how can I avoid talking about my wedding at work, asking employers to speed up their hiring process, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can I ask employers to interview me faster because of my money situation?

My electricity was recently shut off and it will be a week or two before it is scheduled to be back on. I am in the process of doing a ton of phone screenings for jobs where the hiring processes are lengthy. I really need a job like yesterday and would like to tell the recruiter or hiring manager my situation and ask whether or not they’d like to bring me in for an in-person interview, in order to speed up the process since maybe the hiring manager will be sympathetic towards my situation. Is this appropriate?

I know it sounds crazy but the longer the hiring process, the further behind I’m getting in paying my bills. I understand that there is a thin line between being desperate for a job and making sure that a candidate is the right fit, but I’m applying to positions that I know I’m a great fit for and have a lot of experience in.

No, definitely don’t do that. It will come across as if you think your personal financial situation means that they should rush their hiring process rather than moving at the pace that makes sense on their end. It’s also likely to make them feel pretty uncomfortable because it’s going to feel like an attempt to guilt them into moving you forward in their process, and that’s likely to hurt rather then help. (People are far less likely to hire you if you make them feel uncomfortable.)

2. How can I avoid talking about my wedding with coworkers?

I have always been a very private person and don’t like to discuss much about my personal life at work. This is especially true when it comes to my love life. I get along rather well with my coworkers but I do not consider them friends, and as such I have not ever mentioned to them that I got engaged over a year ago.

I understand it is unusual for someone to want to keep such exciting news so private, but I’ve always felt that a strong separation between my work life and my personal life is necessary for me to function happily in both.

The wedding is coming up soon and afterwards I will be faced with a dilemma. I know that showing up to work after a week of PTO with a wedding ring on is going to raise some eyebrows and invite questioning from curious coworkers. I surely will appreciate their congratulations when I confirm that I did, indeed, get married, but I am not interested in discussing any details about the wedding to them as I feel it crosses that work/life boundary I like to maintain. How do I handle these questions from coworkers while still maintaining a comfort zone of privacy for myself?

Well … you can do that, but it may come at the price of your coworkers viewing you as pretty chilly. Many people see weddings as something your community celebrates with you and will see showing an interest in it as showing an interest in you. Refusing to answer questions may come across as a rejection of their good will toward you.

Is there a middle ground, where you could share a few details but steer the conversation to something else pretty quickly? For example, could you just share the type of location and “it was beautiful — we had such a great time” and then quickly move to “oh, I’m exhausted from wedding talk — tell me about how X is going”?

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Wearing dresses when the rest of my office wears jeans and t-shirts

This might be a silly question but I was wondering how bad it looks to dress more formally than the majority of my coworkers. A few months ago. I started a new job with pretty much no dress code. The vast majority of people wear t-shirts and jeans everyday. It’s great!

The “issue” is that I have a wardrobe full of business-ish dresses, a better fit at my last job, which I’ve been wearing. It’s been brought up before by coworkers, but only in very kind circumstances such as, “you always look put together!” It’s not like I’m wearing suits, but it does seem funny sitting in on meetings with my boss who always has on faded jeans and flannels. I’m also worried about coming off as too feminine which I worry about in a male-dominated field (tech).

The reason I’m not really interested in dressing down is twofold. First, I just don’t like jeans. They don’t fit me well and I kind of just hate wearing them. Also, on a more vain note, I just like my clothes and would hate to buy a new wardrobe. Any advice you have would be appreciated!

If the question were about suits, I’d say definitely not to wear suits or anything close to them in a t-shirts-and-jeans office, because that tends to put you at a remove from everyone else. But dresses can be less of an issue as long as they’re  not super business-y (meaning as long as they’re not basically a suit in dress form).

That said, if they’re making you look like the only adult in the room when the group is looked at as a whole — or if you’re getting much delicate-flower treatment from male colleagues — I’d bite the bullet and buy some less formal work clothes. That doesn’t have to mean jeans, though — it could mean khakis or other casual pants.

4. I have to put together a monthly staff newsletter than no one reads

Last year, my manager (our executive director) started a monthly staff e-newsletter. It reviews what events are coming up (special guest events, workshops, lectures, etc.) , if we need to use the alternate parking plan, our weekly lunch special, staff birthdays, and new staff. It is sent to our work email addresses. After a few months, he handed it off to me because he “didn’t have time for it” and I’m his administrative assistant.

So each month, I email the department heads and they email me the info. I always have to reformat it and change the font because everyone has their personal favorite, and although I have asked multiple times and even send a reminder each time, they forget. I also put the date/deadline I need it by. After I receive all the info, I send it to director of marketing and cc to my boss for editing and proofreading. Once approved, the director of marketing reformats it again for the program she uses to send it.

Would it not be easier to have everyone to send it to the director of marketing initially so only has to be reformatted once? I could still send out the reminder and they could just send it to her. Honestly, everyone would prefer to just cut it out altogether because no one other than me, my boss,. and the director of marketing are reading it, and that’s only because we have to format/edit/proofread. We have so many meetings and use email for most communication, so we all know what is going on and if we need to use the alternate parking plan.

Is there any way to bring up having the staff send the info directly to the director of marketing to reduce how much work we put into something that only three out of 85 staff members are reading? Or possibly a way to suggest that discontinue it? It takes up a good chunk of my time that week and it seems pointless to work on something that no one is reading. Yes, I have told my manager that many staff members are not reading it and his solution was for me to print it off and post it by the time clock. Directors and managers don’t use the time clock and nonexempt employees are not going to stop to read a four-page document.

Don’t suggest having everyone send their info to the marketing director, because that would mean that she would be the one spending her time reformatting it and sending reminders. They’ve asked you to do that part because it’s a reasonable thing to ask an admin to help with; while it’s annoying work, it doesn’t make sense to transfer it to someone more senior.

You could indeed try to make a pitch for ending it or doing a more abbreviated version of it — but it sounds like you’ve tried that. If you’ve only brought it up once, you could try again, this time including exactly how much time you’re spending on it each week and possibly enlisting the marketing director in your pitch … but if that doesn’t work, you probably need to just accept that this is part of the job, at least for now.

5. I completely forgot about one of my annual goals

July is the month we get performance reviews at my office. I have been here for three years and have received great reviews each year, in addition to having a good rapport with my bosses and colleagues.

In getting my work summary together in anticipation of scheduling my review, I discovered I had not addressed a goal given to me last year. This worries me because normally I am a very conscientious person and make an effort to stay on top of assignments. I believe I got so caught up in achieving one of my other new goals (which has been very successful) that I didn’t think about it, and I have not looked back on it until now.

How do I approach this with my supervisor? I don’t think that the skipping of this goal harms any projects or workflow, and she has never brought up that it was a problem or that anything else has been unsatisfactory, for that matter. She may have forgotten it herself, but will certainly see it when preparing for my review. It was, after all, officially submitted with the rest of my review last year. I have included it in my proposed goals for the new year, but I want to be sure I handle my manager’s response to this professionally and assure her it will not happen again.

Just be straightforward about what happened and how you’ll avoid it happening in the future: “I had a sickening realization when I looked at my goals that we had discussed me doing X, and I got so caught up in doing Y and Z that X fell off my radar. I’m including it in my goals for the coming year, and this time I’m going to put quarterly goals check-ins on my calendar so that I can make sure that I’m on track with all of them throughout the year.” (That’s a good idea to do anyway, even if this hadn’t happened.)

{ 328 comments… read them below }

  1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    OP #3, you could also try styling down your dresses a bit more – like pairing them with leggings, or Keds instead of nicer shoes, or wearing your hair in a ponytail or other more casual style when your dress is a bit nicer.

      1. Loose Seal*

        LOL, my entire comment described the woman in that picture! I should have clicked the link instead of just glancing through the comments.

    1. NicoleK*

      When I’ve worn dresses to the office, I’ll pair the dress with flats, simple jewelry, and a denim jacket.

      1. Lindrine*

        This is what I have done before too. +100. Plus I like the structure and light warmth of the jacket for summer air conditioning

      2. AVP*

        I was going to suggest this too! A nice-looking backpack can also help, especially if you need to carry a laptop around (I have a canvas one from Everlane that I like but there are a ton out there).

    2. Laura*

      I completely agree with using accessories to make your dresses seem a bit more casual. No pearls or heels. Keep jewelry more costumey – like big, colorful beads – and definitely stick with flats. I also like wearing dresses and own a lot of them. I’ve found that by adjusting my accessories I can make most of them fit almost any (non-suit wearing) office environment.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      I came here to say the same thing. If you have suits then break them up into separates. Wear flats. Stick with plastic jewelry instead of metallic. Wear a flannel shirt as a “jacket” over your dress.
      And don’t forget “I like to dress up” and “Jeans don’t look good on me” are perfectly reasonable statements. If you don’t judge other people’s clothing then it should become a non-issue with your own clothing. Just make sure that you can crawl under tables etc when you need to. That’s when the frou-frou dresses get commented on.

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        Chiming in to agree that the reasons you provided, OP, are fine. I know women who wear primarily wear dresses to work because they suit their bodies better than pants or are more comfortable. A lot times, too, dresses are easier.

        1. Afiendishthingy*

          So much easier! They’re great if you oversleep and don’t want to spend time coordinating an “outfit”. And so comfy especially in hot weather.

          Although it still may fall into “buying a new wardrobe” sundresses are nice for a casual office too. My summer uniform this year has been fitted t-shirt + casual elastic-waist knee length skirt. (I keep buying them in different colors. It’s a sickness. But at least they’re pretty cheap!) My field is female-dominated and my workplace isn’t as casual as yours, though. But a more casual tee (with humorous graphic? That would be fun) paired with cute skirt might be a good compromise?

          But yeah, don’t wear jeans if you don’t like jeans.

          1. afiendishthingy*

            I could talk a LOT about skirts to buy online, so I won’t here! I will try to remember to post my go-to skirts this weekend.

          2. Anonamoose*

            OMG I have a black one of these that I randomly bought at Target two years ago and i can’t tell you how glad I am that I bought it (and would buy more if they would carry them). It’s like insta-classy for casual Friday.

        2. Honeybee*

          I have a coworker who exclusively wears maxi skirts. She has a closet full of them. She hates pants.

    4. Junior Dev*

      I’m glad this question happened because I’m about to start a tech job. Maybe I’ll wear my cat tights! They have little cat silhouettes on them.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Those are awesome! My daughter has several pair of illustrated tights that she orders from Japan, and she gets loads of compliments on them. They look nice with a t-shirt and skirt outfit, too.

      2. Kiki*

        In my experience, for most tech companies cat tights are far more accepted than a business dress. I am wearing my “Beast Mode” socks today.

        1. TrainerGirl*

          I work for a tech company, and since we’re in the DC area, we’re a bit more dressy than our Silicon Valley HQ, I usually wear some trouser jeans and a blouse/sweater combination. I’m casual but still smart, and true to my style without being overly formal.

    5. RocksAnonymous*

      I’d definitely echo the comments on flats – but go for ballet-style if possible. Pointed shoes at my office in flyover country read too dressy when others around me are wearing flip flops – I’ll wear my nude pointed flats only with a dress/skirt that falls on the more casual side.

      I also found that adding cardigans (instead of a blazer) also helps to look pulled together without coming across as overly stuffy.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Yes, the leggings and flat shoes give the outfit a more casual vibe. I have a knit sheath dress from Mod Cloth that I wear the same way to my business casual office. I’ve also worn it to a couple of parties, pairing it with heels to dress it up.

    7. Loose Seal*

      Yup, this is what I came here to say: It’s not your dress that makes you look pulled together. It’s YOU that’s making you look pulled together. I’m betting that you look pulled together even if you are in jeans (even if you don’t like them). Some people just have a knack of knowing how to look pulled together.

      Spend some time looking at fashion blogs and tumblrs to try to identify a style you are comfortable with that uses the clothes you have. Accessories are generally your best friend. Maybe imagine you are going to wear the dress out running errands on the weekend; what’s appropriate to go with that? A casual scarf, capri-length leggings, a funky piece of jewelry?

      1. Chinook*

        I want to add that I went through what OP #3 is going through when I transitioned from working in Japan (think business suits and classy dresses) to working on a reserve and a small town in Northern Alberta. Neither place allowed me to do much shopping and my budget was tight for a while, so I just learned to be comfortable in my dresses. Footwear and jewelry helped a lot, but I found attitude went a long way as well. Basically, I acted casual in the clothes (think rough housing with a group of junior high students in a skirt) and tried to emit an air of comfort and casualness. Basically, I wore the clothes, they didn’t wear me.

        Now, I am even more comfortable in dresses than ever before and love it. True, I would get the odd ribbing from people about “oh, we didn’t think you actually owned jeans” when I would show up for work expecting to do something grubby (think moving offices), but I am the first to point out that I am probably more comfortable than they are because I can buy dresses that fit much more easily than anything else (thank you AAM readers for pointing me to eshakti dot com).

    8. Spooky*

      Yes, and there are lots of more casual dresses that fit in nicely with the jeans-and-t-shirts vibe. I practically live in those now, since I just can’t bring myself to do jeans even when the rest of my office does. I tend to be a fancier person – if offices were a completely dress code-free environment, I’d go in completely the other direction and turn up to work in a prom dress.

      1. ZenJen*

        yes, I do casual dresses to work. I also have some dressier pieces, that I’ll pair with more casual tops or bottoms, such as wearing a plain white t-shirt with a fancier patterned skirt and ballet flats; purple silk top with a casual lavender cotton skirt and sandals. it’s still fun but not overdressed.

      2. Koko*

        A good choice is you’re looking to expand your wardrobe with some more casual dresses is bamboo.

        One of my favorite work dresses is a knee-length natural-color bamboo dress with a blue ink Damask print, the fabric is substantial and not flimsy but it’s slightly stretchy and softer than the softest well-loved cotton t-shirt. I feel like I’m wearing a comfy old t-shirt when I wear it, but I always get compliments on how pretty it is/how nice I look. Open toe shoes are fine in my office so I usually pair my casual dresses with a flat brown leather slide sandal or a pair of wedges with a cork or other natural-colored base to match the nice-but-casual vibe.

      3. Christopher Tracy*

        I tend to be a fancier person – if offices were a completely dress code-free environment, I’d go in completely the other direction and turn up to work in a prom dress.

        I’d show up in an evening gown. I love them so much.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha. That reminds me of when my daughter was a little girl. She’d come home from elementary school and sit at the table doing her homework dressed in a rhinestone tiara and an old prom dress I’d found at a yard sale for the kids’ costume bin.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            LOL, that’s going to be my niece soon (she’s almost two). She loves dresses and tutus. She saw a skirt with an attached tutu in the store on Saturday, grabbed it, and said, “Awwww. Pwetty.” (Her r’s need work.) My mom had to buy her all new clothes.

        2. Agile Phalanges*

          At my prior company, we did just that–we joked that since other companies had “casual Friday,” but we were casual every day (seriously, very casual), that we should have a dress-up Friday. So we picked a date and we did it. Folks busted out their business attire they hadn’t had to wear since getting this job. One department took it a step further and wore their dressiest clothes from the eighties, complete with gaudy gold jewelry. It was so awesome. If you have the appropriate office culture for this, put together a “prom/bridesmaid” dress day (and suits for the guys) and go all out! Maybe there’s a guy in your office that has a powder blue suit with ruffly shirt! :-)

          1. Sparkly Librarian*

            So did my last employer (tech company). I wore a borrowed tuxedo jacket with tails to Formal Friday once, over jeans and Converse. I was still pretty new, and the head of HR was so tickled that he pulled me over to introduce me to the CEO.

