open thread – June 24-25, 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 :)

{ 1,277 comments… read them below }

  1. legalchef*

    Second interview Monday! Wish me luck!

    Two questions, assuming they make me an offer and I decide to take it:

    1 – I am contemplating trying to use the new offer as leverage to get promoted here. The new job would be a lateral move for what my job title and job description is, but I am currently doing the work of the job above mine but my supervisor won’t promote me. Has anyone successfully done that? If so, how? Or is it not recommended?

    2 – How do you give notice (I’ve been at this job my whole working life, so have never given notice anywhere)? Just make an appt with your supervisor and say “I’m leaving for a new job, my last day will be X”? The last person who gave notice said that the supervisor asked her if there was anything that could be done differently to make her
    stay. Would that be where I would say “yes, you could promote me to the job I am actually doing”?

    (Yes, I know I am getting ahead of myself, but depending on how the interview goes there is a chance they might make an offer before the next open thread, since they seem to be moving pretty quickly through the process)

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I leveraged an offer into a counter-offer pay raise once, but the conventional wisdom is not to do it. It doesn’t make the underlying problem that had you job searching go away and it can lead to a lot of bitterness on both sides.

      As for resigning, pretty much just how you described it. Negotiate your last day and then put it in a letter or email.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        What if the underlying problem that had you job searching was “these people don’t pay me enough”?

        Or is the thought that the next time you want a raise you will also have to play counteroffer chicken?

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Yes. There’s a reason they’re not giving you what you want: perhaps they can’t afford it, they don’t believe you deserve it, they don’t give raises, etc. That doesn’t change just because you backed them into a corner once.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            What Victoria said.

            In my case it worked out. They actually put some thought into what things would be like if I left and decided they didn’t like what they were contemplating. The raise came with a gradual attitude shift and that’s pretty rare.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Yeah, my husband very strongly considered taking a counteroffer when he changed jobs this spring. But the offer wasn’t just financial – it was moving him into a different part of the company, with a different manager, etc.

            2. Legalchef*

              That’s kinda what I’m looking would happen. I have so much more experience than anyone else in my department, so it would be a big loss if I left.

        2. Legalchef*

          Yes, this is basically my issue. I either want to do the work I am supposed to be doing under my job, or get the title/pay for the work I am actually doing. Unless I leave or get a promotion, I’m going to be stuck doing more than I’m “supposed to” forever.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          One article I read said most people who do accept the counter offer and decide to stay end up leaving a while later. The reason for leaving was lack of respect. Just because a company is giving a larger paycheck does not mean basic respect and decency suddenly falls into place. It’s not all about the rate of pay and that becomes crystal clear after a raise.

          This made a lot of sense to me. Now I think about it as, “Don’t ask for a raise and expect the company to treat you better. If they treat you crappy, a raise will not fix that.”

    2. chocolate lover*

      When I gave notice a couple years ago, I went in to my boss’ office and asked if she had a few minutes to talk, and simply said I had decided to accept another position. In my case, it was a different position in the same organization, that overlapped with our office. I did tell her some of my motivations, and having been in my existing position for along time, it was clearly a growth opportunity for me to be using my skills, but also doing new things. She didn’t ask if there was anything she could do to keep me, and really, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

    3. M*

      Good luck on the second interview! Yes, once you have received the offer (in writing, not just verbal), and have accepted, set up a meeting with your current manager to discuss. You can phrase it as, I have really enjoyed the opportunity to learn and thrive on your team which has helped me prepare to take the next step in my career at this organization by taking X role.

    4. Brett*

      Don’t try to leverage the offer into a promotion.
      They should have promoted you when they had the chance.

      For giving notice, just tell your supervisor you need to talk with them in their office and tell them. Other than giving them notice, your priority should be setting the plan for you to transition out. e.g. what documentation or cross-training is needed, how you are going to wrap up your current work, etc That transition plan is what will keep you employed until you are done with your notice period.

      As for the what could be done different plan, treat that as feedback, not asks. If anything, talk about what the new role offers to you, not what your current role did not give you to keep you there.

      1. Legalchef*

        “They should have promoted you when they had a chance.”

        I like that! That’s totally true.

        Part of me wanting to stay is that I really like my staff and coworkers, and have many years of “street cred” built up. I’m basically the in-office go-to for questions related to my field. The idea of starting over somewhere else is scary!

        1. toa*

          Have you already tried your “one last time” ask for a promotion? If you are one foot out the door anyway, can’t hurt to give them one last chance to give you a serious path to promotion. It’s like a reverse counter-offer – ask for what you want, then tell them about your offer (later, when you get it). I can’t remember if I read it here or someone else, but the idea was that when you ask for a promotion, it’s implied you might start looking if you don’t get it, so you don’t need the “threat” of another explicit offer to have leverage negotiating for a promotion.

          1. Legalchef*

            Ha. The first time I brought up the promotion I also implied that there are a lot of opportunities in my field and that I might start looking otherwise and she said “I don’t see the need for it. That doesn’t mean I want you to go, but people need to do what they think is best.” Sooooo she doesn’t want me to go but doesn’t really care if I stay.

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              Sooooo she doesn’t want me to go but doesn’t really care if I stay.

              All the more reason for you to go if you get an offer. Working for an ambivalent manager is not going to get you where you need to or want to be career-wise.

            2. YaH*

              Yeah, she’s basically telling you “she’s just not into you”. Not enough to further invest in your working relationship, at least.

      2. Artemesia*

        This. There are settings (Academia comes to mind) where it is routine to use offers to get raises and there is no penalty for doing so; these places tend to only pay superstars well and those who then get other offers can ask for the moon. But in most businesses, a person who does this is perceived as ‘gone’ and once they do it they are often replaced down the road even if they took the counter offer. If you are frustrated enough to look then take the other offer if it is a good one rather than accepting a counter offer from a place that already didn’t value you enough to care when they thought you had no choice.

    5. Liana*

      The general wisdom is not to use a job offer as leverage at your current one, for all the reasons ExceptionToTheRule states. If your job wanted to promote you, they would do it. If you’d like to stay at your current job, have you asked your supervisor about a promotion? If you’re generally unhappy and are thinking of greener pastures, I’d recommend leaving.

      As for giving notice, the past two times I’ve done it (including the notice I gave just two days ago!) I just walked to my manager’s office and asked to speak to her for a minute, then explained that I accepted another position. You could say something like “I wanted to let you know that I’ve decided to accept another position as a Teapot Designer at Chocolate Teapots, Inc. I’d like my last day to be July 3, 2019. Is there anything you’d like me specifically to do to help transition the job to the next person?” and go from there. I’ve been lucky in that the last two times I’ve given notice, my managers were wonderfully understanding, but use whatever phrasing feels appropriate to your relationship with your supervisor.

      1. Legalchef*

        Yes, I’ve had that conversation with her twice. She recognizes the work I am doing and appreciates what a team player I am. But doesn’t see the need to promote me (because why promote someone when they will just do the work anyway???).

        1. Liana*

          In that case, if you’re angling for a promotion and your current place won’t give it to you, you should just leave. They may have legitimate reasons for not promoting you, they may not. But if that’s what you want and your company doesn’t have it, you should find a company that does.

          1. Legalchef*

            Hm that does make sense. The move I’m making would be lateral, but I wouldn’t be expected to be doing all the extra I am doing. Part of this is my fault I suppose, since during my entire time there I’ve done more than my job. But it’s been made clear to me that if I scale back I would no longer be a team player.

        2. Jaydee*

          If the lack of promotion is truly the only thing that is leading you to look elsewhere, then you might consider having a slightly more direct conversation with your manager about what not being promoted means. Essentially let her know that you *aren’t* going to continue doing the work without a promotion. Let her know you see three potential options – you keep same title and salary and go back to doing the work of that position, you get a promotion to match the work you are actually doing, or you start thinking about options outside the company. If she still says no to the promotion, then you can go forward with your job search feeling confident that if you get an offer for a better job you should take it and that your manager shouldnt be too shocked when you give notice.

    6. SL #2*

      Make an appointment with your manager, tell her privately that you’ve accepted another job offer, make plans for your transition… and then make sure that when you go back to your desk, you type it all out and then email her the doc. It’s just good practice, not because you think your supervisor will “conveniently forget” everything, but it’s nice to have a checklist of things you should both take care of before your last day. Even if she doesn’t look at it, it’s something you can reference during your notice period.

      1. zora.dee*

        Yes to writing everything down after the meeting.
        Giving notice sort of depends on your office, I have given notice in writing/email in certain places, where I just knew they needed something more formal, or it would go over better. And then had the face-to-face conversation as a follow up. But in most cases, what everyone described above, telling them in person, is ideal.

        1. designbot*

          I’ve always just kept the official letter as short and sweet as possible–I’ve accepted another offer, my last day will be X, thank you for the opportunity. You guys probably didn’t mean this literally, but I wouldn’t put *everything* discussed in the letter.

          1. zora.dee*

            You are right. The letter was basically 2-3 sentences. It was just to start the process with certain employers.

            The writing down I meant is, after you have the conversation about a transition plan, writing all of that out in an email form and sending it to them, so that you know that both of you are on the same page throughout the process.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            That is all I have ever put in my letters. Do be sure to thank them.
            Just my opinion, if it goes beyond a few sentences the letter is too long.

            And it sounds like you and your boss have said everything each of you needs to say:
            You: I’d like a promotion to match the work I do.
            Boss: No, thanks. I’m good here.

            That’s an open and shut conversation, if you think about it.

          3. SL #2*

            Oh, definitely not. The letter itself should be clear and to the point, but either in the body of the email or after a different meeting, there needs to be a written transition plan, even if it ends up being just for the OP to use as a checklist as she prepares to move on.

    7. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Don’t do #1 unless you really, really love your job and workplace. Many people who accept a counter offer from their current employer end up leaving within 6 months to a year anyway because the reason for wanting to leave is still there. Plus now you have some resentment from your managers and co-workers. I had two friends that did this. One left within 3 months the other turned in her notice 1 year to the day after she agreed to the counter-offer. Both places treated them like crap after and all of the things they were not happy with became significantly worse. The one who left after 3 months actually had her supervisor write in a performance review that he didn’t feel she deserved the new pay rate/promotion because she went behind his back and blackmailed him into it”. She walked out.

      1. Legalchef*

        That’s good to think about too. It’s a really tough call. I wish I could leave and take my staff with me.

        1. Windchime*

          Sometimes people follow good managers. You might be surprised; maybe some of your staff will follow to the new awesome position that you are likely to get.

          Best of luck to you! I’m in a similar position; it’s scary to look for a new job.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        People in my industry take counters all the time and I still agree with you. I have yet to see someone take a counter and NOT leave within a year anyway.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I’m now 4 years post accepting the counter-offer and just signed a new 3 year contract that came with a substantial raise and the time of job recognition that Legalchef is looking for. It’s very, very rare.

    8. Christina*

      I just gave my notice this week without anything lined up (I’ve got some stuff in the works, but it’s not official yet), and was essentially given a counter-offer that included not reporting to my current manager (which was at the top of my issues with my position), but I’m still moving on. To echo what others have said, there’s a reason you were looking in the first place, go with your gut.

      As for how to give notice, I also just asked my boss if we could talk in the conference room (she basically just has a cube, so no privacy) and said “After a lot of thought, I wanted to let you know I’m giving my two weeks notice. I know this didn’t work out the way we would have liked, but I think the best decision at this point is for me to move on,” and then *stopped talking* to let her respond. But I had a somewhat contentious relationship with my boss, and I have a tendency to ramble, so this might not fit your situation exactly.

    9. moss*

      I’ve done this twice now, totally by accident. Interviewed and was offered by another company, put in my notice (via email) and my company immediately counteroffered and changed my title etc. I think this would be a long shot for you though unless you’re in a very in-demand field and you know your company is looking for people with your skills.

      But if you do try to leverage this, just put in your notice and see what happens. If you have a chance to leverage, they will come back and ask you what it would take to keep you. If they don’t then I don’t think it’s goingto work out for you.

    10. em2mb*

      I accepted a counteroffer once. I’m not sure if I’d do it again.

      The situation was I found out I was making 20 percent than a male coworker with less experience, at a state university where salaries were a matter of public record. I actually think the reasons had more to do with our individual hiring circumstances (he was brought on at the beginning of a grant, I was brought in as a mid-year replacement, etc.) than intentional discrimination, and when I tried to point out to my boss that This Looked Really Bad, her response was basically they were hoping I wouldn’t find out. So even though I liked the work, I immediately started looking. The nature of our work meant I would more than likely need to move if I changed jobs.

      What I really wanted was to go back to my hometown, City A , but no one was hiring there. So I settled on City B, which was essentially the halfway point between where I was working (City C) and where I wanted to be working. I was fine with moving to City B, and a shop offered me what my male coworker was making right off the bat. I told my manager I was leaving, and she surprised me by going to her boss and getting me a small raise. It wasn’t *quite* parity, but it was enough that I was willing to stay. I knew a competitor in my city was interested in hiring me, but it would be about a year before a job opened up.

      Things deteriorated, as you might expect, long before the other job in City C materialized. My boss didn’t trust me after that (she was really into “loyalty”) and became intensely critical of my work, though I was winning top industry awards. By some miracle, a job in City A opened up, and they made me the same offer I’d gotten in City B. I took it, and didn’t look back. So it all worked out, but if it hadn’t, then I don’t know where I’d be. I absolutely wouldn’t still want to be in City C at the competitor’s shop having to interact with my old manager semi-regularly.

      TL;DR – if it’s a small industry, consider what larger ramifications counter offering could have. I did damage my reputation somewhat with the shop in City B, with whom I work with regularly now, because I told them I wanted to stay in City C only to leave six months later.

    11. Donkey!*

      So, back in April I had interviews with two jobs – Best Co, which is the single best career move I could make right now, and Good Enough Co, for a position that would be good for my career trajectory. Good Enough Co offered me the job, and I took some time to think about it (and hopefully hear back from Best Co). After not hearing from Best Co, I took the offer from Good Enough Co and started in late May.

      I got a call today from Best Co, apologizing for and explaining the delay, and offering me the job!

      I’ve read AAM’s advice on this sort of situation, and believe that it falls in the category of “a once in a lifetime offer that you may never get again”, so I’ve decided to take Best Co’s offer. I feel bad for how this will impact Good Enough Co, and I’m well aware that the bridge will be burned, but I CANNOT pass up Best Co’s offer.

      I don’t know how to tell Good Enough Co. I feel so bad. I’m thinking about telling them that I’m sorry but it’s just not a good match, which is not far from the truth. I’m bored out of my freakin’ gourd here, and can’t envision staying long term anyway.

      Ugh. I just wish Best Co had gotten their shit together all the way back in April.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Here’s why I would think is the best way to handle it.

        Give decent notice.
        Apologize sincerely, express sympathy.
        Do everything in your power to leave things in a good state.
        Offer to help recruit new candidates among your own network.

        And next time, take the offer from Good Enough Co. over to Best Co. and say, “They’ve given me an offer. I would SO much rather work with you. Can you speed things up?”

        Though, if they can’t move quickly enough, they may assume that they can’t come back to you when they’re finally ready.

    12. orchidsandtea*

      Luck! #1, generally it’s advised against, because you’ll still be overworked and underappreciated, and now they’ll know you aren’t “loyal”. Often leads to a layoff later, or you leaving anyway because you discover the problems are about more than money and title.

      #2, no idea. In fact, related question: How does one propose a long notice period? I don’t have an offer yet, but I want a new job, and there’s nothing they can do to keep me, because the role I want doesn’t exist in this company. But for our company, it would greatly help my boss if I can give 4-12 weeks notice, and I’m happy to — in exchange for using him as a good reference, and for permission to schedule interviews during work hours.

    13. TootsNYC*

      I once leveraged an opportunity–not even an offer–into a bonus.

      I went to my boss and said, “This is a weird conversation, bcs it’s not ‘I’m quitting for a new job,’ and it’s not even, ‘Give me a raise so I don’t take this new job.’ They haven’t even offered it to me. But they called me out of the blue for the interview, and I went, and I think I have a really good shot at it. But I’m not going to pursue it, because I like this job.
      “They’re a startup, and the hours are going to be horrendous, and I’ll have to create a reputation and working relationships from scratch. Here, you’ve made serious headway in eliminating overtime.
      “I thought that I should let you know that your strategy is keeping me here–it’s successful, it’s working. And you deserve that acknowledgement. Plus, in behavior modification terms, if I want you to keep it up, I should reward you, right?
      “I also wanted you to know what you have. My reputation outside the company, and my credentials, are so good that they called -me- to come interview.”

      My boss said, “I hear everything that you are saying,” and a week later, she and the big boss called me in to say, “Here’s $1,000. We are so glad you work here.”

  2. Daniel*

    I feel like I owe a debt of gratitude to Ask A Manager and the person who insisted I started reading it. Two and a half months ago I started applying for engineering jobs in my specialty and also started reading AaM. While I’ve had lots of jobs during school, obviously a professional job search is a little different. Well, 103 applications (I was willing to move anywhere in the US) later, today is moving day for my top choice of location and dream job. I’m moving from the state I grew up in (Alabama, eww) all the way to Seattle. I don’t think I would have made it through the madness of the job search without the emotional support and advice I’ve found from reading every day and going through as much of the archives as time, my thesis and my job search have allowed. So, thanks. I definitely feel like I would not have been nearly as prepared for interviewing and such without AaM!

    1. Spice for this*

      Congrats! Wish you the best in Seattle.
      I always recommend AAM to everyone and I hope to hear from them with good news like yours!

    2. Manders*

      From one transplant to another, welcome to Seattle! Good luck on your apartment hunt, I’d be happy to answer questions about neighborhoods and whatnot if you have any.

    3. motherofdragons*

      This gave me all the warm fuzzies. I echo your feelings of gratitude for the excellence of Alison and the AAM community. Congratulations on your new job and move! I hope everything goes swimmingly for you!

    4. Elle*

      That is amazing! So glad it worked out for you. I have no doubt Alison appreciates the feedback!

    5. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Congrats on the job and I hope you don’t forget “Roll Tide!” after you move to Seattle.

      1. periwinkle*

        Or better yet, assimilate fully and “SeaHAWWWKS!” (I moved here from DC which I had thought was obsessed with its NFL team… nope, not by comparison)

        Hey OP, if you want relocation advice, pop into the weekend open thread and ask away.

        1. GlorifiedPlumber*

          God you should have seen the # of 12 flags up to and post Superbowl. Could barely see a darn thing on the freeway.

          Ohh right, OP… in the PNW they’re called “Freeways” not “Highways.” Only midwestern/southern transplants like my wife call them “Highways.”

          1. Windchime*

            Yes, and don’t ever call it “The 405”. That’s how Californian’s talk; here, we just say “405”. Same with I5; it’s not “THE I5”.

            Just a little tip :)

            1. MommaCat*

              Further correction: that’s how Southern Californians talk. Nor Cal folk don’t add “the” unless we’re talking about specifically So Cal freeways (like “the 405”).

    6. GlorifiedPlumber*

      Welcome to the PNW! It is different (in a fantastic way) than Alabama. I can’t think of many other places where you will find cool folks, inland ocean, pacific coast ocean beaches, rivers, mountains, high desert, rain forests, wine, beer, etc. all within driving distance!

      If you like beer, take a day this weekend (Sunday looks like it will be nicer) and hit up Fremont Brewing. If you can walk after, hit up the Jolly Roger Taproom in Ballard! Seattle is a cool town! These are just TWO of many excellent breweries!

      Get out and explore the PNW a bit too this summer. It is going to be a BEAUTIFUL summer in Oregon, come down to PDX. Hit up the coast, hit up Bend. Head out to the Olympics in Washington and check them out. Head up to Bellingham then head south a bit and do a weekend in the San Juan Islands.

      Welcome to the PNW man!

      1. Honeybee*

        Me and some of my coworkers try to hit up a different brewery every month (although we did take a hiatus for a couple months). We’re not even done with the Eastside yet. I’ve yet to visit a bad one, too.

    7. Windchime*

      I hear Alabama is lovely, but so is Seattle. I hope you love it here; it’s a great city with a lot going on for it. Traffic can be a major headache, but if you are fortunate to live close to work or on a good bus line, you might be just fine.

      Best of luck! And welcome to the PNW!

    8. Honeybee*

      Congratulations, and welcome (soon) to Seattle! I moved here 10 months ago to start a job as well, and I love it!

  3. ACA*

    Earlier this week I heard my overboss leave this voice message: “Joe! It’s 3:15pm in [office]! It’s probably 3:15pm in your office too! [Other professor] and I are hanging out here waiting for you! Guess we’ll catch up with you later!” Oh, to be tenured faculty and be able to get away with things like that.

      1. ACA*

        Nothing, I just thought it was hilarious – and as mid-level staff, I could never get away with leaving a voicemail more annoyed-sounding than “Hi Joe, we were supposed to meet at 3pm – hope everything’s okay! Let me know if you’re free to meet another time!”

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          My favorite was a professor who said, “I’m done with this meeting” and just got up and left about halfway through.

        2. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

          Another possibility is that this isn’t coming from a position of power, but from a position of fear/precariousness. I’m a junior faculty member. Even when I am really annoyed with students about things like blowing off meetings, I have to be really tentative in how I approach them (Hi X, We had an appointment scheduled for 2p today, it is currently 2:10p. Please let me know if something has come up and we will need to reschedule. Thank you.) because their end-of-semester evaluations of me play a large role in whether or not I will continue to have a job here.

          Sometimes “humor” and “casualness” is the only way you can try to address something that is actually a problem without explicitly calling out someone in a position of power over you.

          1. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

            ETA: Although now I see that this guy is *tenured* so yeah he can do whatever he wants. I aspire to this! Life goals!

          2. ACA*

            In this case my overboss was very much in the position of power, but you’re right, I hadn’t thought about that possibility.

        3. Meg Murry*

          Ah, I thought you were saying you were envious of Joe – that he was tenured faculty and therefore wasn’t going to have repercussions for blowing off the meeting like non-tenured faculty or staff members could.

          I’m always amazed/amused at the kind of “quirky” “Oh, you know Joe” behavior some older professors get away with.

          1. Rye-Ann*

            Heh, this reminds me of my research advisor in school. I liked him a lot, but he was very busy. Sometimes my meetings with him would be double-booked. Occasionally I would show up for a meeting we were supposed to have, only to find out he was in Canada! (We are in the US.) I also had multiple other faculty forget about meetings with me.

        4. Lily in NYC*

          Oh, I get it now!! I totally misread it and thought they were buddies with the other professor and that you were upset because they were joking around on the phone. Although I have to admit that I would say something like that to a coworker who missed a meeting (but not in a serious tone).

          1. Irishgal*

            I thought it was a “Joe the sun’s over the yard arm in your office too…why aren’t you here having beers with us” call and OP was saying “oh to be the boss and have Friday pm beers” ☺

        5. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

          As a low-level staff member, if I left a message like that for a faculty member or even another staff member, I would be fired on the spot (or at least get one heck of a write-up).

    1. dear liza dear liza*

      I’ve totally left those kinds of voicemails if I know the colleague well. We all have times when our brains flake or our calendars fail us; a humorous, “Hey, we’re here, where are you?” is okay.

  4. The Other Dawn*

    A friend of mine works at a bank. The bank she’s at now bought the bank she worked at for several years and it became final in January. She was one of several people that were selected to come to the new bank, and one of only two in her department (Deposit Operations). She’s at the same level she was at before. Basically, it’s mid-range with no supervisory responsibilities. Come in, do your job, go home sort of thing.

    For the last six months all I’ve heard from her is that the job she was hired for takes her about a half hour a day. When there’s a bank holiday, it stretches to maybe an hour. And that’s it. By 9 am, sometimes earlier, she has nothing to do. She’s someone who thrives on being busy, so she’s always asking her boss and others in the department if there’s something she can do. What they gave her was basically just flagging customers in the system for returned mail. Maybe a couple other similar things, but that’s it. She’s pretty bored most of the time and really dreads coming into work. Needless to say, she’s ready to walk out—I warned her against that and I know she’s really just venting her frustration.

    Apparently the other day several people in her department were talking about the product directly related to her position, but they didn’t involve her in the conversation. And this week the website she needs to do her job was down on Monday and Tuesday, so the boss did the work—the boss was able to access the website through the disaster recovery process. On Wednesday the website was back up, but the boss did the work again. I told my friend to ask the boss about it. The boss’s response was that she “got used to doing it so just did it.” Really? After two days? Doesn’t make sense to me, but whatever.

    We’ve talked a lot about it over the last six months and I’ve coached her on how to approach her boss, what to ask, etc. Based on all the conversations she’s had with the boss, there are no concerns about her performance, she’s doing great, yada yada yada.

    As a manager, this whole situation just doesn’t make sense at all. Why would you create a position—a “specialist” position—and then not give them any work having to do with that position? Seems to me like the actual “specialist” work could be absorbed into another position. (FYI, “specialist” in banking is sometimes a generic title; it usually means that you deal with one particular area.) Seems like a total waste of money to have someone there not doing any real work. For the longest time I’ve felt that the new bank had an agreement with the old bank to hire a certain a number of people, which have to be retained for a certain time period. In my mind, that’s the only thing that explains this whole situation.

    I have a feeling that a lay off is coming for her and she definitely cannot afford to be out of work; unemployment wouldn’t be enough. She’s started a job search, so I’m happy about that.

    Am I missing something? Is there something I haven’t thought of? Any suggestions on anything else she can say to her manager that might produce some results?

    1. Anna No Mouse*

      I can relate to your friend. I’m often in the position of not having enough work to do. I work 3 days a week, and am off Mondays and Thursday. I love coming in on Tuesdays because I am busy for most or all of the 8 1/2 hours I’m in the office. Wednesdays and Fridays I am often searching for work, which is a problem because we are consultants and 100% or my time, or close to it, needs to be billable to our clients.

    2. Girasol*

      Sympathies without much for an answer. I’ve seen that remarkably often: a manager who says “We’re SO busy” but underloads people so badly that they whisper among themselves wondering what they’re supposed to do. Asking the boss results in “Oh, there’s PLENTY of work for everyone!” yet no specifics on what that work could be and rejection of any ideas the employees offer. After asking several times and catching the boss’s “You’re beginning to annoy me now” frown, people shut up and act really busy. That seems to keep the cycle going. I don’t understand why this is so prevalent. Is it a bureaucratic thing? All I’ve found for it is to use the spare time for training, if there’s an opportunity to do so, and quietly look into finding a more capable manager. When layoffs are looming, a manager who thinks everyone is SO busy may be coached into seeing who’s underloaded. Then the ones who sincerely tried to do more work can be labelled slackers and exited. So if this is a long term pattern and not just a dull month, IMHO it’s best to move on.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        She said everyone else in the department is busy except for her, which is why I’m thinking this position was created because of an agreement with the bank that was bought. I feel bad for her, because she hasn’t been able to find anything to even apply to yet. Banking jobs with her area of expertise are sometimes few and far between, unfortunately.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Not that I’m aware of. I don’t think she really would want to do anything else, but it could come to that if she wants out bad enough. I know what it’s like to dread going to work, and I definitely feel for her.

            1. zora.dee*

              Yeah, I get that she doesn’t ‘want out bad enough’ yet, but as you said above, what happens if they lay her off? She might be better off in the long run widening her net now and trying to find something, rather than waiting for them to lay her off and then being stressed out trying to job hunt.

              Someone who stuck it out way too long in a job I hated, being a slacker about job hunting, and then being surprised with a layoff and ending up on unemployment for 6+ months, and wished I’d been more proactive about leaving.

              1. Artemesia*

                The red flags are waving. She needs to have a strategy to get more work where she is AND be looking hard for another position.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I agree. I work for a company that serves the financial industry. Lots of people with banking backgrounds here. There are plenty of things someone with those skills can do that don’t actually involve working in a bank.

                2. Christopher Tracy*

                  Agreed. My mom’s dealing with a similar problem right now (she keeps asking her manager for work, but doesn’t get it), and I truly believe they’re getting ready to lay her off. I’m constantly sending her job descriptions and telling her to up her job search, but there’s only so much you can do when someone just isn’t ready to see the writing on the wall yet.

    3. AnonForTodayBecauseReasons*

      I know this feeling so much. I’m already able to do my job in about 20hrs/week and now as soon as a new EA is hired, I’ll be losing a chunk of my workload to that person, so I’m going to be struggling even more to be busy all day. Asking for more work hasn’t really resulted in more actual work. So I feel for your friend. Really the only thing she can do is cast a wider net in jobs to apply for.

      1. TootsNYC*

        And in the meantime, look for ways to add value. And online training in the downtime.

    4. Ife*

      Yes, this is super-frustrating. I was in the same situation of being able to do my job in about an hour a day, and then having to “look busy” and hunt down/beg off work. It is better now, in that most days I have about 4 hours of work… And we also have to track all of our hours so we can bill clients, so “timesheet time” is always fun.

      It looks like your friend is doing all she can — asking for more work and looking for a new job. She’s not exactly in a position where she can just make up her own tasks and do them, unfortunately. Really the only solution, if her manager is not bothered by her lack of work, is to find a new job.

    5. CMT*

      She should start looking for a new job! Especially if she’s someone who would rather be busy.

    6. Emmy*

      This happened to me. I was hired to replace a retired admin for a new boss. The old boss generated a lot of work. A lot of work. The new boss just didn’t. I could finish most days before lunch and then…. try to find anything else to do. I was making up work to do and still … not enough to fill the day. I had great feedback. Cheerful, fast, efficient. At my first review my boss had emailed that he planned to raise my wages and was very happy with my work. Instead, when we had the official review meeting, he apologized profusely, but the board had met and finances were tight and they were going to replace me with a part time worker instead. It made sense for them and they had hired me in good faith based on what the last guy had done. This might have happened to your friend. If I were your friend, I’d start looking.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Yeah, this is a serious possibility.

        I have that in my department–I may write to Alison about it.

        We have one week a month in which the 3 people in my department have almost nothing to do, and another week that’s pretty light. It wouldn’t be a bad money decision to lay one of them off and then hire someone freelance for 2.5 weeks out of the month.
        As the department head, I want to figure out how we can be busier in that week, to justify the salaries–but anything we take on would then be in the way on the crunch week.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I totally agree with everyone who said to start job hunting in earnest. If it is hard to find work in her arena, then that means start earlier. I have never seen this go well when a person has no work and none on the horizon. It is only a matter of time before someone figures this out.

      Putting all that to one side, if I was that bored at work everyday it would stand alone as a deal breaker for me. I would have to leave.

      She has two good reasons for moving on. If she actually cannot find work, then maybe it is time to think about a broader range of jobs.

  5. Midge*

    You guys! I’m giving my notice today and telling my boss I’m leaving to do a program at Harvard. I’m so nervous/excited!!!

    Also, I totally applied Alison’s advice for cover letters to my personal statement, and I’m sure it helped me seem like a great fit and get in! :D

  6. Mint Julips*

    Do you have a link to your first ever post? I’ve been attempting to see how far I can go back and so far I’ve seen posts from 2009 – i think.

  7. Wendy Darling*

    Boss left on vacation for 3 weeks after cancelling our last 1:1 and without telling me what I’m meant to be doing while she’s away or answering the email I sent offering my suggestions for what to do! So I guess my mandate for the next 3 weeks is “whatever I think is a good idea”?

    It’s okay she doesn’t understand what I do AT ALL and I don’t actually need her to do my work. But I increasingly think she has no desire to actually be my manager and got roped into it against her will.

    1. Overeducated*

      Oh man this happened to me a couple months ago, after I had said “I can do the work independently as long as I have x planning document approved by you first. If I don’t I can’t move forward on the pieces.” Manager was like “yeah of course that’s quick and easy!” 6 weeks later….

      Good luck to you.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        Yeah, at least I can keep working. All she’s ever done is tell me which teams to work with and helped me get in touch with the right people. I can pick projects myself and figure out who to speak to by asking other people.

        1. Artemesia*

          Document. Keep a daily log of what you are doing and goals and achievements. The day will come.

      2. TootsNYC*

        One thing I’d assume in this situation–your manager must not be that worried, or else she’d have made time for that meeting. Or would have emailed a list of stuff.

        So using your own best judgment will probably be more than fine.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      That is fine until it isn’t fine any more. In other words, just keep going for now. You have autonomy that others envy. Yeah, there are many ways it can suck not having the boss’ inputs, I know that, too. And only you know how much you feel comfortable taking on.

