesting job that pays enough for a cool apartment in a nice part of one of the most expensive to live in cities in the world

      1. Snargulfuss*

        Ugh, yes 21 Dresses comes to mind immediately. I know that some personal/executive assistants are highly paid, but the likelihood of a 20-something living alone in a gorgeous Manhattan apartment on an assistant’s salary is so unrealistic.

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        I like how Kimmy Schmidt gets her sketchy as hell under the table nanny job. That felt real.

    6. Lily Evans*

      Yes! There’s an episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory wants a job at the newspaper where she used to intern and the boss tells her that there’s no open positions, but he’d give her a good reference. Instead of saying thanks and moving on, she goes to the paper office unannounced, sits in the lobby and refuses to leave, and sneaks into the boss’ office to leave her portfolio. And she gets the job! Because she has so much persistence/gumption! I have to fast-forward those scenes now because I get such second hand embarrassment! When I was younger, though, I thought that was a good model for how getting a job worked…

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Can you believe crap like that worked for a hot minute in the 80s? My college roommate’s brother handcuffed himself to a desk during an interview at Disney World (some sort of gimmick) and he actually got the job! I remember it seemed like the best job in the world to me at the time – his entire role was to entertain VIP corporate guests and take them out to dinner, golf, etc. Actually, it still does sound like a pretty awesome job.

        1. Lizketeer*

          There are some amazing roles within Disney, and that definitely sounds like one of them. Not quite the same, but there are VIP tour guides whose job it is to play in the parks with any family that will pay for it.

      2. bridget*

        AND, that job never ever comes up again! It appears to be ONLY so that Rory can work through her insecurity after Mitchum Huntzberger tells her she doesn’t “have what it takes” to be a reporter. Apparently, she proves to herself that she “has what it takes” because that seems to equal trespassing and harassing people.

        Realistic ending to that scenario: “No, still no jobs, and now you don’t have a good reference either, and I’m calling security to remove you from the building.”

        1. DevAssist*

          Maybe it’s my love for Gilmore Girls, but that didn’t bug me with Rory. I thought it was super funny.

          Overall though, I am very bothered by that trend in books and movies of making even “struggling” look easy. You can also watch shows like GIRLS, and the character of Hannah can’t find a job, gets fired from the low-wage jobs she does get, and still manages to live in a decent apartment in New York. Even with a roommate, that isn’t realistic.

          I am a 20-something and those kinds of things drive me crazy because I think they translate into real expectations of people. Me? I still live at home. I’m working full-time but I can’t afford to live on my own, and I don’t want to be made to feel guilty about it.

          1. anonderella*

            Yeah I will chime in here. I am really not happy about the way Hannah’s character treats her job (I mean, I love it bc she’s saying stuff I want to say but can’t; but I hate it bc no, you can’t actually show your boss your vagina to make a point and walk out the room like you just ended a badass scene.). I know that’s her character, is to be like that, but gargargargargarg < that's an onomatopoeia for exasperation.
            To me, those are the best parts of the show, is when Hannah is told No, you can't have that just because you want it/think you want it, and then she has to go find another way – *that's* how life works.

    7. Jennifer*

      I hate how people get offered dream jobs out of the blue. Also, stuff like “I got a job in Germany and I have to leave in three days.” WTF? It’s taking me four months just to move out of my apartment into another one in the same town, who the hell can leave the country in three days?

      1. Chaordic One*

        I get a kick out of the “Old Economy Steven” meme that has been around for quite a while now.

        Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who still have that old school mindset and who are so out-of-touch about how things have changed in both job searching, and also in the nature of work itself.

    8. Creag an Tuire*

      Yeah, crap like that is why we see so many letters saying “I looked up the hiring manager’s name in the phone book and sent them a framed photo of myself, why didn’t a get a job offer? :( “

  13. Meg Murry*

    I overslept this morning and have the “meh”s today about getting anything done. Thinking about spedning the afternoon cleaning my office because at least then I’d have something to show for the day since I can’t seem to sit still and focus.

    Have to say I love my company though. There is a big sports even on Sunday night that is happening in our city and the bosses have said “I’ll assume anyone that doesn’t show up Monday morning is taking a half or full personal day, just send in a call, email or text at some point letting us know you’re not dead”. I’m not even into sports (at all really) but I’m considering going to a viewing party just to be part of the excitement.

    1. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

      That’s really cool and I appreciate your boss being realistic, lol!

    2. Oryx*

      I live in the opposing city so everyone in the office was up WAY too late last night and some were even at the game. Considering our CEO has season tix I’m surprised we haven’t yet gotten such an email.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Actually, I think we’re in the same city :-) I wasn’t clear – the event Sunday is our home team, but it’s an away game. So big deal for my city, but not actually in my city.

          1. zd*

            I live the actual opposing city… i’m sure many bosses here are sending out the same message! ;o)

  14. Bend & Snap*

    Well, last Friday I posted about the lack of work from home. And later that day CNN published an article sourced by our soon to be parent company in support of a massive remote work initiative.

    So as of a week ago, work from home is restored and all is well in the land.

  15. F.*

    I’m almost afraid to type this for fear of jinxing myself, but my replacement as HR Manager starts Monday! About a month ago, I wrote on the Friday Open Thread seeking advice on the wisdom of stepping back into my former Office Manager role at this company because I lack the education (and buy-in from the company owner) to perform my duties as they need to be performed in this increasingly complicated HR legal environment. In short, I was afraid of causing the company and myself legal harm through my ignorance (or by being blamed for the company owner’s decisions). The current admin has been having an increasingly bad attitude and performance problems and will be let go next week, so I will be taking over her duties along with providing sales support and continuing to be the executive assistant to the general manager. My plate will be quite full, especially while I am training my replacement in HR, but I am definitely up for the challenge. Thanks to everyone here who commented and gave support, especially Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd.!

  16. anoning*

    Sooooo I had an awful interview on Wednesday that was awful on my end and from the company’s side.

    First, it was an unexpected interview. They had called me on Monday and everything sounded great, so I accepted an in-person interview. I have a black suit dress I wear for presentations and I figured that was fine, but then the night before I panicked and thought maybe I should wear a blazer instead of a cardigan. I was running late that morning and wore the blazer, which turned out to be navy and not black like my dress, so it was noticeably mismatched. It was for a startup, so I was hoping they thought I was just being fashionable or something.

    And then when I was getting off the subway someone pushed past me, I stumbled but didn’t fall, but my toe was throbbing. Halfway during the 4 hour interview, I asked to go to the bathroom and my food was covered with blood! I’m so glad I wore nylons to the interview, because most of the blood was seeped up, but the inside of my shoe is now stained. It was gross.

    But even though it was a pretty awful experience on my end, the company turned out to be awful. The job they described on the phone as a managerial job was actually an assistant job where they wanted me to support 30 people. And one of the people I interviewed with was SUCH A JERK. He kept cutting me off and asking invasive questions and kept badgering me for the name of my manager. And when I asked why, he said he wanted to contact him, and I said I still worked there so I would prefer that they not, and he said “oh, ok, I didn’t read your resume, but I’d still like to contact him if we offer you the job”. Everyone else was nice, but this one guy left me with such a gross feeling.

    So no loss overall, but now I have an awful interview story!

    1. Anna*

      Argh! If I believed in omens, I would say the whole thing leading up to the actual interview was one. “I didn’t read your resume”? Really? Jerk!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What a day! And yes, what a jerk. I hope your toe is better. I once got a paper cut in the middle of an interview and practically bled all over the table, so I feel you. (I didn’t get that job, but I found out later it was because the position was eliminated after the first round of interviews.)

    3. SophieChotek*

      I am sorry! That sounds awful…between getting pushed in the subway resulting in a bloody foot and misrepresented job and jerky potential co-worker…

      1. anoning*

        Yeah, I was completely shocked. I finished out the interview because I figured it’d give me good practice, but I was blown away that on the phone they described it as a Senior Marketing Project Manager position overseeing two Project Managers and an intern, and then in person said they wanted me to create an entire project management system from scratch while assisting 30 people. Crazy. I dodged a bullet here.

    1. Pontoon Pirate*

      Is it possible we on this site are actually shaping reality by our comments?

      … that’s a lot of responsibility for a Friday.

  17. OhNo*

    What are people’s thoughts and/or opinions on a person holding multiple part-time jobs in the long term?

    I just started a second part-time job (both are <20 hours per week), and the longer I do this, the more I realize that I like holding two completely different positions at once. I basically get to do one job in the morning, and then switch to a totally different job in the afternoon. Scheduling can sometimes be tricky, but it means I'm never bored for more than four hours, and I can reboot my interest and motivation halfway through the day.

    I'm worried about how it will appear to future employers, though. If I choose to move to a full-time position, will it reflect badly on me to have worked at multiple part-time jobs for so long? I know there's some financial fallout from doing this right now (no benefits for me, alas), but will it be a problem in the long term, especially re: my negotiating power if I decide to move to a single full-time job?

    1. AMT 2*

      I don’t know how it would look to future employers, but I like variety as well – I’ve found that the best full-time jobs for me are ones where either its a small company so lots of roles to fill, or the person who does sort of backup or overflow work for a whole department – so I have my regular duties but pitch in when someone is on vacation or has a heavy workload. I get to learn and do lots more than in a regular single-job type of roll. Just something to keep in mind for future if you decide to look for a full-time job.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I totally agree. After two years in full-time roles where I wore two (or more) different hats, I’ll be transitioning to a position where I basically do one thing at the end of the summer. I’m mostly excited, but I do worry a little bit about getting bored!

    2. bb-great*

      The biggest drawback of a part-time position (besides the trouble to you of scheduling and benefits) as I see it is that they tend to be less…involved? with the wider office. You may not be a part of a team in the same way, you might not get the same insight into the bigger picture of the work, etc as you might with a full time position. They tend to be more like someone assigns you work and you do it, period. Depending on what you do/your field/your companies this may not be true, but it’s where my mind would go, at least.

      On the other hand, if you were applying to a full-time position that required wearing many hats, you have a persuasive argument that you are not only capable, but eager to do that. So there’s more than one way to look at it.

      Not sure how this might affect negotiations. If your new employer sees the part-time work as somewhat less valuable than full time, maybe they would want to pay you less.

    3. overeducated*

      It hasn’t been a problem for me and I did it for three years. Being part time in itself doesn’t seem like an issue if you have a track record of consistency.

      In my opinion the long term problem is the financial one that you mention – two part time jobs just never pay like one full time job! – and also the difficulty of gaining responsibility or supervisory status. If you want to move up, being part time can be an inherent limit to that in a lot of organizations, which can mean that it’s more difficult to command a higher salary or better position in a full time job.

      1. KR*

        This -I’ve had two part time jobs for 5 years and I’m at the end of my rope with it. I’m very close to being in one full time job but it’s a slow process. You’re right about the financial aspect- especially if one job has different hours week to week. It’s hard to budget when every weeks pay is different. For me the schedule is my biggest problem. I work an office job and a retail job and I almost never have the same day off two weeks in a row and usually only get one day off a week – sometimes I get no days off. If this job coming up doesn’t work out I’m quitting them both.

    4. Kittens*

      I work 4(!) part-time jobs and I mostly love it. I get bored really easily/wouldn’t do well in a 9-5 or office situation. Upsides: being able to go to Trader Joe’s on Tuesday at 11am when it’s empty, having more flexibility, never get bored, keeps me more active, makes it easier to have a dog. Downsides: I essentially work 7 days/week though they’re sometimes half days, not as many benefits so I have to be really careful about saving money and contributing to a Roth IRA, etc. No stock options in my future either, but then again I don’t know anyone who is these days :/ It’s harder to lobby for a raise for sure, but it helps that I live in a very labor friendly state. My fiance is 100% freelance, so a planner is my best friend. But I like the lifestyle! Some people won’t get it though, they’ll just immediately equate part-time with failure or inability to get a full-time, but it’s never bothered me.

      I will say that being a perennial part-timer has never hurt me in job hunting, honestly it’s helped! I have a really well-rounded resume because I’ve done so many different things but within a certain few interlocking fields, so I seem well-rounded but still focused. I’m also not a job-hopper so that helps.

  18. Lillian McGee*

    Can we talk about side-gigs? What’s yours?

    The one I’m interviewing for today is data collection at events for a study that a big organization is undertaking in my state. I loved, loved doing backstage security at summer concerts but the schedule didn’t work with my 9-5. I’ve been thinking about side-gigs for a long time but never came across one that was part-time enough to still do my job and have *some* free time.

    1. Tuckerman*

      The most successful side gig I had was picking up shifts as a barista at a cafe where I had worked before I became full time at my current (non-food service) job. I knew the job well and left on very good terms, so my boss was happy to have me pick up shifts when I wanted to. I think it’s much easier to find something part time and flexible if you already have a relationship with the business.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        This is how I got my side gig (tutoring) – a non-profit that I worked for last summer was looking for part time tutors and brought me on as soon as I reached out to them about a posting, no interview or anything. Even though teaching is my day job, I tutor different grades than I teach, so it keeps things fresh.

    2. City Worker*

      I do side work for the province’s liquor, tobacco, and gambling commission. I’m fairly young so according to their rules for sellers, I should be carded. I basically go around and ask for smokes/liquor/to play slots and if they card me I give them a $20 Visa gift certificate and if they don’t they go in my naughty book.

      It’s really neat, they have all sorts of controls in place. I have to send them a photo of what I looked like that day along with who didn’t card me, and all sorts of details so they can get an accurate glimpse.

      $15/hr, mileage, and reimbursement if I’m at a restaurant to do this and I buy a drink (just the drink) and parking/cabs/Ubers if need be,

      1. Lillian McGee*

        Ooh, that’s interesting! I got carded every time I turned a dang corner in Las Vegas (even when I went up to the bar for a WATER) so I might be a good fit too!

            1. Audiophile*

              I wish I could have witnessed that conversation.
              “Hi, I’d like some water.”
              “I need to see your ID first, before I can serve you water from the bar.”

      2. Ralph S. Mouse*

        I did this once for a temp agency. I kind of hated it. :/ I’m sure (well, I hope) the process has improved somewhat, but the directions were incredibly confusing (like there’d be three bars in a multi-building casino and I’d be so lost) or they’d “forget” that you had to pay to park at said casino. More than that, I just hated having to “catch” people. I just felt bad about it.

        1. City Worker*

          I’ve been at this for over a year now and it’s actually really well done! They never get in trouble — I just write down the establishment so that they go on a priority list for retesting. It’s not the law to card under 27, it’s just a requirement with those who have a liquor/tobacco/gambling license, but since I’m not a minor they don’t get into *real* trouble.

          And since they’re a provincial thing, they go by the book with expenses, procedures, etc.

      3. Random Reader*

        Where are you located? This sounds like such an interesting job! As someone who also looks young, I’d be very interested in doing this.

          1. Anana*

            Calgarian here! Do you have any info about how I can get involved with something like this? Websites to check out or job titles to search for?

        1. City Worker*

          It’s a bit time consuming so you have to make a day of it. Sometimes I ask for smokes and the cashiers straight up laugh at me, because apparently I do not look, or sound, like a smoker. I don’t get to pick where to go either — that’s chosen by the commission, so I’ve been sent on 1hr+ drives just for some cigarettes. But I get .79c per km so not a bad deal!

          Otherwise, I love it! Perfect side gig.

    3. White Mage*

      I really want a side gig to help pay down my credit card debt, but it’s impossible to predict if I might get stuck at my normal 9-5 till 6pm or later (maybe 1-2 times a month, at most), so I’m afraid to setup anything with a set schedule. I’ve looked into secret shopping, but there are few opportunities in my area.

      1. TL -*

        I do photography for a local sports league and when I’m busy at work I just pick up any last-minute shifts as I can.

      2. phedre*

        I babysit as a side gig! There are 3-4 families whose kids I watch regularly (started with one family and then they gave my name to all of their friends). Some months I’m busy every Friday and Saturday, and other months I won’t babysit at all. Made an extra $200 this week watching the kiddos! In a busy month I can make an extra $300-$500. It’s easy money because the kiddos are mostly well-behaved and they go to bed early.

    4. Anon Moose*

      Pet sitting, actually. Which works for me since I can’t have pets in my current living arrangement.

    5. Rachael*

      Nothing regular but I help a friend out with his wedding entertainment business. So setting up dance floors, smoke machines, photo booths etc. Super easy, fun, and well paid!

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I was going to say something similar- serving at catered events. Haven’t done it on the side myself, but a current coworker and my niece do it. And where we live, they usually post on craigslist under side gigs the week before.

    6. Megs*

      My side gig for the last couple of years (if it counts as such because it’s “seasonal”) is grading bar exams. Twice a year I get together with a team of two other lawyers and spend a few hours going through whatever question we’ve been assigned to, then I have a couple of weeks to grade during my free time. It’s not a big check, but it’s still some extra cash, and because I’m a weirdo, it’s actually kind of fun to really dig into random areas of law.

        1. Megs*

          In my case I got into it when I was a clerk at our state court of appeals – the head staff attorney had been doing it for ages and asked if anyone was interested when they needed more people. As best I can tell it was entirely word of mouth – I’ve never seen them advertising for more people. Like I said, it doesn’t pay much, but the people who do it tend to see it as a kind of public service/nerdy fun kind of thing so there’s not necessarily a lot of turnover (I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now and don’t have plans to quit). If you were interested, I’d say just approach your state board of bar examiners and ask, and/or poke around on LinkedIn and see if you know anyone in your state who does it.

          1. Megs*

            To clarify, I’d suspect they are usually looking for one or two new people a year depending on how many people take the bar in your state, they’re just not regularly hiring whole new teams (YMMV depending on how your state does things). Here in MN we use teams of three graders per question and our exam has six essays and two practical questions, so that’s 24 graders total.

            1. BabyAttorney*

              Maryland had ten questions…might be worth a shot. Thanks! It sounds super interesting.

              1. anonderella*

                Please smack me for even making this stupid joke, but from your name, I’m so picturing you grading a bunch of toddler’s exams : ) (it’s a really cute visual, so thank you)

                1. anonderella*

                  ok wait, the cute visual was of the babies taking exams.. though I’m sure grading exams makes people look cute too.

                  ok, over and out.

                2. BabyAttorney*

                  Can you see a bunch of toddlers trying to defend somebody in court? That is hilarious.

    7. evilintraining*

      I’m an Uber driver. I like that I can drive when I want to and not have to worry about suddenly being scheduled for a shift that crosses over with my FT hours. But I haven’t been at it very long, so any advice from long-term Uber people would be appreciated. :)

    8. themmases*

      Last summer I did data collection took a tobacco study. We went around to convenience stores and recorded their selection, prices, advertisements, etc. It was great! Downtown Chicago was in my area so if have days where I just walked around all day and went inside high rises and hotels. Other days I’d be way out on the west side. I got to know the city way better and I was part of evaluating a cool new law. That was a side gig for most of us.

      Currently I do some freelance science editing and statistical consulting. It’s really fun, it is related to my work (epidemiology) but not so related that it is a conflict of interest and I learn a lot about other epi topics. Plus there’s that great/weird consulting feeling where I just give my opinion on someone’s paper and they go nuts, they’re thrilled.

    9. Danae*

      I manage communications for a tiny nonprofit that has an outsized impact on our field as a side gig. It’s been a great experience–I’m keeping my project management skills sharp, honing my marketing writing and branding skills, and I’ve gone to some events I never would have been able to otherwise. (It also looks good on my resume!)

      The downside–and it’s a major one–is that our fundraising season runs from May through August, and I’m the one responsible for making sure everything goes smoothly. Summer vacations are a no-go. Eventually, I’d like to get this stuff into a place where I can leave for a week or so and everything will function without me, but it’s definitely not happening this year.

    10. AnAnonTodayBecauseReasons*

      My side gig is helping an indie nail polish brand with social media. I get “paid” in nail polish which works out for me because I end up getting more polish than I’d have been able to buy on my own. I basically subsidized my hobby in a trade agreement. Flexible hours and 100% remote. We’re not even in the same state.

        1. AnAnonTodayBecauseReasons*

          Right? It’s 100% perfect for me. And the owner is a joy to work with, I get to see stuff before it comes out, help plan fun giveaways, etc etc. It doesn’t feel like work!

    11. BabyAttorney*

      I moonlight occasionally on weekends as a party princess. A friend does it full time and sometimes gets a booking for two princesses and I’ll help out (= For a dude gig it’s super well paid and worth it. Just wish there were more parties this year! ;)

      1. CM*

        I assume “dude gig” is a typo? Otherwise, that’s a pretty niche side job, and I bet you’d get to go to some really fun parties!

      2. anonderella*

        I knew a party mermaid. She had a tail I guess made of swimsuit-type material, and she would just swim around at parties and just generally make the pool look fabulous.

        We actually worked together a year previous to me coming face to face with her in a pool at a good friend of mine’s party. I had the rare occasion to exclaim “I know that mermaid!”

    12. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I work part time a local pet shop! I worked there all through high school so it’s fun to pull the occasional weekend as an adult, it’s like visiting a relative but with more guinea pigs.

    13. SophieChotek*

      I work as a barista/cashier at a local coffee shop on weekends.

      I also pick up seasonal/contract jobs, which have included working for a non-profit theater, scoring exams for companies that are contracted by various states.

    14. Laura*

      I’ve applied to be a lifeguard at the local city pools. I used to guard in high school/college and I could use some extra income to help pay rent. Fingers crossed!

    15. A Teacher*

      I teach medical terminology as an adjunct and I work prn as an athletic trainer and do game coverage for a local physical therapy clinic.

    16. QualityControlFreak*

      Side jobs I have had…. Editing, writing, sales, entertainment. None now as main job + commute = no second gig if I want to have any free time.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      I wrote for wiseGEEK for a while when I was at Exjob. Then they stopped taking new articles for a revamp of the site where they wanted curators to add video, links, etc. They asked me if I wanted to do that, but the rate had dropped, so I said no. For a content job, it was pretty nice. They paid by the post, NOT by the batch. And it was fun to write some of them because I had to actually research them and I learned stuff. :)

      I couldn’t really handle anything like an extra job at a shop or a food place for one day a week–the pay wouldn’t be worth the fatigue. And I wouldn’t have time to write. I left school far behind so I could write. Though it’s work, it’s unpaid at the moment.

  19. City Worker*

    I have a quick but school related question.

    I am currently a Communication Disorders student and I am going to apply to speech therapy programs for my MSc. There are only 6 schools in Canada — my school, UBC, McGill, and three in Ontario.

    I have NO idea which school to apply to. Obviously my own, but I do wanna try my shot at other places, just in case I get in!

    With it only being 6 schools and my app fees to be reimbursed by my education fund, should I just try my luck and apply to all? I have the grades + prerequisites to do so, but whenever I mention this idea to someone I feel like they think it’s a bad idea.

    1. Rye-Ann*

      I am in the US, not Canada, so maybe there are some nuances to the Canadian university system I won’t know about? That said, I see no disadvantages to applying to all of them, especially if the fees are reimbursed. The only thing I can think of which might make it a waste of time, slightly, is if there is a school you know FOR SURE you would NEVER consider attending. But the more schools you apply to, the more choice you will potentially have when deciding where to go do your MSc. I have a hard time seeing why that wouldn’t be a good thing!

      1. OhNo*

        Basically this. If there are schools that you definitely don’t want to go to, then skip those. If that doesn’t apply, but you don’t want to take the time to apply to all six, you might just rank the schools based on personal preference and then just skip applying to the lowest one or two.

        I feel like the only reasons I’ve ever heard for not applying to every school are knowing you won’t get in (not an issue for you), cost of the application (not an issue for you), and the time and energy it takes to do all the applications properly. If the last isn’t an problem for you, then go for it!

          1. Laura*

            Absolutely! I work in higher ed and I’m always shocked at students who apply to 15+ schools. I applied to four… couldn’t afford to do any more, and those were the only ones I was actually seriously considering.