    9. Leena Wants Cake*

      Assuming that a) it’s not actively going to negatively impact your coworkers’ attitudes toward you, b) it’s not completely impractical given the nature of your work duties, and c) you are comfortable, dress however YOU like. I enjoy deliberately wearing “feminine” attire when engaged in traditionally non-feminine activities because all people (especially in male-dominated fields) need to be reminded that skill, competence, and professionalism come in skirts as well as pants. Former supervisor was initially concerned that my skirts and dresses were too “nice” for a job that required regularly handling dusty boxes, but the comments stopped when it became apparent that my clothes didn’t stop me from (literally) getting my hands dirty.

    10. AS*

      I came here to say this! I also went from a “country club casual” workplace to a jeans casual workplace a little over a year ago, and can still wear all the same dresses–I just changed how I accessorize. Casual flats, Toms/Keds, casual sandals like Clarks or Birkenstocks, even Converse and socks. Cute scarves with prints. Soft, slouchy cardigans. Big jewelry. I love the denim jacket idea. If you are at all nerdy, any jewelry and accessories referencing sci-fi/fantasy, video games, or internet memes will probably also go far at a tech company. (No worries if not – just pointing it out because I am a huge nerd myself, and I get lots of compliments on my Game of Thrones house sigils infinity scarf.)

      If you like wearing makeup and don’t want to pare down to the bare minimum, I’d actually say you can take it in the opposite direction and do more “fun” looks with colorful products that might not be seen at a more conservative workplace.

      Overall, I also agree that you shouldn’t and don’t have to change your look if you don’t want to, but if it’s something that will make you feel uncomfortable, there are a lot of ways to find a happy medium.

      1. AS*

        And of course I said the exact opposite of what I meant! That should read “if it’s something that makes you MORE comfortable”.

    11. INTP*

      Yes, most dresses barring the most business-y or formal can be dressed down pretty easily:
      -Add leggings or opaque tights
      -Add a black long-sleeve turtleneck under a dress if that suits the style
      -Wear with flats, boots, or booties instead of heels/pumps. Even converse work with some dresses for some environments.
      -Wear with a military, leather, or denim jacket or an oversize cardigan instead of a blazer
      -Wear a topknot, loose waves, or ponytail rather than a more business-formal hairstyle
      -Make sure your makeup isn’t too “done” and formal looking. To look polished but fresh and casual, I would wear more color but less total product. For example, wear a bold red or berry lipstick with natural-looking skin, a bit of blush, and just mascara on the eyes, or an emerald eye liner with natural skin and a neutral, not-too-matte lip. Avoid a full face of base and go for tinted moisturizer or light foundation instead if your skin allows, don’t wear lip liner, and for the love of god don’t contour.

    12. DMented Kitty*

      I’m in a very casual IT environment, and I wear dresses that I can dress up/down. I stay away from structured, plain pieces (most of my dresses are maxi and flowery) – and if I get pulled into a more formal meeting with, say, Corporate – I bring in a dark blazer to throw over it. Otherwise, it’s cardigans or denim jackets. Sometimes I wear faux leather leggings with a more “formal” top and no one bats an eye. My outfits during the week range from pencil skirt dresses with heels to just cargo pants and a Pusheen t-shirt.

      Find an accessory to make stuff look less formal – change up your shoes or jewelry, throw on an additional article of clothing that makes it more fun and playful, experiment with bright colors – there are quite a lot of options :)

  2. Dan*


    Re: fit

    FWIW, you actually can’t assess fit from the outside. First, fit is more about the soft aspects of the job, which you can’t know until you meet people on your team. Second, most job ads suck, so you have no idea what they are truly looking for.

    I once applied for (and interviewed on site) for what I thought was my dream job out of grad school. The job ad could have been a cut and paste job from my resume, it was that perfect.

    And then I interviewed. Pay was way less than “average” (I ultimately accepted a job paying 45% more), and when I was onsite, people were ice-box chilly. The job description might have been perfect, but the fit just wasn’t there. I didn’t want to show up to work with a bunch of people who came across as if they would rather be elsewhere.

  3. Mike*

    Re #4: I don’t trust the “everyone” and “no one” does ____ arguments without proof. See if the marketing team has metrics (they better) and truly see if people are reading it.

    I know I’m not a fan of our staff newsletter but I do actually skim it to see if there is anything important in there.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I agree with this – if there are 85 staff, the OP probably hasn’t heard from each one of them directly about whether or not they read the newsletter.

      However, if lots of stuff is getting duplicated in the newsletter and email, that’s a problem – for example, if the parking schedule is in the newsletter AND being sent in a separate email, that’s irksome and does train people to ignore either the newsletter or other emails. For each thing that appears in the newsletter and elsewhere, I’d recommend considering whether it makes more sense to centralize it (for example, if the schedule is always set ahead of time) or keep it as separate emails (like if it changes a lot). Then take your case to the folks above you for how to improve the newsletter.

      Another question: OP, you say that you format everything and then the director of marketing has to reformat it again. That does sound redundant – but I think a better solution is for you to get whatever software or training you need so you can format it in its final form and the director of marketing can skip that step. This might mean more time on your end, but it’ll reflect well on you if you’re able to streamline the process overall.

      1. ItsaMe*

        I had the same thought about the admin formatting it the way the director of marketing wants it. That seems like the logical solution.

        Also, can the updates be turned into (short) bullet points instead of paragraphs? People will be much more likely to read bullets.

        1. Joseph*

          Good idea of the bullet points. Many of the items that OP specifically mentioned – birthdays, upcoming company events, weekly lunch specials – seem ideally suited to a simple bullet list, organized by week. You probably don’t need to provide many details, but if you need to, just put it in a short footnote.
          July 18th-22nd: Elizabeth’s birthday (Monday), Marketing Seminar (Thursday, 10:00 AM), lunch special is Glazed Ham.
          July 25-25: John’s birthday (Tuesday), Teapot Spout Safety Training* (all day Wednesday and Thursday), lunch special is Pizza.
          *As a reminder, this training is mandatory for all employees in the Warehouse Division and Traveling Teapot Repair Division.

          1. JessaB*

            Or better yet, when I did the newsletter at my job we had a calendar as the last page (now ours was a paper one this was way pre-email and other stuff of that ilk being a common thing one had.)

            But maybe instead of putting date specific stuff in the newsletter those things could go on a shared calendar (first you wouldn’t have to repeat events that occurred regularly like birthdays (you could programme that,)) and second people could look at it and see changes. You could still make it “mandatory training” or something like that. Also I haven’t used Outlook in forever, but I think you can do colours (birthdays are one colour, paid holidays another, mandatory training a third, etc.)

      2. pomme de terre*

        Hear hear, wrt the emails AND the newsletter being redundant. The best case scenario of a company newsletter is that it keeps a lot of small memos from piling up in your inbox by compiling them into one giant memo that you skim once a week (or month or whatever) instead of the constant interruption of a dozen emails a day about birthdays, parking, 401k enrollment, etc.

        And yes, the OP should get trained on the marketing software so she can make the production faster and see if people really aren’t reading it. Most systems can tell you what (if any) links people click on too, so she can learn what they are interested in and include more of that.

    2. Joseph*

      In most cases with these sorts of newsletters, the majority of people won’t necessarily “read” the entire letter cover-to-cover, but they’ll almost certainly at least glance at the headlines to see if there’s anything that catches their eyes.

      That said, I think you could and should certainly trim it down. Four pages sent out monthly seems way too long for an 85-person company. Is there really that many interesting stories? I’ll bet you end up adding a few things which aren’t really widely relevant. As an example, the parking plan probably shouldn’t be in there given that you likely send out reminder emails with details a couple days beforehand anyways.

      This also can work as a good compromise – it’s not throwing the newsletter out entirely, but saves everybody time in preparation. Also, people are more likely to read a one-page newsletter than a four-page one.

      1. Newby*

        What about suggesting that the updates from different departments be optional? It would cut down on space and the reminder e-mails. If something is important and they actually want it in there, they can contact you. We have a newsletter like this and it works well because the fluff has been removed.

        1. pomme de terre*

          I had to corral a company newsletter like this one at my last job. I contacted all the departments and they had to respond to me, but “I don’t have anything this week” was an acceptable response. They had to actively opt out, which I think made participation a little better than if they’d had to opt in only when they had something going on and remembered to tell me.

        2. JMegan*

          I wouldn’t make the department updates optional, because the most likely scenario is that all the departments will opt out, and OP will have a different problem. But you could certainly cut them down a lot – instead of doing an update from each department each month, do an update from ONE department each month, on a rotation basis.

    3. OP #4*

      The marketing director uses Constant Contact to send the newsletter and she told us in a meeting that in the last 6 months, only 2 people a month regularly open the newsletter- me and my manager. I assume that means she has some way to track that. When I asked my manager how we should address the fact that no one is reading the newsletter, he told me to print it and post it at the time clock. I have also asked several staff members about the newsletter and they all said some version of “I don’t read the newsletter because I know what is going on”.

      Trying to keep the original question short and to the point, I think I left out an important detail: We have a monthly events meeting that all the managers and directors (all 17 of them) attend and update any changes to what is planned. We also have a staff calendar in Outlook that everyone has access to that has all meeting, events and staff birthdays on it. If there are any changes, I make those as soon as I return to my desk after the meeting.

      My manager told me the way he wanted it to do be done was to gather all the info and put it in a Word document (he sent me a template), making sure that all text is the same font and size, and then send to him and the marketing director. After everything has been edited and proofed, the marketing director puts it into Constant Contact, changes the the font, adds a couple of pictures, maybe a bit of Word Art and sends it out.

      I really like Joseph and Newby’s suggestions below. I think I will bring it up to my manager again and see if we can trim it down a bit. If he says no I will keep doing it as he likes because he assigned it to me and it’s my job to follow his directions.

      1. Aloe Vera*

        Constant Contact and other email marketing tools register “opens” when the images within the email are downloaded. We used a tool like this at my last company for internal emails and were similarly dismayed that no one was reading them, according to the stats. However, we subsequently learned that our email client did not download emails by default. That meant many people were actually opening and reading the emails, but not downloading the images and therefore not registering as an “open.” Could this be happening in your case too?

        1. OP#4*

          I’m not sure since I’ve never been allowed to use it but I will bring it up with the marketing manager.

          1. SophieChotek*

            Also if they are using Constant Contact…
            I use Constant Contact for my company’s external emails (once a month)
            If it is four page long, I am not sure how many sections this newsletter has (i.e. broken up by graphics, dividers, etc. in Constant Contact), but in terms of formatting…as far I as I can tell, honestly, the font doesn’t matter — because Constant Contact will have to format all the text again when it gets cut & pasted (size, font, bold, etc. will all have to be done again in Constant Contact), so I can see where you might need to format that in word (i.e. bold, section break, underline, italics) to ensure it is replicated in Constant Contact

            I might also suggest/agree with suggestion you be allowed to learn Constant Contact
            Most accounts allow for multiple users
            Then like people said, you can track who opened the email (down to the email addresses) and how many clicks per URL (those are not tied to email addresses, as I recall)

          2. SophieChotek*

            Okay, sorry, missed that bit about marketing wanting in same font.
            Seems sort of odd to me, since it all has to be reformatted again anyway in Constant Contact (or at least I do)…never mind my above comment

          3. Meg Murry*

            Or along the same lines, you may want to talk to IT or do some kind of informal survey to make sure people are actually *getting* the messages – we just updated our Outlook server, and now it keeps trying to re-route a bunch of my messages that I don’t always open immediately into my “junk” or “clutter” folders. Since it’s coming from an outside email address (Constant Contact) and few people are opening it, it could very easily be heading for a Spam/Junk/Clutter folder.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Or it could be that the email can be viewed in a preview pane without actually being *opened.*

      2. JMegan*

        Good grief, that sounds like a ton of work. I would definitely talk to your manager again and see if you can reduce or eliminate it. Maybe sit down with the marketing director first, and get her to help you plan what you’re going to say.

        Also, find out if you can get Constant Contact, so you can collect the info and format it all in one step. I know your manager said to do it in Word first – is that because he wants to proofread if, without using the design software himself? I don’t know how Constant Contact works at all, but I assume it must have some sort of an “export to PDF” or similar function, because this must be a pretty common requirement for something like this.

          1. SophieChotek*

            Ah, I see, if the design elements are added, maybe the marketing does want to add the graphics, etc. and pick them.

            I agree, it is easier to proof in Word than in Constant Contact

      3. Manders*

        Ok, that’s pretty weird–a marketing director REALLY needs to be on top of metrics like open rates. This is a lot of work on the part of your marketing director for zero results. Either she’s not doing her job well, or there’s something else going on at your company that’s making people unwilling to speak up when your manager demands that they keep working on projects that aren’t getting results.

        1. SophieChotek*

          I agree. And they are blazingly obvious on Constant Contact. First page, it says “Campaign XYZ”, Number Sent, Number Opened (% opened), then secondary page shows bounces and unsubscribes (neither of which should be happening for an internal email)

    4. LAI*

      Agreed. Our staff newsletter is usually 50% useless and sometimes 100%, but I still always skim it to see if there’s something important.

      If you want people to start reading the newsletter, you need to start putting important information in there, and don’t send it out in any other way. Then people will start getting the message that they need to read it.

  4. A Non*

    #3 – I’d take the opportunity to experiment with fun, casual accessories – especially shoes! People are wearing colorful canvas sneakers with dresses a lot right now. It’s your call whether going for a funky and creative look is going to cause problems with being taken seriously in your environment, though. (Personally I love it! Tech doesn’t have to mean dowdy.) If you decide you need to tone down the formality a couple notches, maybe look for knit or denim skirts.

  5. Panda Bandit*

    #1 – Do an internet search for “utility bill assistance (your state)”. Since you’re between jobs and struggling to pay the bills you may qualify for various assistance programs, including food stamps. They can help take some of the pressure off until you get hired.

    1. rando*

      +1. Many states have utility assistance. The electric company itself may have its own program. Go to a food pantry for meals instead of buying food. Apply for food stamps and unemployment. Go to the “gigs” section of Craigslist for quick money. Offer people you know to babysit, clean their houses, mow the lawn, whatever for money. This is crunch time.

      1. IWorkHardForTheMoney*

        Also, most cities have restaurants and they are always hiring. Get a job waiting tables in the interim while you look for a job. Then, keep that job 1-2 days a week once you get hired to pad your paychecks until you can get back on your feet. Even if it’s only 6 – 12 months of an extra shift or two. Will be well worth it in the long run.

        1. Young'n*

          A five guys fast food restaurant opened near me a year ago. 500 applications for 15 spots.

          Don’t assume the op could easily get work and is not applying to low wage jobs. The five guys in question hired mostly teenagers when I know for a fact PhDs had applied.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yeah, I remember when I was in college, thinking it would be okay that my summer loan fell through because “I can always get a job at McD’s.” Turned out I couldn’t.

          2. SophieChotek*

            Yes; I know people with PhDs working at coffee shops, etc.
            Sad state of our economy/problems in academia–finding a job there!

        2. BuildMeUp*

          Trying to find a job in the interim is a good idea, but it’s often not as easy as you’d think to get a restaurant job. There is more competition than there used to be, and they are usually looking for someone with experience.

          1. JMegan*

            Yup. And once you have a job like that, it makes it even harder to find another job, because you have significantly less time to job search, and because it can be harder to schedule interviews.

          2. Emilia Bedelia*

            And also, keeping a job for “1-2 days a week” is not always an option. If they wanted someone for 1-2 days a week they’d have hired them in the first place and minimum wage retail/restaurant jobs are notorious for schedule inflexibility that would make it hard to work around another job
            While it’s a good idea, I think “just get another job” is much easier said than done

    2. BabyAttorney*

      +1. My area has a program where I can round my bill up to the next dollar to support people in our area who are struggling with their bills and I’ve done it for years. I’ll never miss thatn $0.83, but if 100 people give $0.83, that’s easily an electricity bill or two for someone else.