      I would look around for ways to make this work to my advantage, either personally (for my resume) or professionally (getting things done at work).

  8. bassclefchick*

    Things are looking up! I had an interview for a 6 month temp position which would be a great opportunity with an awesome pay rate. AND I have a phone interview in about half an hour for a permanent position which is very promising. So, hopefully I will be employed again soon.

    And, as a follow up to last week’s post about unemployment rules. I stated that I had to apply for 4 jobs per week. Luckily for me, the rules are 4 “valid work search actions”. They consider an interview a valid action, so I can count those this week! Yay!

    Thanks for all the help. It’s really appreciated. Have a great Friday, everyone!

    1. bassclefchick*

      Interview went well, I think. I’ll know in about 2 weeks if I move to an in person interview. She said there were only 3 candidates they were speaking with, so it’s a tight race. Hopefully I will at least get to the second round.

  9. New girl*

    Okay, two questions.

    First, I am starting my job search up in about three weeks. I’m hoping to be out by February. Am I being reasonable? Mostly looking for admin work. I can’t tell if I’m starting too soon/too late.

    Secondly, is a $10,000 salary increase out of the realm of possibilities? I currently make $32k but it’s not livable. I want something is the $40-45k range.

        1. EA*

          I’d say it is reasonable. But again, it depends on fields and a variety of other things. I might recommend you aim for 40.

          1. Admin 10 yrs*

            Depends on the state, I guess. I see 35-40 as a common admin level amount. I made 30k in a city in SC right out of college as an admin and it was definitely livable, but my rent was less than $400 a month for my half of a 2 br 1 ba apt. Making that much just a state away in Atlanta or Charlotte or even Nashville would be tough, and I’d expect to be in the higher 30s.
            I moved to a smaller city in VA with 2 years of experience and made 35k and it was very liveable.

            1. Admin 10 yrs*

              Oh also I now live in GA and make $25 an hour as an admin with 10 years of experience, which equates to high 40s if you don’t factor in overtime (which I rarely get, I leave early on Fridays instead).

        2. Honeybee*

          Capital of the state could be Atlanta, GA or could be Salem, OR…is it a high CoL area, a major city, a medium-sized city, etc.?

    1. Leatherwings*

      Both of these questions totally depend on your field, experience level, and location. I’m not sure anyone can answer accurately without more info

    2. Lily in NYC*

      This is tough to answer without knowing the responses to what EA asked above. Also, it depends on industry. You will make much less in a creative field like publishing/marketing. And don’t forget there are lots of admin jobs where you can make an extra 10K in overtime very easily. I made 30K in overtime in my first year here (now I make zilch). There are often bonuses in finance admin roles. But so much depends on location. And recruiters can be very helpful for getting admin roles. I got my last three jobs using recruiting agencies (they are not all created equal and you should never, ever pay them). It’s definitely not too late to be searching if Feb. is your goal.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Ha! I think it’s good to have insight from multiple admins, even if we say the same thing.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        OK, I saw your response to EA. It’s still difficult to answer because not all state capitals are created equal. would probably make less in Helena MT than you would in Austin, TX. I would google admin recruiting agencies in your city and get an idea of what the jobs pay – most of them list the salaries on their websites.

        1. some1*

          I would also suggest even doing this if the job is temp-to-hire. For admins, fit is sooo important. You can be the best admin in the world, but if you have a completely different working style than the people you support, either you’ll be unhappy or they will be happy with you. It’s helpful to do a trial run.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Oh, good idea. There’s nothing worse than having a bad boss as an admin because there is no escape.

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            That’s the truth! In my previous academic department, my working style and underlying assumptions melded so seamlessly with theirs that I didn’t even notice that that level of fit was something special. It seemed like everything I did was just right.

            In my current department, I get along fine with everyone, but I can’t count on my underlying assumptions being as “right” for this department as they were for the other. I’m not “wrong” necessarily, but in my old department I could anticipate what every person’s perspective on an issue would be, and my first impulse about how to handle it would usually be correct. In my new department, I can’t rely as much on my own intuition and I’m often surprised by what they prioritize and for what reasons.

            1. TootsNYC*

              I realized well into my career that I was actively educating myself about the “fit” in my offices. I would predict a decision or outlook, take the issue to the person, and see how well I did. It helped me fit in to a lot of different places!

              And fit is not always that; I had a boss I did NOT click with, but every -single- time we had some “what should happen here?” moment, my assumption of what was important and what the outcome should be would match hers perfectly. But it was frustrating because, before I’d even said anything, her immediate assumption seemed to be that my framework and eventual decision would be wrong, wrong, wrong.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          And have a list of your actual job duties and compare to postings online. Admin jobs are so broad and very greatly in scope depending on what type of things they need your assistance with. I do reports all day, and copyright filing and things of that nature. No travel planning no meeting scheduling or stuff that are typical of admin roles. When I was looking in my area, I saw postings for as little as $12/hr up to 70k/yr for exec level.

    3. some1*

      I’m and admin and I went from making $37k at last job to $54k at this one. IME, admin salaries are better/worse depending on the industry, as in high-paying industries like finance, private law and engineering pay their admins better than at NPOs or in publishing.

    4. Karo*

      It depends a lot on the industry, what type of companies you’re moving between and – most importantly – how underpaid you currently are. My husband switched companies a few years ago, doing essentially the same job, and from day 1 was making 1.5x what he made at OldJob. OldJob was incredibly cheap and NewJob is probably a little more than average.

    5. newby*

      You may want to look into what the average salary is for your position and experience level. If you are underpaid now, it seems reasonable to try to get a large increase while if you already make the average amount it would be much more difficult. I know Alison has given advice before about basing salary expectations on the industry standard rather than past salary history (although that doesn’t always happen).

      1. New girl*

        I was talking to a family friend on Wednesday. He is starting his internship next week, he’s going to be doing admin work for the marketing department of his company and he’s starting at $14/hour. Soooo that kinda made me feel like I’m being underpaid. I currently work in real estate

        1. really*

          Industry. My son’s internship in 2007 paid $12/hr. His cousin’s was $25/hr. His was a a smallish engineering firm, hers was at a big 4 accounting firm.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          I think real estate generally pays on the lower end for admin roles. Unless it’s a big commercial RE firm like Cushman & Wakefield.

    6. YaGottaAsk*

      It’s absolutely possible! Three years ago I was making $32k at an entry level position. In my next job search after 2 years there I took into account my work history, experience and gave my self a $10k raise. Whenever I was asked my salary requirements in an interview I’d say, “Based on my experience and how this job complements my skill set I’m looking for something in the mid forties. That number can be a little flexible based on the entire health and benefits package included.” And then negotiate from there. Ended up with a job about $41k that way.

    7. Ellie the EA*

      To piggy-back on some of the other comments – it’s completely doable. I think between your cover letter and your resume you’ll definitely want to highlight what you’ve done above and beyond in your current role – e.g. implemented new travel process that saved $XX

  10. Business Cat*

    Has anyone here had a good experience with a small, husband-and-wife-owned company? I have an interview with one on Monday and am trying to keep an open mind. I work for a small family-owned business right now (father and son) and in their case the family relationship doesn’t seem to impact the rest of the business in a dysfunctional way (the dysfunctional parts of the business are non-familial). Any suggestions for red flags to look out for and questions to ask during the interview?

    1. Sadsack*

      I worked for one many years ago that was a complete mess. The couple fought regularly (like every day) in front of me. They had all kinds of problems in their professional and personal lives and went out if business eventually. However, a good friend’s parents owned a very successful business together and I don’t think they operated the way the first couple I mentioned did at all. I think it depends on the couple. I think if you get a bad vibe early on, such as seeing them argue about personal matters or if one or both seems unreasonable about business matters, that’s your cue to exit. Unfortunately, you may not get any of this during your interview. But if you get even a hint of it during the interview, walk away.

      1. Sadsack*

        Sorry, I didn’t really respond to your actual question! Maybe ask details about who handles what and how they make decisions about certain things. If any major issues come up in the past and how were they handled. What us the most challenging part of their business and you could even ask what’s the most challenging part of their working together as it relates to the business.

        1. E*

          Good point! If they’re fairly business-savvy, they should easily understand how a lot of couple-owned businesses have these internal issues, and why you’d be concerned to know more about how they operate the business.

    2. esra*

      I’m going to be real with you: Neither I, nor anyone I know, has ever had a good experience in a small family business.

      That said, if you’re already working for one, you’re probably down with the basics. I’d ask questions about the management structure and style at the company. Personally, I always ask some questions about the culture too, which I think is especially important in a smaller business.

      1. AMT*

        I was going to answer pretty much the same thing. I can’t remember ever encountering a single functional, healthy mom-and-pop business, sadly. I worked at a tiny nonprofit that was still managed by its founder and it was one of my more hellish jobs.

      2. Business Cat*

        Yeah, the culture of a small business is definitely a big deal. At my current office, politics and religion are totally off the table, which I love. From what I can see on their Facebook page, the business I’m interviewing with doesn’t post anything religious or political (which a lot of small businesses in my area can be guilty of doing), which seems like a good sign. The wife told me up front that she and her husband ran the business, and I appreciated that transparency. The other two part time office staff have been working for them for a few years (2 years and 4 years I think) as well, so it doesn’t seem like there is a revolving door of office employees, which I would also take as a pretty good sign.

        I know I’m reading the tea leaves at this point, but I like to think over all the details as much as possible before I go into the interview.

        I live in a small-ish college town, and many of the local business are small and family-owned, so unless I find work at the local university this will be a problem I encounter frequently. I want to stay local so I can stay involved in our community theatre and maintain local clientele for my side gig.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Are the husband and wife equal partner co-owners that do the same work or work together, or do they each have a distinct role/job (he does the graphic design and interfaces with the customer and she does the accounting and billing, for instance)? Would you be reporting directly to one of them mostly, or would they both be equally your bosses?

          Are you replacing a current employee or is this role an expansion in staff?

          I would think reporting directly mainly to one of them would be easier than trying to report equally to both of them – that seems like you would be in a far more likely place to be stuck in the middle of conflicting instructions.

          I’d also try to get a sense whether of how much you will be expected to act as a “personal assistant” as part of your “other duties as assigned” (or as explicit duties). For instance, will you be expected to run personal errands or handle their household bill paying in addition to business?

          1. Business Cat*

            From what I gathered, the wife is more admin/HR whereas I think the husband works out on the sales floor (it’s a car dealership). The position I’m interviewing for would be their full-time receptionist, and my primary job would be routing calls, greeting clients, and admin projects for other departments as needed. But a lot of that is good information for me to get clarification on in the interview!

            I’m already running personal errands for my current boss so that wouldn’t be much of a change for me (picking up vitamins and toothpaste, baby/wedding gifts for friends, etc). I didn’t gather that this would be part of the job I’m interviewing for, but it wouldn’t be a no-go if it was as long as I’m not expected to use my personal vehicle.

          2. Scheherazade*

            Yeah, this makes a huge difference. I know a brother/sister team that run a very successful business, but she’s the numbers person and he’s the people person. It works out perfectly based on their personalities, education, and experience, and their roles are quite explicit.

    3. ThatGirl*

      My father in law owns a small business that’s been in his family over 100 years and as best I can tell, he’s a great boss. The business is doing very well.

      But my MIL is not involved in the business decisions at all so it’s really just him. I could see how adding another family member to the mix might make things awkward or dysfunctional.

    4. Bend & Snap*

      My worst job ever was for a husband and wife owned company with 5 employees. They constantly would give contradictory instructions to each other, were tight on necessary spending because “it would take food out of their kids’ mouths,” and were generally horrible people to work for.

      They let me go and the husband said it was a firing and the wife said it was a layoff.

      I’d be very very wary of getting into the middle of that, but I was obviously burned.

    5. Nervous Accountant*

      I worked as a temp admin assistant on call (so I had no set schedule but would be contacted whenever help was necessary). The husband and wife were owners, husband did the main work while wife did the behind the scenes stuff. I reported to the wife. She was very nice, but things went sour after about a year. There was one or two instances of arguing, so that was kind of weird, but it didnt’ affect my work so I shrugged it off.

      I also did a brief internship at a small accounting company. The owner and VP (I think he was the VP, I forget now) were married. I didn’t even know until my 2nd or 3rd week. They were very nice people, very professional, and I imagine they would have been great employers had I stayed on longer.

      I feel like most of the issues I had with the first one, had to do with the position itself (inconsistent hours, offering steady FT/PT work then rescinding it right away etc) than with my boss and the company, but I’ve read enough posts here about family owned businesses that I’d never want to work for one again.

    6. Felix*

      I had an interview with the wife of a fairly large company (co-owned with husband). I asked her who I would report to and she laughed and said “me. My husband doesn’t know I’m hiring for this position. I’ve been on him for over 10 years to hire for this role but he doesn’t think it’s worth the psycheck. So, you’d better so a good job and convince him that I’m right.”

      They offered me the job. Needless to say, I declined.

    7. Pearl*

      Sorry to echo everyone else’s comments, but I haven’t seen a well-run family business either. I worked in a doctor’s office where I regularly had to call the doctor’s wife to call his cell to tell him to stop talking to random people about his side business, and to go in and see patients who had been waiting 2+ hours to see him. (He was a specialist, so people were willing to wait, but they weren’t happy about it and took it out on me as the receptionist.)

      It was also fun when I had to tell patients that their bill wasn’t fixed yet. No, I don’t know what’s holding up the accountant, I’m so sorry. (I do know. The doctor’s wife has to fix it and she hasn’t bothered. Sorry!)

    8. Polyphonic*

      I’ve worked for a family business for over eight years. The short answer is: it’s OK until it’s not. The long answer is about where your trade-offs lie. My job is flexible and I can get PTO approved with about two weeks’ notice; the downside is I have no HR or bureaucratic structure to fall back upon in times of conflict. And there will be conflict.

      I would look for a business where the married owners are aware of casual pitfalls that can come with running a business while in a relationship, and conduct themselves quite professionally and enforce boundaries as a result.

      I would be more vigilant during the interview process with a family owned company than with a larger bureaucratic entity. For what its worth, my current job didn’t even come with a formal offer or even interview, I had just heard they were looking through a contact and called them over the phone. In retrospect that should have been an indicator of culture. I’ve never had to ask for a raise, but I’ve also never had a performance review, and disciplinary action is either nonexistent or arbitrary. While it’s nice having a casual approach to things it often comes unglued in times of stress or upheaval. And there’s nobody to go to above the owners, so I either must put up with it or leave. (We have tried negotiation and discussion. It is, suffice to say, off the table.) In a small organization one or two people can set the tone which can be a blessing or a curse.

      1. Business Cat*

        I agree with your view of things and think it’s pretty much in line with my expectations. The flexibility and casual office atmosphere are things that I really do enjoy at my current job.

        My one performance review has been a 45 minute rant about the owner’s business history, with side notes that I needed to work on not slamming the door and should lock the back door when I came in. I did get a raise after that, however. Haha.

    9. Aurion*

      My current job is a family-owned small business, so I’ll add a (rare?) note of positivity.

      I think my current job is the best job I’ve had. They pay above-market rates. It is stressful at times because you have to wear a lot of hats, and I do think the boss/owner can delegate more, but it is a small business and they’ve probably been used to being involved at every level for many years and people have to roll with occasional inefficiencies.

      The culture is great; I really like the people here. Most of the staff here have been here many years (anywhere from 3-25+). I’ve never seen the husband and wife argue at work. They work in separate parts of the building so even on an argument day (they must have had some) they’re not constantly in each other’s face. No one gives contradictory information because they have very separate spheres. If the wife (whom I work under) has been grumpy after an argument with her husband she’s never taken it out on the staff. We do not run personal errands for the bosses, ever.

      Questions to ask: reporting structure is the biggest one. Who you report to, and whether to ask [other spouse] if your regular boss is out. You probably can’t be so direct to ask “hey, do you drag personal conflict into the workplace?”, but you can ask what the biggest challenge of running the business is and probe into the culture/management aspect if they don’t volunteer that information (they likely won’t at first; such a question usually prompts something like “it’s hard to compete with MegaCorp as a small business etc. etc.). Ask if you have to run personal errands. Sometimes we get asked to run business errands (e.g. grab something from the hardware store down the street for business purposes), but that’s every third blue moon.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        My first real-world job was for a married couple, they had registered the business under her name for tax incentives or something. Like someone above said, she had certain tasks and he did others. They had separate offices and said once that they tried very hard to leave home at home, work at work. Unlike the “you’re taking food out of our children’s mouths!” one above, they would pay their employees first in the event it was a low cash flow week. They had one other employee besides myself. It was OK but I left because I was bored. You have to wear a lot of hats at small places and they had hired me to be the combo receptionist/bookkeeper/jr. designer. The first two I had never been trained for and did the best I could but… I wasn’t as good as needed for those positions. Because there wasn’t enough design work (other employee was the one who handled that), I didn’t get a chance to exercise my skills as much as I should have, and it took a long time to get them up once I left. I just looked it up and they’re still in business.

        So, yes, I do believe it’s possible. I would say that if you can get one meeting as a lunch/meal kind of thing with both of them, that might help you decide. If either of the spouses is picking on the other, nothing is working, and you don’t want to be in the middle of all that (see above with the “I’ve been trying to get DH to fill this role for 10 years” thing).

        1. Business Cat*

          She was adamant (in a pleasant way) that I get to meet with both her, her husband, and the office manager I would be working under. She also immediately said that even though they are husband and wife, they don’t behave as such at work. I’m interested to see what kind of vibes I get in the interview. Thanks to both Aurion and Dynamic Beige for your input!

          1. TootsNYC*

            I think that’s a somewhat positive thing–that she addressed the issue, and that she recognizes a need to not let it impact work..

            I always wonder if you can ask to speak with a previous employee–as a reference for the business. (I did once have to give a reference for a former boss who needed a subordinates’ reference for her new job.)

    10. Fawnling*

      My family owns a small business and some of the stuff I hear them say to/about their employees and each other would make great AAM content.

      I also worked for a medium-sized family business and it was dysfunctional and toxic on a completely different level than I’ve ever experienced. Your boss is it – there’s usually no HR or anyone to go to above them.

    11. orchidsandtea*

      I work for a husband-and-wife team. The wife does payroll and some accounting and navigating the massive paperwork that involves clients actually paying us, and that’s it. The husband does everything else. The company is his baby, and he is clearly in charge. I’m sure they talk behind the scenes, but I have never once had the wife interfere in my role. It’s smooth as can be in that regard.

      What’s tough for me is not having coworkers to collaborate with, because bouncing ideas around together is one of my favorite parts of my job. And personality conflicts are magnified. Every once in a while I get frustrated with my boss, and there’s nobody around to dilute the experience while my feathers unruffle.

      And not having anyone to appeal to when I think my boss is wrong. For instance, he really values teapot function: does it pour smoothly, does it work for different types of teas, etc. I don’t disagree (and our function is outstanding), but I think taste is also pretty crucial, and he thinks as long as taste is good enough then function is the whole point. I made my case, and our taste improved, but it’ll never be where I think the minimum is.

      It’s also tough to not have resources. I don’t go to conferences unless you count free webinars. I get to spend about $20/mo on tools that make my job easier. And if we get a rush order, I work late or over the weekend, because there’s no one else.

    12. Anon for the First Time*

      First time commenter here! I work for a family-run small-med size business owned/run by a husband and wife team. I’ve been here for 7 months and while it’s not perfect, it’s been pretty amazing. Technically they own two businesses that are very complimentary and he runs one and she runs the other, although they bounce ideas off each other constantly. I work for the wife of this duo. We have 4 FT employees, while the sister company has approximately 20 FT employees. My boss used to work at large Fortune 100 companies and managed for most of her career. It shows! I have monthly reviews/check-ins, plus more if there’s anything that I want to bring up. They believe strongly in education and pay for training courses all the time to make us better for our business. It’s an awesome, growing vibe, and I feel lucky every day.

      It’s not perfect, but they work very hard to be professional.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        That is so cool! More small businesses should be run like this- it keeps good employees around!

    13. Been There, Done That*

      I have worked for a number of family-owned companies, mostly when I was starting out, and mostly regretted it. 3 were husband-and-wife. My recommendations: Find out if children are ever brought to the office and if so, who will mind them. (2 of the places I worked for H-W, they brought the kids in as if the shop were a daycare center–with Xacto knives, hot wax, and other hazards–and the employees wound up babysitting on top of doing the job they were hired to do.) Try to get a sense of whether decisions are made based on benefit to the business itself rather than personal benefit to the family. Also try to learn if all the top positions are held by relatives (whether they know anything or not) and whether relatives who don’t actually work there still might pop in and try to, to put it bluntly, boss you around.

    14. Chaordic One*

      Many years ago I had a wonderful short-term temp job with a small commercial design firm run by a husband and wife. The husband was the principle designer and he did all the design work, while the wife supported him by working as receptionist and running the back office (including billing and collections). She was also always looking for new work for her husband, as well as for design competitions where he could get his work seen and publicized. (He’d won quite a few.)

      They seemed to have a good thing going and really complemented each other well. I’m not aware of any conflict between them or of them taking sides against any of the employees they hired to work for them. They each had their different roles which were pretty separate and that seemed to make it a good place to work.

  11. Jamie*

    Disclaimer: I hate to resort to leading with my youth because whenever a millennial has a complaint about something, more seasoned individuals have a tendency to say things to the effect of “just suck it up, welcome to the real world.” But the issue I’m having, I feel, has a whole lot to do with my age (and possibly race), so I mention it for contextual purposes.

    The issue: I currently work as an admin assistant at a university. At 24, I am the youngest staff member in my department and on my team. I have an issue with the way my boss, and sometimes others, talk to me- but especially my boss. If I make a mistake or do something that isn’t “wrong, just not how she’d do it,” she has this infantilizing way of talking to me. She doesn’t just say “I’d prefer you do this” or “Can you do this this way?” No. Instead, she reprimands me like a child, micromanages me, interrogates me like she caught me stealing cookies out the cookie jar, and just seems to make it a point to “put me in my place.” I’m really not trying to bash her as a boss because overall I think she’s okay. I’ve had much worse bosses. She really is a good manager, she has high expectations, and she goes to bat for her staff. But in the area of having to communicate with me on a matter that needs correcting, I am having difficulty tolerating her approach. Last week I almost reached my breaking point. At the end of the incident (where she basically blew up at me over something sooooo petty and minor), I just walked away. That’s all I could do really. She later came by my desk to ask if I was okay and I just lied and said I was fine- but I wasn’t and I’m still not. Because this is an ongoing issue. I realize that I need to say something to her, ideally in the moment, but I really don’t want to come across as disrespectful, combative or insubordinate because I already feel like she talks to me like a child. I don’t need to make that worse. But I do need her to respect me and treat me like an adult.


    1. SophieChotek*

      I am assuming that part of the reason this is an issue for you is that you observe that you are the only person on the staff treated this way when the boss/manager wants to correct something? She only speaks to you in this way?

      1. Jamie*

        Yes! It is super frustrating. I really do try not to focus on how she treats my coworkers and compare them to me (they’ve been here much longer than me) but it’s hard to ignore the obvious differences.

    2. EA*

      So I think a few things- first off- Don’t worry about being a millennial whining. I hate the way millennials are portrayed. You get to be upset.

      I would recommend painting it like “I really appreciate your feedback, and want to get better at my job, it would be easier for me to do my job if you XYZ” I wouldn’t say it in the moment, I would bring it up at a 1:1. I also wouldn’t talk to her about how she treats you like a child. I would maybe frame it as you are looking for a more collaborate approach and an opportunity to explain why you did what you did, and work together so you can understand why your boss wants you to do it differently. Also, I am sure she is unreasonable, but you she doesn’t view it as “not wrong just different from how she wanted it done” she views it as wrong. This is probably unreasonable, but it is what it is. It seems like if she came over to see how you were doing, she doesn’t dislike you, and she cares about your feelings, which is a good sign.

      Also, I hesitate to mention this, but it has been my experience so I will. I am 27, and have been an admin/EA since college. I have always felt that my bosses considered it appropriate to pick at me. This has been in 3 different jobs. I have been reprimanded for very small picky things, and I don’t feel like other coworkers who are not admins get this shit. Sometimes I think it is just part of being an admin. Maybe I have had crappy bosses or am oversensitive, so take it or leave it.

      1. Jamie*

        I think you may be right about this being the typical admin/EA experience. :-(

        Thank you for your suggestion though!

        1. designbot*

          From what I’ve seen there may be some boundary issues with that particular position–a couple of bosses I’ve had appeared to view their assistants as almost extensions of themselves, which means they want them to do it exactly how they would and also have no filters when “correcting.”

      2. Tacocat*

        I think this a good approach! Especially because you can frame it like you are just trying to be super helpful, like “I really want to get this right and produce the best work possible. I think this collaborative approach will help me learn better so I know the ins and outs of this process. In the future, this will help me know without additional instruction.”

        However, I would also echo EA, this approach will hopefully work because it’s friendly and non antagonistic, making it easier for your boss to get on board with a different approach to “error” correcting, but that doesn’t mean your boss is actually being reasonable. I’ve seen supervisors act this way and usually they are clueless about how condescending they are being, but they really are. There’s often a subtext of them thinking, “this person is so behind they probably need coddled!” Even if someone (often new) needs additional training to be caught up, I don’t think this is ever the right attitude to have and your age (and relative newness) to your coworkers is probably having an unfair impact on your boss’ attitude. Sorry for the frustrating situation :/

    3. Business Cat*

      I have found it helpful to put on a blankly pleasant face and keep answers short and simple. “No, I’m sorry, I’ll fix that.” “Okay.” “I’ll take care of that, thank you.” Nod. Make generic agreement sounds. In your head, separate yourself and who you are as a person from the mistake.

      It’s HARD and will take practice but once you take your embarassment/guilt/annoyance out of the equation and only respond to the problem/solution, she may back off on the tirades because she’s not getting a reaction. My boss is much older and tends to rant also, and doing this has worked for me in situations where I could feel myself getting worked up or red in the face and overwhelmed by the way he approached errors or other workplace issues. I went from having panic attacks in and out of the office because I couldn’t deal with him, to compartmentalizing his reactions, and now we have a fairly pleasant working relationship.

      YMMV, of course.

      1. A Lurky University Admin*

        On the other hand, especially in a university setting, there’s the possibility that OP will be dinged for not being deferential enough. I have historically done the generic agreement and correction, because that is what grownups do, but there are certain flavors of professors, and old-school senior staff, who really want to see performed deference and expect OTT apologies over small mistakes. (Whether you let that affect you on the inside is a separate matter; I’m only quibbling about what you show outside.)

        It makes me CRAZY. A good manager passed along this feedback with, “It’s bullshit, but here’s how you might phrase it,” and a bad manager passed it along without comment, as if everyone at my low rank were meant to grovel over a typo and be ever-so-grateful for a correction from on high. I’ve been here almost a decade and still find the social class nonsense extremely offputting when it comes up. But it’s one of the things university staff have to put up with, unless their managers — and more importantly, the professors they deal with — are particularly thoughtful and self-reflective.

        1. Business Cat*

          Interesting. I’m probably inferring a lot from my own experience here, because it’s hard for me to see groveling as anything but anxious and overly emotional (both of which are things I struggle with and do not want reflected in my professional demeanor).

          Take the critiques, make the necessary changes, say “I’m sorry” and “Thank you” when applicable…I think all these things are deferential and also professional.

          1. A Lurky University Admin*

            I agree with you completely. My university is particularly traditional, but “I’m sorry” apparently isn’t good enough here. I started using “wow, I apologize, I made a mistake”, but it sounded so completely fake coming out of my mouth that I stopped. (The only thing worse than not groveling is groveling in a way that sounds like mockery.)

            The best part is when the people who don’t think you apologize enough are people who don’t remember to zip their flies, or spell people’s names correctly. Like, come ON, dude. Look to the mote in thine own eye, will you?

            1. TootsNYC*

              You got that backwards; the criticizing dude has a LOT in his eye; the mote is in yours [the target’s].

              That’s why it’s particularly egregious.

        2. Jamie*

          Do we work at the same university?? There are plenty of those persnickety types around here as well.

        3. Sophia in the DMV*

          I don’t know, just what you said about a bad manager just fixing it or pointing it out without comment seems less classist and more about efficiency.

      2. Jamie*

        Yes, this is hard. I try to do this actually and what makes it difficult is that my boss can be a bit unrelenting. It’s like once something riles her up, it’s open fire. But maybe I’m not blank enough when I do this. I tend to get a bit flustered and visibly irritated, but I suppose this will have to be worked like a muscle. Hopefully it gets easier with time….but not too much time.

        Thanks for your suggestion!

        1. Business Cat*

          My boss would definitely pick up on the irritation or flusteredness and would take that as a cue to then ask “Are you confused? You look confused,” and then continue to pick and pick and pick. It was especially hard when I made an error I was annoyed with myself about, so his irritation felt like piling on and my instinct was to be defensive.

          During my first Christmas season with the company I got very bogged down in a pile of Christmas gifting to-dos in addition to a very busy week of our actual work, and he came into my office and snapped at me about why this or that wasn’t shipped out/completed, to which my response was, “I’m not exactly sitting on my hands, here!” (Not the best move, Business Cat)

          Now I just plainly say, “No, I haven’t done that, you’re right/Yes, I see that mistake now, I’m sorry/Thank you for pointing it out, I will go fix that right now.” Plain, blank, pleasant, deferential.

    4. J.B.*

      I’m sorry. She’s a bully. If there are decent staff members you could talk to who have been around a while, they might be able to give you little tips. There might be a not super threatening way you could bring this up and get a minor adjustment.

      The one thing about being young is that you probably will get a thicker skin over time. Not to say that you should be treated this way at all, but you will probably pick up a few strategies that work for you because sadly there will be other bullies.

    5. Polyphonic*

      FWIW, your manager is being an ass. I’ve seen bad managers treat people of all ages this way as well. I’ve even seen them develop this attitude towards long-term employees when previously everything was fine! I don’t want to diminish your concerns your age is causing this, I just want to tell you it’s not OK to be treated like this, and it’s not your fault. I know what it feels like to be targeted this way and you think that if only you knew The Magic Words they would treat you the right way, so it must be your fault somehow. This isn’t true!

      I’m towards the older end of the millennial spectrum and I’ve found it helpful to behave like Business Cat and respond to what the manager *should* have said, not the rude way they phrased it. I’m not great at it yet, but at the end of the day it feels better.

      1. Mazzy*

        I was going to say this, I don’t think it has to do with your demographics at all, some people just are like this, and just because they only do it to one person doesn’t mean it has to do with your age either.

        As per the millennial thing, if it helps, I’ve interviewed people as much as 15 years younger than me for corporate positions and some of my coworkers are 12-15 years younger, and we get along completely fine. If we were to pick a movie or music to listen to in the car, that’s when the major differences show, but simply communicating in the office and doing work? Generation is not even a thing we think about. Alot of media hype there.

  12. Corporate Noobie*

    My company has started a new, voluntary role rotation program to both develop strong cross-functional teams and give employees an opportunity to explore other areas of the business that might be interesting to them. I’m pretty new in my role and to this field (1 year, 3 months in) and still have a lot to learn in this role. I also already work across many different teams in my part of the organization so even though there are many areas that interest me, I was not planning to suggest a role rotation for myself.

    However, I was chatting with another manager, Ken, who I often do work for and am in the middle of a larger project with him right now. He mentioned that he wanted me dedicated to this project and that he would speak with my manager, Carol, about it. I know that Carol would not have a problem with that so I said it wasn’t necessary. At that point Ken suggested getting me on his team directly but followed that comment up by saying he was just “spit-balling”.

    We ended up discussing me rotating onto his team, which he was really interested in, as am I. I have been dreaming of moving over to Ken’s team for a while now. I find the work a lot more interesting. I get along with him better than Carol. I get regular recognition from him and his team. And they think my work is stellar. Carol on the other hand is the complete opposite. That’s not to say I dislike her though.

    I immediately told Carol that we had a conversation about the role rotation and that Ken might mention it to her. She seemed completely fine with it and sent the request over to Phil (Ken and Carols manager). I later told Ken that I had informed Carol.