            1. Audiophile*

              I applied to six and managed to get the fees waived for some. Now that I’m looking at grad school (again) I have to be even more selective. ($100-$200 per application.)

    2. Cristina in England*

      I would seriously think about which city I wanted to live in. There is so much to consider here, I mean McGill and UBC are thousands of miles apart, geographically and also culturally. Try and think about which city fits your lifestyle as well as considering the strengths of the academic programs and the local job markets for after graduation. If you want to work in Quebec after graduating then your French has to be really good, but not so much if you are out west. Good luck!

    3. SJ*

      6 schools isn’t a ridiculous number at all — you should apply to all of them, if they’re all legitimate possibilities.

    4. themmases*

      Yeah, six is not that many IMO. The advice I got about applying to grad school, and it served me really well, was to apply to anything I thought I might be interested in so I could weigh the best possible options when decisions came back.

      I would say save your money if you weren’t one of the strongest candidates and were open to applying again– then just apply to realistic bets. But if you’re strong candidate, no sense wondering what might have been. Find out everywhere that wants you, then pick.

    5. Not Karen*

      Incidentally if you have any interest in being challenged and/or speaking your mind, do not go to McGill.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Are you speaking specifically about the communications disorder program, or generally? That was certainly not my experience when I was there (in Faculty of Arts) but every department is different.

    6. fposte*

      Where do you want the degree to take you? How does that map onto the alums of each of the schools?

    7. Brett*

      Ask your professors. They will at least know the reputation and capabilities of each skill and might know you well enough to help you match to a school.
      Applying is more than just filling out an application. You will often want to reach out to and network with professors from there, so it can be a heavy time sink too.

      One important thing to remember: norms could be different in Canada and vary from discipline to discipline, but generally you should _not_ apply to your own school. Your grad and undergrad degree should be from two different places to show you have been exposed to a diversity of academic thought in your field.
      Again, ask your professors to find out the norms for your field.

      1. Felix*

        I’ve heard this before too. Wondering if it is more applicable advice to somone who wants to work in academia vs someone who will get a job outside a university? Many of my friends/colleagues did their undergrads and masters and the same school and all are very successful. However, non of them attempted to become professors.

    8. Lydia*

      I work at one of these schools. This is a VERY competitive graduate program in Canada with very limited seats. I would suggest applying broadly…but as others have mentioned, only to schools you want to attend. Also, for a highly competitive program there’s no negative connotation to being at the same school as your undergraduate degree (in my experience) so don’t worry about that. Best of luck!

  20. Daisy Dukes*

    NYC sales people, what kind of base salary is reasonable to ask for someone with 3-4 years experience looking to move to a new company and get a bit of a bump in salary from $52k?

  21. Applesauced*

    VENT – We have a mandatory meeting at work today, and I emailed the office manager asking how I should log the time in the meeting on my timesheet. Answer – there is no way to log the time because this meeting is during “lunch.”
    If it’s really mandatory, it shouldn’t be taking place on my time – UGH.

    Note: I’m salaried, so this isn’t illegal just really annoying

    1. Adam V*

      I’d probably do one of two things, depending on how annoyed I was and my relationship with the office manager:

      1) Bring my keys and head straight from the lunch meeting out the door to actually get lunch, and stay gone for an hour. (If I took this route, I’d probably spend the entire meeting looking at my watch, too.)

      2) Respond back to the office manager and say “sorry, I already made unbreakable lunch plans. Can you email me a synopsis of what I missed?”

    2. CheeryO*

      I always take lunch afterward when this situation comes up, and I have yet to be called out on it. YMMV of course; my job is decently flexible.

    3. Applesauced*

      Thanks for the replies. The issue is that I have to fill out a timesheet accounting for my 8 hours per day. So I just spent 1.5 hours in a meeting, now I’m eating lunch at my desk – I either have to stay late to get 8 hours, or fudge the numbers and bill some extra time to a client.

      1. Blurple*

        You don’t have a category for administrative time or something for if something like this wasn’t at lunch? That’s garbage.

        1. Applesauced*

          Oh believe me, I’ve been asking about “overhead,” “admin,” or “general office” time since Day One. All it’s gotten me are confused looks and blank stares.

  22. Caledonia*

    Riffing off bassclefchick’s post above, what are the unemployment/benefit rules where you live?

    I am currently unemployed and searching for work. In order to claim benefits, I have to show at least 30 steps a week in which I am actively looking for work, which can include items like applying, interviewing, websites you use to search.

    It’s exhausting :(

    Further on, you get a job coach and possibly sent to “helpful” classes to try and help you become employed. The airquotes are because I’m not entirely convinced from what I’ve seen & heard.

    1. Megs*

      I had to go to a “helpful” job search class once, but otherwise you just have to certify that you’re actively looking for and available for employment. The funny thing is that immediately prior to going on unemployment I was working for our state court of appeals, which involved regularly reviewing appeals from denial of benefits, so I was suuuuuper paranoid about making sure I was documenting my search in case I ever got challenged! 90% of the time people were just mad about getting fired and saying that they totally didn’t deserve it, so those cases were pretty straightforward, but occasionally you would get the department challenging someone’s job search and that was a lot tougher (and often sadder).

    2. zd*

      Ugh, that would be my nightmare! I’ve been on UI in both Oregon and California, and they don’t make it so onerous, thank goodness. When I was in Oregon, I was looking for work in a very niche field, and I can’t even imagine how there would be 30 steps per week that would show that! The job market was terrible in the state, and there weren’t 30 jobs per week I could have applied to, even if I wasted entire days applying for awful, minimum wage jobs I would never get hired for. This cr*p you’re going through makes me so mad, it’s such a waste of time and mostly useless at getting a competitive, professional-level job, grrrr.

      1. zd*

        To actually answer your question, to the best of my recollection: OR I had to write down maybe 4 things a week I was doing to find a job, and they could be pretty vague. And no classes. CA you don’t have to do anything, except check a box saying “Yes, I actively looked for work this week”

    3. bassclefchick*

      Cool! My state requires a “waiting week” which means you don’t get anything paid to you the first week you are unemployed. I believe that the thought there is that your last paycheck from your job you just lost (or any severance package from a layoff) should provide you an income during the waiting week.

      And, as I said, you have to apply for 4 jobs per week. And I’ve heard that now you have to provide the information of where you applied instead of just checking the box that yup, I applied to 4 different places.

    4. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      When my husband was drawing unemployment:
      – Had to send in a weekly detailed list of where and what dates he applied to each job to meet his quoata of weekly application.
      – You had to save a copy of these as well, since you could be audited (I kid you not) up to 2 years after receiving unemployment.
      – Mandatory monthly classes to “help” you find a job. Why yes, the reason my husband, with two college degrees, cannot find a job in this economically depressed state is clearly due to the fact that he does not know how to properly use a mouse.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      30 STEPS!!?!???!!

      That is INSANE. (Note to self–don’t be unemployed in the UK.)

      In my state, you have a waiting week before it starts, and you have to apply for at least three positions each week. You go online and fill out a thing–you used to have to turn in a sheet that said what jobs you applied for, but while they don’t make you do that anymore, you have to keep track, because if they ask you to show them, you need to be able to do it. I literally just signed in and then clicked a dropdown that said how many I did. But when I went in for a meeting mid-unemployment, I printed off my jobs spreadsheet and took it in to show them.

      But they all had to be jobs you would take if they offered. Some weeks there simply weren’t three jobs I could have taken, so I had to apply to different ones at the same giant healthcare system. They never called me, so it was relatively safe. You were required to take it if offered (though I didn’t take one because I couldn’t live on the salary).

      Unemployment benefits were a percentage of your previous salary–when I was on it in 2003, it was much less than when I was on it in 2012 because I was making more. Still, the amount is dismally small. Not enough to pay all the bills. And if you earn anything at all, you have to report it and they deduct that from the benefits, so it’s pretty much useless to work at all while getting them.

      With my LD, being unemployed is a nightmare of epic proportions. And I’m single with no kids, so I get little to no help in any other way. I hate hate hate hate it. I hate not having any backup at all. My parents have helped in the past, but they won’t be around forever.

  23. Utopia Blast*


    I have a work trip coming up where I will be making an important presentation. My job has given certain limits that we can spend travel. The problem is that my disability makes it difficult to get around, and I need a hotel that is near the venue or close to public transit. However, most of those hotels are in the city center and are priced at more than double what we can pay. Other folks manage to rent a car and save on the hotel. I cannot drive. My job now expects me to cover the difference between what hotel I choose and their limit. How do i deal with this?

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I would push back and point out that they are basically expecting you to pay for being disabled! You’re not taking a different hotel because of personal desires, you’re taking what you need. You shouldn’t get gouged because your job refuses to accommodate your disability (and I would use those words while staring pointedly at your HR person when you have this talk).

    2. Anon Moose*

      I’m not a lawyer or in HR, but that’s got to be a reasonable accommodation thing, doesn’t it?

    3. Belle*

      Could you ask HR for an ADA accommodation for this aspect? I don’t see this being any different than if an employee needed special software ordered to meet the job requirements.

    4. LawCat*

      Can you take a cab/Uber/Lyft to and from the hotel and venue? That might be a workable accommodation. They should be discussing this with you. Maybe open with your manager, “Because of a mobility disability, I need an accommodation to do my job at this event. If the company is cannot accommodate by covering a hotel that is closer to the venue, will it cover a cab to and from the venue? Do you have some other ideas we can discuss?”

    5. Pwyll*

      Yeah, this is one of those areas where you don’t apologize and just tell HR how it is.

      “As you know, my disability makes it such that I can’t drive or walk for long periods of time. As such, the cheapest hotel that can accommodate my disability is xyz hotel. How would you like for me to handle this in the expense system?” And if they say you need to pay the difference: “Unfortunately, as this is a work event I won’t be able to do that. I’m happy to provide documentation from my doctor if you need it for recordkeeping purposes, but I’m going to need to stay within x radius of the event for medical purposes.”

    6. Sualah*

      Are they sure they’d be paying more? It sounds like with other employees, they’re paying for car + hotel, and for you, it would just be hotel. So the math might still work out. Either way, you shouldn’t have to cover it, I’m just wondering if you can present it that way, it might be easier to figure out the solution.

    7. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I would start by coming up with alternatives to provide them with that *you* feel comfortable with. (AKA, DO NOT offer these if you cannot be comfortable AND safely navigate, please!!)

      Some alternatives I can think of:

      1.) Can you use an alternative lodging near the event center, such as Air BnB? If so, those many be more affordable in comparison to a hotel.

      2) Is there a co-worker traveling with you who can rent (and drive) the car, thus allowing you both to stay at a farther hotel and saving the trouble?

      3.) Can the company provide a car or cab service to and from the venue to a cheaper hotel?

      If none of these alternatives work, I would suggest sitting down with your manager/HR and talking about the challenges this presents, and what their thoughts are on how to proceed.

  24. Happy it's Friday*

    How safe would it be to post a Monster review of my company? We have less than 20 people and are family owned. We’re hiring and potential hires need warned.

    They promise health insurance, dental, life insurance but we have none. They’re toxic and very political and unless you are related to them you won’t succeed. They won’t address performance issues with you but WILL complain to other staff about the person.

    Is this a bad idea?

    1. Anon Moose*

      What’s the worst that could happen- they find out and fire you? Change some details so you can’t be identified if you can. And… with a company that crappy I think you’d be on your way out as well…

    2. themmases*

      It really depends how identifiable your complaints are. If they’re something only you or a small number of people experienced, is just keep it to myself. If it’s something that anyone in the company would know, it’s probably safe. Just don’t share your department, title, age gender…

      If you’re committed to doing it I would check out Glassdoor over Monster. I rarely hear about people checking Monster for that sort of thing and it’s much of the purpose of Glassdoor.

    3. esra*

      I’d post on glassdoor rather than monster. You can be vague about the position and just highlight those issues.

  25. alice*

    Venting time! I asked my darling coworker to please answer a customer’s questions (these were things I couldn’t possibly know), and he took the liberty of explaining to me yesterday that I am a “Tier 1” employee and he is a “Tier 4” employee, and that means that he never has to do the lowly job of -gasp- speaking to customers and that maybe, just maybe, someday I’ll get to his position. I don’t understand how you get to be forty years old without having addressed your social phobia.

    1. Adam V*

      Can you push back to his boss that he’s refusing to answer the customer’s questions? I’m sure that wouldn’t look good for him.

      1. alice*

        Oh I’ve tried. I do have another meeting with Boss next week about this, but Boss and coworker were college buddies. Thank God I’m leaving in two months.

        1. Adam V*

          I just don’t understand how that sort of crap will fly anywhere. There’s no one above your boss to say “wait, wait, you got a complaint about Bob and you’re ignoring it… why, again? Oh, because you’ve known each other for 20 years. Yeah, that’s crap. Here are your new options –

          1) you call Bob in here right now and you prove to me that you’re willing to properly take him to task

          2) I demote you to Bob’s level and hire someone who will properly instruct *both* of you how to respond to bad employee behavior

          3) I fire Bob

          Your call.”

          (I mean, odds are that no one above your boss knows, but still, that’s the sort of thing that makes me furious, and if I were in a higher-up position, I would totally go into that manager’s office and say this.)

          1. alice*

            I hope you’re a manager somewhere. You sound like you know how to handle this kind of … stuff.

            1. Adam V*

              I wish. :) I’d like for managing to be in my long-term plans, but as I wrote below, I’m currently a developer, and the path from software development to management is… odd. They’re such different skills that I have no idea if I’d be any good at it.

              (And as my above response indicates, I’m unsure I’d have the proper level of tact when it comes to these sorts of situations.) :)

    2. Susan C*

      I mean… is it his job to talk to the customer? Not trying to be snarky here, but I imagine you’re not the first person in your job to not know something, so there is probably a procedure, and maybe that procedure is to find out, and then get back to the customer. You may well question the efficiency of that, but I’d try to find out if that’s the case or if he is *just* a stuck up glassbowl.

      (Disclaimer: this kind of telephone game is a pretty large part of my job, but it makes perfect sense because there’s both a language and a knowledge barrier, so to speak, that requires an interpreter)

      1. Susan C*

        Oh, never mind, if you’ve got a foot out the door anyways, then just vent away and forget I said anything ^^°

      2. alice*

        You’re right, his job doesn’t technically include talking to customers. Usually I handle that. I just don’t understand why he can’t suck it up once every few months and drop to “Tier 1” to handle someone who just really wants to talk to him.

        1. Adam V*

          I’m a developer, and we’ve got multiple levels in between me and customers. Still, there are times where the front-line people ask me to get on a call to see if I can help figure out a customer’s issue, and if that’s the case, I don’t get to say “sorry, that’s a ‘Tier 1’ task.”

          So yeah, this guy is just a jerk, but one whose boss isn’t holding him accountable for it so he gets away with it.

    3. Temperance*

      He just sounds like a jerk. I doubt it’s social phobia … more like garden-variety douche.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I probably would have tried to make him stand 10 feet away from the customer as I played telephone with the two of them, just to point out how ridiculous he was being. Or, if that failed, run back and forth between them and tell him “wait right here, I’ll go tell her that and see if that raises any further questions” until he saw how ridiculous THAT was.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          *high five*

          Don’t forget to take notes and make him slow down as you write down what he says!

  26. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Any tips on working while bloody exhausted? I’m in the middle of moving hell and I will be for a while still (it’s a drawn-out move…) and while I certainly can’t take the whole time off work, it’s also killing me to come in every day bone-sore, aching and already drooping! I’m not at my best, and I’m trying to play catch-up for the time I have had to take off for various aspects of this thing. How do you guys manage? So far I’m using peppy headphones music and trying to judiciously up my caffeine intake to help manage, but the caffeine turns into a vicious cycle of more caffeine -> less sleep -> more tired -> more caffeine and on and on.

    I can’t wait till it’s over!

    1. Alston*

      Taper off the caffeine in the afternoon, that way you’ll at least be able to sleep some. And drink a LOT of water, you’ll feel better if you’re more hydrated–and at the very least having to get up to pee often will keep you awake.

      Anything else you can knock of your to do list? When I was in school/working full time I stop cooking my own lunches and just subsist off of freezer meals. Just one less thing to deal with every day.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        I like to drink ice water/seltzer if I’m tired/slumping in the afternoon- coffee or tea is warm and calming, even with caffeine, so ice has a more invigorating effect. Also, taking a little walk to fill my water bottle is a nice break :)

    2. BabyAttorney*

      Take a walk during your lunch or break period. Get outside and move around–it’s amazing how much it’ll wake you up.

      1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

        This will help with circulation and get those sore muscles healing quicker too.

  27. AnoninTexas*

    I think I’m venting more than I’m asking a question. But what is it with recruiters? They appear to me to be the most unprofessional people in the workplace. Now, before you all unload on me, I know there are some good ones out there. But the vast majority I’ve run across lately are very nice and professional when they want something from you. But when you send them a simple email asking for a status update…nothing.

    I interviewed for a job 3+ weeks ago. I met with the recruiter first for about 30 minutes (who works as an in-house corporate recruiter) and she gave me her card and said “not to hesitate” to reach out to her if I have any questions during the process. She also said to make sure I told her if I had another offer. So, 3+ weeks after my interview (I sent hand-written notes after the interview to her as well as the hiring team I met with) I sent her a 2 sentence email politely asking for an update. No response.

    Before you all start to say she’s had a family emergency, or got sick, or any reason why she couldn’t just respond with “I’m not sure, let me check and get back with you” or “you didn’t make the next round of interviews,” I’ve seen her all over Linked-In posting and sharing articles since I sent her the email 3 days ago. So…I think it’s quite clear she’s just ignoring my email. Maybe she meant to respond and got busy and forgot? But isn’t this a big part of her job, corresponding with candidates? If I forgot to do a part of my job…well, there would be ramifications. As you can tell, I’m frustrated. I know recruiters can’t respond to each applicant. But when you correspond via email with a candidate to schedule an interview, meet in person with that candidate for 30 minutes, hand them your card and say “don’t hesitate” to reach out to me and then ignore them when they do after a reasonable amount of time…that’s just unprofessional as hell!

    1. alice*

      I hear you. I think it all comes down to a lack of respect. Job searching is a two-way street, where each party has to respect the other. People like this operate from a place of profound disregard for job applicants.

      1. OhNo*

        This. Not all recruiters, of course, but certainly the ones I’ve met have a hierarchical view of the hiring process: they are above the candidate, and therefore their time is more important, and they should be immune for having to do anything that whiffs of common courtesy or respect.

    2. some1*

      It’s possible that she is waiting to hear back from other decision-makers before answering you.

      1. zd*

        Then she needs to SAY that!!! I sympathize, I have the same frustrations with the recruiters at the agency that I am currently working for. (And making money for them.)

        1. AnoninTexas*

          Thank you, zd!! I agree. If she’s waiting for the hiring manager to get back with her, then say so! Complete silence for 3 days when I see her on Linked-In is just so unprofessional. I think I may post a comment to one of her Linked-In posts…just to show her that I see her out in social media.

    3. Laura*

      I think many recruiters have the deadly combination of being overworked and disrespectful. They can’t do everything at once, but they also can’t seem to be bothered to give you a one-line answer to a question. It’s a real shame.

    4. Seattle Writer Gal*

      “She also said to make sure I told her if I had another offer.”

      What’s up with this practice? I’ve had recruiters/HR ask this of me at the beginning of every interview process I went through in the past 2 years or so. I have 2 issues with this:
      1) It’s really none of their business who I’m talking to or what other offers I am getting. Pay a reasonable salary, don’t be jerks and you’ll be able to hire good people without entering into bidding wars or other crazy shenanigans.
      2) I have gone back to Company A and told them I’ve received an offer from Company B. This has produced offers from Company A exactly ZERO times. Most of the time I never hear back and the few times that I do the answer is usually something along the lines of “we’re still really early in our process so don’t let that stop you from taking job with Company B” or “congrats on your new job!”

      It’s really frustrating to be ghosted when job hunting. Sadly, it’s super common and as someone who has gone through job searching hell several times, you really just have to not take this personally in order to maintain your sanity.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        It’s asked to make sure they can move you through the hiring process more quickly if you have a pending offer, especially if they’re interested. I don’t think we ask specific companies, just if you have an offer or where you are in other interview processes.

        I work in recruitment and my recruiters are awesome. But again, my company hires for specific traits that other companies don’t. But as someone who also has been on the candidate side and have had companies ghost on me, reject me by phone and give me unsolicited feedback (which was so unusual! and unwelcome) as part of that conversation and in one case, reject me twice for the same job. That was interesting. Received two rejection emails two days apart.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I’ve never had good luck with recruiters. About half the time I would get offered the job, but at the same rate of pay as what I already was making, so I’ve never actually been hired as the result of working with one. There just was no upside to the jobs available through them.

        Not to be arrogant, but I feel like I’m pretty competent and if I was going to go through the hassle of changing jobs (even if it was doing the same thing that I was already doing) I feel that I should be offered at least 10% more than what I was already making.

  28. matcha123*

    One thread this week was talking about relocation, and I was wondering how much time companies tend to give to people who need to relocate.
    A number of years ago, I was interviewing for a job in Tokyo (I’m in far Western Japan). The recruiters I spoke with knew my location, but said that I’d need to be moved and ready to start in 2 weeks.

    Is two weeks typical?

    To add a bit, in Japan, you can’t just toss things in a dumpster and be done with it. Certain types of garbage can only be thrown away on certain days of the month, and some large electronics (like TVs) cannot be used in different parts of the country. My TV bought in Western Japan cannot be used in Tokyo due to different power systems in place.

    I ended up backing out of that interview because there was no way I’d be able to pack up and move out in 2 weeks.
    Also, do you need to be at a certain level to get relocation help? Is it best to ask or is it better to wait for them to offer?

    1. Caledonia*

      When I relocated last year for a job 160 miles away, I thought I’d get relocation as I’d asked HR about it. When I filled for reimbursement, it came to light that HR were mistaken and it was only available for managers/people on Grade 5 and above. I was a Grade 4.

      When I accepted the job, I said I’d need 6 weeks (4 weeks/1 month notice is UK standard) in order to relocated, they were happy with that.

      also, very interesting about Japan electronics! What’s the why of that? (having different power sources – seems wasteful)

      1. matcha123*

        I’ve been thinking about moving for a long time, but companies and people in general here seem to assume that as a single person, all of my belongings fit into one suitcase and I can just be ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice. Even a month doesn’t seem like much time for me!
        But, I’m glad to hear that I wasn’t totally out of line thinking that 2 weeks was not enough time.

        As to the power, this NPR article might explain it a bit…

        1. LCL*

          Wow, I never knew this, thanks! Can we send NERC over there to straighten things out, and leave us alone for awhile?

    2. Not Karen*

      Last time I moved a 9 hour drive away within the US. My company gave me 4 weeks from the offer date that could be extended to 5 if needed.

    3. Jubilance*

      Both times I’ve relocated, I had 4 weeks between offer acceptance and start date. Basically I was able to choose my own start date and that was fine for the companies.

      I also got relocation for my first job, which was entry level. It seems pretty standard in that industry – laboratory chemistry.

    4. Audiophile*

      About six months ago, I was interviewing for a job that would have involved a major relocation (I’m in the US, east coast and was interviewing for a job in California) and the company seemed amenable to my need to push the start date back. They understood that I wouldn’t be able to quickly pack up my life and move (even with leaving furniture behind, clothes, electronics, and my car would have been a hassle.) I withdrew my application but that was one of the few times where the discussion went in a logical direction.

      “How long would you need to relocate? Is a month feasible?”

      I didn’t know you couldn’t take certain electronics with you in Japan. That is really fascinating.