  6. Cookie*

    #3, I’m often the only one in a dress (albeit in a business casual office) because I have a long torso and very short legs, which means pants of any kind look weird and unflattering on my body. There is nothing that would make me wear pants, so I would just tone down the vibe by adding funky jewelry, colored tights, or a cutesy cardigan to move from a professional look to a casual look.

    1. Jen*

      I hardly ever wear pants. They’re just not comfortable. It also seems the way women’s sizing works, one size is always too big and then the size down is too small. And I’m not paying to get all of my pants altered. A dress or a skirt works fine for me. I work at a slightly dressier office so no one says too much. And I have plenty of t-shirt fabric dresses that work fine on the casual days.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      Great suggestions. My body is similar to yours! I just tossed another pair of pants that didn’t really fit me, so now I’m down to only two pairs I can wear to work– and neither look very good. Skirts and dresses are where it’s at!

      1. Cookie*

        I’m with you on only having two pairs of pants (both jeans for certain social situations). That’s probably the right number to own, just in case there’s a pants-related emergency.

    3. Parfait*

      I just got rid of the last pair of pants in my closet (aside from workout clothing) because I’m the same way. Dress + cardigan is my uniform. I work in a very casual office and I wear a lot of jersey and ponte dresses. Dresses don’t necessarily have to be super formal.

      1. ReanaZ*

        Me too! I officially own zero pairs of non-pajama/workout pants. I felt a little awkward on casual Friday my first couple of weeks in my new job but then it stopped being a deal at all.

        Tone it down if you want, have more fun with your style if you want, or you just keep doing you and people will get used it it shortly and get over it.

  7. caryatis*

    Re OP #2 (the wedding), I also basically “showed up to work after a week of PTO with a wedding ring on,” without telling my coworkers beforehand. It was basically no big deal. Yes, as Alison says, weddings are something people are interested in, and some people expressed surprise or asked questions. But, assuming you’re in a decent workplace, it’s all going to be well-meant. I got a lot of congratulations and a lot of “You eloped? That’s the way to do it!” and then the conversation passed to someone else’s wedding planning. If you don’t feed the conversation more than necessary to be polite, it will dry up sooner.

    1. Joseph*

      True, but you do need to at least acknowledge it if someone asks and discuss it a little bit.

      I can get that you’re a private person, but it’s not like people are expecting details of what happened in your honeymoon suite or every minor detail of the wedding. Give them a simple, fairly vague two-sentence synopsis and it solves the issue: “Yeah, I got married last weekend, didn’t want to make a huge deal out of it. We kept it small and quiet, but it was great. We had a [insert one random item that people commented on]. Our honeymoon was in [location] and it was lots of fun.” Talking about your wedding with co-workers is like a 45-second conversation, just grin and bear it.

      That said, as someone who was recently married less than two months ago,I can assure you that no matter how vague or specific you are (I’m generally the latter), it will basically become old news to co-workers after about two weeks, max. In fact, the more willing you are to talk about it, the quicker it will die down – whereas if you try to dodge the conversation entirely, people will wonder what’s up and start asking more detailed questions.

      1. Snowglobe*

        Your last sentence – I was going to say exactly that. The fact is, most people really don’t spend that much time thinking about their co-workers personal life – they just ask questions to be polite. After hearing a little bit about the wedding, they’ll go on about their business and forget the topic. But if you act like it’s a state secret and you don’t want to divulge any detail – that will strike people as odd, and make them think about it more than they otherwise would have.

      2. Former Retail Manager*

        Yes…I second Snowglobe’s comment. People who are this intensely private, in the manner OP mentions, always appear to be “hiding something” to me. If it’s just a wedding or baby shower or anniversary celebration, why so secretive? Give them a few details, let them say congrats, and everyone can move on.

    2. DuckDuckMøøse*

      People will talk no matter what you do. It’s better to acknowledge and give them some brief fodder, or else they could be talking about it behind your back. They probably will, anyway. :( We had a lady who was excited about being engaged, planning the wedding for a year out, who suddenly eloped. Everyone was pretty intrusive about the big change in plans, both to her face and behind her back. Of course, there was a backstory that wasn’t anyone’s business, and the comments ended up being quite hurtful to her.

    3. Afiendishthingy*

      When I saw Alison’s headline, I thought “a coworker getting married and sharing the minutia of wedding planning? That sounds amazing!” Because seriously, I hate trying to fake being interested in seating charts and centerpieces. But yes, figure out your two-sentence sound bite and move on. They’ll get over it.

    4. BananaPants*

      In my case, my boss and coworkers knew I was getting married because I took 2 days off (Thursday and Friday, wedding was on Saturday, our honeymoon was delayed to around 6 weeks later). When I got engaged they asked if it was an engagement ring when they saw it (which was awkward – why, YES, the half carat diamond solitaire on my left ring finger is an engagement ring, and I wasn’t quite sure what else they thought it was).

      When I came back the Monday after the wedding it was a topic of conversation for around 30 seconds and then we moved on. My boss said HR would get my name changed on my cube and email alias and that was about it.

      Way more of a big deal was made about my two pregnancies to date than was made about my wedding.

      1. Dweali*

        I’ve seen so many people wearing “engagement style” rings for things other than being engaged that I don’t even assume someone’s engaged when I see one; that could be the reason they asked if you got engaged instead of just straight up saying congrats

    5. Bwmn*

      I have to say, I think that if OP #2 happens to be a guy – there will likely be less chit chat and discussion around a wedding than should the OP be a woman. Given the gendered reality that most weddings are regarded, a man not coming to the office to chit chat about getting engaged and planning a wedding will read differently than a woman refusing to acknowledge or discuss an engagement ring for months.

      That being said, I do believe that having a little chit chat prepared I think is important. While I know if may feel like crossing over work life and personal life, try thinking of it like an exercise in demonstrating soft skills. Because shutting down conversation around the wedding will read far more oddly than talking a little and then changing the subject.

      1. Ife*

        I agree, men are generally not expected to discuss this anywhere near as much as women. Either way, a two or three sentence description plus answering a few follow up comments is fine, then change the subject. Five minutes tops.

        I also expect that if OP is not changing their last name, the wedding will fade pretty quickly from people’s minds or perhaps not even register if they don’t notice the ring.

        1. many bells down*

          Yes, I remember my husband came home from work once and said “Apparently “Paul” got married over the weekend.” Nobody even knew Paul was in a relationship. And since the office was 95% guys they all said “Oh, ok, cool.” and that was it.

    6. Bradguy*

      OP #2 here,
      I think you’re right, caryatis, engaging it politely is probably the best way to make it go away quickly. I think I was mostly just worried about people being offended that they weren’t invited (which has been an ongoing issue from family for our small-ish sized wedding) or informed beforehand. But after reading the comments here I think I’m assuming that my coworkers will care way more than they actually will.

      1. Kiki*

        Most coworkers will be relieved, not offended! It’s tough to find yet another creative way to get out of a wedding, shower, or barbecue/swim party without seeming rude. You are saving them an excuse! :) Have a lovely wedding and don’t worry about the office so much.

      2. Ife*

        Unless you are close with your coworkers outside of work, I doubt they would expect an invitation to your wedding, especially if you mention that it was a small wedding. We have had 3 weddings in our team of 15 in the last year, lots of talk about them in the office, but no invites to coworkers, even though some of us are pretty good work-friends.

      3. LAI*

        Yep! I definitely wouldn’t expect an invitation to a coworker’s wedding unless we were also good friends outside of the office, so I doubt you have anything to worry about. Even if they were expecting to be invited, it would be rude for them to say so.

      4. Megs*

        There are always asshats out there, but when I got married a couple of years ago we didn’t invite any coworkers* and no one made a stink about it. Our “line” was basically “small wedding, close friends and family only, yes, it was lovely, thanks!” Generally I think coworkers only care about wedding invites if you’re inviting some people from the office but not others, because then it gets into snub/playing favorites territory. Not inviting anyone from work at all is pretty common.

        *Except one of my husband’s coworkers who was my best friend in law school before she started working with him.

        1. myswtghst*

          This is pretty much what we’re doing. I actually attended two of my coworkers’ weddings, but since we went to the courthouse on a Monday to get married and are having a close family & friends open house a month and a half later to celebrate, it’s been pretty easy to just say “oh, we’re keeping it small” to my teammates and move on.

          Funny enough, we actually will have at least 4 current / former employees from the company I work for there, but it’s only because I married one, am related to two, and have been best friends since 5th grade with another.

      5. Turtle Candle*

        I think this is an excellent insight. I actually didn’t mind talking about my wedding (I didn’t talk about wedding prep because I haaaaaated wedding prep and deflected that with a “oh, it’s going fine, but I’m kind of sick of thinking about it–how was your weekend?” which worked like a charm, but I had no problem with “oh, so how was the wedding?” type questions after the fact), but honestly, pretty much everyone except my bestest work buds accepted a “Oh, we had a lovely ceremony at [place] and then honeymooned at [other place]–it was wonderful, we had such a good time” without any nosiness or follow-up questions. And nobody gave me grief about invitations.

    7. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

      If it isn’t a super small wedding, you could always take the tactic of how wedding planning takes over your life and it was always such a relief to go to the office where no one knew to get away from the planning craziness. I’d have a lot of sympathy for that scenario.

      1. Natalie*

        Heck, even a small wedding can take over your life, planning wise. We had 30ish people at our wedding at it was a ton of work.

        1. Bradguy*

          It definitely has in our case. Even though ours is only around 70 people, we’re DIY’ing a lot of it so it consumes a lot of our free time. I would definitely get burned out if I talked about it at work too. That’s probably yet another reason I’m trying to make work a wedding-free zone.

    8. Emily*

      A colleague who’s very private left a little early one Thursday afternoon (highly unusual for her!) and, unbeknownst to almost anyone in the world, went to city hall and got married. She took the next day off and spent a long weekend with her husband. She sent us a quick group email to share the news—I think she felt more comfortable opening up about it once it was over! On Monday, we very simple flowers delivered and signed a card. She had a few select photos that she showed us in her usual matter-of-fact, but kind way. And then we went back to work. I do think we would have been befuddled, and even more curious, if she had been secretive about it indefinitely. You could share a few pictures and basic info (location, band or DJ, that kind of thing)—think of it as a kind gesture. Also, try to keep in mind that in most cases, your coworkers are interested because they’re happy for you.


    9. Student*

      I didn’t tell anyone and only took a day off. I only told one co-worker after the wedding, mainly because I had borrowed his iron and he asked what on earth I’d needed it for. It was a 5-second exchange of “I got married, needed to iron the outfits for the wedding. Thanks for letting me borrow it.” His retort was something like, “Yeah, not worth buying an iron for a one-off thing like that. Congratulations.”

      I didn’t change my name, so I never had to bring it up outside that in any context. No one noticed or cared.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        I love this. I’m extremely private and would definitely want to do a wedding that way!

      2. ReanaZ*

        I signed papers at the courthouse a bit over a year ago. I don’t wear a ring and I didn’t change my name, and probably 98% of my coworkers have no idea. I took two long weekend in a row, one to sign the papers and sort the practical bits, and one to celebrate. I am pleased with this outcome.

        It’s not a big secret, but it is pretty much none of their business.

  8. anon for this*

    #3: I’m going to say something unpopular based on comments I’ve seen here before, but don’t feel like you have to wear plastic funky jewelry or bright colors or put your hair up instead of keeping it down if that’s not your style. I often see that advice and it gives me a knee jerk reaction because that’s not everyone’s idea of what casual in the workplace is and if it’s not something you’re comfortable doing, you shouldn’t feel like you have to make those style transitions. It can be…a very hivemind way of looking at women’s style in the workplace and tbh I think a casual dress by itself is fine and you don’t always need to dress it down with a lot of accessories.

    Really, you know your workplace the best and if no one acts super weird about it, I’d just continue dressing how you want. I wear dresses in a male dominated environment and they’re sleek and minimalistic with no jewelry (or very minimal metallic jewelry) and my hair down, and sometimes it might look weird when I’m in a meeting with people in gym shorts or jeans and flannel, but if someone is going to treat me differently because I’m in a dress instead of pants, the problem is with them.

    1. Mephisto*

      What if we flipped it around and said “If everyone in the office wears a suit and heels and it’s not your style, just continue dressing how you want. If you’re more comfortable in flannel and cargo shorts, go for it.” Rightly or wrongly, I think that its usually best to fit in to what the general dress code is for your department and job level, even if there is nothing written.
      It’s a total hivemind thing, and I would prefer to dress however I want at work…but I don’t want to be treated differently. Even if the problem is with the person judging me, it’s still a problem that I don’t want to deal with.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        The difference is, whatever a dress code may be, it’s more socially acceptable to be slightly more formal than slightly less. Also, going much too formal in a casual environment is seen more as being a bit odd than rude or against policy, etc, whereas casual in a formal environment is seen as inappropriate, rude, or a breach of dress code. The idea of a casual dress code is often so that people can wear what they want, I just so happens that more people prefer things like jeans and tshirts. The idea of a formal dress code is normally more to achieve a certain look for the company, or whatever. So it doesn’t really work as something that can ne flipped around

        1. BRR*

          I was going to comment with basically the same thing. You can get away with a certain level of being more formal but even being slightly less formal can often times make you stick out for the wrong reasons. I wear dress pants and button downs everyday because I built up a large collection eat my last job. At my current job most people wear jeans and formal tops and Men don’t tuck in their shirts. I don’t stick out too much but a tie would be over the top.

          1. BRR*

            Myself and the other more formal dresser are just known as the more formal dressers which doesn’t affect us negatively.

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              Same. Most days I’m the most formal person in my office, but people just tell me how great I look – they don’t view it as a negative.

    2. Marcela*

      I’ve worked only in academia and I only wear dresses. I am not going to be found wearing pants ever (mostly because I have a scar right over mi belly button, so most pants are very uncomfortable), and I’ve never had a problem with not being treated as the expert software developer that I am :D (actually, this is only half true, for I’ve had problems proving I know to do my job, but that has happened over the phone or via email. The problem is that I am a woman, not the clothes I wear).

      A couple of times I have been asked about it, because I wear Ann Taylor dresses, to give you an idea, and I’ve worked in groups where my boss sometimes came with t shirts and jeans with holes (as Italian fashion allows). I answer that I dress following that phrase of “dress for the job I want”, but with a twist: my current job is always the one I want, therefore it deserves my best effort. Now, I’ve gotten bonus points in several occasions, when a visitor comes or a presentation has to be made, and I am always ready to go. So I guess nobody is ever going to say anything.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Oohs thanks for a few fashion tips. Appreciated! (Surgical scars make pants uncomfortable too)

    3. insert witty name here*

      I agree with you. I’m sure other are going to “but…. but…. but!” but really: I don’t care. I get to choose how I dress and if others feel uncomfortable because of it, that is on them.

      1. insert witty name here*

        Caveat: My statements are based on the “no dress code” office. Obviously if there is a dress code then that should be adhered to.

      2. Colette*

        It depends on what you want your professional to be. Do you want to be the person who is great at Teapot design, or the person who always dresses up and doesn’t fit in?

        Having spent most of my career in tech, I think the OP should buy one or two pairs of pants or less casual dresses and wear them once or twice a week. She can dress as she pleases the rest of the week.

        1. Bwmn*

          I agree with this. I used to work overseas where “appropriate dress” could hit a really wide range – and at a business formal cocktail party you could count on seeing some people in jeans and flip flops as well as someone in a massive cocktail gown. And to be frank, both looked equally ridiculous for the setting.

