open thread — July 1-2, 2016

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,424 comments… read them below }

  1. HWHR*

    My first open thread post!! I’m going to try a sounding board from y’all this week. My boss just recently went on a 3 month LOA leaving me alone in the department to run the day to day things and if anything comes up that over my head, I am to go to the VP and escalate from there. Basically, I am doing what I was hired to do (she was a consultant tasked with training me up into the position, but about 4 months ago they hired her to be my manager when she came to them with life circumstances requiring her to take a permanent job). Needless to say that didn’t make me very happy and my old box contacted me about a position that she has with her and she wants me to take it. I have agreed. My dilemma now is with my current boss taking a 3 month LOA, I’m feeling EXTREMELY guilty about turning in my notice. Will is reflect badly on me that a few weeks after she has left I resign from my position? (I understand business is business and if the roles were reversed they wouldn’t worry about me if they had to let me go, and this new opportunity it a great one which I would be very stupid to say no to).

    1. legalchef*

      I don’t think so. I would try to give as much notice as possible and also make it clear that you understand that it is poor timing and that you will do everything possible that you to make the transition smoother (handbooks/guides, training your replacement, etc).

    2. SophieChotek*

      Just my two cents…

      Part of running a business/organization is the understanding that sometimes people give notice. You cannot just wait for the “right” time, because generally there never is a “right” time.

      The timing may be unfortunate, but give a last day (stick to it), do what you can to help transition them, but if you got a good offer that would make you happier, then that is important.

      I might try to separate that your boss (getting a manager position/permanent job) out from the rest of this, especially if they ask you about “why” you are leaving. I would just stick to that you got a great offer, more in line with your skills/overall goals, but you will do what you can in X amount of time to ease transition.

      (And negotiate references/if they want to do extra work, because desperate, already have any idea about how you want to approach that issue — i.e. as a consultant, etc.)

      1. designbot*

        But they hired someone else to do the job they originally hired her to do–trying to separate that out just seems disingenuous. They made her redundant, and she responded completely reasonably by taking another offer when it came along. Unless the opportunity is just so amazing that it would’ve blown the original job out of the water anyway, there’s no denying the cause and effect there.

    3. addlady*

      Given that they didn’t give you the job they promised, I wouldn’t think you owed them anything except the usual courtesies.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Exactly. Their behavior wasn’t without fault here, so I’d say they brought this on themselves.

    4. MK*

      Usually, I balk at the “the employer would fire you in a second if it was in their best interest” argument for doing things that are maybe not entirely on the level. But in this case I don’t see why you should feel guilty, since you are resigning for another job, which is something that can happen at any time and is absolutely your right (the only time resigning is an issue is if you had made a commitment to stay X amount of time, and even then things change). Also, if I understand correctly, you were brought on to fill a position and then they gave the job to the independed contractor who was training you and kept you on as her employee; that’s basically a demotion and they had to have known you might leave.

      1. HWHR*

        You do understand correctly, that is exactly what happened, and the way they handled notifying me about it told me that they were extremely worried I would leave because of it.

        All of the responses have told me that I shouldn’t feel guilty and doing the best for me is exactly what I need to do. Everyone around me was saying it, but I guess I just wanted to make sure with some people that aren’t as close to the situation as my circle of support.

        Thank you!

    5. A. Nonymous*

      I’d give as much notice as possible, but work is not something we do as favors, you know? It’s not personal, just in your best interests and you should always look out for yourself when it’s reasonable.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Exactly – work is a business relationship. It is a transaction of labor and skills for money. You’re not doing anything wrong by giving notice now, and you are absolutely in no way obligated to take on emotional responsibility for the organization’s or your department’s well-being after your departure. Give your notice, and keep moving forward!

        1. Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

          +1. And believe me, the department/Company will be fine. Never make the mistake that it won’t. And as someone who was laid off after almost 20 years with the same company, I don’t believe that they felt any kind of guilt over it. They got along just fine without me. So give your notice, smile on your way out, and prepare for your new adventure.

          1. MK*

            I don’t see what guilt has to do with anything. Even the if they deeply regretted the decision and only did it because they saw no other way, a company will always survive an employee leaving. Barring pretty extraordinary circumstances, no one resignation is going to cause a collapse.

      2. INTP*

        Yep. And it seems like that attitude is exactly what got the company in the situation. (Handing out a job to a consultant because she suddenly needed health insurance or PTO or whatever – who then went on LOA, which is not exactly an unpredictable outcome when you give jobs to people because they’re in unstable personal circumstances.) OP certainly isn’t required to work as a favor to the company, to cover the favor they doled out at her own expense!

    6. INTP*

      There are some people who will always get mad at you for doing something that inconveniences them and will always view right and wrong from the perspective of how actions affects them. So I can’t say “You’re right, therefore you won’t ruffle any feathers.”

      However, I think what you’re doing is fine. On their part, they hired someone to do a job, and THEN hired a second person to do the same job above the first person’s head, specifically because the second person was in some sort of unstable life circumstance requiring health insurance or time off or whatever she needed out of a permanent job. The person who they totally changed a job on (you) leaving, as well as the person they hired to do her a favor in a difficult time needing to use the benefits of a permanent job (i.e. extended time off), were totally predictable outcomes. The company changed a job on you, the consultant asked for a permanent job and then quickly went on LOA, you are certainly not obligated to be the one to sacrifice for their actions by staying when you have a better opportunity!

    7. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      HWHR – I will give you a quote that we used to use in the IS/IT world =

      “Always take care of number one.”

      Meaning = yourself.

      Now, let’s assess this. They hired you to do a job, and led you to believe that you were moving into that slot.
      THEN , they decided to do a switcheroo and they passed you over.

      THEN, they’re asking you do to that job while your boss – the beneficiary of the passover dance – takes a 3 month LOA – for reasons that you haven’t described here, but that really could be irrelevant. If it’s a sabbatical to charge her batteries, then you’re being super-exploited.

      Take the new opportunity, if that’s what you want. Do you think they feel guilty over what they’ve done to YOU? Hell, no.