    So this is where I’m a bit unsure what to do. Ken told me that he spoke with Phil and that they both like the idea, but Phil was possibly interested in a permanent move for me onto Ken’s team! Which is awesome and exciting. But Carol and I talked another time about the role rotation and she said some things that led me to believe that she didn’t know that Phil is considering that.

    How should I handle this? Do I mention it to Carol? I probably should have when I realized she didn’t know but then I wasn’t sure I should or how to say it. I don’t want to go behind my managers back but I also don’t want to tell her something that I think her manager should be telling her.

    Also, is it bad if I show interest in this? Does it look like I am abandoning ship or not since it’s within the same company? I’m just really unsure what I should do at this point. I don’t think the switch would happen for several months. Should I just stay quiet until it comes up again?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’d let Phil and/or Ken tell her. It’s unofficial as of now, and you don’t know if or when it will ever become official, so let them handle that part.

      1. designbot*

        +1 to this. Even ask them directly, “I am really excited about this possibility as I have so enjoyed working with this team. I’m not quite sure how to handle this with Carol though and don’t want to give her the wrong impression of the time I’ve spent on her team. What do you think is the best way to tell her?” and let them volunteer to do it (90% chance they will).

    2. Snowglobe*

      1) Phil said that he’s “possibly interested” in a permanent move. Say nothing, and assume that if and when Phil decides the move will be permanent he will say something.
      2) It should not reflect badly on you to express interest in moving to Ken’s team. Reasonable managers understand that it’s normal for employees to look to learn new things and to want to develop new skills. The fact that your company is starting this rotation program indicates that this kind of movement between departments may be expected. Expressing interest will make you look enthusiastic.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      There is really nothing for you to handle. It’s up to Phil to tell Carol when he has made his decision about your move. The best you can do here is express solid interest to Ken about becoming permanent.

      Employees move on sometimes, this happens. Try not to over think it. And definitely do not try to handle Carol’s emotions/thoughts for her. Keep everything simple, you learned a lot working for Carol (even if you did not learn a lot, you might realize later that you did, so just say it now) and now you have a new opportunity that you are happy about.

  13. Not me*

    I’m trying to find the courage to start applying for new jobs. My current job has gone from awesome to pretty much awful in 6 months. Three people (including me) have gone on stress-related FMLA leave. One decided to quit rather than come back and I suspect the second person may make the same decision. The stress is unbearable. In six months, I’ve gone from being the boss’ right-hand man to having all of my important projects taken away, getting a title demotion and being given a review that was OK number-wise (“meets or occasionally exceeds expectations”) but was full of negative comments.

    I just can’t decide if I should try to ride this out or if it’s time to move on. I’m stressed every day; I’m taking tons of medication just so I can make it through the day without crying. I can’t sleep and I’ve gained a ton of weight. I’m afraid to move on; I haven’t interviewed for a job for over 16 years and I’m in my 50’s. I live near a major city where there are lots of jobs, but due to traffic it routinely takes 2+ hours to drive the 30 miles into the city during rush hour and I don’t want to spend my life in the car.

    Sorry for the novel. I feel kind of stuck and totally stressed out. I love my paycheck, commute, and most of the people on my team so it’s really a tough situation. Any advice would be helpful.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      That stinks. I’ve had two jobs with that kind of stress. Is there any indication that things will revert to “awesome” at some point?

      Please start looking, for your own health and sanity. You might be surprised at what you find and it this point it doesn’t sound like it could hurt.

      1. Not me*

        I’d be surprised if it turned back to awesome, honestly. Our company got bought out by a much bigger one and now everything is topsy-turvy. Constantly-shifting priorities and weird management decisions abound; today, my #1 priority that was due next week was shifted and I was given a partially-done project that is mostly made of work that I have never, ever done before. Due by the middle of next week. It honestly feels like they are just turning the screws by making things worse and worse until I leave.

        Writing that all out, I can see that the only sane option is to start looking. It’s just scary; I’ve worked with some of these people for a long time and they are good people. It’s just that management has lost its mind.

    2. New Jane on the Block*

      A left a job a few years ago after spending four months in a new position. It became very stressful and started to impact my work. In my opinion, it may be in your best interest to start applying for other jobs while still in your current role, but if that becomes too stressful and really begins to hurt your performance OR you feel that things are getting a bit too toxic, I would suggest possibly walking away. At the same time, you know your own situation and finances better than anyone. Make well-informed decisions.

      1. Not me*

        You know what, I honestly never thought of just walking away until you said this. I know it’s not generally good to quit without something lined up but when the thought of quitting makes me want to weep in relief–well, that says something.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This may be your answer. When a job attacks a person’s health to the degree you are saying, it is time to move on. Remember dysfunctional environments do NOT allow us to grow as employees. All we learn is how to out fox the dysfunction and that is nothing we can write on a resume.

          “Reduced the numbers of time the boss screamed and threw something at me by 2%.”
          “Turned new project around such that it was done three weeks BEFORE I received it.”
          “Talked three coworkers out of ransacking the boss’ office.”
          “Guarded the boss’ car tires so the tires remained inflated.”
          “Routinely placed laxatives in boss’ coffee to help build peace on earth.”

          Leave while you still understand that something is very wrong here.

          1. New Jane on the Block*

            I love the list! I know the CV of Failures has made the rounds on the internet, but the “toxic resume” may be very therapeutic. Also a good activity for a mental health day.

    3. Marnix*

      Oh wow. I feel for you. I’m in a similar situation. And I think you’ve answered your own question- it’s time to start looking for a new job. Take a look at some old annual reviews for motivation that you do indeed do good work and are worthy of doing important work. That may also help in crafting your resume. And go through the archives here and download AAM’s book for help. Good luck!

    4. newby*

      Do you know what caused the sudden change and if it is likely to change back? If the change is due to something like your boss going on a temporary leave of absence for some reason and the negative comments come from an interim boss, you may be able to stick it out. If it doesn’t seem likely to change back, assume it won’t and decide if it is something that you can live with. The tone of your letter suggests that you can’t.

      1. Not me*

        Yeah, I used to report to Big Boss A, but now I report to Middle Boss B. And that’s not likely to change.

    5. esra*

      Here’s the thing: Putting out some resumes is not an instant jump, it’s a first step. I think people always worry about the change, but getting a job is such a long process, you really can take some baby steps. And when things are bad, I think just taking some action to change can really make you feel better.

      You can start small, just polishing your resume and looking to see what’s out there, open yourself up to some new possibilities in a low-commitment way.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, absolutely. You can look at other jobs and still decide to stay, if you want. Try not to think of sending out resumes as an act of courage but as an act of housekeeping, like paying the utility bill.

        Right now you’re stressed, so the big scary unknown seems particularly scary. But the unknown turns into actual jobs, with people you can meet and histories you can investigate. I think taking some action will also make you feel better about your current situation.

        1. Elle*

          To piggyback onto what fposte said, I too believe that simply getting your resume out there, and researching open positions may give you some feeling of control over your situation.

        2. Not me*

          I love this idea, fposte. You’re right, I look at applying for a job as a Big Damn Deal, but really it’s not. It’s just investigating and maybe talking to some folks (who might be really nice folks) about open positions. That’s all.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            One of the side effects of dysfunctional work places is that we become convinced we cannot work anywhere else. It’s an illusion and simply not true. At all.

            1. Chaordic One*

              That is so true and such a wise observation!

              Sometimes I think it is a form of gas-lighting that toxic workplaces implement against their employees.

    6. Frustrated Optimist*

      I agree with Muriel. What you are describing is unsustainable. You owe it to yourself to at least explore other opportunities. Remember that you can always say “no” if you are offered another job but it doesn’t seem like quite the right fit or even the right time.

      Don’t let the fear of not having conducted a recent job search deter you. Yes, things have changed since you last interviewed, but look at all the great advice you can get from this site! You will get up to speed on current trends in no time. =)

      I understand that it’s not easy to give up a great paycheck, commute, and co-workers. But unless you believe in your heart of hearts that your current situation is temporary, and that the job will go back to being great again, the writing is on the wall that you need an exit strategy.

      1. Not me*

        Thanks; you are so right. I can’t see it getting any better.

        Here is the funny thing: I spoke to an ex-coworker a few months ago and jokingly asked her if any of their new positions were going to be telecommuting, ha ha ha. (Ex-job is about 150 miles from here). She replied YES, that they are thinking that they will have to have some telecommuters on their team because of [reasons]. So they are currently putting together budgets, etc. The process could take months and it might not even pan out.

        I left ex-job for good reasons, but this would be on a new team with a new manager. And it would get me out of this pressure cooker. I know I can’t wait for this because it might not ever pan out, but it would sure be an easy solution to a crappy situation.

    7. Chaordic One*

      This sounds very similar to my last job. Although no one went on stress-related FMLA leave, two people quit. One took a lower-paying job that she loves and the other one turned 65 and retired. The one who retired suffered from some health problems that I strongly suspect were stress-related. (Following her retirement, at one point she underwent exploratory surgery and, she told me that the doctors were seriously considering removing one of her adrenal glands. That just sounds too weird!) Additionally, one of the replacements had her work split and another person was brought in to help her handle it.

      Like you, I had projects taken away. Unlike you, I lost a lot of weight and had trouble keeping food down and digesting it. It seemed like when I ate, that the food just sat there like a big uncomfortable lump. I started interviewing for other jobs and accepted one, only to have the offer rescinded because they supposedly decided not to hire an additional employee and to go in a different direction instead. Thank goodness I had not yet turned in my notice then.

      So I tried to ride it out until I found another job. Even though I was working my butt off, I was eventually fired and told that I was “resistant to change.” (I don’t feel that was the case at all.) However, I did protest against the elimination of certain documentation tasks within my job duties, because the information would be needed by other people down the line in the production of teapots. My supervisor seemed oblivious to that and was very upset when I pointed it out. I was fired the day before profit-sharing bonuses for the fiscal were given out, so I did not receive a bonus.

      In retrospect, I certainly wish that I had quit before I was fired. It would have been much less damaging to my self-esteem.

  14. SHRM?*

    Is anyone here a member of SHRM? I’m in an industry that is related to HR, and I’m trying to figure out how beneficial it would be to attend the SHRM annual meeting and perhaps other meetings. I am most interested in meeting HR people who work for smaller companies that might not have in house counsel. Does anyone here have a sense of whether I’d meet many people fitting that description at the bigger SHRM meetings?

    Thank you!!

    1. Legal in HR*

      I’m an attorney who works in HR, and I’ve been to a few SHRM meetings and I didn’t really find them useful for my legal background. And I didn’t meet any other legal professionals. I’m not sure if this is what you meant, but you mentioned in-house counsel so I thought it might be.

      1. SHRM?*

        I probably should have been less confusing! I’m an attorney as well, and I’d heard that not many in house counsel go to the meetings. I was wondering if there were many HR professionals from smaller businesses that might need legal services but don’t have in house counsel who attend.

        I do think the membership has been helpful, like AnonforFriday said, to stay on top of trends.

        1. Legal in HR*

          If you’re thinking about going to a SHRM annual meeting to solicit business, then that’s another story. I think it’s probably a pretty good idea. You’ll probably have to take a couple of freebie phone calls before you’ll get a paying customer, but I think it’s a good idea. Be careful though, about handing out your business card. Some organzations I belong to have a “no-solicitation” policy. If you want to “stay on top of trends” I think CLE’s will be better for you than SHRM. Just my 2 cent opinion though.

      2. lfi*

        I am. I find it useful. There’s often seminars and there are weekly newsletters that keep you informed of new laws and regulations.

        I’ve actually found another legal website to be quite informative – they offer free webinars that count toward continuing education credits. Not sure if it’s ok to post the name, Alison feel free to edit, but it’s Littler.

    2. AnonforFriday*

      I don’t know directly, but I was chatting with a relative and complaining about the lack of knowledge in our HR department and she asked “Are they members of SHRM?” From what she said, SHRM is beneficial to stay on top of recruiting/HR legal trends and creates a good network for best practices.

    3. Elle*

      I am an HR manager for a small-ish company, and I do occasionally attend SHRM meetings. For your purposes, I would say go for it. If I sat next to you at a meeting, I would be very interested in hearing what you could offer. We do not have in-house counsel (my boss has commented that he feels lucky to even have an HR person!), so there are times when it would be nice to have someone to call when the more complicated legal issues arise. SHRM members in general are pretty friendly, and usually networking takes place prior to the meeting, so I think this could work out well for you. Their members include all different industries and sizes, so there will probably be plenty of members there who do not have in-house counsel.

  15. Mockingjay*

    I just had an interview. This is the second one with this company. They are considering me for two positions!

    Happy Friday to all!

  16. Anon For Today*

    I’ve had a pretty bad week. I was let go from my job towards the beginning of the week, thankfully they offered severance and an extension of my benefits, as well as a positive reference. I was only in the job about six months, made some accomplishments but the job was going in a direction that was different from what I originally accepted. There were issues in the last few weeks/months with my new manager, who recently started pushing to have an intern for our department and proposing giving this person a majority of my duties. I should have seen the writing on the wall, but I foolishly believed her when she was said she was trying to improve our department and help us both out.
    Anyway, I’m torn about how to explain this as I start to embark on another job search, I know my former employer will provide a positive reference, so I don’t expect any difficulties on that end. I’m confused as to whether they’re writing this up as a firing or something else, especially since they said they would allow me to reapply and be rehired. Part of me believes it was mostly budgetary, since they’re fiscal year ends next week and with the manager proposing hiring an intern, they figured they could have someone do my work for free. (My predecessor was an intern before becoming an employee.)
    My question is, can I call and ask for clarification? Should I? It would look pretty weird, I’d imagine to say “I was fired but my company will provide a positive reference if contacted.”

    1. Jane for Hire*

      I am so sorry to hear! I think stating that you were let go but that your next potential employer can contact your previous one is acceptable.

      1. Anon For Today*

        *Obviously I meant “their” not “they’re”.

        I like this response. This seems like the best way to respond regarding the reference stage of things.

    2. Hermione*

      I’m confused as to whether they’re writing this up as a firing or something else, especially since they said they would allow me to reapply and be rehired. Part of me believes it was mostly budgetary, since they’re fiscal year ends next week and with the manager proposing hiring an intern, they figured they could have someone do my work for free.

      ASK! Please ask. Call them. The language Alison gives in #3 in the link I’ll link below might help.

        1. Anon For Today*

          Thanks for the link.

          I’ll give it a little time and call for clarification. From what I was told, this company doesn’t usually fire people, they let them go. So I’m hoping that’s how they write this up, especially in the light of the conversation I had with HR when I was let go.

          1. zora.dee*

            If they did it for budget reasons, being that it’s a nonprofit, they likely laid down the position to save money. In which case it is a layoff. But definitely ask them to confirm!

          2. BRR*

            I’m sorry this happened. I’m a little confused though. Firing and let go are the same. Do you mean laid off?

            Definitely call and ask for clarification. From your letter it sounds like you might have been fired but it also sounds like you might have technically been laid off but your manager wasn’t a fan of your’s. If you think your manager might not give you a great reference, have a professional sounding friend call and do a pretend reference check.

            1. Anon For Today*

              I was told I would receive a positive reference by HR when they let me go. You’re right that let go and fired are basically the same thing. I’m not sure if they are considering it a firing or a layoff, since all evidence I have is either the position is being eliminated or my job is being replaced with an intern. This org tends not to fire people, so it could go either way. And I was weirdly encouraged to reapply and told that I was eligible to be rehired. Any firing I’ve ever heard of, you’re not eligible to be rehired.

              1. BRR*

                You would also want to shoot for a non-HR reference (unless you worked in HR) because you want a reference that you worked with and can speak to the quality of your work. If not a manager, is there a senior coworker?

                1. Anon For Today*

                  I plan to list my original manager, who I interviewed with and made the hiring decision, as well as the HR person. I’ll confirm that this is acceptable, but yes most companies are going to want to talk to more than an HR person.

    3. Dan*

      By the way, unless you’re working for a non-profit, if your company doesn’t pay their interns, what they’re planning is a rather flagrant violation of the law.

      1. Anon For Today*

        This is a nonprofit, so they can hire an unpaid intern to do my job. And since my predecessor was an intern before becoming an employee, I imagine that will be what they end up doing. My former manager sent out a few emails looking for interns, one of marketing and communications and one for HR. They were hoping to onboard in the next few weeks.

    4. Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      @Anon for Today. Sorry to hear about your situation. It doesn’t sound like you were fired because your former employer says they will provide a positive reference and that you are eligible for re-hire. Also, find out if your are eligible for Unemployment benefits. If you are, then you were not fired. When you go on interviews, you should just explain that your company re-organized and your position was eliminated. When filling out applications, make sure you indicate either laid off or downsized.

      1. BRR*

        I feel like I have a decent amount of experience being fired (ugh) and you can be fired and eligible for unemployment. It depends on the reason you were fired and the state you’re in. Also my last employer fired me but I was eligible for rehire. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I was encouraged to apply to other openings at the university (private, not public which would make more sense about the rehire thing).

      2. Anon For Today*

        Well, they did say they wouldn’t contest unemployment if I filed. I took the comment about reapplying and being rehired with a grain of salt and as more of an attempt to get me to leave without incident. I wouldn’t have made a scene anyway.

  17. Caledonia*

    (I hope I am allowed to post this but will understand if it’s more a weekend post – I am only going to touch on jobs, rather than anything else)

    I am now worried about the job situation throughout the UK and what it means for UK born citizens or others who have come over to work from other countries.

    1. LSCO*

      Yup. Brit here. Thankfully my own job *shouldn’t* be at risk, but I have a lot of friends in jobs which are EU-funding dependant and they are all very concerned. Obviously it’s not as if the plug has been pulled overnight and all funding & programmes stop immediately, but it’s still a very worrying time for them all none-the-less.

      1. Elfie*

        Yup, I work in Higher Education, and a majority of my industry was Remain. I’m not worried for my current job, but I am worried for future job prospects, especially if we’re going to be plunged into another recession that could take 5 – 10 years to recover from.

        1. overeducated*

          Yes, most of the British citizens and residents I know are academics, and even the citizens are personally worried because it could mean losing access to ERC (I think?) grants, which they say are a major source of research funding for young scholars especially. This could have some major ramifications in the university world.

    2. Jwal*

      It’s been really awkward at work. There’s only one person I know of that voted leave and he’s been making gleeful goading comments all day.

      My job itself shouldn’t be affected, but it will impact on a not-insignificant part of what we do and the sector we’re in. Nervous times!

        1. Jwal*

          I went to bed and remain were sure to win. I woke up and when I saw that leave won I honestly felt a bit sick =/

          I don’t want to start a politics rant because it’s probably not the place for it, but it’s so strange to think that the majority of people want this when 99% of people I know didn’t!

      1. Jules the First*

        My job is definitely affected – probably not immediately, but it will have huge implications for the business (half our 400 staff could suddenly need a visa, and 1/3 of our workload might get much trickier if they decide to stop recognising UK qualifications). We had about 100 staff eligible to vote and I only know of two out votes.

      2. NotQuippyToday*

        It’s been awkward at my work too. My much older male boss kept telling me on Friday that everything would be alright in the end, and considering my mom has already been told her job is going to be gone in the next two years and her pension will be affected by that (5 years to retirement), and my colleagues husband is primed to have his job disappear from under him, and the last recession my company only survived because of the massive redundancies (600 gone)… I am not happy. I don’t need a 60 year old man to explain how this is a good thing and how people will be better off in 10 to 20 years.

    3. Aella*

      Yeah. I have moved on to trying to work out what this does to my job hunt, both in the short and long term. I suspect short term good, long term bad.

    4. Cb*

      I’m finishing up a job application right now for a organisation which is heavily funded by the EU. So awkward, have added a sentence about ‘providing necessary expertise at a time of intense change’ but it is really weird. I’m in academia and the % of funding we get from the EU is huge.

    5. Emilia Bedelia*

      My job deals with a lot of international regulations and I’ve been hearing about this all day- the EU has so much regulation and oversight over so many areas, it’s very interesting(and a little scary) to envision the changes that Britain might make

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I felt a bit sick this morning too. I knew it would be a close result, but this is crazy. I am hoping I will be able to stay in the EU country where I currently live and work, but there is so much uncertainty.

        I was reading up on residency as a non-EU citizen and it involves far more administration. (Fixed term contracts, sponsoring, medical examination, permanant address…)

        Anyone for a non-work discussion on Sunday?

    6. FatBigot*

      I think it will take some time for the full affects of the catastrophe to set in. Scotland will exit. Northern Ireland voted along sectarian lines, so could flare up again. UK will loose it’s function as an English speaking bridge to Europe, so the car companies will eventually close their factories and the bankers in the City of London will be on the next plane to Frankfurt. There will be no industry, and no services sector serving Europe, so no tax base. Expect a major recession.

    7. mander*

      I think it’s an absolute disaster and it will have huge effects on my industry. I will be surprised if I have a job in a few months.

      On a more personal note I now feel rather unwelcome here. I am seriously pondering renouncing my British citizenship and trying to move somewhere else. This is not the country I pledged allegiance to three years ago.

      1. Caledonia*

        @ mander, I am so sorry you feel like that. I don’t exactly feel happy myself (I am in Scotland, which voted remain).

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Same here. I am an EU national who happens to be British. I have a good job at the moment (which I got precisely because I am an EU national who happens to be British), but if it is harder for my company to employ me (see above post) then I can understand why they might want to make me redundant and hire a native english speaker from Ireland or Malta.

    8. Nico m*

      Dont worry. Its not going to happen.

      When the actual costs become clear half the Leavers are going to shit themselves and change sides.

  18. Brett*

    So, we had a planned re-organization announced to all of our internal stakeholders early this morning (before the work day even started).

    It had a surprise for me though: I am staying in the role I am covering for as well as taking on another management role in a different aspect of our team. (The person I was covering for is staying at the same level, but splitting off into a different duties. They were actually filling in to cover a gap anyway, and I’ll now be taking on that gap.)
    So, 3 months in and I’m now unofficially a low-level manager 3 months before I can officially be one.

  19. all aboard the anon train*

    Soooooo one of my colleagues is being really passive aggressive and trying to guilt trip me because I have tickets to see Hamilton next week. She keeps saying it must be nice that I have so much money (lol) and that her teenage daughter really wants to see the show and it’s not fair that I get to see it when her daughter doesn’t.

    She only found out because I was talking to another coworker who is also a big Hamilton fan about my upcoming vacation, and I said that I had tickets to see the show when it was Off-Broadway (because I loved In The Heights and I think LMM is wonderful and brilliant, so I figured I’d love whatever his new show was, especially if it was about the Revolutionary War which is my history geek passion lol). A family emergency came up around the time I had my tickets and I couldn’t make the date and then life was crazy so I couldn’t see the show before it moved to Broadway or it’s first few months on Broadway. So I had decided to buy tickets for my birthday this June because I figured it’d be a nice 30th birthday present for myself and it’d be before the original cast’s contracts were up.

    I bought these tickets when the show was still only popular to theatre geeks and before the show became the new popular thing everyone wanted to see — so all the way back in 2015 when there were still $150 orchestra seats and not whatever they’re going for now. My coworker apparently thinks I’m shilling out thousands for tickets and keeps saying that it’d mean more to her daughter than me and that it’s a “shame” she and her daughter don’t have tickets. I totally sympathize with outrageous ticket prices and people who can’t get tickets, but it’s been really annoying me that she thinks she and her daughter are more worthy of seeing this show than I am (and I know this is a popular argument in certain places online). I would have loved to see certain Broadway shows when I was a teenager, but my family couldn’t afford flying to New York and now that I have the money, I want to treat myself to one of my hobbies and passions. I don’t like being made to feel guilty over it!

    It’s not the first time this coworker has done this either. She tried to guilt a different coworker into giving up Adele tickets the last time she was touring, and Superbowl tickets from a different coworker last year. We get free children’s museum tickets and movie tickets through work and she likes to hound people to give up their extras to her.

    And the worst part of it is that this coworker is notorious for saying she’s only working for “fun money” because her husband made bank back in the 90s dot com boom and his current salary is public and he makes more in one year than I’ll make in five. Her “fun money” salary is more than mine. I’ve been ignoring her or laughing off her “it must be nice” comments, but it’s pretty irritating.

    TL;DR: my rich coworker apparently doesn’t want to pay for her own things and thinks she should get tickets other people bought for free.

    1. Sophia in the DMV*

      Ugh. I hate people like that. I would either ignore her, say you bought them before Hamilton blew up or just say that you’re excited to go. Or the standby of “wow” or saying that it makes you uncomfortable when she makes those comments.

      I just bought tickets for the Chicago tour, and through the site, I bought two for 200/each so direct from the source is not as crazy as resellers

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Yeah, it’s been a combo of ignoring her or “too bad you couldn’t get tickets”. There’s a running joke between some of us in the office not to let her know that we have tickets to a popular event or she’ll try to snatch them up.

        Glad you got tickets! The resale rate is crazy. Out of curiosity, I looked at the tickets near my seat location for the show I’m attending and some of them are being resold for $5K+. That’s ridiculous!

        1. Lucky*

          You are going to love it so much. I saw it in April and when people ask how it was, I reply “it changed my life” and I am not being facetious. Don’t let your coworker diminish your excitement and joy.

      2. Eugenie*

        I just got my Chicago tickets too, other seats for my date (in late October) are already on stubhub for twice the face value. So excited I’m going without paying an arm and a leg!

        I skipped an all-staff meeting to hover over the Ticketmaster webpage (and eventually give up and use their automated phone line) and it was totally worth it. Just hoping my boss didn’t notice my absence :)

    2. SophieChotek*

      Well I certainly would not be giving her those tickets!

      Seriously, if you want to make money, I am sure you could get 2x the price you paid for them now!

      this sounds sort of like the boss from the other day that complained about not being able to do anything he wanted to do

      I understand the idea if someone is not using tickets, to ask nicely “hey, does anyone have an extra one they know they won’t use” (so it won’t go to “waste”) but what you are describing is not that at all…

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Ha, one of my friends thinks I should sell the tickets for a lot more than they’re worth, but I’d rather see the show than get the extra money.

        Yeah, I totally would not have a problem with it if I couldn’t go, but she does this to everyone who has tickets to events she wants, but apparently doesn’t want to pay for with her own money. But even then, if I had extra tickets, I’d expect someone would pay me back for them, not just get them for free?

        1. SophieChotek*

          Totally agree about expecting her to pay for Hamilton tix!

          (Extra “free museum” tickets…different).

          But I have an acquaintance/friend-of-a-friend who has promised to rename her child after whoever gets her Hamilton tickets…So there’s an offer for you! (Plus you’d probably get paid too.)

        2. AdAgencyChick*

          Especially Hamilton tickets! In what universe does ANYONE who has not given you a kidney think she is going to beg something so valuable from you?!

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Coworker: It’s not fair that you have tickets and my daughter does not have tickets.
          You: Hmm. You have mentioned this a few times now. Would you like some pointers on getting your own tickets early like I do?

          Coworker: whine, whine
          You: Hmm. This seems to come up often where you miss out on getting tickets for what you want. Do you have a plan to fix this so you get the tickets you want?

          Coworker: more whine, whine
          You: Some how this keeps happening to you. I hope you find a solution, so you can get to see the shows/games you like.

        4. Katie the Fed*

          My husband and I briefly thought of selling our tickets in February to fund our future kids’ college fund but…nah. It was worth it. Like you, I got the tickets way back before it was such a popular show. I regret nothing.

      2. YaH*

        Currently they’re going for more than 10x what OP paid. :D

        OP- Go! Have an amazing time! I am super envious but super excited for you!

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      I have a co-worker like this and it is a special brand of crazy-making for me. I struggled for years trying to think of way to respond that wasn’t justifying or defending my life and it was really stressful. When she says, “must be nice” I now say, “It is. Thanks.” Or, since it’s Hamilton, when she asks you to give up your tickets, start singing “I’m not throwing away my shot!” Do a dance, too.

      Happy Birthday! Have fun!

      1. Book Person*

        Or go with “Washington On Your Side” so you can sing “it must be nice” back at her!

        Bought my tickets for Chicago and am so excited! I ended up buying the season pass, actually, since a) it was still less than what I’d pay to get tickets in NYC, and b) I didn’t want to miss out again!

        1. A Non*

          That was my first thought too! It must be nice, it must be nice to have Ticketmaster on your side!

        2. Lindsay J*

          Like 3 days late but that’s what I’m going to do for Houston. $200 for season ticket for 2016-2017 (and another $200 upon renewal for 2017-2018) and you get to select your seats for Hamilton upon renewal before the general public gets a crack at buying tickets.

          Plus $200 to be able to see 6 shows is a great deal regardless.

    4. Mustache Cat*

      Wait, WHAT?

      This first baffled me, and then enraged me. How on earth does she think that she and her daughter would enjoy the show more? When obviously you are the one who ponied up the money for tickets? How is she so self-centered?

      You should ask you straight out, in a very calm tone, “You seem to really want these tickets. Are you asking me to give my tickets to you?”

      Report back on what she says. I wonder if she’s bold enough to say it outright.

      1. motherofdragons*

        Co-signed. Either she says “Yes, I would!” and you can be like LOL no, or she stammers and flusters and “of course not”s. And either way, following up with a cool “Now that we’re square on this, I’d like to drop this issue” will hopefully shut her up for good.

        Have a marvelous time at the show!! Sadly I think the closest I will ever come is loudly singing “ALEXANDER HAMILTON!” whenever Hamilton is mentioned, to my husband’s great annoyance.

      2. GigglyPuff*

        That’s exactly what I was going to say, something like “I don’t understand, are you asking for my tickets?” Very serious, wtf tone, then ask “why?” and if she says because her daughter wants to see it, “then you should have bought them back when I did.”
        Seriously this should be shut down, cause she’ll probably try to do it again with you in the future.

      3. A Non*

        Obnoxious, arrogant bother: I look forward to seeing the show!
        OP: Seeing the show?
        Obnoxious, arrogant bother: As your guest!
        OP: HAHAHAHA Yeah right.

      4. KR*

        This was what stood out to me. Like,does she literally expect you to give up tickets you paid for so she can go to the show? Who does that? I would look at it like she just said a joke – “Margaret, I already bought the tickets. Are you saying you want me to gift the tickets to you because you want to see it more than me? *Laugh* NOT happening. “

    5. Dawn*

      Pffffffffffffffffff lol, that’s some serious… I don’t know? Social disconnect? Enormous sense of entitlement?

      I’d say ignore it completely, or whenever she starts talking about it just don’t answer at all. Let silence be your answer. A well placed, non-committal “Mmm” would work very well in this situation I think. If you started saying things like oh well, you bought them a long time ago, or how much you’re looking forward to going or whatever this woman would just use it as more ammo to say horribly entitled things.

      And the way she’s acting is WAY more of a reflection on her than it is on you for buying tickets to a play that you’re personally excited to see.

    6. Lily Evans*

      One of my greatest regrets at the moment is that I almost bought tickets back when in November they were more affordable, but I decided to wait because I knew I’d be getting money from my family over the holidays and I figured there’d be more tickets, right? But I can’t believe the gall of your coworker. what did other people say to her in the past when she did this? Maybe if you all present a united front using the same responses she’ll realize that she’s not going to weasel free things out of you guys. (Probably not, but it’s worth a try).

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        They’ve all had the same reactions as me. A combo of ignoring her or saying something like “sucks you didn’t get tickets in time!”.

        I think, like the boss in one of the letters earlier this week, she just wants something to complain about.

    7. Audiophile*

      I can’t stand people who are so petty and jealous of others that they feel it’s ok to make comments like that. I hope you don’t let her ruin your time at Hamilton.

    8. Lily in NYC*

      I have no patience with people like this. I would bring her back the program and leave it on her chair with a note saying “You were right; it WAS really nice!”. OK, I would never really do it but I’d want to. However, what I would do is just roll my eyes at her every time she starts up and say “yeah, you mentioned that once or twice already” and then just ignore her.

    9. Rahera*

      Really excited for you, especially that you got the tickets ages ago before the prices and demand for seats lost touch with reality. Can’t believe the nerve of your coworker. Hope you manage to ignore her rubbish between now and the show. Have a blast when you get there, and enjoy the show for what it is – don’t give that bizarre woman a second thought once the curtain goes up! :)

    10. Girasol*

      If she ever gets someone’s tickets, could you engage everyone else in the group to “must be nice” her to distraction, enough that she never wants to hear that phrase again?