    5. Nihonjin*

      Is the employer a Japanese company/organization? One month’s notice is pretty much standard at workplaces in Japan, instead of the two weeks that is typical in the U.S. Therefore, if the recruiter is telling you two weeks… that doesn’t sound right…

      1. matcha123*

        It was a Japanese company, but they have offices overseas. I would have needed to move into the company dorm if I couldn’t find my own company.
        They also wanted me to take what amounted to an SAT in Japanese. The recruiters said it was difficult for native Japanese people. Another reason I dropped out of that application…I didn’t graduate university to have to take a university-like entrance exam for a company. I can’t remember the name of the exam, but it’s apparently well-known and there are study books for it.

  29. Tris Prior*

    Boyfriend’s company just hired someone in a very low-level clerical role (think, literally carrying documents from Point A to Point B and that is the entire job.). He found out from another co-worker that the new guy is making $4/hour more than he is. He’s been at this company for 6 years and, while he’s essentially an admin, has way more responsibilities than that. And his pay has stayed relatively flat with just tiny raises.

    His performance review is coming up, and when he asked me if he should reveal what he knows about the other guy’s salary, I told him that he shouldn’t use that as a reason why he should get a raise. That he needs to keep it about him and his accomplishments and why he’s worth more than his very low salary. And that he’s probably not supposed to know the new guy’s salary anyway (new guy told co-worker what his salary is, and co-worker then told Boyfriend).

    But, this totally sucks and is part of a larger pattern of the company not treating longer-term employees well and not being open to promotions from within or raises. He has a new supervisor this year so maybe it’ll go better. I don’t know. Really, he just needs to get out of there but it’s such a toxic company, he’s convinced himself than anywhere he moves to will be as bad or worse.

    1. Lillian McGee*

      Blerg. Well, he can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube so he may as well try and use the information he knows to bolster his argument. Perhaps during negotiation if things aren’t going his way he can say “I happen to know so-and-so is making $X hourly and if that’s what he is worth, then I think I’m worth at least $X.”

      I feel his pain though. At my first job I found out the girl who was hired after me doing the same job (badly) was both dating the manager I was in love with AND was making several dollars more than me per hour. Double heartbreak.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      You’ve got to tell him to stop thinking that anywhere he goes will be bad or worse. I’ve been down this road and thought this way and it’s detrimental. If he is good at his job and has no other issues at work (attendance, working with others, etc.) he shouldn’t have an issue finding another job.

      And I agree with you that he shouldn’t bring up the new employee’s salary unless it is the last straw and he’s prepared to give notice.

      When I worked in retail this happened ALL THE TIME…..the longer you were there the less disparity in pay there became between the existing employees and the new hires. This was due to the terrible financial health of the company and their lack of funds to provide meaningful raises (think $0.13 raise for an entire year when you are “exceeding expectations.” However, the only way to get anyone to take a job in retail hell was to offer them a salary that was on par with what competitors were paying. And thus… the time I left, there were new hires that were coming in making more money that I did after more than 10 years and some did a great job and others were terrible. This situation was perpetuated by the attitude that began at corporate and trickled down.

      At the end of the day, a company’s goal is to pay the employee as little as possible while still retaining someone qualified in that role. If they think that he will stay forever and continue allowing them to pay him peanuts, what incentive is there for them to increase his pay? Your boyfriend should definitely argue for higher pay, based on his duties and accomplishments, and perhaps allude to the fact that he is aware that new hires are coming on board at a higher pay rate than he is making, although depending upon the number of employees and how many recent new hires there are, this may out him. If it all goes left, and he doesn’t care about being let go and potentially burning that bridge, then throw it out there. At that point, he’s got nothing to lose.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Yeah…. I have told him that he can’t possibly know that EVERY job out there will treat him terribly. I’ve been in that mindset too – that all jobs are horrible and anything I moved do would be just as bad. I was fortunate enough to find jobs that proved that incorrect.

        We’re not in a position that we can be without his income, so I don’t think he’s comfortable shooting off his mouth about the gross inequities in pay. What you describe in retail is probably what happened to him too. I also told him that it’s possible that this guy negotiated for a higher salary and they said yes. (Boyfriend did not negotiate; he was out of work and took this job out of sheer desperation of needing SOME money coming in asap.)

        I suggested to him that he ask his manager flat out “what do I need to do to be promoted/get a raise?” I think I convinced him to do that…. his fear is that the answer will be “get your degree” as he doesn’t have one. Which probably also has something to do with his low pay, though I can’t see how a college degree makes the other guy more competent at delivering paperwork! But we are SO not in the position that we can pay for school, or pay student loans.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Which probably also has something to do with his low pay, though I can’t see how a college degree makes the other guy more competent at delivering paperwork!

          While a degree doesn’t necessarily make someone more competent at their job, unfortunately, companies will pay someone who has one more than someone who doesn’t even when they’re doing the same job. I’ve seen this play out time in again at the companies/firms I’ve worked at. This may be why the other guy makes more, along with the negotiating thing, and if paying for professional development isn’t an option for your boyfriend right now, he’s just going to have to try and make his case for a raise based on his performance to date and understand he may or may not get it.

      2. Mirilla*

        That happened with me in retail too. I was a supervisor and by the time I left, the newly hired cashiers weren’t making much less than me. The small raises which the company offered did not keep up with the cost of living and minimum wage increases.

    3. Snargulfuss*

      Oooo I totally get his pain. It’s totally not fair (assuming you have all of the facts) and yet this is one of those things where you can’t really bring up fairness as an argument….unless it’s discrimination, which it doesn’t sound like this is.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I know that the common advice is that you should never compare your salary to others when asking for a raise. However, people here do it all the time and it always, always works. At my last job as well.

  30. Need coffee*

    Just a bit of fun: what are the earliest answers (you can remember) that you gave when asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’?

    (Also bonus: does what you do now resemble that in any way?)

    I think for me it was either a doctor or a teacher (both my parents are doctors and used to work in teaching hospitals). Then when I was about 7 I watched Sound of Music for the first time and wanted to become either a governess or a nun.

    (My current job has nothing to do with teaching or convents lol).

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      First answer I had was judge, then naturalist, then minister. But really, the answer always has been and always will be “mermaid.” :P

      1. ermbookworm*

        I wanted to be a vet, then an author, then an author AND a librarian (I think my idea was that being around books all day would inspire my writing). I am now a librarian, though not the kind I imagined as a child. I rarely touch books, and spend most of my time teaching/working with people.

    2. Collie*

      On career day in Kindergarten, I went as a librarian because I loved to read (it was a costume based on stereotypes — tsk, tsk). I then wanted to be a vet. Then a writer. Then an FBI agent (I quickly discovered that meant taking many math classes — no thanks). Then a journalist. I had an epiphany when I was sixteen, sitting in a movie theater watching National Treasure 2. The scene in the Library of Congress kind of bloomed on the screen and it hit me: librarian. I finished my MLIS last month.

      Funny, how that works.

      1. Lillian McGee*

        My first one was librarian too! Because I liked to read :) What I do now is nothing like that (office manager) but when I went to get a paralegal certificate I thought I could maybe work in a law library. Didn’t pan out for me, but I know at least 2 paralegal librarians!

        1. Collie*

          Librarians are cool folks, if I do say so myself. Luckily, I also really enjoy helping people, which is a much bigger part of librarianship than enjoying books (which so many people are surprised to hear)!

          1. Lillian McGee*

            There are tons of librarians in this thread! Man, maybe I really missed my calling…

      2. Dangerfield*

        I wanted to be an FBI agent for a while too! I’m not even a US citizen. That was clearly never going to work.

        (I kind of still do want to be an FBI agent but I think my odds of finding an American, getting married and becoming a citizen before I’m too old are slim. And my long-term boyfriend might not approve ;))

    3. alice*

      I really wanted to be a weather lady on TV. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever from ages four to ten. I have no idea why, as I’ve never known anyone personally who is a meteorologist.

    4. Kristine*

      When I was 3 I told my mom I wanted to work at McDonald’s so I could get free french fries. Ended up working there for a summer when I was in high school!

    5. Felicia*

      Well when I was really little I wanted to be a mermaid. (I never understood why Ariel gave that up!)

      I do remember when I was in grade 3, I wrote for a project that I wanted to be Barbara Walters when I grow up. I am not Barbara Walters, at least not yet :)

      1. TootsNYC*

        My daughter wanted to be a princess for an embarrassingly long time. She wanted to be a clothes seller (work in retail), and a flower lady (she didn’t want to sell them, just have them), and a teacher, and baker, and bookstore lady. All in the same week. Because she wouldn’t have to work on Saturday or Sunday.

    6. all aboard the anon train*

      Archaeologist! Partially because of my huge crush on Harrison Ford, and also because I thought it looked fun. I did end up getting a second BA in Archaeology and I went on some excavations. I sometimes regret not following that career path, but I desperately needed a job when I graduated, so I ended up taking a job that put my English degree to good use.

      Aside from that, I also wanted to be on Broadway, but I have no singing, dancing, or acting talent, so I have to content myself with watching shows instead.

      1. themmases*

        Me too! I wanted to be an Egyptologist specifically– I was obsessed with ancient Egypt as a child. Oddly for a kid who wanted top be an archaeologist, I never saw Indiana Jones.

      2. Witty Nickname*

        I went through an archaeology phase too. And I’m still convinced that if I could only sing, dance or act, I’d be the biggest star on Broadway! Instead, I star in Hamilton in my car.

        In college, I majored in government and thought about going to grad school for public policy, but decided ultimately that a career in politics was not for me. I work in marketing as a program manager now, so instead of spinning policy arguments and ruling the world, I help craft marketing campaigns and rule my project teams. ;)

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I did briefly consider majoring in Poli Sci because I had a pretty intense West Wing phase, but I quickly realized I’d have no patience to actually deal with any of that.

      3. Al Lo*

        In kindergarten, I wanted to be a paleontologist, because I could spell it. But then I decided that I didn’t really want to do that, because when I had kids, going on digs would mean being away.

        Forget the fact that math and science aren’t my strong suits. Or that I don’t have kids. (Yet? Maybe?)

    7. F.*

      When I was in kindergarten, it was Teacher (Miss Bogle was sooooo nice!). By age 12 it was Meteorologist at the Severe Storms Forecast Center in Norman, Oklahoma. I held on to that through college, but, since the university where I received a full scholarship did not have the program, I earned a Math degree instead, thinking that I could then go to the University of Oklahoma, where they do have the program. However………life intervened. By the time I graduated from college, I had a full time bookeeping job, could not afford out-of-state tuition at OU, and never did get that Meteorology degree. Oh well, maybe in the next life…

      1. mike 2*

        I was adamant I was becoming a heart surgeon (age 9, female, fascinated by surgeries and blood). Some time later I changed that decision to the one of a librarian. And stuck to it.

    8. ginger ale for all*

      I wanted to be Bob Newhart. Either him or the role he played on the Bob Newhart Show. I am still a big fan of his. He is one of the greats. I don’t have a job like either of those but I do like to tell stories every once in a while.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        Oh – I ended up in libraries. My great grandmother predicted I would so that is pretty interesting.

    9. Lore*

      I don’t actually remember this myself, but my parents swear up and down that when I was about four, I used to answer “An astronaut or a cocktail waitress.” Astronaut, I get. But I don’t know even know how I knew what a cocktail waitress was.

      I work in book publishing and theater. Sometimes I still wish I’d gone for “astronaut” but I think I reached the apex of my math skills with basic calculus.

      1. SophieChotek*

        book publishing and theater? Two separate jobs? Or a publisher that writes about books. I think they both sound interesting!

        1. Lore*

          Two separate things, though if we do publish performing arts related titles I usually get to work on them. It’s pretty rare though. Unlike my coworkers who want all the sports books or all the cookbooks.

    10. Ex FL Anon*

      In elementary school, I wanted to be a marine biologist and work at Sea World. Yeah, I’m an office manager now, no where close to working with dolphins. :(

      1. Random Citizen*

        I went to Sea World when I was five and saw Shamu live, and wanted to be a trainer for a long time afterwards. It was amazing – but always the whales. There was something about that much power controlled and directed that just fascinated me.

    11. GiggleFits*

      Prima Ballerina, then novelist, then journalist, then forensic scientists, then research scientist, then genetic counselor, and now I’m a medical librarian!

    12. Charlotte Collins*

      Veterinarian (then I realized that putting animals to sleep would be a job requirement) or Wonder Woman. Or Cinderella. (The Prince wasn’t that big a deal, but I’d really like some talking mice.)

    13. rozin*

      For a very long time I wanted to be a veterinarian. Till my dad took me to an “open house” at one of the nearby vet schools and I saw them performing surgery. And I had a major issue with blood and guts, so that was a big pile of NOPE. After giving that up I wanted to be an animator at Disney (since I loved their movies), until I realized that animation is REALLY hard. Now I’m a video editor/motion graphics person, so there’s still a little bit of relation to the animation dream.

    14. Nethwen*

      Classical music performer/teacher. By the time I reached high school, I knew that was unlikely, but kept saying it. Now I work as a public librarian – a great job for people who are interested in “everything.”

    15. Alston*

      I wanted to be a Horse Girl. Not a Cow Girl, but a Horse Girl.

      Then I wanted to be an archaeologist, then an astronaut, then a writer, then a filmmaker. Now I’m working on becoming a woodworker.

    16. Mockingjay*


      It was the 1960’s – space race. My Dad worked near the Goddard Space Center. He used to stop by and pick up all this stuff for me – posters, booklets, pictures of the astronauts, etc. They gave away tons of really cool, informative items. We even had astronauts visit my elementary school once.

      I still love all things space.

    17. Karo*

      I wanted to be a flying elephant. When I found out that elephants couldn’t fly, I wanted to be a mommy bird. When I was then told I couldn’t change species (I don’t know why they didn’t address this with the elephant thing), I decided I wanted to be a mommy pilot.

      I now do content marketing. So…nowhere near, I’d say.

    18. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      Actress was probably my first answer (and now that thought horrifies me). In high school, I wanted to be a french professor or an interpreter for the UN. I also wanted to be a dermatologist, pharmacist or lawyer.

      I do not do any of these things.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Ooh, very cool! My cousin is a french interpreter for the FBI, so you could have done that. ;)

    19. LizB*

      I dressed up as an artist for my preschool’s career day, complete with beret, paint-splattered smock, and an easel with a painting that I remember painting in my garage. I also vividly remember someone asking me if it was a flower, and replying very indignantly that no, it was a person! It did not look anything like a person. It didn’t look much like a flower either, but that was a more reasonable guess. My art skills haven’t progressed much since then, so no, that’s not my actual career. :)

    20. Anlyn*

      Artist. I held on to that until I reached 7th grade, and unfortunately could only take one extra-curricular class, and had to choose between art and music. Went with music and never regretted it, though I’m not in any type of music industry (I’m in IT). I have played around with the idea of going to community college and taking some art classes, but I don’t know that I want to do a full degree.

    21. IT_Guy*

      I wanted to be a marine archaeologist when I was a kid and now I’m a database administrator.

    22. matcha123*

      I wasn’t asked this question often, and when I was my mom was there, so I wanted to make sure I gave an answer that made her look good (ie- doctor).

    23. Shayland (ActualName)*

      When I was super little my responce would change everyday. My mom asked me often because she liked to hear what I’d come up with this time. When I was three of four I told her “I want to be an artist” and the never changed my mind again. So I can’t remember the first time I was ever asked, but I know that’s been my answer for longer than I can remember.

      I’m in art school now. But I also do a lot of writing an motivational speaking.

    24. Former Retail Manager*

      As a child, I wanted to be a child psychologist. I never pursued it beyond childhood. I don’t really like children and I don’t like listening to people whine about their problems, child or adult. So no…..what I do now does not resemble that in any way. However, I remain insanely interested in human behavior and why we do what we do.

    25. Snargulfuss*

      I played school everyday after school for YEARS, but oddly enough I never said I wanted to be a teacher. I said chef, fashion designer, graphic designer.

    26. Tau*

      The earliest I can remember is astronomer. I gave up on it because someone told me it involved a lot of maths, which is in retrospect hilarious. Then came entomologist, where I reconsidered after a few years because I didn’t want to have to kill insects. (Also kind of hilarious). Then botanist, then mathematician – where it stayed at until partway through my PhD, when I realised that I would be absolutely miserable as an academic!

      I’m now a software developer, so related I guess? I didn’t end up with any of my early careers and didn’t end up in academia, but I definitely stayed in STEM!

    27. Ang theSA*

      I was asked this in a classroom at kindergarten before graduation (probably the best idea). My dad had let me watch Goodfellas with him the night before. (he edited it so I didn’t see the gruesome parts). I told the teacher I wanted to be a mob boss.

      Needless to say, I was not asked at graduation what I wanted to be when I grew up.

      A few years later, I wanted to be an astronaut after going to space camp, until I realized that I would need to take alot of math classes.

      Now I am in accounting.

    28. purpleparrots*

      My mom has a drawing I made in preschool that says “I want to be a judge so I can tell people what to do and they have to do it.” I’m a practicing attorney now, so who knows where I’ll end up someday.

    29. BananaKarenina*

      When I was in Kindergarten, I wanted to be a flight attendant (back then, the women were known as “Stewardesses”). After my parents’ divorce, my mom and I moved to California, and I had to fly to Florida every summer as part of my dad’s custody rights. I loved how the flight attendants looked after me and gave me games to play on the plane.

      In high school, I wanted to become a journalist – I second the Barbara Walters dream. Now, I just look at high school essays (when the kids actually decide to turn them in), and sob in my coffee.

    30. Emilia Bedelia*

      Firefighter. marine biologist. Architect (I liked Legos) Then I went to engineering school. Then I got into regulatory. So…. Not anything like my childhood dreams. But I still do like Legos :)

    31. Nerdling*

      At first it was a paleontologist because I was obsessed with dinosaurs. Eventually it became lawyer, then athletic trainer, then actress for a fleeting second. My current job never even pinged my radar, honestly.

    32. Turtle Candle*

      Ballerina, followed closely by doctor and teacher. I remember being, oh… four, maybe, and asking my mother if you could be simultaneously a doctor and a ballerina and a teacher, because I didn’t want to have to pick. “It would be pretty difficult” was her diplomatic answer.

      1. CheeryO*

        I just commented below that I wanted to be a ballerina-slash-astronaut around that age! I don’t remember what my mom said at the time, but we still joke about it from time to time.

      2. Witty Nickname*

        My 7 year old has decided he is going to be an astrophysicist….after he is done being a video game designer for Nintendo. At least he doesn’t want to do them at the same time!

    33. SophieChotek*

      I wanted to be a princess. (This was before the Disney Princess rage).
      Or a knight.
      Neither are very practical. (And I don’t think I understood lines of succession and royal family and geneology very well. Obviously.)

      My Mom says I played at being a minister and baptizing baby cousins a lot and leading midnight Christmas services. Don’t quite recall these.

      Then I wanted to be a historian/professor of history.

      When I was in grad school studying history, I wished I was studying medicine.

      I am doing none of the above. Sadly.

    34. fposte*

      A horse. The qualifications proved an insuperable barrier.

      My current job doesn’t resemble being a horse.

    35. CheeryO*

      Ballerina/astronaut, then teacher once I was a little older. I wouldn’t be very good at teaching, and I’ve never taken a single dance class, but I still feel a little sad now and then that I’m not an astronaut!

    36. zd*

      Ha, lots of your lists look really familiar… Except I wanted to be a: Broadway actor, ballerina, teacher, archaeologist, librarian, journalist(foreign correspondent) … ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Seriously, I thought it was possible to be all those things at once, I was super serious for years, and wouldn’t agree to give up even one of them.

      1. elle j.*

        That was me! I want to be a marine biologist, race car driver, ballerina, writer, and a game show host.

        I work in government now.

    37. straws*

      Lumberjack. Or, more specifically, “a man who cuts down trees” (I’m female). Surprisingly, I’m not in the wood chopping industry. :P

    38. overeducated*

      I think my earliest memories are of wanting to be a writer or a swimming teacher. (I didn’t realize that my swimming teachers were mostly members of the high school swim team who lifeguarded and taught lessons on the weekends.)

      I was on the swim team for one season but just didn’t like organized sports very much, I preferred unstructured free time. So I never became a swimming teacher. My first decade out of college did involve some work outside, and some work related to boats, so at least I had the physical activity and water thing going?

      As for writing, I don’t write fiction, which was my childhood dream, but I’ve done a lot of academic writing and am transitioning to a career involving translating research for broader audiences. It’s still communication-based, at least.

    39. Sunflower*

      I wanted to be a talk show host- like Jenny Jones style. I was so terrified of tornados so I wanted to be a meterologist for a while so I could predict when they occured and I could be safe from them. I grew up in Philadelphia FYI.

      I am an event planner and I think I would still love to be either of those things

    40. anon for this*

      I really really wanted to be a veterinarian. Until the first biology dissection and then I change my mind extremely quickly. Now I work as a very specialized content moderator. We do wonderful things, but I see porn every single day. That was certainly never on my extremely sheltered junior high mind on Career Day.

    41. GigglyPuff*

      When I was really little I used to want to me a masseuse cause my parents told me I gave the best back scratches! Lol
      Later I thought editor (which would have just never happened, my grammar is atrocious). Then I seriously contemplated web design, settled on librarian. Combined both and work in digital services, including working on the website.

    42. Applesauced*

      Julia Child – not a chef, but I wanted to do EXACTLY what she did (I even asked my mom to make some super fancy French dessert I saw on the show for my 5th birthday.)
      I am an architect. But I am the resident birthday cake maker for my friend group!

      1. JaneB*

        Tractor, then dinosaur, then explorer, then Eccentric… I really thought that was a proper job, being eccentric!

    43. Aardvark*

      A helicopter. First attainable-by-a-human career goal: Doctor. (I work in IT and have never gone anywhere near medicine or flying career-wise…)

    44. Ashley*

      Mermaid, author, ballerina, teacher, librarian…I like reading a lot!

      I’ll be starting my first teaching job in August!

    45. AnotherAlison*

      I have an “All About Me” book from when I was 4, and I said I wanted to be a veterinarian and mommy. I liked to play with my stuffed animals, so that was where the vet thing came from (plus one of my uncles is one). I outgrew that pretty quickly. I have dogs, but I’m not a big animal person. But, the talking to myself while playing with the stuffed animals was a good indicator of my life path. I still like to hang out by myself and talk to myself (in my head now).

    46. Brett*


      I wanted to be one since I was about 6, and when I was 17 I landed a summer job in an ornithology lab at UC Davis.

      The director of that program referred me to, of all things, a program in sea ice research at Dartmouth for my senior year, which led to another position in a polar research lab specializing in scombroid population genetics my freshman through junior years of college, which led to a position in tuna ecology including fish tracking after I dropped out of college, which led to an interest in geography when I returned to college (8 years of fast food and temp work later).

      And now today I’m a geographer.

      Meanwhile, all of my old elementary teachers that I am still in touch with mention that I was obsessed with maps when I was in elementary school and that they are completely unsurprised that I became a geographer.

      1. Overeducated*


        (I guess I still want to be a geographer. But I didn’t really learn what geography means in the modern world [as opposed to in Lewis and Clark’s day] until midway through grad school, so it was a little late on that front.)

    47. Chicken Little*

      A nurse, an astronaut, a superhero (dream big, folks!). Became a librarian (also fun).

    48. QualityControlFreak*

      Stunt person, space explorer, vet and psychologist. No resemblance to what I do now.

    49. Random Citizen*

      Killer whale trainer until I was about ten, because they were huge, and powerful, and I wanted one to jump over my head and listen to every word I said. Then I didn’t know for a long time. When I was in high school, I loved speaking and wanted to be a lawyer. After following politics for a long time, a big political year while I was in college made my want to run for office, but I could never decide if I really wanted to be in a legislature or wherever, or if I just wanted to give inspiring speeches in beautiful, historic buildings. Never really did figure that out. :)

      1. Random Citizen*

        Ooh, and I wanted to be an astrophysicist for a while, too, because it sounded impressive and space was COOL!

    50. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      For years and years, it was a fashion designer. I used to watch the catwalk shows on the old Style channel maybe…15 years ago? I loved them!

