open thread – June 3-4, 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 :)

{ 1,152 comments… read them below }

  1. Cacti

    I have two questions that I will post separately.

    I started a new job in local govt about a month ago. I am an hourly, non-exempt employee and I was told that I cannot, under any circumstances, gather overtime pay. I’m super okay with this, except there is a strong obligation to stay over. Out of 16 people in the dept only myself and one co-worker are non-exempt.

    My coworker regularly works 45+ hours a week by skipping lunches and working past his scheduled time. Occasionally he will log in from home on his sick days and do work and does not document these hours. I typically would mind my own business about other co-worker’s ordeals but I currently have 2 overtime hours myself. I was told to put down 40 hours on my payroll then just “take the time off” at some point. The issue is my co-worker has been solo in his department for so long that my boss has essentially given him power and control over decisions, and it’s never a “good time” to leave early or take a long lunch. If I ask my boss he kicks it back down to co-worker to handle, which is crazy to me. Co-worker is not my boss.

    Co-worker is scheduled to be out all next week and there’s an expectation for me to work 11-hour days (we come in an hour apart so I open and he closes) to cover his shift and I’m ticked. I don’t want to feel obligated to work without being properly compensated for my time, and I know what they are doing is against the law. How do I push back in a diplomatic way?

    1. Katie the Fed

      I would send an email to coworker and boss and say something like “All, I just want to clarify expectations for next week. If I’m covering coworker’s shift that will be an 11 hour day every day for me. However, I’ve been instructed that I can’t work overtime. I’m finding this guidance contradictory and want to ensure we’re not running afoul of any labor regulations.”

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Cacti,the fact that you work in government means that you may have different rules than the private sector does (because government employees are conveniently not subject to the same regulations on this issue); a lot of the advice to you below isn’t taking that into account! But Katie the Fed’s advice here is good — it’ll get you the info you need either way.

    2. Marcy Marketer

      I would say: “If I stay until X time, I will need to log Y hours for today, which I’m worried might land me in the realm of overtime. Is this what you’d like me to do?”
      Coworker: “Just take Y extra hours off another day and don’t log them for today.”
      “Hmm… I’m afraid that would put us on the wrong side of the law! Legally, I have to record all the hours I work each day because I’m non-exempt.”
      “Only if someone finds out/I do it all the time and we’ve been fine.”
      “I’m sorry, I’m not comfortable breaking the law. I’m going to stay until X time today but I will have to log those hours accurately for today.”

      Then turn around and walk away. To avoid taking overtime, leave Y hours early the next day or whatever. If this doesn’t work, you should report them to the department of labor. You actually also might just skip my script, and report them right now. If you push back, everyone will know it was you that reported them, but if you just report them without making a fuss first, no one will know it was you which might make your life easier.

    3. TCO

      I just wanted to note that since you’re a government employee, it is legal for them to give you comp time in lieu of overtime pay. But that comp time has to be at the 1.5 rate (just as pay would be) and your department is clearly in violation. Katie’s advice is great.

      1. TowerofJoy

        Does this depend on location? I’ve worked for several governments in several states and it was always 1 to 1 ratio.

        1. J.B.

          Are you exempt? Exempt govt workers can get comp time but it has been 1:1 in my experience. (And discouraged by HR)

        2. brightstar

          At the agency I work for, the compensation depends upon your pay grade. So, if you’re below a 25 then you earn comp time at 1.5, but if you’re over a level 25 you get it at 1:1.

        3. ithinkyouhavemystapler

          I also work in local government, am non-exempt, and receive comp time on at 1.5. Exempt employees can receive comp time at a 1-1 ratio.

        4. doreen

          According to this https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs7.pdf , comp time for non-exempt government employees has to be at time-and-a-half . But FLSA only covers hours worked over 40 in a week. If a government employer (or any other employer) pays or grants comp time when you haven’t gone over 40 hours worked, that can be 1:1. I know some of you are wondering what I’m talking about, so I’m going to give examples. If the normal workweek is 35 hours* , FLSA allows an employer to give 1:1 comp time or your straight hourly pay for the hours between 35 and 40. If Monday is a paid holiday, and you work 10 hours daily from Tues- Fri, you have only worked 40 hours and aren’t entitled to time-and-a-half under FLSA for the extra hours.

          * I have never in 30 years had a job with a normal workweek of 40 hours. It has always been either 35 or 37.5.

      2. RPCVme

        Could you expand on this? I’m also a govt employee and often comp time is taken instead of actual overtime, but since it’s just leave, it’s accumulated equally as to how it was earned-i.e., if I was approved for and worked 2 hours outside of my normal hours, I would earn that 2 hours as comp time. Is that different from what you mention?

        1. The Rat-Catcher

          I’m a state government employee – we have job “codes” of 0, 1, and 2. 2’s, like me, are non-exempt, and when we earn comp time it is at the 1.5 rate. 1’s are exempt from FLSA, but our CBA has negotiated that they be given comp for their overtime, but at a 1:1 rate. 0’s are upper management and don’t qualify for any overtime.

      3. Brett

        For non-exempt employees, though, that comp time must be formerly tracked and compensated as compensatory time. Compensatory is literally cash pay banked as time.
        If the OP is not clocking those hours, then those hours are not being appropriately tracked.
        (The reason for this is that if the worker is unable to take compensatory time, then that time must be paid out in full cash value.)

    4. finman

      Why is boss not covering for co-worker? It’s his responsibility as boss to cover a 1-man department and either open or close.

    5. Anonymous Educator

      You may want to look into whether this is actually legal in your country (state? province?). It may not be, especially the part about skipping lunches.

      If, for example, you’re in California, you can’t work overtime and then take the time off at some point unless the time off makes up for the 1.5x pay they owe you for the two hours you worked before.

      It sounds as if they’re trying to treat you like exempt while keeping you non-exempt. Annoying.

      1. TowerofJoy

        I think this is only in certain places. One for one was the rule everywhere I’ve been in gov.

  2. Cacti

    Question 2:

    Co-worker has been running our department solo for a little over a year. Once I got hired on we were supposed to share the workload and responsibilities but he is a control freak (as stated by my boss) and can’t let go. He and my boss also discuss things that impact my workload or responsibilities without me and often have private email exchanges or emails about our department without involving me in any of it. Am I right to feel annoyed by this?

    As stated in my other question, boss has given co-worker a lot of power because he one-manned a department that is meant for 2+ people and I often feel like I have two bosses when co-worker shares my same title and level. I have a prior working relationship with both people from a few years ago as a temp worker so I don’t know if this plays any part.

    1. NJ Anon

      I would request a meeting with them and discuss your concerns. Then follow up with an email with any decisions that are made.

    2. mdv

      How long have you been there? It takes me longer than a month to “learn” how to delegate… it might just be that it is so habitual you’ll need to keep reminding them to include you on all the stuff.

      1. Mabel

        This is true, but it’s also critical that your boss be on the same page. If he doesn’t require your co-worker to delegate work, and co-worker doesn’t want to, it’s not going to happen. I like the idea of calling a meeting to talk this over. That may help. Send an update to let us know how things go!

    3. Spice for this

      Cacti, Q2 – I’m sorry you are going through this. I don’t have any advice for you. I just wanted to say that I feel your pain since I have been in the same situation (past company). I was very frustrated since boss discussed things that impacted my workload with co-worker but not me. They were friends for a long time and had worked at another company together.
      I tried to bring this up with my boss and to have him include me in the meetings or emails. But boss was not going/willing to change! There were many other negatives working at that company, so I had a find something else and leave!

    4. Undine

      A lot of this may be habit. It can take a while to teach people to remember to involve you. I think it’s worth discussing with your boss only, asking her to include you as much as possible — don’t set up a meeting for it, but the next time you have a checkin with your boss, bring it up as a concern, that you would be more effective if you were looped in more. Over time as they come to trust you, they will include you more. Your boss may also not want to overwhelm you with everything they are doing at the beginning.

      In addition, is this affecting your work in any way? Are you finding out things you need to know in a timely fashion? If not, then you can proactively send email on your projects — “I’m planning to work on the xxx project this afternoon. Are there any emails or communications you two have had that I might not have seen?”

    5. J.B.

      Micromanagement, alas is rampant in government. I would talk with your boss about expectations. Also if there is anything you can start to do that is different from coworker that is good. If you are both doing the same tasks he’s probably more likely to micromanage than if you have entirely different responsibilities.

    6. nofelix

      I would record some specific examples of where leaving you out of the loop resulted in problems for the department. Then ask to be included so these sorts of things don’t repeat. Leave out any mention of being annoyed or feeling you should be included because of seniority.

  3. Fabulous

    How do you interview for two positions at once? I just had a phone interview for both an Office Manager position as well as two part-time positions (Exec Assistant and Events Coordinator) that could be combined into something full-time too. Each position is so different, how would I even go about preparing? This is assuming I get asked for a second interview… *crosses fingers*

    1. Sunflower

      Are these at the same company? It actually sounds like at the core of all these roles, they are very similar organized, responsive and keeps communication very open, sets and sticks to deadlines.

      I’d decide which role you want the most and maybe lean a little towards that way but I would focus on the skills that all 3 encompass.

      1. Fabulous

        Yes, all positions are at the same company; a private K-8 school, actually. They are hiring a FT Office Manager, PT Exec Asst, and PT Events Coordinator. They are considering combing the two PT positions into a FT one.

        While on the surface the roles sound similar, the duties each handles are vastly different. The office manager runs the office at the middle school and is student-centered. The exec asst reports to the head of the entire school and board and is more administration-centered. The Events Coordinator is part of the Development department and runs the fundraisers, so is more donor-centered. :/

        1. N.J.

          I think it depends on the specific situation. So if I were evaluating which position to focus on I would consider the following:
          Was the phone interview combined to discuss all three positions? Was the person conducting it helping to make hiring decisions for all three? Which one are you the most excited about? Do you personally have experience in something that would make you a stronger fit for one of these? Conversely, did the interviewer explain when scheduling you for the phone discussion what he or she found exciting about you as a candidate? Since the responsibilities sound a bit disparate, Sunflower’s suggestion to identify core skills that would apply to all three is a good starting point.

        2. AnotherHRPro

          Hi Faulous. I love your name. You can still prepare for both the same. Instead of focusing on the job responsibilities, think of the skills you need for each position and be prepared to explain situations where you demonstrated those skills. For example, I would guess both jobs need strong organizational skills, ability to professionally deal with the public or key stakeholders, work under tight deadlines and pressure, etc.

          Good luck!

    2. Fabulous

      Aaarrrrrrggggggg so this question was moot. They are not calling me back for another interview :(

      WTF AM I DOING WRONG!?!?!?!

  4. Journal Entries

    My last day at OldJob is today! I’m trying to get my vacation payout included in my last paycheck, scheduled for the regular pay date, as legally required in Michigan, and I’m getting some resistance. They say that the way they’ve always don it is the week after your last paycheck. How can I nicely tell Payroll that the way it’s always been done isn’t right?

    1. Rebecca

      I live and work in PA, and when I left my first job, they paid out my vacation pay on a separate check. At my current job, if there is a small bonus at the end of the year, it’s always submitted on a separate check, but I believe that has to do with tax rates. Perhaps this is why?

      1. Liane

        Not a lawyer, but the problem wouldn’t be whether vacation was paid separately from the last wages–just that both wages and vacation were paid out within the time specified by the law/s.

    2. Anonymous Educator

      Is your main concern when you get the money? Or that you may not get it at all?

    3. Viktoria

      Are you sure that’s a legal requirement? I’m not finding anything to that effect with a quick google search- admittedly, not a foolproof method. Maybe just make 100% sure you have the right info before you push back too hard. This is the only things I’m seeing on michigan dot gov / lara :

      “I had unused vacation time when I left my employer, can I receive payment for this time?
      Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

      The employer is required to pay fringe benefits in accordance with written contract or written policy, if the company policy has a pay-out provision which states that unused time will be paid to you when you separate your employment, then the employer would be obligated to pay you for the unused time.

      The employer would not be legally obligated to pay you for unused time if the company policy does not address the issue.”

      Even if you do determine it’s a legal requirement, I would personally hesitate about pushing back very strongly if it’s really only 1 week delay. That’s up to you, though.

      1. Pwyll

        This. I’m not aware of a Michigan legal requirement to pay vacation unless you have an employment agreement/handbook that says otherwise.

  5. interview attire question

    Do you think this dress, paired with a blazer, is okay for an interview: https://www.theory.com/miyani/F0001602.html?%5BProductVariationAttribute%20id%3D20236017%5D=001

    I know dresses aren’t common for interviews, but my hourglass shape really does not work with a lot of pants or pencil skirts (hips fit, waist doesn’t or vice versa) and I feel most confident in a dress. The dress goes to my knees in person (compared to where it hits on the model), so it doesn’t look quite as short when I’m wearing it. A-line dresses work best for me because the traditional sheath interview dress is so unflattering and I have the same problem as pencil skirts.

    I’m interviewing at a lot of start-ups and creative companies for a mid-level position where the dress code is more lax, so I thought I could probably get away with a dress. Thoughts?

    1. Jillociraptor

      I think it looks professional and appropriate for an interview, especially if you’re looking at a less conservative company/industry.

      Break a leg in your interviews!

    2. EP

      Looks awesome – to the point where I wish it came in my size!

      It looks like a suiting dress so should be easy to pair (and will sit nicely under a blazer/jacket).

      Most of my jobs have been in NFPs or in a casual (wear jeans and a nice-ish top or leggings and a dress every day) places – I wore dresses to interviews and got the job. As long as you are comfortable and its appropriate, I think you’re good to go.

    3. Nancypie

      In my opinion from a fairly conservative field, this dress is completely fine, paired with a conservative shoe. Keep the blazer on!

    4. DoDah

      I’m a “creative” in SW–I’ve worn lots of dresses in interviews–perfectly appropriate! Bonne Chance!

    5. kittymommy

      Yeah, in all the fields I have worked in, mostly all conservative, this with a blazer would be fine. In fact, some of the directors and higher-ups where I’m at now (gov’t) have interviewed in dresses with blazers and no one thought twice.

    6. Tex

      Nice dress! I may have to get one as well.

      With a blazer it should be appropriate for most interviews (unless it’s for high level banking or similar) However, it looks a bit short on the model (she might be super tall). If it’s an appropriate length on you, go for it! (Also, opaque tights may help, but it’s summer.)

    7. bridget

      This dress with a blazer would read “suit” in virtually all contexts, and work great. The only exception would be in industries where, for whatever reason, people are very particular about suits being necessary, and the suits worn to be “real” suits (can be a sheath dress + blazer, but usually sold together as such to qualify). Unless you’re interviewing at a top law firm in a conservative east coast city, or on wall street or something, go forth with confidence!

    8. ShoeRuiner

      I agree, this looks professional. Sounds like you and I have the same body type, so I totally get it. The dress looks a little short on the model, though. I personally would want it to fall closer to my knees, for sitting.
      Wear a blazer, conservative shoe and accessories, and you’ll rock it!

    9. Joanna

      I probably wouldn’t suggest it for something super formal like a law firm, but for a tech or creative company that looks great.

    10. Kate the Little Teapot

      I wear A-line dresses for interviews all the time. Knee length or below is important and absolutely no cleavage of course. Blazers really bring the level up, and nice jewelry like pearls or silk scarves. I work as a community manager and am mid-level so I’m used to the dress code being lax and being expected to be “creative” if that makes sense. I think a solid color, as you’ve chosen, is smart.

      I wore a grey blazer and a grey printed dress that had fake pearls sewn to the neckline to an internal interview (done over video skype, so they didn’t see my legs, but still) and I found out I was the one person who had bothered to dress as if I was meeting one of our Fortune 500 clients and that was impressive to the interviewers (I didn’t get the role but was told how well it was thought of).

  6. Unsolved Mysteries

    Is it possible to “not care” about your job and still do a good, above average job? If you are a manager, can you tell who “cares”?

    I love the field I work in and I am passionate about preventing XYZ diseases. I feel and have been told that I am an excellent worker and do a great job on all projects. When I used to work with ABC diseases, I did an average job at best. I cringe when I remember what a crappy worker I was.

    I was recently promoted, changed units, and I am even happier in this new role. We have a huge multi year assignment beginning next month and as I look at my old team I seriously question their ability to succeed. 80% of this team does not give a shtick about doing a good job. Management has hinted at cutting those who are not up to par (LOL, suuure), so I hope everyone steps up to the plate with this project.

    1. Kai

      I don’t think passion is necessarily required to well in many jobs, but having some level of personal investment in what you do can definitely make a difference. For me, being personally interested in a project’s success can make a huge difference in how focused and motivated I am.

    2. Ad Astra

      I’m a copy editor for an advertising agency. I’m not necessarily passionate about our clients’ products, and I’m not even really passionate about advertising. But I love finding and correcting errors, solving problems related to phrasing or word choice, and I really like the people I work with/for — so I’m personally invested in this company’s success.

      I definitely do better work when I’m happier with my job, but “caring” comes in a lot of forms. Some people also just have incredible work ethic and take pride in everything they do; I’m not really that person, but plenty of people who really don’t like their jobs manage to do a damn good job.

      1. Kelly L.

        Yes, this too–forgot to mention this, the thing you’re passionate about might be the “micro” aspect rather than the “macro.” I like admin work and like doing a good job at it, but I’m not all that picky about what field I’m doing that work for, beyond obvious things like not wanting to work for a scam company.

      2. Kate the Little Teapot

        I am the same: I work at an agency with mostly Fortune 500 clients. With one exception (a television company) our clients are not something that I’m passionate about. However, I’m passionate about marketing, I’m passionate about helping customers, and I’m passionate about improving process. So that makes me care a lot about my job. I also feel invested in our culture even though I don’t have tons of close friends at work – we support remote work and diversity and those are things that are important to me.

    3. Cube Ninja

      I’ve always held the opinion that there’s room in any team for people who truly enjoy what they do/want to advance/etc as well as folks for whom it’s “just a job”. The fact that a person approaches their position as purely an exchange of labor for money doesn’t preclude them from being a top performer in my experience, but it does mean that those folks are less likely to go above and beyond key responsibilities.

      It’s ultimately about personal motivation and work ethic; I know people who are extremely enthusiastic about the work, but just aren’t very good at it. Conversely, I know people who are “meh”, but excel in their field.

      In a management role, it’s pretty easy to identify who’s who, but how you manage each person is important. All things being equal, someone with a lot of drive is going to be much more willing to take on challenging projects than someone who’s just there for the cash (exception: commission-based compensation).

    4. Rowan

      I think there are different ways to “care”. You might care about the end goal (e.g. eradicating a disease or bringing a great calendar app to the world), or you might care about not letting your co-workers down, or you might care about praise from your boss, or you might care about money (e.g., making a certain sales commission goal). All of these are valid ways to care about a job. Maybe it would help to get to know your new team a bit better as individuals and find out what motivates each one of them?

      Also, I think there’s a happy medium of “caring” that enables the best job performance. Caring too much can be as much of a problem as caring too little. People who care too much can have trouble discussing things calmly, or letting tasks go that someone else really needs to do, and so on. And they’re so much more prone to burnout.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Caring too much can be as much of a problem as caring too little. People who care too much can have trouble discussing things calmly, or letting tasks go that someone else really needs to do, and so on. And they’re so much more prone to burnout.

        This has gotten me into trouble before. And I know other people who have dealt with it as well.

        I like how you point out there are different ways of caring. For me, working is about earning a living, not about the work. I haven’t had a job where that is the case (yet). I know if I do a good job, I’ll get money–but beyond that, my passions are mostly outside; they do not typically extend to my daily activities. It’s work. It’s not supposed to be fun, although I have certainly had enjoyable moments with coworkers.

    5. kbeers0su

      I think there are plenty of people who don’t care about their jobs in terms of having passion for them. My current role is fine- it’s with a company I like, doing work that I know is important. But am I passionate about this? Not really. I don’t get super excited to come to work, I don’t worry over the impact of decisions in an unnecessary way, etc. But I am very thorough in my work and dedicate to providing good service to my clients because I was brought up with a strong work ethic, and that’s personally important to me. And my reputation as a professional.

      1. kittymommy

        This. Having a passion for the field you’re in, or not having e, doesn’t need to affect do a good job. In my mind those are two separate things. And people can have a great passion for what they do and still be a crappy employee with a bad work ethic. A good manager can hopefully tell the difference.

      2. Minion

        That describes me as well. I don’t hate my job, but I don’t get super-enthusiastic about it either. I want to do well at my job regardless of what it is, so I do it as well as I can and invest extra time and effort when the situation calls for it, but feeling stoked about it? Nope.
        If they lowered the age of retirement to 40, I’d retire tomorrow.

    6. Kelly L.

      I think you (general you) just have to put out the amount of effort that you would if you were passionate about it. Maybe it’s that you have to be passionate about something to work that hard, but it might be the cause itself, or it might be getting paid, or it might be impressing your boss, or any number of things. I think passion for the cause can be the fuel for working one’s butt off, but that the fuel can come from other things too.

    7. A Definite Beta Guy

      Depends on what you mean by “good,” I suppose. Different jobs have different performance requirements. I don’t need someone super-super passionate underneath to pull files from a website, I just need them to show up at 8AM every day and DO IT.

    8. Girasol

      In discussions of employee engagement that I’ve read, the way a manager should evaluate who is engaged, and who “cares,” is to look for discretionary effort: works late (if exempt), assists other workers, does work needed but for which the worker is not specifically responsible. Were you doing any of that when you didn’t care? It might have labelled you as someone who does.

    9. Anonymous Educator

      [A]s I look at my old team I seriously question their ability to succeed. 80% of this team does not give a shtick about doing a good job. Management has hinted at cutting those who are not up to par (LOL, suuure), so I hope everyone steps up to the plate with this project.

      I wouldn’t frame it as “car[ing]” but more as… doing your job! And it sounds as if they’re not doing their jobs.

      1. Unsolved Mysteries

        Sadly, you are correct.

        We’ve skated by so long, you didn’t really have to do anything. Very few targets you had to hit. With this new project, everyone and their mama will know when someone hasn’t done their part. Kinda scary!

    10. Manders

      I think you can be indifferent to the company’s overall mission and still care deeply about helping your coworkers or building your professional reputation. The only times I’ve ever felt like not caring was holding me back at work was when I was actively resentful of my company’s mission or my boss’s success–those were signs that it was time to move on.

      I work in marketing now, so while I agree with my company’s overall mission, what I care really deeply about day to day is improving our marketing strategy and making the numbers on the charts go up. Attracting clients is part of the company’s mission, but it’s not the only thing it does, and I don’t have to care deeply about the intricacies of the teapot manufacturing process to convince people they need a teapot.

    11. NJ Anon

      I can’t. Maybe it’s just me but if I stop caring, I lose focus and my productivity takes a hit.

    12. Not So NewReader

      To me, passion about work comes and goes. I look at work ethic. Is someone committed to doing a good job no matter what? A long time on one assignment is not for the faint of heart and I do not think “passion” is enough to carry anyone through it. You might be surprised at who shapes up and who walks out. The people who see a long term project through to its conclusion are not always the same people we think should be able to do this.

    13. Chriama

      Haha, I’ve definitely commented on this before. I would rather have people on my team who care about doing a good job in whatever they do than who personally care about the social mission they’re supporting. Obviously both is better if possible, but work ethic trumps emotional dedication in my book.

    14. Formica Dinette

      “80% of this team does not give a shtick about doing a good job.”

      I think you hit the nail on the head right there. I have had multiple jobs where I did not care about the industry or work but was great at what I did because I cared about doing a good job. I hope you continue to be happy in your new role!

      1. Vix

        Yes, I completely agree. Caring about the job and caring about doing well are two very different things.

    15. Joanna

      I work in a field that most people have never heard of and even those that have would be unlikely to think of as a dream job or something to get really passionate about. How I look at it is that feelings of passion or a driving sense of fascination may or may not show up in any job and it’s a futile exercise to try forcing such feelings. What I can control and be driven by is making my work align with my values. I can choose to act with integrity and professionalism by turning in good work regardless of how I feel about the actual content of the work.

    16. Unsolved Mysteries

      Thank you all for your wonderful insight!

      I was definitely confusing passion and work ethic when they can be two separate things.. Now that I am in a new role, I’m moving away from disease prevention into something more general…but it is clear to me that my work ethic pushes me everyday. At the end of the day I will always have my work ethic!

    17. Fish Microwaer

      I’m totally disengaged from my job and my field but I’m the top performer at my office because I just pride myself on doing a professional job. I’ve never been passionate about the field but for now it provides an adequate income. Had an interview for something better paying with more autonomy the other day, although I’m unsure if one aspect of the job is a deal breaker.

  7. Sandy

    Update!

    My boss featured in one of the worst boss Christmas roundups once upon a time. She made a point of giving everybody else a Christmas gift but me, and then pointed it out in front of everybody.

    Well… Today was her last day.

    Her assistant went around earlier this week, collecting money for a gift. 50 bucks each! I refused, not only because of the incident above but because of the principle of not gifting up.

    Lo and behold, the boss comes to me yesterday, demanding to know why I hadn’t ponied up for a gift to her and “who do I think I am?!?” for not putting 50 bucks into the pot (her assistant isn’t a big fan of discretion).

    I am rather proud to say that I kept any and all snarky comments to myself and just smiled.

    …while mentally remembering her inclusion on AAM’s “worst of” list…

    1. 42

      :-O

      I wish I could animate the open-mouth emoticon so that the mouth opens wide and endlessly, because that’s my reaction to your note and the gall of your (FORMER!) boss.

      I’m SO PROUD of you for ‘just smiling’. Be sure to keep that smile going as you wiggle your fingers bye-bye as you watch her leave forever.

    2. Batshua

      You’re a better person than I am. I might’ve wrapped an empty box in a printout of the AAM entry or something equally petty and immature.

        1. J.B.

          I think this was the best AAM article ever. Awesome to Sandy to be a part of it and to give us her update!

    3. SophieChotek

      I cannot believe your OldBoss (or anyone) would have the gall to demand a gift! Good for you!

    4. Quinalla

      Wow! I am so amazed by the gall of some people! Good for you for handling it so well when she confronted you AND for not contributing. Thanks for the update

    5. Liane

      What goes around…

      Alison, could you put this into a separate update, please? This is one that should have no chance of being missed by folks who aren’t into the Open threads.

    6. harryv

      These types of extravagant gifts to managers is insane. It happened at my partner’s work too. They would collect money from a team of 7 for an LV bag! If that happened to me, I would shut it down. Gifts should cost no more than $5 / person.

    7. mdv

      I can’t even find the words to describe how *awful* I think it is that the soon-to-be-ex-boss’s assistant TOLD her about your lack of contribution. I probably would not have resisted answering “remember when…” with a perfectly calm and not snarky tone.

      OR: “I don’t really believe that it is a good idea for employees to buy gifts for managers, sorry.”

    8. Master Bean Counter

      You are much a better person than I am. I would have looked at her and said, “After last Christmas I thought we were under the mutual agreement not to give gifts to each other.”

      1. Fact & Fiction

        Like…I could see myself digging deep to donate $50 to a struggling colleague who had a medical or financial catastrophe, especially if they were a great person, but for a goodbye gift to a MANAGER, who snubbed me to boot, hell to the no! Also WHO goes to someone to ask why they didn’t contribute? So tacky and entitled.

    9. Joanna

      In what universe is $50 an appropriate contribution for a gift for a departing co-worker?!? In my office it’s somewhere in the $2-10 range!

      1. Stardust

        Right!? I cannot figure out what’s more crazy, that they thought $50 each or that the assistant told the boss that she wasn’t electing to contribute!

    10. Mander

      FIFTY? EACH?!?!

      I barely even spend that much on my ENTIRE family at Christmas, let alone some snarky boss! The nerve!! Good for you for sticking up for yourself.

  8. Eager Job Seeker

    I got another job! I leave my current job on Tuesday and I’ll be keeping my title (Staff Assistant) but at the health policy center of a large think tank. The role is primarily scheduling/support for two senior academics there, as well as event planning, and if everything goes well I’ll also be doing social media for them. Anyone have any advice for making sure I get off on the right foot to set myself up for getting better work in the future/supporting older academics who might be really stuck in their ways? This position partially replaces a scheduler of 30 years, so. Big shoes to fill.

    1. Quinalla

      Congratulations! Don’t have a lot of advice except I’d go in with an open mind and try out the way they want to do things, but make suggestions that you think would be helpful to them. You don’t want to come in and try to change everything, but making a suggestion here and there that could really improve the way they do things, while be willing to learn their current system should start you off well and show that you can be valuable. And do what you can to make it easy for them to change if they end up being the types that resistant to any change, but I’d try to clear yourself of assumptions going in, maybe they will be looking forward to a fresh start too!

    2. Barefoot Librarian

      I’m kind of the youngster on my campus (I replaced a 25 year vet in the job) and I mostly tried to learn how and why people had been doing things a certain way before suggesting any changes. I think people are more open to change if they can tell that you respect the history and context that created a process or policy in the first place. A bit of respect for tradition goes a long way. That and I pick my battles. It might take a while to change things, but it’s worth the delay to get everyone (or most everyone) on board rather than resentful.

  9. Random CPA

    Each summer our company allows the relatives of employees to do paid work part-time doing simple tasks like filing for the summer. My direct report is managing 4 of these temporary workers for a project. One of the workers is local and could work beyond the summer so the company was thinking of allowing her to stay on to continue the project.

    HR came to me yesterday and said that due to something that happened while I was out last week, they weren’t going to extend her beyond the summer timeframe, and that the situation was weird/personal/confidential. It almost seemed like the HR person was a little taken aback by the worker’s situation, not that it was a typical issue like being habitually late or absent, insubordinate, type of reason.

    I’ve been checking in with my direct report regularly about the project (and everything had been going well), how all the workers are doing, etc, so I was surprised when I asked her if anything had happened with this worker last week that she said yes, the worker had come to her with a very personal situation. The worker told her about the situation and that she had to leave early because it was impacting her work, though my direct report said she couldn’t tell her work was being impacted. She thought the situation was so personal that she went right to HR. My direct report wouldn’t tell me the reason, and I didn’t press her too hard. But when I asked if this situation could impact the worker’s performance in the future, she said yes, that she could be sick and it could come up again. Her use of the word sick makes wonder if HR is discriminating against this worker in some way. Like if she has a terminal illness or is going through drug rehab, I’d hate to see them deviate from their original plan to extend her beyond the summer.

    Am I justified in being annoyed that my direct report didn’t come to me first so I could decide if the worker’s situation needed to be explained to HR? If it was rehab or a terminal illness, I would have just let the worker take time off when she needed it and not gone to HR.

    1. EddieSherbert

      It sounds more like your employee is more of a team lead than an actual manager; if so, I could see how she chose to handle it this way.
      She could have been concerned about letting the temp leave early when she might not actual have the power to say “yay or nay.” If there isn’t an obvious plan of action for when you are out, she might not know who to report it to. That kind of thing.

      Anyways, if you’re comfortable and have some power, you should talk to HR and tell them your concerns. Let them know that by not giving you the information about her situation, you’re assuming the worst (due to the word “sick”). And if that hunch is right, it makes you worried about discrimination.

      Good luck!

      1. Random CPA

        She is a little more like a team lead, though she has one direct report (not the summer workers) that she manages. However, my boss was there the day I was out, and she works with him daily so I think she could could have easily gone to him. He tends to think the same way I do about letting people take time off and not involving HR.

    2. The IT Manager

      Eh! Sounds like your employee didn’t want to wait for help to deal with the situation. Given all the vagueness, I don’t think you are able to judge if the situation was able to wait or not. I don’t think that annoyance is justified.

      All the secrecy of “I can tell you it’s something big and personal but no more that that” would annoy me though. And your concerns that it some kind of borderline discrimination for medical reasons is worrisome.

    3. R Adkins

      Not sure if the direct report is female, but I have also heard sick used when someone finds out they are pregnant and dealing with morning sickness, doctor’s appointments, etc.

      1. Random CPA

        That didn’t cross my mind because of the way the HR person said it was a weird/personal situation. I’ve been pregnant since I’ve been at the company and the company is very accommodating towards doctors appointments related to pregnancies. Which is why I was thinking it might be a medical condition with a stigma attached, like drug rehab or AIDS.

    4. Meg Murry

      Do you trust your HR to be honest and non-discriminatory? If so, I think you have to just let this go as confidential and not your business but trust your direct report and HR to handle it without giving you all the details. It sounds like the summer employee when to your direct report (I’ll call her DR) in confidence, and DR said “I need to talk to HR to get some guidance on this situation” – which is absolutely an appropriate response as long as your HR is competent.

      As far as the “letting the employee stay on” part – has this been discussed already with the employee? Or were you still in the process of getting it approved but hadn’t actually offered it to the employee yet? I don’t think it’s discriminatory to not offer a position to a temp that doesn’t actually exist yet. Or maybe the employee told HR that she won’t be able to continue after the summer due to the situation.

      At this point, I think you should focus more on whether the employee will likely be staying for the rest of the summer, and if not does that make your direct report short-handed? Are these 4 positions “nice to have, helps us stay on top of our filing” positions? Or are they “if we didn’t have all 4 and help continuing into the fall we aren’t going to be able to complete this project” positions?

      1. Random CPA

        My understanding is that the worker did not go to my direct report in confidence. She just went to her because she is her point of contact at the company. The way my direct report explained it to me, she used her own judgement to elevate it to HR.

        As far as whether or not I trust HR, I just don’t know. When people are let go, I never know why. This company does have much higher turnover than other companies I’ve worked for. I just don’t know if they have a tenancy not to hire people based on disabilities.

        As for the summer worker, she has said that she would like to continue on past the summer, though no one mentioned that to her because we wanted to see how she was performing. So I don’t have a concern that she may leave earlier than planned. However, even if she did, we could get by with 3 people no problem.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          It’s reasonable to say to your employee, “In general, I’d like to be in the loop on this sort of thing, so unless it’s an emergency, I’d rather you wait until I’m back and we can discuss it. HR is better for issues like XYZ.”

        2. OhNo

          It sounds like you need more information than you have right now, honestly. Is there any way that you might be willing to go to the part-time employee and ask about it? You said specifically above that she didn’t tell your direct report in confidence, so it’s weird that both your direct report and HR are refusing to give you any more info that might help you understand. However, if she felt comfortable enough to tell your direct report, she might be okay telling you as well.

          Heck, if I were in that situation, I’d want to have that conversation with someone up the chain. Telling the person, “We were thinking about offering you a longer stay, but because of something you said HR isn’t sure you’d be the right fit. Would you care to talk about it a little more with me so I can help advise them in the right direction?” seems like a nice way to give them a head’s up that something they said/did gave a weird impression to others at the company, and offers them a chance to explain.

          1. Random CPA

            Now that the (possible) damage has been done, I don’t feel like I need to go to the worker and find out what the issue is for the sake of just knowing. And I also don’t want to put her in an awkward situation. But I’m just hoping my direct report didn’t ruin the workers chances of having her time with us extended by going to HR over something I may not have felt the need to bring to their attention.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Maybe it’s me. I would expect my direct report to tell me what the problem was. If you had been there the problem would have been reported to you anyway.
      It sounds like she did not know what to do so she went running to HR. Maybe she could use some coaching as to when to drag HR into a problem. I assume that part of the reason why she went to HR is because you were out for a week? Maybe I am reading that wrong.

      1. Random CPA

        She went to HR because I was out for a day, the day the worker had the issue. My boss was there though, and she has a good rapport with him (and he’s generally thought of as a nice and understanding guy), so I feel like she should have gone to him instead of HR.

        Another reason I’m annoyed by this that I didn’t mention in my original post is that my direct report is someone I’ve brought with me to the last two companies I’ve worked for and she’s worked with me for over 7 years, so she knows I’m very accommodating toward people’s schedules and any personal issues they have. It just rubs me the wrong way that she bypassed my boss and me and went straight to HR, especially if I may not have made the same call.

        1. TootsNYC

          I think that if it were a simple as letting someone take sick leave, etc., she WOULD have brought it to you.

          Two people whom you ought to be able to trust (someone who knows you very well, and the HR person with all their training and information about discrimination) believe that this is a private matter that you shouldn’t know about. Trust them.

          I’m wondering if you’re really upset because you don’t know. And you may need to just deal with that, because you are not actually entitled to know the medical details of this person’s life and health–especially since she did not tell -you-.

          1. TootsNYC

            Maybe that’s unfair of me, to think that an understandable curiosity is behind this reaction you’re having.

            But if these two people are willing to discuss it without, but are very carefully NOT telling you the specifics, then I think you need to leave it alone.

            If you’re worried that these other people aren” trusting to your willingness to work around someone’s medical issues, I think you can tell them that: “I’m in favor of allowing a lot of flexibility to help people do their jobs despite medical issues, so I hope you’re factoring that in. I’d hate to see this person lose out on this opportunity needlessly.”