        2. Kyrielle*

          It can be an issue, but dressing down isn’t the _only_ way to handle it. My old job was more casual than what I wore (it allowed jeans; I don’t care for them), and my new job is way more casual than what I wear (cargo shorts are fine here).

          Sometimes I do dress down (I’m rather fond of t-shirts with puns on them), but generally I’m in business casual with slacks (usually neutrals at that, because I don’t want to have to think hard about which pants go with which shirt) and a blouse or a button-up shirt. And when someone does comment, I just shrug and smile and say I find them more comfortable. Or that I like wearing this stuff. Which both do happen to be true.

        3. Christopher Tracy*

          Do you want to be the person who is great at Teapot design, or the person who always dresses up and doesn’t fit in?

          I see this argument made a lot whenever a clothing question comes up, and I still don’t understand it. You can be both a kickass Teapot Designer and a well-dressed person – it doesn’t have to be either or. The executive women at my business casual company definitely lean more business formal, and not one person would say their work reputation was that of a clothes horse. The only time I’ve seen that reductive thinking in play is when the dressy person has nothing else of note going on. He or she isn’t particularly good at anything, he or she isn’t super helpful or knowledgeable about processes and/or procedures, etc. If you’re good at your job, the fact that you dress better than other people will be a footnote, not the main text.

          1. Colette*

            In high tech, it is common for all levels of management to wear jeans or other casual clothes at least some of the time. Never dressing down is fine if you’re wiling to take the consequences, which may include not being promoted.

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              And that may be true. I was addressing that comment generally because it always comes up even when discussing non-tech related industries. There’s a prevailing myth that if you’re a woman and you’re dressed well in the workplace, you won’t be taken seriously as a professional, and I hate to see that perpetuated because it’s not true across the board. But you’re right in that OP needs to figure out whether she wants to move up where she is and whether how she’s presenting herself visually will work against her goal. If she doesn’t care about moving up and is just concerned about appearing too feminine, then I second the advice from people who said she can dress down her dresses.

              1. Colette*

                I don’t think it’s a gender thing. I’ve worked with men who wore suits every day when no one else did. I don’t remember their names, bu I remember the suits. It’s like a resume – you can stand out by accomplishments, or you can stand out by appearances. Choosing to dress more formally than everyone else all of the time ensures you’ll be known by your appearance.

                1. Zillah*

                  I don’t think those options are mutually exclusive. Presenting them in that way seems to me to be roughly analogous to saying, “You can stand out by accomplishments, or you can stand out by working 7-3 rather than 9-5” or “You can stand out by accomplishments, or you can stand out by talking about sports at the water cooler.” Most people can reconcile the reality that their coworkers are multifaceted and have interests outside of work.

                  I agree with you that the OP should make an effort to dress down a little more often, but I think you’re really present a false dichotomy here.

                2. Colette*

                  Well, if you have a resume with great accomplishments on sparkly glitter paper, what do you think the hiring manager is going to remember?

                  Similarly, if you dress more formally than the norm, some people who you work closely with will get to know your skills, but people you only work with occasionally will remember how you dress.

    4. Not Today Satan*

      I agree. Ngl, I cringed at Alison encouraging the LW to wear pants. Partly because I started wearing skirts because of my religious and cultural context, but there’s just something very icky to me about people making a big deal about the fact that I wear skirts or encouraging me to wear pants. Just… get over it.

      I do think that maybe the LW should over time invest in some more casual pieces, but it’s not an emergency and the casual items can absolutely still be dresses.

      1. Dweali*

        Did OP say she didn’t like pants? I saw that she said she didn’t like jeans but jeans while being a type of pant are not the only kind out there and Allison mentioning it doesn’t mean she’s encouraging OP to try them (a la Sam I Am) just reminding OP that there is are other casual styles should she decide to try them

    5. One of the Annes*

      AFT, you have a good point. Also, one of the concerns that the OP brought up was being seen as overly feminine and not being taken as seriously for that reason. I don’t see how going from a mature-feminine to a girly-(“fun”)-feminine look helps that. I would think it would make it worse.

      1. anon for this*

        Yeah, I think that’s maybe why I was so surprised by some of the comments. If someone is worried about not being taken seriously for being feminine, I don’t know that I’d suggest using a lot of accessories because that’s more feminine than just a casual dress imo.

    6. mskyle*

      I agree it’s not that big a problem AND it will take care of itself pretty quickly.

      I transitioned to a tech career from a job where I dressed much more formally – no suits, but dress trousers/skirts and nice tops and knit poly wrap dresses, that kind of thing. I now work in an office where many of the men wear shorts all winter (I don’t know why), and the CEO is generally in faded dad jeans cinched at the waist. (The women also wear whatever, though on the whole they’re less likely to be wearing clothes with actual holes in them than the men.) My first month there, when someone dropped a glass in the office kitchen she sent out an email reminding everyone to wear shoes in the kitchen… and it was necessary.

      Anyway, the first year or so I kept wearing those same dresses and shirts and skirts (though I ditched the dress trousers in favor of jeans or leggings). But I stopped buying new “work” dresses, and three years later I don’t really have any. I still wear dresses to work about half the time but they’re less “office-y”. I don’t really have “weekend” and “work” clothes anymore.

      I think this is just part of any job change/career change, but when you switch to a very formal environment like banking or a very informal environment like tech you notice it more. Our interns are usually the best-dressed people in the office, probably because can’t and wouldn’t want to buy new clothes for every 3- or 6-month assignment!

    7. Dweali*

      I read it more as it does bother OP to some extent that she feels more formally dressed and wondering how to make her current wardrobe more casual without having to buy a lot–the opposite of some letters we’ve recently had asking how to make her business casual clothes more business looking

      And from the other comments it sounds more like they are giving ideas of how to accomplish that and not saying “OMG you have to change everything and fit in”

      1. anon for this*

        Well, her letter also says she’s worrying about appearing too feminine and then a lot of the other advice tells her to make her outfits even more feminine with accessories. But idk I get the sense from some of the other comments that there’s a set idea of what’s casual and what isn’t – ponytails are casual, hair down is formal, plastic colorful jewelry is casual, metallic jewelry isn’t – when I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. It’s all going to depend on office culture.

    8. Mike C.*

      Why are you “anon for this”? It’s perfectly fine to disagree with people without having to hide your normal posting identity. Unless I’m being dumb and “anon for this” is your normal handle, of course.

      1. anon for this*

        lol I had been “anon for this” for the weekend post and then forgot to switch out of it for this comment because I wrote it late at night!

      2. Kyrielle*

        Could just be forgetting something too – I’ve used a different handle of that type in the past to comment on something where I really didn’t want to be identified, only to later comment on something where I didn’t mind but forget to change it back.

    9. BananaPants*

      For a woman in a male-dominated tech environment I’d be careful in looking too “fun” or quirky or young. Especially if OP3 is in fact on the younger side, she doesn’t want to look like a high schooler or college kid going out clubbing. A feminine look may be OK but she should consider going more mature and streamlined/minimalist in jewelry and accessories rather than going bananas at on bright, chunky, plastic accessories or neon yellow Keds or whatever.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Exactly. More mature and streamlined would be what I’d go for if I didn’t like jeans and didn’t want to accessorize with costume jewelry which oftentimes reads young girl playing dress up.

    10. Tammy*

      I work in a super informal workplace (my usual work attire is yoga pants and a pretty top, and rarely have I seen our CEO in anything fancier than khaki pants and a polo shirt), so I second all the advice that says “know your workplace”. There’s also a bit of a double standard gender-wise: I’ve noticed here that it seems socially acceptable for women to dress more formally if they want to and not get comments about it, but when men do they’re usually asked “are you going on a job interview today” and it attracts some potentially unwanted attention. I actually love wearing dresses, but tend not to do it very often because I ride a motorcycle; since I can get away with being more casual, I take advantage of it to avoid the hassle of changing clothes when I get to work.

    11. ReanaZ*


      Look, as a woman in tech, you have to decide if you’re going to put up with all the bullshit or none of it. It’s not your fault if some dudebro can’t take you seriously if you’re wearing a dress because coding requires a seamed crotch or whatever, but you can decide whether you’re going to let his opinions dictate what you wear to reduce friction in the office or if you’re going to shrug and just get on with your job.

      Either strategy is okay, and I certainly understand women who say “I am going to do everything I can to minimise attention to my gender so people focus on my work.” I used to be one of them, and it was helpful at reducing friction. Now (a little more established in my career and a lot more low on patience) I’m more of the “shove the fact I’m female in your face like it’s a challenge” end of the spectrum when it comes to presentation and dress. It has increased friction in small ways but ultimately dramatically reduced bullshit over time.

  9. Guava*

    #3 -What do you wear on the weekends? Try that :)

    I used to wear much more professional clothes in my previous office, but I have since transferred offices and departments. I’m in tech now too!

    I used to wear my nicer clothes to the new office but after 5 months I’m over it. I wear jeans and a t shirt most days now. I’ll wear my dark corduroy and green khaki pants too. If you want to go in between try uniqlo ankle length pants. I only have two (black and navy) but will probably buy more at some point. I mean, the waist band is elastic! Win! And yet they still look nice but casual. Hmm, as far as shirts, I’ve noticed I have worn my looser fitting tops in recent months. I guess I associate flowy tops with casual.

    1. Guava*

      ^I also want to add: at the end of the day, wear what you want! As the poster above me said, if someone has a problem with what you wear, that’s on them. Keep dressin’ fly if that’s what you prefer.

      My spouse looks sharp every day. No casual Friday’s for him. Ever. His office is verrry casual. He gets comments occasionally but he will never show up to work in a polo. It’s just not who he is.

    2. Tax Accountant*

      As far as #3 goes, I understand. I love dresses. One of the above comments suggested the OP wear whatever she wears on the weekend. I laughed, because I even wear dresses on the weekend. They are about 20x more comfortable than pants, especially jeans, which are horribly uncomfortable to me.

      Anyway, my thought is that the OP should keep wearing the dresses if she wants to, but make an effort to be friendly to coworkers to counteract the message that others may take from her formal appearance. In jobs I’ve had in the past, sometimes the coworkers who were dressed way more nicely than everyone else had the tendency to come across as stuffy/formal and out of sync with a more convivial/casual company culture. Just make sure you fit in with the culture in other ways, and pretty soon how you dress will not matter, is what I’m saying.

      1. Violet_04*

        Good point about having a friendly attitude. Putting out quality work and overall being a great employee will also help.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, that’s right on – you can fit in to the company culture while still being dressed differently! Unless you work with a bunch of loons.

      3. Isabel C.*

        Agreed. Except in cold weather–which, to be fair, we do have a lot of where I am–dresses are my go-to: they’re cooler and less confining, and I have a hard time finding pants that fit my butt without gaping at the waist.

        I also feel like OP could defuse some of the situation/her worries by maybe revealing a little bit of her reasons: responding to the you-look-so-put-together sort of comment with laughter and “Aw, thanks! My last job had a dress code, and I didn’t really want to shop for a bunch of new stuff…” If the tech folks are anything like my friends in the area, a bit of a “shopping, right?” tone will fit right in. :)

        Then again, I used to wear semiformal dresses to college classes because laundry day, and be fairly public about that (“Wow, you look snazzy!” “Thanks! All of my jeans have pizza sauce on them and I’m out of quarters.”) so maybe that’s just me. :)

      4. LAI*

        I also prefer to wear dresses on weekends, but my weekend dresses tend to be spaghetti straps, shorter skirts, and otherwise not appropriate for work. However, I have been able to make some of them more work-appropriate by pairing them with leggings and/or a sweater.

        As another person who doesn’t like jeans that much, It’ve also found that black stretch pants (like yoga pants but not quite) with a long top is extremely comfortable…

    3. Chinook*

      “#3 -What do you wear on the weekends? Try that :) ”

      Ummm…I don’t think anyone should show up in the worn out maxi dress I hang out in the summer around the house. That would be way too casual most definitely unflattering. I don’t know about the OP, but my work dresses, when they get more worn out or ill fitting, often make it to the weekend rotation to wear around the house. Pants can be uncomfortable to wear (because it can be hard to find ones that fit right) all 7 days of the week, not just in the office.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I won’t even go get the mail in the outfits I wear at home! They are usually splattered with paint, comfortable and very unflattering.

  10. Manders*

    OP #2, I sympathize–my wedding is happening in a very different way than I had originally planned because a family member is ill, and I don’t love discussing the details at work because explaining why I chose X instead of Y, or why I haven’t even started planning Z, gets me pretty flustered. But yeah, it’s going to look weird to your coworkers if you never, ever mention it.

    My strategy is to accept whatever congratulations people want to give me as gracefully as I can, and to turn the conversation away from discussion of my specific plans as fast as possible. Try to get them talking about their own weddings, or the most disastrous first dance they ever witnessed, or the best dress they’ve ever seen. Most people don’t really want to know every little detail, they just want an opening to chat.

    1. RubySlippers*

      I wonder if OP is just a private person or if there are other reasons they don’t want to share? Like if they are part of a sexual or religious minority and they don’t care to disclose that at work because it might result in awkward and invasive questions, if not outright harassment. Weddings can also bring up a lot of other personal and family issues… I can think of a lot of reasons why someone might not want to discuss a wedding because of the other issues it brings up.

      Congratulations on your wedding btw, I hope it is a great day for you, even if it’s not exactly what you imagined. =)

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        I also wondered this. Regardless, there is no reason to question ANYONE about their personal life events at work. Just leave it be. Respect the person’s wishes.

  11. Erica*

    #2 After 4 years together my boyfriend and I got married over a three day weekend with no notice and my coworkers were huffy for a few days, but eventually got over it. They were disappointed I gave them no chance to get me a card or throw an office party and they all demanded pics and were frustrated I had none (our photographer was his mother who has not gotten around yet to hooking up her camera to send the photos). I would make sure you mention you got married and that it was a very small and private event and then move on, they should as well.

    1. RubySlippers*

      LOL. That’s pretty much the way my sister and brother-in-law got married. I got a call on a Monday and they said “Hey, we’re getting married on Friday”. They had four witnesses at the courthouse and they went to Baskin Robins afterwards. The two things my sister hates the most are dressing up and being the center of attention. When their co-workers found out (they had both worked for the same library system) the co-workers ambushed them in their own apartment–sort of made them throw an impromptu party and insisted that my sister and brother-in-law do a “first dance” while their co-workers watched. It was SUPER awkward.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Wow. Coworkers made that super awkward. Why not have a luncheon to congratulate them or give than a card and/or a nice gift to celebrate instead?

      2. Bradguy*

        Yikes! That sounds awful. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have to worry about that at my work at least!

      3. Marcela*

        Ugh. The dance. We gave a party for our families, since we married overseas, in my grandparents’ house, now my aunt’s house. She used the fact that she was “hosting” (she didn’t, we organized everything) to force us to dance the nuptial waltz. Together with the fact that we had to invite relatives we don’t like for the same reason, I am never going to try to give them anything for their sore feelings again.

        1. Natalie*

          My husband’s aunt just tried that this weekend – we had a really small wedding so his parents hosted a casual BBQ in his hometown, and of course his one aunt who gets too drunk at every event got too drunk and start hassling us about not dancing. I’m very proud of myself for biting my tongue and not informing her that this kind of crap is 90% of the reason we had a small wedding in the first place.

      4. Lemon Zinger*

        Your sister’s wedding sounds amazing! If my coworkers showed up to MY APARTMENT, even if it was to celebrate, I would be looking for a new job. How creepy.