      But it’s not a stable industry, unfortunately…

      And I can’t draw…at all. Not even remotely. So, that put a damper on those plans ;)

    51. Elizabeth West*

      Everything I wanted to be had something to do with performing or creativity, except one. Guess which!

      –Actor (I wanted to win an Oscar, a Tony, and an Emmy. This will not happen, LOL.)
      –Singer (I was actually good at this and went on to study opera for four years at college)
      –Radio DJ (I used to practice in my room–I could change a record really fast!)
      –An actor on the radio
      –A skater in the Ice Capades
      –Forensic pathologist (thanks to the TV show Quincy, M.E.)
      –Writer (I started writing stories in fifth grade and wrote scripts for my radio crap. Wrote in college. Then I quit for a long time and started writing seriously again in 2007 or so.)
      –A wife and mother (not a job but something I always wanted)

      I don’t have a different career–I only have a job. But I’m still trying to be a published novelist. I could still win an Oscar someday, for a screenplay! Since childhood, I have known exactly what I’m going to wear if I do. It will be red, and it will be sparkly. :)

      We won’t talk about the last one. :(

    52. LCL*

      Little kid-astronaut.
      Older kid-rock star. I was taking music lessons.
      Insufferable junior high school brat, still taking music lessons-rock star. Or revolutionary. Or lawyer, whose mission would be to force companies to sell cute clothes for women in larger sizes.
      High school, still playing music-rock star. Electrician if the rock star thing fell through.
      Post high school-decided I had no future in music. Thought I would make a good cop, got on a couple agencies hiring lists. Got on the waiting list to take electrical studies classes. Wrote bad horror fiction on the side.
      Mid twenties- the electrician thing happened before law enforcement called me back. Still work in the electric field (that’s a small joke.). Wanted to do more school and specialize in labor law but shift work killed that dream dead. Learned how to brew beer.
      Mid forties- taking music lessons again.
      Now-still in the electric biz, still taking music lessons, write a song once in awhile. Taking a business class this summer, maybe the beer thing will take off if I can get smarter.

    53. Kate*

      Well, my mom let me watch Pretty Woman when I was a kid, and I didn’t know exactly what Julia Roberts’ character did. I just saw that she did lots of shopping and dining and flying on planes to go to the opera, and got paid for it. So I told my mom that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still take quite a bit of ribbing about this.
      My next career choice was journalist, but only because it sounded interesting. Now I am a nurse, so I’ve veered pretty far from my original aspirations.

    54. CM*

      Garbage man, because I wanted to ride on the truck! (I can’t be the only one?) That one lasted a long time.
      Then a teacher, because as a kid I was exposed to so few professions, but I always had teachers. Later on I tried it out, teaching at a summer program, and realized it was not for me.
      Then a writer, because I loved writing.
      Now I’m a lawyer but writing a book is still on my bucket list.

    55. Christopher Tracy*

      I wanted to be an actress, singer, and writer. Two of those things are my side gig (if I get cast in a musical, I’ll be three for three).

    56. Nye*

      I wanted to be a conchologist at age 5. (I was a nerdy kid with a shell collection.) I’m now a marine biologist. I feel like 5-year-old me would find that acceptable.

  31. Arts Marketing Assistant*

    After the pretty v professional clothing debate recently, I wanted to get a steer on this style of dress, with tights/blazer/dark cardi. It certainly fits in the level of formality at my work place, but I wondered whether it’s a style I should avoid as I look to move up in my career. Thoughts appreciated!,default,pd.html,default,pd.html

    I really struggle with personal style, especially in a casual workplace. I work in a fairly creative industry but I’m not particularly fashionable and I really want to learn how to strike the right balance for work!

    1. ThatGirl*

      I feel like with a cardigan or blazer, as long as it hits at the knee or a bit lower, you’d be fine. But I am not a fashionista.

    2. SJ*

      For some reason, full/A-line dresses and skirts always come off a bit younger and less professional than straight/sheath styles. Which is super annoying, since this style works way better on any number of different body types. I think if you’re nervous about going A-line, you can play it safer by getting dresses in more conservative colors and prints, like solid black, red, blue, herringbone, etc. The floral print makes them look more casual and more party-dress-like. And I think fabric matters too. The lighter chiffon sorts of fabrics don’t come across as professional as solid cotton or wool or what have you.

      That said, these dresses would work perfectly well in my environment (higher ed), particularly when paired with professional pieces like a blazer and heels.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Totally agree. I think the fullness of the skirt will make it too casual for particularly conservative/formal environments, but in more casual offices it would be fine.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        Echoing that fabric matters: solid-color wool and certain knits will come across as more formal. I’m having trouble finding a lot of great examples, but I’ve previously found very professional-looking fit-and-flare dresses from department stores and Ann Taylor. For instance, depending on how the fabric looks in person, something like this could go under a blazer and look extremely professional—not quite as formal as a suit, but formal enough for most offices.

        That said, I really like the dresses you’ve picked out, and there are plenty of offices (including mine) where they would be entirely appropriate.

      3. Cassie*

        I just came to this realization too, after that pretty vs professional post. There are a couple of older women in my office who wear fit and flare dresses like this (without cardigans) and it feels very “young” to me. I’m in an academic dept at a university, so pretty much anything goes (business casual is rare; most of its just plain casual) but it feels more like Donna Moss than CJ Cregg.

        (My memory fails to serve me well – apparently Donna didn’t wear fit and flare dresses; more cardigans / sheath dresses / button-down dress shirts. But her clothes signified that she was clearly “just” an assistant, while CJ was clearly not “just” an assistant).

      4. Christopher Tracy*

        I think if you’re nervous about going A-line, you can play it safer by getting dresses in more conservative colors and prints, like solid black, red, blue, herringbone, etc. The floral print makes them look more casual and more party-dress-like. And I think fabric matters too. The lighter chiffon sorts of fabrics don’t come across as professional as solid cotton or wool or what have you.

        All of this, but especially the thing about the prints and type of fabric. The busy prints are very garden party, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I’ve seen executive-level women at my company wearing stuff like this in the spring and summer with blazers or cardigans. But my workplace, though in the financial services sector, is also business casual. In a business formal environment, garden party is probably not a look you should be going for.

        OP, if you like fit and flare dresses or A-line skirts, I highly recommend Closet London. You can find some of their stuff on ModCloth, but I like browsing their website to see their newer pieces.

    3. GiggleFits*

      I think that for most business casual places that would be fine, assuming they hit reasonably close to the knee. Maybe not quite formal enough for interviews (although depending on your industry I could be wrong), but I work at a university and no one would think twice about that kind of outfit, especially as the colors are fairly muted and less “young” looking.

    4. Megs*

      I’d wear it with a cardigan or other type of shrug in a heartbeat, even in a pretty conservative office/profession. I think the black background cancels out any “frivolousness” in the pattern.

      1. J.B.*

        Yes. I noticed when I went to lunch somewhere filled with men in suits (and it’s hot out!), women were wearing either suits or A-line dresses. I wouldn’t have the uncovered shoulders all day but with something else on top when you’re in a meeting, fine.

    5. themmases*

      I like both of those. I’d just wear a blazer over them for day to day if you’re worried.

      Cardigan could work too but for some reason that outfit says either “cute girl in casual office” or “Mother’s Day” to me. It reminds me of someone’s comment from that thread about there being more styles of adult clothing than fancy and not-fancy. I’m not expressing myself well but I often wear a dress like that with a cardigan and feel pretty yet not quite right. (I work in a very casual academic environment also).

      I still wear a similar outfit all the time though.

    6. Blue Anne*

      That’s exactly how I dressed at my Big 4 audit job in Scotland and it was totally in line with the norms there. Environment was on the businessy end of business casual, we wore full suits on the first day at a new client site, then defaulted back to this kind of thing unless it turned out the client was super starched and polished. So if you’re in the UK (which I’m assuming from House of Fraser) it’s probably not going to hold you back, especially in a creative industry!

    7. Nerdling*

      I love them both and would absolutely rock them with a cardigan or blazer. The skirts don’t look very full to me – they just don’t look fitted the way a pencil skirt would be. Which is great, because not everyone wants to wear pencil skirts or closer-fitted skirts. I wore very similarly-cut skirts twice this week with shells and blazers.

    8. Laura*

      I work in a business-casual office and that would be fine. It’s extremely hot here, so sleeveless dresses/tops are perfectly acceptable, but I always have a cardigan on-hand for cold meeting rooms, professional visits, etc. Those are awfully cute dresses!

    9. CMT*

      I’d say *maybe* with a blazer, but to me they read as party or social gathering attire, not professional/work place attire.

      1. ace*

        Ditto. As someone who worked in a law firm for 10 years, those still look a bit young & casual. I look back to my young lawyer/summer associate days and cringe thinking of the times I work clearly “going out” or “summer wedding guest” styles dresses with a blazer over them, as if that magically turned them into appropriate work dresses! These are both lovely dresses that might be better suited for social events.

  32. LawCat*

    I had an interview yesterday (Job #1) that went well and the interviewer said they would be calling early next week to set up a second interview for late next week. Job #2 sounds really interesting and it could be a great opportunity, but I have some concerns. I would be wearing a couple different hats and have two different supervisors so I want to get more details on how they coordinate assignments (I don’t want to be one person doing the volume of work of two people).

    Meanwhile, I got a call this week from Job #2 (dream job) and I have a first round interview mid-week next week. After that, I’m on vacation for two weeks. We’ll see how Job #2 interview goes. I’m sure they’ll be doing more than one round. Not sure what I’ll do yet if Job #1 makes an offer during that time. I will be unreachable a little more than half of the vacation, but then should have smartphone access during the second half.

    Any ideas on juggling things in such a scenario?

      1. Elizabeth*

        I definitely think you should let both of them know very clearly that you will be off the grid from xx to yy, and that you won’t see any messages. Otherwise, as an employer, if you didn’t get back to me within a day or two, I’d assume that you weren’t interested.

  33. My name's liarface and I care what you think*

    I am looking to leave the private sector to become a teacher. I unfortunately began looking into fellowship programs in my city a little too late, so I’m applying for programs that begin in September 2017. My intention was to stay at my current job until then. However, there has been a management shake up in my department that involved a lot of ugly office politics. Things have gotten real toxic real fast and I want out ASAP.

    Next week I am interviewing for an administrative position at a nonprofit that works directly with children in the community. The role is technically a step down from where I am now, but I’m ok with that because I would get first-hand experience working with children and would get insight into the educational needs of the community. However, I’m wondering if it’s dishonest of me to apply for this job knowing that I would be there only a little over a year. My justification is that it’s a lower paid, lower level admin position that probably receives a good deal of turnover anyway (this has been my experience at all my past companies). This nonprofit is also big on giving back to the community, so I get the sense they wouldn’t be too upset if I left to teach in an urban school. But I still can’t shake the feeling that I’d be going into this interview essentially lying to their face about my commitment to the job, even though I would give it my all while I was there. I really like this nonprofit’s mission and programs.

    1. Leatherwings*

      Since you haven’t actually been accepted to a teaching program yet, I think it’s probably fine. I’ve worked in nonprofits that deal with children and you’re right that those have relatively higher turnover than other non profit positions.

      I think that if you had a hard deadline of when you would be working there (or would only be working there a few months), you’d be obligated to tell them. But you don’t, so I think you can move through that process pretty guilt free.

      1. My name's liarface and I care what you think*

        I did apply, and my interview is next week. That’s why I’m worried.

    2. MM*

      1. You don’t know for certain that you will only be there for 1 year. A lot can happen in that time.
      2. They will ask you why you are interested in working there and I think telling them I’m interested in becoming a teacher and want to learn more might even make you a more attractive candidate.

    3. themmases*

      I was in a very similar situation a few years ago– I barely missed the boat to apply to grad school and ended up looking at programs more than a year out. My horrible situation change happened in February causing me to move up my grad school plan, and applications has just closed in January.

      I applied to jobs anyway but just was honest with them. There are plenty of jobs where people are expected to move on in a year or two– many of them are lower level admin jobs adjacent to a profession like what you describe. I think you do need to be honest with them. Not only is it the right thing to do, it sounds like they overlap enough with your career goals that you want to be on your best behavior. Your planned stay might not even be that much shorter than average and if they are getting someone overqualified then they could be OK with it.

  34. Concerned*

    So, I just learned that Toxie, who I fired late last year, is the finalist for a similar position at a local university. Knowing how both A) a lot of universities don’t do proper HR verification checks, and B) one of Toxie’s many fun traits was dishonesty, I have no reason to think they’ll know she was fired, or why.

    On the one hand, I know it’s Not My Workplace, thus Not My Problem.. But on the other, these are colleagues of ours in a reasonably small field, and I’m wondering if I have any ethical responsibilities to contact them to let them know. Everything that made Toxie a horrible fit here will apply there, and given the nature of the field, it also means we might very well see Toxie at local industry events (which no one here wants). Has anyone had any experience with reaching out to HR or hiring managers about a potential bad seed?

    1. ginger ale for all*

      I would leave it alone.

      I think that if the community is as small as you think it is, people will know this person’s reputation and you will get a reputation as a nosy busybody. Think of it, what would you think if you got a call out of the blue from someone to tell you past dirt on someone because they had heard that the person from the past was interviewing there?

    2. LotusEclair1984*

      That sounds like vengeance. Plus, it could potentially lead to a defamation lawsuit. You’ve already fired the person. Both of you should move onward and upward.

    3. Seal*

      Earlier this year I had a similar situation: a bad staff member who almost got fired and then left to go to grad school got a job at one of our university’s coordinate campuses. As she didn’t list me or anyone here as a reference for obvious reasons, my staff and I were stunned. Since HR here requires that former staff members indicate where they worked on their application, the people who hired her must have known that she worked for me and my department. And since we’re fairly high-profile at our university, not listing anyone from our department as a reference should have been a HUGE red flag for the hiring manager. And yet she still managed to get the job.

      Interestingly, the coordinate campus arranged to have the former staff member train with another department in our library. So I was at least able to warn that department head – a long-time colleague – about this woman. I’d like to think my former staff member has turned things around for herself, but time will tell. At this point it’s not my problem, although it’s certainly a cautionary tale.

    4. Temperance*

      I do not recommend this. At all. Not your circus, not your monkeys.

      This is an employment law minefield. I know you have good intentions, but you need to look out for yourself first. You don’t want to get sued for defamation or tortious interference.

      1. Concerned*

        Thanks, all —
        I think I knew this intellectually, but hearing it helps me not succumb to temptation. I’ll leave it alone.

    5. Lia*

      I did this, and they hired him anyways (he had a long track record of both severe incompetence and harassment of staff). Last I heard, he was running that place into the ground too and it seems the harassment continued.

      They did wind up firing the guy who was responsible for his hire, just like they did at his previous employer.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I was in a similar position once and although I warned the HR department about a potential new hire who had problems in his previous job, they hired him any way.

      And it turned out well. Whatever problems he had in the past, stayed there, and he was fairly rapidly promoted to a leadership position. (He did have some education and professional credentials, not necessary in his previous troubled job, that greatly helped him in getting the promotion.) I now feel embarrassed about saying anything and I regret sticking my nose in it.

  35. Dave*

    I lost my job yesterday. “Restructuring.” Still trying to sort it out in my head. My team was eliminated. One guy apparently is still there. Another was transferred to another department. A third was offered a temporary assignment. Me and one other were let go altogether. Not sure why–I was the top performer in the team and was told two weeks ago that they were looking to expand my role–unless that it was because I had the highest salary.

    Still turning this over in my head. I have been offered a paltry severance (one paycheque) but haven’t signed anything. It’s especially galling as I was aggressively recruited for this position and left a stable position for this one, not long after being promoted.

    I’ve received a lot of kind emails from former co-workers but right now I am trying to figure out how to get an income again. We just bought a new house.

    1. some1*

      I’ve been there, and I’m so sorry to hear this. Here’s hoping you land somewhere even better, and quickly.

    2. Megs*

      That is really rough. I suspect you may be right about the “highest paycheck, first out” motivation. I hope you find something soon!

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If it was relatively recently that you left a stable position for this one, I might use that to try to guilt them into more severance….

      1. Dave*

        It was about a year ago. It wasn’t their formal recruiting team, but two managers I knew in the department. I still had to go through the HR processes but they made it clear throughout that I had the job if I wanted it and even gave me the very top of the salary range I named.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          I think a year is pretty recent. I mean, if the restructuring was for financial reasons, they had to have known about the possibility of the restructure for a while and shouldn’t have aggressively recruited anyone into that department, especially not someone who was already gainfully employed. I’d try to negotiate more severance if I were you.

    4. Triangle Pose*

      Were you heavily recruited by an internal recruiter or an outside recruiter? If outside, I’d call them right now and let them know what happened and ask them to reach out to their clients in your industry on your behalf. If it was an internal recruiter, in addition to guilting them into more severance (or if you are unsuccessful in that regard), can you lean on the recruiting team to reach out into their network for you? Highlight that you were heavily pursued and a top performer and that they should really help you!

      1. Dave*

        It wasn’t HR’s recruiters, but two managers within the department. I was made to go through their usual hiring process but it was made clear throughout that the job was mine if I wanted it.

  36. Master Bean Counter*


    What would you do, here are two choices:

    Choice one:
    You started a well paying job near the first of the year. Training is lagging because the person whom you are replacing is liking working from home and resisting actually going into retirement. She says she’ll show you how to do things, but does them herself and never gives you instructions. But the plan is she’ll be completely gone in a year. You know you can figure everything out when she is gone, but wonder how long that will be. You can decide to stick this out because the potential to move up in the company looks good. And you can save up lots of money for an early retirement.

    Choice two:
    You find an add where you are the unique unicorn that is described. This position could give you the management experience that has held you back so far in your career. They are valuing technical skills over actual management experience due to the nature of the position. This position may not pay as well as your current position, but the retirement is nicer. You are 20-25 years away from retirement. This position is also with a non-profit organization that has a mission close to your heart.

    Would you even consider applying for choice #2?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I think that’s something you need to weigh compared to the rest of your resume/your current situation.

      Do you think that choice 1 will get better anytime soon? Do you have lots of short term stays on your resume?
      If yes to both, I would definitely stay to avoid damaging your reputation and being labeled a job hopper. But if you’ve had multiple longer term stays and things aren’t looking up at current job, sure I would apply.

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        Recent work history looks like this:
        Current job-6 months
        Last job-2 years 8 months
        Job before that-7 years 2 months of work very similar to choice #2

        Choice number one should look up in 6-12 months. Faster if my current boss leaves, as he’s the one pulling the person I’m replacing back in. My grand-boss is more willing to let me learn, and add my own way of doing things to the job. Basically he trusts my instincts where my current boss just doesn’t seem interested in changing any thing at all.
        And honestly I wouldn’t even consider #2 if I didn’t hit every check box on the ad.

        1. Leatherwings*

          I would go ahead and apply then. You don’t have to take it if offered. Six months is a long time to wait to be trained. Hopefully it will get better at current job but since you like this other opportunity you can try for it.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I’d apply for #2 and see a) if the interview turned up anything that the ad was hiding, and b) if they could be flexible on the pay at all. But given how bad leaving a job after 6 months can look, I wouldn’t make the jump from #1 unless the revealed details for #2 kept it looking just as shiny as it does from the ad.

    3. Dangerfield*

      There’s no harm in applying for it, but personally I would probably prioritise the money over the rest of it.

    4. NacSacJack*

      Regarding #1 – I’d be talking with your mutual manager. I’d almost think they’d be requesting he or she work in the office on a daily basis until retirement – no WFH.

      #2 If it is your dream job and you haven’t been job hopping and its obvious your predecessor isn’t going to train you, I’d try for job #2 now. IF (Big IF) you get offered the job, you’ll have worked some place more than 6 months and can simply say my predecessor decided not to leave and at the same time give your current workplace enough time to find your replacement before your predecessor does retire.

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        The person I’m replacing was out of the office and moving before I started. There’s no bringing her back in now.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Have you talked to your manager about the coworker not showing you how to do anything? That’s step one here.

      You are very unlikely to stay with that second job until retirement.

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        I have talked to him about it. The answer is, “I’m sure she’ll show you X soon.” He’s a really odd guy. I really don’t think I am the person he wanted to hire. But I mesh really well with his boss. I’m sure working with him will become easier in time. I’ve worked successfully with way more difficult people. Long term this is yet another technical job where I will be the only person doing what I’m doing and I’ll likely never move up to management.

        Your comment on the second job, that’s an eye opener, because I’m likely not to stay at either job until retirement. But #2 is my best shot at getting the experience I need to move to the next level.

        But then I really worry about leaving the current job after such a short stay. But if it were any other position I’d pass.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh, I think you should apply to the second job and see what happens — I just meant not to factor in “the retirement is nicer” into the decision.

          1. Master Bean Counter*

            After all of this I’m thinking there’s no harm in applying.

            But the guilt over potentially burning a bridge kills me. Just thinking about making a move like this is so not me. Then again, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  37. Christopher Tracy*

    I just found out yesterday that my previous division is not only more dysfunctional than I thought, but they’re also doing something illegal. For those of you who read about my saga when I was posting under the name Doriana Gray, I was in a rather toxic environment in my last job, which was in the current company I work for now. My company has about 34 different divisions, so I was able to transfer to a better one with a promotion and raise in January.

    Well, one of my former colleagues who is an hourly employee stopped me in the hall yesterday and asked if I had spoken to someone in HR before I left about the bull that was going on in our division. I didn’t, I spoke to my former manager in our corporate office who helped facilitate my transfer. I told former colleague this, and also that another one of my old teammates spoke to someone in HR, and told her maybe she should ask said coworker who she spoke to. Former colleague told me that she needs to get out of that division ASAP (she hasn’t been there two years yet) because the shit is beginning to hit the fan. One of the managers there who used to be bullied something awful by my former manager (the one who was eventually demoted after I left) apparently was promoted up to a director level and has been nitpicking everything my former colleague has been doing and running to her boss complaining about her. It’s gotten to the point where former colleague’s boss, the Sr. VP of the division, has begun shutting her out and only speaking to her when absolutely necessary, which is awkward because she’s his admin. What’s even more awkward is that she’s won awards for being “most helpful” and generally awesome at her job, so I was very surprised when she told me the past 6-8 months have been hell for her.

    Well, newly promoted director has begun harping on people’s hours and trying to enact super strict schedules for everyone under her that didn’t exist while I was there. As one of the few hourly employees in that division who doesn’t already report to the new director, my former colleague is afraid the director will go to the Sr. VP and ask to have former colleague moved under her so that she can continue belittling her and her work. I asked if she talked to her current boss about what’s happening, and she said she did, but he blows her off. She said he also took her to lunch and told her that he knows she wants a promotion, but he just doesn’t think he can give it to her – never mind the fact that they just promoted hella people before I left, and a few more after I left as well. And some of the people promoted did not do nearly as much as former colleague did, but whatever. She could have dealt with that, but what she said is really bothering her is, he’s now having her work on weekends running errands for him and she’s not being paid OT for it.

    Again – she’s not salaried. She’s not an Executive Assistant, but she’s being treated like one without getting the benefits of it. Then she said they’re also giving her grief when she comes in at 8:33 instead of 8:30 because, “you need to be at your desk and ready to work at 8:30,” but yet they’re not so concerned about having her work when she shouldn’t be and for free no less. Now, our SVP knows better than this. He’s been at this company long enough, and has been at the executive level long enough, to know how non-exempt hourly works. I told former colleague she can talk to HR (and should), but he has friends in that office, so she needs to steel herself for the possibility that there will be retaliation for it. I dealt with that division’s passive-aggressive bullshit when I posted out, so I’m well aware that anytime you speak out against whatever nonsense they’re trying to pull, you become persona non grata with them.