      The only courtesies I would give your current employer is a two-week notice (or whatever’s customary in your field) AND you will likely get a counter-offer discussion, and if you do, hear them out.

      If they start guilt-tripping you – walk away from the table. They may ask “did the passing over have anything to do with this?” , laugh, say “well, gee whiz or maybe it did!” and then hear them out more.

      Don’t feel guilty. And don’t let others “guilt you” into losing control of your career. Do what you WANT to do.

    8. Artemesia*

      Your company had no qualms about hiring her over you and then dumping her work on you when she left for a leave. They would have no qualms about letting you go if it benefited them. I am going to guess you are a woman because I have yet to hear a man worry about what will happen to the company if he takes a better job offer.

      It’s business, not personal. Take the job and do your best to help the company transition by doing a good job of documenting and if possible training the person they will have covering.

      Women are not more valued because they do the drudge work and put the company interests ahead of their own career advancement. They don’t get promoted because they do the work no one wants to do while their male peers distinguish themselves with ‘important work’ and get promoted. People don’t improve their professional reputations through self sacrifice; they improve them through accomplishment. Take this job without guilt and I hope the new one is fabulous.

  2. ND*

    Need some phrasing help, wonderful posters!

    I work very closely with someone in a very small office. We’re technically separate departments, but for the last six months she has functioned as my back up—someone to bounce ideas off of and proof documents. I technically report to her, though I wouldn’t say she is my boss. We collaborate, but I’m the primary for my department. The person with the ability to hire/fire me rests with her boss.

    This co-worker is…moody. Sometimes she’s wildly friendly and other times she’s openly frustrated, overwhelmed and snarky. Many days she’s begging me to never job hunt or desperately asking if I’m happy with my job. She bought me flowers last week as a thank you for my hard work. But on the days she’s unhappy, which are in the majority, she’s a huge downer for the whole office. I am tired of constantly trying to appease her, as it’s almost always generic frustration with other departments or her personal life. Half the time she apologizes later with the comment of, “Oh, I was just cranky about xyz. Sorry. I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”

    Today, she suddenly is acting very friendly with everyone in the office except for me. When we pass documents off between us, she is dismissive and abrupt. Curt or with a tone of barely restrained temper.

    I have not done anything to cause tension, to my knowledge, and her attitude is driving me nuts. Do I acknowledge it—and how do I phrase it if so? About a month ago I tried to casually calm things down with a: “Hey, is everything alright?” This was NOT the proper phrasing as she became even more angry and completely shut down, refusing to speak with me altogether.

    Do I go a step further the next time she’s working with me today and say, “You seem upset. Can we talk about what’s bothering you?” or should it be, “You seem upset. Have I done something you’d like to discuss?”

    Honestly, it’s making me angry enough that I worry I’ll start being very abrupt back—which obviously solves nothing. Should I go around her and bring the issue of her behavior up with her boss? It’s a known issue of the entire office, though I’m unsure if her boss thinks she’s like that to everyone or just her.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      You could try asking “Are you OK? You seem very quiet today”, as if you didn’t notice how she is with everyone else. Personally, I prefer to feign ignorance/innocence, and I’d probably go even further and just pretend I didn’t notice her attitude. In fact, I find that going out of your way to be cheery and chipper to people who are throwing shade either takes the wind out of their sails or drives them so crazy that they stop with the “passive” part of passive-aggressive, and then they are exposed as jerks.

      1. ND*

        That’s mostly what I’ve done every time this happens. I think it’s starting to show that it’s her. I’ve noticed some rolling eyes when she’s got an attitude and the office manager has been harping around her childish behavior.

        It’s just … tiring. I wish something like this didn’t affect me so much, but it really pulls down my enjoyment of the job. I’ll try to stop dwelling though. Thank you.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          My advice would be to treat her like an annoying creaky floorboard. As far as you can, step around; when it can’t be avoided, it’s an inconvenience that is not a reflection on you.

    2. Dawn*

      I tend to operate from a place of “don’t touch the drama queen”- if she’s only acting this way towards you, I’m sure she’s dying to have you ask what’s wrong so she can stir up drama. Work is about being professional, and she’s acting like a moody teenager and then trying to pass it off like “lol so moody lol!” No, lady, we’ve all got our own crap to deal with, don’t drag yours into the office and spread it around.

      If you can, I’d say just beef up your professionalism and tact to their maximum when working with her- if she’s in a good mood, then you can be friendly back, if she’s obviously gunning for some drama, then you’re all business and keep your distance.

      1. AMD*


        You can’t control her moodiness, so try to disengage from it emotionally and just act professionally.

      2. ND*

        I hadn’t thought of that! She may just be waiting for me to ask. Good advice, thank you!

        I always try to discuss workplace issues openly so they can be solved, but this doesn’t seem to be something that can be solved in that way.

      3. Lily Evans*

        Agreed. Asking her about her mood runs the risk or her response being an overblown how dare you accuse me of such behavior reaction, which would just cause more drama. Basically any reaction will just fuel her drama. Take a deep breath and be the bigger person at work, then anonymously vent about it on the internet :)

        1. Laura*

          I’m the moody person too… although thankfully my work partner is even moodier and extremely withdrawn, so she takes most of the flak!

      4. Jadelyn*

        “Don’t touch the drama regent” (because men can be drama royalty too!) is such excellent life advice, thank you. Sometimes you can’t avoid engaging, depending on what they’re doing, but if you can…stay far away and let their crap implode on themselves without catching you as collateral damage.

        1. pugsnbourbon*

          +1, stealing this phrasing. Or maybe “drama monarch,” though that makes me think of an eye-rolling butterfly.

          1. Jadelyn*

            It’s even more appropriate, at least if you’ve ever seen the Venture Bro.s cartoon series!

        2. Andrea*

          I personally favor “drama llama” both because it’s gender neutral and fun to say.

    3. A. Nonymous*

      If she’s wildly fluctuating moods it could mean that something’s really wrong in her life. If you haven’t already maybe just ask “hey, are you okay? Is there anything I can do to help you out? You seem upset today.” If that doesn’t get a response and her behaviour is really erratic then you may want to loop her boss in, people don’t wildly change actions on a daily basis normally.