    11. newby*

      Since this is an ongoing pattern of behavior with her, you may want to consider being direct. If she says that she and her daughter would appreciate the tickets more you could say “I’m a huge LMM fan and it is presumptuous of you to say that I could not enjoy it as much as you”. Being called out directly may make her think twice about her passive aggressive tactics. If you think that would make the situation worse you could try “I would rather not talk about my Hamilton tickets. It is making me uncomfortable”.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I saw that! IIRC, there was a similar story on tumblr months ago about someone’s friend who was trying to steal tickets from them.

    12. Kerry (Like the Country in Ireland)*

      This was covered on r/relationships last week! I’d say she should use some of her “fun money” on the fun of treating her daughter then.

      Grrrr. What a toxic, entitled mooch.

    13. Rusty Shackelford*

      I like responding as if people were actually being straightforward:

      For the P/A “must be nice” type of comments, I’d cheerfully agree. “I know, right? It’s AWESOME that I get to see it.”

      For hints that you should give her the tickets, I’d casually drawl “Wow, it almost sounds like you’re saying I should give my tickets to your daughter!” And then laugh my fool head off.

      If she comes right out and explicitly says you should give her the tickets, I’d pretend to misunderstand and say you’re not interested in selling them to her, but perhaps she could find them on StubHub.

    14. SL #2*

      I would give my hypothetical extra Hamilton tickets to a stranger on the street before I would give them to this woman.

    15. Brownie Queen*

      Your co-worker sucks

      Remember that No is a complete sentence next time she has the balls to think asking you for your tickets is an appropriate thing to do.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      What a twit. You owe her nothing.

      Enjoy the show!! I’ll have to wait for a DVD or something–I’m sure there will be one. :) The one I was really bummed about missing was Allegiance.

      1. SL #2*

        I think PBS is doing a Hamilton-themed special where they’re going to show 15 mins of the show? Maybe more than that if they’re allowed to?

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        Thanks! I know Broadway films almost all of their shows, they’re just not released for whatever reason. But they’re taking a big step forward and live streaming a performance of She Loves Me – which is an adorable show – this summer, so hopefully they’ll continue to do that for other shows.

        LMM has said they’re filming Hamilton with the original cast, but no word on when/if it’ll be released to purchase. I hope so!

        1. zora.dee*

          They eventually released Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George, and I bought both DVDs. I really wish they would release DVDs of all the shows, even if they wait till it closes on Broadway, it’s great to be able to watch greats like Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin years later!

    17. Just say No.*

      Your co-worker is waaaay out of line. Shut it down. None of the details matter.. it doesn’t matter if it would ‘mean more to her daughter’.

      No. Just no. Your tickets. Enjoy!!!!! with NO guilt AT ALL.

      (WTH is wrong with co-workers/friends/anyone who does something like this?)

    18. Emilia Bedelia*

      It would amuse me for you to say “well, I bought them for $150, but I’ll sell them for whatever they’re going for right now”

      Also, “oh, well, you know” is my favorite awkward statement comeback. What do you mean? Who knows! If they just want to complain, they fill in the blank with whatever it is they know and they move along

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I use “yeah, huh” said in a flat voice that sounds like I am disconnected from the conversation. The speaker has no idea which of the ten things they just said that I am agreeing with. It’s actually funny to watch.

    19. Sadsack*

      Wow, I hope you have a great time! I’d love to see Hamilton. You should tell your jerk coworker that she can enter the Hamilton lottery online to win tickets for $10! But then she’d have to be able to get there with only a couple of hours notice.

    20. Soupspoon McGee*

      Is she actively asking you for your tickets, or is she whining? I think the response to either scenario is to ignore her or respond with a cheerful (or bland), “If your daughter saves her money and plans ahead, she can do these things too!” And you don’t have to respond to her at all.

      My sister used to try to borrow money from me, and I took to responding to her hints by acting as if she was joking, with a laughing, “Yeah, right!” So that’s an option too. She stopped hinting/asking.

    21. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Ugh, your coworker sounds awful! Sorry you’re having to deal with her.

      Enjoy Hamilton!!! My mom and sister went to NYC in March and decided to spend a day waiting for cancellation tickets. After 10 hours in line, they got standing-room tickets and said it was so worth it! I’m sad I won’t be able to see it before the original cast is gone but I would never in a million years think someone should give up their tickets for me! Some people just have no self-awareness.

    22. toa*

      If I were you, I would be obliviously positive when she makes her comments. “It IS nice! I can’t wait – I’ve heard so many good things and XYZ and blah blah!” Just go on a long excited tangent about how you can’t wait to see it. And if she said her daughter would love to go, I’d just be like ya, who wouldn’t! I’m so glad I bought tickets!

      She’s a jerk. Continue being happy.

    23. Anon Anon Anon*

      What an entitled cow.

      “Would you like me to show you how Ticketmaster works?”

    24. HRish Dude*

      Sounds like she’s upset that she can’t be in the room where it happens.

      I’ll close the door on my way out.

    25. mander*

      So what, she wants you to just give her tickets that she thinks cost you thousands?


    26. Nicole*

      I’ve been sitting here for five minutes ranting to my husband about what an entitled jerk your coworker is because I just can’t wrap my head around how someone behaves like that. It’s one thing to feel a little envious of someone and wish you could go, but to say stuff like “it must be nice” and try to make someone feel guilty? That’s ridiculous! Plus it sounds like she has plenty of money to do whatever she wants so either she’s one of those people who blows it on stupid stuff (like the boss in an earlier post who whined about people’s vacations) or she just likes seeing what she can get for free. Either way she’s terrible. Sorry. Enjoy your show!

    27. Jack K*

      “It must be nice.”
      “Yeah, thanks, it is nice!”

      “It’d mean more to my daughter.”
      “Well, it means a lot to me.” [or:] “If it means so much to her, I’m sure she can find a way.” [or:] “There’s always scalpers.”

      But seriously, your coworker is awful and maybe a slight lack of tact will clue her in on that.

    28. Not So NewReader*

      I hope you chuckle, OP. I just had a situation here were I wrote a check incorrectly LAST year. I mistook a eight for two, so the check was SIX CENTS short. The company waited a full year, and sent me a bill for six cents plus a five dollar service charge.

      I paid it. Then I emailed the company. “I did not realize that six cents was so critical to your continued operation. Next time please call me and I will mail you a check for six cents immediately there is no need to wait a full year.”

      Point of my story is that you might reach a point where you can say, “I did not realize that money was so tight for you, that you need your coworkers to pay for your theater tickets.”
      Don’t waste precious energy getting mad, OP. Just call it what it is and put out in the open for all to see.

    29. Young'n*

      I have never known a rich man to spend his own money when he could be spending somebody else’s.

      Not my quote. But it fits!

      This coirker reminds me of my first roommates mom. Who suggested I go buy a new $100+ Office chair the moment she walked in the room because mine “a little big”

  20. Mustache Cat*

    I’m receiving a formal offer letter today! Goodbye, dysfunctional workplace with high turnover! Goodbye, remote boss whom I love deeply but is not a particularly good manager! Goodbye, terrible incompetent attitude-giving intern who has repeatedly tried to get me in trouble! Goodbye, upper-level manager who complained to a senior VP because I wasn’t nice enough to her! Goodbye, management team that devalues the programs that actually make this nonprofit worthwhile! Goodbye, management team in general!

    Also, goodbye to the coworkers who actually made it worthwhile to come in every morning. I hope your managers stop being mad at you for going on vacation.

  21. Sophia in the DMV*

    What does everyone think of Brexit? For the Friday thread, an emphasis on how it’ll relate to jobs. I was shocked they voted to leave the EU! I’m an academic so I’m curious as to whether it’ll have an effect on UK higher ed

    1. RVA Cat*

      I’m stunned, and really glad I don’t work at a brokerage any more. Any place stock-market related has got to be H E double hockey sticks today.

    2. Tau*

      …let’s just say that today was not a happy day to be a (non-British) EU citizen living in the UK. :(

      I’m kind of struggling with what to do right now. I just… I want to leave. Believe me, I got the message loud and clear and I’m not going to stay where I’m not wanted. Never to mention that I can see the writing on the wall and I don’t think I want to keep watching it from my current vantage point.

      But… I’m a year into my first proper professional job in my career track, of which 6 months was training. I was planning to stay for another year to two years and then look around for another job, possibly in the UK or possibly in my home country (or elsewhere in the EU, IDK, might as well be flexible. Denmark sounds cool.) I don’t feel I can, in good conscience, leave right now – I feel I need to pay my company back for the training they gave me (which was super-thorough and got me from zero knowledge in my field to an effective worker). Even aside from that ethical consideration, my performance reviews have been amazing and so I’m going to want to use them for references in the future, which means not souring the relationship by leaving early. And then there’s the fact that I’m not sure 6 months effective professional experience will be enough to actually qualify me for a job I’d want.

      SO YEAH. I’m probably going to look at what happens and what the plan is and gauge the best time to scuttle off this ship. But wow, today has been an awful day and I kind of want to message every single other EU person I know living in the UK with virtual hugs and pictures of kittens.

      1. RVA Cat*

        So sorry you’re going through this, Tau. I’d imagine you must feel like a New Yorker stuck in South Carolina in 1861…. (thankfully I don’t think it will go off the rails that badly)

      2. Caledonia*

        @ Tau it’s not just the EU people, it’s the Scottish people too where every single area voted to stay. If Scotland come out of the UK but join/stay with the EU, I hope people will feel welcome to live and work here.

        Who knows what will happen, it’s still too early to tell what exactly will change. But I fear it will be more difficult for potential students to study here and the job market will be affected enormously.

        1. Tau*

          @Caledonia – thanks! I lived in Scotland for a long time and only left relatively recently, and everyone was so lovely and warm and welcoming the whole time. I know the Scottish people must be absolutely gutted right now – I really feel for you (at least I, y’know, have the option to leave!), and if Scotland leaves the UK I certainly hope the EU will welcome you back with open arms. :)

        2. Jules the First*

          And the Londoners – we voted overwhelmingly In and we don’t even have the Scotland option.

          Hmmm…if Scotland secedes, can we come?

          1. Tau*

            There was definitely talk about a “United Kingdom” of Scotland and London at work today. (The border can be the M25, said a coworker – it’s hard enough to cross already.) And apparently Nicola Sturgeon has begun making overtures… ;)

          2. Elkay*

            I was also in an area that had an overwhelming remain majority (over 70%). Today has been a horrible day and it’s only going to get worse. Living in England I don’t have the option to stay where I am but get away from the awfulness, I fear the worst with Scotland and NI looking to leave the Union.

          3. JaneB*

            And try being in a “leave” area as a pro EU academic. Today has been awful & we’re really scared about the medium term implications. So sad for my country & my colleagues right now…

        3. Bigglesworth*

          Although I don’t currently reside in the EU or the UK, I’ve been looking at graduate school there (primarily at the University of Edinburgh, Uni of Berlin, and Kings College among others). I’m also really curious to see what this will mean for potential students since I fall in that category.

      3. Jwal*

        If it helps, as a UK citizen I sorta want to not be here either! Whilst I’m sure that a lot of people voted leave for what they thought were sensible reasons, the reasons a worrying number of people have been giving I think actually border on racism.

        I can’t imagine you’re in a great position at all, and I hope you’ve not been experiencing any hostility. Virtual hugs!

        1. Tau*

          Thank you, and thankfully I haven’t been subjected to any actual hostility! At work, most of my coworkers and all the ones I’m closest to voted Remain and have been commiserating. A few voted Leave, but they seemed to have a strangely hard time meeting my eyes today. :|

      4. Elfie*

        My faith in the Great British public has taken a real battering with this result. 52% decided that they were smarter than the experts (of which I don’t count politicians as being experts in anything other than politics!), and have voted to return us to a racist, xenophobic little Britain. Thanks, Brexiters. What’s so frustrating is that the younger generation, who will have to live with this decision the longest, voted Remain. Disheartened.

        1. Sophia in the DMV*

          That’s the crazy thing. I saw a graphic and it showed the stark split in votes between younger and older generations.

          I’m now much more fearful of a Trump win in the US

          1. esra*

            The breakdowns were crazy. The two that stood out to me were: 1. The people who have the shortest amount of time to live with the aftermath (average age 73), were voting to leave, while younger people were voting to stay, and 2. They rated whether or not multiculturalism, feminism, immigration, and environmentalism were forces for ill or good and overwhelming those that thought they were forces for ill voted to leave.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I am hoping that doesn’t happen, Sophia, but I will be at the polls bright and early in November to vote AGAINST the nasty Oompa-Loompa (trump).

            He doesn’t deserve to be capitalized.

      5. Creag an Tuire*

        Yeah, most of my British friends are practically in mourning. (And even the ones who supported “Leave” seem to be saying “wait, I wasn’t expecting to win.”)

        On the plus side for your situation, I believe that in the process of falling on his sword, David Cameron has said negotiations to actually leave the EU will not even begin until his successor is chosen in October, so you have at least 3 months, probably a lot more, to get sorted.

        1. SL #2*

          I’ve seen #Bregret going around on Twitter, which… while not the best hashtag, seems to sum things up pretty well.

        2. RVA Cat*

          “(And even the ones who supported “Leave” seem to be saying “wait, I wasn’t expecting to win.”)”

          All the more reason for those of us in America to show up and vote for Hillary (even if you have to hold your nose) to keep the same thing from happening with Trump.

        3. Tau*

          Yes, I’m definitely crossing my fingers for the bureaucratic process to drag on as long as possible!

          1. Jenny*

            It’s going to drag for at least two years, so in your case that’s long enough to ‘repay’ your employers for that training. And from the sounds of it, your employers are very much welcoming of you as an EU migrant, and probably wanted to remain.

            Personally, I think it’s going to be harder on the UK workers who wanted to work in Europe. It’s an entire continent that will not be open to them in the future. I feel so bad for all the 16 and 17 year olds who have been denied an opportunity to vote for remain since a lot of them probably wanted to experience life abroad when they finished school. The EU residents (like yourself) still have many options.

            There’s so much I want to talk about with this, but this is probably not the right thread and I’ll probably be posting something in tomorrow’s open thread (once I’ve had a bit of time to calm down and let things sink in).

        4. Cáilín*

          At least 2 years and 3 months before UK actually leaves; it’s a 2 year minimum negotiation of leaving terms.

          I lived in UK from aged 19 to 35, moved back to Ireland a few years ago and am due to go back to the UK in August. I have just discovered that the person I will be working with initially (as a contractor) voted Leave; I’m shocked and it is making me think of her differently. She sees my contracting with her as a possible route to partnership. I will definitely be more guarded now.

        5. JaneB*

          David Cameron says dscussions will wait until October – European Commission wants them to start asap & meets Tuesday, I believe. They’ll want to punish Cameron for his destabilising gamble that’s backfired…

          1. Student*

            …or maybe they want to get started on negotiations right away because they realize that catching up with some 40-odd years of treaties will take a long time, and the UK will be negotiating with not only them, but a bunch of other people too.

            So sets the sun on the British Empire.

      6. TheLazyB*

        I spent the day with a Dutch friend who lives here. In my team we have a German and a Swede. My sister lives in Germany. I’m gutted. I’m so sorry.

      7. Observer*

        Well, it’s not going to be a completely done deal so fast. So, yeah, for you it sounds like it would make sense to stay in your position for another year and then start looking outside of the UK. And, you’ll have an answer that any employer would understand (assuming that there is no case of buyers remorse.)

      8. Lucina*

        I know it’s late and maybe you won’t see my reply, but I feel exactly the same, Tau! I am Italian and I have been in the UK for almost 8 years, and well, I’d rather leave, if I’m not wanted. Luckily I work for a European multinational (I have changed job recently but was a move within the same company) and there has been some talk of me moving over to the HQ. I’ll see what happens, but I’ll probably try to do so in the next 12-18 months. What really bothers me is that I know 3 people who voted out: they all told me that immigrants are a problem and need to be stopped at the border… Hellooo have you noticed I’m not local?? I don’t put on this accent for fun! So I wonder if in their heads these dangerous immigrants are just the poor, non-white, and Muslim… (I’m aware this is not statistically significant, I’m just sharing my experience)

      9. anon attorney*

        It’s a catastrophe but I’m really sorry you as an individual don’t feel welcome in the UK any more. Please know that we don’t all feel this way and I hope you’ll accept a virtual hug that says you’re still welcome in this country because as far as I’m concerned you are.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I was very unpleasantly surprised (as an Amurrican). It doesn’t affect my job (other than the way it’s going to affect everyone in the world, you know) but it’s still unsettling. On the other hand, I have family members visiting the UK next month, so it’s probably a good deal for them. ;-)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have family IN the UK. Not to mention friends. :( Though if the pound stays down, it would make the possibility of going to a concert in September in London much easier for me (except for airfare). I’d rather that hadn’t happened, though!

        I was hoping (somehow someday) to emigrate myself, but this probably pretty much ensures I probably won’t be able to due to the job situation. Unless I suddenly come into zillions of dollars and can snap up property, which has about as much chance of happening as flying to the moon on one of Gandalf’s giant eagles! :P

      2. LCL*

        I was also unpleasantly surprised (American.) I had told everyone here that I discussed this with ‘No way will it pass.’ Here on the left coast, everyone I talked with was much more concerned about what was going on in Venezuela.

    4. Caledonia*

      A local uni has just posted this on fb:

      Following today’s announcement that the UK has voted to leave the European Union, I realise that if you are from the European Union you may have some concerns in regard to your position and tuition fee status at the University.

      I want to reassure you that current EU applicants will continue to qualify for funding to cover the costs of their tuition and, should the government decide to change this commitment in the future, the University will cover the cost of their tuition to allow them to complete their degree. Each student is already a valued member of the University of Stars Hollow family. We are committed to taking care of all students and delivering the world class student experience that all will receive at Stars Hollow.

  22. Tilly W*

    Ideas for first day of work attire at a business casual office? I’m struggling with what to wear Monday morning.

    1. GOG11*

      I’d go with dress pants or skirt and a non-t-shirt top or a sheath dress (or other understated type of dress). It’s probably safer to err on the side of a bit too dressy rather than being under dressed.

      1. MaryinTexas*

        Agreed. Business casual is hard because it means different things at different places, and you only get one chance to make a first impression with your new coworkers. So I would wear at the very least some nice trousers, a blouse and maybe a cardigan or blazer. If you’re too dressy, you can easily take off the cardigan/blazer. And here’s a tip I wish I knew sooner: professoional womens shoes can be open in the front (i.e. peep toe) or open in the back (i.e. a mule) but not both (i.e. a sandal, even with a heel). So don’t make the mistake I did by looking professional for business casual, but wearing too casual a shoe. Good luck on your first day!

        1. LegalAdmin*

          Thank you on the shoe advice! I am now glad I talked myself out of that pair of sandals this morning.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          And here’s a tip I wish I knew sooner: professoional womens shoes can be open in the front (i.e. peep toe) or open in the back (i.e. a mule) but not both (i.e. a sandal, even with a heel).

          I wouldn’t say this is universal.

          1. Ilovedonuts*

            In more professional offices, this womens shoe description is very standard. Sandals are a no-no and will get you sent home.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              But Tilly referred to this as a business casual office. Kind of the opposite of a “more professional” office. The no sandal rule may be a standard for “more professional” offices, but it’s still not a universal rule, and it most likely doesn’t apply to Tilly’s situation.

              (But yeah, I’d play it safe the first day.)

    2. Cookie*

      I like a knee length dress with matching cardigan. Most business casual places I’ve been tend to be EXTREMELY casual and I’m usually overdressed (but happy and comfortable) in a cotton dress.

    3. Tau*

      I tend to go with slacks/dress pants with nice flats and some sort of long-sleeved top or a button-down under a V-neck, sometimes with a cardigan, but that’s slanting towards the casual end of business casual and not super-feminine (which suits me but probably not that many women, and I’m also in tech so there is weirdness here that does not necessarily apply). I’d probably suggest a blazer for the first day, as it’s more formal than a cardigan and as others say you can always leave it off if it ends up being too formal. I also see a lot of dresses and skirts among the other women in the office, so that does definitely qualify.

      Also, I think everyone is going to be relatively sympathetic if you miscalibrate a bit on your first day, but far more sympathetic if you miscalculate towards “too dressy” rather than “too casual”.

    4. Nervous Accountant*

      Were you able to see what people wore during the interview? Including the interviewers? I’d take their cue and then plan accordingly.

      On my first days I always wore dress slacks and a button down shirt. I refer to it as my interview & Day 1 outfit. lol

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, I’d plan to try to match the formality of the interviewers (assuming all your interviews weren’t on a casual Friday). Business casual is very widely encompassing term, with everything from 1 step down from a suit (so blazer+ non-matching dress, skirt or pants, but possibly still in suiting fabric) to 1 step up from jeans and t-shirts.

        Can you give us the general level of what you saw people wearing? For men: was it button down shirts and dress pants, with or without a tie? More of a polos and khakis kind of place (this is the male uniform at most of the business casual places I’ve worked)? Jeans and hoodies? For women: suit dresses? Blazers? Dress pants or pencil skirts and blouses? Khakis, capris or other more casual pants with nicer t-shirts?

        Personally, my “I’m not sure how dressed up or not to get” outfit is a nice blouse/shirt, black dress pants and a cardigan – or if you saw a lot of women in dresses or you just like dresses/skirts yourself, you could do a pencil skirt instead. Wear shoes you can comfortably walk in, rather than going for something out of your comfort zone just to look nice but feel uncomfortable.

        Wear a top you like that isn’t too fussy, since you might have an ID picture taken on your first day. Good luck and enjoy the new job!

        1. TheCupcakeCounter*

          My first interview I was in a suit and everyone else was in jeans and flannels (week between Christmas and NY in Michigan). Second everyone but my hiring manager was in a suit & tie (he was in dress slacks and a button down. They were going through a reno at the main office so interviews were offsite for safety reasons so I didn’t get to observe people until my first day. I was pretty certain that only higher ups wore suits (I was entry level) so wore black dress pants, heeled boots, a shell and cardigan with a coordinating blazer in the car. I got there early and tried to watch people going in but everyone wears coats in February. Went with the cardigan and was just right as Goldilocks would say.

    5. Nanc*

      I would wear nice dress pants on the first day. You never know when you might end up having to crawl around on the floor because you have to learn to open the fireproof safe which is set in the floor of a closet with no interior light fixture. Yeah, that was an interesting first day for me!

    6. Sutemi*

      Many companies take headshots for the internal directory/badges on the first day. Consider how you would look in a headshot in various tops when choosing the outfit.
      I tend towards a bit dressy on the first day, but with comfortable shoes since there is sometimes a lot of walking. Layers can be useful since you won’t know if the buildings run hot or cold.

    7. Emilia Bedelia*

      Here’s my funny story about clothes: when I started my first internship,which was in a production facility, I freaked out about clothes and wore khakis, a button down, and flats. I should have guessed from my interview, where the most dressed up person had on jeans and a cardigan, but everyone else was in jeans and t-shirts. Everyone I talked to very nicely commented “you’ll love it here, we’re very…. relaxed. We’re really…..low key”. I got the hint and wore jeans and sneakers the next day. Everyone made sure to tell me how “comfortable” I looked :)

      Anyway, no matter what you wear, I recommend choosing a favorite or reliable outfit. Don’t buy something new- make sure you’re wearing something you’re comfortable in that will make you feel good. I wore my favorite sweater(black/white stripes) and comfortable black pants that I knew fit well. Just knowing that I liked my outfit and felt good in it was a big confidence boost. For makeup, if you wear it, understated is best- start with neutrals and see what other people wear before you try more dramatic looks if you’re into those

    8. TheCupcakeCounter*

      My go-to is always black or gray dress slacks (I have great pair of slim fit ankle length black pants for summer) and mid-heeled pumps (my go-to are a quality pair of black peep-toes at about 2 1/2 inches…makes me nearly 6′ tall so its a bit of a confidence booster). I also make sure that my top doesn’t even have a hint of cleavage (which I try to avoid at the office anyway but I’m definitely more cautious in the first days until I see the norm) like a button-down or a cardigan/twin-set.

    9. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I always wear a suit, that way I can take off the jacket and it’s just dress slacks and a button-up/blouse. (Plus you don’t know if the office will be warm or cold! My current office was SO warm the first day I was there, I was so happy to be able to take off my jacket to cool off. I am generally cold-natured so I would have been happy to have the jacket if the A/C was up too high.) And comfortable shoes, you usually get a tour of your office building, usually get taken around to meet people.

    10. JennyFair*

      It really does vary. My office is supposedly business casual, with extremely weird guidance (You may wear open toed or close toed shoes…like…okay…so I should wear shoes?). They only say what *to* wear, and not what *not* to wear, so from that I’ve gathered I shouldn’t be sleeveless. Complicating things further, I work in an office that manages a laboratory and very dirty field work, so of the entire crew only two of us *ever* wear something we wouldn’t want to get filthy in, and I sometimes end up working in the lab or field and thus have to have a change of clothes, including steel-toed boots. One Friday, fed up with my wardrobe, I wore a jean skirt and my Bloomsday race shirt. I came in the door and announced to my boss that I had declared it Casual Friday. He asked how that was different from any other Friday :) So either he doesn’t notice that I’m usually dressed nicely, or he doesn’t care. All that to say that it really, truly does vary. When I was job hunting, after working from home for 6.5 years, I reviewed the Corporette website (for styles…like anything there would ever be in my budget?) and performed a lot of Pinterest searching. And finally, congrats on the new job!

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

    Can you search for a job while out on FMLA? I have been out a week and will likely be out another 6. I was already looking before this. I assume I can’t start a new job until I’m cleared to return, right? How do I handle questions about that if it comes up? Or should I just stop looking and refuse interviews until it’s over?

    1. Laura*

      I believe you can do whatever you want, just as you would if you were going to work every day.

    2. CAA*

      You can start a new job while on FMLA if the activities associated with the new job can be performed while you have the condition that caused you to be on leave from the old job. E.g. if your old job required a lot of standing and walking, and you’re on leave because you broke your ankle; but the new job is entirely sitting, and you can do it with a broken ankle, you can go back to work if you wish.

      However, if you don’t return to work at your previous employer, they are entitled to collect from you the amount they paid in health insurance premiums to cover you during your leave.

      If anybody asks during an interview, “I am available to start on date X.” (If you don’t have an offer now, you’re unlikely to get one so quickly that X will be unusually far out.) There’s no requirement to notify the new employer that you were previously on FMLA. Do keep in mind that you won’t be able to take another FMLA leave at the new employer until you’ve been there a year, though they may have other types of leave that you could use if you needed it.

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

        Thanks. I’m hoping this will be resolved within the time frame given and won’t be an issue going forward.

  24. ACA*

    Wanted to throw this situation out to the readers – a friend’s coworker (Lucinda) was run over in the company parking lot, during work hours, by a company employee driving a company car. However, Lucinda had not yet clocked in to work. Is she eligible for worker’s comp? Obviously she has the right to sue the driver, but is the company also liable in this situation?

    1. Ankle Grooni*

      Depends on a couple of factors. Such as: Is this an employee only parking lot or a public one. Plus it may be a battle between the WC and the car insurance company. The employer should make a report to the WC carrier and car insurance carrier and let them sort it out. However it will not be a fun time for your friend’s coworker.

    2. Leatherwings*

      This is probably something that the workers comp company would want to hear about and would decide on their own. Of course that requires the employer to call them, though. Any rational employer would rather be safe than sorry on this.

    3. Ilovedonuts*

      The Company is definitely liable, but maybe not in a WC context b/c she was working when it happened. She should definitely contact a PI attorney. What state did this happen in?

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            LOL exactly what I thought of! “Sometimes, I run people over with my car. So sue me.”

            I mean, I hope the coworker is OK and everything…

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Wouldn’t the company be liable either way, if an employee in a company car hit her? Or was the employee not on the job at the time?

        1. RKB*

          But she wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for her job, right? For my work, I was told even being injured on my commute makes me eligible for WC, because I wouldn’t be heading that way if it weren’t for my job.

          However I’m in Canada, not PA.

    5. Bagworm*

      It’s a different circumstance but I was in a car accident leaving an off-site meeting but no longer on the clock (I’m exempt and don’t really clock in and out). Worker’s comp did cover it. Although, I think that may have been my work place being conservative.

    6. BRR*

      I’m not sure but she should report it immediately to the company and not take the company’s word on things.

    7. Increased Risk Doctrine*

      It really depends on the state and the circumstances, such as if the parking lot is owned or controlled by the company. She needs to request compensation of her employer in writing. If they deny it, she needs to retain a lawyer and then the courts will decide if she receives compensation or not (based on case law and prevailing doctrine for that state). If it falls under workers’ compensation, then she actually doesn’t have the right to sue the driver, because it is a coworker, and this is the reason that any smart employer will quickly cover a claim like this. The employer has much more liability if it doesn’t fall under work comp.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      An odd thing to look for: My old company had accident insurance for us that covered us on the way to and from work. I am throwing this out there on the one in a million chance that Lucinda’s company had a similar thing. It’s probably pretty cheap to get so that is why the company had it.

  25. Ankle Grooni*

    HR Question here: I work at a small, non-profit university in Illinois. We do not do e-verify for I9 forms. Does anyone else use paper I9 forms and how do you store them? Currently we use binders but they are bulky and hard to keep organized. I’m just day dreaming of another way.

    1. Dawn*

      It would add another step, but you could get a drop-through scanner and scan them all, then store the actual papers in archives boxes. You’d have the scans to pull info off of or make prints or whatever, and you’d have the papers if you ever needed the actual paper.

    2. Belle*

      I have stored them in binders by start date and then keep them out of sight. Once a month I will take out the employees who have left and put them in a terminated binder. Then I shred these documents once I have hit the date for retention purposes.

    3. PeachTea*

      We scan the originals, along with the copies of the documents and E-Verify result, then shred them.

  26. Marie*

    Boss is out for vacation today until after the holiday. I’m so happy! I don’t know why but I love it when the boss isn’t here.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      The week of July 4 my whole office is gone! There is something refreshing about the peace and quiet. Enjoy it!

  27. anon HigherEd*

    I tried to get a job in HigherEd for over a year and now that I finally got one, I AM STRUGGLING. I got a position supporting research and grants and I have no idea what I am doing. My boss has already expressed concerns over my slow learning even though I have only been here for about 6 weeks. I am trying as hard as I can to understand all of this. I am relatively young and don’t have a lot of work experience in this kind of thing (which I thought I made pretty clear in my interview). Are there any resources to help me out there all you HigherEd folks? I am dealing with extreme anxiety and panic attacks bc I worked so hard to get here and I feel like I am letting everyone down. Thoughts? Advice?

    1. Hellanon*

      Lots of big(ger) schools have websites devoted to making sure their researchers can put together competitive proposals – look for titles like Office of (research development, sponsored projects, proposal development, that sort of thing), and read everything you can. For general grants/grant writing resources, the Foundation Center is an excellent resource & has lots of free stuff like short webinars on their site.

      Also, though, you should be reading the guides on the Federal websites – I assume you’re supporting PIs writing NIH/NSF-type grants? You’ll need to read the proposal solicitations in great & exhaustive detail – that’s always the first step. NSF also publishes guidelines on its site… Good luck! It’s a steep learning curve but totally not an impossible one.

    2. Tardis*

      Procedures for research grants are intricate and vary a fair amount from university to university. I’ve hired people for these positions who have struggled, and the main thing thing that set them apart from the people who really excelled was organizational skills. Our hires who lost track of grant reporting deadlines (!), forgot to take our incoming grants to our development office to be deposited (!!), and left donor checks lying around in their office (!!!) were the hires who were bad at time management and prioritizing. It also really helps to understand how the university is structured so that you can visualize the approval processes for research projects and grants.

      Without knowing the specific procedures of your university, I’d recommend you focus on perfecting your organizational and time management skills, and ensuring that you understand 100% what your priorities should be (e.g. project deadlines or grant report deadlines?) so that you throw your weight behind the projects that matter the most to your manager. Keep track of the items you are responsible for, even if it’s a paper list with check marks. And, for the love of God, please don’t miss a grant reporting deadline.

    3. fposte*

      There are video tutorials and webinars for some funding programs–you could have a look and see if those help you.