    I feel so bad for former colleague because she’s a nice lady, and when I was depressed and hating life having to go to that division every day, she was one of the few people who would brighten up my day. I’m trying to find her other job leads throughout the company in the meantime, but her situation is very different than mine. I’m protected by our corporate office since they hired me and groomed me for the position I’m in now. Former colleague is just an admin and she doesn’t know anyone here, so it’s going to be an uphill battle for her. I just hope they don’t force her out of here because she’s very good at what she does and doesn’t deserve to be treated the way she is now.

    1. ginger ale for all*

      Tell her that when she is asked to do work off the clock, before she does it to ask how she need to record that time on her timesheet.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Yup, already on it. The problem is, he has to approve the SVP has to approve the timecard, so I wouldn’t put it past him to change her timecard to just say 40 hours. I think I’m going to advise her to add the time and send a copy to the division’s HR business partner.

        1. Tau*

          Hmm… I’m not sure about sending a copy to HR without going through other steps first, especially since you don’t *know* he’ll do that. What about keeping a copy of the hours worked herself, and then if the paycheck only shows 40 for that time period, raise it with the boss as a clerical error – “my last timesheet was for 40+X hours, but it looks as if only 40 were entered by mistake. How can we fix this?” At that point if the boss pushes back, going to HR would seem more reasonable.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Yeah, that’s a better idea for her. Either way, she’s going to get some pushback because, unfortunately, her boss is quite chummy with a lot of the people in HR. They’ll shut down the pay thing because if our company’s CEOs found out about this, heads would roll. But they’ll most likely turn a blind eye to the rest of the crap that’ll come down on former colleague like they did with my previous manager’s antics. *sigh* It sucks that HR doesn’t work for us.

            1. Observer*

              Well, at least they’ll stop the pay issue, which will either mean more money for her, or she’ll get her weekends back. That has to be a good thing.

              But, I think you are right that finding her another spot would be the best thing, if you can help her with that.

              1. Christopher Tracy*

                Yeah, I just hope we can find her something internally and she gets the job because if she applies for a new job and doesn’t get it, I have no doubt they’ll try and push her out.

  38. Maureen*

    In March I left my first-line IT manager position at a University, where I had been for four years, to take a job as a Service Manager with a start-up. At the end of the 30-day probation period with the start-up (first week of May), I was let go. They told me I wasn’t keeping up with the fast pace. They also weren’t happy that I couldn’t handle help desk tickets on top of managing.

    At any rate, I am now left with a resume problem. I can put the start-up on the resume (dates of April 2016 – May 2016) but surely any hiring manager that sees that I left my most recent job after two months is going to throw my resume in the trash, no?

    So I thought I might just leave the start-up off my resume, as Alison usually recommends with short duration jobs that aren’t contract work, but now I look like I have been out of work since March. If I leave the start-up off my resume, how do I explain why I left the University? I could tell a hiring manager I left to go into business for myself, but then why am I looking for a job after only two months of self-employment? That would look kind of flighty. Or I could tell the hiring manager I left to take care of an elderly relative who has since passed on, but if they talk to my references at the University, they will find out that isn’t true.

    Should I leave the 2 months at the startup off, as Alison typically suggests for short stints that were not meant to be short stints? If I do, what do I tell the interviewer that asks “Why did you leave your position with ?”

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I think you could probably leave it off, and if asked why you left the University, say that you were pursuing something new that ended up not panning out.

    2. UK JAM*

      I’d just tell the truth and say you left for an opportunity with a start up that didn’t pan out. They might just assume the start up failed or was short of funds, and even if you tell the full truth it doesn’t look that bad.

  39. Elizabeth*

    A few of my colleagues and I are on contacts that lack paid leave of any kind and don’t have many of the perks of the normal contracts many of the staff in our department have. One of the few advantages here is that while any leave is unpaid, the amount we can take is in theory not capped. The previous manager couldn’t approve leave requests absolutely every time, but was generally very accommodating and sorted out any issues with minimal drama.

    Things aren’t so easy with the current manager. He’s decided that all leave requests must be submitted a very long time in advance (the deadline for the Christmas/new year season was a month ago). I couldn’t request Christmas leave because my family hasn’t decided if the family Christmas celebrations will be mostly before or after Christmas day so far in advance. He’s also decided that only a set tiny number of people can be on scheduled leave at any time, even during periods were the volume of work coming in is likely to be lower than usual. Now leave is allocated via random draw conducted in front of everyone requesting leave in which the people discovering they won’t be getting the leave they wanted or needed are stuck in a small conference room observing the joy of those who got lucky. Obviously this causes quite a bit of stress and drama. It was just horrible watching a colleague who desperately needed leave due to a difficult family situation panic about the fact that she would likely be unsuccessful in the draw (thankfully she was in the lucky tiny group drawn). They once even tried guilting people, saying in a meeting that if more people didn’t withdraw their requests, a co-worker might miss out on leave for her own wedding!

    Is there an appropriate, productive way to negotiate for better leave arrangements or do I just have to accept that this is how things work now?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think you should 1) consider having all of the employees have a talk with the current manager and ask to go back to the way the rest of the department/company handles leave, 2) look for another job (maybe internally, since it seems to just be your current manager that is the issue), 3) decide that some family events are The Hill You Want To Die On, and say “I need to take personal time”, and then just take it.

  40. Yuck*

    I need to handle an awkaward situation with my boss.

    We work in a 3 person office. I am the only one without a private office, my desk is in the main area and around the corner from the bathroom. When I started it was bad enough with the smell/sounds because my male boss has a bowel problem. My other coworker is not exposed to these sounds/smells and is oblivious to his bathroom habits.

    Well over the past few weeks he’s been going to the washroom and not even closing the door behind him. I can tell because I never hear the squeeky door clank shut and I can hear him peeing very clearly. The other day I didn’t know he was in there and I needed to go – well I saw him using the washroom…. he didn’t see me but I was horrified that I need to be exposed to that at work.

    I feel powerless. He is my boss, it is his business and he is older than I am (I literally feel like a little kid next to him). I’ve only been here a few months and I don’t want to get sacked because I tell him to shut the bathroom door when he goes to pee. Is there any practical way to handle this?

    To make matters worse, he doesn’t wash his hands after peeing… and touches my keyboard, pens and paperwork!

    1. Collie*

      Oh man, that is awful. If it were me, I’d probably put up a sign on the door that politely reminds people to close the door. But I also know that’s probably not the best way to handle it.

      1. Yuck*

        If it were not just me and a longstanding coworker I would’ve slapped a note on the door because he’d not know it was me.

    2. Anon Moose*

      I don’t think anyone reasonable would fire you for very politely/discreetly asking him to please close the bathroom door. If your desk is in the main area, you can even couch it in clients’/ visitors comfort rather than your own. I feel like, yeah, its awkward but he’ll likely be embarrassed too and change his behavior pretty fast. So really, just say something.

      1. Yuck*

        I realize that saying something is going to end up being my only option… I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out a subtle hint that’d make him realize that I know he isn’t closing the door (I think he is oblivious to how loud he is/bathroom acoustics).

        We get clients in the office very rarely so next time someone is in (and he uses the washroom) I’ll have to just discreetly make a comment that the client was a bit uncomfortable… Ideally we’ll get one of our bold clients in that knows my boss well and he’ll hear (it really is that loud) and then same something to him.

    3. TootsNYC*

      Just cheerfully call out, “Hey boss, can you close the door?” the next time he goes in the bathroom. As if it’s no big deal, kind of like, “Hey boss, can you bring back a padded envelope from the supply room?”

  41. Aella*

    I have been reading Reddit Relationships, and longing to send them to AAM. Does anyone else have sites where you just want to link them here?

    (Particularly the woman who is being sexually harrassed by her manager, link to follow)

    1. some1*

      I recall a letter to Dan Savage a few months back where a woman was working at a health club or spa and her job was to give tours and sign new members. Her counterpart was looking for a Sugar Daddy and was vetting them by having them sign up for tour and the LW was squicked out by that. Dan told her to mind her own business, but I would have loved to see how Alison would have answered it.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I just spent hours reading Reddit Relationships last night (thanks to the Toast starting to link to them). I had to bite my tongue constantly or I would have written pages.

      1. Aella*

        I read them regularly. I concluded it was probably too much when my responses started to be “Dump him,” and “Dump him,” and “Both of you go to therapy. Or dump him.”

        The work ones are the worst, though. I saw people recommending that one woman contact people she’d applied to in order to remind them that she existed, and I was wailing “Nooooo! Ask Alison! It might help with your job issues, though not your boyfriend ones!”

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sometimes I am reading something elsewhere on the internet and I see someone in the comments linking here, and that is exciting to me every time.

          1. Triangle Pose*

            Happens all the time on corporette! I never used to regularly check that website because while the target workplace attire is similar to mine (it leans white collar office environment with a focus on BigLaw/lawyer/executive/boardroom), the recommendations are really hit or miss for my personal style, however once I realized how fullsome the commenters are for career and general professional advice, I started reading daily. Your sage advice is often linked to there.

    3. Lily Evans*

      I constantly recommend AAM to people on social media sites (usually tumblr, sometimes facebook), but only when people are actually asking for advice. Sometimes I’m so tempted to send people links when they’re just venting about things, but I’m not a fan of unsolicited advice.

    4. Karo*

      Literally any time on reddit that someone asks a jobs-related question I want to link to Alison. If I ever respond and it has a work component, I’ll generally try to link to Alison’s relevant post on the matter as my source.

    5. Emilia Bedelia*

      Ugh, when I can muster up the patience I love to hate-read r/relationships…. so many questions that boil down to, “my girlfriend broke up with me and I want that to not be true. What do I do?”
      Also, “my boyfriend is an immature asshole and treats me terribly. How do I fundamentally change him as a person? ”

      People make fun of the knee jerk “break up with him” response but it’s so,so, true, so many times.

      1. Aella*

        Or the ones where my immediate response is “May I introduce you to r/justnomil?”

        Or the frankly weird incest ones.

        …possibly I should start a ‘Best of WTAF’ thread on the Open Thread tomorrow.

        1. Karo*

          oh my god I am obsessed with r/justnomil. I have a genuinely good MIL – likes me, but doesn’t really care what her son and I do – so it’s not like any of it speaks to me, but the stories are just so ridiculous.

      2. Blue Anne*

        Yes. This is exactly why I no longer read r/relationships. It’s just too depressing.

    6. Unfaithful Reader*

      I feel a bit uncomfortable about linking other sites to this one because many of the sites are run by people who are competitors to Alison, although I’ve never found one with a bulletin board that’s as much fun as this one. Even writing about it makes me feel like I’m cheating on Alison.

      That said, most of the time the advice they offer is pretty much the same as what Alison would say, only maybe not as articulately.

      1. Liz Ryan at “Forbes” magazine is very much the most direct of Alison’s competitors and offers pretty much similar advice, although usually with a bit more of a terminally professional style.

      2. Lucy Kellaway is sort of the English version of Alison. I first heard her on the BBC Radio Business News, but I haven’t heard her there in quite a while. She’s a regular writer at “The Financial Times” and her agony aunt column appears in “The Irish Times.” (You can google “Lucy Kellaway” and “Irish Times” to see her column.) “The FT” website is now a pay only site to read the articles, but you can listen to her podcasts at the following link:

      Lucy is a smart, educated, cheeky lower-class girl who got some breaks and worked her way into some plum positions. She’s very pro-employee, but she’s also pro-business and loves business, but not stupidity in business and goes off on tangents that are more about business in general and not related to working.

      3. Susan Cain and “The Quiet Revolution” is a regular site I visit and find helpful as an introvert. Obviously not for everyone.

  42. Alston*

    Hey Anonymous Guy from last week! The one with the HR assistant who sent out a company wide email with graphs showing the pay discrepancy between the men and women at the company, any update after the managers got out of their meeting?

    1. Mike C.*

      Yeah, I was hoping for an update too! Even if it’s “my lawyer said to not talk about this”. ;)

  43. Plain turkey sandwich*

    Does anyone have any advice or tips on accommodating different people’s lunch specifications (for lack of better word) when ordering office lunch

    I have :
    one picky eater, will only eat a plain turkey sandwich, no condiments no toppings, self describes as picky eater, doesn’t even like pizza
    one allergic to peppers
    one vegan who doesn’t eat vegetables (she does but she generally eats junk or vegan snack food even for meals) I have ordered vegan options but just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean she likes it (tomato soup)
    soon to start on our team is strictly kosher

    We have a staff of 20 so ordering lunch to satisfy the three I have now is incredibly difficult to find a place. I have asked the vegan for lunch suggestions so I can better accommodate her but it has generally been unsuccessful and she has been unresponsive I told her I feel bad she has to eat lettuce all the time and she said oh I should, it’s healthy. We work at large university so luckily we have catering that I just found out has a special Kosher facility so that may be the way to go when ordering lunch in the future but the rest of the staff gets sick of catering. I am all about being accommodating but I feel bad when the vegan is stuck eating lettuce, and we have to only order places that offer turkey sandwiches. At one point is it acceptable to say hey I’m sorry you’re on your own (thinking in just the turkey sandwich case). I think catering is the way to go, but it will blow our budget to spend $300+ on lunch everytime. I was curious what other people do or how they handle this. There are really no restaurants that deliver anything with a vegan option around here that I have found, I asked vegan what some of her favorite restaurants are as well, no answer. Many places don’t deliver. We generally do this a few times a year, but also celebrate new staff members with Welcome Breakfasts that include breakfast food. Any tips or advice would be so helpful!

    1. Leatherwings*

      If picky eater and vegan are so particular and don’t have suggestions for you, maybe you can get something regular for other folks and give them a couple of specific options?

      I used to be in charge of ordering catering for a group of HS students with sort of similar dietary restrictions as your group – the one kid who wouldn’t eat anything but bean burritos, a few vegetarians/vegans and a some kids who didn’t eat pork.

      I would order normal catering food like pasta or burritos or sandwiches for the group with a couple of different options and then let whoever wasn’t accommodated by those options pick something off the menu or grab something else for them at a convenient place (i.e. a quick run to Jimmy Johns). Inevitably there would be someone who wasn’t happy and that’s just too bad. If you’re accommodating peoples’ religious restrictions (kosher) and giving everyone else options that they CAN eat, it’s up to them if they WON’T eat it.

      And I say this as a picky vegetarian – I hate most condiments and when someone offers me a veggie pasta salad I’ll politely take a few bites and then eat the granola bar I brought for myself. If the vegan person doesn’t have suggestions for you, then they’ve opted out of having a lunch they’ll eat (for what it’s worth, it sounds like they have a tricky relationship with food anyways.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I think to some degree you need to triage needs here:

      1) Allergy (because physical health)
      2) Vegan & Kosher (because personal beliefs)
      3) Picky Eater (is just picky)

      Definitely Picky Eater should be willing to either learn how to manage, or bring her own food from home. Look, I get pickiness, tomatoes taste like poison to me and finding catering sandwiches and wraps that don’t include tomatoes is needle-in-a-haystack operation! Half the time they don’t even frickin’ list them in the ingredients. But I’m not allergic, nor do I have strong moral or religious beliefs that ban me from eating tomatoes, so finding a tomato on my sandwich just means I have to pick it out and scrape off the goo; it’s not offensive, nor does it mean the whole sandwich has to be trashed.

      Vegan has told you she’s fine with what she’s got. It’s awesome that you want to be able to offer better vegan options than just lettuce, but at the end of the day, take her at her word and take that off your plate. If she’s discontented with lettuce, it’s her job to go to you and say “hey, look, can we swing a better vegan alternative for the next catered meal? This isn’t working for me.”

      When Kosher starts, you may want to sit down with them and ask for ideas. Something like “Hey, we like to do team meals, and I want to make sure we get things you can eat. Can you give me some suggestions for what kind of foods work best for you in Xsetting?”

      Allergies are… well, allergies are something you don’t mess with. That’s the hardest of hard limits. You make sure that she can get something that is entirely pepper-free.

      1. some1*

        I agree with this after years of ordering lunches for coworkers. I send out a menu with vegan, etc. options and if people don’t like any of the choices, they are free to have buy their own lunch

      2. Very picky*

        Not all picky eaters are just picky… I literally will throw up if I were to eat a pizza slice without all toppings and sauce removed. There is such a thing as a ‘selective eating disorder’ that can be devastating by limiting common foods through taste or texture. I once cried trying to force myself to eat strawberries that were brought in.

        I have been diagnosed with this and treatment failed… so it is very offensive to read things like “should be willing to either learn or manage.” When people work with me to find an edible option then I don’t get excluded. Often you feel like the odd one out when you have a paper bag lunch and everyone else gets the restaurant food brought in…

        1. Plain turkey sandwich*

          I agree but so far he has just described himself as very picky, the more information I have the easier it is to order. Is this something that you are comfortable disclosing to your work?

        2. Megs*

          Although that sucks and I am super sorry you have to deal with that, I think the advice stands with respect to 95% of people who self-describe as “picky eaters.” I’m not sure it makes sense to even be describing yourself that way – I would think people would respond more favorably if you say “food restrictions” rather than “picky” (and it seems more accurate)?

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Right. This sounds like an eating disorder, not picky eating… which would then move your situation into the allergy/medical category of “must be accommodated.”

        3. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

          Please don’t even place yourself in the same category as a picky eater. That’s not fair to you, or the very real condition that you’re faced with. I can only imagine some of the challenges that you’ve faced! :(

      3. Plain turkey sandwich*

        Thanks! All helpful, I included peppers because it mostly means we can’t do Asian places because of hidden items that may have peppers (what I was told) but that’s when its been context of a few of us going out to lunch together on our own volition. But she is definitely not hard to accommodate.

        I think Picky Eater would have a meltdown if he found a tomato on his sandwich, he has stated that if a pickle gets in the lunch it cannot touch the bread, so that stresses me out in ordering, he isn’t senior to me though (not that it would matter but it would be different if it was my Boss who is the Highest Ranking. And yes I think Vegan will just have to speak up if she wants something different.

        I don’t love the idea of running out to get someone (particularly for picky eater) something, because these are all adults and I think my role isn’t as junior to be doing that. I should get clarification from my boss because it might just be something I Have To Do.

        I think the solution I am trying to see works is mainly pizza, because it is such a cheaper option and easier to do on the fly, and as a surprise we’re getting pizza! But definitely not as many options for these folks.

          1. Plain turkey sandwich*

            I am an admin, but my role has changed a bit since I first started and we recently had leadership change, I do more EA duties and work a lot with budget stuff so when it is end of fiscal (right now) I think my time is better spent on budget. I also think the only case I would go out and get something special is if it were a plain turkey sandwich for the Picky Eater. I don’t think I should be responsible in acting as an assistant to him because he doesn’t like anything else. I have one coworker who I have discussed this with to see if I am off in my expectation and she completely agreed and confirmed I would be within reason to push back on that request if it were made by someone.

            1. Plain turkey sandwich*

              Also on the days I order the lunch for I am running around setting the event up and making sure everything is done that needs to (room set up, facilities, delivery on time) that I don’t really have time to go get him something.

        1. Observer*

          The kosher person is probably going to be hard to accommodate, if she’s really strictly kosher. Almost any place that is not truly vegan is not going to be able to accommodate if they don’t have a kosher facility. Pizza will absolutely NOT work.

          On the other hand, I’d be willing to be that she will be pleased that you tried, at least.

    3. Very picky*

      I am a picky eater than will sometimes eat bare turkey sandwiches and need to peel off all topping and sauce from a pizza…

      For a picky eater, look for things that can be deconstructed so she can either remove (or not add) the things she doesn’t like. Many restaurants will customize the order to her liking or can make an off-menu item for you. Or just make a special trip to a restaurant/corner store that sells the turkey sandwiches.

      It’d even help for her to make a list of foods she likes for you to consult to see if you could get her a side of fries, a garlic bread, some nachos, or something like that. Usually the appetizers are picky friendly when customized.

      It can be emotionally devastating and isolating to be told “We won’t try to accommodate you so everyone else gets the free lunch and you can eat what you brought or go out of the office”. Many like me don”t choose to be picky, we feel like outcasts because we can’t stomach normal foods we want to eat.

      1. Calliope~*

        “It can be emotionally devastating and isolating to be told “We won’t try to accommodate you so everyone else gets the free lunch and you can eat what you brought or go out of the office”. Many like me don”t choose to be picky, we feel like outcasts because we can’t stomach normal foods we want to eat.”

        This is me. Our office does breakfasts once a month to celebrate birthdays. I have severe IBS and have to stick to a low FODMAP diet which means among other things, no wheat or rye. For my birthday, they had Bagels and donuts. :/ (they also forgot to do the signed BD card that everyone else gets- I’m used to that, as my birthday is so close to Christmas and that has happened pretty much all my life)

        1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

          Can you speak to your boss comfortably? If so, please do speak up.

          Low FODMAP can be slightly more challenging to accommodate (IBD’er here!), but I imagine they could find *something* that everyone could enjoy. I would go in with some suggestions, if at all possible (fruit tray? things from a gluten-free bakery? chocolate? cheeses?) I would be so saddened to know that an employee couldn’t enjoy their celebrations due to food we didn’t think to ask about!

          1. Calliope~*

            Oh, they all know. And they laugh about it every single month “Oh, Calliope… too bad you can have these yummy donuts… these are the BEST BAGELS.. look at what you’re missing”…. For the most part, I just take care of myself because they just don’t care. It would’ve been nice for at least the month they celebrate my birthday to have ~something~ I can eat though.

            This year, I’ll buy the chocolate quinoa cupcake with peanut butter frosting for myself, now that I know they won’t bother.

    4. Christian Troy*

      When I worked at a large university, for lunch grand rounds the menu was generally a couple of different wraps and sandwiches, pasta salad, and a fruit salad. If people didn’t want to eat, then they were on their own.

    5. Pearl*

      As far as finding other options for the vegan person, I think you’ve done as much as you can. If she can’t suggest restaurants or other meal options, she sounds happy enough with what she’s getting. You shouldn’t feel bad about it. If she ends up unhappy, she’ll complain, and then you can say, “If you have some new options you’d like me to order, I would be happy to” – and if she still doesn’t, she can bring her own food. You can’t read minds.

      Also, I am not Jewish/don’t keep kosher but I do order a lot of food for my kosher workplace. There are different levels of kosher. I think you will want to have a chat with the new person once they start about what they prefer for delivered food.

      For instance, there’s a restaurant around where I work that is kosher and very popular, but they use a cheese provider our rabbi doesn’t consider to be strictly kosher, so we don’t order from them. If that was the only place around, and we were just a random office, my rabbi would probably prefer to bring his own food from home. Then there’s my old Orthodox coworker, also self-described as strictly kosher, who would eat vegetarian, vegan, and fish at non-kosher restaurants as long as they weren’t cooked on a grill with meat/shellfish. It’s worth checking in about once the new person starts.

    6. GigglyPuff*

      Totally fellow picky eater here…I’d say, honestly that’s pretty much their problem. (Couldn’t figure out a way to make that sound less harsh). Maybe I’m also just really conscientious, but I don’t really expect people to go out of their way to accommodate my pickiness.

      If you can, especially if you tend to order from the same places, maybe show them the menu you are choosing from and have them pick out some stuff they’d be willing to eat. I’d say that’s as much as you owe them. And maybe publicize what food will be available ahead of time, in case there isn’t anything and they could bring their own.

      The vegan, they seem fine. For the allergies, just make sure the caterer knows and the person knows which ones are strictly pepper-free.

      For the kosher, ask! Especially if you are planning a welcome breakfast just for them. Hopefully you can find a caterer who can do kosher, and try to accommodate them when doing future catering, but let them know you have a limited number of options and kosher might not always be available, and you will let them know when that happens.