  12. Blurgle*

    #2, this is one of those things that may unfortunately elicit a gendered response. If you’re a woman people may express shock and treat your request for privacy as a personal insult, as if you cheated them out of months of gossip; in this case you might have to lay the law down and stop discussion outright.

    If you’re a guy, on the other hand, you’ll likely not face that issue but there might be whispers as to whether a shotgun was involved. [Which would be just marvellous, I know, if you married a man.] I’ve run into the mindset before and it’s frankly bizarre that in 20 freaking 16 people still assume a quiet wedding means a pregnant bride.

    1. Jo*

      I agree that responses can be gendered! People do seem to expect that just because “woman” must equal “bride fascinated with every in and out of wedding and be willing to share”. I DO like sharing but I get that some don’t!

      As for shotgun wedding – my husband and I announced we were expecting a child 1 year and 8 months after our wedding and one total idiot man said “wow that’s a bit quick, was it a shotgun wedding”. My jaw just dropped but I wish to this day I had said something pithy about his math skills.

    2. Loose Seal*

      Your last sentence made me laugh as I remembered my grandmother saying that she and my grandfather kept their wedding quiet and afterwards, she overheard lots of people gossiping that she must be pregnant. She would snicker and say that they must have thought it was a long pregnancy because she didn’t have her first child for another four years! You’d think we could have evolved on this topic since 1945 but apparently not.

      My husband did not tell anyone at his work he was even dating anyone so when we got married, they were even more certain I must be pregnant. However, we had actually delayed our wedding two months so I could recover from a sudden hysterectomy so it was fun to reply to nosy people who asked when the baby was due that I hadn’t realized you could order a baby from Amazon yet. (I say “yet” like I think one day that will be how people get babies — from Amazon. It occurs to me that that might be a good SF short story. Any creative types that want that idea can have it so long as I get to rad the story after its written.)

      1. Loose Seal*

        I mean “read” rather that “rad.” I mean, I’m sure your story will be rad. (I guess people still say “rad” since it’s in my autocorrect.)

      2. Poohbear McGriddles*

        And you just think people get long-winded with their Amazon reviews now, just wait until they’re reviewing their bundle of joy!

    3. Bwmn*

      The gendered nature of this also immediately came to mind. Should the OP be a man, there will just be less pressing details for the dress/flowers/etc. It’s also the gendered assumption that the groom just “shows up”, so that will help.

      That all being said, this letter does remind me a bit of letter #3. Technically the OP for #3 could just keep dressing as she has and people will get used to it. And OP #2 can just shut down all wedding talk – but just because it can be done, I don’t think it would be my #1 recommendation. Where we work – for better or worse – fits in with a lot of “team” talk, and a lot of that includes things we do to fit in.

      So whether that’s trying to dress similarly or share a little of our personal life – it’s just part of what’s done. Sure, there will always be people who don’t, but it’s hard to imagine giving professional advice that would speak to completely disregarding trying to play along.

    4. Bradguy*

      OP #2 here,
      I am a guy. I hadn’t considered about people thinking it’s a shotgun wedding. I don’t think anyone would much care except for one coworker who has asked me several times about when I’m planning to have kids. She will probably use it as a starting point to ask even more often now, heh. But my fiancee and I have decided we don’t want kids (plus, with us it’s medically unlikely that we could even if we wanted to). She means well and I’ve always just kind of laughed it off with a non-confrontational “oh maybe someday”, but I suppose now I’ll have to give a more concrete answer.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, do shotgun weddings happen anymore? Most of the time I see this happen they folks take care of the kid together and if things go well get married later. People only care if you’re a bastard on Game of Thrones, and even less so as time goes on.

        1. Chinook*

          “Yeah, do shotgun weddings happen anymore? Most of the time I see this happen they folks take care of the kid together and if things go well get married later”

          And not always due to pregnancy. Mine was moved up 2 months (and then we eloped a month earlier quietly) because now DH was being transferred by the military across the country. We literally got married in under 24 hours so that he could ask to be around for formal ceremony. Our witness were two other guys from barracks we barely knew and he had to sneak off base later that day so we could eat dinner together. Yet, both our families were shocked when no baby ever arrived.

        2. Lady Bug*

          I’ve always told my kids having a kid is the dumbest reason to get married. Get married because you want to be, not because you are “supposed to.”

      2. BananaPants*

        Your coworker is nosy and rude. It’s never polite to comment on others’ family planning decisions.

      3. Murphy*

        Next time she asks, just answer her with a “why? looking to buy one?” comment. That may make her realize how inappropriate she’s being (and this comes from someone who sounds like the opposite to you at work – I love sharing my personal life with my colleagues – but there are some things that are just off limits).

        1. Bradguy*

          Hah, you’re right. She is kind of my polar opposite in that way. Perhaps that’s where some of my concerns stem from. Her over-interest in my personal life has probably put me a bit on the defensive about sharing details of it.

          1. The Butcher of Luverne*

            I don’t blame you for feeling that way.

            Why do coworkers think they can discuss anyone’s reproductive choices?

      4. Karo*

        You absolutely do not have to give a more concrete answer. That’s a rude and invasive question, and you are under no obligation to respond to it. Not to say that you can’t answer it, just that you don’t have to.

        (That said, if you tell your co-worker that you may not be able to have kids and imply that it’s a painful subject for you she may stop asking. I may or may not have used this to my advantage with a friend…I don’t know if I want kids, but as I’m unlikely to be able to have them it’s sort of a moot point.)

        1. Bradguy*

          Fair point. I shouldn’t have to solidify that for her. I think I’ll do like you suggested and imply that it’s a painful subject. Not in a mean way, but just in a “Let’s not talk about it again, thanks.” way.

          A note, she is actually off on maternity leave herself, so I wonder if by the time she gets back if news of my wedding will be so forgotten she’ll not even hear about it (unless she notices and then asks about my ring…)

          1. Lemon Zinger*

            “HAHAHAHA that was fast, is it a shotgun wedding??”

            “No. Why on earth would you ask that?”

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          That said, if you tell your co-worker that you may not be able to have kids and imply that it’s a painful subject for you she may stop asking.

          Or she may just keep asking, but the questions will be different. And more intrusive.

          1. Badlands*

            With lots of suggestions on things you can try to “fix” the problem. Of which she’ll want more details so she can research for you.

          2. Karo*

            That’s fair – my friends dropped the subject like a hot potato once I pointed that out, but YMMV.

          3. Blurgle*

            No, it’ll be “you can alllllwaaaaays adopt”, and you’ll have to swallow the SHUT UP SHUT UP FOREVER SHUT UP FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE (ahem) rage because no, not everyone can “always adopt” – and thanks for pouring acid into that festering wound – and nobody needs anyone, ever, to ever be the Adoption Whisperer.

        3. Loose Seal*

          If my sister’s struggle with infertility is a good example of how other people behave, then I’d have to say that the nosy ones are not going to stop talking about it or suddenly realize that this may be a difficult subject for you. My sister was told all sorts of things about adoption, IVF, foster-to-adopt, etc. Some of the responses like “have you thought about adoption?” were at least neutral-ish sort of comments but others were more of the “you should get right with God and then you’ll get pregnant” abominations. She is a super-nice, never rude sort of person but I wish she would have just told the Nosy McPushy’s that they should just mind their own business.

      5. Aunt Vixen*

        I suppose now I’ll have to give a more concrete answer [to a co-worker’s presumably well-meaning question about when you’re planning to have kids]

        It’s been an hour since you said this, so I’m probably the millionth person to say no, no you will not have to give a more concrete answer to your co-worker’s questions, because your kid-having (or -not) plans are none of your co-worker’s business. Your “oh maybe someday” can still work perfectly well, or you could escalate to the puzzled “Huh. Why do you need to know?” Or, of course, any one of Alison’s admirable shut-downs along the lines of “I’d really prefer that we not keep talking about this, so could you stop bringing it up.”

        1. Loose Seal*

          Wouldn’t it be funny, though, if you* told the nosy co-worker that you’ll text her right before you have sex every time so she’ll be the first to know that you’re working on the baby-making?

          *Anyone, not just OP. I have all sorts of fantasies where I can come up with something witty to say to people who cross the line. I just never can think of anything in the moment.

      6. Observer*

        Why would you even go there? I mean, if you WANTED to discuss it, that would be one thing. But otherwise, I’d suggest something LESS concrete. Like “We’ll let you know when we have something to announce.” Lightly, but definitively.

        1. NaoNao*

          You know, it’s funny because I belong to a *very* progressive and thoughtful community in life and several advice giving forums online that have *extremely* strict rules about communication and yet, in person, when people mention topics that elicit bone-headed, thoughtless remarks like “Must have been a shotgun wedding, hee hee” I find myself having to forcefully stop and NOT make the first knee jerk Hee Haw comment that comes to mind, such as “Well, there’s more fish in the sea!” “She’s in a better place now” “So, are you planning on having kids?” “How’s retirement treatin’ ya?” AUGH! Stahp! Brain! STAHP!

          Why? Maybe my WASP/Souther Charm upbringing where there’s a pat response for everything?
          But I’d say most people aren’t trying to be offensive, they’re just repeating things they’ve heard over and over from relatives, fellow church goers, acquaintances and co workers ad nauseum, and just haven’t done the work of questioning the validity or wisdom of saying it!

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      All life events are gender-skewed toward women. My birthday was a few weeks ago. My coworkers somehow found out about it at the end of the day, and they brigaded me, saying “Why didn’t you tell us?? What are you doing to celebrate? What gifts have you gotten? How old are you??”

      This never happens when a guy in the office doesn’t make a fuss out of his birthday. It’s because I’m a woman.

  13. Ellie H.*

    Re. #4: I get it’s annoying but not why formatting and font issues are part of why it is – there HAS to be a better way to do it where formatting takes literally a couple seconds – what program are you using? Or is it in HTML? If it were me I wouldn’t waste my time asking department heads to submit content in some particular font or format because virtually nobody who is not an admin is ever going to do that, so it’s probably just not worth it.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      What got me about this letter is that the OP formats everything and sends it to the director of marketing, who then REFORMATS IT. Why?? I see that the OP wants to just pass on the formatting, but it sounds like she could at least put it in the format that the director of marketing uses. If the OP lacks the right program, maybe she can ask for it. IMO it’s almost always better to try to do more in the name of efficiency than to ask if someone else can do more to make your life easier.

      1. The Butcher of Luverne*

        Your last sentence is key.

        OP, find a way to streamline the process and present it as an increase in efficiency.

      2. pomme de terre*

        I had to do a similar round-up at my last job. I would guess the formatting she’s doing on the first round is in a Word document (or Google doc or similar), which is the editing preference of the OP’s boss or the marketing director. Once the text is finalized, the marketing director puts it into a newsletter format.

        1. OP #4*

          You are correct. My manager (the executive director) sent me a template that he created in Word that he wants me to use and the marketing director uses Constant Contact to send the newsletter.

          Cosmic Avenger- I originally tried to use at least the same font the marketing director was using and as soon as I changed to that font, she started using a different font. I asked her why she changed fonts and she said she wants the emailed version to be “completely” different than the original. When she puts the info into Constant Contact, she add pictures and Word Art *and* it is completely different. I was trying to help cut down how much reformatting she was having to do. I asked about using Constant Contact and she said she prefers to be the only one using it because if multiple people use it, something will get “messed up” and it would make her job harder trying to fix the “mistakes” people would make.

          1. Mike C.*

            I asked about using Constant Contact and she said she prefers to be the only one using it because if multiple people use it, something will get “messed up” and it would make her job harder trying to fix the “mistakes” people would make.

            What a load of crap. Looks like someone is afraid that others are going to learn new skills and become a threat or something.

            1. Karo*

              Seriously! Between that and her reasoning for using a different font…It’s weird, to say the least.

            2. OP#4*

              I am very much a behind the scenes type person and, with the exception of the newsletter and a few minor annoyances, enjoy my current position and have zero interest in anything to do with marketing.

              1. Jaguar*

                I use Constant Contact inside our company since I’m the only one that handles graphic design, so it’s just easier that I do everything from the ground up; you aren’t missing anything, and it can be picked up in like five minutes.

              1. Pontoon Pirate*

                Especially if she has to be the person to troubleshoot everything when CC goes berserk. It would take less time to do the formatting herself than to train, troubleshoot, retrain, repeat.

          2. Observer*

            This does change things a BIT. Perhaps you could ask the marketing director if she prefer if the emails all come to her directly rather than to you? She sounds like a bit of a control freak, so your question here is “Would it be easier for you if I just forwarded the emails to you directly rather than formatting them first and putting all of the Word markup in there?” Word markup is actually an issue that really can be a mess when you have to turn stuff into HTML, so this actually might work for her, aside from the control freak tendencies.

            1. OP#4*

              I asked that a few months back and she said she preferred that I compile the info and send it to her as a whole document. If my manager would agree to have everyone send the items to her, I think she would have a harder time trying to argue against it.

              It’s frustrating trying to work on something and do a good job with it when you no one is reading it.

              1. The Butcher of Luverne*

                Re: your last sentence, welcome to the world.

                Try writing a white paper for engineers that is slated to be buried on an industrial website.

                1. Kyrielle*

                  Hehehe. I had a coworker who was writing an internal design that had to be reviewed. These things are notorious for being skimmed rather than read, so he was amused to discover that two of us really DO read everything. (And thus raised comments about the section where he noted that the Mayan calendar would not be a supported date format, amidst the other date format notes.)

                2. Loose Seal*

                  In college, I had a religious studies professor whom I was 99.9% sure never read our papers beyond the first paragraph to make sure we followed the assignment. So once, I added a sentence on the third page about meeting friends in the dorm lobby before going out on the town over the weekend. My goal was to make the professor notice an obviously non-relevant sentence and say “huh?” and then I could explain I must have mistakenly copy/pasted a sentence from an email into my paper (so as not to appear facetious). But of course, he never noticed it.

                  It just added to my frustration that I did all that work on good papers and he never even read them. I felt like I could Jack Torrence it up — pages full of the same sentence over and over — and he still wouldn’t have given it a glance.

                3. Kyrielle*

                  Salyan – me too! I did read every page of those things when reviewing them, and at least in this case it was rewarded with some amusement! Not an expectation, but very welcome when it happened.

                  Loose Seal – ouch! That would aggravate me to no end.

      3. Karo*

        Yeah, I’m not getting the reformat to reformat part. If she’s formatting it in a way so that the ED can review it before it goes into CC…You can send tests through CC, so it may be easier to send it to the Marketing Director, then have her send a test so everyone can review.

    2. Judy*

      Or just “paste – keep text only” which puts the words in your document in the native formatting of your document.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, this was my suggestion, or if that doesn’t work, OP can select it all (ctrl-A) then copy (ctrl-C) and paste it into notepad, which will strip out all the formatting.

        I agree that it is a waste of everyone’s time to have OP format it (beyond correcting obvious spelling errors) only to have the marketing department re-format it. Can OP ask the marketing department for a template she can use to put the information in, so they can more easily make the edits? Or if the marketing department would rather just have it in a plain text file that they can copy and paste from?

        Also, regarding things that already went out in email – could the newsletter just put a line that says “Event coming up on July 25th, using alternate parking plan. Please see email/memo sent on July 7th for more details”.

        Could OP propose that rather than get updates from all department heads every month, they do some kind of rotation so each department has a section every quarter or 2x a year, rather than every month? I agree that many people don’t bother to read a 4 page newsletter – but since it sounds like OP works for a non-profit (based on the use of the word Executive Director) it may be something that donors or the board likes to see – even if they don’t actually read every page every time.

  14. nofelix*

    #2 – Weddings: the best way to shut down inquiring like this is just be really bland, and talk about an aspect that doesn’t invite further questions. For instance if someone asks “You got married! Omg how was the honeymoon, what did you get up to!?” you might say “It was great, so lovely to have a chance to relax with each other. We didn’t do much but just lay about in the sun really.”