      I’d be super frustrated too, just saying

      1. ND*

        I do know she’s on some pretty heavy-duty medications for a physical medical issue. That’s part of the reason everyone doesn’t comment on the frequent crying fits. She has a bad habit of crying over personal issues. She’ll google something that reminds her of something sad, or she’ll show a photo to everyone in the office of a long-deceased family member and cry every time she pulls it out.

        1. A. Nonymous*

          Oh man. That’s rough. You can’t force a coworker to take FMLA or anything like that, but the good news is she’s working on it? It’s super frustrating tho. :(

          1. ND*

            Well, I’m not sure it’s a medical issue that can really be worked on. Arthritis? So I suppose sometimes her joints her more than other times? But she’ll be on meds for the rest of her life, to my understanding.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Ugh. ugh. Okay, when people mention stuff over and over, I figure it’s fair game.

          “You know, Jane, you have mentioned your lost family member(s) before. Have you thought about grief counseling? There’s also some really good books about the stages of grief and all the different ways grief manifests.”

          TBH, she does not sound like she even wants to calm down. It’s hard to help a person in this frame of mind. Sometimes you can mention, “I have noticed you get upset several times. This is really a quality of life issue. Maybe you should talk to your doc about it.”

          The common thread I use is I do not pretend not to notice that this has happened “before”. Drawing things out into the light of day can be effective in some instances. And “before” can mean last week or an hour ago, does not matter.

          OTH, you could just calmly state, “You know we have tears because we are suppose to use them. You should cry it out, it will help you to feel better.” Sometimes when we agree with people it totally catches them off guard and changes their reaction.

    4. animaniactoo*

      “Half the time she apologizes later with the comment of, “Oh, I was just cranky about xyz. Sorry. I didn’t mean to take it out on you.””

      Next time she apologizes like this, can you shoot back with something like this? “While I appreciate the apology, this has happened a number of times and is becoming difficult for me to deal with. I’d really appreciate it if you could work on limiting that.” If she gets up in arms about that, I’d come back with something along the lines of “Hey, I’m not trying to create an issue here, but you acknowledged just now that I didn’t deserve to be treated that way and so bigger picture, I’m just saying I’d really appreciate not being treated that way when I don’t deserve it. Even if you apologize afterwards, it still affects me and I’d like to not have to deal with that.”

      1. ND*

        I did this once, but it had no long term effect.

        In that instance, she’d brought in cookies for the whole office and left them in the shared kitchen. Someone noticed and grabbed one before she’d sent out an email announcing cookies from her. I got pulled in when I saw the cookies, popped my head into her office to ask if she knew who brought them in so I could thank them, and was met by a wall of anger and rudeness.

        When she apologized later, I said something similar to your idea (which is laid out much better!), but more of the basis of “No one here deserves to be talked to like that, for any reason.”

        She still has her openly bad attitude…

        1. OhNo*

          I think if you try this approach one or two more times, and still get no appreciable change, it’s time to go to her boss or your boss. You can basically say exactly what you said in your post – no one deserves to be spoken to that way, no one deserves to be treated that way. It’s not suddenly okay just because she apologized after the fact.

          She’s making the work environment extremely unpleasant and I’m sure you’re not the only one walking on eggshells around her. Someone with authority needs to give her an ultimatum, or she probably won’t change.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Having a willingness to get along with others is basic to almost any job. She seems unwilling to get along with others, as people do not know when they will get their heads bit off for some small thing.

        2. catsAreCool*

          “ask if she knew who brought them in so I could thank them” – that seems like something that most people would be pleased to hear so they could say “Oh, I brought them in.” and be thanked.

    5. Clever Name*

      Ugh. I am a very emotional person, but at work, I’m just not. It really isn’t on you to manage her emotions/emotional response for her. If she’s abrupt, or quiet, or whatever, not your problem. I think it would be ideal to ignore her emotional reactions and just don’t react. Treat her exactly the same regardless of her mood. You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells in case she’s pissy. That is not fair and is unprofessional.

    6. AnAppleADay*

      I’ve had experience with coworkers who behave as if they have some type of personality disorder and it can be extremely frustrating. Note – I’m not diagnosing but it may help to read information on Cluster B types and how you take care of yourself when you have to work around emotional volatile people. Reading up on it might help you find strategies on how to deal with coworkers who play mind games like being overly pleasant with everyone else while giving you the cold shoulder – which is an attempt to control you.

      They want you to play into their drama. If the work environment does not revolve around them and their latest gripe or personal issue then they have to create an issue. They do this to feed their need of feeling in control. If you are generally an empathetic person then you are their perfect target.

      You’re burned out – I can feel it by what you wrote. Since her behavior is already a “known” in your office, I personally would go to her supervisor and ask for suggestions on how to deal with her. Stress the ways her behavior interferes with legitimate work being accomplished.

      Don’t give her what she wants. What I mean by that is the moment you have an outburst is the moment she “wins” at controlling you. That’s one way emotional vampire types are “fed”.

      1. Undercover Mental Health Professional*

        I’ve found this book ( to be a great resource in dealing with people who behave in ways that are traditionally classified as personality disorders. The author, Dr. Judith Orloff, refers to these people as being “emotional vampires”, and though I found some parts of the book to be a bit New Age-y for me, the sections on emotional vampires were really practical and informative.

    7. Mina*

      I know all about this one. I’ve been dealing with it in a small office for over two years now. The first time I asked what was wrong, I was told “the Holy Spirit told me” I wouldn’t take the answer well. I work in a church; but this answer was nothing I could work with. Her real problem is that she felt/feels unfairly treated but I’m the only one she can strike out at. Unfortunately it may well not get better for you. These people just want to lash out and are looking for targets. If management won’t act properly, she’s highly, highly unlikely to change on her own.

      1. ND*

        You know, you’re right. There’s no way I could get her to change her attitude. Maybe I was just fishing for an appropriate way to call her out on it, which is pointless.