      1. Plain turkey sandwich*

        I did that last time, sent around the menu of what we were getting to give a heads up (trying some trial and error solutions so far) and they both came without anything. I think Picky Eater was fine, didn’t say anything and just had a roll but when other coworkers said how great the lunch was Vegan said sarcastically, yeah the lettuce is great. So I think that is where my trying to accommodate her comes from. I think it reflects badly on me if we have a catered lunch and people don’t have anything to eat. The lunch included Tomato Soup which was a Vegan option and on the menu beforehand.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          In re: tomato soup – I’m not vegan, so this may not even qualify as a data point for you, but… I LOVE tomatoes. I will eat those things raw like an apple. I like ketchup, tomato based sauces, etc… but I HATE tomato soup. I don’t know why it is – I like soup in general. I’m fine with chunks of stewed tomatoes in my mom’s chili. But I cannot abide tomato soup.

          All that said, Vegan’s snarky responses would get a rise out of me. It sounds like you’re doing everything you can short of home cooking meals for her but nothing works for her, she’s literally not providing YOU with any feedback, and then she snarks to coworkers about it. I kind of feel like you should, if possible, try to shut that down. It reflects badly on you if she has nothing but lettuce to eat because she’s not telling people about the efforts you HAVE made to try to meet her needs. “You keep telling me you’re okay with lettuce when I apologize for the limited vegan options, and I never did get a response to that email asking you for restaurant/catering/menu options that would work better for you.”

          1. GigglyPuff*

            Ha! I’m totally the opposite. I don’t mind tomato based stuff, and could even make myself eat tomato soup if needed, but I will not touch an intact tomato. No idea why, just does not appeal to me. If there’s raw tomato on it, I take it off, really can’t do chunky in anything. Even started to make my own spaghetti sauce cause I was tired of the little chunks even in marinara.

          2. Plain turkey sandwich*

            I agree that was the first time I had tomato soup and I realized why I never had it before. When getting a second opinion a coworker weighed in that that would be enough to satisfy Vegan options. But I do know that just because it is vegan doesn’t mean they will like it.

            1. Barb*

              I’m vegan and the issue with tomato soup for me would be that it had hardly any calories. I’d enjoy the soup, but then is wonder where the rest of the meal was.

              That being said, it seems strange that they don’t have any useful suggestions of where to order from. I agree that you should let them know you’re open to that, and then not worry about it.

        2. GigglyPuff*

          I’d say it’s time to try and let it go. You’ve tried multiple things, you are trying to be super accommodating, and when people start acting like that, that’s on them, not you.

          Okay, though gotta ask, was it actually just lettuce? or was it a salad? maybe have a salad option and if the caterer doesn’t have vegan-free dressing, offer to buy a bottle the vegan likes that they can use during catered meals. But seriously if this is only a couple of times a year, I think you should just try to let it go.

        3. TL -*

          There is a point where some people are just impossible to feed in a group setting. (I am one of those people.) Do your reasonable best, and send out the menu beforehand so if there’s nothing they can/will eat, they know to bring in food.

    7. Temperance*

      I have a pepper allergy. Thank you for accommodating your coworker! People seldom listen to me when I bring this up as an issue, and it’s unsafe for me to just pick them off (because I’m not picky, I’m allergic).

      I order build-your-own sandwich trays with a side salad, grilled veggies, and snacks. The vegan needs to buck up and deal or give you a solution. I work with two men who keep kosher, and we order from their preferred kosher restaurant for them and everyone else gets regular food. Kosher food can be expensive.

      1. Plain turkey sandwich*

        That’s an interesting solution! I will have to look into that, the build your own sandwich! Kosher Cuisine(?) is new to me so I will definitely have a sit down with the new coworker and figure something out.

        1. Megs*

          I’m a huge fan of build-your-own __ situations. Even if it’s a food I don’t especially like (such as the tacos suggested below), I can always toss something together.

    8. ginger ale for all*

      Could you do a taco bar where people are given the ingredients to fill their own tacos with whatever they want? Or in the winter, a baked potato bar with the same concept?

      1. Plain turkey sandwich*

        I think tacos are too adventurous for Picky Eater, so that is where my question comes from is it ok to leave him without an option? Or I would order something from somewhere else? Just in Major City, delivery fees are crazy so ordering two places on the same day is very pricy.

        1. Rocky*

          Honestly, I wouldn’t be trying to guess what Picky Eater will or won’t eat. I would just say “We’re doing taco bar, yay! This is what’s included. If this won’t work for you, let me know and we’ll order you something else.” Higher catering costs are just the cost of doing business when you’re trying to accommodate a lot of different preferences and needs.

          1. Friday Brain All Week Long*

            Or you can handle the picky eater like how I approach it with my preschooler. “This is the food, kid. Eat or starve!”

            Or maybe only in your head you say that. :)

            1. Plain turkey sandwich*

              lol there is a lot of eye rolling when I get the instructions from him in mostly all caps.

              1. asteramella*

                Wow, if he’s being rude, I would definitely not be bending over backwards to accommodate him like this. Announce what food there will be, he can get his own plain turkey sandwich if he wants.

      2. Rocky*

        Yeah, we have every food issue under the sun here, and taco bar has always been a big hit. Other times, our admin staff just send out menus from whatever deli they’re ordering from, and ask people what they want, with a note that if nothing on the menu works for you, speak up and we’ll get you something else.

      3. Temperance*

        That wouldn’t work well for the person who keeps kosher, but ordering them separate meals should be easy.

    9. LisaLee*

      At the risk of sounding harsh, I think you need to stop worrying about Picky Eater. It isn’t reasonable for him to have literally one food item he can eat and then expect you to always provide it. If he genuinely can only stomach plain turkey sandwiches, then sometimes it needs to be on him to bring his own sandwiches.

      After you eliminate him, I think you have several options. Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants are full of vegan, pepper-free (I assume you mean the vegetable, not the spice) options and can often prepare kosher meals because there is a lot of cross-over between kosher and halal (but it depends on what restrictions your employee observes, so clarify that). A big salad + a build-your-own sandwich/pasta/potato/whatever bar goes a long way.

      1. Observer*

        No, Middle Eastern and (especially) Indian restaurants actually generally CANNOT accommodate “strictly kosher” cooking. Indian restaurants don’t even do Halal, and Halal is quite different from Kosher. Kosher food doesn’t need to be alcohol free, but not only does it need be pork free, there are a lot of other qualifications. The basics are no meat / fowl and dairy (and you can’t share utensils for cooking either); milk / dairy has to be kosher (there are different levels, but even at the basic level you can’t assume that a container of milk in the grocery is kosher); there are limited types of meat that can be served (and again you can’t share utensils); the meat / fowl needs to be slaughtered in a very specific way; meat / fowl needs to “kosherized” (ie treated in a way that draws a significant amount of the blood out – it’s a very specific process); limited types of fowl; limited types of fish – and shell fish of any sort is out.

    10. Chriama*

      I honestly think you’re trying too hard. Come up with a few options, ask if they have any suggestions of their own. If you can accommodate their suggestions or they like one of your options, good. If not, you tried and too bad (especially because it doesn’t sound like they’re working with you here so you’re more invested in this than them).

      1. New Reader*

        I very much agree with this. I’m a picky eater and I have several medical conditions that are exacerbated by certain foods. I never expect others to go out far out of their way to accommodate me. I either find something to eat within what’s provided, bring my own food to eat, or eat my own food in my office before or after a lunch meeting.

        I do appreciate when a provided meal has options for types of food or a make-your-own whatever so I can pick and choose what to include in the sandwich/salad/taco/whatever. And when asked if I have allergies or preferences, I try to keep the answers to reasonably accommodated items. If it turns out there is nothing I can eat, I just say I’m not hungry and then eat back at my desk, where I keep things I can eat.

        I once worked at a place where an executive’s spouse provided the catering staff (we had a company on contract for most catered meals) with a 2-page long list of do’s and don’ts for their own (the spouse, not the employee) food issues. It was detailed down to condiments and garnishes.

    11. Triangle Pose*

      Kudos to you for being so accommodating and thinking about all this stuff – this is the kind of thing I wouldn’t handle as beautifully if it was part of my duties.

    12. c*

      I also work at a university and often order lunch for small and large groups. It really is increasingly challenging to find options that will work for everyone’s dietary restrictions. (I’m a vegetarian myself, so I understand the issue from both sides.)

      I agree with others that “build-your-own” bars have been very helpful in the past. Our food services department will do this sometimes, and having tacos, burritos, or even pasta with several sauce options and a green salad (not Caesar dressing, though, because of the anchovies) is usually a hit.

      Does your institution have an on-campus cafeteria? As the person responsible for securing food at meetings, I have found that having a few extra cafeteria vouchers on hand is very helpful. It lets me provide an option for anyone whose needs are not accommodated by what has been ordered.

      As a vegetarian, when I attend meetings and no options are available, I usually try to discreetly eat what I can and then grab a substantial snack on my own later. The point of the meeting is not to feed me, and it feels ungracious to make a big deal out of it. My diet is my responsibility.

    13. Blurple*

      Are you sure Turkey Sandwich is only eating that period, or is it because that’s the only option from past caterers that have been palatable?

      I have to admit, I’m a picky eater. I’m not being obstinate for fun, I will get very nauseated if I try to eat the couple of things I hate and that’s why I hate them. Sucking it up is not a thing. But I don’t like people fussing about it so when group catering comes up I often just opt out and bring my own food and just feel sad for myself on the side. That said, if I have the opportunity to actually order a specific item, that’s a different ball game. I try not to put in special orders but since Turkey Sandwich seems ok with that, can you give folks the menu to the Kosher place and let them make their own selections?

    14. Chaordic One*

      I have food allergies and would prefer to take care of it myself, but sometimes I feel obligated to be a good sport and go along with the group. (I play with my food and only what I can and throw the rest away.) If you told me to take care of it myself I would and it would not be a big deal.

      If I have an allergic reaction, it is usually just cramps and diarrhea. However, I’ve gone into anaphylactic shock a couple of times at company lunches where my tongue swelled up and my throat started to swell shut and I had to be taken to the emergency room and get an epinephrine shot. (So much fun. I should probably get my own epi pen.)

      The worst thing that I’m allergic to is “soy” which problematic because there are so many foods that have it as a cheap filler or as a cheap vegetable oil in place of corn or canola oil and it’s not always labeled. I’ve had bad experiences with most bread, most mayonnaise, most margarines, and most processed foods and candies all because they have soy in them. I’m also allergic to dairy (everything made from cow’s milk) and to tomatoes. The 2 times I’ve

    15. AliceBD*

      I sort-of fit in your scenario! I have pretty severe acid reflux, so I can’t eat tomatoes or citrus items (nor can I drink anything other than water, and most of the time I can’t have sweet baked goods like pastries or cake or sometimes cookies). I’m not allergic, but injesting them causes me stomach upset, which can range from mild to vomiting depending on a number of factors. Sandwiches are fine because I can pick stuff off, but for example I can’t have pizza or spaghetti or anything with tomato sauce. For work lunches or youth group dinners (where pizza is very popular) I just ask that I’m informed ahead of time. It’s NBD for me to bring my own food to things and I don’t really think anything of it, as long as I am given a heads up the day before. I’ll happily sit with everyone else and eat my food and otherwise participate. I have coworker’s with multiple severe food allergies, and my former boss has pretty bad lactose intolerance (can’t have baked goods made with butter). We all just bring our own food to things where we can’t eat the provided food.

    16. Jen*

      I have a good friend who is an ultra
      Picky eater. My toddler is 100x less
      Picky. Friend is mid 30s and will only Loke, plain pasta- as long as it doesn’t touch any other fooD.

      However! She knows she is a giant pain and never causes issues. She either BYOs or will make do at a restaurant. She would never dream of asking someone to accommodate her.

  44. SaviourSelf*

    What do you do when you’re in complete burn out mode but have too much work to do to take the needed time off to recover and rejuvenate?

    1. F.*

      I can tell you from experience (I was where you are a year ago) that you force yourself to take the time off. Don’t do what I did by being a martyr and compromise your health and sanity. If management will not let you take the time off, start looking for another job. Yes, the work will probably pile up while you are out, but you will be better able to handle it when you come back rested and relaxed. Trust me, if you dropped dead, they would find a way to get the work done.

      1. Rabbit*

        100% agreed with F. You take the time off, no matter what. Don’t let it impact your health more.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Aside from just taking the time anyway, I’d suggest you reflect on what’s causing your burnout. Is it too much work and not enough time to do it? Is is that the work you’re doing plays against your strengths? Are you not getting the recognition you feel you need? etc. What would a world look like in which you were not burned out?

  45. Mimmy*

    Reality check needed!

    I’ve written over the past few Open Threads about possible career directions now that I’m finished with my certificate program, such as policy analysis or program evaluation. I know I probably won’t be able to START with these, but they are things I’d eventually like to do. However, the question and subsequent discussion about transportation and work got me thinking that maybe my goals are unrealistic.

    I cannot drive due to a vision impairment and must rely on other means of transportation. The gist I got from yesterday’s discussion is that many employers just want employees to have a reliable means to get to and from work. That’s not what I’m worried about; my concern is jobs that require off-site work, e.g. attending meetings or site visits. Public transportation in NJ is generally so-so at best and I’m not sure how I feel about constantly doing Uber. So I ask myself if I should just resign myself to entry-level, office-based work or buck up and figure out how to make it work. People tell me I have potential and I believe it. I just feel stymied by NJ’s less-than-awesome transit system. I know I probably should do some informational interviews to find out how much on-the-job travel is required in the roles I’m hoping for.

    Also of note: I also got re-connected with my state’s Voc Rehab agency for the visually impaired, but predictably, the woman working with me is slow in getting back to me after a productive meeting last Friday :( I know they can’t tell me what to do, but their support would be helpful because I don’t know where else to turn.

    1. Christy*

      I feel like there’s a billion jobs out there that are 100% in the office. Government work in many sectors, for one. The only two people I know who have to regularly travel to other sites are my friend the environmental inspector and my wife the public library supervisor. (And my wife’s situation is unusual, and she doesn’t drive, either, and it’s still pretty workable for her.)

    2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Depending on salary, could you eventually move yourself to a larger city like NYC or Chicago? Those cities would practically require you to use public transport due to the high cost of owning a vehicle.

  46. Anon for this*

    Advice about adult ADD in the workplace + medication? I’m fairly recently diagnosed and have been trying medication for about two months (on a higher dosage the second month), but…I just don’t know if it’s working? I can feel that it’s affecting me, but I really don’t know if I feel like it’s improved my focus. So I guess I’m just looking for any tips & tricks for how to make the most of the meds or any personal experiences with how long it took to feel like you’re making progress?

    1. GigglyPuff*

      One thing to keep in mind, the medication will (hopefully) improve your focus, but it won’t help you pick to focus on the correct thing. For example, I have to be really careful with reading on my lunch break, because next thing I know, it isn’t my lunch break anymore and hadn’t been for a while.
      So in the beginning, you really have to make an effort to concentrate on the things you are supposed to be doing, then hopefully you’ll settle into the task and be able to focus long term.

      There are good days, where you’ll be like “wow I got a lot done today, it’s over already?” and there are bad, where you have a need to focus but just don’t want to work on anything. (I’m totally having one of those days, I’m like super twitchy right now, but have no desire to work on my to-do list).

      I know other people here have recommended lists, giving your self mini-breaks, timed worked, etc. You really just have to find what works best for you. And if something doesn’t work, make sure to talk to your doctor, and they might be able to give you pointers on how to cope. Unfortunately, I’ve found it isn’t exactly rigid, it’s more fluid. You have ups and downs, something will work for a while and then it doesn’t. And it also can depend on your situation, what worked in high school for me, didn’t work as well in college, and once I started working full time it became much more difficult to find the right balance, as I found my productivity and focus needs changed with each job.

      So just hang in there, it will probably take a little while to find the right solution. But remember, just because you’ve started taking medication doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to make you start working on the right things. It will just help you keep focused for longer periods.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thanks! I appreciate the advice :) I’m in a little bit of a weird place where I didn’t actually seek help for ADD, it’s a comorbid diagnosis, so I’m still kind of adjusting to the idea of myself as a person with focus problems (even though it’s really obvious now that someone’s said it haha) and trying to figure out what “good” focus means for me.

    2. LegalAdmin*

      I was diagnosed with adult add about three years ago and I had to try a few different medications and schedules before I found what works for me currently. I take half my dosage in the morning and half at lunch, otherwise I start crashing around 2 and the day is lost. I start my morning with a detailed list of what needs to get done and at what priority so if I get hyper focused I have an outline of what I should be working on instead of 30 articles deep on Wikipedia. That is what works for me personally but Gigglypuff gave some really great advice. Especially regarding speaking to your doctor and figuring out what works for you. It is a constant process but it is really worth it. I have learned so much about myself and how I work by being diagnosed.

    3. Dawn*

      ” You really just have to find what works best for you. ”

      I do not have ADD (as far as I know) but as a chronic procrastinator and someone who has a really hard time getting things done without set deadlines I’ve had to struggle for years trying to figure out the best way to be self-policing with my time management. It really did take about ten or fifteen different ways to come up with a solution that allows me to get everything done that *needs* to get done while also building in enough time to read AAM/ browse the internet for a bit so I don’t fall victim to “No one tells me what to do!”… which, for some reason, is where my brain goes if I feel like I’m being “forced” to do work.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        I am so bad at self-policing, and I’m a horrible procrastinator. I’ve learned that if it only impacts me, good luck ever getting that done! But if it impacts other people I’m much better at accomplishing a task. I’m also much better when other people give me guidelines and deadlines. Unfortunately my manager isn’t great at setting deadlines, so I tend to draw things out, then they come back and tell me a deadline that is usually pretty soon and I bang out the task immediately. It’s super annoying, I work sooo much better with clear deadlines, but unfortunately my manager also has ADD (we’ve gotten little to personal with our commiserations before, lol), and I think that’s one of the things they struggle with, but all three of their direct reports has asked for clear deadlines multiple times now.

        TL:DR–self policing is the worst! Still haven’t figured that one out yet.

    4. John Cosmo*

      My experience involved medication in combination with counseling (cognitive behavioral therapy) and upon starting medication I felt a difference almost immediately. My therapist gradually increased the medication dosage up during the first two months and by that time I really noticed that I had much better concentration and focus. Normally I would be attempting to focus on something and my mind would be filled with all sorts of extraneous and unrelated thoughts. It was wonderful. I also think you would notice when the medication takes effect.

      I was only on medication for a couple of years, during which I hope I learned a lot through the counseling, and I’m probably not as sharp in my thinking as when I was on medication, but the meds did have some negative side effects that I do not miss.

  47. Eva*

    Anyone had experience with having a conversation where you need to explain that overtime is needed for an exempt position? I’m inheriting a new exempt group who have gone some time without OT, but are incredibly behind and we’ll need to push to get caught back up.

    While I don’t expect that large amounts of overtime will be needed in the future, I want to be sure to explain that when we have big deadlines, they must be met even if it means some OT.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I don’t mean to be snarky, I genuinely think you just explained it perfectly well. This is normal and expected for most exempt jobs. The only thing I wouldn’t do is explain it as “overtime” – that’s a big loaded for some people. Just explain that they’ll be occassionally expected to work slightly longer hours than what they may have been used to before.

      If there are people who have issues you can speak to them individually and give them reasons about why your specific workload requires a longer work day.

      1. Pwyll*

        +1 to the overtime comment.

        If you feel the need to do a team-wide announcement, I’d say something like “I don’t monitor your individual hours because you’re all salaried professionals and I expect that you’re going to be putting in the hours necessary to get the job done. As you know, we’re behind on x topics and so we’re all going to need to be putting in the hours necessary to get caught up.”

        I’d also set milestone deadlines, if you can, for the backlog. That way people are on notice not that they need to do 6 months of backlog in a week, but something in bite-sized chunks, AND you have a clear item to address with employees who aren’t putting in the time.

      2. Rocky*

        I manage exempt and hourly staff, and don’t utter the word “overtime” to exempt staff or declare that exempt staff need to put in more time across the board to meet a big deadline. Exempt staff are expected to manage their own time. I would stick to saying: “This is the deadline for completing the project. It’s a drop-dead deadline, and missing it means [whatever bad consequences will happen]. Where are you on meeting this deadline? What needs to happen to make sure you meet it?” A lot of the time the issue is just that the importance of the deadline hasn’t been communicated, or they’ve blown other deadlines in the past with no consequences, so they don’t take them seriously. Just having that conversation usually makes it happen. If there is pushback, it usually turns up bigger individual issues, like someone isn’t managing their time well, is working inefficiently, or is confused about priorities.

        1. Eva*

          Thanks, that’s great feedback! I will certainly take that into consideration for my conversations.

    2. Graciosa*

      I wouldn’t frame it as overtime, as that is a concept applied to hourly non-exempt workers.

      I would frame this as a matter of taking care of the responsibility for the work – which it is.

      Professionals who are exempt are responsible for a scope of work. If they get it done in forty hours – or less! – great. If not, they take whatever time is needed to get it done.

      Individuals who believe that they are not required to perform their jobs are coached – or disciplined – appropriately.

    3. fposte*

      Seconding Graciosa–I think calling it overtime is really confusing. I’d call it extended hours or something.

  48. Blue Anne*

    I asked a question here last week about dealing with my new employer’s business ethics stance. I’m at the end of my sixth week with these guys now and I’m seriously questioning whether I should stay.

    Customer service has been terrible. I’m doing a lot of cleaning up messes, and improving service, and that’s great. But so many customers are being incredibly rude to me because they’ve just HAD IT with this company. I don’t blame the customers at all, but it’s pretty worrying. Yesterday my bosses made what I felt was a really terrible customer service call, just really, really bad. We might spoil the grand opening of one of our customers for the sake of saving a couple hundred dollars which we would need to spend to fix OUR mistake. I made it clear to my bosses that I disagreed with the decision and why, but once the decision was made, fine, I did it.

    I was talking to a friend last night and he asked me whether I think I’m going to get to the point where I just don’t care about the job. I told him yes, but it’s more likely to take the form of getting fired because I said “screw it, the customer NEEDS this” and spend the $300 to do right by the customer despite what my bosses say, than burn out and not do my job. My friend said that if I walked into an interview at one of the companies in the ‘family’ of companies he worked for, and said that was why I was leaving, I’d be hired on the spot. Pretty tempting. Sounds more like a culture I’d fit with.

    I don’t know. Urgh. I’m giving it the college try or whatever, and it’s not a bad place to work – my colleagues are nice, bosses do respect my methods and decision-making generally, pay is decent and on time. But I’m starting to think it’s just not workable and I need to continue my job search.

    1. Cristina in England*

      I think that since you’ve moved back recently you can easily leave this off your resume and just GTHO of there. I think that remaining in such an ethically compromising job will just burn a hole through you eventually. I would definitely start looking around for something else since you can so easily explain any gap on your resume right now. Good luck!

      1. Blue Anne*

        I’m kind of worried about leaving it off my resume because at this point the gap is starting to look pretty long. My husband split up with me in December, when I was in the notice period at my big corporate job to start at a smaller firm in January. I only ended up staying at the small firm for a month, because the immigration crap hit the fan in January. And then I started working again at the start of last month.

        So if I leave both short jobs off my resume, it appears as a gap of 6-7 months. That seems like a really long time to me.

        1. Caledonia*

          well some of it can be explained by your international move, can’t it? I forgot about the small firm, was it basically because they couldn’t sponsor you?

          1. Blue Anne*

            Well, I lost my visa because my husband left me, but yeah, the small firm wouldn’t have been able to sponsor me. It was a comedy of errors and now I live in Ohio for some reason I haven’t quite processed yet.

            1. Caledonia*

              So if you have to put or explain the gaps could you say that the small firm couldn’t sponsor you and you had to move back? And then for this latest job either say the reason is ethical or that you had to come back (& leave it off entirely)?

              Ack I hope something good happens soon blue anne!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am concerned here about how many ethics issues are going on. Sometimes an ethics issue is small and I feel that there are several angles to consider. Those are the toughest ethics issues to me because it’s really hard to nail down an answer. But stuff like you have been writing about is pretty clear cut and the customers are getting ticked. Ticked customers will eventually sink a biz.