      But can you be a little more specific about what you’re doing and where you’re struggling? We may be able to offer more specific suggestions–if you’re confused about deadlines, that’s different than if you can’t find a DUNS number, or if you aren’t sure how to check somebody’s IRB plan.

      1. anon HigherEd*

        I am supporting a state funded grant and a DoD consortium. There are a ton of moving parts and I am working with people who are spread out across the country. My manager’s “training” involves rattling info off to me ONCE and expecting me to understand immediately or ask questions immediately. I didn’t know anything about reasearch/grants before I started this position and I am struggling to absorb all of the information and keep it straight. I feel like I need “Research and Grants for Dummies” bc I can’t seem to wrap my head around everything. I’ve asked her to slow down, but she’s been “doing this for 20 years” and seems more annoyed with me than anything when I ask questions or she has to repeat something over and over.

        1. anon HigherEd*

          I have never worked in HigherEd before either, so I am trying to adjust to a completely different work environment with a lot of different processes, so I can’t tell if I am just letting my anxiety overwhelm me or I really can’t do this. I’m also in charge of monitoring a multi-million dollar budget when previously I only deal with say a 20k budget, so I feel lost and overwhelmed.

        2. fposte*

          It is ironic but true that academia often sucks at training employees. Maybe we can help that along here a little. Can you explain more what kind of support you’re doing? It looks like budgets are a big part, but is that all of it? What organization tools do you use? It sounds like maybe looking at some project management stuff would help (and there is actually Project Management for Dummies!).

          Multimillion-dollar budgets are like 20k budgets; they’ve just had children and grandchildren. Just take it in pieces.

          1. anon HigherEd*

            50% is doing normal admin stuff like reconciling credit cards, ordering stuff, scheduling interviews/meetings, organizing paperwork.
            50% is financial in managing the budget reports, looking for problems, etc.

            It doesn’t seem that hard, but the rules for state vs. fed are different and I am supposed to help compile all the required reporting and back up documentation for these grants. I have 31 grant codes she expected me to memorize. Unfortunately, I think boss uses Oracle and Congos for her reporting but she only wants me to use the University created financial reporting software. So besides all of the University’s training guides and the pretty unhelpful guides from the Research Office, I’ve just been trying to look through everything and understand it as best I can. I am kind of a slow learner until it “clicks,” but she doesn’t seem to have much patience (again I did say this in the interview and I am 26–at least 10 years junior to everyone else here).

            1. anon HigherEd*

              I am very worried about missing a mistake bc I thought I understood something, but really I didn’t. I guess I just want to know if it’ll get better eventually. lol

              1. fposte*

                You’ve been there only six weeks, so it’s pretty unsurprising that you’re still figuring it out–it will get better eventually :-).

                In the meantime, I’d say make your own cheat sheets as much as possible, and if you can get a text version of the training guides that you can amend or annotate, do that.

    4. BRR*

      You’ve only been there six weeks. Nobody can learn everything about a job in six weeks. My first thought is are you always carrying a notebook and writing everything down?

    5. Alice 2*

      Whoops, I posted this at the end of the thread. I hope you see this so late, anon higher ed.
      If you are getting any questions about research data management plans or public access compliance, see if someone at the medical or science library at your university can help. Two small parts of the federal grant ecosystem. Good luck!

  28. Gaia*

    I have a conundrum. I have to delivery a message to one of my team members that I fundamentally and absolutely do not agree with.

    Backstory: this team member struggled early on in the year and was put on a final warning. Since then, he has made significant improvements. Unfortunately, our HR manager decided that anyone who had any warning status this year will receive no raise. This isn’t something we’ve ever done before (usually they’d get a COL increase but no merit) and it isn’t something that has ever been mentioned. I have a visceral reaction to this in a real negative way. I think it is fundamentally wrong to have something like this impact pay when it has never happened before, is not any stated policy and is retroactive. I understand why they want to do this but I think we should change it going forward and not grandfather people in.

    Unfortunately, I worry this may demoralize this employee and take us several steps back in his progress. I have to delivery the message next Friday in his annual review and while I plan on discussing the issues he had early in the year, I also want to praise him for the drastic turnaround we saw.

    I understand as a manager I need to deliver the message and support the company decision. But as a human, I feel gross about it. Any advise?

    1. Amy S*

      Have you talked to your manager about your concerns? Are there other people in your position who may be feeling the same way?

    2. Dawn*

      I’d put extreme emphasis on the improvement you’ve seen, how great that improvement is, etc etc, and then be very explicit in saying that HR has decided to enact this rule, you argued against it, but it’s the company’s final decision and it’s out of your control. Make it obvious you have his back and that you don’t agree with what was decided.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        This, and also stress that due to the improvement, this employee is on track to receive a raise next year, assuming they keep up the good work.

    3. BRR*

      I’m with you that this is a dumb decision from the HR Manager. Can you try and give him something else although I can’t imagine there’s much you can do? Maybe a preference on projects?

      1. BRR*

        This is blunt and might be unpopular but as someone who has had performance issues in jobs, when you’re performing so poorly that you almost lose your job, no raise is better than no job. What I don’t see in your letter is if he’s better or great. Remember raises are partially/largely a retention tool.

          1. BRR*

            In that case I would talk with your boss and try to advocate for a raise. Because you want to give raises to your strongest performers to keep them. Don’t let HR damage your team’s output.

            1. Gaia*

              Unfortunately, neither I nor my boss have the final say. This was a company wide HR decision that applies across the board.

  29. TotesMaGoats*

    So, my single direct report who handles all the paperwork and application processing for 10 graduate programs resigned. Her last day was yesterday. It was a surprise because she had seemed quite happy and I was really flexible about working around her kids school schedule. We chatted about life. All seemed well. So, that came out of left field two weeks ago. Come to find out she’d been talking with HR about internal opportunities and what not. Seriously?? Come talk to me. In no way am I an ogre. So, I was annoyed on top of blindsided. I gave in an threw a little farewell party yesterday. Just cookies and conversation. Got her a card. It was nice and probably more than someone who barely made it 9 months should get. Get this: she didn’t even say goodbye when she left. Also she deliberately walked the long way around our U-shaped office to avoid walking past my door. How weird is that?? She also left the FREE tshirt we’d given out to staff for the summer events. Who doesn’t need a t-shirt?? Trying really hard not to take it personally because she was absolutely a strange duck. But at the same time, I’m all “damn it, I’m a good boss and a good person, why are you doing this?” I’ll get over it. I’ve got 7 days and 4 and a half working days left till vacation where I’m going completely off the grid, work email-wise.

    1. Amy S*

      Yes, try not to take this personally if you can. It’s possible she wanted to leave for reasons that have nothing to do with you. If her job mainly consisted of processing paperwork, perhaps she wanted to move into a more challenging or different role?

      I also think she was avoiding you because she probably either felt awkward or felt bad for leaving. I have left all my jobs on good terms but I still hated having to say goodbye. Her actions were a bit immature, but I wouldn’t worry about it further.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Well, I know she ended up getting a role she really wanted in line with her experience. She was an odd duck anyway. So, while I was irritated that she didn’t say good bye, she never said goodbye when leaving for the day.

    2. Mustache Cat*


      Honestly, some people have this weird idea of workplace norms in their head for their entire lives, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I guess you just ran into one of those people. Hopefully your next direct report will be better!

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Ugh, that would really bother me as well. It’s hard not to take these things personally. We have an admin who is like this – it’s her first office job and she always walks around like she is just SO ABUSED by our expecting her to actually do some work. She has not spoken to her supervisor in 3 months because she was butthurt for not getting all 5s on her review (people rarely get any 5s, but she is just so clueless about how an office works and assumes she’ll be getting a 10% raise every year, when 4% is considered a very good raise here). Her boss is fantastic and everyone coddles this woman and she is going to get the shock of her life when she moves on and realizes how good she really had it here. She gets 4 weeks of vacation and complains it’s not enough.

      1. Anxa*

        So, a little off topic…but what kind of skills does this person have that makes her so indispensable?

    4. fposte*

      I’ve had that internal drama. I do think it helps to be philosophical about the fact that some people just aren’t going to like me, and it doesn’t mean I was awful; we just didn’t click.

    5. Beezus*

      That sucks! She does sound like she had some strange behaviors, but if she was able to find something that matched her goals better, I guess it makes sense for her to move on. Better leaving than staying and being resentful.

      I would have left the t-shirt, though – I don’t wear them that often, and I have more than I need. I would definitely not want one related to a job I held briefly.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      If it makes you feel any better, I’d prefer to slip out the back door without saying goodbye to a single soul, and it has nothing to do with how I feel about those people. It’s just uncomfortable saying goodbye.

    7. Somebody Else*

      FWIW, I’m looking right now, and don’t have any intention of telling my manager till I have my resignation letter written. How am I to know for sure she’s not an ogre? What’s the risk/reward of telling vs. not telling?

      Risk of telling: instant firing, badmouthing, grumpy manager who makes your life harder while you’re searching. Reward of telling: having an ally in your search who supports you. High risk, high reward.

      Risk of not-telling: grumpy manager. Reward of not-telling: way lower risk.

      What signals could a manager give to employees in favor of trust and a transparent process? Honestly, it would be hard to make those signals universal (if they did become universal, jerks would abuse them, and the trust would go away again). If I trusted my manager, if I thought she intended to do right by me, I would have told her (I have done in the past, and that time had a really supportive, wonderful manager who was really happy for me). It sucks from the manager’s perspective, I am sure. But that employee was just protecting herself as best she knew how.

      1. Laura*

        This 100%. I also work in higher ed like OP. My manager is a nice woman, but I don’t trust her enough to feel comfortable telling her about a job search. My career aspirations are my own business.

    8. Barkis' Old Clothes*

      I don’t know, but they way you describe her and your reaction to her leaving, I think I’d want to avoid you too. Not thinking she was worth a card and cookies, plus the “odd duck” comments; I’m sure she was able to detect at least some of your negativity. Maybe the avoidance on her part was a little immature, but she might have figured you were already a bridge burned.

      1. Sophia in the DMV*

        Yeah, the comment that a card and cookies was more than she was worth BC she had only been there 9 months raised a flag for me. Maybe reflect a little to think about how you can be a better boss.

      2. Anon13*

        I agree. I think of lot of this former employee’s behavior was a reaction to the OP’s behavior. And the OP does seem like she was upset and annoyed that the employee chose to leave, so it seems the employee may have made the right choice in not telling her manager ahead of time.

        Perhaps she didn’t take the free shirt because she felt it was a perk for employees and she wouldn’t be there for upcoming summer events. That in particular struck me as an odd thing to be upset over.

      3. Marvel*

        Yeah, I’m in agreement here. She might have had lots of reasons for leaving that had nothing to do with you, OP; I don’t see any reason to take this so personally, and the fact that you are is kind of a red flag to me.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed, detach, detach, OP. She did not resign from being your best friend, she did not resign from being your favorite aunt, she was your employee that is all.

          Way too much upset going on here that could have been reduced by conversation. Did you ask her why she wanted to move? Did you ask her about her time with you?

          Have you had employees resign before? If you haven’t, the first one or two it’s important to tell yourself to not respond emotionally. A tool I have used is to force myself to look at it from the employee’s perspective.

          Another consideration I always think of is the lesser the pay the more likely an employee is to move on. If the job does not pay much then turn over is to be expected.

          I tend to run intuitive from time to time. I would have sensed your upset, not known why and avoided you, also. It is amazing how much people telegraph and have no clue their message is being sent out.

      4. Amy*

        Agreed. OP’s posts here completely rubbed me the wrong way- they’re all about her, not any thought for her employee. Why should an employee have to tell you she’s thinking of leaving? There’s no benefit to her in doing so, and a lot of possible consequences. Be understanding of other people and think about their motivations. You seem to expect her to have given you a lot of consideration but given her none at all.

        Saying that someone who “only” makes it 9 months barely deserves cookies, a card and conversation? That’s ridiculous. I left a job after 3 months once and was given a bottle of wine, some flowers and a leaving card. I’m not saying that’s the norm or reasonable to expect. But if you’ve been working in basically a 2 person team with someone for nearly a year, giving them some cookies is not the hardship you make out.

        “Who doesn’t need a T-shirt?” is the most ridiculous complaint I’ve ever heard of and I literally can’t figure out why you’re offended about it at all. Taking you literally, I don’t need a T-shirt because I have a whole wardrobe full of clothes I’ve chosen to buy myself. More broadly, who DOES need a T-shirt that presumably advertises/has the logo of an institution they no longer work for?

    9. FutureLibrarianNoMore*


      I’d have avoided you too. I understand that you’re clearly feeling a bit blindsided, and that can absolutely lead to a lot of hurt feelings. But your behavior is entirely uncalled for, and I can see why she avoided telling you and avoided seeing you.

      I really encourage you to sit down and take some time to reflect. Why did you react this way? Do you think behaving like this reflected poorly on you, or on the employee? What do you think this employee thinks of you? How do you think this employee would describe you to someone in the community now?

      Maybe asking yourself some of these questions will alter your perspective.

  30. Fabulous*

    About to submit another slew of applications this weekend. My job search started Nov 2014 and I’ve only had a handful of interviews in that time (read: probably less than 10, I stopped keeping count bc it was depressing). Thankfully I’ve been employed in a few longer-term temp jobs during the majority of this time.

    Fingers crossed this batch will turn out well!!

  31. March*

    I want to send in a resume to a company where I had two work terms. They don’t have any job postings up at the moment, and the department I worked in (and would be best suited to work in) is fairly small and stable, but I figure that it can’t hurt to have my resume on file. Problem is, I can’t quite figure out the best way to send it in.

    I got along really well with my supervisors and they gave me glowing evaluations when I left, though since they’re quite busy and I was in school the majority of my communications with them since has been to let them know that I had interviews and they might get a call for references, or to ask if they knew anything about a work term posted at the company in another department. Neither is or was in a managerial role, they’re responsible for supervising work term students but that’s the extent of their management positions. I don’t know if I should send my resume to the HR email given on the company’s career page, and let my supervisors know, or if I should send it to them. I admit that I’m hesitant to email them and say I’m trying to find a job, if only because a guy I know became a financial adviser and continues to send me messages on Facebook, asking me how I am only so that he can segue into trying to offer his services as an adviser. It’s annoying, and when I think about emailing my former supervisors I can’t help but think about those messages, wondering if I’m doing the same thing by emailing them.

    On top of that, I was at a trade show yesterday where I ran into the head of the department I worked in, a C-level executive. We chatted for a few minutes and I mentioned I was trying to find a job, but we didn’t really talk much about it. Is that worth mentioning in an email to my supervisors, if I let them know I’m submitting my resume? Just as a quick “Ran into Jon Snow at [trade show] yesterday, it was nice to see him! He mentioned how busy the department is, I hope you’re not completely bogged down with work.”

    1. fposte*

      I wouldn’t mention the CEO unless he said something specific about your sending in your materials. But this isn’t like your financial adviser pest, either. I would contact the supervisor most likely (rather than a blast of several) with resume attached, and say “Hey, I loved working for you guys and would really like to be considered for an opening when you get one. Should I send this to the HR contact as well?”

      1. March*

        That seems like a good idea! I don’t think my supervisors have much say in the hiring process – beyond being able to put in a good word to their boss – but that sounds like a pretty good way to navigate the situation. Thanks!

  32. Amy S*

    How soon is too soon to request vacation?

    I am taking two days off next week for a family vacation. A good friend of mine reached out to me yesterday and asked if I would be up for a trip with her towards the end of August. This would require me to take an additional 2-3 days off in just under 2 months. Is it reasonable to think it’s okay to put in this request?

    1. GOG11*

      Unless you’re new, I’m assuming you mean how far in advance of the vacation is too far (not how soon into the job is too soon). I am taking time off in July and requested it back in March. I’d have requested it sooner but they were overhauling our PTO system so I waited until that was all settled before requesting my time. I don’t think it’s bad to request that far in advance at all.

      1. Amy S*

        I’m actually wondering if it is okay to have two vacations occur two months apart. I should have made that more clear, sorry about that!

        I’ve been with my current company for about a year and my manager is pretty easygoing when it comes to requesting days off. I’ve just never taken two vacations within a couple months. Usually I will request vacation, wait a few months and then put in another request.

        1. GOG11*

          With your time away being as short as it is, I don’t think it’s a big deal, especially if your manager isn’t uptight about time away.

        2. Red*

          Personally speaking, I have 6 days off in July, 3 in August and 4 in September. But then I won’t take time off again til February, so my boss is fine with it.

    2. Leatherwings*

      As long as you’re not brand new, this would be fine in any workplace I’ve been in. Especially because 2-3 days just isn’t a huge chunk of time in the scheme of things.

      1. Amy S*

        Thank you both for the feedback! I feel a little better about submitting this next vacation request now. :)

        1. ThatGirl*

          I agree, those are both fairly short. Two 10-day vacations in two months would probably be a bit much but what you describe seems normal.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            I took five days off at the beginning of June and will be taking off five more days the second week of July – my division will deal. I earned that vacation time and I’m taking it guilt free (my next vacation after this will be a long weekend in September).

    3. AnonForTodayBecauseReasons*

      That would be totally fine at my job. I’ve got a 2-day vacation next week coming up and a couple of days in early August too, and another day in September. My company is pretty flexible – if you have the Vacation time to cover it and give us advance notice go for it.

      1. Amy S*

        Thanks all! I have this tendency to feel guilty about being there because others have to cover for me. Something I’m trying to remember is I have covered for other staff and entire departments a lot over the past six months. A few days here and there surely shouldn’t be a big deal. :) I also need some time off every now and then to keep my sanity!

    4. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Those time frames (both the duration and the distance apart) are non-issues for most jobs. The only time I remember any of my managers being irked was when a co-worker took 5 weeks of vacation over 3 months and the new hire who pretty much used it as he accrued it (as in earned about 2 hours of PTO/week and after the first month took a Friday or Monday off every time he had more than 8 hours accrued as well as a lot of half-days. His highest PTO balance ever was 12 hours and then asked for an advance on his PTO to cover a week long vacation starting the next week (bought plane tickets without getting it approved first).

  33. Regular posting going anon for today*

    I’ve gotten really lazy at work. I do the absolute BARE minimum now. Our busy season ended a few months ago and I was a high performer during that time. I was making 5 teapots a day but since then, I’ve barely touched 5 in the last 3 months.

    This quarter is a slow time. My job duties also changed/increased after the quarter ended, so i focus more on that. We all joke about it.

    But I’m getting worried and nervous.

    I haven’t been called in for any talks/conversations with my supervisors/managers. My first year here, I was getting a lot more feedback/criticism for even a missed email. Since this quarter….I really haven’t had a lot of feedback, which has me thinking:

    1. I’m not as bad as I think
    2. They don’t notice that my output has drastically reduced
    3. They do and aren’t telling me and I’ll be blindsided with a firing.

    Everytime I start on a teapot, I get distracted by a phone call, email, or someone around me talking, or kitten pix/videos, or a butterfly will fly by. I put on headphones and listen to music to drown out people talking, but then I get distracted by the videos or kitten pix etc.

    I really like my job, my coworkers, the line of work I’m in and my company. I have all the best resources at my fingertips, and I could learn so much. Also, I have some goals that, right now, seem like just a pipe dream.

    I feel stuck. I don’t know what to do and why I’m so lazy now.

    1. GOG11*

      I struggle similarly when it’s slow. Being busy creates a certain degree of pressure and accountability that helps me focus, but having fewer tasks peppered throughout downtime with little external accountability makes it really tough.

      Can you group the tasks and have busy days? If you’re anything like me, once you’re in the zone, you can ride the wave and get a good deal accomplished before fizzling out. Could you approach your manager and say “I’ve been having more downtime lately. I’ve tackled X, Y, and Z, but I’m finding I still have extra time and would be happy to pitch in with other projects or utilize [resources – assuming professional development?] to improve on [skill], which would help with [job thing]. What are your thoughts?” If you’ve already tackled all the things you can access on your own, getting more from your manager may make you more productive and help out your company at the same time.

      Good luck.

    2. Coffee Ninja*

      I’m in a similar situation right now! Do you think it could be some form of burnout? I’ve noticed my production drops off (dramatically, I feel) after a very busy period.

      If no one has mentioned anything to you, though, you’re probably being too hard on yourself! Something that helps me is making multiple to-do lists. When I’m in these lazy phases, my main to do list is overwhelming, so I break it up: I take a post it and say, ok what do I HAVE to do TODAY? It takes some of the stress and analysis paralysis away.

      1. Regular posting going anon for today*

        I think it is a case of burn out, because I was NOT like this last year. Right now, all I do is make calls and answer emails, and whatever work necessary to answer those emails (contacting outsiders, looking up old resources etc). I write a list every single day of which client or thing to work on. But it doesn’t happen because I get distracted. I also spend A LOT more time on non work things. I also sit in an area where my bosses can see my computer screen. When I sat in a more public area, I didn’t pull this shit.

        1. motherofdragons*

          I’ve been struggling with this as well. It’s super slow here at the end of the FY, and a quick check of my email leads to opening a news article, or clicking over to AAM, and here I am an hour and a half later having done no work and feeling like crap. I have started keeping a written list of my “Goals for the Day” right in front of me, so when I start to get distracted, I can easily look at it and get back on track. For me, phrasing it “goals” instead of “to-dos” puts a bit more of a positive, motivational spin on it (and I can still cross/check it off like a regular to-do list, which is satisfying). It has helped me be more productive and feel less like a bump on a log. I hope you find something that works for you! Hang in there.

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Al OldOldJob this was the norm. We had 7 very busy months followed by 2 dead months and then a slow uptick back to super-busy. During those 2 months and partway into the 3rd month the supervisors didn’t care how productive you were, how much vacation you took, and planned a lot of during work hours “fun” activities. Their take was we worked our butts off for 7 months and we have almost no deliverables during this time so sit back, relax, and chill so you are ready to go again in a few months. All were salary so it evened out.
      However if this is not the norm where you are at you might want to sit with your manager and make sure they know you know you are in a funk and need help getting out.

  34. SophieChotek*

    Taking Vacation Time

    I don’t want to be one of those people that annoy managers when they suddenly realize at the end of the year: “Shoot, I have 2 weeks of vacation I need to use!” so I brought it up with my boss that I noticed that I have started to accumulate some PTO and would like to use it.

    He said, “Well just put in a request and we’ll see if we can approve it”

    But then he went on a long: “I want people who see this as a career, not a job. People that think of work as punching in at 9 and leaving a 5 see their work as a job. I want you see this as a career.” and “I have never used my PTO time in the time I have been with this company.(except once when I was really sick)…”

    I mean, I think I still want to try to use as much of PTO as I can (otherwise I lose it)…but sigh…now I am going to feel guilty and think “he’ll think I am not dedicated to doing my work”….

    1. Dawn*

      F$%# your manager. F$%# that kind of puritanical, sacrifice everything for the company, you should be glad you even have a job, bullshit thinking.

      Your manager sucks. AAM has said over and over and OVER again how good managers understand that keeping employees happy by enforcing work-life balance is paramount to the success of both the employee and the company as a whole. Take your vacation, enjoy your time off when you’re gone, do good work when you’re at work, and don’t think about work once you’ve left for the day. If your manager gives you guilt he needs to go eat slugs.

      1. Hallway Feline*

        Yes! Thank you for saying it, Dawn! I worked at a place like that at my last job and it was HORRIBLE. They rib me at my current job for taking vacation, but I always plan out 2+ months in advance so everything can be prepared (my first vacation will be at the end of July for 1 week and I made sure they knew I WAS NOT answering emails during that time, plus it used up all my PTO).

      2. BRR*

        *Raises glass to Dawn* Taking PTO and being dedicated to your job aren’t competing ideas.

    2. Amy S*

      What a ridiculous thing for your manager to say to you! I get his desire for you to view this as a career and not a job, but that’s not really up to him, is it? Besides, that vacation should be there for you to use it. I have worked with people who barely take vacation and they love to bring it up, almost as if it’s a good thing. I don’t understand this line of thought. Life should be about more than just work!

      1. catsAreCool*

        I think taking a vacation can be good for the company in the long term, not only does it tend to reduce turnover, it gives people a chance to be refreshed and do something different for a while, which may improve productivity at work after the vacation.

    3. RoseRed*

      Ugh. I do view my work as a career and not just a job! I also view my life as a life, and not just a place to go and count down the hours until I’m back at my job. I don’t understand why people think that you can’t take your PTO and also take your work seriously.

      1. Tau*

        Yes, I’d say part of viewing work as a career and not a job is making sure you work in a sustainable way that won’t lead you to burn out horribly in six months’, a year’s, several years’ time. In other words, taking your PTO!

    4. CobraRon*

      PTO is a part of your total compensation package, much like health insurance or your salary. So, by his logic, I assume he never cashes his paycheck, right?

      1. Dan*

        Yeah. At the very least, OP should tell her manager that if he expects “total dedication to the job” and to never take PTO, then OP wants to trade PTO for more money.

        FWIW, one of my interview questions involves asking about the PTO process. It’s extremely important for me to understand a company’s (er, manager’s) views on the ability to take PTO. If they hem and haw, I’m out of there, because, um, “it’s not the right fit.”

        1. SophieChotek*

          Ooo good point.
          And honestly, I was surprised at my boss’ reaction to this. (which is why I cam here to get a reality check/vent).
          I expected him to be “oh, yes, make sure you take what you’ve earned” because he’s usually pretty reasonable (overall) especially compared to what I’ve read about other bad managers here.

    5. SL #2*

      That is awful, your manager is flat-out WRONG, and you should use your PTO, his own feelings on the matter be damned. Those are your benefits, your days, and you should feel free to use them as you wish.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      “Oh, that’s a nice dream. I have this dream where my employer offers me certain benefits and my manager doesn’t try to guilt me out of using them.”

      1. Hallway Feline*

        Yes! Can I keep this in my repertoire for the next time my boss asks me for OT when I’m not going to be compensated for it? Lol.

    7. Menacia*

      I absolutely hate managers who decree certain behaviors because that is how *they* do things. It’s not your problem that he does not take his PTO, it’s his, and you should not feel guilty about it. Work/life balance is crucial in any job, career, life’s mission! PTO is part of your benefits package, and as such, you have a right to use it. I don’t know why people think it’s impressive that they never take PTO, to me, it just sounds like you have no personal life and so you use how important your job is as an excuse.

    8. Sadsack*

      You should say, “I agree about career vs. job and I am really glad that I am in a position that provides great benefits like vacation time I can recharge.”. Dick.

    9. SophieChotek*

      Wow, I never expected my little mini-rant over my boss’ reaction to my request to use my PTO time to engender such a response.

      But thank you, AAM Community for your support!
      I think I can put in some requests to take a few days off here and there before the end of 2016 to use up my PTO time without (too much) guilt now.

    10. Gaia*

      I see my employment as a career and I use every single day of my PTO. Why wouldn’t I? That is like handing back part of your paycheck.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      “Just because I leave the house to go to work every day does not mean I am less committed to my relationship/marriage. Likewise, if I leave work to go home to my SO/house/cat, does not mean I am less committed to my career. And it is true that some people who seldom take their PTO do actually end up seriously ill. I believe you when you say you were really sick. Constant work with no PTO can come with the price of severe illness.”

  35. ClarissaLarissa*

    One of the branch managers (A) at a library system where I work on a substitute basis said I should apply to the upcoming full time position. I was really excited at the idea, so I applied through the usual channels, putting together one of my best applications yet. This system uses a third-party application service, so all applications go through the local government HR before it gets to the actual library professionals.

    There has been an instance where I applied to a position, found out I was not selected for an interview through a branch manager (B), and was able to get in touch with HR who suggested there had been a mistake and then referred my application to interview. A third branch manager (C) at that interview chose someone else, but encouraged me to keep applying to positions at that level (assistant) and “higher.” She was one of two managers looking to hire this time, so I went into this feeling like I’d not only had the direct endorsement of A, but a less-direct endorsement from C as well. (And ongoing encouragement from B.)

    HR won’t update the application status on the third-party system, so check in periodically with branch managers who might have insight. I asked manager B last week if they knew the status of the hiring process for the job, but they forgot about it and when I emailed her again this week, they let me know they were doing interviews that day and today.

    I don’t want to say that I felt entitled to an interview, but, given all of the above, I kind of expected one. Manager A was on the interview panel when they originally posted this job with a particular requirement (that didn’t work out so well, so they re-advertised as the former-requirement just preferred), but not this time. Despite this, I was under the impression they was going to do something to get me an interview. I especially believed this when they asked if I had applied about two weeks ago — the way they said it led me to infer that they planned on letting those branch managers know.

    There’s no official system or policy in place for internal applicants. Very occasionally, the intranet will have a note that for a specific positions, applicants can pass their information directly to so-and-so. Because I don’t have a regular schedule, I can’t always access those notes in a timely manner — and I’ve only seen it once. I considered reaching out directly to manager C, but worried that was too much. I don’t think my voice is loud enough in the system to try to enact any change on this, though I may bring it up with a branch manager anyway.

    This system doesn’t hire terribly often and I feel like I’ve wasted a huge opportunity or perhaps was unreasonable in believing I would get an interview. I realize these are competitive, but when a manager told me to apply to something, I figured I’d at least be offered a courtesy interview.

    Friends have suggested maybe someone at HR is annoyed because I’ve applied to so many — and I have, but not to everything, only what I’m qualified for. It’s also been suggested I talk to manager A and explain that I’m upset (professionally, of course) and why. But I worry that maybe it’s my fault for misreading or misunderstanding something.

    Is there something I’m not seeing? I’m inclined to believe that I’m doing something wrong, but rationally, I realize the process just isn’t very good, so maybe there’s nothing. But I can’t help but feel like there’s something more I could be doing.

    1. M*

      I think you may have expected too much – and I say that having been in similar situations before.

      Every application scenario is different because you are only as strong relative to the bigger application pool. So though you may have been competitive, they were possibly looking for someone with a different profile – more management experience as an example, or a focus in a particular area of knowledge etc. – you never know. But what you can do is continue to be proactive! Apply to roles that come up, actively speak to managers that were hiring and get their thoughts on what are things they look for in top candidates for role 1, role 2, etc. and continue to build that confidence in them inadvertently so that if another opportunity does come up, posting the role is a formality but they already have you in mind to offer the role to you internally.

    2. Weekday Warrior*

      Being encouraged to apply is a good thing. Taking it as a guarantee of an interview is not. The encouragement meant that the manager sees something in you (yay!) but once your application gets to the pool, you’re in competition with other people who may be more suited to the position. Many people screen themselves out of applying for jobs that they could make an argument for so it’s great you’re not doing that. But don’t confuse encouragement for a promise.

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Next time I would let the managers that you know that you applied and ask if they know who the hiring manager is. That way you get an open dialogue with them and they are more likely to bring it up in conversations or go out of their way to let that person know you are interested and (if inclined) put in a good word. No it does not guarantee you an interview but if they really do think you would be a good fit most would take a bit of time to drop an email saying “hey look at this person”. Its possible that by the time A asked you about it it was already too late for him/her to do anything.

    4. ClarissaLarissa*

      Thanks to all for your responses. It’s really helped put things in perspective and give me some guidance for the inevitable next-time.

  36. ThatLibraryChick*

    What do you do when you legitimately love your job and you enjoy work (maybe not ALL but most of the time) and you’d love to talk about your work but everyone else around you hates their job? Do you just not talk about it? I don’t feel like I’m bragging but some days at work are just super awesome yet they feel like they happen on days when everyone else has had an incredibly crap day. I feel like I constantly get reminded by family and friends that “not everyone enjoys work like you do” and they all enjoy complaining about their jobs instead. I’m not sure exactly how to balance this or should I just suck it up and accept this is a non issue that I’m making a big deal about more in my head?

    1. Dawn*

      Don’t let negative people dim your shine! Find some people you can share good things with, and if people want to be negative just stop sharing happy stuff with them. Some people are so wrapped up in their own self-created ball of woe and misery that they can’t see beyond the rain cloud that’s only raining on them.

    2. Red*

      Often. I love my job, I’m very well compensated, I work from home 100% which I love. I never even had to interview really- I started as a temp with a cold call from an agency, got hired perm without an interview, promoted earlier in the year.

      Meanwhile my fiancé gets paid for crap, can’t even get a solid 30 hours a week at work, hates his coworkers and bosses, and his job is very physical (warehouse) and doing a number on him physically. So yeah, while he never guilts me about it, I definitely feel a little awkward gushing about how happy I am with my job because I know how much he hates his.