            1. Random CPA

              If she had gone to my boss, and my boss thought it needed to go to HR and I was still out of the loop, I would not be bothered. I’m more bothered that she skipped the chain of command and went straight to HR. Now HR is not extending the position, and my direct report’s use of the word “sick” makes me think it’s because of something medical and that the worker is being unfairly discriminated against. My direct report was a good employee at the prior two companies but this role she’s in now is a little different and she’s made some questionable decisions and had some odd lapses in judgment since she’s been with me at this company (which I have brought to her attention and she agreed with me after I’ve pointed these other issues out). I’m wondering if this situation is another lapse in judgement on her part. I would just never go to HR over a situation involving one of my employees without first consulting with my boss.

              1. TootsNYC

                I just think that HR’s description means this is something that’s best kept really private–like, really really private.

            2. Random CPA

              Just to add…I would have been fine with her going to my boss because I was out of the office that day and it would have made sense for her to go to him.

        2. Not So NewReader

          I get why you are irked. I still think that speaking to her about how you want problems handled from here forward is a good idea. And you may want to contemplate if you want to bring her to your next job if any. It sounds like the time for that may be drawing to a close.

          1. Random CPA

            Yes, I definitely will be talking with her about communication in general (after thinking about it this weekend, I remembered she had mentioned going to HR about another smaller issue that she did bring up later and it was something she definitely should have gone to my boss about); though I won’t specifically mention this issue because given her judgment lately, I could see her going to HR about it, not to get me in trouble, but to try and make things right somehow. I agree with you about not bringing her to the next company. I definitely will not be. She’s made me look bad quite a few times and has caused more work for me due to her mistakes. She knows all this (because I’ve brought these issues up early so they could be corrected), and she does care and try to improve, but at this point, I’m just over working with her. It’s odd how someone can do well in one role and struggle in a similar, but slightly different role.

    6. TootsNYC

      If it was remotely medical, I think your report/team lead should NOT have brought it to you.

      I think you ought to be able to trust HR to not break any ADA or employment laws, especially since they were very careful to not give you medical details.

  10. Aella

    My mother has emailed me a link to a list of specialist recruitment agencies, and I am going to call the two who say you need to call first, I am…as soon as I stop wanting to be sick. How should I start off the call? “Hello, My name is Aella Dudley-Forsyth, I am a recent Graduate in X with Y experience and I am interested in a career in Z. I was wondering if you would like to receive my CV?”

    (The last bit is what I’m having trouble with.)

    1. Emilia Bedelia

      Instead of asking whether they’d like to receive my CV , I’d ask something like “do you have any openings/positions open for teapot polishing specialists?” And if they say yes, “may I send you my CV?”. Saying “a career in z” doesn’t really help if “z”is broad enough to cover many different areas- I think saying the position that you’re looking for is better.

    2. Jules the First

      You call and say ‘Hi, I’m Sansa Stark and I got your details from Catelyn Stark who thought you might be able to help with my job search. I’ve recently graduated with a degree in political negotiation and I’m interested in pursuing a career as a royal advisor, which I know is an area where you’ve had a lot of success placing candidates. Would you be willing to take a look at my resume and let me know if you hear if any openings which might be a good fit?’

      Good luck – specialist recruiters are awesome, once you get past that scary first introductions phase!

      1. Snork Maiden

        “Hi Sansa, we’re not currently hiring any royal advisors, but our wedding and event planner has made an unexpected departure and we’re hiring a replacement.”

    3. Anon Moose

      I don’t have a different suggestion but just would like to offer support as someone else who used to feel ill before making cold calls and no longer does. Doing it more makes it better. Breathe, do a couple at a time, reward yourself between each one. You can do it.

  11. Minion

    Yay open thread and I got here early!
    Can we continue the MBA conversation from another thread earlier this week? Is getting an MBA going to be a colossal waste of time and money for me? I have a B.S. in Accounting. I wanted an MBA because it’s more general than a masters in accounting and I thought if I ever wanted out of finance/accounting it would be more helpful than a very specific masters like that. Plus I want to get my CPA designation.
    Dan said if you get an MBA from a school that isn’t a top school you’re wasting your time. Is that always true? What if you don’t want to join one of the Big Four accounting firms, but just want to maximize your earning potential in your current area?
    And are MBA’s from online programs looked down upon in general? I’d love any opinions or facts about this.

    1. Mozey

      In my opinion, it depends on what you plan on using the MBA for. If you have a clear path, and people you have talked to in similar roles that you want are telling you that an MBA is needed to be taken seriously, then maybe.

      A full-time program is a big commitment. I’m currently going part-time so I have the experience and the MBA. My employer has an amazing tuition remission benefit so it really isn’t costing me too too much and there isn’t a commitment to stay after finishing the degree. If you can find a situation like that, it could be worth it.

      As for rankings, in my opinion, if you want to go to a T14 school that could afford you a better alumni network. If you need the MBA to get promoted at work (government, etc.) or you have a path that isn’t traditional (not a big four consulting firm) it doesn’t REALLY matter where the MBA is from as long as it is accredited and locally known where you want to work.

      Online is another big debate in the field. There are legit online MBAs like UNC, but the majority have lax admission requirements and are generally looked down upon. You could do a hybrid online/in-person program but I wouldn’t do a purely online program. It is too close to a Strayer/Phoenix situation.

      Bottom Line: Talk to some people who have the job you want. They will have the insight you want. And don’t go online.

      1. Minion

        Well, if I don’t do it online I can’t afford it. I earned my B.S. at an online university (NOT University of Phoenix!), that is fully accredited, generally well respected and non-profit. The admissions aren’t very stringent, that’s true, but I think this is more for people who, like me, have earned their degrees later in life rather than being fresh out of college in their early 20’s and with little work/life experience.
        My main, immediate, goal is to have enough credits to earn my CPA designation, which means I need to have the MBA (or some type of master’s) in order to qualify for that. Aside from that, though, I don’t have a specific job I want. I’m in my early forties and I don’t know what I want to do with my life! That’s fairly sad, I know. I enjoy my job as a finance director for a smallish nonprofit, but I just don’t know where I want to go from here.

        1. Elle

          Check with your state to see if the credits from the online university would be accepted. If so, also look at how your program integrates with CPA preparatory courses. I will say taking the CPA exam was SO different than any kind of studying I had EVER done before and it took a lot of time for me to figure how to study effectively since its a different kind of beast!!

          1. Minion

            Really? Thanks for that bit of knowledge! I’m not the best at studying in general, so at least I know going in that this will probably be tougher for me and maybe I can adjust accordingly.
            I’m going to check in with my school and see if they can help me understand the credits I’ve received. I may have enough and just not realize it. I’m woefully ignorant about these things. Thank God there are people on here who have been through it and have excellent and useful advice!

        2. finman

          You say that you do not want to work for a big 4 accounting firm, if that is the case I don’t see the huge desire to have your CPA. I myself do not ever envision myself being a full-time accountant and thus have no plans to sit for the CPA. I do feel that a MBA or MS in some other business focus like finance/accounting will be beneficial to you if you choose to move into a bigger company/expanded role. Almost every manager/director of finance role I have seen (even many sr analyst roles) have Masters/MBA preferred and many say required. Plus, moving out of accounting, the MBA program should help you expand your thought process out of accounting focused and into how a business should be run, strategy, etc which has been really helpful myself. Having been in the working world for a while, I wouldn’t assume you need to wait the 5+ years after undergrad that is considered standard. I took 1 online class (marketing) during my MBA and would consider that to be the class I gleamed the least from. The best learning outcomes I received was from the open discussions of perspectives, topics, homework, etc that you participate in during a live session and thus would advise avoiding doing an online MBA for this reason.

          1. Sydney Bristow

            You can do plenty with a CPA that doesn’t involve the Big Four. You can also work for a mid-size or smaller accounting firm and go in-house to do finance. My dad got his CPA, worked for a mid-size laid back firm, and ended up getting his first CFO job at a client company. You can also do other types of consulting, in-house finance, etc. with a CPA–it’s really not limiting.

          2. Minion

            Most of the job postings I’ve seen while idly browsing various job sites have mentioned a CPA as being desired, if not required.
            Also, there are quite a few local accounting firms that require a CPA, so even if I wanted to join a very small, local firm having a CPA would be beneficial.
            I fully realize the benefit of having my CPA designation and I’m going to get that eventually. I just thought I needed a graduate degree to get it, though from what I’m seeing here, that might not be necessary.

            1. J-bunny

              Google your state’s board of accountancy website. Each state has different requirements to be licensed. My state requires 150 credits but it doesn’t have to be a masters degree.

              Also I’m sure that it depends on what industry you want to end up in but I’ve asked a lot of different accountants and they almost all said that a masters in accounting doesn’t matter that much if you have your cpa.

        3. Meg Murry

          Rather than do it online, could you do it at a regional/state school in an evening program? I was accepted to an MBA program that was run by a state university in the nearest big city, but in addition to classes on the main campus they also have evening sessions at held at the regional community colleges so people who are currently employed don’t have to drive as far or miss work. From what I understand, one of the main draws of this kind of program is that you would be in class and doing projects with a lot of people that are currently employed, like yourself, and that can lead to excellent networking opportunities down the road. Even though the classes are held at the community college (and are a hybrid of in-person and online) they are taught by the same level of faculty as the main campus, and the degree at the end said “State University”.

          I wound up not going because that was in 2008 when the economy tanked and I didn’t want to spend the money, but I thought it was a good compromise program between online and a super expensive full time top tier program. I think it was 3 years, year round – so a little longer than a full time program, but not by much, and that also allowed you to spread the cost over 3 years and keep working while doing it.

          Also, how many more credits do you need for the CPA? As stated below, you don’t need the masters, you just need the credit hours – so unless the difference between the Masters or MBA and the credit hours is tiny, you probably don’t need the whole shebang on the MBA right now. If it’s only 2-4 classes, I’d just do that and then transition into working on the CPA designation. Taking classes that could count toward an MBA in the future would probably be a good idea, but isn’t totally necessary.

        4. Master Bean Counter

          Honestly what I did, going back to school and getting my CPA at 37, was to find the quickest route to get there. For me that was a one year online MSA program. I could have converted at the end and added a second year and gotten my MBA. But in the real world I’ve seen that most openings advertise for some one with a CPA or MBA, not both.
          Getting the CPA credential is a real career booster. I’ve increased my salary 69% since getting it. I also never wanted to go into public accounting. That said the one thing you need to look very closely at is the work requirements for the License. They vary in each state. In Washington state I had to either work for a CPA for two years or find one to sign off on my work. Being that I was in government and nobody in county had a CPA, I was trying everything to find somebody that was willing to sit and discuss the possibility of a sign-off.
          Lucky for me I moved to Arizona before I finished testing. Here the requirement was 2 years under a CPA or 5 years under a CPA like person, and my county auditor could sign off for me.

          1. Minion

            Work requirements? Hmmm, all I’ve looked at are the education requirements. I like to think I would meet any work requirements, but it’s possible I don’t. I’ll have to go and look that up.

            1. Natalie

              Definitely look that up. It’s usually a specific requirement that you work under someone else with a CPA, not just a general work somewhere requirement.

      2. Hallway Feline

        So would the online MBA at USC be considered good or bad in this way? It has laxer standards of admission, but allows full-time business people to attend and get their MBAs (my parent did the online/in class hybrid, but his company was much more flexible and accommodating about school hours).

    2. Christina

      I can’t speak to the value of an MBA specifically (though I work at a school that has a very, very well-known business school, and I am not a big fan of it), but re. the online vs. in-person, it’s becoming much less of an issue than it was even a few years ago. A lot of very reputable schools (including the one I work at) have online Masters programs that are nearly or equally as well-regarded as the in-person programs, and for all intents and purposes, it’s still a degree from that well-named school.

      To me, it’s like the difference between taking day classes from a regular program vs. evening classes through a continuing studies program. For good schools, the difference should be negligible, and again, you’re still getting the name of the university on your degree (if the name is the thing that matters to you).

    3. Elle

      Do you have enough undergrad credits to sit for the CPA exam in your state? Personally, I had enough general education / business credits to sit for the exam, but needed the accounting credits since my undergrad wasn’t in Accounting. I went back for MBA with a concentration in Accounting and did not go to a top tier school. The CPA is a much bigger win (for me) and has had a bigger salary impact for me. The MBA is more a nice to have, but the CPA has been a requirement as I’ve taken on more management level positions. I’ve also made the switch from accounting management to consulting and still consider the CPA to have more weight than the MBA. Not to say the MBA isn’t key in certain fields, but I think really depends on what you want to do.

    4. harryv

      It also depends if you are MBA material. I know people who got an MBA for the sake of it and it didn’t really help them much in their career. I also feel that getting an MBA will help if you plan on switching jobs. If you plan on staying at your company due to pension or whatever, an MBA will not do you much good unless there is a promotion that is contingent upon the degree (very rare…).

    5. MBA anon

      I graduated from a full-time, top 15 MBA program 3 years ago. I’ll echo the other comments that it’s absolutely essential that you know what it is you want to get out of it, and whether that is realistic. For me, I was a career changer. I was in a finance-related industry and wanted to get into actual corporate finance, but I had a liberal arts degree. The career switch would have been tough enough without an MBA, but impossible with the salary I would have needed, given that I was already making good money (but hated the specific niche I had developed a career in).

      I could have done a local part-time option, but what was REALLY valuable about the top-tier full-time option – and basically what I got the MBA for – was the on-campus recruiting. Having awesome companies come to you for jobs is pretty amazing. I walked away with three internship offers, including the one I took, which turned into a full-time offer. I received another full-time offer as well. It was a huge commitment and massive financial investment to take two years away from the workforce and pay a boatload of tuition, but I got exactly what I wanted out of it.

      If leaving the workforce for full-time isn’t an option, there are great part-time programs as well. However, be warned that not all of them give you the same access to recruiting that the full-time students get, because getting jobs for the students who don’t currently have them is a bigger priority, and employment rate for full-time students is a large component of a school’s rankings. So that’s something to be aware of as well.

      Bottom line, if you’re going to make the investment, you need to: a) know what you want from the MBA and verify that it will get you there and b) choose a school based on what they’re going to do for you, and if you’re not convinced, don’t waste your money.

      1. the_scientist

        I’m Canadian so it’s a bit different because there are fewer schools offering MBA programs and the accreditation/reputation thing is a little bit more straightforward. But from the experience of my peers I would say that you NEED that on-campus recruiting/internship experience that is available to full-time students. I know two people who did MBAs (and they both started basically right out of undergrad so it’s not like they had a great amount of work experience) who both got internships that turned into full-time jobs. In one case, that full-time job came before he’d even finished the MBA; he switched to part time to finish the degree and the company picked up the tuition plus paid him a signing bonus that he was able to throw at his loans. This would not have happened with a part-time or online MBA. The other person went to work at a big consulting firm where he makes enough money that he’ll pay off his loans in a couple of years….in exchange for a 100% travel schedule and brutally long hours.

        On the other side of the spectrum, MY MIL did her MBA part-time later on in life- she was a stay at home mom for many years and did it while at home with her kids as a way to update her resume and skill set. It ended up serving her very well, but the payoff came much later- as a part-time student she didn’t have the same opportunities for internships, and she had to break back into the workforce after years as a SAHM, at a job that didn’t really *require* an MBA.

        I *also* know someone who is an MBA/CFA/CFP….and he did the full-time MBA at a prestigious school. He said it was the best investment by far he’s made in his career, but the real value was in the networking and group case study work that he got to do as a full-time student. So take from that what you will.

    6. A Definite Beta Guy

      So, I can just speak to my limited experiences and anecdata. Mother Dearest works for one of the biggest companies in the world, in one of the biggest divisions. She says they do not consider any MBA outside top tier worth their time.
      That might just be their company culture.
      In my company, in my department, we have two MBAs. They’ve had MBAs for some time. One is working a position considered clerical, the other is entry-level.
      My FIL has an MBA, but his company paid for it, and it was clear he needed it for his work. It is not top-tier.

      If you’re accounting, I would recommend pursuing your CPA and CMA designations first. As you get more senior, you’ll find out if you need an MBA to continue forward. A lot of businesses are moving Accounting towards a Co-Pilot role that an MBA might be useful for.

    7. Funny! ...from the other day

      I saw your comments in that thread and I posted replying to someone with “auditor” in their name using the anon name I am using now. I went to a well known private b-school for undergrad some moons ago but am doing my MBA online. The work is challenging, the professors are all adjuncts who have plenty of industry and teaching experience, and I’d say 80% of my classmates are already in the field they desire to be in. I’m not even half way into my program and I received a job offer a week ago paying 40% more in salary and the tuition reimbursement perk will cover the entire remainder of my program. I had only been really job searching for about a month too. I am in finance and have no desire to be in corporate finance or investment banking – I too just want to maximize my earning potential in my area.

      I have seen some schools offer MBA/MSA – I think my alma mater does. But I would rather be a CPA with an MBA (and accounting concentration) than an MS in today’s world. The MBA is considered “generic” but you can have a concentration and build from that. Most of the people up the chain in the company I am moving on to have MBAs and I am pretty sure many of them went back to school to “check the box” to help move up, nothing wrong with this of course. Plus the company offers a great tuition reimbursement perk so why not. I don’t think most people in MBA programs want to be a CEO one day.

    8. Artemesia

      If you have a job in accounting and you are looking to move up and perhaps more broadly within the organization then having an MBA might be helpful. But if you are inexperienced getting one, especially an on line one, will just be an anchor around your neck. An MBA from a top school can be a ticket; an on line MBA is as likely to be a liability and any MBA without lots of prior experience (unless from one of the top 5 schools) is unlikely to make you more marketable.

      1. Minion

        I’m really not looking to move up in my current organization. I’m the Finance Director and the only place to go is Executive Director, but I’m pretty certain the current ED is planning to stay here till she dies. Not that I wouldn’t apply if she did decide to leave – I definitely would and having an MBA would be a great asset at that point, but I’m just not seeing that as a possibility right now. So, I’m looking to move into a similar position with a different organization maybe. Not right now – I’ve only been here just under two years, but I’m planning for the future.

    9. Sibley

      I’m a CPA, and the whole thing about masters degrees actually really annoys me. No, you don’t need one, you need the required credits to take the CPA exam and a lot of people are too lazy to get those during undergrad (yes, there are some legit reasons, but you can get 150+ credit hours in 4 years. I graduated with 157).

      In accounting, what matters is a) are you eligible to take the CPA exam or b) do you have a CPA license. Straight out of school, you need to be eligible or have a really good plan to become eligible. That’s why a lot of people are getting Master’s now, because they’re only leaving undergrad with 120-130 hours, so a masters is a really easy way to get up to 150. Once you’ve been working for a few years though, actually having that license is what matters.

      I’ve always heard that a masters of accounting is pretty much useless, but a masters in TAX could be very helpful if you’re in tax and plan to stay there. A MBA is different, but in general, as an accountant (internal audit to be precise, and former public accounting), I don’t care. I care if you have a CPA license or something equally applicable to your field. I care if you’re competent, and not a pain to work with. I do not care about your degree.

      In term of moving around – everything in business comes down to money at some point. Being an accountant can open doors, and where you go is really a matter of what you want and the effort you put into it. If you want to move up into more general leadership, then a MBA may be helpful. But I know a lot of CPAs who started in public accounting and have ended up all over the place.

    10. Enginerd

      The top schools command a higher salary but that’s really limited to a select few (Harvard, Stanford, Yale). Online degrees don’t normally call out the fact you earned them through a distance program and I would think the name of the school would carry more weight than the fact you took the classes at home on your computer. It’s true the name does matter so give some consideration to where you go. I’d avoid the little known schools and the those with the university of Phoenix stigma.

    11. Sydney Bristow

      Well, if you really want to get your CPA, you’re going to have to take more classes in accounting anyway (assuming you don’t yet have all the credits required), so it’s likely your MBA concentration will be accounting. There are numerous Accounting Certificate programs that would give you the credits you need to sit for the CPA exams that are a LOT cheaper than an MBA, but just as valuable, IMO. Since you already have a business background, it sounds like the primary purpose of getting your MBA will be to “buy the network.” If you decide you want to go into finance or banking, a top-tier MBA might be a good idea for you. Overall, it’s likely that the investment to complete your CPA will be net-positive a lot faster than getting a general MBA from a second or third-tier program.

    12. Former Retail Manager

      Just my personal opinion…..if you want to remain in the field of accounting and you have to choose between an MBA or sitting to get your CPA license, go with the CPA. It is the gold standard in the field of accounting and a Bachelor’s degree w/ a CPA license is preferred over an MBA in most accounting positions. As someone else said below, your earnings will likely increase greatly once you get your CPA. Also, my personal opinion, MBA’s are a dime a dozen these days. You can always go from specific to general, but it’s much harder to go from general to specific.

      As others have said downthread, you don’t have to go to work for Big 4 once you get your CPA. In fact, if you are 30 or older, and not already working for Big 4, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door there anyway, but that’s neither here nor there. There are plenty of opportunities for CPA’s in government, industry, small and mid-size accounting firms, and non-profits.

      As for obtaining your CPA license, most states (not all) now require 150 college credit hours to enable you to sit. If you have a Bachelor’s you already have 120. To get the remainder you can to go your local community college and pay faaaarrrr less than you would at a larger school, get your additional hours, and sit for the exam. The additional hours do not have to be accounting or business related, although they certainly can be. You’ll need to check with your state’s board of accounting to determine the requirements to sit for the exam in your state as virtually every state does have minimum requirements for classes that you have to have taken. In my state, all of the classes were covered in my undergrad degree.

      Best of luck!

    13. TheCupcakeCounter

      What you should pursue depends on where you are working, what you want your career path looks like, and what state you are in. I have a BBA in Accounting and live in Michigan where the CPA requirements are very strict (150 credit hours so practically everyone who wants to go the CPA route gets a Masters, 1 year of experience in Public Accounting, and CEC’s as long as you want the certification current as well as passing the exam). I work in corporate accounting and haven’t needed the Masters or the CPA for my particular job and most of those around me either don’t have it or don’t feel it was that useful for what they go (I run the general ledger and do all month end transactions as well as monthly and weekly reporting).

      If you have a desire to work in audit, tax, or corporate financial planning then having an MBA and CPA will definitely be helpful. As for MBA vs MSA I would go with the MBA for the reasons you stated above and as long as you go to an accredited not-for-profit school you should be fine. Many state universities have great MBA programs that are structured for employed individuals (so evening, weekend, and online classes). Big thing here though…work for at least a year before betting your MBA (unless you are in MI and want a CPA then go straight though because that is the norm here) so you don’t have the over educated/under experienced problem. That time you take can help in a lot of ways. It can help you decide what you want to pursue with more clarity and give you guidance about what is best for your chosen path and many employers have educational assistance to help with that aspect.
      Another certification that is (in my opinion) more helpful for corporate jobs would be the CMA especially if you work for a manufacturer. CPA is the big name in the financial world (and it is very valuable so don’t think I am knocking it) but people tend to overlook that CMA is just as valuable if you work int he private sector.

    14. Jen

      I think there is a lot of value in a non top 15 program, as long as the price is right.

      DH went to a top 50(ish?) MBA program (think: SMU, BC, GW, Wash U- good schools just not top of the b-school pack) that has a strong alumni network in our area. He got a 60% tuition scholarship and because of where the school was, could continue to work at his old job part time (he made $55k over the program at his old job, and $30k during his summer internship). Because we stayed local, I stayed at my job and got 2 huge promotions that would never have happened had we moved for the MBA.

      He had a 3-; month gap of unemployment after graduation, then landed a start-up type gig at about the same $$ he was making pre MBA. After a year, the company folded and he was unemployed for 3-4 months again. Then he landed a job that he has absolutely flourished in, due in part to connections from his startup and from his MBA program. He’s been there 3 years and is making now triple what he made pre-MBA.

      So for him, it was worth it. He took about $40k in loans out, mainly so he didn’t drain savings while in school (we had just bought a house). There is about $15k left on the loans and we have the cash to pay them off if we had to, but have other priorities right now.

    15. Mazzy

      Interesting, I posted a similar question on this thread, my concern is coworkers who have MBAs but don’t need them. Our jobs are highly skilled but no need for an MBA, just experience, and I feel like the MBA hurt them in that they both act like they are exempt from “low level” work. But much of what they consider “low level” leads to higher-level stuff. Every time I take on one of the lower level tasks it leads to a higher level project connected to it, but they don’t see the connection like that. In the end, I am progressing they are stagnating because they’re only willing to work on the high level stuff. Unfortunately for them, alot of the higher-level stuff does require skill, but doesn’t make more money or impact customers as much (think forecasting, if you’re wrong, you can blame it on many factors).

    16. Janice in Accounting

      I work as an accountant and have an MBA but am not a CPA. My experience has been that many companies won’t consider an accountant who isn’t a CPA, so I would definitely recommend you do that first.

      I did my MBA online but it was through an accredited brick-and-mortar university that offers a few online degrees, not a purely online university. I’ve not had anyone question the veracity of that degree.

      If you need more accounting hours to sit for the CPA exam (I know some states require more than a BS in Accounting), then do an MBA with a focus/emphasis on accounting and kill two birds with one stone. But definitely sit for that CPA exam.

    17. Alphabet Soup

      Background: USA, MBA, CPA, PMP, non-public accountant. Went into corporate accounting, moved around a bit (USA and expat assignments to Europe), branched into special projects (M&A, Financial IT Systems, Transformations), have had managing responsibility and hiring authority, 11 years in career

      Answer: It all depends (unsatisfying, I know) but generally speaking (assuming you want to stay in accounting) the CPA is worthwhile. As a hiring manager, it is shorthand for achieving goals (the test is a pain in the butt plus all the other hoops), deep enough subject matter knowledge, and ongoing commitment to the field (CPE every year). As an actual employee myself, I have used the CPA to shut up blusterous consultants who try to “educate” me (read: pad billable hours through meetings. Ugh.) as well as (successfully) justify compensation at the higher end of eligibility. Often the hiring manager has to negotiate the offer salary with HR compensation specialists and anything objective like licensure makes it much easier to justify.

      Now the MBA one is more tricky. I do not agree that it needs to be a top school but each choice has pros and cons which factor in. Top schools are great if a) the cost makes sense given your personal financial situation and b) you want to “reset” your career path. If you want to pursue an MBA for other reasons (personal knowledge, positioning yourself for broader responsibility down the line), then I think there’s more flexibility. My husband and I both have our MBA’s and we got them for different reasons (me for future marketability, knowledge gaining and broadening since I knew i was not a “pure” accountant but more someone who wanted to do other things but have a strong financial foundation, he wanted to “reset” his career and start over in a new field) — without knowing more about your career aspirations and personal situation I don’t think you will find the right answer here.

      I will say this – I do think long term an MBA is more valuable than an accounting masters. The accounting masters as you become more senior in your career falls away (assuming you dont want to be always strictly in accounting) due to its specific nature. The MBA is more general and can be used as a supporting factor for taking on broader responsibility (think cross functional, etc.).

      Good luck.

    18. AliceBD

      So, I don’t know if this is helpful or not, but I wanted to reply in case it was. If it’s not, feel free to ignore.

      My dad used to do sales, but he wanted to travel less and was offered an accounting position. His degree was a BS in economics, and he realized he didn’t know enough accounting so he got his Masters in Accounting about 20 years ago, around age 40. He started doing accounting jobs and has continued. He was hired at his current company over a decade ago as controller, and his title is now treasurer and I think he’s a VP. He did not take the CPA exam, although he was eligible, because he knew he did not want to be a CPA. It has not been a problem for him to get jobs without the CPA certification; he has always been in the internal accountant for a company. And he lives in a small town, and works in a nearby college town; he’s about 2 hours away from anywhere that has a downtown with office buildings more than 3 stories.

    19. Joanna

      If you need the knowledge but don’t particularly need the qualification, other options may be appropriate. At some online learning sites like Coursera you could learn most of the things you’d learn in an MBA with a well chosen selection of free/cheap online courses.

  12. Anne

    Is there a tactful way to say in my review with management that I don’t have a desire to move into a manager position? I love the company and don’t want them to think I’m lazy or don’t have goals.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      Can you position yourself as wanting to become more of a subject matter expert? It’s a way of ‘moving up’ without being on a management track.

    2. Rusty Shackelford

      I’ve always said “I like doing things. I don’t want to manage people who are doing things.”

    3. ann perkins

      That’s definitely not a thing that makes you lazy – I was made a team lead, so I don’t manage anyone or have direct reports but am still involved in process/high level convos. You can phrase it that way!

    4. Gene

      That depends heavily on the culture at your workplace and industry. Some places are fine with this, others are “Move up or move out.”

    5. Mabel

      Since you mention goals, perhaps it would be helpful to tell them what your goals are, rather than what they aren’t (becoming a manager).

        1. Marvel

          Well, in that case, they may end up thinking you don’t have goals because you don’t. If that’s a problem for you, then that’s what I’d be focusing my energy on, rather than their perception.

    6. Bibliovore

      Just don’t tell your manager in your review that you have no desire to do more than your job description and that despite being in an upwardly mobile position, you would prefer not to be considered for any promotion or additional responsibilities. Oh, and this is not the meeting to announce your work life balance or your future plans to get married and have children. Yes, this really happened to me. Exempt position, no overtime, 3 Saturdays a year and at the top of the pay scale.

      On the plus side- perhaps outline what your are doing or planning for professional growth or competencies in your profession.

    7. Rebecca in Dallas

      I always start off by framing what my goals are. When I’ve been asked if I would be interested in a management position, I have been very honest with my boss that I don’t think management is my strength and would prefer not to manage again. I was a manager at my previous company and hated every minute of the management side of it. I don’t think I was good at it either.

  13. Barefoot Librarian

    I’m not looking for advice per sa because I’ve already “done the thing”, but I realized this morning that I had 55 hours of vacation to use before the year ends (some will roll over until July) and I’m already taking four days off next week for Disney World. I almost let it go Elsa style, but I finally ended up emailing the boss man to ask if he’d allow me to take one or two days here and there for the next two months and try to use what I can. I feel like such a jerk though. I’ve only been here a year and I mismanaged my vacation time. I DID have my mother die from ALS earlier this year and vacation wasn’t really on my mind during her illness, but it feels like a lame excuse.

    Would you guys have just let it go in this situation or tried to fit in vacation even if you were being a pain doing it? My husband’s view was that my vacation is part of my compensation package and therefore not taking it would be leaving money on the table (they don’t cash out unused vacation).

    1. Christy

      I’m confused about when your year ends. And I certainly don’t let vacation go. Honestly from what you’ve written, I don’t se what you’ve done wrong here.

      1. Lily Evans

        It’s probably in reference to the fiscal year, which ends in June for a lot of academia related places. A bunch of my coworkers are having the same problem! Everyone’s trying to figure out when they can take time off in the next few weeks so they don’t lose it.

        1. Barefoot Librarian

          Exactly! I’m in academia and our fiscal year ends on June 30. Our schedule for the next two months looks like Swiss cheese with vacation being taken. Of the 55 hours, about 27 will roll over to July, but I lose even that on July 31.

          1. Bibliovore

            If you academic, this might be the “slow” time and you can schedule your vacation in 2 to 3 day bits without too much impact on your co-workers. Try not to hog Fridays and Mondays.

    2. Lady Kelvin

      If I were your coworker I would 1.) understand that with family occurrences this year you didn’t have a chance to plan vacation so you have some left, and 2.) would much prefer you take it off in 1-2 day spans rather than all at once because it would disrupt my work-flow much less, assuming I would have to cover for you when you are gone. Plus, after taking off the four days next week you will only have 3 days of vacation left, so I think it’s no big deal.

    3. Marcy Marketer

      I have a similar vacation package, and my first two years I did not take all of my days. I had not planned my vacation properly and saved too much of it until the last month it would expire. While it is part of our compensation package, I felt I should have planned better to spread it out more, so I resolved to do better this year. This year, I planned out my whole year’s vacation and now I only have two extra days (we have a very generous package of 20 days).

      So I would say it depends on your boss and your workload. Could you take a week off in July without it impacting your work or affecting what your boss thinks of you? That gives a nice month gap between vacations. Do you feel like you need a vacation? You could also talk with your boss and say something like, “I just realized that I have 6 days of vacation still on the table. I’d like to use it before it expires. I was thinking about taking Fridays off for the next month to use up all my vacation– will that work?”

    4. harryv

      I always take a vacation to recover from the vacation. If you are taking 4 days off for Disney World, take another 3 days off. Just shoot an email to your boss saying, “Hey Lucy, it looks like I will lose vacation if I dont’ use it by July. I’m wondering if I can take some supplemental days off the vacation I have planned for next week?” Your boss may not be happy as it is late notice. Most manager prefer you plan out your leaves instead of using them all before they expire. Plan better in the upcoming year.

      1. Meg Murry

        Yes, could you just tack 1-2 more days onto either the beginning or end of your currently scheduled vacation time (to relax, to pack and do laundry, etc), and that just leaves you with 1-2 more days?

        I think a big part of this is whether you have the kind of job where you work independently and it’s not such a big deal if you are there as long as your tasks get done, or if your boss has to arrange coverage for you when you are out.

        If you don’t need coverage and aren’t in a position where end of year = crazy crunch time, then taking a couple more days sprinkled over the next two months is probably not a big deal at all, and it pretty typical in the summer everywhere I’ve ever worked. If you do need coverage, it’s probably best to go to your boss and say “Hey, I don’t want to leave these days on the table but I know it’s last minute. Could you tell me which days would be best for me to take off?” and then just take the days he suggests as a staycation day. Honestly, a random Tuesday off in the middle of a workweek to sleep in, run errands and maybe see a movie refreshes me more than an actual vacation sometimes.

        1. Barefoot Librarian

          “…could you just tack 1-2 more days onto either the beginning or end of your currently scheduled vacation time (to relax, to pack and do laundry, etc)”

          That is a fantastic idea.

    5. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

      If you’re working a standard 8-hr day, you’re talking about, what, 7-8 actual workdays? It’s totally normal to have that much left near the end of the fiscal year. You’re already taking 4 days (which, yay!), just sprinkle in a few 3-day weekends (and maybe also half days, if that’d be less disruptive to your workplace), and you’re fine. This is just not that big of a deal.

    6. BRR

      It sounds like you get a lot of vacation time. I get 22 days a year and had to have a conversation this week about using some because my manager reminded my team we have to be proactive in using it so we don’t reach December and haven’t taken enough. If you get a lot of days, this is probably a normal occurrence. Do not feel bad about using your benefits.

    7. Anonymous Educator

      I feel like such a jerk though. I’ve only been here a year and I mismanaged my vacation time.

      You’re not a jerk for wanting to use compensation that is part of your employment.

      1. Blue Anne

        Exactly this. Plus, major family happenings are not at all a lame excuse for losing track of details (although I don’t think this is nearly as egregious as you seem to be blaming yourself for, Barefoot Librarian!)

        1. Barefoot Librarian

          I’m usually harder on myself than anyone else is lol. Thank you all for the great advice. I’m the head of my department so it’s good to plan ahead and be reachable, but I don’t have to get coverage (fortunately!). I chatted with my boss and he’s given me the thumbs up to check the calendar for days when at least a couple of my department will be in to answer questions if I’m gone. I expect I might lose a day or two but not a big chunk.

          My benefits package is very good here (including tons of sick days and generous vacation allotments). It’s one of the perks of working for a smaller university. We aren’t paid as much but they try to take care of us in other ways. I’m definitely going to be more careful next year. I think part of the problem is that I’m just not used to having so many vacation days!

      2. TootsNYC

        Also: figuring out the pattern of time off and workload, crunch times, the passage of a year, yada yada, isn’t actually that easy–you’ve ONLY been there a year.

  14. Long time lurker, first time commenter

    How do you know if a job is right for you? Obviously taking into account things like salary, benefits, etc. But beyond that what do you look for? I haven’t interviewed in a while and I had a good phone interview the other week. The in person interview is first thing next week. It’s further away than I’d like for a daily commute (I would have to move sooner rather than later), and they seem like a great start-up mentality… but I want to make sure as best I can that I’m not moving into a super toxic or dysfunctional culture. What should I look for?

    Any suggestions appreciated. I love this thread, it’s been so helpful. Thank you!

    1. AVP

      For me it’s alllll about the potential future boss and the team – who will be interviewing you? If it’s your future manager, I think you can ask about management style and see how your rapport is. If it’s not, when will you meet that person? And will you be able to walk through the floor and maybe meet some potential co-workers?

      1. Long time lurker, first time commenter

        I will be interviewing with the people I’d report to. It sounds like a new position, and from the 45 minute phone conversation, they want a lot out of this person. I think I just need to sit down this weekend and think about what I want to get away from and how to ask about those things in a tactful manner.

        Thanks!

    2. EA

      So I found a pretty good fit after toxic nonsense job. I looked at the issues I had with a former workplace and asked direct questions about them..