    For chronic questioners, start on the Story That Never Ends, e.g. “Well Dave wanted to go somewhere hot but we also knew that we should try to keep costs down and his aunt lives in France so we thought about that at first but THEN realised, who wants their aunt nosing around their honeymoon, so we began looking at those cheap holiday comparison sites, you know the ones that give you lots of different prices and airlines, so they had loads of options and we eventually decided that we could afford somewhere warm but only if we travelled American Airlines, because Dave saves up a lot of points from his work travel…” [continues until questioner escapes]

      1. nofelix*

        Yeah, one doesn’t have to meekly respond with nice useful answers to annoying probing questions from co-workers. Another tactic is to mention something you liked/disliked and then verge into the philosophical – e.g. let me tell you my views on the politics of airport security!

    1. AyBeeCee*

      I know some Chronic Questioners who would be completely fine with the story that never ends. They’re chatty types to begin with and never seem to feel that strongly about ending a conversation so I always end up breaking first. It’s surprising how often I suddenly realize I need coffee from downstairs or that I need to use the bathroom…

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Yeah, I have a coworker just like this. She doesn’t get the hint even when MY BACK IS TURNED and I’m actively and visibly busy with something. It’s kind of amazing. I guess I admire her persistence?

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones…

    2. Turtle Candle*

      Suzette Haden Elgin used to recommend what she called the “boring baroque response” in response to people who asked you questions that were nosy or rude or that you just preferred not to answer, but in a situation where you felt that it would be worse for you in the long run if you deflected or refused to answer. (I might wish, for instance, that Great Aunt Mildred would quit it with the endless probing questions, but I might also recognize that for me specifically the consequences of telling her to stuff it, however politely, weren’t worth it. So…)

      The idea was not only that the story never ended, but that you were supposed to take everything you knew about good storytelling/anecdote-giving and turn it on its head. Endless pointless digressions that are neither interesting unto themselves nor related to anything else in the story. Details of no interest to literally anyone. Side stories that peter off to ‘I can’t remember what my point was, oh well.’ Lots of “on Tuesday–or was it Wednesday? no, it must have been Tuesday, because that was when we had the towels washed, and we had to walk five blocks to buy soap, can you believe it? and they had Tide but not in the small packages and I really prefer Tide so I had to stand there for ten minutes deciding whether to get the big one of Tide and give the rest away before I went home or the small package of something I like less well–so, on Tuesday, I guess around eight AM, or maybe nine, anyway, somewhere around eight or nine, we caught a cab, and blah blah blah drone drone drone.” All said in a pleasant and steady monologue designed to make it not only dull to listen to but difficult for them to break in on. Basically think of the biggest bore you can imagine and imitate them.

      It’s kind of a big stick approach, and it obviously isn’t so good if this is someone who you need to impress with your speaking ability or interestingness, but in some desperate situations it has been a lifesaver. I used it, in desperation, to shut down a Chatty Person on a six-hour flight once; normally I wouldn’t, but she would not let me nap or read my book, and the prospect of making inane small talk with a stranger for six hours made me desperate but I wasn’t quite assertive enough to say a blunt “Actually, I don’t want to talk now, sorry.” So I finally broke out the boring baroque response: spinning the totally unremarkable story of How I Got To The Airport into a good ten-minute monologue of dull. She mostly left me alone after that!

  15. hbc*

    OP4: I’d consider whether the document is more tactical or defensive than directly useful. Lots of times people will say they want something (a newsletter, to be in the loop on company events, etc) but only want it because they don’t have it. They might say they want a single condensed spot in case they miss an email or announcement, even if they don’t actually go to the trouble to check if they missed anything.

    Now no one can complain “You didn’t tell me about it!”

    1. OP #4*

      We also have a staff calendar in Outlook that all staff members have access to that has everything on it. We used it for years with no problem, but one day the executive director thought a newsletter would be great and here we are a year later with something no one reads.

      It’s just frustrating putting so much effort and time into something that is not doing what it was intended to do. Of course I’ll keep doing as instructed and every few months, make a pitch to discontinue it or trim it down.

    2. nofelix*

      Yeah agreed, working out the function of the newsletter is crucial. “I spend time on this and nobody reads it” is not enough, and makes the OP look more concerned with feeling appreciated and their time being used effectively than the business. The crux is whether the newsletter fulfils its purpose.

      1. OP#4*

        The purpose of the newsletter is to inform staff of events (special guest events,workshops, etc), if we need to use the alternate parking plan, weekly lunch specials, staff birthdays and new staff members. No one is reading it so it’s not fulfilling it’s purpose. When it get sent out, it comes from Constant Contact, not me, so it’s not a matter of being appreciated. I get complimented on my work from the staff regularly, so appreciation is not lacking.

  16. Milton Waddams*

    #1: Keep an eye on the gigs section of Craigslist. Unless you work in tech, it is unlikely to be anything glamorous, but it’s also usually short-term, cash-at-the-end-of-the-day sort of work that’s good for immediate needs and easy to leave off the resume. If your area has any temp-by-the-day places, that can work too.

    1. Anna the Accounting Grad*

      Also, if you’re not allergic, consider pet-sitting. I look after people’s cats to make a little money (I live with my mom, but NYC is crazy expensive). Walking dogs is also a viable option.

      1. Natalie*

        We just used a dogsitter through Rover (gig economy app for dogsitting/walking/boarding/etc) and it was pretty great, plus the company has it’s own insurance policy. Worth checking out for cash in the short term.

  17. Miko*

    I am a woman in tech and have spent a lot of time thinking about this problem. The tech crowd likes to go on about how they don’t care about such trivial things as clothing, but there is definitely a uniform and you will definitely get different reactions based on how closely you fit it.

    I am guessing that “businessy dresses” means that they aren’t overtly feminine (ruffles and pink lace and such), which helps a lot. I’ve found it a LOT easier to be taken seriously as a software professional wearing too-formal rather than too-feminine clothing (although think pencil skirts or jeans-and-a-blazer, not full suits) – irritating though that is to think about.

    You can compensate for either of them with your personality/behaviour. I wonder if this is why I prefer to dress too formally rather than too feminine – because I find it easy to allay fears that I’m “a suit” or someone who’ll go running to the boss, but I fundamentally don’t want to have to downplay my gender to “make up for” wearing pink that day. Hmm…

    1. pomme de terre*

      God, tech is just THE WORST when it comes to clothes. They don’t care what you look like, only how you code! As long as you look totally nonthreatening to them, so not too formal or too stylish or too feminine or too mainstream or too fringe-y or too whatever.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, I’ve found nerd to be giant hypocrites when it comes to things like this. Sorry, you folks are subject to ingroup/outgroup norms just like everyone else.

        1. Fact & Fiction*

          From an SFF writer of urban fantasy rather than hard SF or epic fantasy (so my covers feature my kickass female MC with um quite a bit of cleavage shown), geekdom is chock full of all kinds of hypocrisy. The comments I get from people who are eager to check my books out after hearing me talk on panels or just in person after turning up their noses based on the covers alone…That’s just one small tip of the iceberg.

  18. AyBeeCee*

    OP #2 – have two or three general facts about your wedding ready (everyone asks the same questions anyway). It will satisfy peoples’ need to have shared their excitement and interest in a big, positive event in your life and they’ll be more likely to accept the change in conversation topic. If you can go on for a little bit with those two or three general items they won’t feel as much of a need to ask follow up questions.

    1. Bradguy*

      Good advice. I think I was just over-worrying about people being nosy. The stresses of wedding planning can have an adverse affect on one’s views of other people sometimes heh

  19. Workfromhome*

    If this newsletter must continue then at least maybe you can do something about some of the extra work. One issue is sending constant reminders about format and spending time reformatting for people who “forget”.

    Once you have confirmed with the MD and the Marketing person it must continue let them know about the issues with formatting and send ANOTHER reminder about the equipment for formatting and deadlines. This time CC the MD and Marketing person on the reminder. If someone send you incorrect formatting after you have sent the reminder return it to sender CC the MD and Marketing person letting them know it won’t make this issue due to format or that it needs to be reformatted and submitted again before deadline.

    If its truly so important I’m sure you’ll get the support you need to stop this time wasting part. YMMV based on the organization culture but I have found that one or two instances where things like this getting negative attention will spread pretty quickly and people won’t want the MD knowing they cant follow simple directions so they stop being so lazy.

  20. Polka dot bird*

    #2 – can you prepare some generic statements ahead of time? “It was a very special day” “I’m very happy” “it was a wonderful occasion”, whatever generic yet positive thing you feel comfortable with. And then politely turn the subject back to work. I think you’ll have good luck with something along the lines of “So what happened while I was gone?” Reference a particular change if necessary. By asking for their input on the office you’re still being friendly but in a work level. Your coworkers should get the hint; if they don’t, politely excuse yourself.

    Also, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a private person, but “I’ve always felt that a strong separation between my work life and my personal life is necessary for me to function happily in both” to the extent that you can’t even make small talk about your wedding is a really strong statement. If telling your coworkers that you got married will make you unhappy at work and at home to a significant degree, that sounds like a rather extreme reaction, and maybe it would be worth spending some time and developing some different coping strategies. It sounds so stressful for you as things are.

    Also, you could always not wear your wedding ring at work. Then no one would ask about it.

  21. KR*

    OP1.. Could you look into temping or some other short term jobs to carry you through? Even if you got a job yesterday you still need to wait until the end of the pay period to get paid.
    Newsletter OP… I would suggest seeig if you can cut out the step of the marketing person reformatting. Can you do more of the formatting and marketing could just proofread the final project?

    1. Newby*

      My sister did something like that. She got a part time job at a retail store with high turnover and worked nights so that it would not conflict with interviewing. She temporarily worked both jobs after she got one of the jobs she applied for until she felt she had been there long enough to quit without feeling bad.

  22. TotesMaGoats*

    #2-I came back from maternity leave to find that one of my staff members had gotten married. And she wasn’t someone who’d kept a strict line between persona life and work life. I was hurt that I didn’t even get a text. But it appears that she didn’t really tell anyone at work until after the fact. I was surprised but it sort of fit when I found out she’d been backstabbing me while I was on mat leave. I would say that refusing to answer questions is, like AAM said, going to make you come off as unnecessarily chilly. This is the problem, IMO, with that hard and fast rule of not sharing personal things at work, you come up against situations like this which shouldn’t be this hard to handle.

    #3-My place is pretty far on the casual side of business casual. I’m typically one of the most professionally dressed. Now, I love jeans and love that I can wear them whenever I want but I’d cringe at buying a new wardrobe. You can dress down those business dresses with more casual shoes, make up, hairstyles and accessories.

  23. S.I. Newhouse*

    Re: #3. This is one of the few times where I disagree with Alison’s answer. If OP 3 likes her clothes, why does she need to change? What is wrong with dresses? It doesn’t sound like she is wearing business suits. If her colleagues don’t like her clothes, that’s on her colleagues, not OP. And it isn’t exactly cheap to go out and buy a new wardrobe.

    1. Amandine*

      She doesn’t NEED to change. She may WANT to change in order to build better relationships with colleagues, or to have a better professional reputation (focused on her skills and results and not her outfits), or to not stand out awkwardly from the rest of the office, or to feel like she belongs, etc.

      As usual AAM’s advice is focused on how to handle this in reality, not in some workplace utopia where these things don’t matter. The OP asked for advice, so they’re clearly aware this could be an issue. Pretending no one will judge them ever if they choose to dress in a way that stands out would be doing them a disservice.

    2. Loose Seal*

      It may be on her colleagues, sure, but those are the people that will be giving references later. Or be her boss or subordinates later. She’s not working in a vacuum. Something made her think to ask the question so she must be aware that they think something is off — too distant, too good for working there, too snobby, whatever — and she wants to address it. It’s one thing to encourage your six-year-old to wear his sparkly pink tutu to school if he wants. It’s another to blindly encourage someone to stand out when you aren’t on the ground there to realize the consequences.

      I mean, we’d all probably like to dress our own way and damn the consequences but that’s not generally how the working world works.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, totally agreeing. Dress makes a statement, and one of the statements it can make is “I’m not one of you and I’m okay with that.” I mean, if dress really doesn’t matter, why would it matter if it were business suits or not?

        It may be the OP is fine in what she’s wearing, but she’s smart to consider that a job change can mean a different wardrobe language.

        1. S.I. Newhouse*

          I guess we’ll agree to disagree. I’ve just never heard of it going the opposite way — normally problems are created when someone is dressed too informally, not when someone is dressing nicer than everyone else. At our office, we have one person who consistently dresses much nicer than everyone else and frankly, we all kind of look up to him for that. But I guess every workplace, and every industry, is different…

        2. Ket*

          But that’s the thing: if you are a woman in some parts of tech, you are not one of “them” and then you can be either ok with that or not ok with that, but wearing jeans won’t actually change things. Wearing jeans and graphics tees when you hate them is just a band-aid to fool yourself and “the guys” into some false fellowship.

          I’m not saying you shouldn’t wear jeans. I’m saying honesty is a better foundation for a good relationship with people — it’s just like junior high when if the girls you were hanging out with only accepted you if you had the right jeans and rejected you if they were off-brand, then they were not real friends. Same with guys in tech: can’t deal with a skirt = won’t be an ally in any case.

          1. Ultraviolet*

            Wearing jeans might not turn an outsider into an insider, but there’s a range of experiences that an outsider can have, and it is possible that adopting the uniform will improve someone’s experience to some extent. The fact that choosing clothes that say, “I am one of you” doesn’t automatically make you one of them does not mean that choosing those clothes has no effect whatsoever.

          2. fposte*

            But clothes are always a performance, not a distilled expression of your soul, and she’s wearing them because those are the outfits she has, not because her second X chromosome demands it. She doesn’t have to dress up as Halloween IT guy–she just has to consider if she’s causing a barrier other than a gender one by the level of formality with which she’s dressing.

            1. Mookie*

              I don’t know if I think clothing can be entirely ungendered, though, and I think what constitutes formality for men and women are different. I agree that it’s easy for nearly everyone to de-formalize suits–t-shirt or camisole under blazer with casual trousers or jeans, slacks or pencil skirt with less stuffy top or knit pullover–but when, for propriety’s sake, you need to appear significantly less formal than that the burden falls more heavily on women. Men can create a capsule wardrobe out of casual pieces for a lot less money (machine washable and with much better quality) than women’s casual clothes (which are often cheaply made with a short shelf life and still require drycleaning or handwashing). One budget-friendly solution, of course, is to incorporate unisex options (sold as men’s and in men’s sizes) when possible and as your body shape and disposable income allows.

              No, women don’t have to follow orders issued by their X-chromosomes (although, of course, some women lack those to begin with), but neither does male have to be the default and female the niche. If you’re a woman and you’re dressed, you’re dressing as a woman (as the saying goes). Leaning in doesn’t erase the barrier–nor does existing as a woman mean you’re responsible for the barrier’s existence–it just bends it slightly to accommodate a small, fortunate minority.

          3. Colette*

            There are also many parts of tech where that’s not true – women are respected and very much treated as one of the group. That’s not entirely about clothes, of course, but it’s harder to fit in if you deliberately hold yourself apartment and dress is one way of doing that.

            1. Chinook*

              I agree. I have worked small tech company (as the only female and only non-programmer) and ended up hanging out with IT departments in other organizations (and those were all heavily male). I often found them more welcoming of my quirks than other coworkers (even with me always in a dress). I even wonder if the negativity I hear about this group is a Silicon Valley thing and not an industry thing.