        Sorry to hear about your issue! Wow. I have no idea what I’d say to that either.

    8. Catherine*

      Reinforce the good behavior and ignore the bad so if she wants attention, she learns she must behave professionally. To be clear, the bad behavior is the moodiness AND over the top friendliness/apologetic behavior. Good behavior would be talking about work related issues without getting emotional or discussing her weekend without being dramatic or overly negative. Since you asked about phrasing, here are some examples:
      ND: Hey, how was your weekend?
      Co-worker: Oh, fine, except my mother said the meanest thing.
      ND: I’m sorry. Do you have any ideas on which vendor we should use for the event Friday?
      ND: Hey, how was your weekend?
      Co-worker: Good. I took the kids to the beach and they had fun until it rained.
      ND: That sounds like fun! If you haven’t been there already, I suggest going to ABC Beach. I loved it as a kid.

      1. ND*

        See, that’s something I really should start doing. She’s always complaining and too often I end up in her office having to listen to it, because she starts in the middle of a meeting, etc.

        I do think our office leans toward under-the-breath whining. People complain to each other all the time. But her huffiness and tone is noticeably more extreme, and she definitely doesn’t keep it behind closed doors.

    9. Anne*

      She seems to be a passive-aggressive manipulator. I would try to ignore her as much as possible. I would not ask her about what is wrong?, Why is she upset or bothered?, etc. If she gets upset about how that question is phrased, then I would most definitely just not ask at all. I ‘m sure you’ve heard this before; but it’s true— You cannot control how others act. You can only control your own actions. Try not to let her mood have too much of an impact on your own. That’s easier said than done sometimes, I know. I have dealt with numerous people like this in the past. In my experience, the best way to handle it is to completely ignore it. This person derives power from controlling how you react. So, don’t react. It is a power trip for them. Even when she is all sunshine and light. Don’t buy into that good mood too much either. it’s part of the manipulation. of of this is just my opinion, of course.

    10. KR*

      Could you try, “Co-worker, you seem kind of upset today. I’m going to give you some space for the morning but we’ll need to talk this afternoon to check in on the project/transfer documents/meet with someone.” It diplomatically recognizes she is not in a good mood and gives her space to get over herself so you can work later in the day.

    11. Honeybee*

      I would do one of two things.

      First, I would probably be direct – “Hey Jane, you seem upset. What’s bothering you?” I wouldn’t phrase in in terms of ‘have I done something,’ because unless I knew I did something untoward I wouldn’t want that person to seize on any imagined admission of guilt. I have had some coworkers in the past a little like this and this usually opens them up.

      If I’m not that comfortable with them or this question elicits a “nothing” from the person, then I switch to what my mentor has labeled Aggressive Positivity. That simply means that I pretend like everything is fine and ignore the drama regent’s dramatic behavior. We go on about our work like nothing happened, and I am my normal positive, bubbly self. This either pushes the person to be honest about what’s going on if they feel like it’s affecting their work…or after a while they start to feel a bit silly about acting offended all day.

    12. Jane*

      I read the whole post about the over eager prospect and agree. If a prospective employee is questioning your ability to do your job and goes over your head now is the time not to hire. This type of person will only escalate once employed by your firm.

      I think Ask a Manager has a good decent point. Any person coming back to a firm with a new supervisor should realize that. Also make a private note that your boss never asked this person if she had seen you first and if so she should be talking to you not him first.

      Proceed to hire someone who knows (acknowledges) you are the boss.

  3. Future Realtor*

    Any part-time realtors or real estate agents out there?

    I currently work full-time in communications but eventually want to make the jump into real estate full-time. Until I feel like I can really make the jump (a.k.a have a decent sized emergency fund to take care of those slow months), I want to do it part-time. I’m getting ready to go through real estate school in the fall and take the exam. Has anyone else done real estate part-time while still working at your full-time job?

    1. Dawn*

      I haven’t but my mentor has- she started doing real estate full time and took a part-time job during a slow period (which quickly ramped up into full-time because there was that much work to do). She said it completely nosedived her real estate stuff and that suffered as a result, so she quit the part time job after 3 months.

      Real estate is all about the hustle, so if you’re not hustling I don’t see how you’re going to make any money doing it- and I don’t think it’s possible to have enough hours in a day to do a full time job and then do the real estate hustle on the side.

      1. the gold digger*

        Real estate is all about the hustle

        My husband hired a part-time realtor to sell his mom and dad’s house because the guy was new and he wanted to give him a chance.

        It was a huge mess. Anything Primo needed done, the realtor would tell him he was busy coaching a soccer game or driving his daughter somewhere, etc. It was really frustrating trying to deal with someone who was not treating this as his full-time job.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I haven’t but my friends who have stuck with it, really have had to focus on it full-time, like Dawn commented.

      Though I know one of the ways my friends supplemented their income in the early days was also working as an apartment locator. In my city the service is free, the locator just asks (i.e. tells you every 10 seconds) to put their name down as the referrer. They get between $100-$500 from apartment complexes.

    3. Office Bitch*

      I’m not an agent, but I work at a residential rentals r agency, and a good number of agents here do part-time. It *is* about the hustle and you do only get back the time you can put in, but if you’re wondering whether it’s feasible to start part-time and transition to full-time, it absolutely is. Figure out how much money you need to make per month to meet your goals (including your savings goals) and then figure out how much time you need to invest to produce those results. Then figure out whether that time is feasible for you.

    4. AP*

      I’m not a realtor, but I just bought a house with a realtor who does it part-time. From working with her, I know her full-time job is super flexible, so she is able to be available weekday mornings and evenings, and she works hard to keep her weekend open so she can work around client’s schedules. I was also impressed that she was really able to work around our schedule, and was able to dedicate a lot of time to meeting us at weird hours.

      So, I would think that the level of flexibility in your full-time job is super important, as is your own tolerance to dealing with other’s schedules first. For instance, if you know that your full-time gig isn’t real flexible and you need time on the weekend to run errands/relax, you might find it hard to balance. Just my observation!