      “What communication style do you have/expect from an employee” (last boss was passive aggressive, I prefer direct)
      “What is considered success in this role and how is it determined” (basically to see if they actually manage/give feedback)
      “Are there opportunities for me to take on more work after I get settled” (Admin jobs are weird, some offer growth and some don’t)
      They also mentioned work-life balance things, so that made me feel better. I felt uncomfortable asking about hours in an interview.

      1. Long time lurker, first time commenter

        Yeah, the hours thing is one that concerns me. I like tackling it from the work-life balance aspect. These are great, thank you.

    3. Augusta Sugarbean

      Thanks for asking this question. I have an interview next week (first in about 8 years!) and am not totally invested in the position. It’s not that I want that job, it’s that I want to not have my current one (lame managers, bickering & dysfunctional coworkers).

      1. Long time lurker, first time commenter

        Yep, exactly. I’m ready to move on. I just don’t want to move on and find myself in the same spot, or worse.

    4. Undine

      Here are some of the things I would want to know about a start-up (coming from a Silicon Valley perspective. Some of them you can get by direct questions, others by looking around:
      Work-life balance — how much are people working there? Are there a lot of nights/weekends? Any possibility to work at home? How much vacation do people take? How stressed do people seem? What is the CEO like — a prima-donna CEO can be very difficult. How accessible are you expected to be out of hours?
      Funding — Some of this you can (and should) Google. What’s the rough difference between revenue and cost (likely negative)? Do they have an actual product they are shipping? Do they have a sense of when they need another round of funding? Your concern here is whether the job will be around in the next crash.
      Maturity — Are most/all of the people there in their twenties, or are there some people who have gray hair? How much experience do people have in their roles? Do they all have titles like “Queen of Teapot Awesomeness” or “CEO of Paperclips”? Is there a lot of drinking/partying? Do they think they are the Best Thing Ever!!! (Your wants might be different from mine in this situation.)
      Process — How much structure do they actually have around getting things done/being accountable/looking at process and mistakes so as not make them again? How do they communicate (email/Slack, etc.) What is the review/performance/feedback process like?
      Your role — How well-defined is your job, really? Will you have to make it up as you go along? What will success look like in this role — really important here, because you want to see that they have a well-defined role and realistic expectations — even if it’s a lot, there’s a big difference between super vague and well-defined with high expectations.

    5. Come On Eileen

      Spend some time thinking about what contributes most to your personal job satisfaction. Be brutally honest – is it the money? Doing interesting work? Having a supportive boss and team members? Having a flexible schedule? Having a short commute? Opportunities for growth? When you know what your top 2 or 3 things are that really make or break it for you in terms of job satisfaction, you can come up with a list of questions that speak to those areas. For example, if a flexible schedule is important to you, ask what sort of flexibility the corporate culture supports, and if they offer work from home options for a portion of the week or if they require facetime/butt-in-seat time. If having a supportive boss is most important, see what your natural rapport is like during the interview, and ask him or her about their management style and the type of team culture they try to generate. In other words, spend some thoughtful time beforehand really identifying what’s important to you, and then consider the interview an opportunity to find out if they are the right fit for you.

  15. EA

    So I have been at my job for almost a year, no interest in leaving for another 1-2ish years. I did a good job screening for good situation boss wise/work life balance wise (this has been an issue in the past). What I never thought of, is how do I screen for a company that actually fires people? The thing that most frustrates me, is that at this company, you get promoted if you are good, and can just languish in your job forever if you are mediocre/bad. People are very rarely fired. It is a large/well known/respected place to work in a major city. This bothers me because I have coworkers who duck out early on a regular basis and ask me to cover, and whenever I need something from another dep’t, I have to call multiple people in order to find the one who will actually help (as opposed to the 2 others who are too lazy).

    Is is appropriate to ask future managers how they handle performance concerns? I asked the typical questions of who is successful here/how is it measured, but that didn’t seem to cover it…

    1. LCL

      Stay away from government work…
      Substandard performers being kept are more common with larger companies. Larger companies tend to have more bureaucracy, whether they are government or private employers.

      Be careful what you wish for. In my experience, companies that move quickly to fire people are the same companies that will ask you to work 90 hour weeks for a non emergency deadline, and will fire you because the manager doesn’t like you.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot

        Definitely seconding the “be careful what you wish for” part. In my experience, places that are quick to fire are chaotic, unprofessional, and run by jerks, and you’ll live in fear of making one mistake and being gone.

        (My experience with government work has been quite different; most of the people I worked with there were quite competent.)

    2. LQ

      I think avoid any employer that talks about how they are all a big family or mentions family in relation to how the workplace operates.

      1. Ornery PR

        Interesting. I think this depends on what you’re looking for. I am not a fan of treating coworkers like family, but I do work for a family-run business that non-related coworkers describe as family, and I get along great here while avoiding much overlap into my personal life. That’s not to say there’s not dysfunction, but this has been a great opportunity for my career – one that I would have missed out on if I had run at the mention of “we’re just a great big family.”

  16. cjb1

    Happy to say that I’m helping work through the HR / hiring process to bring on a new team member to replace me when I leave and that they listened to my feedback on the “previous salary” question. Instead of asking what they currently make, they will ask for a range they are looking for instead! (There’s no way I can get them to be completely upfront in what the range is that we would offer, but at least it’s a small improvement.)

  17. AVP

    My amazing boss is leaving and they have offered me his position and I am *freaking out* Mostly excitement but also, he is so good at this job and has done it for so long and I just have no idea how I would ever fill that spot. Will ever fill that spot. He’ll also be around as a possible future contributor to our projects so if I screw up royally, he’ll probably be there watching and I will die inside a bit. Any advice?

    Luckily we’ll have a few months of transition, so it’s not all at once.

    1. the_scientist

      You can do it! Sometimes you just have to take a calculated risk and jump when an opportunity presents itself, and it sounds like your boss and your company have your back and will support and mentor you. Congratulations!

    2. Cube Ninja

      Impostor syndrome is a very real thing, and I’d wager that nearly everyone suffers from it in their first management role. I know the biggest adjustment for me in going from an individual contributor role into a supervisory one was how *weird* the first few months were not having a specific daily workload. You’ll also spend some time feeling like you didn’t really do any work, and probably have some “fun” the first few times you need to deal with performance conversations or things like managing attendance.

      My best advice? Be as transparent as you can be with your direct reports, be honest and remember being in their shoes. Moving into management as an known quantity is hard because people who were your peers are now suddenly your employees, and from their perspective, you’re suddenly their boss. If you have good relationships with your teammates, it’ll probably be fine, but I’d still be prepared for people to test boundaries.

      Use your resources, whether that’s your new management peers, your old boss (since you’ll still have access to him) and never stop learning. The fact that you’re asking questions and questioning if you’re ready for it is a *good thing*. Stay grounded, but recognize that in most offices, getting offered a management role unprompted means they have a lot of confidence in your abilities – you should too. :)

    3. harryv

      Look at what worked during your boss’s tenure and see what you can improve upon. Looks like he did you a great favor! Great situation! Keep him in close contact in case you want to ask him for some advise :)

    4. Augusta Sugarbean

      Well, the good news is that you had a great boss that you learned from. That’s probably the biggest hurdle for managers – they’ve never seen good management so they don’t know what it looks like. You are way ahead of the game here. Good luck! You can do it!

    5. Crylo Ren

      Congratulations!! Everyone has to start somewhere, and as others have said, you already know what Good Management looks like thanks to your boss’s example. You can do it!

    6. TootsNYC

      If your managers are smart, they are actually looking for you to be a little different from your old manager. New blood! Well, new-ish. And fresh ideas.

  18. ElaineCorbenic

    I interviewed with a company a couple of weeks ago and then received an unofficial job offer depending on a clean background check, good references, and a credit check. The hiring manager said she would get back with me this week with an official offer and a start date, however, I haven’t heard from her. I know that could have something to do with Memorial Day or any number of scenarios. In our last phone conversation, she asked me to email her with any questions. Should I email and ask about where they are in the process? If I do, should I send something today or wait until next week? What do you say in an email like that? I’m a recent graduate and everyone I’ve asked has had a different opinion. Everything from show up at the office to calling to waiting for her to contact me again.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      I would touch base via email either this afternoon or on Monday. Just send a quick note that says you wanted to check-in on the background check process and see if there was any additional information they needed from you. This should prompt the hiring manager to give you an update on the status of their timeline.

    2. BRR

      I’d wait until next week and I would personally do Tuesday (in case someone is on vacation or they just need another working day). Things come up.

      And definitely do not show up at the office. Use email.

  19. fi_O

    Hi! Long time reader, first time poster.

    I’m currently in final round interviews with two orgs that I love! Both orgs will be great for my growth and career.

    I just had my final round interview with company A and they will probably be ready to make an offer next week to someone (hopefully me!).

    Company B wants to fly me out the third week of June for a final interview (I’ve had 3 phone interviews and currently doing an exercise for them – the in-person interview will be to present the exercise and this will be the final one). They are paying for travel and asking for information to book travel for me.

    So if I do get an offer from company A next week, I would love to see if Company B could accelerate their timeline. If not, I think I would be fine with accepting the offer from Company A.
    My question is about letting company B booking travel with the possibility I might cancel on them? Should I tell the recruiter about my situation with company A and ask if they can hold of booking travel until next week? If I don’t tell them and then have to cancel because I’m accepting another offer, will it reflect badly on me?

    Thank you so much!

    1. EddieSherbert

      I don’t think it would reflect badly on you if you have to cancel – I mean, they obviously know you are job hunting (since you’re interviewing with them) and they are waiting another three weeks to have in for an actual interview.

      But I’d also be really worried about it, because that’s how I am, so I would consider saying something along the lines of “I am really excited for our interview for later this month, but I want to be completely honest with you. I am also in contact with another company that is close to the end of their interview process. How would you like to proceed?”

      And of course, you should weigh your desire to work at both of these companies…. if Company B is your “first choice,” maybe you’d handle it differently (and not risk that job – as small of a risk as it is since reasonable people know you are job hunting!).”

      Good luck!

    2. Prismatic Professional

      This might be a case of “until you have a job offer, you don’t.” (Just like when people ask about business travel when they *might* be leaving.) Act as if you don’t have an offer (because you don’t) and then update Company B if you are offered the job.

      It feels weird, but that seems to be AAM wisdom. :-)

    3. Anon Moose

      Don’t tell them. You are not guaranteed to get an offer from either, the timeline could be unpredictable because the boss of one went on vacation or the office flooded or something just had to get rescheduled. Companies should assume you’re applying for other stuff and getting other offers. But you shouldn’t plan based on contingencies that haven’t yet happened- there’s too many factors you have no control over. Cross that bridge when you have an offer or offers in hand.

  20. Rat Racer

    I have a confession and a question: I am a pathologically bad note-taker. So bad that it almost feels like a learning disability.

    Fortunately, am almost never asked to take minutes for meetings but even notes that I take for myself (decisions, follow-up items) are inevitably missing crucial pieces of information. I’ll write down the next step but not the due date; I’ll write down a topic heading, and leave out the agreed upon decision; I’ll write down who needs to attend a follow up meeting but forget to capture whether I am supposed to schedule it or if it’s been delegated elsewhere.

    It seems to me like there ought to be strategies out there for people whose brains aren’t wired to write and talk at the same time, and that if I read a book and practice some key habits, I could get better at this. Does anyone have any recommendations? Is this a thing that anyone else has experienced and overcome?

    1. AVP

      Can you maybe write some notes *before* the meeting in a blank notebook?

      List the things you might usually miss with a colon after it, so it’s like information you’ll be reminded to fill in rather than having to make the decision on whether to write it or not in the moment.

      1. AFT123

        This is a great idea. When you go to prep for your meeting, make a page with blank spaces and the pertinent information you know you need to get out of the meeting. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, do a Google for “meeting note templates” or check out the templates included in OneNote.

        1. AFT123

          Or even just start with who, what, where, when, why, and how and break those down to see what you think is important.

            1. star23

              Not a bad idea for class but I wouldn’t record a work meeting. Too often you have people saying things that they wouldn’t want heard outside the room.

    2. cjb1

      Are your notes typically a standard set of information? Can you draft a sheet of paper that shows what you should be getting out of this meeting (either a template or something before you even go in there) and practice making sure all the necessary fields are filled out? You could have different ones for different meetings and then keep them in a note-taking binder of some sort.

      And then review notes near the end of the meeting (either do a meeting recap if you are leading and fill in any blanks or check it before you leave and if you are missing a few things, ask about them). Ask in a summarizing way, “So just to be clear Ed is doing task X. When will you have that done? … And I am doing Y and which other task was necessary to complete by Friday?”

      I think note-taking would be hard if you have a hard time writing/talking at the same time. Are you taking all notes with pen and paper? Maybe typing on a computer (if possible) would be easier for your brain. Some people have a harder time writing and talking compared to typing and talking.

      1. cjb1

        My company has several template forms/outlines/etc for various types of meetings. I can try to throw out a few shortened examples if you are interested.

      2. Rat Racer

        No – these are usually informal meetings, generally without an agenda. Teams and colleagues are spread across the country so almost all meetings are by conference call and Webex. I work from home and don’t have a printer hooked up to my work computer so all my notes are pen/paper. I’ve tried taking notes on one-note, and have found it difficult to type notes while talking, and often I’m sharing my screen or looking at someone else’s shared screen.

        But regardless, I take the same terrible notes while typing that I do with a pen. I think it’s that my brain jumps around too much when I’m talking/strategizing/listening such that I forget to write down the important things. Honestly, the more I write about this and read responses, the more I think that my poor note-taking is a symptom of a larger problem, which is the frenetic and scattered pace my mind races at during these conversations.

    3. Ell like L

      Maybe you could get a small recording device? That way you have access to the whole meeting later and you won’t forget anything. You can refer back to it to fill in your notes? There are pretty non-intrusive recording devices out there for folks.

      1. Rat Racer

        I like this idea a lot! I used to do this in grad school because – again – terrible note-taking

      2. DCR

        In many states, it is illegal to record a conversation without the person’s consent. Further, I suspect the company would be very opposed to this idea and may fire someone over it because of legal/security concerns.

        This is something you need to work on, but recording is no the way to go

    4. LCL

      This is what I do.
      I use a big legal pad that has a left margin. At the top I write the initials of everybody attending. Since others may see your notes be professional, no snark like PHB for the manager, etc.
      I make notes of what people say, and put their initials in the margin. If I can remember who said something, it is easier for me to remember items.

    5. SRB

      I was once a bad note taker (during school, especially). Once you start working, the “take-aways” that you have to write down are so different too, that it takes awhile to adjust. After several years of doing detailed meetings minutes, like, every day, I think I’ve gotten it down.

      Firstly, don’t try to talk and write at the same time. It’s ok to say “Hang on, let me write that down” and have there be silence for a moment. No one will judge. I always find it easier to announce what I’m doing, too, so that people on the phone aren’t jarred by the sudden quiet.

      Nowadays, that I’m not doing official “minutes” for CYA purposes, I only write down two things (typically): action items and decisions.

      Action items are things that need to be done. Action items have 3 characteristics that always get recorded: (1) the activity, (2) the assigned person, and (3) the assigned deadline. Don’t be afraid to speak up if one of those isn’t clear. “We’ll do the Teapots report this week.” is not enough. “Sansa Stark will finish the Teapots report by 9 am Friday”.

      Decisions also have three things: (1) What was decided, (2) why, (3) the date, and (4 optional) who decided it, if that’s important in your workflow.”The client asked Sansa to focus on the handle QA results in the report and not the spout QA results, since the client will have to make a decision on the former, based on the results.”

      It might be helpful either drawing or making a Word template with a table with those headers at first, until it becomes habit. Keep your ears open for anything that sounds like an action item or decision. “Ok, we’ll do that”, “I’ll get that done”, “We have to get this done”, “The next thing we have to do is…”. Soon you’ll have an action item and decision radar. :)

      I’ve also found that having a standard agenda item at the end of meetings labelled “Review action items” is very helpful. You just state all that you recorded, people add anything you’ve forgotten or just nod in silent agreement.

    6. Vix

      I don’t know if you’re a podcast fan, but Manager Tools is a great one. They have several specifically about taking notes, but I’d start with the one called “How to Take Notes.”

      (Man, I love when things are named so efficiently!)

      Link to follow.

    7. Rad Radost

      Besides the recording, my general notetaking tips are:
      – Focus on specific nouns and verbs
      – Skip vowels
      – Use the first chunk of longer words
      – Figure out abbreviations & symbols that work for you

      Examples:

      “The guys in the shop are saying the QWERTY, Inc. deliveries keep coming in with defects and just really bad packaging. Should we–”
      – QWERTY Inc deliv probs?

      “Sir, they’re just picky, I talked to Quality and the issues they’re talking about aren’t a big deal–”
      – poss. not bad (check w/ Qual)

      “It’s too many of these deliveries, though, we’ve had five batches and at that point the flaws start piling up too much for the product to be any good. At least we could research other suppliers.
      – Howev, 5 batches flaws => :(
      – Resrch supplrs

      You can always fill in details later once you’ve got a skeleton of basic events to work from.

  21. Ready for a Change

    I have 10 more work days to go before I give my 2 weeks notice at my job. This isn’t exactly how I planned my summer, but a few weeks ago my boss blew up at me (the latest in a string, and several years of just awful management on her part), accusing me of being manipulative for telling her I was getting conflicting information from different people about a project…and then in a meeting this week, she said she thinks our communication is getting better. Great, as it gives me a little security as I wait this out, but after that blow up, I drove home from work and said out loud to myself “I need to quit.”

    I’m planning my last day to be July 1 (or 4th, if I can swing it, it would be nice to get paid for a last holiday) so I get health benefits through July, I have a few weeks vacation saved up to get me paid mostly through July, and I’m in conversations about an amazing opportunity that could start in August, plus a few other freelance projects this summer to bring in a little money. I’m meeting with the decision-maker about that opportunity next week to keep her in the loop (some people would say not to do this, but I think this is the best decision based on our conversations so far). I’m terrified and excited but so ready for a major change.

    1. Ready too

      I’m in a similar boat, Ready, and just want to say hang in there. Sometimes taking a risk is all you need to get to a much better work situation, and looks like you have things well under control. Best of luck!

      1. Ready for a change

        Honestly, I’m sitting on a park bench eating lunch and this just made start crying. I don’t feel like I have things under control, really, but it helps that someone thinks I do. I need the drastic change in this and other aspects of my life (though that’s something for the Sunday thread).

        Best of luck to you too. We can do this.

    2. Me too.

      Wow. I am in a very similar situation. We’ve had a lot of turnover, and my new boss acused me of misrepresenting myself, mostly because I think he doesn’t know what I do. I considered quitting today, but I want to wrap up some things. I have nothing lined up, just some plans to do some freelance work.

      1. Ready for a change

        As I’ve been telling myself for the past two weeks, wanting to wrap things up isn’t a bad thing, but don’t talk yourself out of it just for the sake of wrapping things up, or some sense of loyalty or obligation.

        We deserve better than people that treat us like crap.

  22. EthicalQuandry

    My company has asked me to do an ethics questionnaire. Refusing to do this questionnaire will result in the HR manager meeting with me.

    I cannot, in good conscience, do this survey. It is not anonymous. There have been a lot of ethical violations that I am aware of, and while many of them were addressed – and the offenders fired – there are still some other, vague issues.

    My options are to either do the survey and lie, or do the survey, be honest, and deal with blowback. I have some major trust issues because of the previous two managers who were extremely unethical, and I am terrified to do this survey.

    Maybe I’m overthinking it, but any advice would be greatly welcomed.

    1. kbeers0su

      Blech. I would do the survey and lie. You would think that those above you would understand that failing to allow respondents to be anonymous will lead to many people not being honest on such a survey. Unless they really don’t care about whether they are being ethical or not, and just want to do the survey to say they did the survey. And by forcing you to sign your name to it, they’re pretty much ensuring that everyone will lie and give positive results…

      1. cjb1

        I agree with this as well. If you are not in a position to be able to leave your job, I’d be concerned about signing my name on this.

    2. Ad Astra

      It sounds like your best choice here is to lie. That sucks, but it’s the position this company has put you in. If they really wanted to use that survey to uncover potential ethical issues, they would have made the survey anonymous.

      But I’m interested to see if other commenters have some better advice.

    3. SophieChotek

      Surely if HR is meeting with you for not doing the survey that would then be the time to explain the issues and pushback/asking for…what’s the term…”protection” (maybe) if there is retaliation as a result of the survey/your concern about retaliation if you are honest on the survey.

      If HR is part of the problem, though….well…then clearly there are bigger problems at company than just the ethics survey in general…

    4. R Adkins

      Some auditors require random employees to do ethics surveys to make sure nothing is going on they should know about. Could you ask what the purpose of the survey is first? I would personally not want to lie and then have it come to light later and be held responsible for knowing and not reporting. But I work in healthcare where you are legally required to report ethics issues.

      1. Badlands

        +1

        Could you be non-responsive to the survey/questionnaire in a way that says “I have a problem with the way this survey is being conducted.” Something like “I decline to answer this question because if I did have ethics concerns, my anonymity would not be preserved and I am worried about the threat of retaliation.” Basically – the form of the survey is defeating the purpose of the survey, which is honest responses.

        Unless they don’t want honest responses.

    5. Rusty Shackelford

      What do you know about HR? Were they aware of/involved in the ethical violations? Do you have reason to believe they’ll turn on you if you refuse to fill out the questionnaire and meet with the manager instead?

      1. Laura

        These are the next questions OP should ask. If HR is “dangerous,” it would be best to lie on the survey… and start looking for a new job.

      2. EthicalQuandry

        I actually really like and trust the HR department here.

        My big issue here is that the two managers who have since been fired were brilliant at retaliating in ways that they could easily hide. I strongly suspect that I was set up to fail in retaliation for me pointing out some illegal stuff they were trying with me in concern to work hours.

        Things have gotten *much* better, but there are still remnants of trust issues lingering there. I really like the company and have been much happier since things have changed, but like I said – trust issues.

        1. Cordelia Naismith

          Since the offending managers are now gone and you like HR…I think I would call HR and set up a meeting to talk. Just lay all your cards on the table and tell them what you know was going on and explain how you feel you were set up to fail by the ex-managers. If the HR people are good, they will want to know all of this and won’t retaliate.

        2. designbot

          I would go to HR pre-emptively then and express your concerns about the survey methodology to them. They may get it changed/anonomized, or they may ask you to talk to them about what you think you could face retaliation about, giving you the opportunity to keep that information verbal and have a conversation that is more nuanced than a survey response.

    6. BRR

      Do you know what HR’s goal is with the questionnaire? If it’s to flush out current issues you can ask about protection from retaliation. I hate to say this but you might just have to lie.

    7. Elle the new Fed

      If the previous managers are also I longer at the company, can you point out their unethical behavior and omit anyone currently working there? That might be a balance to not get blowback from current staff but still be honest on some part.

    8. Nancypie

      As a theoretical, this is a very interesting question. If there are things going on that are unethical, isn’t it your responsibility to disclose that? Presumably that’s why they’re doing the survey. And by not disclosing it, what does that say about your own personal ethics? I say this all theoretically, not as any judgement on you.

    9. Not So NewReader

      If the issues are vague then perhaps you have no foundation for reporting them on the questionnaire.

      Sometimes it is necessary for survival on the job NOT to report things you cannot prove.

      OTH, it could be that your answer is right here. “I am having difficulty filling out this form because of blow back I have experienced in the past.” Write that on the top and hand it in.

      And in a different path, maybe a meeting with HR in lieu of filling out the form is the very route for you to go. Sometimes the thing we are avoiding the most is THE answer. I have seen things play out this way. No, I can’t explain that except to say that it works out sometimes.

  23. Tawanda1983

    I may shortly find myself in a dilemma and would love feedback on what to do if said dilemma does play out. I took a job 3 months ago after relocating to follow my partner for their new job. The odd thing is that partner and I work for the same organization, but in different roles, but have the same boss (super weird). Partner loves his job, but me not so much.

    (I had really intended to like it- I am really passionate about the work we’re supposed to be doing- but I found out after I started that this program has been run into the ground and I’m supposed to fix it. While being paid not nearly enough money. And had I know the problems I was taking on I definitely would have negotiated a higher salary.)

    About six weeks ago (eight weeks into this job) I applied to a position that posted nearby that is in my prior field, and which I am very excited for, and which pays quite a bit more (even at the bottom of the range). I did two interviews and am a finalist, and will find out next week if I got the job. They want a pretty quick turnaround, so I’ll be giving just two weeks notice.

    So the dilemma is…if I get the job, how do I announce/explain knowing that my partner will likely take some heat for this? I like to think that partner’s employment had nothing to do with me getting this job, but I’m not sure. And since we share a supervisor, I’m sure it’ll come up at some point in those conversations. Thoughts?

    1. Co-Spouser

      OK, I’ve done this! Do you get the sense that your partner will face actual repercussions? When I left my previous job with my partner, I was very worried about awkwardness, but everyone was super respectful and understanding (even if I did get a little bit of ribbing for it).

      It helped was that my partner didn’t offer any information on my behalf and said that it was my decision. People understood right away that it wasn’t worth even talking to him about it.

      1. OP

        Well, glad to know we’re not the only couple who has ever done something like this! I don’t think that he’ll face actual repercussions as he seems much beloved within his group (invited to speak at an upcoming annual conference despite being fairly new, etc.). It’s more that I know it’ll be awkward and that he’s a super introvert and will hate being asked/will worry a lot about what people think.

        I’m lucky because I don’t care nearly as much about what people think, which is why I’m ok jumping ship given the circumstances…!

        1. The Butcher of Luverne

          “Partner had a great opportunity and jumped at the chance to take it” is all your guy needs to say.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny

            Yup. Mine also stuck with “You’d have to ask Nonny about that, it was her decision.”

      2. Lindsay J

        We didn’t share the same boss, but my SO and I worked at the same company at my last job.

        I let everyone know I was leaving the same way I would have if he didn’t work there.

        One of my last days we have a potluck lunch for a holiday party. At the party my boss did give my SO a little ribbing in the vein of “how dare you let her leave here” but it was all in good fun, and his response was something to the extent of, “I don’t ‘let’ her do anything. She’s an adult and does whatever she thinks is best for her,” and that was that.

    2. esra

      If it were me, I’d announce it the same as I would if my partner didn’t work there at all. I don’t think it would be really appropriate for the supervisor to even go into it with your partner. I work in an office with a few married couples, and we basically just pretend they aren’t married when it comes to work issues. Not ideal, I know. I’m not sure there is an ideal solution when it comes to those kinds of relationships in the workplace.

      For what it’s worth, it sounds like you are making the 100% right move.

    3. Felicity

      This is no help but make sure you give your notice. My brother and I (this is never a good idea) had the same boss. He interviewed at a new company and ghosted where we worked immediately. He never told them he quit, he just disappeared to start the new job immediately. He’s a jerk though. He expected me to deal with it all. Thanks bro.

      1. OP

        Awkward. No, I will definitely give notice. Wouldn’t want to put partner in that position…

    4. Bigglesworth

      Both my spouse and I have worked for the same company…twice. We met at one company (a summer camp), but didn’t start dating until after we both resigned.

      After we married, he had a hard time finding a job. I was talking to my manager at the retail store I worked at when she said (after meeting him casually when he came to bring me my lunch one day) that she liked him and he should apply to work to be part of the team. She placed us in separate stores for about 6 months before allowing me to rotate between locations, but she never never never never put us on the schedule to work the same shift at the same location (which was more than ok with both of us since I had seniority and did not want to ever pull the “manager” card on him.) Everyone knew we were married, but we were both professional in our work and no one ever expected us to be the other’s watchdog or whatever.

      That particular manager still holds the title of my favorite manager. She made what could have been an awful situation (working retail with a spouse) into not only a workable situation, but one in which we both excelled. She knew that we were on hard times (I was working 3-4 jobs and he was working about the same) and wanted to help us out. She never judged my work on his or his work on mine. I eventually left the company for a management role elsewhere, but he stayed on and eventually became a manager himself.

      All that to say, it can work out. Your situation sounds different than ours (not retail and not on the same team), but I think so long as you and your partner handle this responsibly and professionally, you really should be ok. :)

  24. Interview help needed

    Hi. Long-time reader, I’ve asked a few questions, but I’m life-paranoid in general so I’m always anon. I left my job a month ago without another lined up (OMG I know) because of… a lot of reasons, mostly because my boss was being highly business-inappropriate with their clients, their own peers, and everyone in general, and it was severely impacting my ability to a) get work done, b) win new work, and c) be functional without being miserable. I do not for one second regret leaving, even though I’m fully aware it could affect my ability to get a new job. But clearly I’m not going to tell anyone that in an interview when they ask why I left my old job as I don’t want to endanger old boss’ career or look like a trash-talker.

    What are my options? I have an interview next week for the first time since I left. I could say “I hadn’t been on a consistent project in six months” which is true. I could mention that many people were being laid off, which is true. Idk. Help!

    1. Ready for a change

      I don’t know that I can help you with your question, but just commenting in solidarity on leaving without something lined up, as I’m about to make this move myself.

    2. kbeers0su

      I think you could lump all this together and say that the business was going through a bumpy time and that you read the writing on the wall and decided to get out early. If people were being laid off around you, you could have stuck it out, but I think that would also leave a lot of people with frayed nerves not knowing what tomorrow might bring. You could also say that you wanted to take some time off for whatever personal reasons (travel, family, learning new skills) while you searched for your next opportunity.

      1. College Career Counselor

        I think you could also add that the organization’s lay-offs and the inconsistent project schedule, you are looking for an organization that is growing (true and because it’s factual, it doesn’t trash the boss or the company) and that you left to pursue opportunities at a faster-paced/busier organization.

        I would suggest practicing this in front of a mirror, with a friend/family member, etc. until you’re able to convey it with both your words and your demeanor. Good luck on the interview!

  25. esra

    Inspired by the commenter who admitted to licking a salt lamp while temping, and the other commenter who said we should start a thread about our silliest/weirdest work behaviours.

    Mine: After a contentious layoff (almost everyone but the execs at a nonprofit), I totally took the candy I’d brought in for the office my first day back from vacation so all of us recently laid off could eat it together in a park.

    No chocolate for you, shoddy president!

    1. Crylo Ren

      At my previous employer, my department passed around a holiday penguin doll. At first people would just take photos of the penguin at their cubes, but then we started creating little stories around how the penguin ended up in different locations. It escalated to the point that a couple of coworkers filmed the penguin arriving in “Brazil” for the World Cup (complete with a tiny motorcade and confetti made from old reports).

    2. LisaLee

      Oooh, fun.

      I don’t have many really weird ones, but at my very first job in high school, I broke something on the job and was too awkward to tell my boss so I hid it under an unused desk. I can’t remember what it was now, so I HOPE it wasn’t something important.

      Luckily, I am not that shy anymore.

    3. Cath in Canada

      When our central grants office decided to retire a particular form that we all hated filling in (it was an awful lot of work for no apparent reason), I organised a party in a nearby park to celebrate. It was called the pink form because you had to print it on pink paper, so we had pink lemonade and pink cupcakes, and we held a ceremonial burning of a pink form. The grants office heard about it a few weeks later and thought it was hilarious – they hated the form too!

    4. Sadsack

      I did something similar. I had volunteered to contribute paper and plastic products for our department holiday party while others contributed food, etc. Brought everything in the day before the party. That same day, we were all laid off and our jobs outsourced. Took everything back home with me and returned it all for a refund! So there were no plates or forks or anything at the party. From what I was told, the party was pretty much a big downer anyway. I wasn’t there because my elimination was immediate while others stayed on for knowledge transfer.

    5. CherryScary

      We have a yearly Spring Cleaning. Any random items no longer wanted are put into a pile and raffled off at the end of the day. Previous “prizes” included a ceramic animal head, signed framed headshots of coworkers, and odd clocks.

      1. Liza

        Was the ceramic animal head a horse that originally came from a Yankee gift swap, or are there multiple ceramic animal heads in offices around the world?

    6. Lily Evans

      The retail store I worked at in high school had been around for at least 50 years and one of the relics of the pre-technological security era was hidden windows in upstairs stockrooms with binoculars where security staff used to watch for shoplifters. Naturally, all the teens who worked there started spending far too much time hiding up there and spying on everyone in the store. We never got caught because we could always see when the managers were coming.

    7. Chaordic One

      I was let go from a nonprofit that never had enough money as well as office supply procurement procedures that were designed to discourage people from using office supplies. Most people just made so with what was there, but being picky I ended up buying and paying for quite a few things myself. Things like pushpins, paper clips, dish washing liquid for the break room, a heavy-duty stapler and red Sharpie felt-tip pens in just the right “Extra Fine Point” size. I wrote my name on the stapler, although that was no guarantee that another department would not have taken it.

      When I was let go I gave the candy and gum to my admin, then packed up a lot (not all) of the supplies that I had brought in, including the Sharpies and the heavy-duty stapler. I know the department misses that heavy-duty stapler.

  26. AFT123

    I’m re-reading and still crying laughing at all of the mortifying comments from yesterday’s post about hugging the CEO. Thank you all so much for sharing!!

    1. MaggiePi

      Agreed! I woke my husband up about 5 times because I was laughing so hard. (He didn’t find it as funny for some reason… )

  27. Cath in Canada

    I’m thinking of moving my to-do list from paper to a Kanban board. I’d like to use a web app that will let me have separate lists for separate projects, and ideally track stats so I can compare actual productivity between projects rather than just time spent working on each one. Any recommendations? Thanks, and happy Friday!

    1. Manders

      You might have to come up with your own system for stat tracking, but Trello is great for keeping to do lists together in one place but separated by project.

  28. Grey

    What do you think of man who carries a briefcase he might not actually need? Does it look silly if you’re not an attorney or CEO? Are there any good alternatives? Right now, I carry whatever documents I have, my flash drive and a 20 oz. Mountain Dew to and from work in one of those reusable shopping bags. Sometimes if feels like I’m carrying a purse. At the same time, I don’t want to carry a briefcase if it’s going to make me look like I overestimate my importance.

    I’m the type of guy who had to be outright told that it was time to lose the mullet, earring and acid washed jeans in the 90s, so I worry about these things now.

    1. esra

      What about a men’s work bag or messenger bag? I wouldn’t blink at someone showing up to the office with one of those, but a briefcase feels very formal.

    2. Academic transition?

      This is the case for a messenger bag. Maybe one of the Timbuk2 ones. Or a backpack?

    3. Ad Astra

      A lot of the men at my (rather casual) office carry backpacks. I think it’s a little goofy-looking, but it seems to work.

      1. Sadsack

        Backpacks for carrying laptops, etc., are so much easier to deal with than the crossbody bags. Less stress on your back and shoulders. Most men and women where I work use backpacks. It looks completely normal to me now.

    4. AFT123

      I vote messenger bag or computer bag over briefcase. Nobody would ever blink at someone carrying a computer bag.

    5. Christy

      What do you wear to work? I can’t imagine you’d look sillier with a briefcase than with a shopping bag.

    6. Lady Kelvin

      My husband has a nice looking backpack/day bag from REI. Some days all that is in it is his lunch, but sometimes he brings his work laptop home/papers, etc in it. I live in DC and while I thought it would be weird for a grown man in a suit wearing a backpack to work everyday, its surprisingly common. So maybe think about something like that instead of a briefcase?

    7. Lauren

      Just get a small backpack. Most CEOs use them as laptop bags now. I’m picturing you with a bright green reusable shopping bag (extremely obv that its meant for groceries) with the grocery store name on it. If that is the case where its obviously a reusable grocery bag vs. a conventional tote bag, then you should upgrade to something else.

      For the record, I have a Walking Dead tote for my laptop and I wear it proudly to all client meetings.

      1. Grey

        I’m picturing you with a bright green reusable shopping bag (extremely obv that its meant for groceries) with the grocery store name on it.

        Funny, because that’s exactly what it is.

    8. TCO

      What about a men’s shoulder bag, like the kind designed to carry laptops? In most industries that would look far more modern than a briefcase. I see men carrying them all the time in my city.

      1. TCO

        Examples:
        http://www.ebags.com/product/kenneth-cole-reaction-business-and-luggage/columbian-leather-flapover-computer-case/100888?productid=1266729
        http://www.ebags.com/product/kenneth-cole-reaction-business-and-luggage/columbian-leather-flapover-computer-case/100888?productid=1266729
        http://www.ebags.com/product/kenneth-cole-reaction-business-and-luggage/columbian-leather-flapover-computer-case/100888?productid=1266729
        http://www.ebags.com/product/patagonia/headway-brief/311886?productid=10417375#ratings-and-reviews

    9. Laura

      It depends on your workplace. Do other employees carry briefcases? If not, you probably look very formal, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I work in a fairly friendly, business-casual environment, where the male higher-ups actually dress more casually and carry messenger bags or backpacks.