    3. dear liza dear liza*

      Can you get involved with a professional organization? I *love* my job and my husband (dear henry) is a good egg about listening to me, but he’s definitely in the “work because I have to” boat. I try to keep my work talk with him to a minimum, and then indulge in lots of work talk at conferences, meetings, and lunches with colleagues.

    4. Laura*

      This is why I don’t talk about my work with others unless something frustrating comes up. Nobody cares to hear about happy work environments, it seems. It makes me sad.

  37. M*

    I am not sure what to do anymore regarding my job search. I was laid off a few months ago as part larger restructuring, but am still on payroll for severance purposes (so still technically an employee). Since the layoff I have applied to over 200 roles, but have had little luck getting traction with interviews. The feedback ive received is that I am either too overqualified (I have a lot of work experienced and advanced degrees) or not enough experience in the industry (I made a career change a few years ago).

    Should I leave off my advanced degrees on my resume? I am not sure what will help me seem more “attractive” to potential employers. I would like to get back to work. :/

    Second question – one company where I actually got far in their process, has started to contact my references. I gave them 5 but they have only reached out to 3. Not sure if thats a bad sign? Are reference checks the last step to receiving an offer? I had 3 phone interviews and 1 all day interview with the company previously, and I was told the feedback was positive.

    Thanks in advance for any responses. This site has been really helpful and has given me hope that I will get back on my feet again.

    1. GOG11*

      As Alison has said at some point (I can’t remember which article, but it was recently) your resume is a marketing document and not an exhaustive list of everything you’ve done. It makes total sense to tailor it to the job you’re applying to since it’s meant to help them determine your fit for the role you’re applying for. If it’s something that ends up coming up, you can address why you want the position. I was told I’m overqualified when interviewing for my current job, but I explained why I would be a good fit (helping them understand and also showing them that I understand what the job actually entails). I’ve been here three years, so they hired me and I did a pretty accurate job of assessing how I’d do.

      Re number 2, generally references are a last step before an offer, but having references being checked doesn’t mean an offer will follow. Time constraints, company policy, etc., may mean they just picked the 3 most relevant or recent references. It isn’t really much of a sign to read into because, in most cases I can think of, it’d indicate more about the company than the person’s candidacy.

      1. M*

        Thanks for your feedback.

        Re number 2 – yeah, trying to be hopeful since I have been out of work for a few months now, but needed a reality check so I dont hang the little hope I have left on this one role. This was also a job that said it would be “a quick decision”, but then stalled on posting the role (now its posted), stalled on calling my references, etc. I had given up on the role but they communicated with me recently to apologize to say sorry, this is no reflection of our interest in you, and then started calling my references. So i’m nervous that I am being too hopeful that this will work out, and be left with nothing.

    2. Dawn*

      References- contacting 3 of the 5 is no big deal. If a candidate has the right background and we internally agree that they’d be a good fit, contacting references is more of a formality than anything. For me, it’s a way to get an outside perspective on the opinion that was formed internally- “Hey, M seems awesome, do you agree that M is awesome?” It’s also about the only way to get a handle on stuff that is impossible to gauge from an interview, like are you reliable, how do you work on a team, how do you handle feedback, that kinda thing.

      The ONLY time I’ve ever contacted more than 2-3 references is if references disagree.

      1. M*

        Thats really helpful, thanks Dawn. Do you think references being contacted is a good sign, however, or do employers do it for not just their top choice but others? To give background I started the interview process about 4-5 weeks ago.

        1. Dawn*

          I mean, I can’t speak for how this company operates, but at my company we don’t reference check until it’s the last step in deciding to give an offer letter. The company you interviewed at might have a totally different policy, but honestly I think if they’re calling references you’re at least in a finalist position. You might still be competing with 1-2 other people for the position and they’re calling everyone’s references, so don’t act like you’re a shoo-in, but having your references called is a good sign at least!

          1. M*

            Thanks Dawn. I’m honestly scared to be this hopeful, but having been unemployed and sad for a few months, it would really be great to finally be able to start over. But as I type this I am perusing job postings, etc.

        2. BRR*

          It’s a good sign but no guarantee of an offer. I know companies that do it for all finalists (sometimes to see if anything comes up and sometimes as a tie breaker although it’s not super common to have outside references determine who you make an offer to) and some that only do it for their top candidate. And it’s not weird for them to contact 3 out of 5.

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      A current job my references weren’t called until the days following my final interview. After I started and we were talking a bit I found out I was the first choice and they were ready to make an offer pending no red flags. No where have I worked where references were checked early in the process. It is time consuming so good companies really only check the candidates they are very interested. Still doesn’t mean you will get an offer but I’d put it in the positive column.

  38. Bookkeeping reader*

    So I’ve been working for 9 years at a firm serving multiple clients, up to 15 bookkeeping and 10+ payroll clients at a time.

    There’s a position I want to apply for but they only want 2 years experience. It’s through a recruitment company so I’m unsure which company it is.

    I was thinking of writing “after serving multiple clients simultaneously I’m interested in changing to working on 1 company”. Sorry I’m out of practice at this!

    1. Pwyll*

      Maybe something like, “I am seeking to transition to an in-house role where I can use my broad expertise balancing the needs of 15+ bookkeeping clients at a time to directly contribute to the financial health of a single firm.

      1. Bookkeeping reader*

        Wow! Your response is better than anything my brain could come up with. I’ve been thinking and thinking hard and was drawing blanks.

        Thank you!

        1. Pwyll*

          One other thing: given the big difference between their requested experience and your actual experience, you might also want to mention in a cover letter that you’re seeking a role with more stability, rather than the challenges having a constantly-changing client base.

  39. CMT*

    I just typed this all out and realized it’s more of a vent than a question, but if anybody has been in similar situations, I’d appreciate advice. I reached a record high level of frustration with a coworker this week who repeatedly makes inappropriate/unprofessional “jokes” and comments. The jokes and comments themselves are fairly annoying (some sexist, some just inappropriate for a work place). What’s worse is that I have repeatedly told him I don’t want to hear these things from him and he doesn’t stop. Or he’ll tone it down for a few weeks and then they start creeping back. We work closely together and otherwise have a good working relationship. But for the last two years I’ve told him over and over to stop these things and he just does not do it. In my dream world he would not only stop, but understand why the things he says aren’t appropriate for the workplace, but I know that’s not realistic. I’ve brought it up with management, who seem to be very receptive and also view his behavior as a problem, so hopefully their conversations with him will get farther than mine.

    1. M*

      Why wouldnt you report the comments to your manager or to HR? You can explain that you have tried to connect with your colleague about this behavior on many occasions, but to no avail, and would like their assistance because its leading to a toxic work environment.

      1. CMT*

        I did talk to management. And they are going to talk to the problem coworker (or maybe already have at this point) . But in the mean time, this is still somebody I have to work with every day.

    2. Menacia*

      How does he react when you ask him to stop? And what does he say when you say to him, “I’ve asked you to stop with the inappropriate jokes/comments, why do you keep doing it?” I’m also curious, do you share an office with others who can also hear his comments? Could he be doing it for someone else’s benefit (other guys in the office)?

      1. CMT*

        Part of the problem is that saying anything to him in the moment makes him think his comments are justified. The most frequent thing he does is comment on how angry or upset I look or how I’m not happy enough. If I say anything, he thinks he’s right. (It’s sooooooooooooooooooooo infuriating. I wasn’t mad until the third time in one day you said I didn’t look happy enough, buddy!) But I have in the past asked him to stop and usually he will for a while, but it starts up again. And you may be on to something with your last question. The most egregious thing he says is to the only other man in the office. I don’t think the other male coworker likes it at all, but I think he tries to just ignore it and get his interactions with the problem coworker over as soon as possible.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Oh gawd. He did that whole you-should-smile thing? Why? Why does he think that he deserves to only look at smiling faces on all the women around him? Is the Happiness Police or something? Geez, everyone is at work, not The Komedy Kavern.

          I think you may have to resort to the deadpan. He tells inappropriate joke/comment you don’t react. He pokes further for reaction/response. You say, “I don’t understand that joke, can you explain to me why it’s funny?” Once he tries to explain why $Joke is funny, it will cease to be funny. Then, “nope, still don’t get it.” and go back to work. Sure, you’ll get accused of not having a sense of humour but perhaps with repetition, the message will sink in. Bonus points if other people in the office start doing it, too.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I have a friend who will never clean up his language. Never. I don’t know why he can’t, but he can’t. He will tell me, “yeah, I know it’s bad” and not even make the weakest attempt at fixing the situation. Now I cuss occasionally so clearly I don’t mind once in a while, but with him it’s really OFTEN.

      I can only guess that your coworker does not see it as being important. It’s probably good that the bosses explain it to him.

  40. Are My Spidey Senses Wrong? -Regular Commenter, Anon for This*

    I accepted an interview for a position, but something seems “off.” I met a business owner at a restrictive annual conference for people in my field. During a lunch, he offered to interview me for a position two steps up from mine – manager level to VP. The opportunity seemed good; however, some of his comments were boundary pushing.
    For instance, he stated that he had been married for several decades and is not the kind of person to have an affair. Yet, he said comments like I was “stunning.” His an elderly Rabbi and business owner who also offered to arrange a “set up” with some of his connections since he arranged the marriage of nearly 20 couples. He gave a very specific bio of a man, and inquired about whether I wanted children. At the time of the business lunch conversation, this did not seem creepy. (True! It seemed well intentioned. Probably because I biasedly assumed clergy equals well intentioned.)
    I have spoken with him a few days after the conference, and confirmed a date for the interview. In our conversation about the outgoing VP, he focuses extensively on her education, but also on her “curves for days,” how she was a knockout at her age, and a former state pageant winner. He also has left 3 voicemails – one right after the other – one additional day this week. He mentioned nothing about how her accomplishments furthered his business interests. Something’s off.
    I’ve spoken with my friends about this. Their feedback ranges from “it’s common for a Jewish mother – and sometimes a Rabbi – to make well-meaning set ups” to “he’s old school, nearly 90.” Am I wrong for having my spidey senses up? Should I stop this train from going further? If I do, I’d like your suggestions on how to do this. He is a well-connected well-known business person who is apparently a major donor to one of my colleges. I want to do this in a way that’s professional, but maintains my reputation.

    1. Batshua*

      Listen to your spidey senses.

      Sketchy folks who manage to get ordained tend to get away with a LOT more than other sketchy folks would.

      I’m feeling spidey just reading this, and I know a lot of rabbis. Yes, it’s common for them to make well meaning setups, but the way he’s talking about women is not tznius.

      (Tznius = “modest” is the most common translation, but it also implies appropriateness.)

      If your sense say run, run. If you’re not sure, stay on guard and give him the side-eye.

      1. Are My Spidey Senses Wrong? -Regular Commenter, Anon for This*

        I appreciate you telling me how the conversations usually go. I thought it was forward, but not familiar with the convos.

    2. Dawn*

      Oh hell to the no that is not OK. RUN AWAY! RUN FAR FAR AWAY! Doesn’t matter if it’s “common” or “the way it’s always been done” or “Rabbi’s are just like that” or “he’s old”… NOT OK.

      Your whole letter made me do a full body cringe!

    3. Marnix*

      He’s a creep. Full stop. Back away. None of that is appropriate and/or professional.
      Send an email thanking him for his time but you’ve decided to focus on your current job or jobs with more XYZ (where his job has little to no XYZ).

    4. Cookie*

      If he speaks about the outgoing VP this way, imagine how he’ll speak about you. You use him as a reference and e’ll tell prospective employers about your curves. Ugh, I’d probably pass on this job.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      Trust your instincts, you have them for a reason.

      Inappropriate people don’t get less inappropriate the more control they have over you. Quite the opposite in fact.

      1. Beezus*

        Inappropriate people don’t get less inappropriate the more control they have over you.

        I need this in cross-stitch!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Right on. He is on his best behavior right now. This will only get worse.

          I knew someone who was a part time minister and part time skirt chaser. To say this was hard to watch does not describe. But it was mind bending that this person did not walk his talk, and that was the hardest part to deal with. Say one thing, do another.

          You don’t need this job.

    6. LizB*

      Nope nope nope nope nope. Clergy does NOT necessarily equal well-intentioned, and this guy sounds like a creep to the Nth degree. His comments go far, far beyond any well-meaning set up I’ve ever encountered. I think your spidey senses are spot on, and you should back out of the job with whatever excuse makes the most sense.

    7. motherofdragons*

      Euuuuugch. Hard pass. That is gross and inappropriate behavior. You can be brief but polite here – a thank you for his time and a vague explanation (focusing on your current job a la Marnix’s advice, or deciding to pursue another opportunity) is the way to go.

    8. Menacia*

      I’m thinking you may want to rethink these “friends” of yours who essentially excuse this grossly inappropriate man who is obviously using his position of power to get his rocks off? There are SO many more jobs out there, you do not need to take one (regardless of the title) that will invariably make you feel like a piece of meat. I think I need a shower…!

      1. Observer*

        This is SOOO common – the dismissivness, not the Boss guy. It cuts across social, religious, economic and ethnic groups, in my experience.

        I agree with Batshua that he’s crossing some lines here. ESPECIALLY in the kinds of circles where the first things a parently / grandparently person is likely to do is try to set someone up.

      2. Are My Spidey Senses Wrong? -Regular Commenter, Anon for This*

        Thank you both. Part of me feels like I really need to have friends in my field w/ different professional experiences. It’s like my friends had a lot of focus on the job upgrade. But, what I really needed were a group of people to say “wow, this is professionally wrong and that’s not okay.”

    9. Are My Spidey Senses Wrong? -Regular Commenter, Anon for This*

      Thank you *SO* much, everyone. I am going to cancel my interview. He’s already said that he aggressively pursues candidates he’s interested in, but I’ll stick to my decision. It’s helpful to have outsiders chiming in letting me know this is WAY too much.

      1. Are My Spidey Senses Wrong? -Regular Commenter, Anon for This*

        I should add that I also feel really relieved. Relieved that others sense the same thing I do. And, I am not a heel for turning this down.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        OF COURSE he aggressively pursues candidates HE is interested in. I bet he does, too.

        Good call on this one. You can get a better job than this.

        1. Are My Spidey Senses Wrong? -Regular Commenter, Anon for This*

          Thank you @Not So New Reader for this comment, and the one above.

      1. addlady*

        if that’s immature–I’m in such a weird mood today. But really, why? And over 25 cents? Not the employee for calling, which is reasonable, but the boss for acting so strongly.

        1. SL #2*

          Because the employees are teenagers making minimum wage at a pizza place. Management probably thought they could pull a fast one on them, expecting that they wouldn’t know a thing about equal pay and labor laws (teenagers??? knowing things???? the shock, the horror!)

          I’m just as snarky as you are today, apparently! :)

    1. Pwyll*

      Wow. Not only DOL, but if this is true, a massive NLRB violation. It’s not legal to prevent employees from discussing their own wages with coworkers, folks!

    2. addlady*

      The rep from the company said it “sounded strange.” And yet, I hear stories about this sort of thing all the time. Who’s right?

  41. Bigglesworth*

    For all of our EU and UK readers – How do you think the UK leaving the EU will influence the job market?

  42. addlady*

    I would love to hear if there are instances where people deliberately made their code impossible to figure out (for job security) and how that might have backfired on them.
    Someone was telling me about how, as a contractor, he was pulled in to figure out code that someone else had made, so that they could get rid of that person. That had had a system of writing code in such a way that no one else could understand it, in order to raise his rates exponentially. I don’t know how it ended, but it seemed so bizarre I want to figure out if it’s a recurring theme, or something that happens only once in a rare, rare while

    1. Leatherwings*

      I’m on the other end of this – I work for an organization where a bunch of people who had written their own coding language and never taught anyone else quit after a leadership transition. Most of them refused to leave any sort of transition document too.

      Those folks are NOT looked upon well by anyone in the organization. They hamstrung us during a busy period and we’ll spend years untangling the mess and hiring contractors like the person you talked to to figure out all of our systems. It’s a huge mess and I can’t imagine that their professional reputation was golden after that. Any manager that knowingly allows that to happen though needs to get a grip.
      I don’t know how common it is, but I know it’s a crappy idea.

    2. newby*

      I’m not sure how common it is to write code in a way that deliberately makes it difficult to understand, but it is common for each programmer to do things kinda weird. People who write code and don’t need other people to be able to easily read/edit it tend to do whatever makes the most sense to them, which many times does not conform to the “standard” way of writing it.

    3. Girasol*

      We had a guy like that. He was considered one of our most valuable employees because he was the only guy who really understood his subject. After four years on a project he suddenly took another job. As he left we were to be sure that the few team members who remained understood and had all the code documentation for the Big Project. He called the boss into that discussion and asked his coworkers to tell her directly that everything was in perfect order. They swore it was so. She told us that we should leave them alone and do nothing more to review the documentation. Then he was gone and and he hired his teammates away after him. The handful of last standers admitted that they had a one page sketch of the architecture (very rudimentary) and didn’t understand what he had been doing. The contract specialists hired to pick up where he left off couldn’t make sense of it either and said they’d have to start over (throwing out four years of work that had been the focus of five people.) A project manager had been hired two years in with hope of moving this slow effort along, but the guy kept him at bay, complaining that bureaucratic project management nonsense had been obstructing the real work. Two project managers in succession were fired and a third was on the skids as the team left. None of them could get close enough to the action to verify what was going on before being reprimanded by the manager for getting in the way. So in the end it didn’t backfire on him but on the company and on the careers of several good people.

    4. LQ*

      I think people do it unintentionally all the time. I think for the most part it isn’t done on purpose, it is just ugly code or poorly documented code.

      I do think some people think that if they protect their work that they will never be fired or could raise their rates or whatever, but that happens in all kinds of areas of work.

      1. Ife*

        Oh man, people even do it to themselves. They write the code, finish the project, walk away, and 6 months later when they have to add a new feature they have no idea why they wrote the code that way, or what the heck is this line doing?

        1. LQ*

          HA! I’ve totally done this. Usually by the time I have to loop back to something I also have a better way of doing it because in 2 years? I have a lot more knowledge, better understanding, more skills, new tools available to me. I often end up redoing things, not entirely from scratch, but close to it for just this reason.

        2. Windchime*

          This has happened to me. That’s why I comment the heck out of everything; there is no way I can remember why I did certain things the way I did 6 months ago. Maybe I just didn’t know any better, but maybe I also did it that way for a specific reason. Comments, comments, comments.

      2. Tau*

        We had a coder in the history of the project I’m working on who was a good programmer (although I do find some of his stuff a little questionable) but apparently allergic to comments. And documentation. And anything along those lines, really.

        …I’ve got to say, when you try to figure out why something was created and go back in source control and see it was originally checked in by one Wakeen with a checkin comment of “Created X.”, you start to feel it goes beyond not liking documentation and into mocking you from the distant past. Like yes, thank you, I can see that, that is actually the least helpful comment you could have left-

        And yeah, pretty sure all the spaghetti code in my project is 100% unintentional. I’m endeavouring to contribute as little as I can.

        1. CMT*

          I inherited some code that was also written by somebody who was allergic to comments. It took me a year and half to really, truly figure it out and I have probably written a novel’s worth of documentation so that the next person in this position won’t have the same problem.

      3. Nicole*

        This brings back memories of frustration at a former job. I didn’t work in I.T. but closely with them and it drove me nuts when I’d ask them to check the code to see if the system was behaving in an intentional way or whether it was a bug and they’d take so long trying to figure it out because they didn’t leave notes in their code. I suggested that as they added new code they put together documentation for reference but was told it takes too much time. As opposed to what? Constantly being on the phone trying to figure out things later on? I think the time spent upfront would have been more beneficial., but what do I know?

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Not code but we had someone do that with a shared spreadsheet for a major initiative. It had so many macros and formulas that if you looked at it funny it would blow up. When he was there it ran pretty smoothly since he knew it backwards and forward and could fix anything in about a second but after he left it got a bad name that was an alliteration of his name (think Dick file for Richard).

    6. Reba*

      My SO is a programmer who meticulously documents/comments their code and prizes legibility.
      Once they worked as a contractor on a long-term project that never got off the ground and was basically a clusterf— by the end. The client was a major firm. When the project was wrapping up, SO’s boss (at the company they were working for, not the client) instructed the programmers to strip their code of all comments before delivering it to the client. HERE YOU GO.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know if people do it deliberately, but I’ve certainly had to clean after badly written code with little to no helpful comments (or sometimes no comments at all). It isn’t job security. It’s just really annoying to the person who comes after you. Either she has to take many hours to figure out your garbage way of organizing things… or she has to scrap it all and rewrite it herself.

    8. addlady*

      Thanks guys! I loved reading all the stories of people who write bad code intentially or unintentially. It looks like that one situation the person was talking about was more of a one-off than a common occurence, so I’m not going to expect to see it for myself anytime in the future. Also, I will make a point of documenting all my code!

  43. adulting*

    I have a yearlong fellowship that’s coming to an end at the end of July that placed me in prestigious organizations in my field (think NGO things, government things). This was my first job out of college and lasted a year. I’ve saved up a fair amount of money so I have a good unemployment cushion, but I’m also kind of terrified at the idea of being unemployed even for a short period of time. I’ve been setting up informational interviews and have applied to 7 jobs so far (with two interviews that went well, but the hiring timeline didn’t match up for either of them), but I’m starting to get into panic(!) mode. Is the job search that much harder once my fellowship ends and I’m no longer person at name-brand place? Should I start applying to positions that I’m not as excited about (Executive Assistant type positions instead of Program Assistant/policy things)? Helpppp.

    1. Slightly Adultier*

      I was in a similar position in my first year out of college. There’s nothing wrong with applying for EA positions–you can apply to those in addition to Program Assistant-type roles, and no one says you have to take a job just because it’s offered to you. Ultimately, this next job is about giving yourself some time to take that next step without a hard time limit on how long you’ll be there. Keep applying to places, and know that especially this early in your career, it’s absolutely okay to take a less-than-ideal position for the sake of some breathing room. Good luck!

  44. Joshua*

    I have exciting news! I accepted a job offer and submitted my resignation yesterday! I wrote in a few weeks ago regarding an informal salary negotiation that I wasn’t prepared for – the hiring manager informally mentioned what she “thought” they would offer. I followed Alison’s advice and thankfully was able to negotiate a better situation. Thank you! I’m so excited to begin this new adventure. It’s a step up in responsibility and I know I will learn a lot. I’ll have a lot of more autonomy to decide strategy/course of action. Any tips about starting a new job and taking on more responsibility would be great :).

  45. Not Karen*

    Employer is looking into moving buildings in the next few years and there is a huge debate among staff whether to have parking or access to public transit. Given the limited market, having both is pretty much out of the picture. I’ve found it frustrating because the half that wants parking doesn’t seem to realize that getting what they want would make the public transit half upset, and vice versa.

    Anybody have any moving office stories?

    1. SophieChotek*

      Not personally, but my Dad’s office did this. They moved from place where there was enough free parking to an area of town where only higher-up managers got parking; anyone else would have to pay for parking. But the option of public transportation was now open.

      For him, it’s both good and bad, but overall more good, I think, from what my mother has said about it.

      He has to leave earlier to get pretty much the only bus that gets him to the transfer station to get connexion to get to work on time.

      But on the other hand, he has to leave earlier than he used to, to catch the last bus to get home. So my mother likes that, because now she knows when he is coming home. Instead of him calling and saying “I’m leaving in 5 minutes” but then getting home 2 hours later becuase some last-minute request came in and he got caught up in it

      Occassionlly he does have to bring work home, instead, but it doesn’t seem to be a lot and usually he seems more eager to get it done fast when he is at home

      He has to pay for transportation, but still less than paying for gas

      It takes him longer to get to/from work (a little) but in a way that might be okay, because on way home he can unwind more (since he’s not driving) and listen to music or do stuff with his iPhone or iPad

      Overall it seems to be better than I thought it would be, switching from driving in with free parking to taking public transportation (obviously not as fun in bad/cold weather).

    2. Megs*

      It seems to me that it’s a lot easier for the drivers to switch to public transit than vice versa (assuming some percentage of the public transit riders don’t have access to a car at all), but I’ve never owned my own car so I know I’m biased.

      1. Aardvark*

        It depends on the density of public transportation in the area–there are lots of areas in my region that aren’t served by public transportation at all, or have just a few specific lines to specific places. From my old house to my job, I’d have had to get up 2 hours early to drive to a transit center, take a train, transfer to the bus, walk more than a mile or ford a creek and walk half a mile from the bus drop-off to my office, leave the office 3 hours early, then repeat the process at night to take public transit. (Or spend 5 hours a day commuting via 3 separate bus lines and a 1 mile walk, when a drive ranged between 20 min and 1 hr each way depending on timing).

        1. Megs*

          I guess I was assuming that since the question implied that around half of the office used public transit, we were talking about somewhere with a reasonably good system available. If half of an office uses public transit, they’re probably not all stuck in absurdly long commutes that whole time.

      2. Gaia*

        It would not be for me. I would have to drive 7 miles, park my car, take a 45 minute bus ride, transfer, take a 30 minute bus ride, transfer, take a 35 minute shuttle. Walk 1 1/2 miles.

        Or, I could drive for about 20 minutes.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      I’m so tired of commuting via public transit I would love it if we moved somewhere I could park. Until I start hating the drive of course, then I will yen for the train…

      Not transportation related but we had to move a few years ago because the landlord of our office building sold it to a company who wanted to make it into a boutique hotel. They evicted everyone with 90 days’ notice. One of those “oh, we’ll NEVER exercise this!” clauses in the lease….

      Anywho, it was especially ironic for us because our primary function is representing low income renters in eviction court. I think this happened to a similar NPO in San Francisco more recently too.

    4. Anne S*

      It seems to me that the drivers could still drive and park at park and ride, but the public transit riders might have a hard time switching to driving.

      1. Meg Murry*

        I think it really depends on how well the public transit functions, and whether it extends beyond the city proper or not. In my area the park and ride apparently works pretty well coming from one direction, but for me coming from the other, it only runs every 30 minutes during rush hour and hourly during non-rush hour plus it almost doubles my commute time.

        Does the company currently provide free parking, or is it just that there are nearby garages people can pay for? I worked at a company that didn’t provide parking, but employees could get monthly passes at the next door garage (or take public transit, or pay less at garages that were a little further away), and part of our benefit package allowed us to buy public transit or parking garage passes with pre-tax money, which helped a little.

        Also, I think the company probably needs to look at whether people take public transit because it’s easier or because you are in a metro area where only the highest paid workers can afford cars. Would moving to a place not accessible by public transit mean that they would lose a big chunk of the lower paid workforce and couldn’t recruit more without increasing pay? Would moving to a place without parking mean that the higher paid workers that possibly commute from the suburbs would try to move on? I know it’s not always the case that the divide happens along income lines that way, but I know it is in some companies.

        Is the company moving because they need more space, or the lease will be over and rates are going up? Otherwise, I hope they account for the cost of employee turnover if they are just moving to save money – because I suspect there will be more turnover than usual during the first year or two of the move.

    5. LQ*

      If I couldn’t take public transit I’d just start looking for a new job. But one of the huge benefits of my job is currently it is walkable from my home and that is worth a lot to me so I may be biased.

      I do think that park and ride is a very good point, assuming that is a thing in your location. Most of the people who work at the place I work take transit, they drive to a local park n ride and catch and express to our location. The people who complain the most are people who are always running late (so they miss the bus and then have to drive in and find a place to park which is much more expensive).

      I wasn’t here when this happened but the org used to be at a big big parking place, very low on transit, very high on parking. They moved to very high transit, very low on parking (aka expensive-er). Some people still drive every day and pay for parking, but most people who were here then and are still here now bus and either read on the bus or talk (or sleep.. :))

    6. Emilia Bedelia*

      Can you arrange some sort of shuttle from the nearest transit stop? I used to live around DC and many companies have a shuttle that picks up/ drops off from Metro stations for those who take public transit. If there are other companies nearby perhaps you could combine.

  46. Accounting Chic*

    I am thinking about teaching myself how to use SQL server . As a department, we are heading to a more reporting-heavy mission, and our IT department is pretty weak as it is. Our software (Great Plains) uses SQL on the back end, so I would like to be able to write my own reports and queries on my own timetable. Does anyone have any good resources? Is this a valuable thing to know/put on my resume?

    1. Dawn*

      Errybody is using SQL these days, and yeah I think it’s a valuable skill to have. I learned the basic stuff and it’s really not that difficult (even for me, someone who doesn’t pick up coding easily). It helped a lot to think of it like a more powerful version of Excel- because basically all you’re doing is telling the computer how to store and retrieve information from tables.

    2. addlady*

      Ooh! Get Microsoft SQL Server 2008 T-SQL Fundamental. Depending on what sql server version you’re using, insert the correct year. Simple sql queries are also really easy to learn just by watching Youtube videos.

    3. PeoplePerson*

      I learned some great basics through Khan Academy and CodeAcademy’s SQL tutorials – completely free, with the ability to practice what you’re learning. Highly recommend both.

    4. Ife*

      I will caution you, we used Great Plains at Old Job, and the table names were impossible to decipher (not in the sense that “why would you name it that?” but more like, a random string of letters and numbers), and there were dozens if not hundreds of tables. I don’t think the column names were any better. We were never able to do any custom reporting or queries with it in SQL Server. This was a few years ago though, and it was an older version. You might want to spend a little time to figure out if the version you have will let you (easily) run your own queries.

      That said, SQL Server is awesome, and it’s great for beginners because there are loads of resources online. If you want to know how to write a complex query or what some setting does, just google it and you will find an answer 90% of the time.

    5. Tau*

      Definitely go ahead and learn SQL! As a programmer, I’m not well-placed to assess the difficult but I find it pretty boring (and use the mantra that SQL is not the correct language for being clever and if you are trying to do clever things in SQL you should probably think again) so that’s probably a good sign. :P And I’ve found it’s really handy to know because databases are used absolutely EVERYWHERE and SQL is the most common form they’re in.

      Fair word of warning, though: there are… very few safeguards in SQL against screwing up, bar setting stringent permissions. Running non-SELECT queries always feels a little like I’m performing some sort of live surgery and if I screw up the patient suffers permanent damage. Something as simple as UPDATE while forgetting or screwing up the WHERE clause (whoops, you just updated every single record in that table) or a DELETE while forgetting/screwing up the WHERE clause (whoops, guess what) has… big effects. So, y’know, practice against a test database not your live server… and be careful! A trick I’ve seen for checking the effect of a query without actually running the query is to run it in a transaction and rollback at the end. It might come in handy. But it sounds like you’ll mainly be interested in reading/displaying the data than actually altering the data – that should help a lot, I have no idea how you’d even go about accidentally screwing up your data with a SELECT query.

      I sadly have no tutorial recommendations – the one I used was written by my company and is not publicly available, and at any rate I don’t think a tutorial written for programmer trainees on the fast track would be particularly helpful to you – but I do have software recommendations! You definitely want SQL Server Management Studio for viewing your databases and running queries. And for testing purposes, you’ll probably want to download and install SQL Express – since you mention reporting, you probably want Express + Advanced Services. I’d link, but spam – Google should get you there. Both of these so happen to be available for free.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Definitely worth learning, especially since 90% of the SQL you learn for Microsoft SQL will apply to other SQL or SQL-like databases (e.g., MySQL or Oracle SQL).

    7. Accounting Chic*

      Thanks for all the recs! I am going to do some research and propose something to my boss. I will keep you posted. And yeah, I am mostly going to pull data – I’ll stick to the front end and integration manager for transactions. I think IT will be receptive to me getting some of this work off their plate, so hopefully they will pass along their table knowledge, etc.

      1. Windchime*

        I make most of my living doing SQL. I love it, and I totally disagree with the poster above who said that SQL is not the correct language for doing clever things. I’m constantly learning and there are TONS of clever things that can be done with SQL, you just have to know how to do them.

        And if the permissions are set correctly, you don’t have to worry about deleting data. I have all kinds of crazy permissions against our development servers, but if I accidentally open a query window into Production, there is no way I could delete or update anything; the permissions setup prevents that. So if you have a decent DBA at your workplace, you should be fine. Good luck!