    5. INTP*

      Not a realtor but recently lived through a house sale. I don’t really see how this is something you could do well without a lot of flexibility, because so many things in real estate are time sensitive.

      My parents requested 30 minutes notice for house viewings and many, many potential buyers and their realtors couldn’t even respect that. Our realtor had to be there during a lot of contractor, tile guy, flooring guy, etc appointments, and they tend to show up a couple of hours before or after their appointment times, so the realtor (we had two that worked together, at least) had to be super flexible about that. Offer negotiations often take place very quickly, during the work day.

      I just can’t imagine hiring a realtor with a strict 8-5 type job when there are other realtors willing to bend over backwards and show up whenever needed, but if your day job is flexible it might work? Big time realtors with too many clients to be on-demand for all of them also often hire other realtors who can work as their proxies with the lower paying clients or when they’re really busy, you might be able to get experience that way as well.

      1. Natalie*

        That’s so true about the offer stage. I was just buying a house and I am so lucky my workplace was understanding (and I’m a good performer with a track record) because I had to make so many phone calls during work when we were negotiating.

    6. Q*

      When I sold my house, my realtors were two women who worked together as a team. They each worked part time but one of them was always available. Maybe you could work out a similar situation.

      1. QA Lady*

        I was going to post something similar. I have a former co-worker who worked full time and did real estate on the weekends, but worked with her husband who was a full time realtor. After her maternity leave ended and became a realtor full time, I assume because of the increased flexibility.

    7. just another librarian*

      I don’t work in the field, but I did ask a realtor I know what her thoughts on this and she said her agency only hires FT people. They are willing to train but they ask for a full-time commitment because otherwise people are not available enough to clients for the agency’s standards.

    8. super anon*

      my spouse is a full time realtor and has been for 3 years. it’s not a job you can do part time and do well. the realtors he knows who have other jobs rarely do deals, maybe 1 to 2 a year at most. my spouse tried to do it part time while working at his day job in sales, but he realized it wasn’t feasible after a few months and quit his day job to real estate full time.

      aside from getting your license you are going to have a lot of start up costs. you need to buy your signs, and your business cards. you will need to pay desk fees at your brokerage every month, regardless of if you have done any deals or not. desk fees vary between brokerages. smaller brokerages may charge less (where my boyfriend is is around $300 a month), while larger ones may charge more. iirc remax charges a lot, around $1000 a month. you will also need to take courses every 2 years to keep your license that vary in cost, as well as paying a yearly fee to renew your license after you get it. this isn’t including the cost of gas, your car, etc. you will be driving a lot as a realtor – taking clients to showings, prospecting, etc. and this isn’t including your cost if you need to get a new vehicle that is large enough to drive clients around comfortably to showings. my boyfriend had to upgraded to a new and more luxurious vehicle about a year after he started, in part because it was what clients expected, and also because he needed something larger that could fit 5 people comfortably.

      it can be very difficult when you start out to build a client base. my partner was lucky, he had a huge client base of builders and tradesmen from his previous sales position and a large social network that included a lot of wealthy people with money and connections to give him a head start. when you start out you will be doing a lot of leg work to generate leads (this is called prospecting). a lot of realtor’s will go door knocking, which means you target an area and go knock on every door with a flyer asking if they want to sell. this an be very difficult work, but it can pay off big time too. often realtors who do this will specialize in one area of the city and only do listings in that one area, so they can become an expert in that area. when you’re starting out this isn’t as common, you’ll most likely take listings and do deals where ever your clients want, which means a lot of driving for you in the beginning. as you get more experienced you can become more selective about the clients you take.

      another option when you’re starting out is to join a real estate team. these are usually a group of realtors who all work together under one team name (usually the name of the realtor who started it). the head realtor is someone who is well known and has a lot of clients. they will give you listings to work with – you will open the door for showings, do showing bookings, do open houses – all of the leg work the main realtor doesn’t have time to do. for your work you will get a certain percentage of the final commission after the sale. the important part of teams is that you won’t get full commission on the deals you close yourself without the team’s help. if you’re on a team and the team gets 85% of the commission and you get 15%, you will still only get 15% of the commission, even if your client has nothing to do with the team and you got them yourself. however, the experience you can gain from this is very valuable, and after a bit you will have enough experience and a big enough client base to head out on your own.

      realtor’s work really long, and odd, hours, especially if you work with overseas buyers and sellers. it’s not uncommon for my partner to leave the house at 11 PM to get a contract signed, or to be answering calls from overseas at that time as well. he also spends a lot of time doing paperwork and research, as well as networking. he goes to a lot of lunches and dinners to meet other people in the industry and make connections. he now has a huge network of mortgage brokers, lawyers and notaries, cleaners, painters, etc that he can tap into and refer to clients, and in turn, those people refer him customers.

      there’s a lot to learn in the business, and a lot of different facets. the part most people think of when they think of realtor’s is residential sales, but there is also land assembly and commercial property selling, as well as rental agents. land assembly can take a really long time to pull together (you could be working on a deal for 2 years or more before it ever gets to market), and commercial is also time consuming and difficult, but you can make a lot of money on those kinds of deals.

      the compensation is also variable – there can be months where my boyfriend won’t get anything, and then months where he gets tens of thousands of dollars all at once. you don’t get paid until a deal completes – and deals can collapse at any time before possession. having a healthy savings account, plus good spending habits & budgeting ability will help a lot here. my partner had enough money in the bank for a year’s worth of living expenses if either of us had no income when he left his job (this was after all of the start up costs for his real estate career).

      oh, and one more thing – you should see how banks, etc classify you for taxes, getting a mortgage, etc. where we are realtors are classified as commission based employment – this meant it was more difficult for us to get a mortgage when we wanted to buy a property. if my partner was buying alone he would have had to pay a 35% down payment to secure one if he was purchasing alone. however, the benefits for taxes are also pretty good. because he is self-employed he can claim a lot of things on his taxes that i can’t because i have a regular 9-5.

      i asked him what he thinks of doing real estate part time and he said this: “your clients will want to be able to talk to you or go see properties at variable times. if you have to tell them “sorry, i can’t take you to a showing i’m busy” or you ignore their calls because you are at work you will lose clients, and that isn’t professional. you’ll never make it in the industry working part time”.

      i hope this overly long comment helped! i can try to answer more questions if you have them. i worked as his assistant for a while, and we talk a lot so i know quite a bit about the industry and the job itself.