  24. S*

    OP #1 – Are you also applying for ANY sort of low-wage minimal training job? Retail, fast food, waitstaff? Because if you can’t pay your bills, then you should focus on getting ANY job, not just one that actually fits your strengths and career goals?

    OP #2 – You definitely do not sound like someone I’d want to work with if you’re that afraid of telling work acquaintances anything at all! While I can completely understand not wanting to talk about dating or boyfriends at work, by the time you have a fiance or a husband it’s not just your love life but rather your life situation, which is just kind of weird to be so secretive about.

    OP #3 – I think skirts and tops can be less formal than dresses, if you want to keep the same overall silhouette. Also, what do you wear on the weekends? Are the clothes you have for your off-work times now appropriate for you at work?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I disagree with you strongly. I don’t need to know every detail about my colleagues’ lives, and OP#2 is someone I wouldn’t mind working with. Earlier in my career, I very much kept boundaries between my private life and my professional life. Because what I found (in my very gossipy department) was that once someone knows something, EVERYONE knows it and feels free to comment on it.

      A colleague (whom I never told anything else ever again, btw) asked me why I was taking time off in October (a slightly odd time in higher ed). She was pushy, and I wanted to shut her up, so I told her the truth: I’m getting married, very small quiet thing, etc. I got back several days later, and STUDENTS were coming up to me asking how the wedding was. After the fifth student in my office, I asked how they’d heard. The nosy co-worker had told the entire office, including the Dean, who had subsequently announced it to her class of ~200 students. Goodbye, privacy.

      I realize this puts me in the minority socially, but if you want to control the boundaries between work and personal life, you do have to make choices about what you say to your colleagues. Please note, that doesn’t make me “chilly” or aloof. I’m friendly and conversational at work, but I’d much rather my professional performance be what I’m known for than my personal life.

      1. Cat*

        The thing is, a wedding, by definition, is a public declaration of commitment. That’s most of it’s purpose in society. It’s not weird for people to ask about it–it’s a social norm that you’re more or less obligated to ask about it.

        In general, nobody really cares about the details and will probably be relieved to get a one sentence “it was great” answer and move on. But people aren’t prying into your personal life by asking about a legal ceremony in which you openly declare your intention of partnering with someone. Keeping it secret is your prerogative, obviously, but it’s not really something that is ordinarily in the category of “private” or should be assumed to be.

        1. Not Today Satan*

          Agreed. I also agree that people are unlikely to hound OP for details about the wedding. As much as I would have loved to talk about my wedding, coworkers never asked anything beyond “how was it”, lol.

        2. fposte*

          That’s a really good point–that the whole cultural motive for a wedding is that public declaration (banns, anyone?) and people respond accordingly.

        3. Marcela*

          Haha. No. A wedding can be something else than a public declaration. For us, it was a way to get our visa situation sorted forever, for governments only understand paperwork. My family and our friends found out and they freaked out we were going to GET MARRIED ALONE! and they invited themselves to a very ordinary and boring “ceremony” of signatures, that matters so little to us that we don’t even remember the date correctly.

          1. Loose Seal*

            Yeah, for *you* it was no biggie. But the rest of your story about how your friends and family reacted perfectly illustrates the point that weddings are a public declaration. I’m sure you reassured them that it was any different to you than getting a driver’s license or any other govt thing where you have to wait in line, fill out forms, and pay a fee. However, I bet your friends and family don’t all turn out every time you have to go to the DMV (or the equivalent wherever you are). There’s a reason they felt they had to invite themselves to your ceremony. [I had the same sort of wedding you did but for health insurance reasons (this was before the ACA came into effect) rather than a visa. But there still ended up being about 25 people there, including some who drove 10 hours to be there.]

          2. Mookie*

            Yep, thanks for that. Access to marriage, as a legal relationship, is still a hard-fought-for victory for some communities, and the history of marriage has nothing to do with public declarations* or celebrations but as a means to unify families, create alliances, trade or share property, and ensure that children (if created within the marriage) were connected to and had mutual obligations towards one or both sets of the parents’ extended “kin.”

            *public declaration has a specific civil and religious meaning and was superseded by licenses that performed the same function (to determine that a marriage would be recognized as legal by the state and kosher by the church, if applicable); it never existed to inform the general public of romantic commitments of fidelity between the two people being married

      2. Bradguy*

        That sounds like an awful situation!
        I think a large part of it is that I have a very introverted type of personality. So when the conversation topic is about me, I very much like to be in control of the direction of that conversation. When news of a wedding starts spreading like a rumor, one completely loses control of that conversational direction and that sounds like a very distressing situation to me!

    2. CMT*

      I agree about #2. Talking about big (and public) events like weddings is just one way people socialize and build relationships. Very few people are going to be interested in the actual content of what you say, they’re just doing a normal social thing by making conversation. Viewing the situation as one in which your coworkers are trying to invade your privacy sounds overly hostile to me.

    3. Marcela*

      Why does it matter my life situation? Was I working differently when I was living with my parents than when I started living with my husband? I am very private, although I am always talking about my husband. However, only my work is relevant to my coworkers, not my life situation, whatever it is or its changes. Honestly, if you need/want to know about my situation other than my life in the office, that’s not an office environment I want to be. Very soon I would be asked why I’m not having babies…

      1. CMT*

        And I wouldn’t want to work in an office where my coworkers either disliked or distrusted me so much that they wouldn’t even want me to know they got married. To each their own, I guess.

        1. Panda Bandit*

          A coworker not telling you about their life doesn’t automatically mean they dislike or distrust you.

  25. KT*

    #2, I hear you.

    I got married on a Friday, so I took Thursday and Friday off and was back at work on Monday.

    When people asked me how my weekend was, I kind of laughed and said “it was good, I got married” -none of my coworkers had any idea, and honestly, it was no big deal. When they asked why I hadn’t said anything before, I just said I was really shy and didn’t want to make a fuss, and no one cared. I always had a good relationship with my coworkers, I just don’t like talking about my personal life at work.

    I’m friendly, say good morning with a bright smile to everyone, offer help, etc and I’ve always had very good relationships at work–no one would ever describe me as chilly.

    1. KT*

      And if anyone asked any questions, I just said I didn’t want a big thing so it was just very small and simple, and changed the subject. No one thought it was a big deal. Just say it as casually as possible without sounding apologetic or defensive and people move on.

      1. Bradguy*

        This sounds like a very effective way of dealing with it. I will probably do this. Thanks!

  26. AshleytheParalegal*

    OP1 – If you can, I’d look for a temp job or maybe do one of those work ready places. It’s not glamorous, but it will get some quick money in your pocket until you can find a different job that you like better. I hope things improve for you soon!

  27. Bigglesworth*

    OP #4 – You have my sympathy. One of my colleagues was in your position for three years. The newsletter kept getting longer and longer until it was 12 pages long. No one read it except the program director who started it, her admin (my colleague), and the director’s boyfriend and daughter (who are two of our adjuncts). It took up a huge chunk of time and we all tried to tell the director that no one read the newsletter to no avail. I’m not sure what the director is going to do now, since her admin’s last day is Wednesday and the rest of us are busy with our own projects, teams, and directors.

    1. Vicki*

      OP #4 you have my sympathy as well. _I_ was in your position at a previous job.

      I was the group Tech writer and our VP wanted a newsletter to share our department successes with other departments. Unfortunately while everyone (when prompted) said they’d be happy to read a newsletter, no one wanted to contribute to it. Everyone was much too busy doing, well, actual work on the product. There was also the question of format. The engineers wanted email. The VP wanted something that other department heads could read on their Blackberries.

      The final nail in the newsletter coffin was that the VP insisted on reviewing and approving every issue. Issue 1 was 4 weeks late. Issue 2 never came out.

      Good luck.

  28. Meg*

    OP1 – if the recruiter is an external recruiter who came to you about the position (vs you applying and an internal recruiter handling it), I’d go ahead and tell them about the situation. It could be the difference between you interviewing on a Monday instead of a Friday just because the recruiter knows that time is of the essence and would know to push for an earlier interview on your behalf. My recruiter got me a couple more bucks an hour because I didn’t accept the offer right away and put pressure on the client, like “if you really want her, go up to $Y/hr” and they did. I gave the recruiter a heads up about anything work-related – if I was interviewing somewhere else, if I had another offer, etc.

    Telling the recruiter that you’re interviewing other places, and that you’re going to accept the first offer that fits will likely prompt the recruiter that time is of the essence, which can also help negotiate a start date too.

    If they reached out to you to fill this position and you’re a good fit for the role, it is in the recruiter’s best interest to help you land the role. You probably don’t have to tell that your electric got turned off, but you can definitely express that you’re looking to move quickly into the next role – quickly being the key word here.

  29. Violet_04*

    OP3 – I am usually the most “dressed up” person in my office where the majority of people wear jeans and t-shirts. I wear dresses all the time in the summer. I love being able to put on one item of clothing and be done. I usually wear dresses in knits or ponte knit materials that are more casual than structured suiting material. I also wear cardigans or denim jackets instead of blazers as a topper.

    I love the casual dresses from Lands End. I’ve also had good luck with Nordstrom Rack, especially the Max Studio brand.

    In case you’re in need of inspiration, these are some of the fashion blogs I follow that feature more casual outfits: Wardrobe Oxygen, Outfit Posts, Franish, Putting me Together. I also like You Look Fab as a general fashion blog.

    1. fposte*

      As a fan of the Lands’ End summer dresses myself, I thank you for the recommendation of Nordstrom Rack.

  30. Mel*

    Why are so many folks so intent on having this hard separation between their work and personal lives? I ask that because I wonder if they have considered how beneficial it is to their careers to have some overlap. I know the rationale is that personal relationships SHOULDNT affect ones career but in many many places it does. People up, across, and down the organization will go out of their way to help you succeed the more they like you and the more you engage in a positive way. Obviously I’m speaking more to the folks who are interested in furthering their careers and less to the folks who don’t have that desire.

    1. Bradguy*

      For me, one of the main motivators for keeping that separation is that I actually do not like my current position (I am on the hunt for something better suited to me). I know that having a lot of overlap of personal and professional lives would cause me hesitation in leaving here. I suppose it’s a sub-conscience way of motivating myself to find a better position.

      I have fallen for the trap before of staying in a bad job with low pay and poor benefits for too long because I had a lot of personal social investments in the people who worked there. I would say, “Yeah, the job sucks but I have a lot of fun working with the people there!”. Meanwhile I was sliding further and further into debt. So it took a reality check or two to realize that I was putting too much weight to the social side of working at a particular job.

    2. Murphy*

      I’ll admit, I have a hard time understanding the hard separation as well. And not even for the benefits a little sharing can bring, but just for the fact that we spend 40+ hours a week with these people (more hours than I see my husband in an awake form). I can’t imagine not sharing a silly story of my toddler trying to ride the dog, or about my vacation, or whatnot. It just seems sort of cold and remote without those personal bits and like workdays would seem much, much longer without the odd “my dog at a pound of butter” stories interspersed throughout the day.

      Plus, sharing personal things is what has made some of my rougher times a smidge easier (my colleagues knowing my love of dumplings means that on a bad day one of them would sometimes run out an bring me back dumplings to make me feel better, for example. Those are the perks of a close work relationship).

      That all being said, I’ll respect someone who has these boundaries even if I don’t really understand them.

      1. Not Karen*

        Do you really spend 40+ a week WITH these people or just in the same building? I spend most of my time at work in my cube by myself.

        1. Murphy*

          I suppose that’s fair, but I spend a lot of my time talking and collaborating with my team and other colleagues. I’m probably with people/talking to people more than 50% of the time.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        I feel similarly. It’s not a boundary I get, but it’s one I’ll respect because that’s what adults do. Personally, though, I enjoy having that low-level social interaction, because it’s a way for me to deal with my own social anxiety and shuts off the “no one likes you” jerkbrain; I can remind myself “Hey, we had a successful conversation about the long weekend with Junaid! We can do things!”

    3. Kelly L.*

      I’ve worked places where, if they’d known more about my personal life, they’d have liked me much less. Think along the lines of people having issues about sexual orientation.

      1. Manders*

        +1 to this. Letting the line between work and your personal life get blurry can be a risky proposition for people whose bosses wouldn’t approve of their personal lives. I’ll tell a funny anecdote about my cats now and then, but my coworkers do NOT need to know all the details of what I did on Saturday night.

        (Like I said on a thread a few days ago, if you dig deep enough, you will hit the well of weird cat stories rather than learning anything else about me.)

      2. Mookie*

        Exactly. For everyone who is acknowledging that friendship and camaraderie among colleagues can advance a person’s career: it can and it sometimes does. It just doesn’t do it for everybody or equally and people who don’t look like, behave, or come from the same background as their co-workers aren’t necessarily going to be welcomed with open arms the moment they start disclosing aspects of their private lives. Even the separate discussion here about wardrobe choices tied to class and gender demonstrates that. Outsiders can be stigmatized, so it’s little wonder that some people are pathologically afraid of being outed as aberrant or different. People aren’t consciously acting on these biases, but it’s one of the reasons (related to nepotism) achieving true diversity is difficult, especially if the top tier in an industry or company are carbon copies of one another. They, of course, have nothing to hide from one another and they have an abundance of power and social clout to withstand a certain amount of disapproval. They also set the tone and prevailing standards and hire people who most resemble themselves. We don’t live in a meritocracy, after all.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      I am very congenial, but share very few details about my personal life at work. I’ll talk about the movie I saw, but not who I saw it with. I don’t think anyone really notices unless they think about it that they have no idea if I’m dating anyone or in a serious relationship, etc.

      1. Bradguy*

        This is exactly how I am. I’ll gladly engage with people about that movie I saw, or a story about me trying to stop the leaking in my basement, or the new car I just got. But I don’t talk about friends or relationships at all. It’s just not an area I like to cover at work.

        1. Loose Seal*

          Me too. I’m really good at water cooler chat that when you parse it at the end of the day, doesn’t give the listeners any solid info about my personal life. I’ve always been well-liked by coworkers (I think) so I don’t think they even notice that the stuff I talk about *seems* personal but isn’t.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Exactly. I’m always talking about my books (the stuff I write) or the stuff I’m reading, professional development courses I’m taking, and my hair, so people consider me friendly and don’t notice that they know very little personal info about me. I’m going to keep it that way too. Coworkers don’t need to know about my home life, who I may or may not be seeing, the state of my uterus, or anything else that people typically talk about. They’re not my friends.

    5. Belle*

      I think that is the challenge right now — should liking someone really have an impact on their career progression? Or should it be based on how well they do their job, generally friendly and positive in their interactions?

      I see in HR so many issues around managers not wanting to hold their employees accountable because “they are a great person, so fun to be around and did you know, they just got married…” But then the manager will complain that their production is down and they don’t want to address it. I see too many examples of people who are promoted because they are well liked, not because they are a good people manager or productive employee.

      In a perfect scenario, the personal part would be left out in the workplace. I know it often isn’t — but that doesn’t make it right.

      1. Mel*

        Im sure you know it’s pretty pointless continually ponder or dig your heels in on the “this is how the world should work”. You’ll get much farther professionally and be much more successful if you accept how it actually works and be strategic and purposeful when you decide to take a stand.

        As for managers not wanting to lie in the bed they made you have to remind them of that. That you can guide them to a solution but they have to commit to fixing it.