      1. Grey

        I work in a female dominant industry (apartment management) so I can’t really look at what the other men are using. The women seem to use things like the messenger bag but I wasn’t sure if that would be ok for a man.

    10. Ama

      Yesterday on the subway I saw a man in business wear carrying a really awesome leather satchel — it looked professional but was a little less formal looking than a briefcase.

    11. Grey

      I’m not at all fashion conscious so I had to Google messenger bag. The ones like TCO linked to or a small backpack both sound like good suggestions.

    12. h.cowl

      I’m a woman and I go with a backpack. I walk to work and it’s way easier on the shoulders.

    13. MaggiePi

      I agree with the messenger bag idea, or a backpack. It sounds a bit odd, but pretty much everyone at my SO’s office carries a backpack. If you like briefcases, maybe something less formal looking than a hard sided one, like this style:
      https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bagswish.com%2F3639%2Fleather-travel-bag-leather-soft-briefcase.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bagswish.com%2F403-leather-travel-bag-leather-soft-briefcase.html&docid=RNocgjdMBA5qGM&tbnid=7kdIIGraPYnwNM%3A&w=519&h=468&bih=884&biw=1680&ved=0ahUKEwikluS7xIzNAhVDLlIKHcvFCkcQMwhPKBAwEA&iact=mrc&uact=8
      or
      https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fimg1.etsystatic.com%2F000%2F0%2F5951532%2Fil_570xN.334275469.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Flisting%2F220651945%2Freserved-leather-briefcase-soft-sided&docid=wNDYSFEbpZ7tHM&tbnid=tnsyIGBgzG4pVM%3A&w=570&h=760&bih=884&biw=1680&ved=0ahUKEwikluS7xIzNAhVDLlIKHcvFCkcQMwhgKBkwGQ&iact=mrc&uact=8
      I think those are cool, but probably pricey.

    14. Grey

      Thank you for the ideas. I have an unused briefcase that’s been sitting my closet for the past 20 years. I actually gave some thought into dusting it off and using it. I’m really glad I asked first.

    15. periwinkle

      I like briefcases but I really like having my hands free! My vote is for a backpack that’s large enough to carry your work laptop, if you have one; otherwise, something large enough to carry your documents safely.

      Not only are backpacks the norm at my Fortune 50 employer, but you’re issued a backpack when you start. Our official backpack is heavy as heck so I use my own – right now it’s a Timbuk2 that’s similar to the current Timbuk2 Sunset model. Sometimes it’s full of laptop and accessories, sometimes it holds just an apple and carton of yogurt.

      But if you do decide on a briefcase, pick one you like and don’t worry about looking pretentious.

    16. Student

      You can also do a backpack, as long as it looks plain and adult. A college-ish one or a small hiking backpack. Lots of college-type backpacks can be had for cheap when it’s off-season, like a week or three after the local college and high schools start. 5.11 has very rugged bags that I personally like, if you’re looking for something long-term and expensive.

      If you’re in a very formal environment, better to go with a briefcase. If you are currently doing okay with a grocery bag, you probably aren’t in a very formal environment though.

      1. AnotherFed

        5.11 stuff can often be picked up for deep discounts online at LA Police gear. They make some seriously tough gear, and it’s usually very well thought out.

    17. Chaordic One

      I once had a co-worker, a black man, who always made a point of dressing up and of carrying a brief case, even though most of the time he didn’t have anything in his brief case. When most of the men in the office wore sports jackets, he wore a suit. On casual Fridays he wore a sports jacket with chinos, but no tie when everyone else wore jeans.

      And yes, it was sort of like his purse with his lunch, a bottle of water, maps, paperback novels and who knows what all else in it. I once teased him about the brief case and told him that for him it seemed like Linus’ security blanket. He didn’t disagree, but then he told me that when he had his brief case he was a gentleman and a business professional, and that when he didn’t, he was just a [insert n-word] here. At the time I was a bit taken back as his brutal honesty.

      He seemed to know that, even in the present time, some people are judged more harshly than others; and he seemed to feel that he had to present himself differently than most of his co-workers.

    18. Mander

      FWIW I sometimes work in the hotshot financial district in London, and I see fancy pants CEOs and obviously very rich people carrying their work stuff in normal backpacks. As long as it’s not falling apart it should be fine.

  29. Sunflower

    I work for a large law firm in the marketing dept. We recently had a presentation from HR on the reviews/compensation structure. This presentation was to non-managers(ALL NON-EXEMPT) who have been in the workforce anywhere from 1-6 years. Things they mentioned

    – There is a lot of misinformation out there about market ranges and salary sites like Glassdoor are not reliable
    – HR conducts a lot of market research and use this with a combination of many other things to determine salaries/raises
    – HR provides our managers with these market ranges and we should ask them what those numbers are

    It seemed kind of to me that they were trying to undermine us? Should I trust the market ranges they give us? My field has relatively high turnover across the board but I’m pretty confident they want to stay competitive with other firms. Working in event planning, I(and people in my position at other firms) work much more overtime than other non-exempts in our depts. Does our overtime factor into that market range?

    1. esra

      Yikes. It sounds like they know they’re paying either below or on the low end of market and want to get in front of it.

    2. Kate

      I’m in HR (not Compensation; another area). In my experience, Comp is brought in to do a presentation on salary when there’s reason to believe seriously inaccurate info is being passed around. (E.g. an employee leaves for a far-above-market rate elsewhere, and everybody who remains starts to wonder if that’s actually normal pay.) Presentations are usually not done proactively to educate employees, although it’s nice when they are.

      If you believe your HR to be generally competent and honest, I’d trust the market ranges they provide. (Trust, but verify, of course, as best you can.) Comp departments pay thousands for access to market research. It is much more accurate than Glassdoor and similar sites. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty accurate. Like all data, it has its limitations. You could be at the top of the range and still underpaid for your particular set of circumstances. (Or vice versa.)

      The fact that HR did a presentation at all makes me think they’re probably being truthful. Firms with salary issues typically don’t do HR presentations with false data– they just discourage people from discussing salary.

      And to answer your question– No, OT does not factor into the market range.

      1. Sunflower

        Thanks this is super helpful! FWIW- this presentation was done at the suggestion of my Director. Our Chief was unsure about if it was a good idea but ultimately gave the go-ahead. Our company is pretty open about these things- all of the information in the presentation(like career ladders, suggestions for how to make the most of your review) is available on our intranet. The discouraging part was that each dept is given a budget and then teams are given budgets within that. I’m on a 2 person team so it feels a bit like whatever the budget says is what I’m getting. Thankfully the money conversation flows down from Chief to Manager to Report and then flows back up.

    3. Comp Professional

      Honestly they are probably telling you the truth. As someone who is responsible for setting pay structures, I can say that glassdoor and salary.com are terribly misleading. A large part of the issue has to do with sample size. For instance, I just looked up the salary range for “Human Resources Manager” at Microsoft and there were 22 reported salaries, which is a tiny sample of all Human Resources Managers that would be employed at Microsoft. The surveys Compensation Professionals use to determine market ranges are much more comprehensive and can be narrowed down by geography, similar companies, company size, company revenue, etc. to get a valid match. Also generally multiple surveys are used to compare and validate that we are truly getting a good picture of the market.

      1. Sunflower

        I TOTALLY agree with you that glassdoor is super unreliable and misleading. I’m part of a networking group of other legal event professionals and I would LOVE to get some sort of conversation about market ranges going between us.

        1. Comp Professional

          I just realized I also didn’t mention that it is also relatively normal to direct employees to managers who have more specific information about the range. While I can tell you where you are being paid relative to the market managers can have more nuanced information about why you are being paid below, or why you are making at market which is much more helpful to an employee. It sounds like your Compensation department is pretty transparent and open about what they are doing which gives me confidence they are being truthful! You mentioned budgets above, generally how that works is Comp will determine how much the market will have moved at the appraisal period which we use to determine how much our salary structures will move. That information is then sent to Finance and built into the budgets, so the salary budget even for a team of two should be adjusted to reflect market as well.

    4. Editor

      In some occupational categories, there is census or Bureau of Labor Statistics information about salaries broken down by county. There are holes in the data where the report might reveal a particular employer’s salary structure. I found the information with some searching plus exploration of the databases on federal sites, but it was a couple of years ago and I don’t remember exactly where I went. Some of the success or failure depends on job title and category.

    5. Rex

      Didn’t we have an open thread about industries and salaries a while back? Is it time to do that again?

  30. Anansi

    I have a question about negotiating for federal government jobs. Thanks in advance for any advice!

    I have an unusual (I think) situation where an agency created a job specifically for me. I just learned that they are preparing an offer – without any interview. While this is flattering, I am unsure of how I should handle it if I want to negotiate a higher salary or a higher GS. I am thinking of handling this just like a normal process, and once I receive an offer just responding that I was hoping more for $X, and the higher GS (the position was posted at two GS levels). Is this acceptable? Are there particular pitfalls I should be aware of when negotiating federal government jobs? Any other advice? Thanks!

    1. HeyNonnyNonny

      You probably won’t be able to negotiate the GS level, but you can ask for an increase in your step level! At my agency, I had to provide a paystub from my previous job, and they adjusted my step up so that I wouldn’t receive a pay cut. However, I don’t know what they’d say if you wanted an increase from your previous job. Other than that, my experience has been that negotiating is almost non-existent. Probably varies a lot by agency…

      1. Anansi

        That’s a good idea about the step level, thanks! I am worried that they will try to pay me the same as my current job (although I don’t think they’ve asked for my current salary yet). My salary is ok but not great, which is one reason why I’d like to leave. But this job does have a lot of other perks that I wouldn’t get at the new job.

    2. Late To This One

      From what I know many agencies are not able to budge from the Grade level that they offer you, but HeyNonnyNonny is dead on about being able to negotiate steps. But unlike HeyNonnyNonny, when I asked for a higher step to match my current salary (and presented paystubs) they came back with an offer that was nominally lower and would cause hardship to my family if I took the job. If I had known that they have to advertise the full range of the Grade but can only go up to a certain step because of budget and not be able to offer the highest step which is above my current pay, I would have never applied.

      Best of luck to you and hopefully you don’t have the same experience that I did.

      1. GovHRO

        I’m assuming you applied to both grade levels? If that wasn’t an option, then your definitely stuck at the lower level (if only the lower was an option to apply to, that’s it.) If you could check the boxes to say you were interested at both levels, you may or may not have been found qualified at both grade levels. If you were qualified and refered at both levels, they could pick you at either level. However, you could only be qualified at the lower level (higher preference veteran at higher level, your resume didn’t demonstrate something, you didn’t answer the usajobs questions correctly, some other weird thing) or they have budget restrictions and have to hire at the lower level. If they hire you at the lower level, many agencies have prohibitions against higher step levels (above min. Rate) when it’s essentially a developmental-multi grade position, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Nor does it hurt to try to negotiate more vacation based on outside experience-that’s a big one that candidates should try to negotiate. Not all agencies can do this–if they don’t have a policy in place, then they can’t do it. If your prior experience is as a active duty military member-no need to negotiate the higher amount of vacation–you’ll get as much as they’re allowed to give.

      2. Anansi

        Ugh, that sucks. Especially since it is not easy to apply to those jobs to begin with, so such a waste of time! I did just get the offer letter and it’s for Step 1, slightly less than I’m making now. We’ll see how negotiations go.

  31. White Mage

    I’m having trouble creating video demos of our products and I’m looking for advice. Video editing is not new to me, as I’m part of a weekly podcast, but I just keep running into wall after wall with what I need to do for work. Probably because I’m working with video screen captures, which I don’t do for the podcast.

    I’m creating video demos for our online software, which is mostly text. The video screen captures I take look great – the problem is working with them in an editing software and then condensing them into a video that can be put on YouTube, and in both situations I lose major quality. The biggest issue I’m running into the is the text loses quality when the video is shrunk down and I can only get it to look anywhere from awful to mediocre at best. I know why it does this, but I can’t figure out how to get around it. I’ve tried exporting to all different formats, doing video capture at different resolutions, and I still get sub-par results. I know it’s possible because I’ve seen demos on other companies’ websites with awesome quality demos of their software. I’m totally lost as to what I’m doing wrong.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for products or different settings I can use? I have both Camtasia and Adobe Premiere for editing, plus some free video screen capture programs. I’m not against buying another software, but I’d like to avoid if possible.

    1. SophieChotek

      Quite a few years ago I remember being able to make slides in Powerpoint/Keynote (which probably included some screen capture) then convert it into a video slide-show with iMovie (something native to Mac) and the quality was pretty decent considering I wasn’t using anything “professional”. I was also able to stick “real” video in between the slides to make it a pretty seamless process that played by itself, or could be advanced manually.

      1. White Mage

        Ooh, I’ve converted PowerPoint presentations to videos before, but I didn’t know you were able to include videos in that. Might not be what I’m looking for here, I might need to try that for other things I need to do.

    2. EddieSherbert

      I’ve used these screencapture programs with success: Microsoft Expression Encoder, Blueberry Flashback, and Jing

      A a good free option for video compression is HandBrake – however, if you are already compressing when you export from Premiere, it would probably be blurry.

      I don’t know if this is helpful, but I usually do training videos for a software – and I do “customize” my size to normal web standards when I export from Premiere to 720×1280.

      If you’re posting the videos on Youtube though, you shouldn’t compress them beforehand – YouTube does it for you (so you could be accidently double-compressing it)

      1. White Mage

        I think using “condensing” wasn’t the right word in my OP, but I immediately run into issues as soon as I import into Camtasia or Premiere where the text looks awful. I figured out in Premiere how to fix that, but I always have issues exporting anything of decent quality and I’m not even compressing it. I’m not even at the point where I have anything good to upload to YouTube.

        1. GigglyPuff

          I had to create a video last year in Camtasia from just screenshots, it turned out to be pretty nice quality. Are you doing the screen capture thru Camtasia? or another program?

            1. GigglyPuff

              How good of a monitor are you using? My screenshots were just awful on my computer, but I managed to find a high-res monitor at work I could use and it made all the difference. I’d see if that’s an option.

        2. LQ

          When you export it to other formats do you get the same issue? (I know Camtasia at least comes with their own player and you can export with that.)
          Are you exporting it in the “upload me directly to YouTube” thing? (I don’t know what it is called exactly.) Or exporting to something else and then uploading?

          1. White Mage

            I’ve tried AVI, MPEG-4, and MOV, probably others. Never directly to YouTube, always as one of those types of files because we use them for other purposes outside of YouTube. Every time the quality is bad.

  32. Academic transition?

    Three related questions:
    1) I’m finishing up my PhD and applying for a non-academic job that was posted (on the premise that you get to pick 2 of 3 (people, place, position). The post isn’t too much of a stretch (a bit of a third sector / academic hybrid) and I have good academic experience with public engagement etc. I study how rival chocolate teapot makers / makers in different contexts market their teapots, this agency studies tea drinkers generally – what they do, how they think, etc. How do I address this in a cover letter? Most people within the organisation have advanced degrees if not PhDs so maybe it is self-explanatory?

    2) How do I broach this with my supervisor? I love academia – like the research, love the teaching but I have a husband, and a cat, and baby plans and I can’t imagine sacrificing everything for a series of short-term positions all over the country.

    3) I’m actively TTC. In the unlikely scenario of getting babied up + getting the job, what do I do? I’m in the UK so maternity leave is a longer process although my partner should be able to take quite a bit of time paid.

    1. Lady Kelvin

      In reference to #2: I think most PhD advisors understand not wanting to go into academics given the current state of lack of tenure track positions, glut of adjunct positions, lack of job security, etc etc etc. So I wouldn’t worry about that at all. Of the five PhD students in my group, I think 1? maybe going into academics, but at undergraduate schools rather than large research schools, and my advisor totally understands.

    2. J.B.

      If you do conceive, the usual advice is to bring it up to your boss when you know (or after the offer is made) and proceed from there.

    3. Nancypie

      RE: number 3, you have no idea how long or short TTC may take, so just proceed as if you’re not, and definitely don’t put things on hold for the just in case.

    4. Tau

      So the way I did this when I switched fields post-PhD was:

      – have an explanation for why I wasn’t going to continue in academia. This most likely shouldn’t go into the cover letter, but I might still make a short mention of “having decided not to continue in academia” or the like to stave off the worry that you’re just looking for a job to tide you over until you can get a postdoc. (I also think I was too negative and too detailed about this sometimes in interviews – brief is good.)
      – have an explanation for why I wanted this career in general and this job in particular. Again, convincing people that I was genuinely invested in this new career path and not just picking any old thing while waiting for a postdoc to appear. It helps if you can tie in your explanation for why you don’t want to continue on in academia to why this job/this career is so much more like what you want out of life.
      – talk about how the skills I gained in my PhD transfer to the new job. In your case, it sounds like you can do a lot there since it’s a related area!

      How much work you have to put in to convince people that you’re for real and not just taking second choice because you couldn’t get a postdoc will most likely vary by field – it sounds like the job you’re looking at takes a lot of escapees from academia, so you might not have to do a lot at all. But it’s worth keeping in mind.

      Also, many sympathies re: the supervisor. I was very awkward about telling mine. Just remember that they’re used to it! Not all students stay in academia, and the drawbacks of the career are real and present. And at the end of the day, they ought to know that you need to do what’s best for you, not what sounds most impressive.

    5. Overeducated

      1) Just don’t talk a lot about academia even to say why you’re leaving. Talk about how you tried to gain public engagement experience and do research applicable to the sector because you were aiming for a job like this one, and be prepared to talk about how you see this job fitting into your post phd career trajectory. Basically tell your story as though this transition is a natural one and play up the continuity. If someone asks if you want to be a professor say “oh no I am much more attracted to X And y features of this role.” It worked well for me.

      2) Why broach it with your advisor before you have to? When you do I’d just go with the attitude of “here’s the plan and here’s why I’m excited .” I don’t know anyone whose advisor held them back.

      3) Don’t make plans around a baby before you’re pregnant.

  33. anon for this

    I need a little advice. I’ve had two interviews with a company for a position that would be a great opportunity for me. The second interview went fairly well, and I think I have a good shot at making the next round. However. It’s across the country. Yesterday my husband’s company rescinded their years long policy of letting employees work remotely from wherever a spouse might be. He loves his job and has no desire to leave, and I don’t want him to leave something he really likes. So no move for us. I plan to tell the company if I do get called back for another interview. However, can/should I ask about possible flex arrangements? I’d be willing to work there two weeks/month and two weeks remotely. As far as I can tell, they don’t have any employees currently working remotely. Would this be an out of line question, and if not, how do I word the request?

    1. kbeers0su

      I don’t think you can ever go wrong with asking. I would just explain that since the last time you talked your circumstances have changed- I would err on sharing exactly what happened so they don’t think you’re one of those people who waited until the late stages of a process to spring on them that you want to telecommute. Say that you’ve enjoyed talking to them, are really interested in the job, but understand that they don’t have many/any telecommuters, but you wanted to ask if it might be a possibility before you withdrawal your application all together. Good luck!

    2. Rusty Shackelford

      If you get called back I’d say something like “Unfortunately, after our last interview, my husband’s employer rescinded their policy that would have allowed him to work remotely if I moved to Greater Timbuktu to work for your company. So, unless some kind of remote work is possible, or a split between remote and onsite work, I’m afraid I have to withdraw my application.” That lets them know that you weren’t leading them on, that you’re still interested in the job, and that there are certain circumstances where it would work, but you’re not actually ASKING them. Because yeah, I do think it’s a lot to ask.

    3. Laura

      It’s certainly worth asking, especially since it’ll demonstrate your genuine interest. You’ve been put in an impossible place, and you can explain the situation to the company. If they really love you, they’ll try to make it happen!

  34. Merry and Bright

    I have an Outlook question to ask. I know stuff has come up recently about the etiquette and irritations of requesting delivery and read receipts for emails. Well, someone from senior management at my organisation sets up his emails to request a deletion receipt as in “Appollo has requested a receipt when you delete this message”. I have never had this from anyone else here or any other job.

    Out of curiosity, has anyone else come across this? And how would you set it up? This has totally baffled my whole team. We have searched Outlook Help and Google but can’t find how this is done!

    1. Jules the First

      He could be using a non-Outlook client to manage his email (naughty boy!)

      Or it could be that he’s configured all his email to send read receipts, in which case you’ll get prompted to send a ‘deleted unread’ response when you try to delete the message (if you read the message only in your preview pane, Outlook usually considers it ‘unread’ from a delivery perspective).

    2. Cloud city

      I believe it’s a quirk of Outlook’s behaviour that appears when a message was flagged for a read receipt but got deleted unread/unopened. When you later go to permanently delete the message it gives you that dialog. So there’s no specific “delete receipt” setting, and he’s not doing it intentionally.

    3. Merry and Bright

      Thank you, both of you, for answering my question. This all makes sense. Like I said above, it’s had us all really puzzled!

  35. Anonytricycle

    What do you do when your two coworkers only want to talk to you socially/go out when the other (her work BFF) isn’t there? It feels pretty crappy, though I haven’t said anything. I went to college with Sara, who started here before I did, and Betty is the older coworker in the cube next to mine. But both Sara and Betty will ignore morning greetings and go for coffee/tea/lunch together without inviting me, unless the other isn’t there. Then whichever one is there will be IMing me and stopping by my cube to fall all over herself to invite me to coffee/tea/lunch.

    I get that I’m the Work Friends Third Wheel, and that’s fine! I don’t feel the need to have a Best Friend At Work, I’m here to work not to be buddy-buddy. But it still feels rude to be ignored until it’s convenient for one of them (usually Sara) to avoid feeling lonely. (I’m of the mindset that Pema Chödrön has it right: “Loneliness is not a problem. Loneliness is nothing to be solved.”) Should I continue to suck it up and ignore the rudeness? Is there a good script for that, or to gently bring it up?

    1. esra

      I’ll be real with you, I’d probably start inviting myself, or asking to come along, to coffee/tea/lunch. I mean, they’re clearly cool with your company. If they’ve worked together longer, they’ve probably just got into a routine.

    2. Guam Mom

      I wish I had a script for you, especially with the degree of rudeness you’ve indicated, but in my experience people who can’t see that they are being rude (or possibly can see and don’t care?) are not usually receptive to you pointing it out.
      I’ve been in a similar boat for the last year or so, and have finally just come to accept that they just prefer each others company to mine. Its not really about me so much as it is about them and their preferences. It’s annoying and sometimes it stills stings a bit, but thankfully no one is downright rude to me (everyone says good morning to one another although I always initiate) and I just get on with my day. I also don’t jump at all of their “help me my BFF isn’t in for the day so let’s get lunch” invites–I go if I feel like going, and decline if I don’t. For me, people who consider me to be “Option B” aren’t exactly people I want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out–instead I’ve branched out and am working on developing friendships with other members of our larger team who I have stuff in common with. It’s slow going, but I feel a lot better about the situation overall now that I’m trying to change something I can change. I wish you the best of luck.

    3. NicoleK

      They are your colleagues, not your friends. If you’re feeling “used” then don’t engage.

    4. Kate the Little Teapot

      I think that you can ignore this if the situation is fine with you. I sympathize completely because there are a number of people in my remote office who will talk to me only if the folks they are buddy-buddy with are not around. In some cases I have decided that I simply don’t want to be “work friends” with that person.

      If it is irritating you, I’d encourage you to either find other friends in the office or start proactively asking them to lunch before they would ask each other (e.g. “Hey Betty & Sara, want to get lunch tomorrow?” at end of day). If you don’t think they are consciously excluding you, if you think it’s more unconscious, asking them to lunch regularly will eventually reprogram them into “Hey, we should ask tricycle some of/all of the time.”

      1. GovHRO

        I would say “Darn. I’m busy today. How about [insert day all three will be in.]” That should retrain everyone.

  36. Anonymous for this post

    Posting this vent anonymously just in case…

    The student interns started this week. This year we have three. On the first day one of them showed up in track pants and a basketball jersey and another wore a cutout dress under her blazer that showed parts of her back, stomach and hip bones. We’re an accounting/financial office and they were given instructions about the dress code before their first day. I clarified it with them and the next day it was jeans (dark wash so that counts as dressed up apparently) and a strapless romper.

    Romper girl asked me about being able to work from home. Jeans boy called in sick and then came in with a tan the next day and told some people about his day at the beach. Romper girl was sent home to change because she was practically falling out of her romper and she complained about the “oppressive” dress code. She also complained that there are not enough breaks in the day and both of them were upset when they found out that social media sites are blocked on our work computers and cell phones are supposed to be on vibrate and not played on constantly. Today romper girl asked about booking a two week vacation.

    The third one is great. She shows up on time, dresses appropriately, stays off her phone and seems hard working and eager to learn.

    It’s been a long week. Only 11 more to go, we’ll see if the other two last that long.

    1. jm

      Yikes. You had me at track pants and basketball jersey. Maybe hand out a brochure next year with actual photos of people in appropriate attire? It’s such a shame when internships are so competitive, and 2 out of 3 of your interns seem pretty bottom of the barrel. I hope they learn a lot working with you, and change their ways ASAP!

    2. Laura

      Are you kidding me?? Can you fire those first two? Because if that’s how they start off the summer, they have some serious flaws that I don’t think you’ll be able to correct. Yikes.

    3. Anonymous for this post

      They are college students and unfortunately it’s not that easy to get them fired. I’m not the one who gets to make that call, I only get to make recommendations. It’s so frustrating because I know there are students who want the opportunity to learn and it’s getting wasted on these two.

    4. Tex

      Fire them and tell the school/organization exactly what happened. The school should have at least minimally prepped them before sending them out into the real world (I’m assuming this is high school and not college.) I would fire them sooner than later because there are probably good kids out there that would love to take advantage of this opportunity.

      As for the students not taking it seriously, I’m guessing it’s because it’s not a paid internship and that you were assigned students rather than interviewing them. Either way, it’s a tough life lesson that they get to learn from early on.

      1. Anonymous for this post

        They are college students, although given their behavior it is easy to mistake them for high schoolers. The internships are not given through any school program, they are “independent” and the students went through the process of getting hired on their own. They are required to be students to apply but no school facilitates their applications. We do pay them and give experience, so there is an incentive for them to take it seriously. Unfortunately the two I’m having trouble with seem to think they can stop being serious now that the interview is over and they got theeoreibke position.

        1. Anonymous for this post

          Gah! Got *the* position. I don’t even know what my autocorrect was doing there.

        2. Janice in Accounting

          Oh, my. A strapless romper. I just . . .hmm.

          My suggestion would be to sit them down separately and privately and explain that in your office, there are certain expectations regarding the dress code, cell phone and social media use, and vacation time (two weeks during an internship = no), and if they cannot meet those expectations within the next week then the continuation of their internship will have to be reevaluated. They don’t know you can’t fire them yourself, and at any rate you do have the authority to make strong recommendations in that direction, so I think you’re safe to say it.

          And if they show up Monday wearing bikini tops and Uggs then please report back.

    5. Chaordic One

      I’ve been lucky that this was not a common problems where I worked, still this is never fun and I always end up feeling like a meanie on the few times I’ve had to talk with interns about this. I’ve had to have “the talk” with a male employee who did not bathe regularly and whose hair never quite made it to dreadlocks. I never said anything about the hair. Of course, it didn’t help when there were several supervisors in other departments who had similar hygiene problems.

      The worst ones I’ve had to deal with were the children of other employees. I had to have a talk with one who should have been filing (yeah, I know it’s dull and boring) and instead spent a couple of hours visiting with people in a different department.

  37. Roscoe

    This is something I was wondering about based on a question from this morning. When, if ever, is separating activities by gender ok? As a real example, my company is about 50/50 men and women (might not be exact percentages, but pretty close). On a few occasions, there have been nights when an email has gone out to all the women and they have had ladies nights where they get cocktails and go dancing. Of course not all the women go, but it is an exclusively women’s event. What does everyone think of this? Is it ok? Would it be ok to have guys nights as well? Does it matter the makeup of the company or what? I’m curious to actual opinions, not attacking or anything like that.

    1. Ad Astra

      I’m not in love with the idea of an office-organized ladies night, but it doesn’t bother me the same way a guys’ night would bother me. In both cases, it’s possible for the excluded gender to miss out on valuable professional networking, putting them at a disadvantage. The difference is that women are continually put at a disadvantage, so the impact of a guys’ night is greater than that of a ladies’ night.

      It would be better to a) organize events privately when they’re truly social in nature, and b) invite the entire office or team or whatever unit to bonding-type events.

      Even better, it helps to choose bonding activities that a variety of people are likely to enjoy. Cookouts are a better option than golf or rock climbing, for instance. It’s not always possible to find an activity everyone likes, but it helps to avoid activities that are strongly slanted toward a certain type of person (whether it’s gender-based or based on something like athleticism or strongly geared toward extroverts or what have you).

      1. Kelly L.

        I had a long response typed out, and this is better than what I was typing. Good post.

      2. J.B.

        I think that neither a ladies night nor a mans night should be a company sponsored event at all. I totally agree with your last two paragraphs. Part of the problem with this mornings post is that it was so blatant, in your face, and discussed at length at work with efforts to persuade other men to participate. It would be different if it were done totally outside of company time, even though the woman would probably still be at a disadvantage.

    2. Jubilance

      I don’t think those types of activities should be apart of the workplace, as sanctioned company events. Of course you can’t stop people who are friends from organizing their own thing, but sending out a company-wide email makes it seem like the company ok’s this.

    3. Not Karen

      As someone who is genderqueer but perceived as a woman, I am opposed to any and all gender-specific events.

    4. Lily Evans

      Ideally there would be no gender based activities in the workplace. But the, for lack of a better word, okay-ness of such events largely depends on the nuances of the situation. If the office is split 50/50 by gender and the women going to ladies’ nights are at the same peer level that’s not as bad as an office with two men where the higher up women only invite their women subordinates to social events. The second scenario directly impacts the two men’s ability to bond with their superiors, while the first situation the men in the office are being left out of bonding with their women peers. But just because something is “more okay” doesn’t mean it should happen at all.

    5. Triangle Pose

      Even if your company has a 50/50 gender split, your industry could be male dominated or the management team/high level execs have a way higher percentage of men. This is very prevalent in finance, law, business, accounting, etc. To illustrate, here are more male CEOs named John than all women CEOs put together, in fact, among CEOs of S.&P. 1500 firms, for one woman, there are four men named John, Robert, William or James.

      I think it makes sense to have women’s networking events or women’s groups. The point is inclusion in the face of exclusion.

    6. Laura

      This is the 21st century. There should be NO gender-segregated events in the workplace, or sponsored by the workplace.

    7. CM

      On one hand, I agree with Triangle Pose that networking can be a necessity when you’re part of a group that is typically marginalized (and I’ve always worked in male-dominated industries). On the other, I don’t like women’s-only events that exclude men. I wouldn’t like it if there were a men’s-only event that I couldn’t attend. I prefer events that are focused on women or a minority group but allow anybody to attend. The exception is if the point of the activity is to share your thoughts on your own experiences and it would be less effective to have somebody saying, “Well, you’re accusing me of being sexist and I treat everyone the same and you’re just overreacting…”

    8. LisaLee

      I don’t think there’s a place for gender-specific events in the workplace. Of course occasionally a professional organization will do something like “Women in X Industry Night,” but I don’t think individual workplaces should do those things. It leads to a lot of resentment and inequality, and inevitably it leaves somebody feeling weird.

      I think there might be a little bit of room for individual coworkers to arrange these things, though. I feel like that’s a bit different that the company itself doing it.

    9. Ad Girl

      I am curious to see all the opinions on this as well!

      My company actually had a female-only event (that they sponsored) last month and I thought it was kind of interesting. Women’s Build week for habitat is in May, so they sponsored us doing a women’s build day on a Saturday.

      I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed it, but I kind of wondered why they didn’t just pick a weekend where it could be a regular habitat build, so we aren’t excluding anyone based on gender.

    10. Student

      It’s wrong when men do it, and it’s wrong when women do it.

      Why are you excluding the men? If the answer is along the lines of, “We expect men to behave poorly around women and alcohol”, then that’s pretty sexist. Dis-invite people who misbehave, not entire categories of people.

    11. Chaordic One

      Gee, this makes me feel old. Back in the day all of the support staff were female. Then, finally, one of the few female department heads hired a male secretary. It was a bit awkward at first, but he was a nice enough guy and was included in all of the activities that, until then, had been female only. He was the first man I ever saw invited to a baby shower for one of the other secretaries. Stuff like that. Then a second man was hired, and a third. Over time it just kind of became normal for office events to be co-ed.

  38. LiteralGirl

    I transition to my new job (within the same company) on the 13th and am scared! I’ve been in my position for 4 years and have gotten really comfortable – with the people, the work, etc. – so much so that I’ve become what I would consider a slacker. I’m looking forward to learning new things and having challenges that make me step up my game.

    1. Ismis

      I’m sure you’ll be fine – a change of scenery (even within the same company) should reset your thinking so you step up. Best of luck!

  39. "Computer Science"

    Another dollar, another day of trying tonset firm boundaries with a coworker who doesn’t seem to respect my work schedule. The third time they talked to me through their break this week, I tried to nicely remind them that this break wasn’t a shared experience (“I’d love to chat more, but my break isn’t for another hour, so I really have to get back to it.”) and they cried at the presumed rejection. They’re about 25 years my senior and going through some major life changes, and presumably looking for emotional supports, and I just can’t seem to find a direct or indirect way of making it clear that it’s not going to be me. Headphones don’t work, and I’m not able to change desks. My current strategy is to just very animatedly perform my work tasks, but it’s getting exhausting.

    Does anyone have surefire boundary-setting methods?

    1. fposte

      Yes, but they’re not legal.

      I think you’ve posted about this before, but I can’t remember–what does your manager say about this? “My co-worker cries when I tell her I have to do work instead of listening to her” is a pretty extreme situation that I wouldn’t necessarily expect somebody to fix on their own. I’m guessing there’s no place you could be moved to?

      In the meantime, I’d say it directly and let the tears fall where they may. “Jane, I can’t give you the kind of listening you deserve and still do my job, and I’m going to have to go with the job. I know that upsets you but I hope you’ll understand that I need to do the work while I’m here.” That gives you a callback of “Sorry, gotta do the job, Jane.”

      If you think she’d be receptive to a therapy recommendation, that sounds like the most useful thing.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Can you talk to her at a point where she is not taking her break and therefore not expecting your attention?
      “Jane, we need to have a brief chat. I have noticed that when you take your break you like to talk with me. I am still on the clock. I cannot take extra breaks. Additionally, I don’t think I have the life experience/other qualifications to talk about your situation with you. So not only am I not doing my job, I am also failing you as someone who could say something helpful. I am in trouble on all sides on this one. I must ask you to please stop chatting with me while you are on your break. Will you do that?”

      If she starts crying, pretend not to notice just restate, “Can you do that, please?”

      If she forgets and starts in talking with you, then say, “Uh, Jane, you said you understood that I am working now. And you agreed that you would not use your break time to chat with me because I am still on the clock.”

    3. NicoleK

      “It sounds like you’re having a tough time. Perhaps it will be helpful to speak to a professional. Here’s the number for the EAP….”

    4. Joanna

      I recently had a similar situation, although mine it was a coworker repeatedly coming to find me in the lunch-room while on my much needed brief breaks to ask questions about work processes that they shouldn’t have been directing to me in the first place. My responses were something like “Charlie, I know it’s difficult being a new person here because there’s so many things you have to learn and ask about. However, I’ve got a lot on the go at the moment so to stay sane I really do need to take a break during my break time rather than talking work. Questions like the one you’ve asked are ones you should be directing to your trainer Maria. If she can’t help you with this, come see me when I’m back at my desk.” The key thing I was trying to do was make it clear the problem was not that they had questions, the problem was the context they were picking to ask them in. I also had a brief word with his manager as I suspected if he was asking me these questions, things might not be working great with his trainer.

  40. JC Denton

    I just went through a really protracted job search. I’ve mostly enjoyed working for my current company. Unfortunately, our current division is undergoing a bit of a managerial coup because the division lead has become painfully lame (duck). Instabilities inside this division lead me to “packing my parachute” late last year. I finally got the offer I really, really wanted a few weeks ago.

    Here’s the rub. The transition to a “final offer” for this company can easily take up to six months. It’s just the nature of my industry. During that time the job may completely disappear. How do you stay motivated and engaged in your current role when you know it’s like the ship heading for yet another iceberg? I’ve fended off other opportunities, but I still do get requests to interview both internally and externally. Am I doing myself a disservice by turning these down?

    I’m also desperately trying to avoid getting sucked into the politics of the coup. I want to join and say something, since I do feel it’s a situation in need of a fix and others want me to throw in my political capital. At the same time though, I’m hesitant to stick my head out and put myself in a sore spot – especially if the other job doesn’t finally materialize!