      1. super anon*

        oh and one more thing – when you get into real estate, try to find a mentor asap. my partner found a mentor very quickly in the managing broker of the brokerage that he joined. the managing broker has been in the business for over 40 years and helped him with all of the questions he had, plus gave him leads, etc. when it was clear the brokerage was going to go under he gave my boyfriend a tip off and brought him with him to his new brokerage. he still feeds him leads and helps him with difficult cases and questions. it’s been a very beneficial business relationship for him.

      2. the gold digger*

        Being a good realtor is really, really hard! I had a great realtor when I sold my house and then when Primo and I bought this one. They knew their stuff and didn’t waste time and got stuff done.

        Primo’s jerk brother, Ted, told Primo he should have negotiated a 5% commission with the realtor who sold their dad’s house. He said “Five percenters get laughed out of the room.”

        This from a man who

        1. Has never sold a house
        2. Has not had a steady job for decades
        3. Did none of the work to clean up the house and the estate

        I was not crazy about the realtor Primo chose, but I do not begrudge him or any other realtor their commission. To do this job well takes a lot of work and they earn that money.

        1. catsAreCool*

          From reading your blog, I’m not surprised Ted hasn’t had a steady job for decades. People everywhere probably take a deep breath of relief when he leaves their vicinity.

    9. Raia*

      My work buddy does part time real estate! It seems difficult, and typically she uses her PTO days when she’s closing a house, in the evenings she’s looking at properties, and at lunch and occasionally during the day she does calls. She also kind of amazes me with how many things she gets done in a day, so if you find yourself to be a super productive person then maybe you could! I totally couldn’t, I need my downtime to create and be introverted.

  4. Random Reader*

    Any advice on working with impending layoffs looming? Layoffs will be coming in the next 2 months or so, and it’s just a question of how big it’s going to be. I have good reason to believe it’ll be me in my department that’s let go if they need to let someone go. I’m job searching like crazy, but haven’t had much luck yet.

    It’s a balance of wanting to do a good well at my current job, but if I’m going to be laid off, what’s the point? Just feeling frustrated.

    1. RR*

      Having lived through a similar situation, my advice would be to do your best work possible without having to resort to heroic measures (ie no staying into the wee wee hours). If you are laid off, the point of doing a good job is 1) you’ll feel better about yourself and your own integrity, 2) people remember. Like first impressions, your last bit of time in a role also stands out. You never know whose path you may cross again. Good luck!

    2. Slippy*

      Also try and search outside of your immediate area if possible. When moderate to large layoffs occur they create depress the local job market so you may have better luck finding something farther away or mostly remote work (if that is possible).

      1. Angela*

        This is a good point. I was part of a layoff recently and had to go about 40 miles away. Might not sound like much to some, but my previous “commute” had been less than 2 miles.

    3. Tilly W*

      Not related to job search but I had posted a few months ago about an upcoming layoff and managing my anxiety while at work. It’s not a fun environment and you have my sympathy. One of the posters suggested “self-soothing” and doing little things to help you get through the work day (wear a favorite outfit or color, bring your favorite foods for lunch etc.). It really helped so I wanted to “re-share” the suggestion.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      I’ve been laid off and am now in the midst of supporting the layoff process in several areas within my organization. A couple of pieces of advice:

      First, don’t be too hard on yourself, about your job search, about your work, about your feelings. This is a very stressful process, and it’s normal to not be able to work at your same level. Give yourself a little breathing room.

      Second, one thing that often helps folks is to think about the legacy you want to leave, and the reference you want to have, even if you’re laid off. I know that my job search was made a lot easier by having a manager who could tell employers that even after I was laid off, I still produced excellent work. It’s hard to stay motivated when you think about it in terms of doing it for an employer, which is laying you off, but a bit easier when you’re thinking about it in terms of your own future and benefit.

      Finally, it might be helpful to quickly norm with your boss about their expectations about both your current workload, and how you’re spending time on searching for new positions. Many staff here have been surprised to hear that their managers were completely on board with them spending a small part of each work day on their job search. Totally depends on your relationship with your boss whether you want to bring this up, but it might take a load off to know that your boss doesn’t really expect you to be working like nothing changed.

  5. March*

    Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians! And a somber lest we forget to any Newfoundlanders.

    How do you handle people who don’t stop giving bad advice? My parents will frequently give advice that I know won’t work (such as bringing in a tray of pastries to my internship supervisors of two years ago in order to get a job), but when I say “I won’t do that for [legitimate reason]” they ignore it. If I say “I think about it” they huff and say “well that means you won’t do it”. I can’t tell them their advice sucks, but yeesh, I’m not going to do everything they suggest.

    1. AMD*

      Do they often follow up to see if you followed their advice? Because if not, perfect your “Interesting, I’ll think about it!” response and go about your business.

      1. March*

        They do, and unfortunately they’ll ask repeatedly. A typical discussion will typically start with them making a suggestion, me saying some variation on “I’ll think about it”, them talking at length about why it’s such a good idea. Cue the next day, or a few hours later, a few days later, etc., and they’ll ask if I’ve done it.

        1. A. Nonymous*

          You could try giving them some new information if they’re receptive to that sort of thing. There are excellent examples on this site of why those things don’t work! “Thank you for the advice, but I’ve done research and I’m sorry to say that it’s not feasible and could hurt my chances. Here, check out this website!”

    2. A. Nonymous*

      Happy Canada Day!

      With parents it’s always good to smile and say “Thanks for the advice!” then move it along. They’re not likely to change giving outdated advice and at least you’re not following it.

    3. Karo*

      I guess the real question is how dependent are you on them right now? Because if you’re not at all, or if you don’t think they would react poorly to it, I’d start going with “yeah, not going to happen.” They think that any answer means no, and they don’t respect your reasoning, so just start telling them no!