    6. Seal*

      Some of us have learned the hard way that sharing your personal life with coworkers can make you a target for bullies. That happened to me early in my career, when I worked a day job to support my artistic activities. Because I excelled at my job despite burning the candle at both ends (ah, youth!) and never made a secret of the fact that my artistic endeavors were my priority, some of my less successful coworkers took exception and tried to undermine me at every turn. I was also in the process of deciding whether or not to come out and made the mistake of confiding in a few coworkers I thought were my friends. That just gave them more ammunition. Granted, all of this happened over 25 years ago and I am far more secure about myself and life in general. But to this day I am VERY selective about what parts of my personal life I share with coworkers and colleagues. I’ve found that I can have a successful career and professional, even cordial relationships with my colleagues without telling them my life story.

    7. Oryx*

      I can be well liked within my company and engage in a positive manner without needing to share all of the details of my personal life. My co-workers know I have a boyfriend and that I live with him but that’s about it, I don’t really discuss anything beyond that and if we were to get engaged, the last thing I’d want to do is discuss wedding details. But I’m more than happy to talk about the last book I read or movie I saw or this really awesome restaurant we went to.

    8. Shortie*

      I agree with you, Mel, and wonder this all the time. There is nothing wrong with being private or keeping things separate, but going overboard with that can “cut off the nose to spite the face”. It is possible to show the human and personal side without going into too much detail. I especially find it interesting in cases of illness or personal crisis…there is no need to share details, but your colleagues will be much more likely to want to help you and not gripe about you behind your back if they hear, for example, “my mom passed away” or “I am scheduled for surgery” as opposed to “I will be out for 4 weeks for personal reasons”. Is it mandatory to share a brief reason? No. Will it help smooth your working relationships? Yes. Should that be the case? Probably not, but it usually is.

      Sure, there will occasionally be a Nosy Nelson who wants to know why your mom passed away or what your surgery is for, but those are easily shut down with something like I’m not comfortable talking about it, but I really do appreciate your concern during this difficult time. It means a lot.

      1. Marcela*

        Although it seems easy to shut down all the nosy people, it tires you to do it again and again and again with no end in sight. For me, it’s about babies, and the more I tried to avoid being secretive with people, the more they asked and asked and asked. It wasn’t like they could help in any way, not practical or even with knowledge. Of course you worry because you feel rude when they are only thinking about me, but eventually one reaches the point where the suffering I experienced having these conversations was not worth being considered of all the nosy people’s feelings. So it is better to keep 100% quiet.

    9. ReanaZ*

      I’m a young, queer, leftist, poly politically active atheist who works for an older, wholesome Christian charity. I love my job and it’s a great environment (very focused on helping the needy and not on being evangelical) and the Venn diagram of things my coworkers and organisation agree on overlaps enough that I am very happy working there and think we do good work.

      It does not overlap enough that I can have an honest conversation about my weekend. Pretty much ever.

  31. Ann O'Nemity*

    #4 – compiling the newsletter

    I’ve done this exact assignment. My job was to compile the info, decide the order of the stories, do the first round of editing, and get approval before sending it to marketing. Another goal was to look for ways to improve the newsletter, specifically getting more people to read it.

    Here’s my advice:
    (1) Talk to the marketing director. See if there’s any reason for you to continue reformatting. (A lot of email tools will automatically fix any formatting, font, size, style irregularities.)
    (2) See if you can get any actual metrics on the newsletter. Again, if marketing is using an email tool they might have metrics on # opens, clicks, etc. If you suspect that no one is reading the newsletter, prove it with real data.
    (3) Think of ways to increase the number of people reading the newsletter. Can you add interactive elements, calls to action, incentives?
    (4) Get feedback. Informally or formally ask coworkers for their opinion on the newsletter and how it could be improved. This could be water cooler chat or even an in-email brief survey.

    All of this is fairly easy and quick to do. I don’t think I spent more than an hour or two per month on it.

    1. OP #4*

      Our marketing director uses Constant Contact to send the newsletter. She told us in a meeting that in the last six months, only two people regularly open the newsletter- me and the executive director (who is my manager).

      I tried to use the same fonts as the marketing director to cut down how much reformatting she had to do but when I did that, she changed the font style. When I asked she said she wanted them to be “completely different”. When she add pictures and Word Art/clip art, they are completely different.

      I how asked a few coworkers about the newsletter and they said they didn’t read it because they know what is going on.

      I will bring up trying to use an incentive to get people to read it. I was talking to the cafe manager over the weekend and she was mentioning that many staff are not eating in the cafe, even though she has a weekly special that is actually quite good. Maybe we could do something with that to get people to read it- like maybe a free lunch drawing and the winner is listed in the newsletter.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        If she’s using Constant Contact, there’s no reason for you to mess with formatting, fonts, etc. The tool will fix all that. If the fonts come out different in the emails, it’s because she’s deliberately changing the settings so they look like that. (This is one less thing for you to worry about.)

        Free drawings are a great idea!

  32. Employment Lawyer*

    Run the newsletter.

    Starting these things up is like running a new bus route. Until you have time and effort invested into it (and until people start to rely on it) it’s underused. That’s just a startup cost.

  33. Temperance*

    Re #4: At my last job, my boss decided we needed to do a newsletter. (By “we”, I mean “me”.) I spent so much time on it, and no one read it. No one. It’s one of those things that bosses like and employees don’t care about, in most cases. I don’t think there’s anything that you can do to motivate people to care about it.

    1. OP#4*

      That’s exactly what I am dealing with. Even with the proof that no one is reading it, he still wants it to be done. I’ll continue to compile it each month as requested because he has assigned it to me, but it’s hard to care about it because no one else does.

      1. Manders*

        It sounds like this is a project your boss is really attached to for some reason (the executive director was spending all this time compiling a staff newsletter himself? Whaaaaat?) and you may not be able to get out of doing it if he cares that much. But you shouldn’t be spending most of a working week on it. Are you being told to write everything yourself, or can you just copy and past information into the template he gave you?

        1. OP #4*

          The department heads send me the info, I paste it into the template and then go through “fix” any formatting that doesn’t meet the director’s requests and make sure everything is the same font & size. It can take days and multiple follow-up emails to actually get the information. The astronomy department always has about a page of info and each section is in a different font and color.

          1. Manders*

            Hmm, there definitely seems to be a disconnect between you, the departments, and the director here. Why is the astronomy department writing a whole page of information if no one, not even the person who sends that information to you, is opening the emails? Are they copying information that someone has already written for a different reason? Are they spending a lot of time writing and formatting this content because they know the director is using it to check on their work?

            (Also… a different font and color for every section on a page? I cannot imagine that looking good. Do you know why they’re doing that? Are they copying sections out of different documents, or is someone going through and manually formatting that mess before sending it to you? Could they be putting more work than they actually need to into formatting on their end?)

            1. OP #4*

              The astronomy program manager is writing this info. I think he does it at different times during the month so that when I email asking for the info he has it ready. I’m not really sure why he uses different fonts and colors. I did speak directly to him a couple of times letting him know that if he could stick to one color and font it would help me tremendously. He said “sure” and for the first month after, he would stick to one color but then he always regresses.

              I think they know the director is reading the newsletter is the only reason anyone submits it. Again, if it was helping anyone, I would be more enthusiastic about it, but if no one is reading it, it seems like wasted time.

  34. KT*

    For why I’m not big on sharing, I will admit, for me it was very much a gender issue.

    I worked in a male-dominated company and industry. I never once heard a male coworker mention getting married, having a child or the cute thing their toddler did. I certainly heard women do those things though, and I also saw how those women were labeled as “the company moms”.

    For me, keeping a clear line between professional life and personal life–and not making a big fuss about my wedding–was to minimize being pigeon-holded as the silly bridezilla woman. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I know in many industries, once you’ve become the “wifey” or “mom” stereotype, it’s hard to break.

  35. Roscoe*

    #2 Yeah, this would come off as super cold and possibly alienating to your co-workers. Its like when someone asks how your weekend was. You don’t have to go into excruciating detail, but at the same time saying “I don’t want to discuss that” seems just so out of the norm that it would make you just look bad. I’ve never been married, but as Alison said, I’m guessing there is a way you can share some details without going into a ton of detail. But it really depends on how much you value the intra personal relationships of your co-workers.

    #3 I think you should just dress down a bit to fit in better with your co-workers. Not saying go buy a new wardrobe, but could you go with khakis or something a little less formal. Again though, I’m not sure what kind of dresses you are wearing. Some dresses go fine with a super relaxed dress code, some don’t. But if you are sticking out like a sore thumb in your office, that isn’t often a good thing.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      There are a bunch of examples upthread on how people did exactly what #2 wants to do about his wedding – and it looks like they all managed fine without seeming cold or alienating anyone.

    2. Cookie*

      I think there’s a difference between saying, “I don’t want to discuss that” and simply saying, “Good, thanks. How was yours?” I could see myself saying the latter and omitting the fact that I got married that weekend. I’ve been in a gossipy office before and the thought of being the subject of gossip is so gross that I wouldn’t want to put myself out there. A person could just smile and be friendly and never share anything of substance and that won’t alienate others.

  36. Lily in NYC*

    #2 – a coworker I considered a good friend showed up on a Monday and told me he got married over the weekend. I was flabbergasted, but not remotely upset. If you are worried about seeming chilly, then maybe bring in some donuts or something and say, Guess what! I got married! Don’t even make an excuse of why you didn’t mention it.

  37. Rachel*

    #2 – If you really don’t want your coworkers to know that you got married (and your coworkers don’t even know that you’re engaged), could you just not wear your wedding ring while you’re in the office? Nothing for your coworkers to see = nothing for them to wonder/ask about.

  38. animaniactoo*

    OP1 – the other issue is that you risk coming off as desperate. It’s not just that you’re making them uncomfortable with knowing too much about your personal situation and rearranging themselves to suit you, it’s also that you’re making them uncomfortable with whether you really want to work for them.

    Somebody who needs money that badly will take any job they can just to have a paycheck. That’s legit and valid based on your financial situation. But companies want to hire people who want to work for them in particular, and are not going to be interested in maybe moving on to somewhere else in the near future because they’ve found something they want to do more than they do this job they took to be able to pay the bills.

    You don’t want to make yourself look like that might be you. It will hurt you far more than any help you might receive from it.

  39. animaniactoo*

    #3 – How do you feel about skirts? There’s a lot of advice here about how to dress down your business wardrobe, but you might also want to look at this as an opportunity to makeover parts of it. Section off the most formal items, and put them to the side for occasional or future use. Take some of the less formal and dress it down, and then add gradually building a piece in here and there that you can pair with some of the more casual tops that you already may own.

    OP#4 – do you know how to use style sheets in Word? If not, I can explain. You should not at all be asking people to send you stuff in the preferred format. That makes it just one more dredge for them to do, which will put them off even more. Style sheets can help you reformat quickly and easily, so if you don’t know how to do this, I can explain but don’t want to assume that you don’t know how to use them (or use them efficiently).

  40. Erin*

    #3 – I hear you, and I agree with Alison that a compromise is best.

    Over the past five to six years I’ve gone from a jeans and tee-shirt environment to a super professional environment back to jeans and tee-shirt. I think the relaxed atmosphere is definitely nice, but there’s also something to be said for dressing professionally – it helps put me in that “work mode.”

    After I got the offer for the job I have now, to celebrate my mother took me on a shopping spree for professional clothes. Then I got to work and saw the dress code in the handbook, which was basically, “Tee-shirts can’t have messages on them, no tank tops.” The end, lol. Like you I didn’t exactly want to throw out my whole wardrobe.

    I’ve been at my current, casual-dressing job for almost three months and I’ve found a good compromise. I don’t wear jeans – I wear khaki-type pants or black pants, and occasionally a casual (but not short) skirt. I worked my way up to sometimes wearing sneakers with my semi-dressy pants – but somewhat nice sneakers, like Coach, not converse, which I also own. I don’t wear tee-shirts, but do go a little bit more casual with my tops than I would have had my prior job. I’m sure there’s a similar compromise you somewhere.

    …I do think dresses might be a bit much. I don’t think you need to wear sneakers, jeans, or tee-shirts, but maybe nice pants and a nice top, with an occasional skirt or dress. Maybe save your dressier clothes for if you have a meeting or clients will be touring the office, or something like that. Look nice and professional, but not to the point of separating yourself from everyone you work with.

    I’m interested to see what others say though, clothes-related questions always seem to get a lot of comments. :)

  41. #2 Opinion*

    #2, Would you be willing to slip the ring off when you got to work? I’m a very private person myself, and I don’t talk about my life outside of work, my family, relationships, and don’t socialize with coworkers outside of work (this means not attending any company events that are held out of work hours). Taking off my ring would be something I would do to keep people from asking about my private life.

  42. Petronella*

    OP #1, I have so been there when it comes to desperately needing to start a job and get a paycheque asap, I’ve interviewed for jobs with utility shut-off notices in my purse, I’ve walked miles to an interview because I had no transit fare, I’ve washed out my interview clothes in the bathtub because I had no change for the laundry. It is very difficult to appear one’s best, confident self with these worries hanging over you. Unfortunately though, it will do you no good at all to share your situation with the interviewer – unless the job is actually in social services, and sometimes not even then. I applied for (and eventually got) a job as a welfare case worker and that government agency was as bad as any private employer when it came to slow decision-making and inflexible interview times. They wouldn’t have wanted to hear about financial problems I was having; it would have branded me as a “client” in their eyes. They were entrenched, unionized government employees and had long since forgotten what it was like to be unemployed and broke. Someone upthread also pointed out, correctly, that seeming desperate for a paycheque will also make your interviewer suspect that you don’t really want this particular job and will not be committed to it. All of this to say, I’m thinking of you and wishing you all the luck in the world and hope something shakes loose for you soon. And to all the well-meaning commenters here who have so many suggestions for this letter writer – get a part-time job, pick up something in a restaurant, apply for utility assistance, etc etc – I will do this letter writer the courtesy of assuming that she has already left no stone unturned and is not in need of advice on how to not be unemployed and poor, from a lot of employed middle-class people who may have never been in this situation and don’t really know what they’re talking about wtr temp work and community resources.

    1. matcha123*

      I totally agree with you. I know someone in the same situation, and regardless of what ‘low-level’ jobs they apply for, they get no call-backs…despite having a Masters and a willingness to do any kind of work.
      Some churches want people to take drug tests in order to qualify for assistance and others will only give the bare minimum (ie- “Here’s a $20 food voucher, be thankful and don’t ask us again for more.”)

  43. Shayna*

    3: Try knit dresses. They tend to be much less formal and are generally less expensive to purchase. Err on the side of not drape and movement rather than form fitting (i.e. a knit swing dress will be more casual than a knit pencil skirt).

  44. Research Assistant*

    #3: I’m not a pants person either and I sometimes struggle with “nice jeans” dress codes. I got a dark denim pencil skirt and it fits the same level of formality but I feel so much more comfortable than wearing jeans. A denim skirt in a more casual cut might be even better for your situation. Also, for making your current dresses less formal casual shoes are great. I’m more into skirts than dresses myself, but I’ve been known to wear cotton pencil skirts with Birkenstocks or Keds. Fun or colorful tights in the winter would be good, too.

  45. SeekingBetter*

    #1 Yeah, definitely don’t mention anything about your financial hardships to a prospective employer. I know this is not ideal and it really sucks to have to worry about this on top of job searching, but employers won’t have that much sympathy for the situation. Do your best to interview well and hope they’ll hire you!

  46. Ruthie*

    OP #2, take it from me that things become weird if you try to hide life events from your colleagues. Long story short, I had an awkward moment when I became a little emotional in the office a few years ago when my well-meaning boss asked me about a weekend with a guy I was dating that didn’t go as planned. I am a very private person, so I was incredibly embarrassed and avoided ever mentioning the guy again. But we ended up together, and over time it became obvious that I was intentionally not mentioning my relationship. It turned into a whole thing where I was lying about who I went on vacation with and it was just stupid and stressful. I learned the hard way.

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