    Penny for your thoughts?

    1. enough

      I would go with the you don’t have the job till you have the job. For companies that can take this long to finalize the hire losing the candidate is the cost of business they have to bear. And especially as you say the job may just disappear you should definitely keep looking.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I would not get locked into this one company that extended an offer.
      If you do not like the company you are in and the whole point of job hunting was to get out of the company entirely, then I would chose to look at offers/conversations about other companies.

      As far as day-to-day stuff my suggestion is to do and say the things you would ordinarily do/say if you were NOT leaving the job. This means no grandstanding, of course. And it also means remaining proactive. Offer suggestions/ideas that would actually benefit Current Job.

      On a private level, to stay motivated I would think about my resume and references. I’d try to keep myself engaged by telling myself this stuff looks good on a resume. And I’d want people to remember how professional I am so I would make sure that my actions/work/thoughts were top notch. I’d strive to end it on a high note.

  41. Aurion

    Oof. I get trying to be encouraging to people entering the workforce, but sometimes social media goes way too far.

    Saw a post on my dashboard along the lines of “don’t let old people devalue the skills you totally have. Don’t know something? Google it, and 20 minutes later you’re an expert! People in my office look at me like I’m a wizard for using italics. If you can use Photoshop to make icons of Natalie Dormer look pretty, congrats, you’re a photo editor! If you can copy/paste CSS themes into your Tumblr/LJ and change the colours, you’re a web developer! Crotchety old men devalue us superstars etc etc.”

    Now, if the post had told you to claim the web dev title if you could write the CSS to make the pretty themes, maybe they’d have a point, but it specifically said copy/paste. And using italics in a Word doc. I mean, I can do most of the stuff they listed (pretty long list), but that by no means makes me a social media manager, photo editor, web developer, or any of that because I know how to apply default filters in an image-editing program.

    I feel like these posts harm rather than help, because rather than making the readers confident, it just gives them a artificially inflated view of their skills. It was geared towards fans, and I’ll be the first to admit fandom can develop a wide breadth of skills (long time fan myself), but I don’t think that list quite meets the bar.

    Oy vey.

    1. Rusty Shackelford

      People in my office look at me like I’m a wizard for using italics.

      One can’t help but wonder where this person works.

      (Oh, hey, look. I’m a wizard.)

      1. Lily Evans

        Well, I taught a coworker how to create a Word doc the other day so I believe it. Also, my dad works in an office and I had to tell him that his emails to my sister’s teacher weren’t sending because you don’t put www . in front of an email address.

        But I’d never generalize that those things mean everyone older than me is clueless about how computers work.

      2. Ama

        Ten years ago I had a job like this (I was good at formatting tables in Word — my bosses, who were lovely people but not great with technology, thought I was a design genius). However, I knew that didn’t make me a designer, it just made me well suited to that particular job.

    2. LisaLee

      On the one hand, as someone who grew up in the computer age, I do get a bit annoyed when companies don’t seem to recognize tech skills gained off-the-job. I actually just got rejected from a job because I couldn’t “prove” that I knew how to use MS Word because it wasn’t a program I use in my current job. But obviously, as a person with a humanities BA earned in the 21st century, I can use MS Word. I know people who develop professional-looking websites for friends as a hobby, but have no real way of proving it on a resume. And I do think that there’s something to be said for being able to figure out these skills even if you have no formal training in them.

      On the other hand, this is completely the wrong way to go about saying that. The whole “old people can’t use computers!!” thing is wrongheaded and doesn’t make this person look good.

      1. Aurion

        I totally agree that one can learn job skills off the job (that’s what the whole Github and portfolio thing is for programmers, right?). But I think using “copy/paste other people’s CSS” as the bar for web developer, even a junior web developer, is far too low. If they had said “if you can write the code for making pretty themes for Tumblr”, that’d be an entirely different story. And I do feel like tweeting to your own Twitter, writing post for your own Instagram, etc. is an entirely different beast than doing it in a professional capacity. Most people don’t give too much thought to people’s personal social media accounts, but if you’re doing it as a job then you need to know how to write it so that it actually attracts views, increase brand recognition, or whatever. Doing these things professionally is entirely different than doing it in one’s personal life, even if you can learn some of the skills in your personal life.

        Man, I’m not old enough to be having “get off my lawn” moments.

        1. LisaLee

          That’s true, there are shades of these things. I think social media is one of those fields where the qualifications are going to have to get a lot more specific in the next few years–if you’ve got a personal blog with several thousand readers, how does that stack up against someone who runs a corporate blog with a hundred readers, for example. I used to work in publishing where the boundary between work and personal tasks can be VERY blurry–lots of coworkers were part-time writers, part-time publicists/editors/web designers, etc, and often we ran into the question of what qualified someone.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Companies ignoring any skill gained off-job has been going on for decades. It’s not only with computers.

        Sadly, for some employers their ONLY gauge is if someone else actually paid you to do X. If you do X for no pay, that does not count. They can only figure out if you are good at something if you can show you were paid to do it.

        Then there’s other employers that want to know what you do for fun. Someone clinched a job because of his huge model train layout. It’s not possible to wire all that without knowing anything about wiring. His example worked because of the amount of transferable knowledge he was able to describe. The pattern here seems to be if you do not get paid to do it, then make darn sure you absolutely dazzle them with what you have done and be prepared to explain how the knowledge is transferable to their work, because the bridge over will not be apparent to them.

        I leave stuff off my resume because I can’t dazzle and I can’t find a bridging path. What happens next, something comes up, I suggest this or I do that and a boss will say, “I didn’t know you had experience with x.” hmm.

  42. Anonymous147

    I just found out that my mother has breast cancer. My husband and I have been through hell over the past year—his mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and just passed away 2 months ago… So even though this is treatable, it’s still really scary news, and it’s my mother, whom I’m extremely close to.

    I told my bosses via email about it (because I work remotely) and that I’ll need to be at her surgery, and a doctor’s appointment coming up—only one of them responded… The other didn’t say a word. This was yesterday midday. However, the boss that didn’t respond to that responded to a few other task related emails very promptly, like I never even sent the email. She has seemed a little chilly towards me lately, and I’ve been trying not to take it personally, but to not say anything at all—even something like “Thinking of you”? I’m at a loss. I thought maybe she didn’t read the email, or maybe she thought he was speaking for both of them… but I would never just not respond to something like that. Do you think I’m overreacting because of my delicate emotional state?

    1. LQ

      I think some people have a really hard time knowing what to say because thinking of you feels like it isn’t enough for something that is so difficult. It might be, if the chilly has been since you said this she might just be uncomfortable and really poorly expressing it, if she’s generally good then I’d think of it that way.

      It sounds like a really challenging situation and I want to say something comforting and supportive but I’m not sure what works for you and I hope that you have the other support in your life that you need.

      1. Anonymous147

        I see your point. In the past, I’ve had a really tough time knowing what to say to others—but I’ve always made a point to say something (even if I think it isn’t good enough). Now that I’ve been on the other side of it, and am still, it just blows my mind that someone could just ignore it all together…

        She has been c0ld to me lately—the past few weeks or so, before she got this news. Part of me wonders if she’s thinking, “It’s just one thing after another—she’ll need more time off” since they gave me 3 days off to grieve my mother-in-law, which was right after a 4-day vacation by coincidence (a couple months ago).

    2. kbeers0su

      There are many of us out there who are super awkward when these sort of announcements are made. I have never, never, never been comfortable with any response that I’ve given to people. “I’m sorry” doesn’t work, because I didn’t do anything. “Praying for you” is a no go because I don’t pray. “Sorry you’re going through this” doesn’t seem supportive enough. “Thinking of you” seems vague. So sometimes silence is the most comfortable way to respond…

      And I’m sorry that you’re going through this (although I just said that I hate saying that).

      1. Anonymous147

        Thank you.

        I’ve had a tough time knowing what to say to others in the past also. I understand it’s awkward. To not acknowledge it at all is just thoughtless to me. To think of anything to email back would be better than nothing… she said something thoughtful when I lost my mother-in-law—so I know she’s capable… I realize I haven’t lost my mom, but it’s devastating news. My other boss was capable of saying something thoughtful, so it’s just bugging me.

    3. Laura

      Was your email excessively detailed? Your boss may be uncomfortable with the situation and not know what to say, which isn’t polite but it is understandable.

      1. Anonymous147

        It wasn’t too detailed. I elaborated on a couple necessary details, but I’m not sure what that has to do with making her uncomfortable. It’s not like I told her where the tumor was located or anything of the like. I think it’s rude of her not to respond, but I guess I can understand being uncomfortable.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I think that telling yourself that you are overreacting is a good default answer. Especially if everything else seems normal.

      I have buried a few people now and one thing that has helped me is to remind myself that I don’t get to pick who has what reaction. The beautiful thing about this is that I started noticing reactions from many people. So the person who I saw in passing once a day ended up showing more concern than my two bosses COMBINED. We just don’t get to pick who says and does what. (shaking my head)

      Tell yourself whatever you need to, in order to put it in the best light possible. Save the bulk of your energy for helping your mom and your family. It’s also good to remember that grief is not just for death, it is also for illness and many other sadnesses in life. Grief runs all over the map and often times comes out as anger or irritation. Oddly, the number one thing to do when we see this is to be gentle and kind to ourselves. Take care of you.

      My prayers and warm wishes go out to your mom, you and your fam.

      1. Anonymous147

        You make a good point about not being able to control how others react. Everything else doesn’t really seem normal though—she has been cold to me lately, so this compounded on top of that and made me wonder what is going on. However, this boss, in particular, can be quite fickle and unpredictable in her behavior, so it’s hard to say what’s going on with her. It could be something going on with her, and have nothing to do with me I guess.

        I agree that grief is definitely not just for death—I experienced it for the entire year that my MIL was sick, and am experiencing it now. Thank you for the advice—I can’t waste my time trying to figure her out—I have enough going on.

        Thank you.

  43. Statue of Limitations?

    Question for Alison– “If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.”

    How do you define “recently”?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Last few weeks? (I often answer questions that are much older than that, but I know it’s not reasonable to ask you to wait longer than that when it’s not guaranteed.) But also, you’re welcome to email me and ask if it’s about to be answered or not, and I can always tell you yes or to go ahead here.

    2. Bigglesworth

      Alison took a few weeks to answer my question, but she was also waiting on her lawyer contact to respond. I just shot her a quick email asking if I was in the list of questions that were going to be answered or if I should post here. She let me know that she was going to respond soon. She’s really good about letting you know if you follow up. :)

  44. Red

    Payroll question!!

    I have a salaried/exempt position (management) and also a secondary “supplemental” position (production) for my employer. The supplemental position is 0-12 hours per week, at my complete discretion, with no set schedule or minimum number of hours or anything, paid at straight time at an hourly rate on a separate paycheck from my salaried one (with appropriate taxes deducted). However, for 3 of the last six pay periods, they’ve added evening and weekend shift differentials to my supplemental hours which to my knowledge should not be added. I’ve mentioned it to my boss, who has mentioned it to her payroll contact, who is “looking into it,” but every time this happens they’re overpaying me to the tune of about $90 (since I do the majority of these supplemental hours on weekends) and none of the contact with the payroll person has mentioned paying it back, either by reimbursing the company or having it deducted from future paychecks. Who is obligated to do what here? My personal inclination is to take the overage and stick it into a side savings account, to be considered either an eventual windfall or an eventual payback, but how long do I hold onto it?

    1. LCL

      When are you working the supplemental hours? Why do you believe you shouldn’t be paid differential? How is the differential actually added to your hours-by hand like I spend hours doing, or is it automated?
      I wonder if what is happening is your time keeping is partly automated, so the computer adds differential to anyone working those hours that qualify for differential?
      I know I didn’t answer your question, I would need to know how your pay is processed to do that.

      1. Red

        I generally work at least 9 of the supplemental hours on the weekends, sometimes the other 3 are evenings and sometimes they’re also weekends, but because of my regular job (which is 7-4 M-F, give or take) all my supp hours are worked evenings or weekends. They told us (this is not uncommon in my teapot factory — quite a few of us were hourly and getting 10-20 hours of OT per week, so when we were promoted to newly created salaried positions they offered us the supplemental jobs as an option to replace the OT) that shift differentials were only applicable to primary jobs, not supplemental jobs, which was agreed to all around. Our regular salaried jobs are automated, it defaults to 8 hours per day, and we manually clock in for the supplemental positions.

        I’m not sure whether the diff is being added manually or automatically — it was added one pay period, they said “oops our bad, use this code when you clock in,” we started using that code, the next two pay periods had no diff on them, and then poof, the last two (using the same clock code) have had the diff.

    2. Editor

      I would put it aside in some way because it will have to be paid back, probably either in the calendar year or before the end of the company’s fiscal year.

      Does your employer use a payroll company like Ceridian to cut checks? If so, the problem may be that the payroll company’s software is part of the problem and it isn’t just a case of having your payroll person fixing something simple. I think you should just ask what the timetable is for paying back the overage — that shows them you are aware of having to pay it back — which means the payroll person may dread the conversation less, especially if the error was due to someone messing up rather than a software problem.

      1. LCL

        Yeah, since you all agreed to these conditions it sounds like they will ask for it back. Though the process may be so cumbersome your company may decide to fix it but not take back the overpayment. What may be happening is there is a point in the payroll process where a human looks at your pay and thinks that you should be getting the differential because of the hours that you worked so they add it.

  45. Nervous Accountant

    Perfect timing here….

    I just recently found out my company has an employee referral program. When I was a new, seasonal employee, I referred a contact who was hired FT/permanent who was a successful hire. Our HR person at the time said it didn’t exist.

    Recently found out from both my manager AND boss that referral bonus was in effect at that time, and in fact, it may be going up this year! I told them what HR told me, they said go ahead and ask the new HR person, it won’t hurt to ask. So I emailed HR and waiting on a response, I think in a very friendly and nice tone, not at all bitter or upset? But what now?

    If they refuse–can I argue my case? I’m already thinking of the counter argument (loop in my manager/boss, I’ve been here long and proved a track record of success, high performer etc, it’s a gesture of good will etc) etc? There was nothing in writing. The ONLY reason I can see it being an issue is bc I was seasonal at the time, but as a seasonal person I did get the same perks as all the FT staff at the time (a free day off, invited to the work events, etc) so I don’t honestly think it should be an issue. The HR person is new, and things are kinda diff now (I’ve been here 18 months, 14 as a ft/perm).

    CAN I argue if they refuse? If so, what do I say?

    1. Ell like L

      If they refuse, I would ask your boss about it in a neutral tone and see what they suggest on how to approach it. But arguing with a brand new HR person would not be something I would do – you really would need to think about the possible consequences of that first.

      Following up on the email is also probably something I might just pop into their office for, depending on your office culture. That would be taken as less adversarial than a formal email where I work.

      Also, I think that “argue” is probably not the approach you want to take IF you choose to appeal the decision.

    2. Nervous Accountant

      Yeah, I think argue is too harsh of a word and I def don’t intend to do that and I think my email was very nice tone, but I didn’t use it in my email wtih her promise! :)

      She did just respond back saying, it’s a brand new program.

      I’m lost now bc I KNOW this program was there before. I did CC my boss’s boss on it, and thinking of approaching her in person sometime next week, but beyond that idk what to say/do.

      1. Not So NewReader

        If they say no, just respectfully ask why. Listen to the facts of their answer. If one of the facts is in error then mention that.

        I am not sure why you cc’ed your boss’ boss. I think at this point I would just let it rest for a few weeks. HR may not know what TPTB want to do and it may take awhile for HR to extract an answer from them.

    3. CMT

      How much is the referral bonus? This sounds like one of those things that technically you could push back on, but that would probably do more harm than good.

  46. Anon Required

    I was just contacted by an old classmate because her manager is looking to hire someone who was recently let go from the company I work for. We’ll call this potential employee Susan.

    I worked directly with Susan and many employees had inter-personal issues with her. I came to find out after she left that she had been telling people I would yell/cry during our work conversations (I have never yelled or cried at work). She was one cause (there were multiple now being addressed) of a very high level of employee turnover during her time with us. On top of that, the projects that she had been managing were in a very bad state (and are still trying to recover at this time).

    The classmate asked if I could provide my experience/thoughts on working with Susan for her and her manager. I have never been in this situation before and I am not sure how to respond. This field in my area is VERY small and I do not want to do anything to jeopardize my professionalism.

    HELP!

    1. Ell like L

      I would tell the truth. This is what reference checks are for. You definitely don’t want to say something that’s positive when you don’t feel that way, that would jeopardize your reputation far more than giving an honest reference.

    2. Rusty Shackelford

      “I don’t want to get into details, but I cannot give her a positive recommendation.”

      (Assuming that’s true… personally, I don’t think giving factual details is unprofessional, but don’t do it if it bothers you.)

    3. Emilia Bedelia

      Be honest but instead of offering “thoughts”, as your classmate said, say facts. Say “several of her projects were found to be lacking, and she had many disagreements with coworkers over whatever” rather than “She was terrible and I think you’d be making a big mistake” . You never know if they’re looking for someone who’s combative and not a good manager, so give them the opportunity to decide whether they’re interested or not.

  47. anonykins

    I currently live in Astapor, on the other side of the world from my home country Westeros. I’m leaving here on July 1, and I’ve been trying to interview for jobs in various cities in my home country. I had a really great set of interviews with a potential employer, the Martells, in Dorne, which I’ve never lived in but is located in Westeros. The Martells heavily hinted they were getting ready to send me an offer, but at the last moment the HR person said that they were no longer hiring for the position due to some company restructuring. I was pretty disappointed, as this job sounded like a great fit for my skills, but as Alison suggests I moved on. I started aggressively applying for jobs in my hometown, Riverrun, because at least there I’d have some family support during my job search.

    I recently bought my ticket back to Riverrun, but now the Martells have contacted me saying they’re ready to hire for the position and were impressed by me and would like to talk to me! When we originally talked, I said I wouldn’t need relocation costs (since I was coming back to Westeros whether they hired me or not). If they extend an offer and want me in Dorne ASAP, would it be inappropriate for me to now ask them to cover the cost of a ticket change from Riverrun to Dorne? It would be at most a few hundred dollars, versus the thousand that the ticket actually cost.

    1. animaniactoo

      I think you wouldn’t be out of line to say something along the lines of “Unfortunately I had no idea this was a possibility and the focus of my search shifted, and I’ve been in the process of moving to another location in Westeros. I’d be very excited to join you in Dorne, but would it be possible for you to cover the cost of changing my existing ticket?”

      If they say no, they say no. On the other hand if they are in any way put off by that, I’d say that’s actually a company you might not want to work for – considering that they switched direction on you and should be able to acknowledge that there’s unexpected impact from that.

      1. anonykins

        Thanks for the script. I’ll try it out! I just got contacted by a company in Riverrun that also might be making me an offer in the next few days so I could have competing offers :O First time for that! So glad I’ve been reading AAM so that now (I think) I can handle it!

  48. BRR

    How much do people who work from home invest in their home office? I work from home two days a week and I feel like my setup is lacking. My employer will not pay for anything. I specifically would like a monitor and keyboard. I just don’t want to spend any money not knowing what my future jobs will be. Then I feel kind of silly because a monitor is around $100.

    1. Red

      I work from home full time and the only thing my employer provides is the computer, including two monitors. (They would also give me a keyboard and mouse, but I chose to provide my own instead.) I’ve spent probably $500 on desk/chair? Mostly the chair, because I work from a big extra-wide stuffed armchair because my dogs like to get up in the chair with me and nap next to me while I work :P

      Is it possible to go to your IT staff and ask if they have a spare monitor/keyboard that you could use for work-at-home purposes? Failing that, I personally would think $100 was a reasonable investment for my comfort, but that’s just me. (I would love to add a third monitor to my work computer on my own dime, I just don’t have enough display ports on the work box to do it. :P )

    2. SophieChotek

      I would not want to pay out of my own pocket either.

      You might be able to get a used monitor and keyboard cheaply…or ask friends if they have one just sitting around. (A family member’s workplace always sells their used monitors super cheap when they upgrade; earlier this year they sold 18 and 24 inch monitors for $10.) Sometimes I’ve heard companies and other schools do something similar–I don’t know how you find out about that, though.

      It might not be great, but if work is giving you the harddrive part…

    3. Buggy Crispino

      Is your WFH space something that plays dual duty? I don’t do it so much anymore, but when I did it I was working in one of the guest bedrooms – so I justified a tv/monitor as something for my guests. Actually kind of justified everything as guest room use: the sofa for my office was a pull out bed, the desk and chair was a place for them to sit when the bed was out, etc.

    4. A Definite Beta Guy

      I shelled out about $150 cash for an oversized monitor and wireless keyboard/mouse combo.

      Amazing. I think the monitor is 21″? Way better than a 15″ laptop screen. Well worth the cash, IMO.

    5. LisaLee

      If all you’re looking for is a monitor and keyboard, I would check around Craigslist and Ebay for deals. You can also try calling local computer repair shops, since they sometimes sell used accessories at a discount. If you’re not looking for anything fancy, there’s a lot of perfectly good used/refurbished stuff out there.

    6. teapot project manager

      I work from home full time and my company provides the entire computer, keyboards, monitors etc. In fact their policy is we must use their equipment. A coworker tried to send back monitors as she bought some nicer and larger than her work ones and they wouldn’t take them. They also psy for my internet and work dedicated land line. I buy my own furniture, chair, desk etc.

  49. SJPufendork

    I don’t know if I’m looking for advice, or just looking for commiseration, but earlier this week my company had to terminate someone on the spot for a violation of our data security policy. The violation was such that for contractual reason we had to terminate immediately. I’m the person who pointed it out (it’s my role) and the C-level folks backed me and signed off on the action.

    The manager of the dept in which the terminated employee worked didn’t tell her staff that it was a security violation. Instead, the phrasing was, “SJ said we had to fire . Not my decision or what I wanted at all.” No explanation of why I might have made the call to terminate or anything, so I’m sure it seemed arbitrary to walk out a well-liked long term employee.

    Not surprisingly, the remaining members of that dept are being frostily cordial in our interactions at best and are actively avoiding sending me material at worst (they send things now to my assistant instead of directly to me like they did before, so ultimately my work isn’t effected). I really get it because I’m sure they’re scared since their own management chain won’t even summarize the event or explain that it had to be done and all of the C-suite agreed.

    Anyway, it’s been a brutal week. I figure it’s not worth saying anything to their manager because in the end I still get what I need so the fact the interactions changed doesn’t really matter. Sound right to you all?

    1. Laura

      I agree that you shouldn’t say anything to the manager unless it escalates from here. If their attitudes begin to impact your ability to work, then go for it… but for now, just be the bigger person and continue to treat them all cordially. They don’t know the intricacies of your job, or the specifics of the violation. It’s not their business. Don’t worry about it!

    2. nonegiven

      It might be time to remind other workers to review the data security policy in case anyone else has forgotten something.

      What benefit comes from none knowing what the cause was?

      1. LQ

        I do kind of agree that people should know that data security is important enough that if you don’t follow the rules there are consequences. I don’t know what kind of training/reminders you have, but make sure whatever it is, is absolutely covered.

      2. SJPufendork

        We have training and testing once a year which is due to occur ~ 1 July. So that’s going to be good.

        I don’t understand why the manager didn’t indicate it was a data security violation. I suspect it has to do with the fact that she didn’t get a vote on the termination since it wasn’t negotiable. But that is solely my supposition.

        1. animaniactoo

          Ahhhh, that sounds like a great time when maybe you could address this yourself, or encourage it to be included in the training materials if you’re not involved in doing it yourself. Something along the lines of…

          “I give this speech every year about how important this is, but I can’t stress enough that this is taken as a very big deal. A long time employee was recently let go due to a data security violation, and I would genuinely hate to see it happen to anyone else.”

    3. animaniactoo

      I might say something along the lines of “Listen, I understand why you told people this is not what you wanted and it wasn’t your decision. However, I would appreciate it if you made it clear that this was something that Jane did wrong, and it was unfortunately a major issue and not an arbitrary minor thing that we could have chosen to overlook.”

    4. TootsNYC

      Honestly, I would take this to HR.

      Two points: (1) You have a reputation that is worth something, and you or the company ought to be able to defend it.
      (2) People need to know how serious this data security thing is. If an otherwise good employee can end up out on their ear immediately, then people need to understand the risks. Telling people she was fired for a data security issue will alert them.

  50. Lillian McGee

    Just something I’ve been pondering and interested to hear if anyone can relate.

    Mr. McGee is a career-hopper. Not just jobs–CAREERS. He spends about 1.5 years in a job in a completely different area from his last one before he tires of it for one reason or another and goes on to find himself a new job in a completely different area! I’d be annoyed if I wasn’t so impressed. How does he manage to do it?? He’s been a GIS mapper, an EMT, a firefighter, a train conductor, and now he’s going to be doing land surveying. Meanwhile I’ve been at the same organization (promoted consistently) for the last 6+ years. People seem impressed with how understanding I always am but he’s always brought in a paycheck (and usually better than mine grumble).

    This is weird, right??

    1. TCO

      My husband is similar–his careers haven’t been as varied as your husband’s (wow!) but he’s made choices and leaps I wouldn’t/couldn’t make myself. I’ve just come to have a lot of faith in his talents because it always works out for him.

    2. Crylo Ren

      Weird, but in an interesting way! As someone who is agonizing over making the first step towards a different career path (it’s tangential to what I do now, but still different), I have the same question – how does he do it? Especially after only ~1.5 years in each role?

      1. Lillian McGee

        I think he just has the kind of personality that clicks with the managers in these fields… he’s very down-to-earth and though he has a college education he prefers to work with his hands outside with blue-collar dudes so he’s got brains and brawn?? Or maybe that’s just why I married him …

      2. Jealous Job Seeker

        I’m jealous of him! And you! As someone unhappy in my current position and function and trying to switch to a related field with difficulty I wish I had whatever he has. Part of it might be that he is a he- men tend to be able to apply for jobs when meeting fewer requirements (not a slight on him) and so maybe thats part of it.

    3. Laura

      Definitely weird, but if he manages to make it work, more power to him. But typically that kind of career-hopping isn’t sustainable, so hopefully he has some kind of concrete plan for when he approaches retirement.

      1. Lillian McGee

        Thankfully, he had the wherewithal to start an IRA some time ago. A few of his jobs had 401ks or even pensions so whatever he earned in those he has been able to roll over (I think…)

    4. Aurion

      Weird and amazing for sure. How does he talk to his interviewers about his career breadth and his potential longevity in the job he’s interviewing for?

      1. Lillian McGee

        I know he genuinely thinks he wants to stay in the job for a long time. Like, he was certain he wanted to become a train engineer and retire after 30 years, etc. I have no idea if they ask why he leaves jobs… It’s usually for a pretty innocuous (but legitimate) reason e.g. on the railroad he was on call and wanted more stable hours.

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

      Does he do schooling for all of these? That sounds like it would get expensive.

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

          Interesting. GIS holds an interest for me because I’ve always been fascinated by maps. :)

    6. Ife

      That sounds awesome, it reminded me of Mark Twain and people like him who used to be a “jack of all trades”/taking the job that suited them at the moment. It’s much harder to do that now, because so many jobs want X years of experience, and the related degree, and references from the same field. You really get pigeon-holed very quickly. Just a few weeks ago I was looking for jobs that are Not What I Do Now (and which wouldn’t require Going Back to School again), and it was depressing how hard it was going to be to break into a different line of work just one time!

      1. JaneB

        My sister has been rather like this – she’s done retail, hair-dressing, store display design and promotion, been a travelling sales rep/customer care specialist (for a particular brand of collectable objects, so the job included sales to smaller shops, supporting in-store units, and running collector events, for a large territory), done marketing, worked as a valuer at an estate agents (realtors in US-speak), accounting clerk, administration, baker and cake decorator, and is currently training in her spare time to be a dog behaviour specialist/pet psychologist… I probably forgot a few things in there.

        I’ve worked in one field in academia, unless you count a few summer jobs and the like whilst I was in college, and have been in my current department/line of work for 18 years (not entirely through choice, and I really really WANT to move, but… running a job search in my current line of work within this country (elderly parents, adorable niece I need to spend time occasionally before she’s too old and cool to hang out with a dorky fat aunt, I increasingly hate flying, and chronic health issues which would probably make insurance a pain, so an international search is not really practicable) means applying for maybe one-two jobs every six months, because that’s all there is. Yeah, I need to broaden out the roles I look at – but I love the WORK, I just want to get away from my BOSS (so many problems – management by insult and by creating divisions is not something I find helpful, plus they’re less qualified for the role than I am which, fine, I don’t WANT to manage, but I DO want some respect for my skills not to be patronised and lectured about how I have to do things which I am already doing better than they were) and my current employer (who thinks boss hung the moon and are terribly fond of blanket rules to fix one person’s infraction and of reorganising repeatedly), want a change of scene and some new challenges and relationships at work… so I don’t want to change lines of work.

    7. Not So NewReader

      When he runs out of careers to try he can write a book about these experiences.

    8. TootsNYC

      My sister’s husband is a hopper–but he quits before he gets the new gig. He decides he doesn’t like that job or career, he quits, and then he starts looking.

      So if yours is always bringing in a paycheck, I’d say he’s pretty awesome. He certainly can’t be boring to live with!

  51. LawCat

    So I talked to my union and they will be helping me file a grievance at my job over a certain pay issue that has had me also looking for another job. I am not that optimistic about the grievance resolving things, but I have nothing to lose by going through the process. I found out about an opportunity elsewhere just this morning though and it is right up my ally so I am working on my application. I’d be thrilled to work at this other organization.

  52. Gene

    The hiring is moving along. Of the 12 applicants we got, 4 passed the Supplemental Questionnaire, all from out of state. That wasn’t unexpected, In state, there are probably no more than about 50 people who have experience. Since everyone has to travel for the Oral Panel, we have scheduled that for middle of July to allow for reasonable travel planning instead of a week and a half from now.

    The list of the ones who pass that goes to the Civil Service Board for approval end of the month, then we can do final hiring interview from that list. It’s taking forever, but that’s how hiring in Civil Service goes.

  53. Rebecca

    Non exempt PA office worker here. With regard to working extra hours one week, and getting out early one day the following week, to be legal, how should the company handle this?

    We are paid bi-weekly, with pay weeks running from Sunday to Saturday. So, if we work 2 hours extra in week one, and 2 hours extra in the first 4 days of week two, we can come in for 4 hours on Friday and leave @ Noon. But, our time cards reflect 40 hours for week one and 40 hours for week two, and that’s what we get paid for. I’ve been reading threads above where “comp” time should be provided @ 1.5 times the hours, since overtime hours are paid at time and a half.

    So, how should this work? 40 hours plus 2 hours OT for week one, and then 36 hours for week two? 37 hours?

    I’d like to present this to my manager, as I’m sure she is either unaware of the pay laws, or simply doesn’t care. She’s famous for saying if we don’t like how things are done, we are free to find employment elsewhere. For some reason, I still retain hope that I can make some sort of difference in our workplace. And yes, I’m trying to find another job, but in this area of the rust belt it’s tough.

    1. TCO

      You need to paid OT for any time you work about 40 hours in ONE week. This is based on your workweek, not your pay cycles. So if you work 42 hours in the first week, you need to get paid for 2 hours of OT that week. You can’t make up for it by taking off extra time the following week.

      (Comp time in lieu of OT is only legal for government workers in the US. All other employers need to provide 1.5 pay, no other options.)

    2. Oryx

      Yeah, they aren’t paying you correctly.

      Like TCO said, OT is determined by week, not by cycle. So if you worked 42 hours in a single week, they have to pay you 2 hours of OT or they can adjust your schedule and let you go 2 hours early one day but it HAS to be within that same pay week. If you don’t work for the government, comp time isn’t legal.

      They can’t combine everything into 80 hours of a pay cycle and start adjusting numbers.

      1. TootsNYC

        Your company can adjust the week to officially end on Wednesday, which might mean that if your overtime normally comes on Friday, you have Monday and Tuesday to adjust for it.

    3. Editor

      The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has a section called Labor Law Compliance with a list of General Wage and Hour Questions that says all hours over 40 are overtime hours and comp time is not legal. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get into the nuances of comp time, but you could start with a link to the page or a printout.

      Also, some law firms offer guidance on their websites. Link to follow due to moderation.

      1. Editor

        Pennsylvania Wage and Overtime Law
        Maduff Maduff, LLC — http://www.madufflaw.com/Pennsylvania.html

        The usefulness of this page is that it talks about penalties to employers and how many years back the overtime claims can go. That might be eye-opening when handed over to an employer. The page also has a paragraph on retaliation, which might inhibit a supervisor or business owner who is upset about being corrected.

        Use Alison’s approach about presenting the information by saying you are concerned about the company not being in compliance in a matter-of-fact way rather than being confrontational.

  54. NoLawNoMo

    As part of a career change I’ve been applying to non-tech (account manager/BD roles mostly) positions in startups. I’ve only ever worked in law, which means there was always zero guesswork re: dressing for interviews. However, after reading the relevant AAM thread I’m now terrified that I’ll go to interviews in a suit and automatically make a bad impression because I will be assumed to be a bad cultural fit for dressing so formally. Does anyone have any experience with startups in London and any ideas what would be appropriate to wear to an interview? Also, is it ever ok to just ask what level of formality is expected?

    1. Jules the First

      It really depends whether you’re a man or a woman and who the target client of your startup is.

      If you are a man, you can get away with a suit if it’s a really, really good suit. Skip the tie and pair it with a shirt in an unusual colour and awesome socks. The look you’re going for is successful but independent minded (no sheepie banker vibes!). If you don’t have a suitably awesome suit, you can rock a sports jacket, but go a little more conventional with what you wear underneath it. A good suit in an unusual colour or fabric will also work.

      If you’re a woman, things get a lot more challenging – I’ve done pricey dark-wash jeans with a shell, funky blazer and towering heels; I’ve done wrap dress with flats and a scarf; I’ve done a skirt suit and kitten heels with funky accessories and a wild bag…

      Have a look at the startup’s website and see what people are wearing in their portraits; check media for photos of the leadership at business events and tailor your wardroe accordingly.

      Also think about who you want to be in the startup – are you the conservative safe pair of hands being brought on to help steady things or develop risk systems? The walking little black book who knows everyone and is raising funds or profile? One of the tech team?

      1. NoLawNoMo

        Wow, thanks! Looking at photos is an awesome idea that I never would’ve come up with myself. I’m a woman so things are a lot more challenging, but I see what you’re getting at with your suggestions. I’ll go into my wardrobe and see what I come out with. Really appreciate the comment!

    2. TootsNYC

      I don’t think a suit will be that big a deal-breaker. It’s been the default for so long.

      If you get there and realize the suit is too formal, get out a scarf and tie it around your neck, or something.

    3. catsAreCool

      I don’t know about London, but in the US, there are companies where people usually dress casually, but they expect interviewers to show up in business formal.

  55. Marie

    I think I might have gotten accepted to grad school and I literally don’t know what to do with myself right now. I was initially rejected but the admissions director contacted me yesterday and said there was an error and I should be receiving an updated decision soon…

    1. Laura

      I work in admissions. You’re entitled to know what the error was– that’s a pretty huge mistake on their part. Make sure you get all the information before making your decision. You may have been conditionally accepted.

      1. Marie

        The updated decision came back and I was accepted!! I was super disappointed when I was rejected because I was looking forward to changing fields (still am), but now that I’ve been accepted I feel validated/excited but I’m still discontented. If I was accepted when I was supposed to be accepted (which was over a month ago), I would have gotten my financial aid together, I would have been applying for scholarships, and I would have probably enrolled in summer school to get a jump start on my prereq’s. I also would have had a plan on when I’d be able to leave my job. Now all the timing is all messed up. I’m supposed to start in the Fall but I don’t think that’s feasible. When I was rejected I had to move on mentally and emotionally. Now, while I’m excited to finally be accepted to a Master’s program, I’m a little bit out of sorts about everything. I definitely need to figure out what went wrong….

  56. CMT

    I have a reference question: I’ve been at my current job for two years and in that time, my original supervisor got promoted (about 8 months ago) and I now have a new supervisor. As I start looking for new jobs, can I use both of them as references, or would it look weird to have two people from the same job in a relatively short period? I also have an internship supervisor from grad school, but that was only a 3 month period 2 years ago, so I definitely want to have two other professional references from a “real” job. Thoughts?

    1. SophieChotek

      I think you could probably put Old Boss (with dates)? if appropriate? And also New Supervisor (date – present)?

      Often when job searching, one doesn’t put one’s current supervisor/references from current employer anyway.

      (I think there is a post/discussion here somewhere with what to do if you have no past references yet.)

      1. CMT

        Both people know I’m looking and are very supportive (really, truly), so I don’t have any concerns using my current supervisor. I should have mentioned that!