      1. March*

        I still live at home and they don’t charge me anything for rent/groceries/utilities/etc. So unfortunately if I shut them down firmly, there’s a lot of sway for them to push back negatively.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Ah yes, that’s an awkward position to be in. I remember when I moved back in with my mom after graduating from college, and because she wasn’t charging me for rent or anything really, she felt that gave her the right to tell me exactly what I needed to do in my job search (and all of her suggestions except the temp one was wildly out of date) and if I didn’t, that gave her the right to hound me to death. I too didn’t feel comfortable pushing back too much because she was allowing me to live in her house without contributing to it (and she was paying my bills), but at some point, I had to draw the line because her nitpicking was driving me crazy.

          Can you suggest a time to talk with your folks and lay out what you’re doing in your job search and politely ask them to back off while you attempt to navigate this yourself? I sometimes wonder if I had come to my mom with anything remotely resembling a plan if she would have ridden me so hard or backed off without is having a knockdown drag out.

          1. March*

            I’ll have to try that. If I tell them “this is my plan, I’ve research these things and I’m going to do this. I’ll let you know if I’ve got questions or need advice, but otherwise I need to do this on my own”, they might listen. I’m pretty sure my sister has done similar things in the past, with reasonable success.

            1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

              Talk about how you’re trying to become an independent adult, and you want them to be proud of you. That usually hits em where it hurts.

        2. knitcrazybooknut*

          How about “You may be right” and nod affirmatively? Just leave of the “when hell freezes over” end of the sentence.

    4. bb-great*

      No advice, just commiseration. Heaven forbid parents try to understand that actually I know my field better than they do :P

    5. Business Cat*

      The only thing I could think to do is to shut it down immediately. Tweaking AMD’s phrasing a bit, maybe start with “That’s an interesting idea, but that’s not how I feel comfortable approaching the situation. Thanks for your input.” Or whatever polite version of that works for you.

      Then, if they bring it up again, say “No, as I said, that wasn’t the right option for me.” And if they press:
      – If you’re on the phone, say that you need to go and quickly end the conversation.
      – If you’re in person, change the subject, and if they keep pressing aggressively, give yourself the option to dip out.
      – If they ask via e-mail, completely ignore the question and change the subject entirely. Just ignore it as if they hadn’t mentioned it.

      You don’t owe them a long, belabored explanation of why their advice is bad. You have the right to choose what advice you do and don’t follow. As long as you receive the advice politely, what you do from there is entirely up to you. You have to start training them out of the expectation that you’ll spend an absurd amount of time discussing why you won’t do it their way. If they can’t respect or react rationally to your decisions, they have lost the privilege to discuss them with you.

      1. Business Cat*

        I just read the part where you still live at home, but most of my advice still stands. As long as you are polite and respectful to them on a general level, you can still enforce boundaries that work for you.

      2. Purple Jello*

        This is good advice. I try not to push too much on my kids, but they usually just acknowledge what I’m saying with an “Ok Mom”. When they say “I’ll take it under consideration” I know it’s time to stop talking, because they’ve stopped listening.

        From the point of view of a parent who wants to help her kids: please listen, you might hear something of value. They’re letting you live there rent free, how about considering that listening politely is part of your rent? It might make it more palatable for you to think of it this way. Then respond politely, with short explanations as other people have suggested.

        1. March*

          I do listen. I listen both the first time they make suggestions, I consider them, and I respond, and I listen the twentieth time they make the same suggestion. The problem is that they don’t listen to me: if I say “I’m not going to bring pastries to Former Supervisor, because that’ll look out of touch and is really just not done anymore”, they’ll respond by sending me recipes of pastries to make and bring in. I’m grateful and appreciative that they want to help and that they want me to be successful, but listening is a two way street and right now they’re ignoring that.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            I’m grateful and appreciative that they want to help and that they want me to be successful, but listening is a two way street and right now they’re ignoring that.

            + 1. Now go tell this to my mother, lol.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      If you’re talking to them about this stuff, stop. Then they won’t know what to suggest because they won’t know what’s going on. Just bean dip, as the Etiquette Hell lady says: “Hmm, interesting advice, thanks. Have you tried that amazing bean dip Willow makes? I hope she brings some to Buffy’s party!”

      If you’re not discussing it with them, bean dipping can still work but you have to be consistent.

      1. March*

        I’ve been doing that more and more lately, with zero subtlety. I don’t think they like it – actually, scratch that, I know they don’t – but talking with them about anything related to my job search is frustrating, so it’s probably better for everyone if it’s a topic we don’t discuss.

        I get that they want me to have a good job and that they want me to successful, but all I want is to never talk about stuff with jobs, ever.

        1. zora.dee*

          Hmm, another idea: can you try getting their sympathy, will that work?

          So, whenever job search topics come up, just say “It’s really stressing me out to think about my job search right now, can we talk about something else?” Maybe giving them the opportunity to solve your problem by helping you feel better by changing the subject will work?

          It seems like they are trying to be The Hero by solving your problems for you. Can you give them another job to do that lets them still feel like The Hero but on a different subject?

          EIther way, good luck, I hope you get a job soon and all of this is moot! ;o)

    7. Me234*

      I have been on both sides of this situation. I have given my grown son advice, then been irritated when he didn’t listen, but then appreciative of the fact that he is an adult now and making his own way in life.

      How about this: “Mom, Dad… I appreciate your advice. I will always listen and take it into consideration. But I am an adult, and I want and need to figure things out on my own. I want and need to learn from my own successes and mistakes. I may not always do what you think I should, but that is okay because I’m grown up now and I’m trying to make my own way. I love you guys and I hope that you will keep giving me advice because sometimes I’m going to need it, and I know it shows that you love me, too.”

      That’s what I’d like to hear from my kids.

      1. March*

        I’ve tried that, and they were offended by it. They’ll always bring up another family member who is “too stubborn to listen to advice” and has had a lot of poor luck with being employed as reasons that I should heed their advice.

        “I’m really glad you try to give me advice and help me, but I’m not going to follow every single suggestion and sometimes I have good reasons not to take your advice, and I need you to listen” goes ignored.