      Only you know the full story. If there is illegal stuff going on that you cannot talk about here, get out of the job. Give notice and leave. No job is worth going to jail for.

      If the stories here are the worst of it, then start looking for a new job. Don’t stay with this one just waiting to get fired over principles. Make your plan to move on. That firing is only a moment, that is all it is. It will not change them or impact them in anyway. But it will become a suitcase for you to carry around. And that is a bigger suitcase than the issue of 6-7 months of no employment on your resume. Someone asks you why you left just say, “They were asking me to do things that I felt were probably illegal. I do not wish to elaborate. I did discuss it with them directly. I remained uncomfortable with the situation.”

      I understand that you were hired to help clean up and make the place better. It sounds like they are not letting you do that. You can’t help people who do not want to be helped.

  49. the_scientist*

    On a whim, I applied for a job across the country a few weeks ago. It’s in the public service, it sounded incredibly interesting, and it’s in a beautiful part of the country. Long-term, we’d be interested in living out there but it was kind of a five-year plan thing.

    Well, they invited me for an interview! They originally wanted me to interview next Thursday (about a week’s notice). I am speaking to them by phone today to get more details about the job and to see if it makes sense to fly out for an interview, which is going to be an enormous expense. I’m hoping they could push the interview date out a little bit, but I don’t know if that would be a reasonable request.

    This is all new to me and I’m really excited but also sort of internally freaking out!!

    1. AnoninTexas*

      Won’t they pay to fly you out to interview? They should, even if it’s in the public service. I used to work for the government and while we didn’t have a budget specifically allocated to applicant travel, we all had discretionary budgets to use as we saw fit. If they won’t, ask if they’ll at least help with expenses: Get you a discounted hotel rate, have someone pick you up at the airport, etc. They need to have some skin in the game too…in my humble opinion. If they really like you and think you’re a strong candidate, they can do something. Good luck!

  50. costume teapot*

    I’m having a really hard time with motivation to apply for jobs.

    Part of it is being exhausted every night after working a job I hate.

    Part of it is a lack of proper writing sample in my current job due to the nature of the demands–anything that would be a suitable writing sample has to be presented in a weird PowerPoint and in person because nobody can apparently read and comprehend even simple operational guidance if it’s more than two sentences. I’m finally taking a situation from last year and writing a whole new writing sample that is essentially the equivalent of what I explained in the other format so I hope it helps.

    But none of my applications have had any kind of reaction since I started in March and I’m starting to get nervous that the longer I am not working in my actual field, the harder it will be to find work. (My title and job were changed after a merger a few months back…what I do now 100% used to be 40% of my job.)

    Any encouragement or tips for motivation super appreciated!!

    1. Anon Moose*

      Your writing sample doesn’t have to come from your current job. And you could always copy-paste the weird Power Point content into a better format for the purposes of applying for jobs. Or use a sample from a previous job or side hobbies/jobs or just writing a new sample, depending on the role.

    2. Coffee and Mountains*

      Oh, man, I feel you. I looked seriously for a job for about a year and a half. It was hard to find positions, I had a coworker get a job I really, really wanted, I interviewed, and I got rejected a bunch. I was SO discouraged and depressed.
      But… I’m happy to say that today is my last day at my current job. The only way out is through. You’ll get there, but you can only get a job if you apply for it.
      Good luck!!

    3. Ama*

      Last time I was job hunting due to near-burnout, I let myself do only a couple applications a week (I was also intentionally being very picky so I wasn’t ignoring a bunch of great postings or anything). I also had the writing sample problem, so what I usually did was send an older, more appropriate piece and note in my cover letter that the writing I did in my current job was largely internal policy documents that I wasn’t allowed to share so I had attached an article from the Writer job on my resume.

    4. Megs*

      Job hunting is seriously the worst. I’ve been basically job hunting since I left the private sector for law school in 2009 and it’s so easy to get discouraged. Law year was the worst by far – I finished a great but temporary two-year job in 2014, interviewed regularly for months and got no dang where. Then I stopped getting interviews for a while and got really depressed. I more or less gave up and got a job doing (relatively) low paying temp work. I’ve been trying to get back into the hunt recently and have even had a couple of interviews, so hopefully things will be on the upswing for both of us! You just have to keep at it, as much as that freaking blows.

    5. Triangle Pose*

      Can you take a job hunt staycation and reset? If you have vacation or PTO and you are at the point where you’re “exhausted every night after working a job I hate.” I’d say it’s worth it to take those days and spend mornings and afternoons aggressively applying/networking and evenings doing something that energizes you (socializing, exercising, reading for pleasure, etc.) and takes your mind of job hunting/your current horrible job.

  51. Rye-Ann*

    I’m just curious about peoples’ general thoughts about work friendships/making friends with people at work. I was reading some articles on this topic yesterday, and they seem to have one of two mindsets.

    1) Coworkers are not your friends, even if ya’ll are friendly with each other.
    2) People don’t make as many work friends as they used to/don’t seem to value work friendship as much, especially in America. But there are some benefits to having work friends, so maybe we should be doing more of that!

    How do you feel about making friends at work? Is there a difference between regular “friends” and “work friends”, or is it possible to become true friends with someone despite working with them? I suspect there is a cultural element to this, so if you answer this and feel comfortable saying where you’re from, I would be curious!

    1. Blue Anne*

      I’m totally in favor of making friends at work. My only rules on it are that I won’t add anyone on facebook until one of us has left the job, and I’m not pushing or going out of my way to make work friendships. If they happen, they happen, and that’s awesome!

      For me, being a geeky female who works in finance, it really doesn’t happen often. My colleagues are much more likely to want to talk about basketball than board games, no matter where I go. (Recently moved back from Scotland to Ohio and holds true in both places.) But I’m still in contact with a couple colleagues from my first job at a tech startup, and if I ran into guys like that in my current jobs, we would be besties.

    2. LawCat*

      I have co-workers that have become friends outside of work. I’ve had outside friends who ended up becoming co-workers. I like having co-worker friends, but only a few have become close friends. I do not have manager friends. I would love to be friends with my current manager because she’s an awesome person, but it’s been a mistake in the past to confuse a manager with a friend. I’m in the US.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      I’ve always had work friends but none have become ‘regular’ friendships. Like, we’ll go out for drinks after work or maybe text each other funny stuff or meet up on the weekend for an event (I even invited one to my wedding) but I would never go to them with my personal troubles like I would a regular friend. It’s still a friendship, but pretty superficial compared to the ones I have had since high school.

      I think they are important, and that it is possible to reach a deeper level with a coworker while still being able to work together effectively. Lately I’m finding that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to cultivate a work friendship if you are in a position of authority over everyone else.

    4. Megs*

      I think it’s really valuable to be friendly with coworkers, but I’m very particular about making “friends.” I’ll add anyone and everyone on LinkedIn, but in a year at my current job I’ve only added one person on Facebook, for example. I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules other than “be professional.” I’ve had at least one work friendship last close to a decade now but I don’t feel the need to seek that kind of thing out. I’ve got enough friends I’d like to see more of as it is!

    5. Librarian Ish*

      USA, Pacific NW here. I’m definitely of the first mindset – I’ll occasionally spend time with them outside of work, but no facebook friending, no chatting about life, etc. BUT I’ve happily become real friends with coworkers once one of us have moved on to different positions. In fact, I’m currently dating an ex-coworker.

      I am very careful not to specify that I don’t consider coworkers to be “real” friends – that’s a surefire way to _unmake_ any friends at work!

    6. fposte*

      Obligatory I’m-in-academics disclaimer: my closest friends work in my department. Our work wasn’t as close together when we became friends as it is now. Sometimes we just have to negotiate it. Sometimes we have to say we’re not talking about work for a while.

    7. New Reader*

      I had a bad experience early in my career where friendships outside of the workplace with coworkers that impacted on work. There were three of us that were very friendly outside of work for awhile, but then the two of them had a falling out and expected me to take sides. It made things at work pretty tense. Since then I’ve been careful to keep boundaries between work and personal. I do have people at work I’m friendly with and we’ll do lunch and such.

    8. Laura*

      My first workplace showed me that opening up to coworkers can get you into really hot water. I do NOT consider my coworkers friends. We are friendly and polite at work, but I’m never going to join the kickball team, or go to going-away happy hours, or friend them on Facebook.

      This is a somewhat unusual attitude to have in my very-young workplace. We are all just a few years removed from college, but I don’t feel that it’s beneficial or professional to become friends with coworkers.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        I’m right here with you now, Laura. I used to hang out with people from work outside of work, but I no longer want to talk about work outside of working hours (which inevitably came up), and one of the people I used to be close with, she and I have grown apart. Our lives are just really different now and we don’t have much in common, so I don’t really make an effort to keep that relationship beyond a working one.

    9. LiteralGirl*

      I have two “real” friends in my department that I will be leaving in a week to go to another part of the company. I’ve helped my office mate through his divorce, been a sounding board for the other on many different subjects (infertility, pregnancy, marriage, career development, etc.). I’m ready to move to another place and have that all become part of my personal life rather than my work life. I value their friendship, but it’s become too ingrained in my professional life – too much stress from something that has little to do with work. I’m excited for the change!

    10. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I met my best friend at work. Neither of us work there any longer and we didn’t really become friends until a few years after we met but we still hang out and vent together all the time. With wine and cupcakes. And wine cupcakes!

    11. Omne*

      I guess I’d be in favor of making friends at work, I married a co-worker.

      In general though I tend to keep them separate outside of that exception.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I’m in the Midwest US. I have work friends and we do tell each other quite a lot of stuff, but I don’t seem to ever see them outside work. Other people I know are very friendly with work peeps off the job, but that seems to be down to personal dynamics, things they have in common other than work, etc.

      My rule about Facebook is very strict–no friending until one or both of us is no longer employed at the same place. People are, however, free to follow me on Twitter or follow my blog, since both are public. I don’t really talk about work on social media at all.

    13. AnotherFed*

      Aside from a few old college friends, all of my current friends are coworkers. Part of it is the nature of job and location – it’s a very rural area, and the place I work is the region’s largest employer (pretty much only white collar employer, if you count the contractors that support it). Even so, I’m much less likely to be good friends with someone in my immediate work group, and there’s always some awkwardness to resolve when friends shift roles.

    14. NicoleK*

      I’m friendly with people at work. And I have several former coworkers that have become friends (i.e. we did things outside of work, still keep in touch, share personal stuff and etc). I think it’s possible to develop true friendships at work or with people from work. The true friendships I have developed over time and wasn’t an instantaneous thing.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      I think if people are going to be friends in real life they have to agree on a plan of how to navigate work life. Not everyone can do this. Not everyone wants to do this. And other people just naturally fall into the friend role on off hours and the coworker role while working.

      I think for the friendship to go well, the coworkers have to have a similar value system and similar ethics. How often does this happen? Not a lot. I think that both people have to be concerned about their friend’s job almost as much as they are concerned about their own job- this means no backstabbing and candid, direct conversations when needed. Tricky part, real friends don’t make each other cover for the other one. They own their mistakes and they own their problems without bogging down the other friend.

      Just my opinion, but if you get one or two “life” friends from a job you are doing very well. Many friendships end when the job ends for one of the friends.

    16. Raia*

      I’m from the Midwest, in a customer service team-oriented job. I recently began a new job and am beginning to be friends with a coworker. We are definitely work friends only and because our work ethics and ideas/approaches are similar, we make great venting and creativity buddies. Sometimes we text after work to rant or bounce ideas, but it doesn’t usually veer into personal stuff. I’m not sure that ‘work friends’ is ideal for a more white collar job, since when I was a marketing coordinator I didn’t feel the need to make friends.

  52. TMA*

    This has happened two times in the past few months, so I’m realizing this is something I need to figure out how to deal with.

    When I am meeting with someone who is hostile toward me (either because they disagree with a decision I’m communicating–not necessarily a decision I’ve made–or because they are annoyed at the situation that I’m communicating–again, not necessarily because of something I’ve done), I get emotional. No tears, but I definitely start to feel myself well up. I don’t think it’s noticeable, and I’m still able to communicate what I need to and still remain professional. BUT this isn’t a professional response, and I really want to stop.

    I guess, I feel caught off-guard because I generally assume that people are going to be kind and helpful, but that doesn’t always happen. Obviously.

    Am I alone in this? How do you all deal with hostile people at work?

    1. Leatherwings*

      Yeahhh this happens to me too. The worst is the big lump in my throat. I can’t make it stop, but it has gotten better with age. I think the only thing that helps is to take a couple of seconds to do some deep breathing (as subtly as possible).

      I know that’s not that helpful, but best of luck finding something that works for you. Much commiseration.

    2. Triangle Pose*

      Say to yourself “Hm, this person seems upset. Separate and apart from that upset reaction, we can probably fix [whatever the actually problem is].” And then shift your focus to the real problem with a neutral feeling, the way you would a normal problem that comes up.

      I find this form of compartmentalization to be really helpful. When I read an email or hear something that sounds hostile or accusatory of my work, my interpretation or something or my communication style, I try to separate “the feeling” from whatever the real problem is. The real problem is fixable and I don’t have to react or internalize the other person’s hostility/upset feelings.

    3. Headachey*

      Long ago there was a discussion in a thread about hostile interactions where someone mentioned they shut it down/reset the vibe of the conversation by saying something like “You know, this conversation is increasingly adversarial, and I’m not sure why.”

      That really stuck with me, and I actually used that wording several months ago in a conversation with a contractor who was going off the rails in her interactions with our team. She was starting to wind up again and I said the exact phrase above – she stopped, paused, and said “Yes, you’re right.” And then calmed the eff down and we were able to have a real conversation. It seemed to redirect her from a really defensive mode and back to the experienced professional she had been before, without me pointing out that she was being unreasonable. And since I didn’t have to do that, I was able to remain calm and composed as well.

      Having an alternative like that in my pocket was so helpful going into the conversation – like Triangle Pose said, something that helps you compartmentalize or depersonalize the interaction can be hugely useful.

    4. Diluted_TortoiseShell*


      I know my emotional response is because I grew up in a violent household. When people get defensive at work it triggers all sorts of reactions that don’t trigger in the normal person. Counseling helped me.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I reported a situation to a boss, as per company policy.
      He blew up at me.
      It was all too weird. He was a good boss. I was following company policy. The problem had nothing to do with him except for the part that as a boss he had to be aware of the problem.

      So I waited for a pause in his blow up. Then I said, “Okay, that was way too much reaction for this situation. I don’t know what I have done to offend you, but clearly I have done something. Please understand that I never want to offend you and I would never knowingly offend you. Matter of fact, I think very highly of you as a professional. Company policy is to report X. I reported X. You do as you see best.”

      I got through all that by focusing on my concern for him. I just let go of whatever feelings flew at me, and there were several because this NICE boss was YELLING at me! oh, crap, crap.

      Think of ways to depersonalize the discomfort. For me an easy way is to say, “this person is upset and needs me to help them with something.”
      OTH, there are times where I can find points I agree on. “Yeah, I would be pissed if they painted my office walls black. I don’t think I would have thrown my desk across the room but I do understand disliking black walls.”
      I tend to believe that when my emotions come up, it is because I am doing something to pull the situation in close to me. I do a reality check and try to find ways to make it less close. “Oh, yeah, this makes sense. Most people would be a little ticked if the info they needed was two weeks late in arriving.” OR “I have done this. I have lost my cool when the boss said Stupid Thing.”
      It takes practice to talk ourselves down and I’d recommend having several tools to rotate through. The more situations you handle the less of an issue this is, because you will see yourself handling the situation and know that you CAN handle it. Once in a while you can tell yourself, “Just because this person is very upset, does not automatically mean I have to get very upset.”
      Sometimes you can release your own emotions just by indicating to the person, “I have been in a similar situation myself and I know how upsetting it is.”

      In my story here, it turned out that some former employees had screwed over my boss. He was flashing back to that time and lashed out at me. We talked it out and never had another problem.

  53. jamieeee*

    This is probably a dumb question, but when you leave a company and have unused PTO, is that taxed at your normal tax rate, or at a different rate? I’m in the U.S. (Washington State).

    1. F.*

      While they may withhold a straight 20% (or another rate), in the end, when you file your federal taxes and compute your actual tax liability, it is just like the rest of your payroll income and is taxed the same. I can’t speak to your state taxes, though.

    2. Alston*

      My state taxes it as a bonus which I think was 25%, which is higher than what normally comes out of my pay check.

      1. jamieeee*

        Aha. When I googled this question before posting here, I saw that some people were taxed at 25% and were surprised. This explains that. Thanks.

        1. Ama*

          Also just be forewarned that if you get taxed at your normal pay rate but you have a significant amount of PTO paid out and it covers days you are working at the new job, you may end up owing a bunch of extra taxes. I didn’t take any time off last time I switched jobs but had almost a month’s worth of PTO paid out — since it, along with my paychecks at both jobs, got taxed as if I was making Y dollars a year, but I actually made Y+ a month of PTO in income, I ended up with a really high tax bill that year. I luckily had savings to cover it but I wish someone had warned me beforehand.

    3. LCL*

      Washington State doesn’t have an income tax, period. Yet. So it’s just wages for your federal return.

      1. Seattle Writer Gal*

        That is correct. No income tax in WA state. I don’t recall having to pay extra taxes on paid out PTO when changing jobs and I have changed jobs several times here in the past 10 years.

    4. Blurple*

      I’m in WA as well– it’s taxed as a bonus here, which is higher than would it would be taxed as a wage when used. So it’s in your best interest to use it before you leave your company.

      At least this is what folks I’ve worked with (and HR) have told me.

  54. KimberlyR*

    I’m at the end of my rope with my job. I wasn’t a huge fan of my main job but did it for the paycheck (which is nothing fabulous but its an entry-level job with no degree required.) There was an additional role that needed to be taken on and my only coworker at my remote office location didn’t want to do it (this coworker technically doesn’t work in the office with me for the most part-he works out in the “field” somewhat) so the additional role was assigned to me. I was willing to take on extra work and I thought it was a fairly straight-forward role in dealing with Clients. But it has turned out to be a somewhat team lead role (not exactly, but close enough in terms of authority to convey what I mean) for employees out in the field. I am not a manager and have never wanted to manage people. I don’t have the skill set or personality for it. When one of these employees screws up, I am the person the Clients turn to, and for many of the employees, I’m the one who has to talk to them about the issue, reprimand them, whatever. I hate it! I have anxiety and having to deal with all this stuff makes my anxiety worse. I put off doing important stuff because it makes me so anxious. And they have recently decided that we are not going after the clients aggressively enough (we are leaving money on the table!) so I am having additional training and have to step up sales and marketing tactics, all of which ALSO make me anxious! I don’t do sales and marketing. I don’t want to. Its just not my thing.

    In addition, I am not compensated for this stuff. We can earn bonuses based on numbers and revenue, but for the day to day time and work I put in, I still make the same entry-level pay from the previous role (I do both simultaneously.) The other people who do this similar role in other branches are all Branch Managers and Directors, so they are all paid a salary. I am paid hourly, and not much at that. So I resent doing this work for not much pay, and that includes the occasional weekend or after-hours work that comes with it.

    I had started to look around for a new job and took the risk of mentioning to my boss that I was ready to move out of these roles. I will be transitioning to another department and someone will have to take my place. They were going to hire someone, then decided to move someone from another branch to take my place so they hired for her role instead. I waited for that to happen, and for that person to be trained. When my replacement was supposed to come here, she went out on medical leave, then quit. So now we do have to hire for my position and then I have to train that person. So a few months down the line and I still haven’t been able to transition into my new role. I really like my company and I want to stay with them but I’m frustrated and hate coming in to work everyday. I really debate calling in every day just because I don’t want to come in.

    How can I get through the time I have left in this role and I get to move departments?

    1. Megs*

      Hang in there! My mom recently transitioned out of a management position and she’s so much happier. I guess just hang on and count the days, and do your best to keep your company on track getting that replacement. There’s nothing at all wrong with not wanting to deal with all that junk, especially if you’re not getting compensated for it. My mom was actually losing money as most of her compensation is commissions and the manager “bonus” didn’t make up for the lost sales time.

  55. ExtraGuac*

    Is this an interview? I got an email from a company I applied to that stated “Our immediate need is to hire someone with substantive experience in X…I’d like to talk with you further about how you can meet our needs.” I have no experience in X. I am now meeting this company for lunch next week. Is this an interview or just a discussion? They know I have no experience in X- do I stand a chance with them at all?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s an interview– it’s a discussion to see if they want to move forward. Treat it as such. It sounds like they realize you don’t have that experience but they want to see if you might be a fit for something else.

  56. SJ*

    My resume was passed along to someone hiring for a cool position, and the person who passed it along told me on Tuesday that I “may” hear from him this week. So I’m just… waiting. Anxiously.

    Since I know these things often take much longer than we’d like, when should I follow up if I don’t hear from him, since “maybe this week” isn’t exactly a clear indicator of time? And how exactly should I follow up? Should I get in touch with the person who passed the resume along, or should I get in touch with the guy directly? (I wasn’t given his contact info, but I can easily find his email address using his name.)

    1. Anon Moose*

      Keep in mind that its summer, and a week can turn into two really quickly, not to mention vacation.

    2. Leatherwings*

      Definitely don’t get in touch with the guy directly. Do not.

      If you’re close to the person who passed your resume along, it would be appropriate to ask about it in a few of weeks – always assume things will take longer than they say. If you’re not close to the person who passed it on though, I would just let it be. They have your resume and know you’re interested and they’ll contact you if they’re interested in moving forward.

      I know it’s easier said than done, but you also need to mentally move on from this. Being anxious isn’t going to make the process happen any faster. Like AAM says, let it be a pleasant surprise when/if they do call you.

      1. SJ*

        I’m usually a pro at mentally moving on — I’ve been job searching for a year and have reached a point of total apathy about it, honestly, and it’s been my mantra for all my job-searching friends as well. But having been forwarded numerous emails from various people at this institution all saying my resume is awesome and I’d be a great fit and they’re excited to talk to me, etc. etc., it’s way harder to get over that “holy crap, am I actually a desirable candidate after all despite the crap heap that was this past year?” feeling that I haven’t had in ages.

        Still! You are absolutely right and I’m going to try to put it out of my mind.

        1. Ama*

          You say “institution.” Is it academia? Because if so, multiply any period they tell you for hiring timelines by three.

          1. SJ*

            Yep! I don’t think this position is even posted online yet, so I have no idea what the hiring timeline is like. I was just going off the “he’ll get in touch with you this week” bit.

            1. Ama*

              Oh, well if the position isn’t even posted yet … it might be a while. Granted all institutions are different, but at my last academic position all jobs had to be posted and cleared by central HR, who were notoriously slow and prone to taking two week vacations in the summer without leaving any alternate contacts. You weren’t allowed to bring anyone in for an interview unless they had applied through the system, which couldn’t be done unless the job had been posted… etc., etc.

              It was also not uncommon for the actual hiring managers to not realize any of this until they started the posting process, so I would not be surprised if your contact just assumed everything would be ready to go this week only to have to wait out some bureaucracy.

  57. Sparkly Librarian*

    I feel like I’ve hit a career milestone: I’ve graduated to a two-page resume. Not even one-and-a-third, even. Once I added my current position, and Little Free Library stewardship under (library-related) volunteer and committee work, it’s two pages without any space left. (I can take off the LFL when I have a promotion to add to the top, and for iterations after that I can probably leave off the private sector work entirely.)

    1. Hoopla*

      I cannot wait until I have enough experience and accomplishments to warrant a 2 page resume. I still probably have a good 10 years to go where my ‘non-professional’ jobs will probably slide off the end and my professional career will need over a page to be represented

      1. Overeducated*

        I have a 2 page resume because getting a foothold in my field tends to include a lot of internships and part time work starting out, and showing that practical experience has been important to not coming across as “overeducated,” but I also can’t wait until I have enough higher level professional accomplishments to let some of the earliest or least relevant stuff drop off.