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

      I always put down my current manager, if they ask. Not really as a reference, but sometimes they ask who your supervisor is. I would never put down my current or former supervisor at my current company. Not sure if that’s what you mean or not? I’ve been in this role 3 years now and I’m on my fifth manager. I’m not listing all of them, that’s just crazy.

      1. CMT

        Most places ask for 3 references, so my question is more would it look weird if 2 of the 3 were from the same job, in a relatively short timespan (2 years)? They do happen to both be from my current job, but they’re well aware of my job search and very supportive, so that part is not a problem for me.

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

          In that case I don’t think it would be weird. Both of my former manager references are from the same company though one works somewhere else now. I was there for 10 years, so it’s hard to come up with others.

  57. SophieChotek

    Personal/Professioanl Bios — On Company Website, etc. – How do you feel about them?

    I know many companies do have headshots of leading people in the company, possibly with short professional profile of CEO or founder, etc. if appropriate. So maybe I’m just out of touch here.

    My boss has just decided that in the next newsletter (that goes out to customers, not internal company-wide) that he wants to feature one person in the company per newsletter, with headshot, brief bio, etc. He thinks it would add a personal touch. (I have read some similar things about this on Social media/blogs, etc. maintained by companies, etc.)

    However, I am a fairly private person (though you might not think that based on my posts here) and honestly, I would really rather not. (I don’t even put my photo on Facebook, all my personal information is not-visible to anyone including friends on Facebook, etc.) I do use my real name on Facebook, which I am starting to regret, based on things other people have said about anonymity on Facebook. (That said, I did agree to be interviewed for a blog on a subject matter I had some expertise on and that wasn’t anonymous.)

    Is this worth pushing back on? Would you?
    Or should I just grit my teeth and hope half the people don’t even open the email?
    Or am I just out of touch with norms here and my dislike of the idea?

    1. CMT

      I think pushing back would seem a little strange. Your boss probably isn’t asking for a detailed biography here. I think you could get by with a few vague sentences. Or ask to be skipped. But I don’t think the concept is weird at all, and you’re right — most people probably won’t even read it.

    2. Laura

      I would definitely push back, because I value my privacy just as highly as you do. When I came on board to my current role, I was instructed to meet with the photographer. Well, the photos were awful and I pointed out to the woman who set up the meeting that I wasn’t comfortable having my images on the website, and didn’t see why they’d be put on there since my work partner and boss aren’t. Turns out it was a scheduling mistake– there was no need to have the photos taken at all.

      Just say you have some privacy issues related to your identity, or something. I’m sure you’d have to sign a release anyway, and you have every right to not sign that, AFAIK.

      I would LOVE for Alison to do a post on privacy related to workplace issues like this!

    3. Owl

      I agree that it’s not desirable. I’ve had to do it for work, but I saw it as necessary because my job is 50% outreach into the community, so I’d like the people getting the newsletter to know my face. My bio was very cursory — worked at BigName OldJob, love my NowJob, and was asked to add a hobby, so I added a pretty common/tame one — birdwatching, which I already do. Basically, anything that was already common knowledge on my LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

    4. LL

      I don’t have an answer, but our staff page just makes me completely miserable. We had a professional photographer come this year and once again I was so uncomfortable during the photo session that it looks terrible (and not a lot like me). I’m also not working in my desired field so writing the full paragraph bio is painful. That’s on top of thinking of all the creeps I have had bad experiences with who can look me up (e.g., ex husband). Management says it is one of the most popular (by views) pages on our website. Only one person got out of appearing on it … I’d be happy if i could just be there without a photo.

      I would try to find out more about it but I have a feeling you’re also in the grit your teeth and do it boat :-( Hope someone else has some more insight.

    5. SophieChotek

      Thanks for all your thoughts so far.
      I am glad I am not alone in this idea of my dislike of it.
      I have a pretty good relationship with my boss…I might push back if I can…

    6. Lindsay J

      I would push back on this. What if someone had serious privacy issues – stalker, abusive ex, etc – where it would be a threat to their safety to have their face sent out to all the customers?

      I feel like something like this should be opt-in only.

  58. Gene

    Related to my note above, are some people just unable to follow instructions? One applicant in particular may have been well qualified and a good hire, but every question on the Supplemental Questionnaire was answered, “See attached resume.” Our instructions on the questionnaire state to answer the questions and not refer to any other document. How can one get 6 degrees and not be able to follow simple directions?

    1. Ell like L

      Yes, some people just don’t bother to follow directions.

      On the other hand though, do you /have/ to use the questionnaire? When I was job-searching things like those almost always just asked me to regurgitate info from my resume in a different format. That’s annoying and feels like I’m putting a lot of time in for a job that hasn’t expressed interest in me yet and I may spend a lot of time on for nothing.

      1. Gene

        It’s Civil Service, so yes.

        And a normal resume wouldn’t go into the detail we asked for in the questions. We are looking for very specific experience. A typical example:

        Describe what knowledge, skills, and/or experience you have in developing a chocolate teapot production QA/QC program. Include which employer where you got the experience, as well as your title, level of responsibility and length of experience.

        1. Ell like L

          Then seems like you’re screening out folks who aren’t that concerned with instructions. Win for you.

          I know it’s not something you can help because civil service, but… that seems like it should be an interview question rather than an application question. Silly.

          1. Gene

            Since it’s Civil Service, all non-exempt hiring basically goes like this:

            Entry level, low-skills position – Civil Service Test, OR Higher-skill – Supplemental Questionnaire
            The top tier of those who pass the above move to an Oral Panel
            Those who pass the Oral Panel are ranked
            The ranked list goes to Civil Service Board for certification
            The hiring manager gets a list of the top 3 on the certified list
            Hiring manager does hiring interviews

        2. CMT

          I bet this person hasn’t applied to many government jobs before, because those kinds of questions are so standard! This person probably wasn’t that interested in the job, or they would have followed instructions.

  59. Hate being a supervisor!

    How do you handle someone’s inappropriate, unprofessional attitude at work. I know we’re not supposed to be able to manage attitude and we’re supposed to manage the behavior, because it’s the part that’s observable, so should I write someone up for giving me the cold shoulder and barely speaking to me, when I can hear them laughing and cutting up with the other employees. We usually have a decent relationship unless I have to write them up for something, or even just talk to them about something…something not so serious as a write up. Then they revert to acting like a teenager with their parents, just short of slamming their bedroom door. It causes a lot of tension in the office and it really makes me dread having to interact with this person throughout the day because I get a snooty or snarky attitude. I’ve been told to ignore it by my boss and just be as professional as possible but that’s not cutting it anymore. I don’t expect this person to be my best friend when they’re mad at me but I do expect them to act professional. Is it too much to expect them to act pleasant as well?? I certainly don’t act this way if my boss has to say anything to me. I’m a grown up. I evaluate the criticism, change what needs to be changed and go on. I certainly don’t act like a petulant teenager who can’t go to the mall with her friends! Should I write up the unprofessional behavior (attitude…without calling it that) or just let it go?

    1. The Other Dawn

      I don’t know that I would write someone up over this, but I’d definitely sit the person down and tell him that part of this job is being able to accept feedback, whether it’s good or bad, and that you need to see an immediate improvement.

    2. fposte

      It depends what they’re doing. They don’t have to laugh and chat with you after they’ve been written up, even if they’re doing it with other people. They do have to be civil and be communicative when it’s required and remain pleasant in expression.

      So are they failing to respond when asked questions? Turning away with crossed arms when you talk? What specific behaviors (yup, that’s still what we’re talking about) are a problem here, how long do they last, and what do you want to see instead? You can absolutely coach on response to feedback–Alison has at least one and maybe more posts on that–you just need to be specific and clear. (But also make sure that you’re not just reading a day of embarrassed avoidance as hostile–a specific behavior with you, not just a contrast of behavior with colleagues, is what you need to identify.)

      1. Hate being a supervisor!

        The “day of avoidance” lasts a week or more..no joke…. every time I have to say something to them. It’s more the silent treatment unless spoken to. And maybe hearing the normalcy down the hall, makes the silent treatment even louder. I agree with you that they don’t have to best friends, but I do feel the hostility toward me specifically… (it has also been directed at other people when they’re mad at them) I think I’m just having a hard time verbalizing what I expect in this area. I know how I act when critiqued and I expect the same. This individual takes everything as a personal attack and turns it around to make you feel defensive for trying to do your job. This isn’t the first time. I’m just getting tired of it. Thank you for your feedback.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Silent treatment. I have no patience for that behavior. I had a coworker do this to me. It reminded me of stuff my family did.

          Anyway, here is what I would do. State that you notice there are times that she only speaks when you initiate a conversation. Let her know that you have observed this behavior for a period of consecutive days and sometimes longer than a week. Tell that two way communication is expected on daily basis. Give reasons, you need her to update you on her work, she needs to receive updates from you, etc. Therefore it is an essential part of the job that she be able to initiate a conversation with you at all times. If she is not able to this then she is failing to fill one of the basic requirements of the job. Her failure to communicate with you on a daily basis will lead to [fill in with appropriate action from you]. You expect to see no further instances of failure to speak with you.

          Okay. Let me take my gloves off here. This is BS and it’s bullying. Do not tolerate it. Explain to her that any job anywhere will absolutely require her to take constructive criticism in a professional manner. Tell her she will not make it in the work world if she cannot learn to handle issues that come up. If you feel the need suggest EAP or other counseling.

          I am sure she has standard one-liners she is using on you when you try to discuss things with her.
          If you want, throw a couple at me and I will type some replies for you to consider using. I will check for you tomorrow.

    3. The Butcher of Luverne

      Lots of times Alison will say that employees need to be told “You need to be professional, civil and responsive to your coworkers at all times. Can you do that?”

  60. Ad Astra

    Does your company do “summer hours”? Mine just introduced something similar, but it’s only every other week and every employee is supposed to pair up with someone of the same function so they can alternate weeks. They also have to work a full 40 hours that week, and something like 30 or 35 of them have to be billable.

    Not surprisingly, some employees are jazzed about the new policy. Those who don’t have anyone in the office who shares their function, and those who typically bill less than 30-35 hours a week, are… not thrilled. Oh well.

    1. Tris Prior

      Ha, I was coming here to post basically the same question: Ours does, and there are lots of rules. We don’t formally pair up with someone, but there are rotating schedules as to who gets what alternate Friday off. And we have to work extra hours every non-Friday to earn the days off. (If we take a sick day, then we forfeit the Friday.)

      I preferred how a previous company did it: in the absence of any pressing deadline, just leave at 2 every Friday, no need to make up the hours elsewhere.

      Meh. I’m fortunate that my job rarely requires OT, I’m pretty much useless after an 8-hour shift, and I’m not that eager to work longer days so I can get alternate Fridays off. But, one of the rules is that everyone in a department has to agree unanimously whether to observe them or not, and everyone else wants them, so.

      1. Ad Astra

        Yeah, as much as I’m feeling left out because I won’t get to use this perk, I’m glad I’ll get to keep my weekday evenings intact.

    2. Triangle Pose

      Yes – one of my favorite things about my new job! We have summer Fridays – you can choose 8 of the 13 Fridays in the summer and leave at noon. You just have to be full time and not have document performance issues. It’s great because there are a lot of holiday weekends in the summer where the office closes at 2pm anyway, so it’s almost all summer!

  61. mazzy

    Does anyone have coworkers with MBAs for jobs where they aren’t required? I’m wondering if MBA programs inflate the importance of degrees in the work world. One of the MBAs has a definite sense of entitlement and thinks they should be higher up than they are without any good reason – not effort or skill. It’s confusing. I never thought I should get a promotion or being able to leave early or get a bonus or do personal stuff during the day just because. There had to be a reason, and you didn’t take advantage of all benefits at once. I’m wondering if maybe MBA programs make it sound like the degree will automatically put you above other workers and somehow exempt you from nitty gritty work in the work world?

    1. Ad Astra

      Yes, I think MBA programs inflate the importance of degrees in the work world. The people I know personally who have MBAs are nice people who don’t have a strong sense of entitlement because that’s just not who they are; but I do think they see their MBAs as a more powerful credential than they really are.

      There are industries where credentials mean everything, but you’d probably know if you worked in one of those industries.

    2. Laura

      Definitely. My work partner just completed her MBA. She has no management experience and went straight into the program after her undergrad because “it looks good.” Now she’s having a hard time applying to jobs because she is now overqualified academically, but underqualified experience-wise. It’s really sad.

      1. BRR

        Hit submit too soon.

        It’s whether people drink the kool aid. My husband recently finished his PhD in a humanities area and has been applying to some NGO research jobs. He considers his dissertation research as work experience and has been applying to positions that are a little out of reach for his qualifications. He doesn’t understand that the research he has done has not been for other people/assigned by other people which is the experience the people who get these jobs have.

        1. Tau

          I remember when I was job-searching post-submission, a lot of people around the department were shocked that I was applying for graduate scheme, entry-level jobs. “But you have a PhD!” Well, yeah, but that’s not work experience and my PhD isn’t relevant to any non-academic job. My work experience put me solidly in new grad territory, as much as it dented my pride to apply for the same jobs I could have applied to straight out of undergrad. But it would have dented my pride more to get rejected from jobs I wasn’t experienced enough for, or to end up in a job beyond my skills. The worst thing I could have done is listen to those people.

          You *can* make an irrelevant advanced degree work to your benefit, but that’s not about the sort of jobs you apply for, it’s figuring out how to transfer the skills to make you a better and more successful candidate. So I ended up applying for the same jobs I might have out of undergrad… but I’m not sure I’d have *got* the job I have now straight out of undergrad, and I am pretty sure undergrad!me wouldn’t be getting the glowing performance reviews I am now. Independent work, perseverance, technical writing, logical thinking and problem solving, abstraction – a lot of the skills I honed in the PhD are really beneficial in my job. But that translates to a faster trip up the career ladder (I hope so, at least!) not getting to jump rungs at the start – and it’s about proving my ability at the job I have, not about the fact that I can call myself “Dr” and most of my coworkers can’t.

          (Disclaimer: results may vary depending on your PhD and your chosen career path. I went pure maths -> software development, which has a pretty big skill overlap.)

          1. Overeducated

            I do think someone with a PhD isn’t going to have much luck competing for the very same entry level jobs as new college grads (in many fields anyway). The sweet spot for me was jobs that required a master’s, where I could play up my part time work as experience and present the most relevant aspects of my research as a bonus.

            1. Tau

              Yeah, this may vary a lot depending on field. In my case, all the non-entry-level jobs in the field I was going for required experience I genuinely didn’t have, and my research is completely irrelevant to anything outside academia (as well as being absolutely incomprehensible) so I couldn’t use that as a selling point. It’d probably have been different if I’d done any programming for my PhD, or if I was going for a teaching-type position where I could have leveraged my tutoring experience.

              I did get the impression a lot of jobs I applied to were nonplussed by the PhD and viewed it as more of a potential detriment, but not all of them. There’s employers out there who will see some value in it, or at least are willing to be convinced.

    3. So Very Anonymous

      I used to have a colleague who definitely inflated the value of her MBA. She openly looked down on and spoke negatively of other (perfectly qualified) people in her area who didn’t have one. She also spoke of the MBA constantly as being the equivalent of a PhD and wanted to be degree-snob pals with me (I have a PhD). I stayed as far away from her as I could because I did NOT want to be associated with that level of arrogance and entitlement. Some of that was just her personality, but she definitely channeled it through I Have An MBA.

        1. So Very Anonymous

          I wondered the same thing! I think she viewed it as a terminal degree? Which was pretty funny to me given that my dad has a PhD in a business-based discipline and taught MBA students in his university’s business school for decades. — I didn’t tell her that, though, because I really just didn’t want to engage her on the degree thing at all.

      1. periwinkle

        That reminds me of one of my favorite TV commercials from FedEx…
        https://youtu.be/NcoDV0dhWPA

        My boss has an MBA. My mentor has one. If I threw a paper ball in any random direction from my cubicle I would probably hit someone with an MBA. The company pays graduate tuition (and undergrad) so anyone who wants to earn one has that opportunity. Around here an MBA is NBD, it just means you’ve advanced your knowledge to be more competitive (but definitely not superior).

        1. the gold digger

          There was a woman I worked with whose email auto-signature included “MBA,” that is, she was Shavon Smith, MBA.

          It wasn’t even from a top-20 school.

          I wanted to email her back and say, “You know MBAs are a dime a dozen, right? Even I have one! Only mine is from a good school.”

          I know. Bitchy. But fun to contemplate.

    4. Master Bean Counter

      Some of it’s the marketing of the MBA. Nobody would spend the money on the programs if they didn’t think it would lead to more money down the road. And it does, eventually. But first there must be some experience to go with that degree. Schools aren’t great on explaining that.
      But some of it is that the MBA programs also attract self important blow-hards. These people will be entitlement minded blow-hards in any situation, but the MBA gives them extra wind to blow with.
      The reality is that most MBA holders are nice sensible people. But this isn’t widely known as these types are quietly doing their work and the work of the blow-hards.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I think it speaks of the person not the degree. I know people with masters that are unbearable. I knew one person with a doctorate who could not fix himself a bowl of cereal and milk. He did not know how. It had nothing to do with the doctorate and everything to do with the person. Sadly, he sincerely believed everyone else would fix the cereal and milk for him. (yes, real life example. Actual cereal. Actual person.)

      I will say, I think that it requires some belief in one’s self to go after a higher degree. So perhaps this is a chicken and egg question. Did his belief that he is better than others drive him to get his degree as proof? Or did his degree encourage him that he was better than others? Maybe a mix of both? Just my personal opinion that some people have an inflated sense of self worth period.

      1. So Very Anonymous

        Definitely agree that some people just have an inflated sense of self-worth. I got a PhD out of interest in the field and desire to teach in it (whoops! hello, terrible job market!) rather than some need to prove that I was better than other people. Well, OK, I did also want to prove to a specific jerk boyfriend that I could get into grad school when he couldn’t. But other than him, it wasn’t really about thinking I was superior to anyone else. But I definitely have met a lot of arrogant people with PhDs along the way. (That boyfriend got a JD, which I’m sure has given him plenty of opportunities to be a jerk to other people.)

        1. Chaordic One

          I used to work at a company where several our clients were lawyers. The work didn’t involve anything legal and their being lawyers was just sort of incidental. Anyway, I was scolded because I did not include “Esquire” on envelopes and on the mailing labels for packages of documents I had to send to them. They complained about it.

  62. special snowflake

    Do you notice if someone’s clothes are too big at work? I’ve lost quite a bit of weight in the last year an but I’m still losing and have a ways to go so I’ve been trying to make my current wardrobe last as long as possible. I wore a brand new dress earlier this week followed by a dress I bought before I started losing weight and thought I looked horrible.
    Would you notice (and judge) someone for not replacing their too big things right away? I’m worried it looks bad and I’m not realizing it because I don’t spend all day looking at myself.

    1. SophieChotek

      I think it depends on the office culture and how casual the office is.

      I can certainly understand not wanting to invest in clothes before you’ve reached your goal weight, though.

    2. The Other Dawn

      I wouldn’t judge. Not everyone can, or wants to, go out a buy a new wardrobe all at once.

      I went through this (I had gastric bypass) and I waited until it was really, really obvious that I needed new clothes. The weight came off really fast and I didn’t want to keep buying clothes. What I did was to buy just an item or two at a time and mix them in. Like a new top with an older, bigger skirt that I pinned. I think this works when you buy separates. But, yeah, at some point it just gets to be ridiculous-looking. That’s when you need to buy some new stuff.

    3. HeyNonnyNonny

      I’ll be honest, the only time I ever notice coworkers’ clothing is when I think it’s cute or if I recognize it. And if I recognize it, it’s only to feel better about how I always were the same 4 tops over and over.

    4. Anne

      Maybe wear the biggest clothes on days with no meetings where you will just be at your desk most of the day.

    5. blackcat

      Can you strategically safety pin some things to bring them in a bit tighter? Or use a basting stitch? I don’t know if you (or a friend) is handy with a needle and thread, but there are temporary ways to bring in waistlines of pants & shirts that look ok. Basically, follow the existing seams and try to tighten them all up by the same amount.

      1. Redrum

        When I was losing weight I would buy a few things at consignment stores or Goodwill just to get me by because I didn’t want to invest money in clothes I wouldn’t be wearing very long. I got hooked on consignment shopping!

    6. First Initial dot Last Name

      Consider having some of your favorite items altered to fit. Making something smaller is pretty standard tailoring that can be done by a dry cleaner, if they have a seamstress, if they don’t look for someone to do alterations. Skirts, blouses, and dresses may be simple fixes, pants might be slightly more complicated depending on their fit.

      1. Ife

        I am a big fan of altering clothes and I actually took a class to learn how to do it myself! But I would only pay to have it done it for items that I really loved, because it’s almost as expensive as buying new. I looked into it, and where I live it’s in the $10-20 range just to have a pair of pants hemmed. Hemming is easy, so I can imagine that taking something in would cost at least as much.

    7. special snowflake

      Thanks everyone!
      I hadn’t thought about tailoring things so I will definitely look into that. It’s also reassuring that others might not notice!

    8. Rebecca in Dallas

      It depends on how big it is. I had to talk to a direct report once because she was losing weight (hooray for her!) but it was making her pants sag so much that she was almost breaking dress code. (We were in a customer-facing role.) So she got some inexpensive pants in her new size to hold her over, I think there were a couple of pairs that she could add a belt to to keep them from slipping too far down.

      For dresses, getting them taken in shouldn’t be very expensive. Or you can even hit up a resale/thrift store for a few basic pieces to wear in the meantime. And start selling some of your old clothes, too!

      Congrats on the weight loss!

    9. Not So NewReader

      I went from a 24 down to an 8 and it took 20 years. The last leg of the journey was size 16 down to 8. I ended up buying a few new things for every other size that I lost. So I would pick out 4-5 things I thought looked the worst and replace those with the new items. I think as long as you seem to be doing a little bit now and again, no one really notices. They will notice your changes in your face much quicker than loose clothes.

      I put some stuff in a consignment shop and some stuff I re-purposed. Tee shirts became sleep shirts. Old jeans were used for painting. At one point a family member had a bag of clothes that she passed around. The idea was you put in what you did not need and took out what you wanted. The bag could come back to you and have totally different things in it several months later.
      The only thing I would have changed in this whole mix is I would have bought more clothes from the consignment shops instead of holding out for new stuff. It would have made it a bit easier if I could see my own success more frequently.

  63. DTK

    Hi all! Question about salary negotiations and promotions.

    I was recently offered a promotion that was a big step up from where I was- I bypassed two or three other levels to get to management after only being with this particular company less than a year.

    I’m very excited about the new job and love my company, however, the raise that came with this new job is significantly less than I was expecting. I know that our company pays below the industry average for many positions, but I’m only making an extra $5k a year now for a much more senior position. I’m wondering if this is normal, or something I shoudl try to negotiate more for? It doesn’t all kick in until the fall after my probationary period, so I’m wondering if I can make a better case for more money then when I’ve proven myself a bit more.

    There’s only one other person at this company with this same job title and he’s been here for years and worked his way up from other positions, so I don’t know how much he makes and know that it should reasonably be more than me anyway. I’m just not sure how to make sure I’m getting a fair salary without seeming out of touch given how great of an opportunity they’re giving me and how little I’m really bringing to them in terms of experience.

    1. BRR

      Some companies pay internal promotions far less than market rate. They look at it in terms of “you’re making X% more” ignoring that the new salary might be $20K less than if they hired an outside person and the internal person might be mad that they’re underpaid. Do some research to figure out what the industry average is for your postiion and place yourself towards the bottom.

  64. Ruth

    I have a final round interview for a position I’m excited about on Monday! I’m trying to prepare in advance for topics I will want to discuss if I get an offer. One thing that is concerning me is that I have two trips planned for the next few months. I’ve read the post about asking for time off between getting an offer and accepting a position, but I’m worried about coming across as entitled or flaky by asking for two separate times off.

    The first trip I have planned is to Scotland. My partner will be presenting at a conference there, and my plan was to come along. We haven’t bought tickets yet, but I am very excited about the trip and have wanted to visit the UK since I was about 8. That trip will be about a week in late July.

    I am also planning on being a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding in September. I’ve already committed to my role in the wedding, and attending is non-negotiable. However, the field that I am in requires me to work weekends, and being at the wedding would naturally require me to miss one.

    I wouldn’t be concerned about asking for either one individually, but does anyone have advice about asking for both without coming across poorly? I could give up on the Scotland trip if absolutely necessary, but I’ve been so excited about it ever since my partner’s research was accepted and would be a little heartbroken to have to stay behind.

    1. PackersFan

      I don’t think you’re going to come across as entitled or flaky. I think it shows that you have a life outside of work and that’s an OK thing. If you’re comfortable explaining what the visits are for and even that they’ve been planned for a long time a reasonable hiring manager isn’t going to have an issue.

  65. The Other Dawn

    Thanks to everyone for your feedback regarding how to word our feedback on the leadership training program at my company. Here’s the original discussion, if interested: https://www.askamanager.org/2016/05/open-thread-may-6-7-2016.html#comment-1073326

    We had our meeting with the head of training yesterday. It was somewhat productive, but somewhat disappointing. What we thought was a comprehensive program geared towards succession planning specific to our company, which is how it was originally implied, turned out to be a three-year leadership skills program. That was pretty disappointing. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s pretty redundant for the seasoned managers who have been around a long time. Not that we won’t be able to take something away from it, but it’s pretty remedial for a lot of us. We came away with a better understanding of why there was a such a diverse mix of people (some had no direct reports, some were new managers and others have been leaders for many years). I stated that it seemed that the first year of the program could maybe be condensed into one longer session spanning a couple days, and they could send the new managers, or those without direct reports, to that. We made some other suggestions about possibly adding panel discussions with the executives, sending out higher level articles in between sessions that pertain to the industry (right now it’s just leadership articles or a rehash of the previous session), and possibly adding another session or two during the year to make it more intensive.

    I’m hoping that they take some of our suggestions, because I’m not sure I can handle three years of plain old leadership training.

  66. Bridge and Tunnel

    I started a new job 5 months ago in NYC. I moved out to the mid-atlantic for a job in central New Jersey 2 years ago and didn’t think about the long term. There are few jobs in my field where I live and it was time for me to move onwards and upwards so I looked in NYC as a large number of people in my area work in the city so I thought I could do it too.

    Well I hate it. I work from home part time but the two or three day a week I have to go up to the city are life draining. It’s about 2 hours each way. I hate having to get up so early and getting home so late. I hate how competitive I have to be to get a seat and to get to my car in the evening so that I don’t get stuck in the parking lot. I hate having to be stuck around so many people.

    Now finally to the question part. Any advice on how to make this better? I can’t work from home any more than I already do. I can’t look for a job yet because I need a longer tenure on my resume plus there aren’t many in my area. I already have a great set of headphones. I’m set on entertainment. I utilize music, podcasts, audio books, ebooks from the library, or videos. I can’t work on the train to shorten the time I spend in the office. Thank you all for your help!

    1. 39281

      Maybe not what you want to hear, but the only think that made living in NYC bearable for me was moving closer to work – I went from a hour commute to half and hour and it’s changed everything. Worth the increase in rent, for me.

      1. Bridge and Tunnel

        That’s what I would love to do but unfortunately my spouse is also in a niche industry and has a job really close to where we live. If we moved it would either transfer the awful commute or give both of us hard commutes. When you add in that rent is cheaper here plus some other things, there’s not enough there to support a move closer to the city. Thank you for replying. I appreciate the help.

        1. nonegiven

          What if you compress your in office days so they are consecutive and rent a bedroom from someone and spend a night or two in the city every week?

    2. Nancypie

      I wonder if you could split the rent on a studio somewhere like Sexaucus Xchange with someone in a similar position, using it on opposing days? And go home on weekends? I guess that would be too expensive…

    3. Another commuter

      I am a little late on this week’s thread so I hope you see this. I am also a relatively new commuter from NJ to NYC. Nothing really shortens the time. It sucks. Have you looked into if there is a coach type bus that goes from your town or an adjacent one?

      When I first started working in Midtown I was taking the train from NJ. One day I decided to try the bus after I heard about a few people taking it. Although it didn’t shorten the trip, the fact that there were fewer people made it calmer, the parking was cheaper and more easily accessible and safer (there was a weird setup at the train station). Most people, honestly, slept. It was much quieter than the train.

      Also, in my case, I was the fifth stop on the train but the first stop on the bus. Although the time is the same, knowing I am getting off at the first stop was so nice. Even though we are the last stop to be picked up in the morning, most of the time there are enough seats for everyone and the busses come every half hour.

      It’s not a perfect solution but may be slightly more tolerable. I would say you might want to try it for a few days, if there is something similar. I don’t know where you are, I use Lakeland bus lines if there is a stop near you but I know there are other companies and setups. Good luck!

    1. fposte

      This confused the heck out of me until I realized it was a response to an earlier question :-).

  67. IANAL (I argue nightly about llamas)

    Hey all! I’m looking into finding a job in the nonprofit side of things, but I’m not 200% sure that I will actually make that move. However, I’m also planning to go to law school part-time (probably 1-2 classes a semester) within the next 18 months or so (depending on whether or not a couple schools will ever give me an answer on my application…grr!). I plan to go into disability and civil rights law, so it’s related to certain nonprofits and their missions. I also plan to work full-time or almost full-time while I’m in school, so it won’t affect my work too much.

    Basically, do I bring this up at interviews, since I don’t have a definite date on when I’m going to school yet? And, if so, when/how do I bring it up?

    1. Lillian McGee

      I wouldn’t, unless you are applying for a part-time position. If it’s FT, they will be afraid that you won’t be able to handle work and school simultaneously but if PT, they might be relieved that you’ll have something else to do and won’t be looking for a FT position.

      1. Lillian McGee

        For context, I am the office manager at a nonprofit law firm. We probably would not hire someone we knew was planning to go back to school at some nebulous point in the future. However, if you started school while working here and it didn’t interfere with your work, then there would be no problem!

    2. Laura

      Don’t bring it up until you’ve paid your enrollment deposit and are FOR SURE going to law school.

  68. twbb

    Are social workers at a NPO considered professionals under the overtime exemption law? I’m negotiating pay right now at $35-40K salaried for a job that’ll definitely have overtime and am wondering if it’ll be a moot point come December.

      1. fposte

        They count as “learned professionals,” but under the section that still requires the salary meet the threshold. Teachers, doctors, and lawyers do not have to have their salary meet the threshold to be exempt.

        1. MMSW

          Have been wondering the same thing. Am feeling very frustrated with clinical social work at the moment partially because of pay like that. If you require a MSW and license you need to be paying way over $40k. Good luck. Any advice on how to negotiate pay based on upcoming changes to overtime?

        2. twbb

          So, the salary will have to be bumped to $47k in December? Then any overtime will not be paid because it’s still an exempt position? Thanks for helping me wrap my head around this!

          1. fposte

            Not quite :-). They *can* bump salaries to $47k if they want to keep exempt status for these jobs–but they can also keep the pay at $40k and treat the position as non-exempt, either by refusing to allow overtime or by assuming a certain percentage of OT and factoring that into the $40k.

        3. Lady Kelvin

          What about postdoc? Most postdoc positions pay less than the threshold but expect you to work way more than 40 hours a week. Or are PhDs considered learned professionals? Or are they different because they are paid by grants and fellowships?

          1. fposte

            My university’s still figuring that one out. I think the short answer is that it looks like it would apply to non-teaching post-docs, but that universities are trying like hell to find out a way that it wouldn’t.

    1. B-Bam

      Under the current law, I think some social work positions could be classified as exempt. Under the new law, they’d need to raise you up to the $47k mark to make that classification stick.

      1. fposte

        Just to be clear, it’s the same law–they’ve just changed the exemption threshold. Nothing else is changing.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’ve seen this confusion several places, so to clarify: Even if you are considered a “learned professional,” you still need to meet the salary threshold to be exempt (unless you are a doctor, lawyer, or teacher). If you are any other learned professional (or any kind of worker), you are non-exempt unless you’re making $47,476 or more (as of December 1).

  69. NK

    Curious from people who have experience with this – how important is it really to have great references? My husband is at a struggling start-up that is in all likelihood either going to get sold or close by the end of the year. We have a baby on the way so he is aggressively job hunting. Yesterday, his boss made a comment to him that if he “bails”, he can “kiss any reference goodbye”. Honestly, my husband’s role is not critical to the business (one more reason he really needs to be looking), and boss just doesn’t want to have to take on his tasks if he leaves. It’s an insanely selfish position he’s taking.

    It’s upsetting that he’s now going to leave this job without a reference, especially how much you read on here about how important they are. And his prior boss (at a big corporation) had mentioned several times (both in the context of my husband and other employees) that he can only verify employment and will give no other reference info per company policy, even though he really liked my husband. So he now has no good references from his current and most recent former employer. Is this a terrible thing that will hold him back? Or is it not that big of a deal?

    1. Crylo Ren

      Your husband’s boss sounds like a jerk.

      Does your husband have no other colleagues from this job or other employers that could provide references? Not all employers ask only for supervisor references (in fact, in my experience I’ve been specifically asked to provide both supervisor and peer references).

      1. NK

        He definitely has good references from colleagues and freelancers he worked with, so that is an option if he has the opportunity to provide non-supervisor references. He’s had two prior jobs to the ones I mentioned; unfortunately his boss from the job before the last one happens to be on the board of his current company, and the job before that was his first job out of college, lasted a year, and was eight years ago. That boss will give a good reference but I don’t know how much weight it would carry given how long ago it was and not terribly long in duration. Which also makes me wonder how people handle this who have been at companies for a long time who don’t wish to disclose to anyone there that they’re looking. This issue can’t be all that uncommon!

    2. Laura

      Screw that boss! What a jerk. Your husband should mention when asked for references “My previous managers can only verify employment due to company policy, not attest to my work. I’d be happy to offer former coworkers who can speak to this, though.” And then provide those coworkers. It’ll be fine.

      1. NK

        Thanks. The more I think about it, the more I think this situation can’t be all that uncommon for a variety of reasons. And luckily he does have coworkers who can be good references.

        1. Wheezy Weasel

          It also may be likely that your husband’s boss won’t be working there much longer if it’s a startup, and none of my jobs have put in the effort to track down former bosses who have retired or moved on. His experience might be different, but a diligent hiring manager might speak to a former supervisor if they’re immediately available, but I doubt many of them want to do detective work to find them. I know Allison would track them down, but my experience has been with less diligent folks :)

  70. NJ Anon

    Hi All! Will be interviewing for a position that I would love to have. I want my enthusiasm to come through but is there a danger of over doing it?

    1. Ell like L

      Totally. Be genuine, but don’t try to push the enthusiasm to show or else you risk coming across oddly.
      I’ve interviewed people who were SO over the top thankful to interview or seemed SO peppy that I worried about them a little. If you are genuinely enthusiastic, be specific about why that is and it will come through on its own :)

      1. NJ Anon

        Thanks! I do have reasonsurgery for being enthusiastic but don’t want to come across as a huge flake!

  71. JK

    Hi Everyone, can I conduct an informal poll? My (massive federal government) office doesn’t have kitchen facilities, and it drives me nuts. So I’m wondering:
    1) In your workplace, do you have access to a refrigerator and microwave?
    2) In your workplace do you have a place to wash dishes other than the bathroom?
    3) What type of environment do you work in? (e.g., office, restaurant, factory, etc)
    4) How big is your workplace?

    1. Not Karen

      1) yes
      2) yes, kitchen sink and a dishwasher (last job just had a sink)
      3) office
      4) don’t know the square footage, but 140 employees

    2. NylaW

      1. Yes, both.
      2. No.
      3. Healthcare but non-patient/clinical. Most patient care areas have a full breakroom with kitchenette.
      4. 1500 staff.

    3. Gandalf the Nude

      1) Yes to fridge and microwave, also oven/stove, toaster oven, coffee, keurig
      2) Yes, kitchen sink
      3) Office
      4) ~40 people, but we have three buildings and full kitchens in each

        1. Gandalf the Nude

          This was important the day I had to have 20 baked potatoes ready for a community dinner after work.

    4. HeyNonnyNonny

      1. yes and yes
      2. we have kitchen area sinks
      3. also a fed govt office
      4. our office has about 200 people, but we share our building with many other offices

    5. Aurion

      1. Yup
      2. Yup, kitchen sink
      3. Wholesaler, so I have a warehouse and an attached office
      4. No idea about square footage, but we have 18 employees.

    6. The Other Dawn

      1) In your workplace, do you have access to a refrigerator and microwave? Yes, both. Three microwaves and two fridges. We could use another fridge, though. Or people could stop shoving their giant lunch bags into the fridge when all they have is one item that needs refrigeration.
      2) In your workplace do you have a place to wash dishes other than the bathroom? Yes, the cafeteria.
      3) What type of environment do you work in? (e.g., office, restaurant, factory, etc) Office
      4) How big is your workplace? About 150 employees in this office.