  47. Batshua*

    My office is currently severely understaffed — we have 3 clerks doing the job of what’s officially considered 5 clerks’ work, but even if we had 5 clerks, we’d probably have too much work.

    The person over us, “Lead”, who technically is not our boss but can sorta kinda tell us what to do is giving us horribly useless instructions like “I don’t care how you get it done, just get it done”. She is not helping us triage our duties so we can figure out what needs to get temporarily ignored. In fact, just the other day she sent out an email of our expected daily responsibilities and how we need to do them all, even though they are impossible to complete on a daily basis given our current workload.

    Lead says she used to have this job, and she never had a problem and the work always got done. She KNOWS we are understaffed but somehow thinks we are secretly magical elves and can do everything. It would not surprise me if she said something like “I don’t want to hear how much work you have and how overwhelmed you are, just get it done”.

    I asked my boss how best to handle the workload and she said we’d have a meeting on Friday. That was on LAST Friday, and it did NOT happen.

    New clerks are coming … eventually. We don’t know when.

    In the meantime, what can I do?!

    1. fposte*

      Can you triage your own stuff and then let her know? You’re presumably informally triaging it anyway. “I think A, B, and C are the ones to make sure we get done today. Let me know if you think any of those can drop in priority.”

      1. Batshua*

        Right now, instead of processing spout paperwork, or asking people about their tea choices, I am focusing on getting more chocolate for our teapots, as that is time sensitive and an actual emergency. Spout paperwork is also very important — and somewhat time sensitive, but ostensibly only I can get chocolate for my team’s teapots, so I have been making lots of calls to arrange that. Thankfully Lead recognizes that if this does not get done, nothing will be tempered and everything will melt, but I know if I get ahead of this problem and finish up, I’m going to be thrown back into the fracas full-force.

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Hate this. Had this at OldJob when they promoted me but never back-filled. Immediate boss was sympathetic and tried to help but the higher-ups kept coming back. Finally when I had reached a breaking point I called a meeting and had a list of the items on my to-do list and said I can’t do it all so we are going to reassign some of this. Immediate boss was able to take 3 items off my plate but none of the others helped at all (empty chair supported a lot of areas) so I then went to priority route. Their response was it all needs to be done so figure it out. I figured it out and put in my notice 6 weeks later for NowJob. They freaked and asked who would cover those essential tasks after I left??? (They are notorious for slow hiring). My response was that I offered to help and train some of their staff months ago since I couldn’t keep up so now I have to focus on the transition of my primary duties and I will not be working more than 40 hours a week so figure it out. My boss smirked and gave me a high five later. Did I mention he put in his notice the day before I did since he knew I was leaving. Best Day Ever.

  48. Anon Millennial*

    I’m a young woman working in an older, conservative, male dominated office but I’ve never really felt comfortable. I stayed because I need the job but earlier this week I found out we’re partnering with a very small company and they’re sharing our office space. It’s all women around my age. :) I’m so excited I’ve already started prepping for their move in (which is still a bit away).

    1. Laura*

      Aww, that’s awesome! I’m a female millennial too, and one of my previous employers was a bit like yours. So happy for you!

  49. Coffee Ninja*

    This is a work + wedding question, so I hope I’m posting in the right open thread!

    My boss is getting married tomorrow, and I’m invited. I’m the only direct report she invited (the other 2 people are her level). I’m not sure how much to give as a gift – I’m wavering between $50 & $100, and I think I decided on an amount but I wanted some advice!

    There are a couple things confusing me on this:
    – It’s her second wedding
    – Weddings in my area usually follow the “pay for your plate” mentality, and boss’s reception is a beach resort so it’s probably quite expensive.
    – I know an extra $50 isn’t a large difference, but a $50 gift would be easier to fit in my budget right now (I pretty much live paycheck to paycheck, and I’ve had a lot of medical expenses lately. I’m having surgery on Monday!). Adding to this is that my boss thinks I’m Scrooge McDuck, spending my evenings swimming in my piles of money. She frequently makes comments about how much I make & how I spend my money (I am the lowest paid person at my level, and she gives me perfect performance reviews but I haven’t gotten a raise in 2 years. But that’s another post!)
    – I want to be generous! I like my boss, and we work closely together and hang out outside work sometimes, so although I don’t really want to go to the wedding :) I think it will be a nice night.

    1. Amy S*

      I think a $50 gift is generous enough. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you don’t need to risk overspending on a wedding gift – especially considering this is for your boss and not a close friend or family member.

    2. Batshua*

      What if you bought a Thing? You know, a candy dish or a vase or a fruit bowl or something. Those sorts of things vary in price while still looking lovely, so you could spend less while still looking thoughtful.

      1. Coffee Ninja*

        I thought about that! They aren’t registered anywhere, though, and in my experience the physical gifts are at the bridal shower and the wedding is for the $$ gifts (is this a geographical thing or just my friends/family?)

        1. Megs*

          That sounds pretty geographical and/or cultural – admittedly I skipped doing a bridal shower, but it seems like we got about half and half physical/cash gifts at the wedding itself. My immediate thought was that I would feel weird giving my boss a cash gift at all, but it seems okay where you are? In any case, if your boss knows you’re having surgery next week, hopefully she’ll understand a (perfectly generous!) $50 gift.

        2. Muriel Heslop*

          I have never lived in an area in which cash was the “expectation.” (Gifts should never be an expectation.) People either registered for gifts, or people give things as they choose. Money might be given by a family member, but if one of my friends gave me money I would be very uncomfortable.

          In this instance, I think a gift in the $50 is generous. They don’t really “need” anything it seems.

          1. Sadsack*

            I think a very nice picture frame makes a nice wedding gift, particularly when you are unsure what to give.

            1. Mockingjay*

              I also suggest picture frames. It’s my go-to gift for couples I don’t know well (say, husband’s business colleague), or for those without a registry.

        3. AnonForTodayBecauseReasons*

          That’s gotta be a geographical/your circle of people thing. I definitely got “stuff” at my actual wedding, and asking for cash for the honeymoon was scandalous, and the same goes for my best friend getting married later this year, and all of the weddings I’ve attended that I can remember.

        4. Jubilance*

          Generally no registry is code for “we want the cash”. I would defer to your geographic area’s conventions and give cash, especially if they didn’t register. I think $50 is plenty generous.

        5. Rebecca in Dallas*

          In my geographic area/social circle, you generally send a gift ahead of time. If you bring a gift to the wedding, it fits in an envelope (cash/check/gift card). It’s not unheard of to bring a physical gift to the wedding, but it’s a hassle for the bride and groom (or the coordinator) to load stuff up at the end of the night.

          I’d do closer to the $50 range, but that’s about what I’d spend on a wedding gift anyway.

        6. (Another) B*

          Same where I live – gifts at the shower; cash at the wedding and cover your plate. But this is an example of a gift flowing upward so he should understand.

          1. Windchime*

            This whole “cover your plate” thing just seems so tacky of an expectation on the part of the bride and groom. Honestly, if they can’t afford to pay for a fancy dinner for guests then they shouldn’t be having one. Expecting your guests to give you a gift that meets or exceeds the cost of the dinner just seems so gauche to me.

    3. SophieChotek*

      purely by chance. I think I discovered it about a year ago. Someone asked a question somewhat similar to what I was googling looking for an answer for. Rest is history. Love it here. Community here too.

    4. motherofdragons*

      Go with what works for your budget. $50 sounds really generous to me, actually! What your boss thinks of how much you make, and how you spend it, isn’t your business (and frankly, it’s inappropriate of her to make comments like that to you – I’m giving her major side eye right now). Is part of what’s motivating your question a concern that she will not think your gift was “enough” and will make a snide comment? You can be prepared for that if that’s the case – although that would piss me off so much I don’t know how I’d get out anything other than “Wow, I can’t believe you just complained about a gift.” If she says nothing though, I would try not to worry about what she might be thinking (you can’t control it anyway!).

      1. Coffee Ninja*

        Yes, that’s a great way to put it – I’m afraid my gift won’t be “enough” either in her eyes or others’. She makes frequent comments about how I can work longer hours because I don’t have kids, always asks why I’m not dating anyone/when do I think I’m getting married…clearly we aren’t in the same page socially.

          1. Laura*

            Agreed, I would never attend weddings of bosses/coworkers, let alone give the boss cash…

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Go to a good wine shop and buy her as expensive a bottle as you can afford. Perhaps the person working there will have an idea of something that is great for the price, if somewhat unknown. Maybe you can afford a bottle of Hungarian sparking wine (which I’ve heard can be better than Veuve). I was in an airport a while ago and went into the most amazing (and kind of bizarre) liquor shop I’ve ever been in, saw things I didn’t know existed. There was a guy in there who was buying potato vodka for his boss (he had donuts for the rest of the team) because his boss really liked this one brand called Chopin. They had it, I had never heard of that before.

          And once you’ve had your operation/are mended up, do yourself the gift of looking for a new boss. This woman is taking far too many liberties with the information she knows about you. Seriously, she knows how much you make, makes inappropriate comments about your salary and doesn’t give you raises — then invites you to her wedding and expects a cash gift? WTF? That is bad enough on its own but the whole “you can work longer hours because you don’t have kids”?!? Uh… no. Just no. It’s also none of her business if you’re dating, who you’re dating, when/if you’re going to get married and have kids. How in the hell can you possibly have time to date anyone if she’s making you work long hours because you don’t have kids? She needs a good slap upside the head with a clue-by-four.

        2. motherofdragons*

          Wowzers. Don’t know how you stand it! That would drive me up the wall (and I’m married, planning on kids soon). It’s just none of anyone’s G-D business, let alone your boss’!

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I would not give cash to your boss even though you hang out outside of work sometimes. Get a gift off the registry (if you still can) and since you seem to know her fairly well should be able to pick something you know she would really, really like which will make the $$ less obvious and important. Even better if you know of something she wouldn’t think to register for that she really wants. We once got a set of etched glassware for a friend’s home bar. They were really into turtles and we found these at a small art store in a village near my MIL’s. Got wine glasses for her and rocks glasses for him. Under $50 but looked custom and the love them! Just make sure if you buy off the registry that it is something you KNOW they will like and can be returned.

    6. Emmie*

      $50 is more than generous. So are self-made gift baskets like a bottle of wine, popcorn / movie snacks, and maybe a coupon for pizza . . . kind of a date in a basket. Don’t let her project her financial expectations on to you. And good luck with your surgery. You could also make homemade wine for her instead if you like – there is a great recipe online for homemade cherry vanilla moonshine. Probably costs $20 max to make it and an hour of time.

  50. Nervous Accountant*

    Can we talk about how we all discovered AAM and how it’s impacted us? Sorry if it’s somehow inappropriate or been discussed before, but I’d like to hear others’ stories about this. I recommend this to my coworkers (so may need to change my username soon). :)

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t remember how I discovered it, but it was in the earlier days.

      It made me realize there are some things I need to work on as a manager. It’s made me realize that people I thought were good managers, might not be so hot after all. When it comes to certain things, like imposter syndrome or work PTSD, I take comfort in knowing “I’m not the only one that feels that way.” And it’s made me realize there are a lot of batshit-crazy people out in the working world.

    2. Coffee Ninja*

      I discovered AAM in summer 2008, after I was laid off from my job at a small family owned business. At that time I was still new to the working world (3 years out of college) so AAM has really shaped my view of appropriate professional behavior. It was a huge help when I had an inept, toxic bully of a manager at my next job (2009-2013), when I switched fields after my master’s, and when I recently became a manager myself.

      I enjoy reading AAM just as much for Alison’s writing style and everyone’s comments as much as the content itself :)

    3. Liana*

      I discovered AAM when I was fresh out of college. I hadn’t found a full time position yet, so I was temping at various office jobs and waiting tables on the side to pay bills. Alison completely changed my approach to cover letters and resumes, and I swear once I started using her advice, I got way more interviews. I recommend this blog to literally everyone – when my little sister graduated college, I sent her the link and harassed her about reading it for days.

    4. SL #2*

      I was lucky; I discovered AAM as I was embarking on my post-college job search. I’d stay up late just to read more posts, go through all the archives, read the comments from all you lovely people… I was employed within 2 months of looking and when it was time to move on, I juggled 2 job offers and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten any of them without AAM posts and advice.

    5. fposte*

      I discovered it when I was frustrated with bad management and expecting to take on more managing soon. Everything I’ve learned about management I’ve learned either here or from material that was recommended here.

    6. AnonForTodayBecauseReasons*

      I had a friend recommend it to me when I mentioned I was job hunting.

      It’s been a godsend both for entertainment value at my job that isn’t fulfilling and professionally, learning office norms.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I came here through Evil HR Lady’s blog. It really helped me with job hunting and the situation where I was offered a temp job while waiting to hear back from this one. And with interviewing, negotiations, etc. Not to mention all the random cool things I’ve learned from other commenters, both work and life related.

      I like you people. :)

    8. SaraV*

      Mine is pretty weird.

      I’m kind of a purse nut, so I was reading a purse forum. In their off-topic section, someone mentioned this site, and I’ve been reading daily ever since. (Early 2013?)

      Sidenote: I dropped reading that purse forum after seeing how many women were 1)buying one type of purse in every single color, and each purse cost $300-$350 and 2) How they were hiding shopping bags from their SO. I just felt a bit icky after reading those threads.

    9. CMT*

      I think I saw a link from The Toast. I do remember that after the first time I visited, I immediately started devouring the archives and then started having AAM dreams for a while.

      1. Liana*

        I LOVE The Toast and am incredibly distraught about its closing. I read both sites independently for about a year, and when The Toast started regularly linking to AAM I had a minor freakout – it’s sort of like finding out two of your close friends know each other independently.

    10. ZAQ4*

      I found AAM way back in 2011 when I was fresh out of college and starting my new job. I think I initially googled “CV help” (I wanted to update my resume with my new job info) which brought me to her page. I still remember writing my first letter to AAM about my coworker who would ask me a question and then five seconds later ask another coworker the same question as if she didn’t trust my experience/expertise. Thanks Alison for all of your help! I think you’ve answered all three of the questions that I’ve sent in! (the aforementioned letter, Q about gracefully bowing out of a mandatory working outing, and finally a Q about if it’s possible to accept a job offer that I originally declined). AAM has really given me the tools to be a conscientious and professional employee.

    11. March*

      I found AAM last fall during a google search. I’d gotten my first pay stub for a work term and it was lower than I had expected, so I was trying to figure out how it usually gets handled. From there I just kept reading, and honestly it’s been a huge benefit in a number of ways, even outside work and school environments – not everything is widely applicable, but it’s certainly helped me figure out how to better talk about problems in any number of settings and consider the situation before I jump in feet first. I’m glad I found the site. :)

    12. Crylo Ren*

      I discovered this blog when I was looking for a new job last year. I think it was because I was looking for a good template for a cover letter, and this was one of the first results that came up that wasn’t one of those generic job advice sites sponsored by Monster or the like.

      After I discovered AAM, I’ve pretty much knocked every interview I’ve had out of the park. The prospect of job hunting no longer fills me with dread, which is a triumph in itself.

      I’ve always had problems determining what was “normal” for a lot of areas in life, the workplace included. A lot of my friends aren’t yet in the “career” phase of life so whenever I had workplace questions or vents, I didn’t really have anyone I felt confident turning to for advice. A site like this, with many different perspectives, has been such an invaluable resource!

    13. TheCupcakeCounter*

      A link on Yahoo. The headline intrigued me so I clicked and am addicted. Lurked for almost a year before my first comment (which was quite recently)

    14. Andrea*

      I was googling “jerks at work” in 2008. Found some great advice for that situation, and have been reading ever since.

    15. Laura*

      I found AAM while bored at my previous job, this past October. It came at a great time, because I was interviewing for another position. AAM helped me learn how to protect myself in the workplace (i.e. get everything in writing) and I’m still learning as I go. I’m only 22 but this blog has been one of the most useful things I’ve EVER run across in life.

    16. TheLazyB*

      It was regularly recommended at I saw the links for years and never clicked because even though everyone said how great it was I thought it would be boring. Then one day for some reason I clicked. Been here ever since.

    17. Bagworm*

      I really don’t remember how I discovered it but I know I’ve been reading it for at least seven years and that I talk about it constantly (so much that my SO knows who I’m talking about when I start a sentence with “So, Alison was answering this question…” or “Alison suggests…”. I’ve actually tried to dial it back some because I think I start sounding stalker-ish or something. I also recommend it to EVERYONE in the work force.

    18. Emmie*

      Corporette referred me here. It’s been a great find. I try to hone my practice my management skills by thinking about how to resolve the issue then reading Allison’s advice and the comments. It’s super helpful. Plus, I’ve posted a few questions and the commenters have given really thoughtful, professional feedback. Allison and the commenters are gems. I’ve referred a few friends here. I wonder if they post, and what their name(s) are!

    19. Young'n*

      I googled “my coworker keeps trash talking me to my boss”. I learned that it is ok for them to do that and that my well intentioned attempt to improve cohesiveness by asking the coworker to please talk to me was a MISTAKE

    20. Not So NewReader*

      It’s always fun to read how people found their way here.
      I was doing online searches for a couple job related questions. At some point, I realized, “hey, I have read from this site a couple times, now.” And I decided to look around to see what else was on this site.
      I liked Alison’s level-headed real world advice. I did not get a knot in my stomach when I read her advice, unlike other things I have read on the net.
      I don’t know when I started posting here. I did read-only for a while. Currently, I cannot list off all the ways this site has helped me and continues to help me. My boss and some of the board members I work with will tell me, “oh you know about x because of that blog you read” or “maybe you could ask about y on that blog you read”. Yes, this blog even helps with my volunteer work that I do. This is funny, my other boss said to me “do you even know what z is? I bet you never heard of it!” Yep. You guys told me what z is and yep, I had heard of z. He laughed.

      What I have learned here has been of more value than anything I learned at Big Name College. And it has made me of more value to work and orgs than BNC did.

    21. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I have no idea how long it has been, but we’re into the “years” count I know.

      I don’t even remember how I discovered her, but I imagine it was probably through an employment related search several years ago. I’ve read religiously since then, and will continue to do so in my new job (brand new supervisor!). AAM has been invaluable in teaching someone new to the career world a lot, and making me re-examine my own behavior as well. I like to think it has changed me for the better!

  51. KE*

    Does anybody have any experience taking a break from being a lawyer and then returning to the field?

    My husband’s a lawyer and wants to take 6-12 months away from paid work to care for our baby. He would most likely need to leave his current job; it’s a midsized firm (< 50 employees), and I'd be shocked if they agreed to a leave of absence. I'd continue to work. With some big adjustments, we can make it work financially.

    I'm more worried about when he's job hunting again. He has a solid resume– top schools, well-respected firm, stable work history, etc. But the legal market's still tough. Law isn't known for being family-friendly; I expect many partners would look down on an attorney who took a break to care for family (especially a man, as unfair as that is). He's worked hard, and I don't want for him to be shut out of good attorney jobs. ("Good" doesn't mean Big Law; "good" means reputable firm/company.)

    Any lawyers (or people in similarly conservative, high pressure fields) have thoughts on this?

    1. Pwyll*

      The question I think depends on what he wants to be doing in the long-term, and what type of law he practices. As you say, it may be difficult (but not impossible) for a corporate lawyer in a major metro to get back into a mid-to-large firm. But, would he be happier in a small firm where he had a more intimate relationship with clients? Does he want to go in-house? Is there a possibility of him hooking up with old classmates and colleagues to open a new firm once he’s ready to go back to work (I’ve read a bunch of stories in the ABA magazine about women doing this to create “family friendly” small firms).

      1. KE*

        Without getting too specific, his area of practice is one of those evergreen, not-disappearing-anytime-soon types. (Thank God). There aren’t too many firms in our area that do his work, but there are many large corporations with in-house staff doing this work. He’s very open to a smaller firm, or being in-house. My hope would be for him to move to an employer with 50+ employees so he could take FMLA when the next baby comes in a few years.

        The new firm idea is interesting, though risky. We’ve discussed having him set up his own practice (on paper, at least) in case he can do some contract work and to camouflage a gap. It would come out in an interview that his work at his own practice was very PT, but at least it wouldn’t look like he was unemployed for a year when his resume was first reviewed.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Rather than start his own firm, would his type of law be the kind of thing he could do on a contract or by the project basis? I know I’ve seen lots of articles about companies designed to hire people to work law positions less than full time, but I have no idea how much of that is hype vs actual option. I’ll link to one article that has some links to firms/services. Or does he know anyone that has moved on from his firm to private practice that might need someone to do some contract or project based work?

          Also, if you think he would get a good reference, do you think he could have an honest conversation with his boss about if he took a few years off would they ever re-hire him if they had an opening? Or if he is really serious, I think he may as well try to propose a leave of absence, with no BS, letting them know that he plans to take the time either way, but that it would probably be easier for them to give him the time than to spend the time to hire someone and then get them up to speed.

          If it does turn out quitting is his only option – has his firm ever hired temps or contract lawyers? He may be able to start with whoever they hire through, since if his firm uses them, others in the field probably do too.

        2. Triangle Pose*

          Attorney here. Is your husband in BigLaw now? I’m confused by the way you’re approaching this when you say “he’s very open to being in-house” and “there are many large corporations with in-house staff doing this work.” In-house positions are coveted roles and there are many lawyers in BigLaw who can’t land an in-house gig, let alone someone who has been unemployed for 6 months to a year. I wouldn’t rely on in-house being full of options once he takes his leave. For smaller firms, he’ll have an easier time if he comes from BigLaw now and wants to move to a boutique or smaller firm that happily takes laterals. Even then though I would make sure to engage recruiters now and explain your situation so that you don’t fall into the trap that people think he was let go by his firm and uses your baby as a fake reason to take a leave.

          Are you sure his current position won’t let him take an unpaid leave of absence? Even in my cold, white shoe law firm when they let people go they gave you like a few months notice during which you were still paid (as your severance) and then a few more months unpaid to job search but still keep your online bio and phone line so you can keep 2010-present on your resume to help you get your next role. If he is well liked and respected there, he could ask the partners for an unpaid leave of absence.

          1. KE*

            Super late response, but in case you have alerts set up– I certainly wasn’t trying to imply that being in-house is not highly desirable. I was responding to Pwyll’s post asking if that’s something he would be open to. Those positions exist, and he’d be interested in them. Whether or not they’d be interested in him is an entirely different question.

            I’d be surprised if they approved an unpaid LOA, but I agree it’d be worth asking about. Can’t hurt to ask, right? I just don’t want to put all (or any) eggs in that basket.

        3. Triangle Pose*

          While I think camouflaging the gap is good, I would really think hard before he accepts an hourly contract attorney position. Hourly contract work is often a one-way road and firms won’t ever see you as anything other than a contract attorney or staff attorney and you’ll foreclose any future back at a firm. Is he involved in non-profit board or leadership roles that he could take on during his leave and use that on the resume? If he wants to be in-house or at a firm I’d think that 6-12 months spend with a leadership role on a campaign, non-profit or volunteer pro bono would be better received than hourly contract attorney work or a paternity leave of absence.

    2. Meg Murry*

      Not a lawyer, but I fear that people would see “took 6-12 months off to take care of the baby” as “I got fired/laid off and used the baby as an excuse” or “I couldn’t hack it at my job so I quit, using the baby as an excuse”. I hate that my mind even went there (and note, I didn’t say *I* would think it, but that I would fear others would, especially since I’ve heard a lot of law firms will gently nudge someone out rather than outright fire them).

      That said, if this is something he really wants to do, and he’s doing it with his eyes open that it may make it harder for him to get his foot back in the door (and/or he may have to re-enter lower or on a different career path), he should consider it. However, it takes a certain kind of personality to be content as a stay-at-home parent, and I know I don’t have that personality. Has he taken any paternity leave or other extended time off of work before to know what he is getting into? Personally, I would suggest he ask for a leave of absence first or at least a couple of weeks of paternity leave, in case he decides staying at home really doesn’t work for him.

      1. KE*

        That’s exactly my fear. His firm is very big on nudging out over firing, too. He’ll get a great reference, but I’m worried his resume won’t make the first cut.

        He hasn’t taken any leave, which is where this is coming from. I took 12 weeks under FMLA; he got < 1 week. His employer is too small for FMLA. When his request for a LOA inevitably gets shot down, I'm going to suggest that he at least take a week off. Because agreed– being a SAHM wouldn't suit me.

        1. Triangle Pose*

          His current firm is too small for FMLA? So he’s already at a small firm and is open to joining a similar sized small firm after his leave? Then I would definitely engage a recruiter now because he won’t be able to leverage a BigLaw or Midlaw name.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Lawyer here. Yes, taking time off for family will hurt him with the kind of douchebros he wouldn’t want to work for anyway. It won’t hurt him with a good, reputable firm that understands that there are family models other than “dump all the childrearing on your stay-at-home wife”.

      Besides a good cover letter explaining something like ‘having taken a short paternity leave I am eager to return to the workforce’, sort of thing, will likely address that problem, has he considered talking to a headhunter for when he returns? Having a recruiter pitch him to employers will get past that initial hump of a gap in work history.

      1. KE*

        We hadn’t thought of a headhunter. Do you have any recs on how to find a good one, if he goes that route?

        1. neverjaunty*

          I hate to say “ask around”, but… Check with local bar groups, if he’s a member; they can probably recommend someone.

  52. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    Silly interview story that I wanted to share, with bonus question at the end.

    Interview before the last one, I was not home and didn’t expect to be invited to interview. I went with a nice dress, cleavage hidden, but… sneakers. I did apologize (and they’re not bad sneakers, to boot T_T ) and tried not to dwell on it, but clearly it reflected poorly on me (though I will admit that I have really strong feelings about interview fashion now).

    Anyway, fast forward to last Monday. I get called in for a retail position interview. Yay! I’m thinking I’ll grab the ballerina shoes I saw a few days prior in a bag and don’t think twice about it.

    To my horror…

    The right shoe was in very bad shape.
    And it rained.
    And the shoe got litterally destroyed (I had to sort of hobble for the last few meters).

    When I got in, I ran to the shoe aisle (they had a small selection, its focus is more groceries) and could only find one of those weird croc-shape like shoes, that just look like medical white… heel less… stuff (no word for it) . And I didn’t have a choice, because it would have meant going home barefoot and looking so unkempt if I hadn’t done it.

    So interview starts, all is well. Interviewer hasn’t looked at my feet. I did mention it briefly though, trying to be a little lighthearted about it.

    So, was that a huge mistake on my part to go interview anyway ? (Train every hour so I couldn’t even go back and change and then get another train) Would you hold something like that against me ?

    1. Megs*

      I don’t think you were at fault at all the first time, assuming you really didn’t have time to go home and change (yeek, that’s intimidating!). The second time is on you a bit for not checking the condition of the shoes before leaving your house, but I still don’t think it’s the world’s biggest crime and could make for an amusing interaction with the interviewer depending on how you handled it. I definitely wouldn’t have canceled the interview either way, though I could see some interviewers seeing it as evidence that you’re not prepared/pulled together. Nothing to do but wait and see, right? And you’ve got a good story for the future. Good luck!

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Ugh, sorry for your experience! I want to say I wouldn’t hold it against you because it sounds like a tough situation, but. . . Honestly, the way you describe it, it sounds like you are genuinely unprepared for your interviews. Seems unusual that you wouldn’t know your one pair of dress shoes was worn out. That’s a fairly basic thing I would look for in an employee – being on time and ready to work (dressed and in shoes). Stuff happens – you break a shoe heel or whatever, but it sounds like you don’t have much cushion in life right now and might be on more susceptible to “Murphy’s Law” than normal. (Which obviously you are trying to fix by getting a job, right?)

    3. Editrix*

      Oh, the shoes. Probably more important than anything else you’re wearing in an interview. That saying “the shoes make the outfit” is hugely applicable here.

      If the interview went well, your shoes won’t count against you *too* much. But…people definitely do judge what’s on your feet. I suggest you find a pair of simple, well-made flats (preferably black) to wear to interviews. A higher price tag may be a shock at first, but they’ll last much longer than cheaper versions.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          One of the most embarrassing things about working from home, aside from the weight gain, has been finding out I don’t have “real” clothes (that fit, anyway). I’ve long been a believer that everyone should have 1 good outfit that is suitable for a job interview, hatch/match/dispatch, or a night out somewhere you can’t wear jeans. I bought new clothes last year because of this. They may not be completely the height of fashion right now, but they aren’t going to embarrass me, either.

          Also, because Canadian winters be hard, I tend to carry my good shoes in a bag and wear crap ones on the street. Or if I’m driving, wear regular ones in the car and change into the “right” ones after I park it. Keeps my nice shoes in good condition longer and saves my feet. You see it all the time here (and I’m sure other places) that women will wear running shoes on the commuter train, then change to their heels when they get to work.

        2. Canton*

          Also, carry a big purse so you can wear throw away shoes (in case it rains…also carry a plastic bag to put the shoes in) and keep your nice flats looking nice.

          1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

            Oh my goodness, Dynamic Beige, you’re touching on something… the “working from home” (unemployment here, but yeah) and the “real clothes” …

            Thankfully, summer sales month is here… maybe today I’ll get to a couple nice pieces!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        On the flip side, I was going to say I often don’t even notice people’s shoes, so Sandrine might have gotten away without even mentioning it.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Hmm… well, Neither did I… I mean, seriously, how often do you really look at a man’s shoes?

          But, this was France and a retail position, not Shawshank. Paris is an amazing place and generally speaking people in Europe just seem to dress less casually than we do in North America… or perhaps with more panache. So, I can see how someone might, when looking for someone to work in a shop, look at their shoes/overall appearance and consider that as part of “fit”. Who knows? I think a lot would depend on what kind of shop it was.

          1. zora.dee*

            “Neither did I… I mean, seriously, how often do you really look at a man’s shoes?”

            ….I saw what you did there ;o)

  53. Gene*

    Where did the phrase “try and” come from? For some reason it really grates on me in any use beyond “try and try”. “Try and do XXX” makes no sense to me at all; to me it should be “Try to do XXX”.


    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Eh, let it go. Language evolves. Dialects and regionalisms exist. You obviously understand what is being said, so there’s no problem here.

    2. Cookie*

      It’s definitely “try to do.” People are sloppy when they speak, but I’d like to think that if they actually typed it out, they’d get it right.

    3. Pwyll*

      Perhaps they’re saying “I will try, and do x.” As in, “I will try. I will do x.”

      But I mostly agree with Victoria.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree in spoken communication, but I expect that formal written communication and materials (marketing, etc.) will conform to standards. I’m just picky that way. Proofreading is your friend. In fact, pay me to do it for you. :)

        1. LQ*

          The problem with formal written communications is that it is often more confusing to people. I work for a VERY formal employer (hi government!) and everything we do is VERY formal. People freak out when you try to use a contraction. This is despite all the plain language laws that are out there designed to make things easier to understand. Saying this is formal writing (and therefore better writing) creates an unnecessary divide between the talker and the listener (or the writer and the reader) which makes the listener more likely to tune out, not understand, get frustrated, and not do what you want them to do. In government this is a serious problem.

          Communication isn’t about being “right” it’s about being understood.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I don’t mean something so rigid it doesn’t make sense. You can be formal and still use plain language. But I see so many sloppy documents that look as if the writer didn’t even bother to read them over before posting or disseminating them, and it makes me crazy. Bad grammar, no punctuation or misused punctuation, and oodles of spelling errors. Also, spellcheck does not catch things like homophones. This is hanging on my cube wall under a list of the measures of excellence in tech writing:

            Ode to Spell Check
            I have a spelling checker.
            It came with my PC.
            It plainly marks for my revue
            Mistakes I cannot sea.
            I’ve run this poem threw it.
            I’m sure your pleased to no,
            Its letter perfect in its weigh
            My checker tolled me sew.

            1. LQ*

              What I’m saying is I’ve seen documents that were “right” and didn’t make any sense. Full of complex, nearly incomprehensible sentences, but nothing technically wrong with them. “Formal and correct” but unintelligible is the thing that makes me crazy. If your user can’t understand? It doesn’t matter if you are right. I would call that just as sloppy, if not more, than a document full of bad grammar and misused punctuation. If it says “they is” but I understand the rest of it? I don’t really care that it isn’t right because I took the correct information away.