  58. EA*

    My friend has been unhappily working at her job for 4 years- for the past 2 years, she has been frantically looking for a new one. She has had about 20-30 interview over the past 2 years. She can get interviews, but not offers. I called her references to see if that was the issue, and it was not (I posed as a prospective job).

    I have done mock interviews for her, and I think she comes off bad personality wise. She tries to be professional/mature, and it comes off as cold and weird. I think that people want to hire someone who has a good personality as well as being qualifies. She isn’t like that in real life at. I have tried to gently coach her on being more causal or making more small talk, but she thinks that this stuff shouldnt matter and they should hire her because she is competent.

    I also have told her to try and get feedback, and so far she has not gotten anything helpful. Does anyone have suggestions for how I can phrase this differently?

    1. jamieeee*

      Could you conduct another mock interview with her, but tape it so she can see herself? You could set up the camera so that it’s facing her directly (rather than a side view). That way she can see her facial expressions clearly, too. If she’s much different in interviews than in real life, maybe she’ll be surprised at what she sees?

    2. Adam V*

      > they should hire her because she is competent

      Everyone* they interview is competent. That’s the minimum bar.

      You could tell her “They’re looking for more than that – and given that they’re going to be around you for most of their waking hours, they want to know that you’re someone they’ll enjoy spending time with. You don’t have to come across as ‘I want to be your new best friend’, but it’s best if they think you’re friendly, generally happy, someone they can banter with while they’re waiting for the boss to get out of his running-long meeting.”

      Chances are you’ve already told her all of that, though. So… I dunno what else to say. Do you have any other friends who are in charge of hiring in their departments? If she heard it from multiple people, maybe it would sink in.

    3. fposte*

      In addition to the other good points above, can you frame in terms of what you like about her and what you’re not seeing in her interview? “They’re going to work with the you I know, who’s funny and wry and kind, but the interview face you show doesn’t let them see her. And most places would rather work with her than that interview face, so why not give her a chance?”

    4. Joanna*

      Perhaps getting involved in some local professional meetup/discussion groups might give her a good chance to practice conversation on that is more relaxed but still professionally appropriate?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Switch roles.
      She can’t learn what she has not seen.
      Let her interview YOU.
      For one thing, she will see your ease and, second thing, it will make her think about what an interviewer sees.

  59. Wendy Darling*

    In the ongoing saga of my new job being a dumpster fire…

    My boss cancelled our one on one meeting yesterday 10 minutes before the meeting. We both normally work remote but I come into the office one day a week specifically for that meeting. It’s a 20 minute drive, so by the time she got around to cancelling I was already most of the way there. (Normally I would have been in the building already but traffic was appalling.) No email saying why. No explanation. Just an Outlook meeting cancellation right before the meeting.

    I was peeved but assumed she must have had an emergency… until I realized she was actually in the office, she just decided she’d rather stay in another meeting than come to ours. She came out later and said hello to me but didn’t mention the meeting (and I didn’t either because I was REALLY MAD and wasn’t sure I could be civil).

    Last week she was 10+ minutes late to our meeting. The week before that she changed it from an in person meeting to a phone meeting the morning of. I was starting to suspect she had no respect for my time but this sort of clinched it.

    Also they then got catered lunch for everyone except me.

    I had basically just gotten to a place where I was like, I don’t like this job but it’s not THAT bad! I mean sometimes management is bonkers but I can live with this for a year to bank experience! Now I am having a tough time getting back to that place. :/

    1. Girasol*

      Nothing to offer but sympathy, plenty of it. It’s tough when you get needled by lots of tiny indignities, any one of which isn’t a big deal so you can’t complain, but they pile up.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        It also hit me right in a sore spot because in grad school my PI would regularly stand me up for meetings and then claim it was my fault and punish me for it by doing things like withholding assistance I needed to do my work, sometimes for weeks at a time. (I once made no progress on my thesis for 6 weeks because I needed her to approve something before I moved on and she got upset that I didn’t email her an unsolicited reminder about our weekly meeting so she refused to speak to me for the rest of the summer.)

        If this turns into something like that I’m quitting. My mental health cannot take another round of that manipulative crap.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Oh man, this is the WORST. My previous manager used to do this all the time, or she would just flake out and forget about a conflict with our meeting like “taking her kids to school” or “getting her hair done.” It really irked me because she was on Eastern time and I was on Pacific, so often I was waking up for 6:00 or 7:00am calls just to get on her calendar and then…hold music for 15 minutes. I eventually reached a point where I realized that she literally didn’t think of time the same way I did, and was maybe incapable of realizing that keeping time commitments was a thing that mattered to people; that was still pretty annoying, but it did help me get away from a narrative that she was willfully disrespecting my time out of malice.

      I wish I had more advice, but all I really have is assurance that once you’re on the other side in a new position, the memories can be more funny than irritating. Good luck!

  60. Ann Furthermore*

    Mini vent….applied for a job that was a perfect match for my skill set, with a company I’d love to work for. The recruiter reached out to me and said my qualifications were great, but oh by the way, the position requires a Top Secret clearance, which I don’t have. WHY DIDN’T YOU PUT THAT IN THE JOB DESCRIPTION? Grrr.

    1. Adam V*

      Don’t they take forever to get, too? So you’d think they’d make it clear to everyone not to waste their time unless they already had one.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yeah, it usually takes 12 to 18 months to get one. I replied and said I’ve had regular background checks done before, since my company requires them as a condition of employment. I also said I’d be happy to get the paperwork filled out right away to get the ball rolling as soon as possible, instead of waiting to do it until I was hired, thinking maybe that would shave a few weeks off the process. Not much, when you’re talking about 12 to 18 months, but better than nothing. He replied and said he’d let me know if anything opened up not requiring the clearance. Sigh.

        Just out of curiosity I downloaded the SF86, the questionnaire you have to complete. 127 pages! Most of it wouldn’t apply to me, since there are many questions about military service, investments in foreign countries, working for foreign governments, and so on. But still — 127 pages!

        1. Omne*

          At lot of pages are duplicates for different situations though. Even so I’m glad that when I had to get TS clearance in the military in the 80’s we didn’t have to fill out anything like this.

    2. Pwyll*

      Wait, did they tell you that you needed to bring your own Top Secret clearance? Usually when that’s a requirement it means you won’t be able to start until the process has completed, not that you’re supposed to magically already have it. When I worked in government, I was told the agency owned my clearance, it didn’t continue with me.

      But, I never worked in defense, so perhaps it’s different for defense contractors?

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I’m not sure how it works. I would think if you’ve had one in the past, reactivating it would be a lot quicker than starting the process from the beginning. So maybe it’s you can start working while your old one is being resurrected or something.

        1. TMA*

          Not necessarily true. It takes less time, but it still is time consuming and something that the employer is banking on you doing once you are employed. You typically can’t start working on the clearance process (i.e. mounds and mounds of e-paperwork) until you are employed, because you have to be sponsored by your employer. Private citizens can’t just get a clearance without sponsorship from a Fed agency/contractor.

      2. Red Rose*

        My husband has a Top Secret clearance and works in defense contracting. The way I understand it is the employer holds it, and when he has changed employers, he had to fill out some paperwork to get it transferred to the new company.

    3. TMA*

      Usually you don’t have to bring a current clearance to a job requiring a clearance. Employers plan on starting this process once you are hired and on-boarded. There is typically work you can do before your clearance goes through with an exception being if your work will be in a restricted space. In that case, you’ll basically be doing busy work in your non-permanent location until your clearance goes through. Right now OPM is estimating 12 months as long as your work and living locations are simple and you’ve traveled overseas minimally.

      If you’re still interested in the job, go for it, and if you have questions about the clearance, ask the recruiter/interviewer.

  61. Lunch Meat*

    Is there anything I can do to support my LGBT coworkers after Orlando if I’m not sure I have any? There are a couple I think might be but I think it would be intrusive to ask. And even if I did know, I’m not sure what to say. We’re in the Bible Belt, in a big city but most people are still not out in corporate environments. Would it be enough to just put up a rainbow at my desk?

    1. Leatherwings*

      Or an HRC sticker! I know people have complicated relationships to the organization but it’s a pretty subtle symbol of support if you’re in a place that’s not as supportive.

      I wouldn’t ask people if they’re LGBTQ though.

    2. ginger ale for all*

      I think since it is election season, to pay attention to all the candidates stances on LGBT issues, gun violence, etc might be key. And I mean all candidates – from the small local acorns to the big oak tree of president. Know what you want to see from your officials and your own stance on these issues.

    3. Theo*

      I am the queer coworker, and while I can say with big capital letters Yes It Is Intrusive To Ask, I don’t necessarily know what to tell you. The biggest thing, for me, would be speak up the instant you hear any of your cis straight coworkers being awful (awful encompasses homophobia, transphobia, racism, etc–it’s a particularly painful intersection this time). Make it clear hate speech has no place in the office if you hear it. Speak up when people try to erase that it was a hate crime specifically against gay/queer Latinxs.

      Does your office culture allow charitable fundraisers? If so, maybe head one up that helps the victims and their families. Advocate for an inclusive workplace. Advocate that your ENDA covers gender, sexuality, and gender expression. I know that doesn’t necessarily seem linked to the immediate tragedy, but it will help ongoing, to know that their workplace has their backs–in Orlando, once these folks are out of the hospital, they could be legally fired for being gay. We’re already all so afraid, you know? Anything that lifts that fear helps.

      I live in Boston, where we see rainbow flags everything, so YMMV; that would feel like a token sign to me–i.e., showing support without actually doing anything–but I know things are really different in different parts of the country. Maybe a Safe Space sticker? Google should throw a couple versions at you.

      1. Lunch Meat*

        Thank you. My workplace seems pretty supportive, to me–our last president but one was lesbian and I don’t remember any comments about it at all that didn’t treat it as normal. I will try hard to pay more attention. Our employee handbook includes no discrimination on sexual orientation, but I’ll ask about getting gender and gender expression added.

        This has triggered my depression hard, so I’m trying not to let my reaction be motivated by *my* need to feel better. I really, really appreciate your input. Thank you, and I’m so sorry that this violence is still happening.

        1. asteramella*

          Please look into not only adding gender/gender identity/gender expression/trans status to your handbook, but actually evaluating policies in your workplace. The EEOC has come out with a wealth of information on LGBT-friendly work policies this year. If it helps, you can frame it as wanting to ensure that your company is in compliance with the new EEOC sex discrimination guidance.

    4. Pearl*

      Speaking as someone who is closeted at work, I would freak out if someone walked up and asked if I’m a lesbian, so definitely stick with your instinct not to ask. Personally, I do not share this at work and would not want someone to ask because then it puts me in a position of instantly having to decide whether to lie (probably badly) or out myself.

      A rainbow or a safe space sticker would be a good step. I still probably wouldn’t talk to anybody about it, but I *would* feel slightly more comfortable around you.

      1. Lunch Meat*

        Thank you, I appreciate your input. I’ll go with just the sticker and keep my ears open for any hateful comments to respond to them.

    5. NacSacJack*

      Or a Safe Space sticker – its a pink triangle surrounded by a green circle – put out by AT&T in the 80s and still in use today.

    6. Tau*

      Yep, definitely Do Not Ask (says another queer person). However, something you *can* do is make sure to phrase discussions in such a way to ensure it doesn’t sound like you think everyone around you is straight. I have a hard time putting my finger on examples right now, but I find you can often *tell* if someone is assuming that nobody of the group they are talking about could possibly be listening even if they’re not being overtly rude and it is so, so uncomfortable. Last week, my senior coworker actually said something like “well, I’d know if we had any X in the department” where I am X and not out about X and it was agonizing and I almost shouted “not if they don’t TELL you about it you idiot” but I didn’t because a) neither diplomatic nor professional b) I am Narnia levels of closeted about X.

      anyway! Don’t do that sort of thing.

      Also, rainbows and suchlike can be a powerful symbol of support. Just – knowing that the person wants to support you and have your back. It can mean a lot.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Narnia levels of closeted! <3 I am delighted by your turn of phrase.

    7. Librarian Ish*

      Also queer, also closeted at work. Personally, I’d rather hear about you trying to make changes outside of work – yeah, I appreciate the moral support, but your “best wishes” only go so far, whereas voting might make some more substantial changes.

      I think what I can add that hasn’t been mentioned yet is just…acknowledge it? Seriously, I listened for days about Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech. Whereas I came in Monday to see a “Special Note” from our campus pastor (I work at a religious institution) about the events on Sunday…that turned out to be a devotional about the Stanley Cup. Felt like a gut punch. It seems only my queer friends are talking about it. Straight folks are silent. It hurts.

  62. Nunya*

    I manage a critical function in my department, but don’t have any direct reports. A newish person in a related department is tasked with helping me in a limited capacity, as well as being point on one particular aspect of the bigger workflow (which was decided on as part of this person’s hiring process).
    This person is very enthused and proactive, to the point of calling meetings to discuss the year in review as relates to the function, sending out manifestos stating her annoyance with not being allowed to take on more, etc.
    Her supervisor is capable, but new to managing a department, and maybe less confident in dealing with boundaries. My supervisor has little to do with the daily functions of my job, has no say over my ‘helper’, but can discuss bigger picture things with the other supervisors.
    We’re in academia, so hierarchy means a lot. If I don’t maintain a decent level of oversight, I might very well find myself managed from below, which sucks mightily and has happened to other people in my department.
    How do I check the pushy bossiness without crushing the enthusiasm or coming across like some of my job-hoarding colleagues? I’m pretty much at the end of my career trajectory, so I’m not worried about climbing the ranks, just being able to do what I do without being chivvied by a junior coworker.

    1. fposte*

      Can you be more specific about what she’s doing specifically to *you*? You can ignore manifestos and skip meetings, so I don’t see much need for pushback there.

  63. it will happen*

    I have a question and hope some can help me here – I have a friend / co-worker who has been here a long time – and over time she has been getting more and more negative about the company and about other coworkers to the point that is is getting really destructive. She is mid management and she says that all upper management and same level managers along with many lower level employees are dumb, don’t know what they are doing, do things wrong etc. She is never told anything, everything always falls on her and her department, everyone does everything so wrong that they just then have to fix everything. I have tried talking to her when she specifically brings things to me – I tell her she should talk to her supervisor, the other co-worker, the other manager etc – I tell her she should give suggestions and feedback on how to make the process or procedure better. At that point she will generally say it won’t do any good, she isn’t listened to and throw her hands up. I have told her that I am trying to be a positive person and don’t want to listen to negativity but the problem is she has an office near mine and I can hear her (with out straining to hear) bashing people all the time.

    I am at the point now where I think that what she is doing is hurting others and the company enough that I need to have one final very direct conversation with her – and am ready to do that. I want to stress that she is a manager and cannot act this way. Any suggestions for talking points that might get through to her? She is very good at saying what someone wants to hear in the moment and then doing what she wants. I imagine if she gets mad enough at me she will just tone it down so I don’t hear it and probably ignore me after that – so then the behaviour will just go on.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t see where having yet another talk with her is going to change anything; she already knows you don’t like it, that’s not changing her, and it’s not your job to bring her around. I think your choice is either to share your concerns with somebody higher–your manager would be a good possibility–or to detach from the issue.

  64. Help!*

    I have very good reason to believe that my department will be laid off by the end of the year, so I am actively job searching. It was time to anyway, I’m bored and don’t feel challenged 95% of the time. I’ve always wanted to go to law school, but have been warned off for many reasons and my current career trajectory (not necessarily one I want to be in) doesn’t necessarily require grad school but I love the idea of learning but the idea of paying just to go doesn’t make sense.

    That said, I just don’t know what to apply for. I’m not interested in continuing to work in my industry (employee benefits) unless I did go to law school and eventually moved into an attorney role because I enjoy that side of it. That said I don’t really love what I do today but I’ve been promoted three times in three years because I’m good at it. My management continually gives me clients where the relationship is floundering, I turn it around and have an excellent track record of getting multi-year contracts signed when there have been threats to leave entirely. I like the part of my job that requires relationship building but I don’t know how to effectively translate this skill to paper and I second guess every application I think about sending because I feel like I don’t meet any of the qualifications.

    How do I get over this feeling of incompetency and figure out the direction I want to take

    1. Dawn*

      “I like the part of my job that requires relationship building”

      Look into client manager positions. Those can be sales-based or those can be more hand-holding, but either way there’s an absolute need for people who are good at relationship building, and the fact you said ” I turn it around and have an excellent track record of getting multi-year contracts signed when there have been threats to leave entirely”… ohhhhhhh my god that is GOLD right there.

      But yeah, start looking around for client manager or client relationship manager positions and go from there, I’ll bet you’ll find some interesting stuff!

    2. MsMaryMary*

      I agree that a relationship manager type role might be a good fit if you like the client interaction piece. Look for client manager, client service director, account executive, relationship manager, etc

      There are also a lot of compliance-related roles that don’t require a law degree. Especially if you have or are willing to get adesignation like a CEBS, or something more specialized like a HIPAA certification.

      1. asteramella*

        Definitely look into compliance positions. There are a ton of interesting options in the employee benefits space. I work in that type of role and love keeping on top of the ADA, EEOC wellness regulations, ERISA, HHS ACA regulations, and so on. I am not a lawyer but have always been interested in law.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I mean… if you directly report and they have the authority to manager your workload, schedule etc. they aren’t your peer, they’re your manager regardless of title or pay.

      1. Malachite*

        Thanks for confirming. This person isn’t my manager but tries to do all of that and I’m starting to push back but I don’t know where to start. My actual manager knows but doesn’t try to stop it.

    2. Megs*

      I guess it depends? At my job, I’ve been increasingly put in positions where I’m overseeing other people’s work, but I don’t have a different title or get paid more or anything so I suppose that more or less makes me a peer? It’s kind of stressful and I’d honestly rather have the formal authority but that’s just how my workplace operates.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe we need a little more to go on?
      If you are a new hire, then it could be that she has been assigned to train or watch you.

      OTH, this could be a know-it-all who sticks her nose into everything.

      It’s hard to tell based on what you here, but yes, I have had plenty of people who were not my boss help me get launched in a new job or new project on a job. This happens when it is just not practical to have the new hire wait for the boss to be available.

      And there are times where I have had to say, “Bob is my boss, so I will go with what he tells me to do.”
      Not sure what applies to your setting. Hope this helps a little at any rate.

  65. Katniss*

    I have a question that I’m just curious about:

    What reasons do offices have to ban eating at desks, if the job isn’t client facing? It’s something I’m really baffled by.

        1. bb-great*

          No, but it’s easier to clean one room super thoroughly for food waste than an entire office.

        2. CMT*

          Yeah, but if food is only in kitchens it’s a lot easier to contain and police messiness.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        This is why eating outside the break room was outright banned (and enforced) at my last job and is highly discouraged at my current one. Most employees at my current job do eat in their offices anyway (break room has one table and four chairs, plus a couch that seats 3, for about 100 staff members).

    1. Excel Slayer*

      Insects? Smells? Fear of desks not being clean enough? Worry that employees will be eating when they should be working? Fear of someone with an allergy reacting to something?

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Maybe wanting people to actually take a lunch away from work? Either so that they’ll actually take a break, or so that they don’t risk overtime or folks leaving early because they worked through lunch?

    3. Belle*

      We want our employees to be less accessible on lunch (our state requires you to take an uninterrupted lunch break for hourly employees) and we don’t want people asking questions while they are on lunch. Smells, allergies, insects, mice, etc also played into our decision not to allow it.

    4. Pwyll*

      I worked somewhere that made you leave the building for lunch unless you had a medical reason not to (there was a big food court across the street). The rumor was that they were sued for people reading e-mails during lunch and not getting paid for it, so the company made the heavy handed decision to make that impossible.

    5. Rebecca*

      I hope my employer doesn’t do this. I have no other place to eat, and if I wasn’t allowed to eat at my desk, I’d have to go outside and find a spot, regardless of the weather. That would be fun in the winter months in the Northeast.

      1. Laura*

        Same here, except it’s well over 100 degrees for a good chunk of the year. I wouldn’t want to go outside for lunch and come back dripping in sweat.

        I’m pretty solitary and prefer eating alone at my desk.

  66. Ann Furthermore*

    So…I’m actively job searching. My department is going to get outsourced in the next couple years, plus the whole place has taken on a real “corporate overlord” feel in the last few months since the old CEO retired.

    There’s a great company in my city with a fantastic reputation. It’s very large, nationally known, with at least 5000 employees. There are several job postings that I qualify for. I’ve submitted my resume for 3. At what point do I start looking desperate? They’re all similar (Senior Business Analyst, Senior Business Systems Analyst, Senior Staff Systems Analyst, etc) so it’s not like I’m taking a scattershot approach and applying for everything from Staff Accountant to Marketing Manager or something like that. If there are many similar sounding positions that you feel you qualify for, is it OK to apply for all of them? Or should you pick and choose?

    1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I don’t know if there is a limit, per se…but I personally don’t think that I would apply for more than 2-3 in a short period of time, even though they are similar.

      I think you’re fine where you’re at right now, but if you apply to anything else, I would be *very* carefully considering if it is what you want to do, and if you are truly qualified.

  67. Browneyedgirl*

    So, after four years as an intern I was structurally laid off in December. I applied everywhere. I finally found a new job in May. I was sent for a week of training out of town and had tickets for another week of training. I worked twelve hour days my first week in the office to help get things back on track… And then after only nine days in my new office the company’s contract in my city was canceled. I stayed on one more week to help shut down the office, but now I’m unemployed again and I’m just so freaking tired. I don’t know what to do. I’ve applied to jobs in my field, related jobs, and completely unrelated jobs. I just want something stable. Suggestions?

    1. AnoninTexas*

      This isn’t the answer you’re looking for, but what about substitute teaching? It’ll pay the bills until something comes through. Try public and private schools. If you have a degree and no criminal record, you’ll get a job. And if you have an interview, you just tell them you can’t sub on that day. Good luck.

  68. Typo*

    Today is my last day at my current job and for the past few days I’ve been sitting in on interviews with candidates for my replacement. I told one candidate to email me any questions about my position because we ran out of time for questions during the interview because another interviewer was running late. She sent me an email with standard questions about the position that I’m happy to answer and also asked “off the record” if I enjoy working with my supervisors. Honestly, there are mixed things I could say on that topic (things I definitely would have liked to know going into this job) but I definitely don’t want to say anything negative about my bosses or the company on my company email address (which they will have access to after I’m gone).

    Should I just ignore the question? Respond in an extremely generic way? Encourage her to contact me via phone? I want to be honest, but I don’t want to damage my relationship with my supervisors as references over this. So far this candidate is not the front runner for the position, but has not been eliminated from the running, so there is a chance that it may be offered to her.

    1. alice*

      Can’t you say something truthful while hinting at the negatives? If, for example, the job requires long hours, you could say, “Putting in 100% all the time is extremely valued.” Or if communication between departments is bad, you could say, “Initiative to get things done is vital to your success here.”

    2. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

      You could frame it as a positive. “The supervisory style is great for someone who works well independently and values autonomy” vs “the supervisory style is great for someone who likes close collaboration with management.” “He is a great manager for someone who works best when things are flexible and works well making changes on the fly” vs “he is a great manager for someone who values predictability and works well with established systems.”

      1. Overeducated*

        Haha, I had to do that for prospective grad students working with my advisor. “Her supervisory style is best for people who prefer to work very independently and shape their own projects.” “Oh, I like working independently!” “I mean REALLY, REALLY independently. Oh, and it’s best if you come in with your own data source because Advisor doesn’t do the type of work grad students can collaborate on.” (They never really seem to get that that’s a warning! But most of the ones I tried to warn have tried to switch advisors after a year or two, except for the one who actually did come in with her own data source and would probably do the work on her own as a hobby if she could.)

    3. Christopher Tracy*

      Have her call you. Then you can be honest without badmouthing your employer or saying anything in email they wouldn’t like.