    7. White Mage

      1) Yes (one fridge, three microwaves)
      2) Yes, two sinks (unfortunately no dishwasher)
      3) Office
      4) Not sure of square footage, but we have 25 employees.

    8. Jennifer

      1. yes.
      2. no.
      3. office
      4. not that big, but I couldn’t give you square footage space. We have a small “break room” that isn’t really one where you can hang out and eat (doesn’t even have a table any more).

    9. 39281

      1) yes – we have a small room (maybe a former closet?) with a fridge and small table. There’s also a alcove along the hallway with a sink, microwave, and cabinets (mostly with random mugs, vases and one million large and useless cooking utensils)
      2) yes
      3) office
      4) 12 people

    10. Chris

      1)Yes- 3 fridges, 3 microwaves
      2)Yes, but just a free standing sink. No space to dry anything.
      3)Retail
      4) 240,000 sq foot/ 400(?) employees

    11. Calliope

      1) Yes
      2) Yes, kitchen sink
      3) office
      4) About 80 employees in our building (around 400 overall)

    12. Crylo Ren

      1) Yes, 3 microwaves, 2 refrigerators, and a couple of Keurigs and a separate cappuccino/latte machine on each floor. Soda dispenser in the 1st floor cafeteria.
      2) Yes, the kitchen on my floor has a sink. No dishwashers.
      3) Office
      4) Current building is 5 stories, ~500 employees. Each floor has its own kitchen and we have our own cafeteria on the 1st floor.

    13. Laura

      1. Yes, they are in a closet
      2. Yes, but it’s not close by (though in the same building)
      3. Office (higher ed)
      4. There are over 200 people who work in this building. There are at least three break rooms in the building

    14. beachlover

      1. Yes, we have 2 small kitchen areas on every floor with fridge and sink, coffee makers. Also, since we are a beverage co, we have 2 huge cold beverage coolers on every floor with all our beverages avail for employees, Microwaves are avail in the main lunch room.
      2, see #1
      3. Office
      4. not sure of square footage, but it is 6 story building – last I heard we had approx 500 at this location.

      as an extra we also have a small cafe where you can buy breakfast and lunch – and company covers half the cost to keep it pretty affordable – example Chicken wrap with Salad – $4.00

    15. Ad Astra

      1) Yes, and the fridges are generally stocked with sodas and other soft drinks, plus beer. There’s a designated fridge for lunches. We also have access to a George Foreman grill and I think there’s a toaster.
      2. Yes, and there’s a dishwasher.
      3. Office
      4. About 45 people work here, though we have the space for more than that.

    16. Elsajeni

      1) Yes, both — there’s one staff lounge for the whole building that has two microwaves and a full-size refrigerator, and most departments have a department copy room or breakroom with a mini-fridge as well.
      2) Yes, there’s a tiny sink in the staff lounge and some of the department breakrooms have their own tiny sinks.
      3) Office, university — my building houses both faculty and staff offices.
      4) My building probably houses about… 250? faculty and staff. This is a vague estimate based on trying to count the number of rooms.

    17. Emilia Bedelia

      1) Yes. It’s just a mini fridge and microwave in a corner though. There is a cafeteria and coffee/tea area so that sort of takes the place of a kitchen.
      2) sort of. There is a sink in our coffee area but it isn’t really intended for dish washing.
      3) Office with production facility on site
      4) 1500-2000 employees (some are on shifts)

    18. pieces of flair

      1) Yes, but not provided by the company (my boss bought a minifridge for our suite with personal funds and my co-worker brought in an old microwave she wasn’t using).
      2) No
      3) University
      4) Huge, but 3 people in my suite.

    19. Anon Moose

      Yes, even in small nonprofit in falling-apart offices that were converted we have those things.

    20. B-Bam

      1) In your workplace, do you have access to a refrigerator and microwave?
      Yes, in both locations I’ve worked. In one we had multiple microwaves and two fridges.

      2) In your workplace do you have a place to wash dishes other than the bathroom?
      Yes, thankfully.

      3) What type of environment do you work in? (e.g., office, restaurant, factory, etc)
      Office that serves the public.

      4) How big is your workplace?
      Around 200 people, multiple locations in a city.

    21. special snowflake

      Yes
      Yes (kitchen sink + dishwasher for more than one person’s dishes)
      Office
      13 people

      1. Bibliovore

        1) In your workplace, do you have access to a refrigerator and microwave?
        Fridge was here when I got here, I bought the microwave and hot pot with my own money within a week of arrival.
        2) In your workplace do you have a place to wash dishes other than the bathroom?
        We have a sink. I brought in the dishes, the mugs, the sponges, the Dawn, the silverware, the husband gave us the Keurig for Christmas last year.
        3) What type of environment do you work in? (e.g., office, restaurant, factory, etc) Academic
        4) How big is your workplace? 4 to 6 in my department. I am the manager.

    22. BettyD

      1) Yes to both, plus a coffee machine and an oven/stove combo. (from the 70s, but functional)
      2) Yes, kitchen sink
      3) public library
      4) 11 FT, 10 PT; 26,000 sq ft building

    23. Rebecca in Dallas

      1) Yes, we have several fridges and microwaves, plus toasters and an ice machine.
      2) Yes, we have a kitchen with a sink (which doesn’t have a disposal). We used to have dishwashers but those got taken away. It’s actually kept our kitchen much cleaner!
      3) Office
      4) Maybe 200 employees at this location? I’m not positive.

    24. SophieChotek

      Job 1
      1. Refridger and freezer (Yes). Microwave (no)
      2. Yes
      3. Coffee Shop (like Starbucks)
      4. 15 people

      Job 2
      1. Yes to both
      2. Yes
      3. Office
      4. 100

      Job 3
      1. Yes
      2. Yes
      3. Office
      4. 100-150

    25. AnonOmouse

      1. Yes, we have a fridge & microwave.
      2. We have a tiny “kitchen” sink with a small counter space, next to the fridge & microwave.
      3. Construction office.
      4. Double-wide trailer.

      1. AnonOmouse

        Oh…

        4.) As for # of employees, we have about 5 permanent at the office I’m in and about 200 that we deal with. Company total is probably close to 3,000.

    26. john watson

      1) Yes, a set on each floor (we have two)
      2) Yes, on each floor
      3) Office
      4) Not sure how many people, but each floor is large and most of us share an office.

    27. Brett

      In previous government job with office of 8:
      1) 2 refrigerators, 2 full size freezers, 2 ice machines, 3 microwaves
      2) 3 sinks (previous site had a dishwasher, but we lost that at our new site)
      3) Technically an office, but also an emergency response center
      4) 8 people, but during disasters had about 120

      In current private sector job
      1) refrigerator and microwave on each floor
      2) single sink on each floor
      3) Office building
      4) ~100 people per floor

    28. Sparkles

      1) Refrigerator, microwave, oven with stove top, regular coffee maker, and a Keurig. We also have a filtered water dispenser. Only thing we’re missing is an ice maker which I would love.
      2) We have a full sink with a garbage disposal. All these things take up most of the space, however. Only have three small tables with chairs and very little room to move around.
      3) Office with an attached warehouse.
      4) Family-owned business with 2 US locations and one in Mexico. Unsure of total # of employees so I’ll say roughly 50-100.

    29. Cassie

      1) Yes, in the staff lounge (on a different floor than my cubicle). Some nearby coworkers (and my boss) have mini fridges and/or microwaves in their offices so sometimes I use them instead.
      2) No.
      3) University (academic dept)
      4) All together, we have about 50 faculty and 25 staff, plus about 35 labs with grad students/researchers.

    30. AliceBD

      1. Yes, a big commercial fridge and 3 microwaves, plus a machine that gives ice/cold water and another one that has several coffee options + hot water for tea/hot chocolate
      2. Yes, kitchen sink, and a dishwasher that I have not seen used in the 2+ years we have had this kitchen (had a remodel)
      3. Office
      4. We have about 100-120 employees in this office, maybe 500-1000 on this continent (I’m really not sure), and 20k employees worldwide, on 5 continents. The majority of the employees worldwide are in manufacturing facilities and warehouse facilities, not offices. I don’t know what the kitchen facilities are like other than at the warehouse closest to my location, and I imagine it varies greatly depending on the type of facility and the country.

    31. Fish Microwaer

      1) Yes, fridge, microwave toaster , sandwich press, sundry mugs, crockery and cutlery.
      2) Kitchen sink
      3) Office
      4) Huge org but our kitchen is used by about 20 people.

  72. Danae

    I had a funny thing happen to me this week. Recruiter 1 emails me with a job that I am quite suited for. We talk about it, but it’s a) a contract and b) the top end of the pay range is $5 less an hour than I make, with far worse benefits. (And I’d have to be in Nearby Big City, which is its own bundle of “I dunwanna”.)

    I say “Thanks, but I’m going to need to pass.” Not 24 hours later, Recruiter 2 -at the same agency- emails/calls me about the same position. I’m like “I realize I’m an excellent candidate for this role, but…I already said no….?” I did send Recruiter 2 a nice note mentioning Recruiter 1’s name and telling them I’d already passed.

    (and then I had a promising phone screen for a really amazing job…that pays spectacularly poorly. Alas.)

    1. The Butcher of Luverne

      Recruiters seem to exist in silos. They almost never follow up after they initiate contact (hey, you called ME, remember?) and once you go on the interview and aren’t interested, they drop you like it’s hot.

  73. Gillian

    What can you do to help a friend/family member who’s been laid off when you’ve never worked with them and are in completely different industries?

    Someone really close to me is searching for a new job, but aside from offering to read over cover letters, I don’t think there’s anything I can do. I write about healthcare for a living and she’s a mechanical engineer. I can’t refer her to jobs at my workplace and none of my past employers (like a PR agency or a private high school) have engineering opportunities, either. But I want to be able to help.

    1. Ell like L

      So tough to feel powerless in helping a friend or family member. Keep an eye out for job postings (even if you’re unlikely to see them), and offer to look over application materials. If you know anyone in their field, set up a coffee date maybe? If you don’t though, I think you just have to be encouraging and positive.

      1. Gillian

        We went to the same university so she also knows basically every engineer in our city that I do, but I’ll definitely keep thinking along those lines… thanks!

    2. Jillociraptor

      I was laid off last year, and while I had many fantastic friends forwarding job openings and connecting me to folks in their networks. But even more helpful than that were all the people who just sent me the occasional encouraging email or text, or hung out with me without talking about my job search. Even though it looms large in your life, it’s great to have friendly outlets where you DON’T have to angst about your job search all the time.

      Good on ya for supporting your friend/family member!

      1. Gillian

        That’s good to know – I can definitely have a baking/watching cartoons afternoon for good vibes.

        Also, I’m super jealous I didn’t come up with your username.

    3. AnotherAlison

      Just provide moral support. I want to offer that as an engineer/project manager, I wouldn’t expect my friends and family to be able to help much in a job searching situation. The industries are fairly specific. Even if you worked at a large manufacturer with engineering opportunities, I personally wouldn’t be qualified for any of them, since my background is all in power plants. Your friend probably knows where to look (options are limited) and would ask for an intro if you had any connections that she knew would help her.

    4. LQ

      Hey! Let me buy you coffee.

      Talk about not work. Pay for coffee.

      This can be so incredibly helpful. When I was laid off I had to cut out all going out except one. A close friend I have food with once a week, she bought the entire time I was laid off. I felt a little bad about it, but we had a really long chat about it and she made it very clear it wasn’t a hardship (it is always a cheaper meal so not a $50 meal or anything) and that she knew how important it was to me. Having that little space to feel normal and not like look at how hard and frustrating everything is right now? Was so beneficial.

    5. Liza

      In addition to the suggestions here about being a supportive friend… you could buy her the AAM ebook. :-) It’s on my mind because I just pulled it back out yesterday to prepare for a phone screen I had this morning.

    6. Kate the Little Teapot

      I think practice interviews could be a great offer, especially if you’re good interpersonally – you could ask her questions she expects she might be asked and give her feedback on the delivery of her answers. Alison’s interview guide actually suggests this and you can send her it!

      Having said that I agree with all the other commenters that emotional support is just as important.

      If you work from home (maybe you do since you’re a writer) and it’s not problematic for you, you could also invite her to come apply to jobs from your place with you while you work – for me personally at least that would help me get a lot more done because I’d feel emotionally obliged to work while at my friend’s.

  74. Jennifer

    So theoretically our problem of not having enough staff to run the front counter is going to be changed in 2 weeks. They will have students run the counter and one of us will have to do a 3 hour shift as “officer of the day.” (Maybe 2 of these shifts per week?) Which is to say, we’ll still be at our desks but be the #1 person to be interrupted and asked the weird questions of and be responsible for every single IM message sent out looking for help from the entire staff for those three hours.

    Honestly, I don’t know if this is any kind of improvement or not. It is what it is and it’s there to like it or lump it. I spent the last three weeks writing down exactly what I had to do at the counter and while about half of that could be handled by a student, the rest of it is Horrible Weird Shit.

    Oh well, at least they now officially have some kind of plan, so it makes me feel a little bit better in thinking that they may let me out of this job after all.

    1. BuildMeUp

      I think it will depend on how easy it is to be interrupted that often and how good the student hires are. Especially at the beginning, it will probably feel like the interruptions are non-stop and it’s no better than it was before. If you have decent student hires, though, the interruptions will start slowing down as they get the hang of things.

      I hope things get better!

  75. Isabel C.

    Salary question!

    Is “around $50,000 a year” reasonable for someone applying for midlevel/senior editor or tech writer positions? I’ve got six years experience as a development editor, three more as an editor in general (plus two as freelance that overlap with my current DE job), and six as a freelance writer. Glassdoor says 50K is about average, but I’ve heard that’s sometimes inaccurate, and wanted to make sure I wasn’t asking for waaay too much.

        1. One of the Annes

          Fellow technical writer and editor here. $50K actually sounds low to me for the level of experience and the market (major NE metro area). $60-65K would be more reasonable.

  76. StudentAffairsProfessional

    Hi! I need help with how to approach a hiring manage that I have interviewed with before, but we parted ways due to salary disagreement.

    Back in February/March, I applied for a job within my current organization (Teapot U) that I was really excited about and looked like a great step for me. I went through a phone interview and a day of in-person interviews and really felt good about everything – they seemed to like me, I got along well with the team and the various supervisors I met with. However, in the final interview of the day, I found out there was a mistake with the actual job posting. On the job posting, the hiring range was listed as 45-53k, I currently earn 50k, so I was fine with this. I would be comfortable taking a lateral move pay-wise because I was interested in moving into this department.

    However, they let me know during the interview process that it was a mistake and the true hiring range was 40-44k. I told them I was very interested in the position but could not take that much of a pay cut. They understood and said they were very interested in me, but they couldn’t budge on the hiring range. So, we parted ways. I was pretty annoyed they wouldn’t honor the listed range, especially since it was their mistake (in print!) not due to any misunderstanding on my end. I have applied for a few other jobs but haven’t been as excited as I was for this one.

    Today I was browsing job listings at Teapot U and saw the same job listed again – it’s possible that their hire after me fell through, or that another person in the department left. The hiring range is now listed as 44-48k. Still lower than what I currently earn, but much closer to being acceptable than 40-44k. Should I reach out to the manager I interviewed with and let her know I’m still interested if they are?? How should I broach the salary topic? Ultimately, I don’t think I would take the job for 48, I want to earn at least what I’m earning now. I know from being on the other end of hiring at Teapot U that things aren’t always cut and dried and there could be some wiggle room. Should I try to talk to someone in HR first and see if it’s even a possibility to budge on the hiring range for this position (we all work for Teapot U and have a separate, large HR department that oversees all of Teapot U)? Thanks for your help!!

    1. Laura

      If you wouldn’t take the job at 48K, don’t reach out– it’s unlikely that they would even agree to that, based on your previous interactions with the company.

    2. Wheezy Weasel

      I’d take a pass. They’re playing with something like 10-15% of the salary range to find an acceptable candidate, whether the incumbent left or another position opened up. If they had the flexibility to open it up to a wider range, why didn’t they? It may be because they always get a good stream of applicants to work at a University job at a mid 40’s salary. You’re already at the U, so why take a sideways step into an unknown cultural fit? And let’s say that if you manage to twist HR’s arm into a higher salary, would this potentially alienate the hiring manager, who (presumably) had to approve this published range?

  77. Simplytea

    Has anyone here switched from program administration to research? I’m getting my MPH but currently do a program coordination position, and eventually want to move into the research, public health field. Does anyone have good pointers?

    It’s not the biggest leap because I do have logistical and data experience (qualitative & quantitative) but I’m not sure exactly how to translate that into my cover letter or shoot for the right jobs. Just luck?

    1. SRB

      What sort of things do you do as a program coordinator?

      I work in public health (policy) research, and tbh, the things I started out doing at entry level were what I’d think of as a program coordinator. In fact, my first project role was project coordinator, though my actual title was research assistant. I did setting up of meetings, taking notes, editing reports, etc.. Once I had enough time to get a hold of the subjects from sitting in, I got to do more research-y things. Collecting data, writing reports, developing methodology, and so on over the years. Depending on what kind of public health research you want to get into, the work will inevitably involve a lot of coordination/management no matter what, so I don’t think it would be that bit of a leap.

      1. MMSW

        How do you get into the public health field without an MPH? I have a social work degree and years of experience but haven’t had any luck applying for jobs that require a masters in public health or “related fields” I took research classes back in school but have never done research or evluation professionally which is now what I’d like to do. Any advice?

        1. Simplytea

          Thanks for responding SRB!

          I work for a medical school coordinating their international programs, but mainly deal with program reports, statistics, events, business development, international stakeholders, office administration (ordering supplies, finances, scheduling for head honchos) and legal agreements. I can spin my resume to talk more about data entry and evaluation, but it’s not research research, it’s more data analyzing.

          I’m concerned mainly because my resume background is in support work, like “assistant-this, assistant-that” and I am trying so hard to get out of administrative work! I don’t mind it, but just don’t want it to be the majority of my job. I really enjoy problem-solving and data analysis, so that’s where I’m trying to go instead (especially after I get my MPH!). Thoughts?

          1. SRB

            I broke into this area at entry level with a degree in economics (no masters’ required at entry level). Then I worked my way into more responsibility, got a masters degree in statistics, and now do more data analysis/research. But people I work with have all sorts of backgrounds. Psychology, epidemiology, pharmacy, even some MSWs!

            I’ve done some interviewing for mid level research analyst positions. I’m not as certain what HR uses at stage 1 for passing them to us, but for someone a step or two above entry level, I’d be looking to see:

            – If you’ve written reports that go to clients, especially if you can summarize them concisely. Bonus points if you present to clients.
            – If you have business development (grant or contract proposal coordinating or writing experience) it’s a HUGE plus. A lot of public health research is funded by the govt through contracts or grants and proposals are the lifeblood.
            – Evaluation of data is actually a good skill to have: you can’t analyze data if you don’t know about it! What’s missing? What are the limitations? Is reporting required? Anyone who comes up with methodology needs to have the ability to look at data with a critical eye instead of assuming it’s perfect!
            – It’s good to have experience using SAS or Stata (or others but those two are big) to do analyses. Be prepared to explain what exactly you’ve done with it!

            I’d go into more detail but I don’t want to “out” myself! :p
            But either of you are more than welcome to email me at eightemu (at gmail) and I’ll forward on to my real email!

            1. MM

              You are amazingly generous. Haven’t had cause to do much writing beyond assessments at work but figure my on the ground experience would come in handy analyzing data and service delivery

  78. Amber Rose

    My boss will not do my job while I’m gone for 2 weeks (it was her job previously). It’s just gonna be piled on my desk.

    I haven’t even left and I already don’t wanna come back.

    1. fposte

      That’s the downside of vacations for a lot of us, I’m afraid–the work doesn’t go away while we’re gone. Have a good time anyway!

  79. AnonasaurusRex

    So our HR department is thinking about going to PTO accrual based on hours worked each pay period which is a change from our set hours per pay period that we accrue now. I’ve worked at only 4 different places and I’ve never seen it done this way. Mostly I see the set amount for the whole year, or accrue per pay period. That’s also what I see talked about on various sites. I’m curious if anyone here has a company that does this? I’d like an idea of how common this is so if anyone knows where I can find stats, that’d be great.

    1. Danae

      That’s how my company does it, but that’s because we don’t have guaranteed working hours–I can work 20 hours some weeks and 50 hours the next week. Both sick time and vacation time accrue per hours worked.

      I’m not a fan of it, mostly because it means I have no idea how much vacation time I’ll have when. It’s standard for the contracting end of tech work, though.

      1. AnonasaurusRex

        I’m full time salaried, so it really won’t affect me much, unless they drastically change the accrual rate, but it will be very hard to plan for how much you’ll have for anyone who is part-time or flex. That’s where I think some of my concern lies. There will be no way to provide reporting on PTO caps anymore.

    2. Amber Rose

      Almost every company I’ve ever worked for has used the accrual for hours worked system.

      But I’m Canada so YMMV.

    3. Rebecca in Dallas

      My old job did it this way. It was fine, I still knew about how much PTO I’d have at the time I was planning a vacation or whatever. And they allowed us to go into the negative and it would build back up. The HR person explaining that to me said that if you left the company while your PTO bank was in the negative, those hours’ pay would be taken out of your last paycheck. (At least that was how I understood it.)

    4. SophieChotek

      One of my jobs did this when I worked full.
      We had a cap of 96 hours. So at the cap, we had to take some, otherwise even if we were eligible to accrue any, we didn’t.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Take it with a grain of salt but I was always told it HAD to be based on hours worked. You can’t accrue vacation time while on vacation, for example. A municipality I worked for was audited on this point, so they had to be rigid about the policy. It seems to be a fairly standard thing.

  80. Marcela

    I have a question this week… although it’s not even 9 am so I’m not sure I remember it =^.^=

    However, first I want to thank all of you. Next week I have an in-person interview and I got it using all the advice I’ve gotten from this website and community. It’s been interesting but also very educational, telling me many things I could not know as a foreigner. So Thank You!

    Now, my question. Last night I had a call from somebody looking for a freelance developer. I was recommended by my former boss. The thing is, I have an interview next week and I would only work freelance if I can’t get a full time job. Time is not on my side, for this company is taking their time in every step of the hiring process. So I told her I had something in the way and that I should know in 2-3 weeks if I would be free enough to work for her. And then she asked me “how do you charge”. I was super confused by this question, as I understood to be about the “physical” procedure of charging, which is create an invoice and send it, no? However, since I haven’t worked yet as a frelance, I don’t have any of the licenses and permissions required in my city, so I told her I needed a couple of days to figure out how to get what I need.

    Now I feel I screwed up, for she knows I am working in a proyect, I actually told her it’s a project outside the US (which is half true, I am installing a server as a favor to my brother) instead of my interview next week, so she must think I am evading taxes or something. In any case, I wonder if I just misunderstood the question, I mean, she wasn’t asking me how but how much, almost in the same way you can use “what/how do you mean?”.

    In one side, then, my question is about language. In the other, it’s what can you say when you are in a situation like this? I’ve read I should consider myself free until I have something sure, for anything can happen. So I didn’t want to reveal my plans. On the other hand, though, it’s not like I can say “no way, I don’t want to work for you”. What could I say?

    1. Calliope

      I expect she did mean “how much do you charge,” or “how do you charge” in the sense of “do you charge by the hour, or a flat rate for the project, or what?” I think if you’ve never freelanced before, it’s okay to say “I’m experienced with this kind of work, so I haven’t taken on a project like this one as a freelancer, so I’ll need a little time to research what my rate would need to be — let me get back to you with a quote. Did you have a budget in mind?”

      All of that said, if you’re waiting for a fulltime job to finish a very slow hiring process, you’re probably not going to get this freelance gig — two or three weeks is a long time for them to wait. I’d be tempted to be up-front and say “I’m interviewing for a fulltime job right now, and if I get it, I won’t be available; however, if that doesn’t come through, can I contact you and see if you still need freelance developers?”

      1. Calliope

        Sorry, I meant “I’m experienced with this kind of work BUT I haven’t taken on a project like this one as a freelancer …” in my comment above.

      2. Marcela

        Ohhhh! I did not even think about that! My lack of experience freelancing is very obvious :(

        Your wording is perfect, thank you!

    2. Sophie

      I think they would be asking about what the payment method is – do you take cheques, bank transfer etc. and what your terms of payment are: do you require X amount upfront before accepting work, are there any cancellation fees, do you bill hours weekly, monthly or after specific points in the process, or before the project goes live.

      Make sure you’ve got a contract that spells these things out too!

    3. Not So NewReader

      Kind of an ambiguous question. It could mean how do you bill them, weekly, monthly? Or it could mean how much do you get per hour? What if you need a helper or have to purchase something? Do you need money upfront to even start the project?

      It is probably all these things rolled into one question.

      Nope, she is not thinking about the possibility of you evading taxes. She probably does not care about that.

  81. sad pup

    No questions, just a small rant. I’ve have a few different (unrelated) medical issues that, in the past, have led to me discovering an unwritten policy where you have to have a conversation with the COO to make sure you know what sick leave is for once you use 50% of your allowed time (1 day/month, so you have to have this conversation if you take 6 days/year). I had that conversation and had to disclose some medical stuff I really did not want to share with her, but it seemed to do the trick.

    In the past two weeks I have had a combination of 2 medical issues, one chronic/ongoing and one prolonged stomach virus, and I had to take 3 sick days over those two weeks. Nothing has slipped through the cracks work-wise and, for the time being, I’m fully back at work. But I got a call from my supervisor yesterday saying that the COO is demanding a doctor’s note because I have taken 50% of my allotted sick leave in the past year. I obviously don’t have a note like this already, so I emailed the doctor primarily in charge of the ongoing condition and asked if he could come up with something for me. He can, but I have to go in person to get it done, and I’m worried that there’s no way for him to write such a note without disclosing more about my health than I want my coworkers to know.

    It’s not a big deal and I know it’s just policy, but it’s really frustrating to me. I’ve never seen this unwritten policy enforced with anyone else in the office, and I feel like I’m getting targeted because I work close to the COO’s office. It all feels condescending and as if my workplace fundamentally distrusts me, when the truth is I never take sick leave I don’t need to take and I often come in when I’m not really well enough to work. And 6 sick days a year is not excessive!

    1. esra

      This sort of thing annoys the heck out of me. You shouldn’t have to offer justification for using sick days within the limit.

      I miss the workplace I was at previously with unlimited sick days. I didn’t use any more than I usually would, there was just none of the awkward amount watching.

      1. sad pup

        Yeah. It’s infantalizing and humiliating. It’s basically saying, I don’t believe you when you say you’re sick! That is not what I want to hear from someone I sit 10 feet away from 5 days a week.

        And I’m super lucky I have a doctor who can do this for me — two of those sick days were legitimately for a gross stomach virus that I didn’t go to the doctor for, because what’s the point? I don’t know ANYONE who would go to their doctor for a normal stomach bug unless they suspect it’s a serious problem. I’m getting another doctor to write this note to cover me, but it’s so frustrating.

    2. Anon for this

      I actually did a complete double take at this, and wondered whether I’d written this in my sleep! No advice; just commiserations.

    3. Ife

      I’m sorry, that sounds super annoying and uncomfortable. It reminds me of Pieces of Flair from Office Space… if you only want me to use 6 sick days per year, then why don’t you make the limit 6 sick days per year?

    4. Jules the First

      Heh. My office goes one wackier – you get one full week at full pay plus one full week at half pay per year, which is then logged on your time sheets at 14 half days at full pay (which is not, technically, one and one half weeks). And although our holiday year runs from 1 Jan to 31 Dec, our sick time runs from 1 May to 30 April…

  82. Jules the First

    What’s the word for the smug feeling you get after discovering that the jerk who rejected you (after her boss interviewed and loved you) for a well-paid, interesting job with a big-name company because ‘you weren’t someone I could see myself working with’ few months ago is still looking for her purple unicorn?

  83. Big McLargeHuge

    I have an interesting situation. I have a new hire starting Monday (Yay!). Today, while posting some transactions and plugged in with headphones, one of my direct reports comes to my desk to ask if I had heard the entire conversation happening over the wall. I hadn’t but heard the tone at the end, so she filled me in on the front end of the conversation. One of our HR representatives called my new hire to apparently screen for another position that we have open that my new hire had also applied for. My new hire had to tell the HR representative that she had already accepted a position with my organization. Based on the tone I heard in the part of the conversation I did hear, the HR representative thought this was hilarious.

    I know I want to reach out to my new hire with an email to simply state that I’m excited for her to start on Monday and to confirm a few things about her first day, but I’m going to ignore the conversation she had with HR Representative. I also think I should reach out to the HR Director and give him the heads up that this happened and that I’m not happy about this. I wouldn’t be so upset if HR Representative acted mortified that this happened, but based on her response, I can’t help but be a little angry.

    If I had been in New Hire’s shoes, I’d be wondering if the organization had it’s stuff together and really be questioning if it was the right fit for me. I’m upset that it happened for my new hire, but I certainly don’t want it to happen for any other positions as we have positions for highly skilled individuals available.

    Does anyone have any feedback or experience with a situation like this? I think the HR Director needs to be aware, but I don’t know how to address it.

    Thanks!

    1. fposte

      It just sounds like a slipup that I wouldn’t worry about to me–do you feel something else was going on, like a direct attempt to poach your new hire? Or by “hilarious” do you mean the HR person thought working for you was hilarious and not the glitch (in which case I’d be ticked off as well)? Do you guys use a hiring system that should have removed New Hire from the listing for the other job when she took yours?

      1. Big McLargeHuge

        Hilarious as in “I made a this call to someone we already hired for another job”. Knowing HR Representative, I don’t think this was an attempt to poach this new hire, but I would be upset if the new hire thought that the other position was more intriguing than mine was and tried to pursue.

        I have no knowledge of the hiring system we use, so I can’t speak to that, but HR Representative did the background check on New Hire and had talked with New Hire during the process (I knew I forgot something above). I will likely let it go, however, I fear that this will be a reflection of the organization as a whole for New Hire.

        1. fposte

          I get the desire for a smooth onboarding, but at this point I’d say either your org is like that, in which case fair enough, or it isn’t, and New Hire will figure that out soon enough. But it doesn’t read as a big deal to me with the details you’ve given here.

  84. LV Ladybug

    Not sure if this belongs on the “work” post but I thought it was funny to share. Just learning what is and isn’t normal in an office, etc. has helped me so much from this blog. But what I find the most fascinating is that I tend to use the examples of Alison’s tone in my private life. My husband tends to get wrapped up into our family drama and I have to tell him that it doesn’t directly affect him and it is none of his business. I don’t get to say a lot of things like that at my work, I am glad I get to say them somewhere. Most importantly, he told me I was right. Win!

    1. Laura

      I totally agree. I feel that I’ve been better able to handle difficult situations of all kinds, since I started reading this blog. Alison’s straightforward language is great to use with my mom, actually!

  85. Almost_negotiated

    I’m in final negotiations for a new job, which has a two year wait period from start date for access to paid (and unpaid) parental leave. The company is relatively small and not covered by FMLA laws, and my state doesn’t have any additional protections for new parents. Is it possible to negotiate away the wait time? My partner and I aren’t currently expecting, but I’d be upset if this had an impact on what’s right for our family.

    1. CM

      I would. I’d explain just what you said– that you don’t have any current plans, but want to make sure you can do what’s right for your family.

    2. Intern Wrangler

      In our company, exceptions to the benefits eligibility are not something we would negotiate on. Some of it is dictated by our plan language. We can’t change it for one person. Even if it isn’t dictated by the plan documents, it would open us up to have to provide it for all employees. I think two years is a long wait period, and I’m surprised that they don’t have a more lenient standard for unpaid time. Don’t take if personally if they tell you they can’t. If it goes outside their employee handbook, they might not want to take the risk.

    3. Almost_negotiated

      I gave it a try fully expecting to be told “no” and actually received a very positive response from both HR and my direct supervisor. The details haven’t been worked out quite yet, but I’m optimistic that we’ll settle on something agreeable before I sign a contract. Thanks to both of you for the perspective!

  86. Michele

    This might sound trivial, but here goes: My college classmate and I were both co-editors-in-chief at our student newspaper. She now lists it in her bios as herself being editor-in-chief. I still work in media, and even though this is 20 years ago, is it a big deal to say something if we were ever in the same scenario (i.e., employees at the same company)? I have to add that she doesn’t “care” for me, but I have the newspapers still.

    1. CM

      Seems fine for each of you to say you were the editor-in-chief without including the “co.” It’s not like she’s denying you were there too. It would be pretty easy to explain, if you were ever questioned about it, that you were co-editors-in-chief. I was the co-president of an organization and my co- and I regularly referred to ourselves as “President” in situations where it wasn’t relevant that we shared that position.

      1. Michele

        I understand. I don’t have anything against here. I think it’s mostly because we both did a lot for the paper.

    2. Ell like L

      It was 20 years ago, you gotta let it go. You will seem petty if you bring it up – like someone who can’t let go of their college football career at their insurance job or something.
      I can’t imagine keeping a college job on a bio/resume/whatever 20 years later anyways.

  87. Anon for this

    I’m a lawyer at a state government agency. I’m thinking of moving to the private sector, because I find working in government incredibly frustrating and bureaucratic, and it would be nice to make more money. But there are a lot of good things about my job, and the work-life balance is incredible. I have little kids who attend public school. My work makes it so easy to accommodate random days off for teacher conferences, school plays, sick days, etc., which used to be a big source of stress for me. And I have so much room in my life for things outside of work. From 5 p.m. on, I’m completely free. I wonder if I would regret moving to the private sector and going back to a culture where I’m expected to always be available. I may be getting a job offer one day soon, and I keep going back and forth about whether I should take it (interesting work, good culture, great commute, more money) or whether I’m crazy to even think about leaving my current job (amazing work-life balance that I’ll probably never find anywhere else, already well-respected, have some ability to shape my work in ways that interest me, AND I’m in a union so I have great job stability).

    1. LQ

      Have you talked with people who are doing the kind of lawyering you want to do in the private sector? How much less incredibly frustrating is it? Because there is always some level of frustration and work, and always some bureaucracy (I know it’s a 4 letter word, but just having a hiring process means there is some, how you get paid is some, there is always some thinking of it as a spectrum can help).
      So if it is a spectrum, where does the frustration between 8 and 5 outweigh the frustration between 8 and 8 (or whatever it will be for you). If it is slightly less then maybe going until 8 at night doesn’t make it better, but if it is a lot less maybe it does.

      If you do leave, make sure you are very good about not burning that bridge. I know we’ve had attorneys burn bridges and some who don’t. A lot of the ones who don’t have come back or gone to other agency jobs. If you can find a way to leave that door open that might be a very good way to try it and see.

      1. Anon for this

        To clarify: I’m applying for in-house counsel positions at companies. I’m pretty confident I’ll like the work, and I’m not intolerant of bureaucracy, just tired of enforcing rules that everyone agrees make no sense and nobody can change. My question is more about whether I’m undervaluing my current work-life balance.

        1. LQ

          I think that’s really only something you (and your family) can decide. For me, right now? It would take a lot of money to make it worth it to work an extra 20 hours a week. But at past times in my life I did that much work for the same as I make now. Part of that was really interesting work and a mission I believed in. Part of it was the relationships in my life. Do you have a history to compare it too? Like when you worked X you were miserable because it was too much? Or anything like that?

          (I stand by keeping the door as open as you can, and if you have good relationships I think at good places that should be doable.)

          1. the gold digger

            I am making a lot less than I made 11 years ago, before I was laid off. I had an interview for a job that would get back to where I was. Although I did not get an offer, I really had to think – would I have taken it?

            Right now, I have a boss I adore, co-workers I like and respect, interesting, fun, challenging work with very smart people, and amazing flexibility, that is, I work from home about 30% of the time – any time my boss is out of the office and then whenever my husband needs the car.*

            That is worth a lot of money. (Caveat – I already make decent money that is enough to cover what we need – so extra would be so we could save more or spend more. We don’t need extra to keep a roof over our heads.)

            * My husband’s solution to the one-car problem is that we buy another car. My answer is that as long as we have only one income while he pursues his political interests, he can take the bus to his political meetings.

            1. Product Person

              “as long as we have only one income while he pursues his political interests, he can take the bus to his political meetings”

              I’m puzzled that you had to spell that out to your husband. Even if the genders were reversed, I’d expect the person not bringing income in to accept the sacrifices involved, including taking the bus to political meetings — it’s not like he doesn’t have the time to spare, tsk.

              1. the gold digger

                Not to mention it plays well (and it does – he does take the bus) with his constituency, although I have noted to him that the people who are the most vocal about public transit do not seem to be the ones taking it, at least where we live. :)

                1. Product Person

                  Heh, definitely should count on your husband’s favor when he’s on a debate and his opponent starts talking about public transportation. He could easily get point by asking the question, “and what was the last time you took a bus, candidate?”
                  ;-).