              Being grammatically correct isn’t the goal of most business communication, or it shouldn’t be. The point where grammar/spelling/punctuation becomes a problem is the point where your information is no longer understood.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      I’ve been staring off into space thinking about this question for a few minutes, so thanks for the unintentional break!

      I once wrote in an email that I would “try and reach [person]” who was supposed to be in a pretty big meeting and people were freaking out. A senior person replied to the thread “Do or do not; there is no ‘try'” — while I appreciated the humor, it also made me think about what what I was trying to communicate and what she was hearing.

      I was trying to say that I will make continuous attempts to reach her until I get her in the room. The senior person was hearing “I’ll give it a shot, but no guarantees.” I think there might be a meaning difference between “try and” and “try to,” at least in how I use it–“try and” is “I will make an effort AND get this done” and “try to” is “I’ll give it a shot, but it might not work.”

      Not sure if that resonates with anyone else? The grammar irks me a little bit too but I think there might also be useful shades of meaning!

    5. Ife*

      Someone posted this question on Stack Overflow! I think one of the answers indicated that this really isn’t a new construction, it’s been used for hundred(s) of years already. It’s like how we say “I should of gone” in place of “I should have gone” when talking quickly/informally.

      1. Yet Another JD*

        I’ve always thought people who write “should of gone” meant “should’ve gone”. When speaking, it’s hard to tell the difference; it’s only written communication where you can tell.

    6. Dan*

      You know… one thing other languages have that English really doesn’t (too much anyway) is a difference between a casual spoken language and a formal written style. I.e., the textbook will tell you that this X is what you would “say” to somebody, but Y is how you would “write” it.

      We have some casual spoken things that you would never write, but nobody teaches it that way. What you say is one example, and another is the pervasive use of the word “like” in spoken English. As in, “I was talking to my friend, as I was like, that sucks.” We’ve evolved to the point where we say that, but certainly wouldn’t consider that acceptable in writing.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it probably comes from “try and” just being easier to say than “try to.” You have to hard consonants in a row (t and t). Tryand just rolls off the tongue more easily than tryto. People are lazy.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I think that “try and” is a way of dialing back a statement that says, “you will do this”.

      Softer approach:”Well, try and see if you can get the mower started so you can cut the lawn.”

      Firmer approach: “Well, see if you can get the mower started so you can cut the lawn.”

      The softer approach clearly acknowledges that getting the lawn mower started is going to be an effort.
      The firmer approach seems to skate by the extra effort it takes to start the stubborn mower and seems to be focusing on “get that darn lawn mowed, will ya?”

      Try and do x, might indicate recognition that there is extra effort involved.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I think Gene’s point was more that it should be Well, try to see if you can get the mower started so you can cut the lawn. and not Well, try and see if you can get the mower started so you can cut the lawn.

  54. ThatGirl*

    My husband is a licensed mental health counselor currently working at a small university. He’d love to change jobs – the college is becoming a sinking ship – but is mostly wanting to stay in the university setting. Unfortunately our state is in a bit of disarray due to no budget and university funding is tight. Any tips or resources? (He absolutely does not want to work at a hospital or in a group home setting. Private practice is difficult to break into and requires building a client base.)

    1. Mimmy*

      Many nonprofit agencies provide services to individuals, families and groups facing a variety of situations. For example, our regional (covers several counties) Catholic Charities has numerous programs that hire mental health counselors. For other ideas, he could look at Idealist, which lets you search a wide range of nonprofit jobs, including mental health counseling. I’ll put the link in a separate reply.

      If he’s part of any professional associations, he could take advantage of networking events.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Thanks – local organizations are a possibility although he’s not CADC certified (addiction counseling) which is what many of those deal with.

        I’ll pass on Idealist.

    2. KE*

      If staying in high ed is a priority, he could also look at fields where a counseling background is an asset– residence life, career center, academic advising.

      If he wants to do 1:1 counseling, many universities have in-house employee assistance programs. No student interaction, but he’d still get the university atmosphere.

    3. fposte*

      My concern is that a lot of the places (AFAIK, anyway) that would have a counselor are hit hard by the budget situation in the state right now, since many depend on state funding. That doesn’t mean there aren’t jobs, but they’re going to be even more competitive than usual–so one thing I’d wonder is if you’re close enough to a border for him to look in another state.

      1. ThatGirl*

        You are correct that the budget crisis is causing funding problems at universities and other nonprofits, which does make things harder.

        Unfortunately, not only are we not really close enough to either our northern or eastern border to make the commute feasible, but licensing requirements vary between states and he’s not licensed in any other state.

    4. CMT*

      Are there any private universities nearby?

      I didn’t see any mental health professionals until I was in graduate school and it was life changing to realize that this was something I didn’t have to deal with all on my own. And the people I saw were the nicest, best people. I miss them :(

      1. ThatGirl*

        There are – and he currently works at a private university, it’s just one that isn’t doing very well. State grant aid to students is also being held hostage, which makes funding problematic at a lot of small colleges. But yeah, he’s looking at private colleges and universities as well.

    5. Meg Murry*

      Are there any private colleges in your area that are doing better financially that the university? I konw you said he didn’t necessarily want to go into private practice, but is there a practice in town that could use another person? Does he currently refer students to an outside practice for ongoing mental health concerns beyond what he can handle at the university, and would they need an additional counselor? In my area there are more and more students arriving that have existing mental health concerns that are looking for a therapist to continue seeing when the college counseling center isn’t enough (the counseling center here focuses mostly on getting people past crises, and then transitioning to outside counseling for long term maintenance counseling).

      What is more important to him, staying with mental health counseling or staying at a university setting? Would he be qualified to move into another position at the college like advising, career services, res life, etc? Or would that make him even more vulnerable than his current position?

      With his experience with young adults, could he transition to a position at a local high school, or maybe a private school? It wouldn’t be a 9-5 job, but what about a nonprofit like the Boys and Girls Club? Are there any nonprofits in your area focused on mental health that he would be a good fit for?

      1. ThatGirl*

        To repeat from above, there are other private colleges nearby, which he’s looking at, but many schools are in tough positions for various reasons.

        His current counseling center isn’t just for crises; he sees students for years at a time sometimes. He’s sort of torn between staying in higher ed versus staying in counseling, would it come to that — he is good at his job but it can be stressful. He’d certainly be qualified for career services, advising, disability accommodations, that sort of thing and has done some academic advising. But it really depends on the college in question (a different position at his current workplace wouldn’t help).

        He’s not qualified to work at public schools, you need a different (ed) degree for that – but local nonprofits are a good avenue to look into. As for joining an existing private practice or counseling center, it’s a possibility, sort of depends how it’s set up.

        Thanks for all your thoughts!

        1. Meg Murry*

          Ah, got it, I hadn’t refreshed when I wrote the comment. I assumed university + budget crunch = state school, sorry for the assumption.

          Although FWIW, I’ve been in more than one school that had a school psychologist or school social worker that had an MA in psychology or MSW but didn’t specifically have an education degree, although they may have had more training in dealing with young children. I think many districts list the requirements as an either/or, while they’d ideally like both the license and the education degree (and it may be that there are enough people with both that he wouldn’t be able to compete), it might not be a complete hard and fast requirement.

          Would he be able to use the fact that he’s currently at a university to take classes for cheap or free to prepare him for a career change? For instance, business classes to move into an HR role or other corporate role, or education classes to qualify him to work in the schools, additional classes to get certified for additiction counseling etc? Or maybe this is too far from what he does or too much addtional schooling but I now see a psychiatric nurse practitioner and (psychiatric mental health nurse) for a combo of therapy and mental health medication management and I really like her much more than any other therapist or psychiatrist I’ve ever seen – and she says at least in our area there is a huge shortage of psychiatrists and psychiatrist NPs.

          Or is this more that he really likes what he does and doesn’t want to change, but thinks he should look for what else is out there because he’s afraid he’ll lose this job to budget cuts?

          1. ThatGirl*

            He likes what he does, most days, but his current workplace is having a budget crisis that is separate from but made worse by the state one. There have been pay cuts and the environment is not great. It’s time for a change.

  55. The next avatar in the cycle*

    Would you take a job where you don’t know the manager? I currently am in a position I hate; manager, organization, commute are all terrible. I’m incredibly stressed and it’s taking a toll on my health. A few weeks ago a former colleague contacted me about an opening (we’re both at new organizations since we worked together) and asked if I was interested because she would love for me to apply. Long-story short I interviewed and it seemed to go incredibly well. They are hiring this position’s manager as well though and I think I was ushered through quickly while nobody for the manager position was a clear choice I guess.

    I know not to count my chickens before they hatch but there are good odds that I will get an offer (I’m not counting on it and I’m assuming I didn’t get the job for my mental health). I know there are tons of reasons to not take a position with not knowing the manager but am I blinded by the opportunity of leaving my current job to know better than this? I was looking pretty hard for red flags since they would interview for a position without that position’s manager in place and besides that one aspect everything seemed great. Thank you for all of your help!

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Sure. It could end up badly, but it could end up fine, and there’s no more real guarantee from taking a position with a known manager.

      Many years ago, I took an internal, newly created position, and I really knew the manager. I talked to her about the position before even throwing my hat in the ring. We were both blindsided when the president of the company hired someone else from the outside and installed him as my manager [and only my manager] 2 months later. I really disliked that guy, but point is, even a known manager can end up changing.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t think I’ve ever taken a job where I did know the manager. Sounds like quite a luxury to think that would always be the case.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto from me. You have been very fortunate, OP. I think you could trust your former colleague to bring you to a good place.

    3. Laura*

      I think it depends on the role. For example, would you need a lot of guidance from the manager, or would you mostly just have one in case of issues that pop up? For my current job, I would have been VERY put-off if there was no hiring manager in place. Fortunately she was part of the process from Day 1.

  56. OfficePrincess*

    The team I supervise is a low-skill entry-level position that is primarily data entry. Basically, you just need minor computer skills (ie navigating internal programs with a mouse, entering data in a pre-built spreadsheet), a willingness to learn, an the drive to show up on time every day and work. I have an employee who joined my team about a month ago as an internal transfer. He’s really struggling to retain what we do, makes frequent mistakes, and his production is about 50-60% of goal on a good day. Just this week, we finally started him on a task that most new hires start by week 2. It’s not going well either. When I point out issue’s I’ve found – things like skipping pages or stapling unrelated pages together, he always apologizes and says he doesn’t know how he did it, will pay more attention, etc. It’s getting to where I don’t want an apology, I want it done right since we’re the last line of defense for catching most problems. He admits to being overwhelmed, and I’m seriously questioning whether the position is right for him, but I’m torn. He left a very stable job that he apparently did well to come to my team. It was more physical than he would have liked, but his prior experience before relocating to this area was all professional and para-professional office work. Between his resume, interview, and the recommendation I got from his former supervisor, he seemed ideal. I just don’t get it. And I don’t want to be the person who hired him away from a solid job to then let him go soon after.

    We have a one-on-one next week. I’m planning to tell him that I really need to start seeing significant improvement. I’m just not sure how. I’ve had conversations with people who make mistakes because they go too fast, and I’ve had conversations with people who need to start working quicker, but this is the first person I’ve had continue making these types of mistakes after multiple extra training sessions and reminder sheets while also being significantly slower than expected. Has anyone else found themselves in this position?

    1. Leatherwings*

      Can you ask him what he thinks is going wrong? That might give you some insight and help him make a plan to fix it.

      Ultimately, though, you need someone who’s going to do this job well. He just might not be the right fit and you need to make that clear to him.

    2. Dawn*

      Have you exhausted every possibility and avenue to teach him how to do the job? Had him shadow others, shown him yourself, had him show you how he would perform [task], had him read training materials, had him watch a training video, etc?

      Have you sat down and had a detailed conversation with him about *why* his performance is not up to par? Do you understand what his problems are? Needs more training? Doesn’t understand the job? Feels intimidated by the work? Problems at home?

      Have you asked him what he needs, and if so, are you happy that you got a truthful answer?

      If the answer to all the above is yes, then by all means, sit him down and have a Come to Jesus talk with him. Explain exactly what you expect to see from his performance and exactly when you expect to see it by. Say (if this part is true) that you’re happy to do whatever it takes for him to get up to speed, but that he needs to meet performance goals by X date and if he does not then the next step will be a formal PIP (or however your company handles stuff like this).

      In this situation it sounds like there was no way you could have anticipated him not working out in the position, so don’t beat yourself up about it- just make sure you’re communicating with your employee as much as possible and that you are being honest with yourself about giving him all the help that you can possibly give.

    3. neverjaunty*

      ” And I don’t want to be the person who hired him away from a solid job to then let him go soon after.”

      You’re not. You’re the person who expects him to do the job he’s been hired to do, has given him lots of slack in doing that job as required, and will put him on a performance improvement plan so that he has a fair opportunity to get his act together before you have to fire him.

      1. BRR*

        Exactly. You’re also the person who hired him into a position he wanted that he doesn’t have the skill set for. If you give him a fair shot at improving, let him know what he needs to work on, and help him work on it then you’ve done all that you can do. It’s just a difficult conversation.

    4. Meg Murry*

      Honestly, I don’t think you’re going to get less mistakes *and* higher productivity out of him quickly, unless there is some kind of fundamental misunderstanding on his part as to how to do the job – because if he speeds up, he’ll probably make more mistakes, and if he slows down he’ll probably catch more mistakes but then have a lower output.

      Personally, I think the only way to salvage this is to focus on slowing down and getting the process down cold, with no mistakes, and then once (if) he can do that confidently, speed will come.

      Is there something distracting him causing the missed pages, etc – like he is also covering a phone or front door or has to attend a lot of meetings or has emails constantly popping up or otherwise interrupted often? Is there something impacting his productivity, like he’s never worked with Macs before or his typing skills aren’t up to snuff or he’s lacking basic computer skills? Since he’s an internal transfer, is he getting contacted by his previous department with questions he has to take time to answer?

      Last, if he only joined your team a month ago as an internal transfer, has his old job been filled? As much as it would stink, would he be better off with the option to go back to it if it’s still available, rather than continue to flounder with you and potentially be let go? Is that something you should talk to HR about?

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Last, if he only joined your team a month ago as an internal transfer, has his old job been filled? As much as it would stink, would he be better off with the option to go back to it if it’s still available, rather than continue to flounder with you and potentially be let go? Is that something you should talk to HR about?

        This is what I was going to suggest. It sounds like he may need to go back to his old team if they’ll have him.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Tell him he needs to double check everything he does.

      Some people cannot do repetitive tasks, if he is just keying in data he may not be able to focus or his brain might be falling asleep from the monotony, especially if he is used to doing a greater diversity of work.

      Ask him to hammer out a plan, that he will follow, in order to get his accuracy and productivity levels up. Ask him if he understands how to check his own work for accuracy. And make sure he knows what the goal is for productivity levels. Make sure he understands how to track his own productivity each day.

      I don’t know if this is possible in your setting, but I encouraged my crew to ask each other questions. I would point blank say, “Not everyone likes asking the boss questions. This is understandable. Ask each other. Pick someone who looks like they know what they are doing and ask them.” Sometimes a coworker can break through where a boss cannot, for any number of reasons.

      The job may not be for him. The worst I have ever seen was a person who asked would hold something up and say “is this X?”. I told her a thousand times to read the label, what does the label on it say? oh my. Almost a year later she still could not identify X and she routinely forgot to read the label on the item. (We had dozens of types of X’s, we all read the label to see which one it was. We could not fix whatever the problem was.)

  57. Boboccio*

    I’m having a problem in my office. My manager is extremely close with one of my colleagues- eat lunch together, go for drinks, they chitchat all the time. She also gets all of the plum assignments too, and growth opportunities, and her referrals always get hired, although I know objectively I am the stronger performer (this same colleague tells me she hopes to one day get on my level). My manager just loves her anyways. I can only imagine what her performance evaluation looks like compared to mine.

    It’s really difficult to shine in this situation. Anyone have any ideas?

    1. M*

      This is a great question, and I’d be interested to hearing how people deal with this. I had this situation recently My boss only loved 3 ppl, 2 of which were managers who she basically let run the group and the rest of us she tolerated. An example – we had some layoffs and she was stern in her execution of them, but a lower level team member had a visa issue and she actively found her another job in their country of origin. So she played favorites basically.

    2. Pwyll*

      Do you have any interest in grabbing lunch with boss? Perhaps it could be helpful to ask her to lunch and talk to her about your career goals, ask the boss for her insight into the future of the department, and discuss what you could be doing?

      I don’t think you should HAVE to do that, but it may be a way to get heard if you’ve been unable to do that in the office in 1-on-1’s.

      1. Boboccio*

        If that’s directed to me, I thank you for your input.

        I tried lunch with my manager once, and to be honest, it was extremely awkward. I could tell he didn’t want to be there, and he shifted the conversation away from work (and personal) topics. Like to the weather and hockey.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Wait, what? Your male manager has taken a particular shine to a female subordinate? Gives her all the plum assignments, they eat lunch and socialise together? Hoo boy. Given your user name, can I also assume you are male, Boboccio?

          This doesn’t sound like a manager/mentor or manager/employee relationship but a man who is in love with his subordinate. It also sounds like a great, big, hot mess just waiting to happen.

          So what can you do? If the company is large enough, I would suggest you apply for an internal transfer to another group/team/project. If it’s not, perhaps a job search should be in your future. If your manager reports to someone else, or you have an HR department, you might want to have a discussion with them about your concerns that this relationship may be inappropriate, but that can backfire and you’ll be seen as a tattler. I’ve seen that some managers get territorial with opposite sex employees, they treat their position more as an opportunity to interview/hire their next romantic interest.

          If you know this colleague well enough, you might want to ask her what’s going on between her and the boss — are they dating? She might not be aware that she’s being treated better than her colleagues… or she might and just doesn’t care. If she’s just truly unaware, she should be horrified or at least squicked out to find out that other people think her boss is trying to date her (essentially, given how he’s treated you at a lunch) and put a stop to it/slow it down.

          Honestly, I think your best option is just to leave.

          1. Boboccio*

            Thanks for the comments, Dynamic Beige.

            Yes, male manager, female coworker, while I’m male. Other than they are extremely extremely close in the office, I don’t have any indication that they’re romantically involved. It’s possible of course.. I’d say he treats her more like a favoured niece or something though.

            I think if I brought it up with HR, or my manager’s manager, my manager would just say he favours her because she is the better employee. Now, I can say objectively I have a necessary certification my coworker should have, but failed the exam. I have more experience. I work never duck out early when no one’s looking. I know the organization better than her, and my analyses are much deeper than hers because of it. My coworker says she looks up to me, and called me her mentor. But I have nothing that will convince my subjective manager.

            Does my colleague know she’s favoured? Yes of course. I think she’s a little embarrassed about it, but she’s not going to turn down great assignments, or additional training, or travel to exotic conferences, because of it.

            I was hoping there might be a better solution than leaving. But I haven’t found it yet either.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              They may not be romantically involved… he’s probably just off his head over a woman half his age who has zero interest in seeing him naked — some men get that way. In a way, it’s great for her, she gets the plum assignments, she has you to learn the correct ways of doing things so she’s getting a sweet deal. But, that’s the kind of relationship that women get dinged for because people will say she’s sleeping her way to the top or whatever (even if she isn’t). For you, however, it’s not such a great arrangement. If you say something, you look jealous and insecure. If you don’t say anything, you continue to stagnate and get resentful. She didn’t set this up — your manager did — and, as awful as it sounds, good for her to take what she can get. I’ve learned the hard way that being “nice” and trying to make sure that everyone gets their shot quite often leaves you behind.

              The other option is that she might turn in her notice and leave, then it will be just you and him. Until he hires a new younger woman he can swoon over, that is. If he’s somewhat self-aware and has the “come to Jesus” talk with himself that having an infatuation with a subordinate is Not Good, he might have learned his lesson and won’t repeat it. It’s only going to take one complaint from her about sexual harassment to put a black mark on his career (if TPTB believe her, that is). He’d be wise to knock it off right now.

              I get the feeling, though, that this whole thing has made you lose respect for your manager, and I don’t blame you one bit. Even if she does leave, he isn’t going to magically regain your respect. It’s pretty hard working for someone you don’t respect, which is another reason why I was saying you should consider leaving. That’s easier said than done and I don’t know how “hot” your field is but it never hurts to see what else is out there and keep your options open. I mean, if something happened and they needed to reduce headcount, who would be out of a job, you or Manager’s Pet?

              1. Boboccio*

                Well, it seems I should have done something earlier.

                Turns out, my coworker is getting promoted to a slightly superior-to-me role (from a slightly subordinate one) based on her mentorship abilities. When I raised the fact that she’d never mentored anyone, I was told it was because she had potential. My coworker later thanked me for teaching her all she knows.

                As for me? No promotional opportunities, and was told I should be looking for work elsewhere.

                About the worst possible scenario, except of course I’m still employed.

                1. Dynamic Beige*

                  Oh wow, I’m sorry, that blows.

                  You know, I was in a similar (but not completely comparable) place at LastJob. My manager had been involved with not one, but two of their direct reports (that I knew for sure, there might have been more), there was no possibility for advancement and it was made very clear that there never would be. Sometimes, companies want people to stay in the box where they’ve put them. So I left. Since leaving, while I’m not going to say it’s been a bed of roses 24/7/365, I have gotten more chances to upgrade my skills, better projects and more interesting work all around. But then again, I’m self-employed now, so I don’t need other people’s permission for things like stuff I want to learn.

                  Your manager has shown that he’s biased and has zero interest in either your contribution or in mentoring you so that you can advance. He’s also completely clueless if he thinks the way he’s been acting has been motivating, let alone telling you you should leave. In a way, he’s doing you a favour by saying that. It may not be what you wanted to hear, but would you rather know now that you’ve gone as far as you can at that company/under his “tender” ministrations, or five years from now? If you can transfer out, try that. If not, polish up that résumé and start sending it out. Seriously, there’s got to be somewhere better than working for that tool.

  58. Mimmy*

    Anyone ever dealt with Vocational Rehabilitation? (I know one reader who has, any others?)

    As an update to my thread last week, I finally heard from my VR counselor after nudging her for a follow-up (she’s actually very good, she’s probably just busy). She’s going to send me for a 2-week assessment to see where my skills are at and to help get a plan going. She knows I have one advanced degree and that I just finished a graduate certificate program, and she knows that I’m a little leery because of that. She does think I think start small since, other than my council work, I have not had any substantial work experience in some time.

    On one hand, I’m probably off my rocker for agreeing to this plan – it’s not like I *just* became disabled – I’ve dealt with this my entire life. But on the other hand, everything I’ve been doing these past few years has shaped my interests and viewpoints and I want to move ahead into something more advanced, but I want to get it right this time – I’ve said before I’m so scared of letting my anxiety get the better of me, particularly when it comes to interpersonal communications. That’s the One Thing that’s been tripping me up.

    I am ready to soar – I just need my wings.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      My advice would be to know what you want from them. At least in my state, they have two tracks–school, or retraining (which is not the same thing). In my case, they were trying to help me decide WHAT I wanted to do, not just how to get there, and it was sort of a fiasco from start to finish. Because I didn’t really know, and the suggestions for alternate employment through job organizations were either not far above retail/food service or just plain silly. The Goodwill counselor we met with suggested trucking school.

      TRUCKING SCHOOL. I am not making this up. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for me, it made zero sense. I picked school, and that really didn’t go anywhere either, but that’s a story for another day.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Is that what you want her to help you with, interpersonal communications?

      If yes, I think that you should ask people here what books would be good to read. I am a firm believer in reading up on what scares me. Fear is basically lack of knowledge. The more you know about Thing, the less power Thing has over you. Reading is great, because you can pick the book up, read some and then put it down. It’s self-paced and that ability to set the pace feels like taking control BACK.

  59. Daffodil*

    So, I left my job last week after a ridiculous incident where I was lied to and my person disrespected. It was the final straw for me. Ex-company has horrible communication. They will tell you A and in a week said they never said that or will just not tell you important things until you should know. Those in management to trash about employees to other employees, at least one manager actively tries to stir up trouble between coworkers, and they do not remove people are unable to properly do their jobs, among other things. Without bad mouthing them, which seems impossible right now, how should I word my statement when asked why I left?

    1. Daffodil*

      That should have been tell you important things until well after you should have known.

    2. M*

      I would just say that you decided to focus your career in another direction and took time to identify what that path would look like – which lead you to this role.

      As much as you may hate them, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT bad mouth them. The only person that will come off looking bad and bitter will be you. Own the decision you made and be confident in your portrayal, and people will not question further, they will focus on YOU.

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I’d go with bad fit, lack of direction and advancement opportunities. Those cover a lot of areas and are pretty neutral.

      1. Graciosa*

        Lack of direction is not neutral – it seems to criticize the employer for failing to provide direction. M’s “focus career in another direction” approach seems better.

  60. FriendofaTG*

    Thanks for the comments from a few weeks ago dealing with my transgender friend! (Since links cause the comments to be flagged as needing moderation, even if it’s to another post on here, I’ll post a comment with a link to the original question afterwards so you can start reading this right away.)

    We agreed that the idea of contacting HR beforehand and asking if you need to include a name change at age (insert) and which no records germane to an employment background check are under would be the best way to go (since it’s always acceptable to ask for clarification on a question that you’re unsure of what they want). She did that, and it worked out for her (what Alison said in that 2013 questions thread I linked to in that comment applied here).

    Since I have a rudimentary knowledge of what employers may/should not ask before hiring, I did some research on the question of asking for other names the applicant has used. It turns out there is some precedent on this which could be used in favor of young-transitioning transgender people: Back when immigrants often changed their names when moving to the U.S. employers would often ask what their name was before in order to find out (and discriminate against) their national origin. It was apparently decided that employers cannot inquire about former/other names merely for the sake of knowing what said name was, but if the name is needed for a practical reason (i.e. record-checking) they can ask for it (but it would be safer to do so in a matter to ascertain only the names that are necessary, i.e. “Do we need to know about the use of another name in order to properly verify (insert)?” rather than an overly broad inquiry for all other names used as was the case for my friend, which could be ammo against them in certain cases of discrimination).

    Of course one big difference between immigrants back-in-the-day and transgender people now was that most employers would not bother doing an international background check (especially considering how arduous it would’ve been with the technology of the time), and thus no practical need for them to know their birth name existed. With modern transgender people, except for the small but growing minority who transition before they enter adult life, unfortunately a tangible reason would exist for an employer to know their pre-transition name if background-check-relevant records would be under it.

    It’s not just former “legal names” that could be a concern with an overreaching inquiry about other names they’ve used – an applicant who is concerned that means disclosing a pseudonym they use for whatever purpose (especially if dealing with a protected status) could have the same concerns as my transgender friend (but a contact on clarifying the purpose of the question would likely solve any worries).

  61. Alli525*

    Hi Alison! Just wanted to say thank you – in very large part to your excellent advice, I’ve landed a really wonderful job and have just given notice at my soon-to-be-former employer. I’m finally leaving admin work, as has been my goal for a couple years now, and am moving more into a career-track job. So thank you!!

  62. sittingstill*

    Is 2.5 years a good time to leave my job? I haven’t received a raise since i started 2.5 years ago. and my responsibilities have increased to more admin. any advice?

    1. SL #2*

      Conventional wisdom says that a 2-3 year stay is usually enough to build or contribute to a stable job history. I guess my concern would be if this is one of multiple 2-year stays (like if you’ve been at 4 jobs but didn’t stay at any of them over 2 years).

    2. Athena C*

      Whilst I have spent 9 years at my company, I’ve not spent more than 3.5 years in one position, to be honest. I don’t think 2.5 is that bad at all.

  63. NASA*

    I managed to wear pants today…my office should consider itself lucky :)

    I am thiiiiiis close to just rolling in wearing yoga pants/athleisure wear (I don’t see clients anymore, I’m part of the “geek squad” now in my own secluded section) but *sigh* I know that’d be “wrong”.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think about doing this on a regular basis. Super relaxed office, no clients showing up in person. My boss wears sweatpants and shorts. But something just keeps me from doing it, so I hear you.

    2. SL #2*

      I… used to wear yoga pants to my old job. But then again, everyone else in the office did too, and mine were always solid black in thick material and I did the mirror check every morning to make sure there weren’t visible lines or weird folds. Or I’d wear extra-long jackets or cardigans that covered up the rear.

    3. E*

      I haven’t been able to fit back in my regular clothes 6 months after having my first baby, so my black knit maternity pants save the day still. They even manage to look fairly dressy, thankfully.

    4. TheCupcakeCounter*

      NY&Company has a knit pull-on pant that looks super dress and feels like yoga/sweat pants. I call them my period pants (sorry if that is TMI…I grew up with people who worked in health care so bodily fluids were normal dinner table conversation and I didn’t realize it wasn’t normal until High School)

    5. Triangle Pose*

      Betabrand makes yoga pants that look like work pants – they are comfy, nap worthy and work appropriate!

  64. Jennifer*

    So starting next Thursday I am going to be the only one left in my group to do ALL of the work for a month, DROWNING. I am so scared. Hell, I already don’t know the questions to anything anyone asks.

    I am just so sick of my job leaving everyone to drown. And I can’t have a nervous breakdown or go on a vacation at all this year (I used my vacation time to move and they cannot afford to have me out at all anyway).

    1. A Non*

      If stuff doesn’t get done, that’s on the company for not making sure they have enough people. Not on you for failing to be superhuman. My spouse worked at a retail place that perpetually understaffed, while also hounding everyone to do twice as much as was reasonable. Eff that. My spouse eventually learned that if the company really wanted stuff done, they’d hire more people. If they didn’t hire more people, it clearly wasn’t that important to get it done.

      Good luck, you have all my sympathies.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        This is a really good point. You are not physically capable of doing the job of more than one person — yourself. IMO, you should do your hours/projects as you can, don’t stay late every night. Because if you teach them that you will put in a superhuman effort, they will continue to expect that superhuman effort. And that is simply not fair or sustainable.

        So, you should have a meeting with TPTB early next week where you discuss the most critical deadlines/projects because now that you’re losing Wakeen after Lucinda, Fergus, Hamilton and Jane have also left, you would like clear direction on what you should focus on. If someone then tries to be all “you’ve got to drop that chocolate teapot because my strawberry one is more important” you can check in with your boss about whether or not it’s important enough to stop working on what you’ve previously decided upon. Ask them what the timeline is for replacing Wakeen/Lucinda etc. If they have no plan in place, then you know that you are their plan.

        Seriously, it sucks and you are going to have to develop boundaries for what you will and will not put up with then stick to them. They need to hire more people, or you will also be out the door and then where will they be? There’s a difference between being a team player and being the whole team.

        1. Jennifer*

          I am not allowed to stay late in this job, so that’s not an issue. But my boss agreed that I just literally will not be able to get the usual amount of workload done and that’s all there is to it. I don’t think it’s fair that one person is gonna have to key the workll0ad of 3 in this office and 16 different people are also sending me work to key from another….but there’s no hope for it.

          I am also literally not allowed to set boundaries in this job, for anything. I have no leverage and they know darned well I’ve been applying for jobs for years and can’t get hired elsewhere (none of us can), so….

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I am not allowed to stay late in this job, so that’s not an issue.

            Honestly, that is a good thing! It would be much worse if you were expected to stay late and work weekends to keep up. Just do the best job you can and eventually they’ll figure out they need more people, or new software or a new system or something. You are not responsible for decisions made higher up the chain. If they’re that concerned about it, maybe the management should be giving you a hand so that they can see the challenges of your position. You can always suggest that they are welcome help you out with a nice smile on your face :)

  65. Christina*

    I gave my 2 weeks notice this week, and I think it was the last straw for upper management about the effectiveness of my boss.

    Based on how she’s handled my leaving (basically ignore, ignore, ignore) and conversations I’ve had with her boss (director) and her boss’ boss (vp), she’s finally screwed up enough that they’re going to get rid of her and completely restructure my team. I feel bad for her, but in many ways she brought this on herself. And both the director and vp said that a) they’d do whatever they could to keep me and b) to please contact then if I ever want to come back and they’d make a place for me.

    It will be interesting to see what next week (my last week in the office) will bring!

      1. Christina*

        Oh, I was beyond ready. I’ve been looking for a long time, but an incident happened a month or so ago that just made me go “Nope. We’re done here.” Since then I’ve just been biding my time until I gave notice (timed it with the holiday/benefits/vacation time). As soon as I told me boss, I felt like I could breathe again.