  88. OwnedByTheCat

    Today is my last day of work. I’m almost ready to walk out the door. Always a crazy surreal feeling!

    Then next week – wedding.
    Then two weeks of enjoying Chicago.
    Then we drive to Austin.
    7/1 I start a new job.

    My head – it is spinning!

  89. jamieeeee

    I just wanted to thank Alison for AAM, her book, and her resume assistance. After two years of despairing in a job that wasn’t for me, I found a job I’m really, really excited about. I resigned this morning! *bounce bounce bounce*

  90. Stuck five offices down

    Anyone dealt with this? I have a situation I want to ask Alison (or the comment section) about, but it directly involves a coworker who I know at least sometimes reads this site. I can’t anonymize the situation enough that it would be unrecognizable to said coworker.

    (I’d say I know how she knows she reads the site, but that would be as identifying as the situation itself.)

    So I guess I’ll slog through on my own.

    1. SophieChotek

      If you really want advice, doesn’t AAM do some consulting? Could hire her?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Well, not quite like this — I don’t do personal consulting, just for organizations (for myriad reasons, including that it would be too close to becoming a personal coach, which is just not my thing).

    2. fposte

      Can you warp it? Don’t acknowledge it’s related to this post, use a new name, set it in law or someplace it isn’t.

        1. fposte

          Those are fun, but they’re clearly pseudonymous, whereas if you write in and say “My colleague in marketing at a sporting goods company” people don’t tend to think you really mean your fellow paralegal in a law firm.

    3. NewBee

      Can you change gender, time, plus industry like fposte said? I feel like if you write in about working at a law firm with a male coworker who’s been poaching your clients for the last 6 months, no one will suspect it’s really a female coworker at a retail store who has been stealing your commission.

      I empathize; I am ridiculously paranoid about people I know finding me out online.

  91. Anon In Houston

    I’m hoping I get in here early enough to get some feedback.

    I have quite a bit of job hopping on my resume due to some layoffs (I work in oil/gas), and have worked several long term contract roles since late 2012. My first contract role was 2 yrs and ended because of budget cuts. I’ve currently been in my latest role since April 2015. There have been a lot of changes since I started. I was originally supposed to be contract to hire, but due to market conditions that hasn’t happened. My immediate boss got fired. In fact, none of the contract to hire folks have converted. And now because the department I support has moved to another state, my boss has told me that more than likely my role will be moving as well, more than likely by late August. This has nothing to do with my work, which I have gotten great feedback on and more to do with the powers that be. I’m so bummed out but I have no choice to but to start looking.

    I am SO tired of working contract roles. I want another full time job. Does any one have suggestions on how to better present my skill set (financial analysis/budgeting) despite a combo of full time/contract roles?? I get plenty of calls…for more contract work. What else should I be doing, ya’ll??

    1. BRR

      I don’t have much advice but on the upside job hopping doesn’t count if it’s layoffs or contract work. Job hopping is basically you voluntarily leaving or being fired for some reason other than budgetary issues.

    2. Mazzy

      This is just my POV but I am hiring now and reading hundreds of applications, the biggest errors are ones that get repeated ad nauseum on the net because applicants keep on making them:

      1) no cover letter
      2) canned cover letter
      3) talking vaguely about “finance/budget/accounting/reporting/analytical skills.” Very easy to claim and MANY people do. Actually, I am used to seeing 20 computer programs on resumes so can’t even screen based on computer skills anymore, so I used the resume and cover letter as a gauge.
      4) Don’t include an objective unless you worked in one type of job for a long time
      5) quantify things on your resume. So few people even in finance roles are doing that! Way too many resumes out there without figures, and they all look the same.
      6) DON’T gloss over the fact that jobs were temp or fail to mention the job hopping somewhere. I have seen many resumes recently with what look like a series of perm jobs lasting 9-12 months coupled with a canned cover letter about how they have great communication and analytical skills, and I’m not calling them. You need to give a hiring manager hope that you want to stick around at this job and to give them something specific to bite on.

      My personal opinion is to include a limited number of specific accomplishments on your resume and not try to make it look like you can do everything or have done everything. I never know what to do with those kind of resumes, where the person says they do the accounting/bookkeeping/finance/graphic design/operations/customer services/sales support. I bet if you do all of those things you’re not doing some of them at the level of detail we need. I’d rather have someone focused even if its on something we don’t necessarily do. They can show versatility during the interview.

  92. Piper

    I’ve been doing some unpaid work for a startup, but after some digging, I’ve realized this isn’t legal (at least i don’t think it is). I’m treated as an employee – the CEO dictates what I work on and when I work on it and I have no autonomy (that’s another problem because it’s a bit crazy). I work on it as a side project for about 10 hours a week, but there is no pay, there is no equity, only the hope of fundraising and a foggy promise of a market level salary and cash bonus.

    I originally started it because I really like the product and the space and I had the time, but it’s starting to wear on me since he’s so controlling plus I have lots of paid work (I’m a freelancer) starting up soon and I won’t have a ton of free time for this guy to dictate, so I’m leaving anyway. But I think he owes me some money (not that I’m going to go after him or anything, but he does).

    Thoughts on this? Not being paid is indeed illegal, even for a non-funded startup, right?

    1. Piper

      A little more info (because now that I’ve written this out, I’m more annoyed):
      I have to use all of my own equipment and software (that I pay for because of my freelance business), but he treats me like an employee, demanding to know how many hows I plan to work, exactly what I’m working on and makes me (and everyone else) track their time down to the minute. If he thinks we take too long to do something, h has a fit. If we don’t get in the hours we think we’ll get in, he has a fit.

      Gah. I just need to leave. This was a pet project, but it’s become a monster. I have plenty of freelance and FT options, so it’s not like I need it to fill my time. It’s actually become a hindrance to the paid work I do at this point.

      /venting

    2. Anie

      I don’t think this is illegal unless you began with the understanding that you’d be paid. Otherwise it’s just volunteering your time.

      You could go back to him and explain why you are no longer in the position to do so and either offer a rate he could pay you, or just part ways.

      1. Piper

        I found a few articles that indicated it was illegal since they are treating me as an employee (i.e, dictating my projects, my time, how I do things, etc). I’m not considered a founder (if I were, I should have 20%+ equity). It’s the same reason most internships need to be paid, from what I understand. Can anyone really legally “volunteer” at a company (not a non-profit)?

        But I agree with your overall approach to handling it – just say this arrangement is no longer working and part ways.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s illegal. You can’t volunteer for a for-profit business unless it meets the federal test for an internship (it’s benefitting you and not them), which this clearly doesn’t. It violates minimum wage law. They need to be paying you.

      The stuff about using your own equipment and tracking your hours doesn’t impact that either way — except in regard to whether you should be paid as an employee or as a consultant. But either way, it’s illegal not to pay you.

  93. MSG Noodles

    I have been working at the same company for many years with excellent reviews, but never a promotion. My colleagues have jumped ahead of me. I finally raised this with my boss. And, she told me it’s because I’m quiet, never question anything, and always do as I’m told. I always thought these qualities get you ahead, and in my culture you are taught to respect authority and do as your told. Apparently, I need to change. But, how? what?

    1. Piper

      Are you female by chance? I’ve been told the exact opposite – I’m “abrasive” or “aggressive” and need to “soften my communication” to get promotions. But I’m sure if I were doing what you do, I’d be hearing exactly what you hear too. Equality hard at work!

    2. Ell like L

      I bet it’s frustrating that you didn’t receive this feedback until you asked specifically.

      I would do the following
      1) Look at peers who have jumped ahead. How do they push back or speak up? If you look at the ways that they’re taking initiative in daily things I think you can mimic that.
      2) Start looking for small ways to take initiative. Suggest a small project for yourself to your boss, give a couple of pieces of feedback in meetings. If your workplace is social, maybe go out for lunch or coffee with people a couple of times a week to pick their brain and discuss work.
      3) Go back to your manager and ask for specific feedback. Say “As we discussed, I would like to be considered for a promotion in the future. What specifically can I do to make it more likely that I would be in the running? Can you give me some examples?”

    3. Not Karen

      I understand your frustration and confusion. What gets you ahead is going to somewhat depend on the employer. In my last job, those qualities would have indeed gotten you ahead.

    4. LQ

      I agree this absolutely depends on the corporate culture. Great job on raising it! I’m sure that was tough.

      The good news is she did give you some really direct feedback. Are these things you think you can do? If you hear something you disagree with or something you have additional questions about think about what a slightly more outgoing/aggressive coworker would do. Generally they don’t want you to question everything, just the things that don’t make sense. If you are in a meeting and something doesn’t make sense the way they are doing it that’s a time to ask some questions. If you are asked to do something and you are concerned about a problem then raise that problem.

      It helps me to think of it as sort of I’m doing my employer/boss/whatever very well by assuming that they know I’m smart. Now if they know I’m smart then the work that I do they’ll assume I’m good at. Now that they assume I’m good at they are going to expect me to raise things that might be an issue, say, hey, I think if we did that there might be a problem here. If they still say, nope, go forward as is then you step back and do what you are told. But that first time of raising the question or concern can be a part of your job.

      Good luck on making this shift. (Alternately, finding a different corporate culture that works better for you.)

    5. Product Person

      MSG Noodles, ” I always thought these qualities get you ahead, and in my culture you are taught to respect authority and do as your told. Apparently, I need to change. But, how? what?”

      Oh, you are so totally wrong! Read the book “How to Be a Star at Work” and you’ll know why. “Initiative-taking” is a critical aspect of getting ahead, and reading the book you’ll see what it really means, because even people who think they are initiative takers are typically wrong. If you want to get ahead, this is a required reading for you. Good luck!

  94. Tsuriaga

    What do I do if upper management is piling on more manual reporting (6-8 times throughout my work day), having me cross train coworkers, and asking me to edit our reporting materials, all while I’m supposed to do my primary job? I never know if I have free time to do this extra work because we don’t have a live updated work inflow system in place, so instead I have to manually check to see if I have ‘primary job functions’ to fulfill. My manager is not the one coming up with the extra workload, so I don’t blame them, but I feel unable to do good work and produce good numbers I can unashamedly report on with all this other crap that they want me to do! Furthermore, the stuff we are to report is not even the stuff that will keep us in business long term, but I feel so pressured to do the short term stuff that I don’t know what is highest priority anymore.

    What should I say to my manager, and what can I say to upper management to have me back some of this stuff off/hurry up the process to automate it?

    1. Not So NewReader

      Make a list of what you are juggling.
      Ask your boss what she wants you to work on and what she wants you to let go of. Explain that things are starting to slide. Show her what is sliding.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

      The more concrete numbers you can provide, the better your case.

      The hard numbers part is easy: that’s the actual time it takes you to do all of these extra things per day/week.

      The softer part is harder (heh) but can’t be discounted: the distraction factor of having to interrupt primary job for all of the things that aren’t primary job. Reasonable human beings can understand this as a factor, even if you can’t quantify as easily. If you are being interrupted 6 to 8 times each day for manual reporting, that’s significant.

      Now a plug for upper management: they may not be a bunch of dunderheads. They could be far enough removed from the day to day that they are counting on your manager to push back if they’ve asked for something that’s going to destroy productivity. So take heart, provide your boss with figures with which to push back, and maybe this all works out to better process.

  95. Applesauced

    Office parties – I really don’t want to go…. we have a big summer party coming up. It’s at a restaurant, and no plus ones (I’m guessing it’s a buffet rather than sit down)
    The office is HUGE 600 people, I’m newish (6 months) to the company, kind of shy and still haven’t made any good friends here… (I understand the catch 22 here – I don’t like social events where I don’t know people, but I can’t get to know people without going to social events). PLUS there’s a concert in the park I’d rather go to, AND I’m taking a professional exam a few days later so want to relax before spending all weekend prepping.
    Is it ok to go for like a hour, say hi to my team then peace the F out?

    1. Crylo Ren

      I’ve done this. I’ve gone to events and stayed long enough to make sure I was seen, and then peaced out. It didn’t seem to do any harm, at least.

    2. BRR

      I think it’s ok if you don’t go and just say you have a prior obligation unless your office really frowns upon people missing these things.

    3. Rebecca in Dallas

      Yes, I do this. My work doesn’t do dinner parties, but they love happy hours. I’m not a big drinker and really prefer to spend my downtime at home, not work with people. So I make an appearance, sip on a drink and make the rounds, then skeedaddle.

  96. A Definite Beta Guy

    Need advice from IT/Network people.

    What sort of skill set, education, and background are you looking for in a typical Business Analyst role?

    1. ladyb

      Ideally practical business analysis experience, but failing that, evidence of an enquiring mind. You would need to show that you can understand both business and technology viewpoints, good communication skills and an interest in solving problems and improving processes. You need to have persistence to see things through to an amicable conclusion. I would not insist on a qualification – I prefer practical experience – but I’m only one data point, others’ views may differ.

    2. Rubyrose

      I think ladyb’s comments are on target.

      From my experience, for someone trying to break into the BA role, they either come from the business side (so they know the business really well) and have shown interest and ability to learn technical, or the opposite (knows technical, but shown interest and ability learn the business). I look for people who can show how they have built education and experience in both sides of the coin.

      Education – is across the board, given the way people break into it. In a healthcare setting, for example, it is not unusual (and actually valued) to see BAs with a nursing degree.

      I would be leery of hiring someone into an industry they did not have experience in until they have solid experience (several years) with a BA title. Someone with 5 solid years as a BA in the teapot industry will have transferable skills to be able to work, say, in retail.

      Skillset – ability to organize, shift gears at a moment’s notice, learn constantly, communicate with people at all levels of the organization, juggle many projects at a time.

  97. Pennalynn Lott

    Yelp advertising – Anyone here have any experience with it?

    Boyfriend wants us to pay $335/month for Yelp’s “Cost-Per-Click Auction-Based Auto-Bidding Program”. The contract says something about us paying a minimum amount for each click (presumably a link to our Yelp page, as well as if someone clicks on our “Contact Us” button), but that the amount would go up by an unnamed, undefined amount if another company is also “bidding” for that click. Which means we could end up paying $335/mo for just a single click per month.

    Any other business owners (or marketers) have any sage advice for me on this?

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

      Why don’t you do a Google Ad, then you pay per click and can set your own budget? I’ve heard of so many bad things about Yelp abusing business owners that I wouldn’t touch their advertising with a ten foot pole.

    2. Former Yelp employee

      I have to go anonymous for this, but I used to work at Yelp doing ad sales. Your cost per click will vary based on the number of searches happening, the industry, and if any other similar companies are doing it. You will NEVER pay your whole budget for just one click. Ask the Yelp rep for the estimated cost per click. Then you’ll be able to figure out how many clicks you could get according to your budget.

      I hope that makes sense. Feel free to ask me more questions!

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        Thank you! I was using the whole-budget-for-one-click as a worst-case scenario, because there’s nothing in the contract guaranteeing a certain structure or schedule for the per-click charges.

        It just seems so fishy that they charge per-click, but can’t tell me how much I will pay; I can only set a cap on my overall monthly cost. Plus, I’ve read waaaay too many articles about “click farms” in foreign countries for me to feel comfortable with them charging per click, especially if I’m bidding against another company, which could also be the product of a click farm. I can easily see Yelp saying, “Let’s charge $0.50 per click, then pay a ‘click farm’ $0.01 per click and make a massive profit.”

        1. Former Yelp employee

          They CAN tell you the estimated cost per click, which isn’t fishy at all– all cost-per-click advertising has this. The CPC doesn’t usually change that much– often, it’s by just a few cents. I assure you, Yelp doesn’t work with “click farms” at all, and actively prevents that kind of thing from happening; i.e. if an angry competitor decides to click on your ads all the time, they will stop showing the ads on that IP address.

          Yelp is a great company, and I have absolutely no qualms about the advertising program. I would just encourage you and your boyfriend to get all the information before getting started, and stay in touch with your Account Manager if you ever have questions.

          1. Pennalynn Lott

            I should also add that I am skeptical because I can’t find any small business (that’s not a restaurant) who has said, “Paying Yelp to put a link for my company on top of a competitor’s page has doubled my business!” Everyone I have called said they never so much as broke even. [We’re a residential and store-front window cleaning company, so I have called window cleaners in other geographies, maid service companies, pressure washing companies, etc.]

            Plus I just found out that Angie’s List (which *has* more-than-doubled our business) is about to open up our market so that anyone can search the List, not just members. Which will give us access to hundreds of thousands more potential customers.

            1. Joanna

              My guess is that most people searching for your kind of business aren’t likely to do it via a Yelp search so putting ads in Yelp search results might not be worth it. It does seem likely that some would arrive on a yelp profile via a Google search so it’s probably worth keeping your profile up to date regardless of whether you run Yelp ads or not.

        2. Former Yelp employee

          Also forgot to add– Yelp doesn’t arbitrarily determine the cost-per-click. It’s done by a computer algorithm, and based on your industry. So a fast food restaurant would have a very low CPC because their product is inexpensive. A custom-flooring business would have a higher CPC because they provide an expensive product/service.

  98. AnomThisTime

    I need advice. I know I screwed up but I’m not sure if I need to explicitly own up for it or just stick it in my own “don’t do it again” file.

    I was at a company “open house” a recruiter invited me to attend. For context: I am anxious and an introvert, I had been at another networking event earlier, and the only way I can get through a lot of these things is by going on autopilot.

    I was talking to someone from the department I’d likely be working in if they hired me, and at the end of the conversation I was like “nice to meet you, here’s my card.” He responded “are you working with a recruiter?” and I realized you’re not supposed to do that, but responded, “yeah, I’ll let him know I talked.”

    Are people at the company likely to think I’m trying to circumvent the recruiter (I’m not, I was on autopilot after a long day and not thinking)? Is is likely to get back to the recruiter? Should I tell him, or just act like this never happened? Aaa I’m so stressed out by this.

    1. B-Bam

      I don’t think this sounds like you made a mistake. Sounds like you were networking, talking with people you’d work with, probably exactly the why the recruiter invited you. It doesn’t sound like you were saying “here’s my secret resume – shh, don’t tell Recruiter Jim”. I’d suggest reaching out to the recruiter and saying “Thank you for the invite to X open house. I enjoyed talking to Sammy Smith in the Teapot Department. Do they have any openings?”

      1. AnonForToday

        Specifically I am concerned about having given a card with my personal contact info, which I know recruiters often take off resumes when submitting them.

        1. B-Bam

          I think it’s unlikely to get back to the recruiter and it’d be weird for the company to read so much into such a normal gesture but only you know how the person responded in the moment. I’d play it casual and not make a big deal of it while reaching out to the recruiter to thank them for the event, mention the good connection with that company person and ask about openings.

    2. BRR

      You’re fine. You would have only made a mistake if you lied about working with a recruiter.

    3. Rex

      I think you’re overthinking this. The recruiter invited you, of course you’re going to be talking to people. You mention the recruiter when asked. Even if you hadn’t give the person your card, they knew your name and would still probably be able to figure out how to track you down (LinkedIn, etc.)

      1. AnonForToday

        That’s true. Thanks.

        I get nervous because it always seems like there are a million unwritten rules to getting a job, and I’m afraid I’m breaking all of them.

  99. Anon4this

    I was wondering if anyone knows about the federal laws protecting employees rights to discuss compensation. Do these protections extend to managers as well as staff level employees? I ask because I manage a function (not direct reports) in my company’s Teapots Development department and sometimes a Teapot Designer or Analyst (who are managed by someone else) will ask me about yearly raises and what percentage I received in the past/what they should expect this year, etc. My company actively discourages discussion of compensation for employees of all levels, so I am wondering if I have any protections if I do in fact respond to these questions.

    1. Kate the Little Teapot

      I did some research into this and supervisors are the only ones who are exempt – and then HR can’t discuss the salaries of others. Since you don’t manage direct reports it sounds like you are protected but I am hoping that someone who can better explain how the NLRB defines “supervisor” comes along.

      https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/labor-employment/b/labor-employment-top-blogs/archive/2013/02/21/you-have-the-right-to-discuss-salary-with-coworkers.aspx

      https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/labor-employment/b/labor-employment-top-blogs/archive/2013/02/21/you-have-the-right-to-discuss-salary-with-coworkers.aspx

  100. Roza

    I realize that academic experience is different than private sector experience, but bias against people right out of school seems…excessive?…at my current job. I started a little under a year ago after getting a PhD in a substantively unrelated field that uses the software and analytic approches common in my new field. I nearly quit right after I started when I overheard the then-VP in charge of the office discussing a resume and saying not to follow up because, “Who cares if he has a PhD? He doesn’t have any work experience! He’s not useless, he’s worse than useless!” She’d always been nasty to be in private, but thankfully left the company. Lately I’ve been involved in hiring and the debriefs on candidates have felt like a parade of bashing people who are right out of school, ranting about how terrible”green” people are, etc. Obviously I did something to impress them because they hired me, I’ve gotten nothing but rave performance reviews, and my responsibilities have been steadily increasing since I was hired. At the same time, it’s hard not to feel self-conscious about my background or feel defensive around the people who are especially vocal about how school is worthless. It’s even more frustrating when I catch big errors in research design and such. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you have private sector experience (not even any industry -related, literally just a private sector job) mistakes are shrugged off, whereas if you’re fresh out of school it’s attributed to stupidity and/or carelessness. It’s also common that I’ll make a suggestion and it will be ignored, then someone with Work Experience will suggest the same thing and it will be enthusiastically embraced.

    Two questions: is this normal? And do any of you have tips for dealing with feeling defensive and demoralized because you constantly listen to trash talk about people with a similar background to you?

    1. JuniorDev

      Having a preference for people with work experience over school experience is fairly normal. Exclaiming that a person is “worse than useless” is really not ok. It sounds like your workplace is fairly toxic if people are going on rants like this regularly. IMO that’s a separate issue from the school vs. experience one, but I think if it’s really stressing you out it’s worth saying something if you feel safe doing that, and starting to look for other jobs if you don’t.

    2. Laura

      Well, that VP was a JERK. But companies have every right to prefer people with work experience. Anybody venting about new grads is being unprofessional; that stuff doesn’t have any place in a work environment. Sounds like your company is awfully harsh.

    3. Ad Astra

      It’s hard to tell if the people in your office are being excessive in their discussion of this or if you’re perceiving it that way because you’re sensitive about it.

      In many jobs, being fresh off a PhD and fresh off a bachelor’s would make two candidates equally qualified. (Obviously, it would depend on the job, the industry, and probably the field of study, among other things.) A college education doesn’t generally come with much practical experience, and the practical experience is what’s important.

      So, the preference for people with private sector experience makes lots of sense. The amount and intensity of the bashing that’s apparently going on at your office is pretty over the top, though, assuming your perception is accurate. The longer you work, the less these criticisms will apply to you.

      1. BRR

        A PhD can also be a deterrent. Will they abandon this job for a teaching position? Does the applicant think they are too good for this job? Are they too set in the ways of academia?

      2. Roza

        Yes, I don’t question at all that the private has its own quirks and consequently its own learning curve, so the preference itself makes sense. It’s the constant harping on it that strikes me as weird. And also makes me wonder why they hired me in the first place. The way they talk you’d think people straight out of school had the plague.

        Also agree that it applies to me less and less, but that brings up another weird point. People with a PhD and a year or work experience (ANY white collar work experience…can be a totally different industry) are usually brought on at a level above where I currently am. So…given that I’m apparently doing a good job, will I be promoted when I, too, have 1 year of (very relevant) private sector experience? I’m guessing not, because they usually don’t promote analysts unless they’ve been here a few years. And the one year mark will therefore probably be when I start to look for something else.

        1. Roza

          The other piece of this is that we’re short-staffed (hence the hiring) and I’ve been working 45-50+ hour weeks for the past two months to get projects done on time. I’m also one of only a people in the company who can do certain complicated analytical things…and they’re both several levels above me. So it’s a bit frustrating busting my ass to do things that few other people can while listening to a steady stream of complaints about how people like me are just a burden and can’t possibly contribute. Um…if I’m so useless, build the statistical models yourself.

  101. Anie

    Bahahahaha.

    I complained to an ex/old friend a month or two ago about my job. Usual crap, being stressed, dealing with rude clients.

    Today, as I was showing my boss a video on my phone of a friend whose area was flooding, a message popped up at the top of my screen from the old friend: “Hi! How are you? Is work getting any better?”

    My boss handled it really well. She turned to me and said, “I couldn’t help but notice that message. Is everything going ok?” I just laughed and said it was me being winey about such and such person forever ago (and who I’m told me boss about at the time).

    Still, fuunnnnny but could have been awkward and complicated.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      A little awkward, but it would have been much worse if it had said, “Your boss still being a jerk?”

    2. Rebecca in Dallas

      That is funny! And that probably means your boss values you and wants to make sure you’re happy!

  102. Kate the Little Teapot

    What do you do after an internal interview if you know you were a great candidate who might have been offered the role but someone narrowly edged you for whatever reason? I wasn’t given anything specific I could improve at any point, so clearly they’re not holding the reason against me. In this case we have multiple people in this role and could add more and nearly all hires to this role are internal because it requires a lot of experience with the unique style of teapot making practiced here. So, it’s likely that interviewing again will result in a hire.

    Do you keep in touch with the manager? Do anything else differently at work? Internal interviewing is pretty new to me so I want to make sure I understand all the options and appropriate things to do.

    1. BRR

      I’d thank them for their time and say you hope they keep you in mind if a similar role opens up in the future.

  103. Anon Moose

    Our nonprofit offices are the opposite of fancy or new. Over the almost three years I’ve worked here there have been many problems with temperature regulation, such as unbearably cold in the winter or heat/ac breaking when people change the temp. And the office used to be subdivided so there’s at least three thermostats and there are many many micro climates. One office can need a space heater while the other needs a fan while the next office over is fine.

    So I have a young recent grad coworker who is one of the most junior people there and here temporarily. He CONSTANTLY complains that his office is hot. Loudly and vociferously several times a day. The other day he walked around with a bag of ice from the freezer on his head and complained to coworkers all down the hall. It is warm, and he has a fan constantly running. I sit in an office a few yards away and I am fine. (He also wears full sleeve business attire every day though our office culture is definitely more casual so that may have something to do with it).

    He has now been enlisting a newer manager (who sits down the hall a bit) to change the office thermostat. The problem is that the thermostat is clearly not at all accurate to the actual temperature, and changing the settings does very little for this person’s office but a change can make coworkers’ offices around us frigid. I’ve asked him that if he does change it, not to change it too drastically because it can affect other people. I’ve offered my spare fan, suggested that maybe he should switch wardrobe for the summer or that he move offices when one is open. He won’t do any of those things or says it won’t make a difference and keeps complaining/ changing the temp. But mostly I am just tired of hearing about it, and definitely annoyed. ARG. I’m not his manager, and this is personal not work related, so how do I address this?

    1. I also hate the heat

      If he is constantly and loudly complaining while he is at work I would say that is work related. Unless he has a medical condition affected by the heat doesn’t seem like there’s anything you can do. Maybe you, or someone, could send an email to everyone reminding them of the issues with the thermostat or just put the fan in his office and tell him sorry its too hot but this is an old building, we don’t have money to upgrade this is why you can’t change the temp.

      1. Anon Moose

        A couple people (myself included) have tried that. It is still constant. It is an old building. We all deal and wear layers to accommodate the different temp changes which are unpredictable but just kind of a fact of life. I get that it’s harder for guys to do that with professional clothing but… he’s making this everyone’s problem.

    2. AdAgencyChick

      He’s a recent grad with an OFFICE? I think he should go work in one of those collaborative open offices that’s fully air conditioned and see whether that’s better.

      Signed,
      Crabby Open Office-Hating AdAgencyChick

      1. the gold digger

        Ditto,

        Signed,

        Crabby Open Office Hating Marketing Chick Who Used To Have An Office And Runs Her Space Heater At Work Every Day Even In The Summer

        (And whose Indian name is, “WearsHerWinterCoatAllTheTime.”)

    3. LCL

      Are you asking how to get him to stop complaining, or are you asking how to stop him from messing with the thermostat?
      If it’s the first, everytime he complains, call him on it. ‘That’s the 3rd time this hour, Jherek. I get that you are too warm.’
      If it’s the second, well, thermostats aren’t magic and they aren’t gender restricted. Freeze for awhile then go turn the thermostat back up. This way is inherently confrontational so don’t be a big jerk about it, just do it. Unless you need the managers permission. Then you and the others should ask the manager too.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I’d tell him that his constant complaints make it 1o times worse. I can usually ignore it if it’s hot or cold, but if someone is mentioning it numerous times a day, it seems even more uncomfortable.

      One thing I actually have said is “We are all in the same boat. Everyone is uncomfortable from either heat or cold.”

      Or you could say, “Yes, and dwelling on it makes it worse, doesn’t it?”

  104. New Reader

    There are reorganizations occurring where I work and I’m starting to hear about the potential for my tasks to change/increase and the possibility of a promotion. While I’ve been with the same company for several decades, I’ve never negotiated salary. I just took what was offered for job changes and raises as that seemed to be the way it was done here – very structured pay ranges and raises.

    But I’m getting the impression that should the promotion occur, it might be a chance to negotiate salary for a change. Unfortunately, I don’t think the new responsibilities combined with current tasks will fit into a nice neat classification that is comparable to standard job titles to use for salary comparisons. It will most likely be a compilation of a variety of several types of tasks (e.g., some teapot design, some analysis, some production). And the full scope and extent of each may not be fully known at the point of the promotion.

    Ideas for how to prepare for and approach salary discussions should the promotion occur?

  105. Appleblossom

    So, I work at a small nonprofit but we do fairly big work. We recently hired a young person who many of us now believe is in a sexual/romantic relationship with the President of our Board. We believe that this is not how the relationship has been characterized to my ED. This position was not advertised and the Board President personally pushed the program manager to make this hire. The nature of the relationship came to light due to some posts on social media. The new hire does have the qualification for the job and would have been a strong candidate in an open interview. The fact that the position was not advertised, the board member called personally to recommend this person and the fact that the true nature of the relationship is a secret is troubling to me. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the most problematic), how much of a conflict of interest would you say this is?

    1. Anon Moose

      Oof. Well I can’t speak to conflict of interest, but I would assume that the ED would want to know, since it could affect the organization and them personally.

    2. Ell like L

      Honestly, on a scale of 0-100 Not Your Business, this issue is a 100. Leave it alone and stop gossiping about it. This person is qualified, so let their work stand on its own.

      It would be terrible to walk into a new job and have people gossiping about this, especially since you don’t know for sure if it’s true or not.

      Even if it’s true, what are you going to do about it other than stew? It’s out of your hands.

      1. The Butcher of Luverne

        Yeah, I have to agree with this.

        Unless they are found in flagrante delicto, or the relationship impacts the office, it’s really not your business.

        1. Observer

          Except that is could. It’s the kind of thing that could blow up big time. It would be one thing if someone had gone deep dumpster diving to find some dirt. That’s not something you want to touch with a 100 mile pole, nor is it something you need to worry about. (In fact, I’d be much more worried about the dumpster diver.) But, if either party is putting up social media posts that are publicly view-able that makes the relationship fairly clear, that’s a sign of bad judgement somewhere AND it makes it quite likely that this will come back to haunt the organization.

          I do agree on the gossip bit, though. The thing to do is to NOT discuss it with anyone, with the exception of passing on the link to your ED. And, then that’s it. Don’t even follow up with the ED.

          1. Artemesia

            This sort of thing happens all the time and while it isn’t ethical no one really cares. How will it ‘blow up’ on the organization? No one will care if money is not embezzled and the job is getting done.

            1. Observer

              That’s not true. At least not in the non-profit sector. It’s a clear conflict of interest, which can create all sorts of problems, from terrible PR to legal issues. In NY State, a hire like this would be flatly illegal.

    3. Appleblossom

      Thanks guys. Just wanted a reality check since so much is dysfunctional here that sometimes one wonders what is and is not OK. I was more interested in what the responsibility of a board member would be in such a situation.

      1. Not So NewReader

        As a board member, I would be concerned about who I had to answer to. For example, do I have to prove the job was advertised? Does a set number of applicants have to be interviewed? It depends on who oversees the org and it depends on funding sources.

        I will tell you this, if I knew this to be true then as a board member I would either try to remedy or I would quit the board.

        I am not sure where you fit in relationship to these other people. If they are all senior to you, then I would keep my mouth shut unless a board member asks directly. Then I would only answer with what I had first hand knowledge of. It looks so far like your first hand knowledge is the rumors you hear?
        When you asked this question, I already knew other things were going on, too. Usually a situation like this is a symptom of bigger problems. If there are bigger fish to fry, the board probably will not care or act on this any time soon.

        Please keep an eye peeled for corruption and make sure you do not get hurt in that mess, if you find one.

      2. Observer

        I’m going to somewhat disagree with NSNR. This is TOTALLY not ok, even if this job didn’t need to be posted, etc. For the rest of the board, this is something that should cause them to be very worried, because if it’s true, it is an absolute conflict of interest, and in some states definitely illegal.

        Theoretically, if the posting were public, I’d pass that information on to my ED. However, if things are really this dysfunctional, that might not be your best bet. And, I agree with NSNR that you should do whatever it takes to protect yourself. Looking for a new job might be a good idea here.

  106. Former Avon Sales Rep

    I’m trying to figure out if my salary is competitive for my industry, location, etc. I know there are many factors that go into figuring out a market salary, but I thought I’d ask you all here for some input.

    I work in Communications for a Fortune 200 company. I’m mid-level (been in the industry for almost 10 years) and an individual contributor. I’ve been at my current company for five years. I currently making $65,000 annually (gross) w/no bonuses. (Bonuses are only given to management level employees at my company.) Does this figure seem to be in line?

    1. BRR

      I would need to know a little bit more about what type of role you are in. Being in the industry for 10 years isn’t enough to qualify your salary as it really matters what you do.

      1. Scotty Smalls

        Most of my role involves creating training materials for our sales execs. Its a lot of writing and creating content.

  107. Friday Brain All Week Long

    Ever have a performance review where your boss says you’re a top performer and you’re going to get more responsibility, and then you forget to ask for a raise? Because that is me right now today. FML. I guess I’ll wait until the responsibility materializes and then ask to revisit my salary.

    1. Jillociraptor

      You can totally bring this back up! Next 1:1 — “I was so thrilled to hear that you’re pleased with my performance and hope to give me more responsibilities. I’d love to talk more about that, and also discuss how my compensation might reflect the increased responsibilities. Can we discuss that?”

        1. Friday Brain All Week Long

          Thank you Jillociraptor! You’re right, the conversation is not over just because this meeting is. I’ll revisit it soon and will ask for the raise.

          My husband was recently shocked in hearing that I’ve never asked for a raise before in my life and I was shocked to hear he always has. Not that it’s a gender thing but I still feel like I let down The Womanhood for having so many missed opportunities in my career for more $$.

  108. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

    Adventure of the last 2 days (will be best understood/appreciated by marketing or artist types):
    (all of this was either initially in writing or confirmed later via writing, so no reliance on whisper down the lane instructions)

    Teapot Supplier Sales Rep: Please put our teapots on your website and sell them!

    Me: I would love to sell your fine teapots, but we’ve checked the images you have available on your site, and they don’t meet our minimum standards. We need undecorated images of each style, in each color, in .jpg format. 1200 pixel preferred, 2000 pixel max, 800 pixel absolute min.

    TSSR: But see these images, isn’t what you need (references online images)?

    Me: No, those are thumbnails, only 153 pixels. But! Those images ARE exactly what we need. Can you get exactly those images but in 1200 pixels?

    TSSR: No problem! We’ll do that right away!

    Me : Ok! If you have an FTP site we can pull them from there, or you can FTP to us. Otherwise, you can use Dropbox, but please don’t put individual images up on Dropbox for us to pull. Please zip a folder so we only have to download one thing.

    TSSR: No problem! (few hours later) Here’s the dropbox link!

    And of course, what I find at the Dropbox link is 1 bazillion individual images

    Me: Okay, would you please ask the folks to put all of the images in a folder, ZIP it, and upload the zipped folder to Dropbox so we can download only once.

    TSSR: Ok! (this morning) Here’s the drop box link!

    And, what I find on Dropbox is a .rar, not a .zip. We don’t have a utility to open a .rar and I can’t add programs on our system. After consulting with my IT….

    Me: Ok listen, I need a ZIPPED, .zip, folder please. I can’t open a .rar.

    TSSR: Ok! (few hours later), Here’s the drop box link for a .zip!

    And so I download a 289MB zipped folder, open up and find…….

    Not at all what I need, specified or we discussed.

    head/desk

    9 times out of 10, if a supplier does not have the resources already posted online, this is what happens. (And yes, we’ve a clearly written spec requirements pdf that always goes with any communication. ) But, no problem! Just ask us for what you need!

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.