        I wish my parents were able to listen like you!

        1. neverjaunty*

          1) Don’t discuss the job stuff
          2) Don’t say anything that would further the conversation.

          By #2 I mean you can make listening noises/smile and nod/change the subject. Don’t get into it with them. Don’t critique their advice. Don’t say you will or won’t do it. Surely by now you must have mastered the skill of tuning parents out. ;)

        2. Anon Moose*

          Ah, I should have refreshed and read this before commenting below.
          My advice then, if they were offended, is to try to see a little deeper. Why are they really being this pushy?
          Is it anxiety/ not sure how to cope with being unable to fix things for you? My parents had a lot of that. They were just really frustrated that they couldn’t help me when I was out of college, living at home and unemployed. Some of the incessant job advice was coming from that anxious place, I think. For me, it helped when I got my mom to admit that part of it was just my lack of success at job searching was emotionally difficult for her as well and then I could address that by saying “Mom, I know you’re stressed about this. I’m stressed too. But what you’re doing right now isn’t helping.”
          Is it financial worries? Is it rough to have you in the house semi-rent free over the long term? Then you could address that with them directly too. You can say you will contribute x amount if you aren’t employed by x date, or that you will get a part time job or do more to contribute around the house to help with things. You can talk directly about your expectations and theirs for how temporary of a situation this will be.
          Another related concern is that you aren’t doing “enough” in your job search, thus the incessant advice. You may be doing all you can, but that can sometimes be hard for them to perceive against the results (and not understanding that you can’t control all of the job search results). You can push back on this directly by documenting what you do and consistently trying to improve over time. See career coaches. Go to workshops and networking events and job searches. And let them know (as a notification, not as approval) all the things you’re doing to push forward in your search.
          Another thing is to see if you can talk to other people who are not them and are a little more knowledgeable about your field. So if you do informational interviews with people in your field, you can push back with “no Mom, I talked to Sally Hiring Manager and she said to never do that.” Basically getting an expert they respect to back you up and overrule their advice.
          Good luck finding something soon!

          1. Anon Moose*

            And re: talking to experts: don’t be surprised if they tell you some similar things that your parents did (not about the pastries, but other things). It can be helpful to get even good advice from another source when you’re in this frustrating living at home and job searching situation.

          2. Anxa*

            I moved out in part because I couldn’t take the tension at home anymore. It was so difficult because my mom would ignore the elephant in the room, and then just explode at me for being lazy and telling me I needed to get a job (like I wasn’t trying? like I liked living at home?).

            I was on eggshells all of the time and my anxiety really ramped up. And even though I was trying harder, I wasn’t trying smartly. I was kind of a mess because I wasn’t just applying for me, but my family was riding on it.

            I think for me, it was made worse by how much my mom had given up to send me to college. She moved and paid for most of it. And to be frank, I wasted her money. She couldn’t find a job; I couldn’t find a job; my brother couldn’t find a job. We would have been better off had I never gone to college, and now that I’m 30 and still can’t find a full-time job (or two part times willing to work around each other), I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to recoup the money spent.

            So for me, knowing how stressed my mom was over my failure to launch really effected my confidence and self-esteem, to a point where it probably made me an even worse applicant.

        3. knitcrazybooknut*

          If they don’t listen to you, they’ve lost their right to you actually considering their idea. My best advice would be to nod and smile and say non-committal things, like, wow, that is probably true! You may be right! I should try that!

          While you’re in the conversation, let these things roll off of your back. Pretend you’re a gray rock or a robot. Let them go in one ear and out the other. Do not protest or argue with them.

          Then do what YOU think is right. You can’t make them listen to you. You can’t change their behavior. You can only find a way to deal with it that doesn’t impact you as much, and make a plan to get the heck out of their house asap.

    8. Batshua*

      Can you thank them for their advice without implying further action? Or just say “Okay” to show you were listening?

    9. Audiophile*

      Ah that famous “that means you won’t do it,” or “you’re just going to do what you want anyway” line.

      I’ve gone through this many times. I’m in the communications marketing sector and more times than I care to count, I’ve been told I’m in the wrong field or that there’s no jobs in the field or that the field is oversaturated. My response now, is usually to say that I already did what was suggested. Of course that doesn’t exactly work with pastries, but maybe you could say you picked some up and brought them in and your supervisors were very appreciative.

    10. Pineapple Incident*

      Just smile and look optimistic, then change the subject QUICKLY. Just don’t do what I did any try to tell them they’re wrong, because it doesn’t work. Here’s that story though, just for kicks..

      I had to sit through a really awkward dinner last year when my uncle decided my bad outlook on jobs as an entry-level searcher was just unacceptable. I ended up in tears because of his flouting of my reasons, in front of 15 family members who did nothing to rescue me. He just would not accept that it’s not kosher anymore to walk up to legitimate employers and give them your elevator pitch complete with resume and examples of your work. Basically he was advocating for a Gilmore Girls-style hand-forcing where you (the job-seeker, Rory Gilmore circa season 6) are so persistent and obnoxious that the big boss just decides to give you a job eventually. The uncle in question works in BIG Wall Street Finance (like goes on sometimes about how awful the guys at Goldman Sachs are because he’s actually met those people..), and hasn’t had to job search without the help of his extensive network in 30 years.

    11. ginger ale for all*

      I tell my parents why I am not going to follow their advice. Honesty is the way to go because it if you tell them why things won’t work, they will rethink things.

      1. ThatGirl*

        That would be true in a perfect world, but a whole lot of people are unwilling to rethink things.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        LOL. Parents that are that pushy probably could be told “That is not how job hunting is handled now, folks.”

        OP, you’d probably make out better if you have a real conversation about what is at the bottom of all their nagging. “You always ask me that. Why.”
        If it were my folks, I’d toss an AAM guide at them and let them know when they are done reading we could have a real talk. Tricky part, my folks avoided reading books like the plague. So when they’d start in, I would be able to say,”have you finished the guide yet?”
        They would probably say no and then I would restate, “We’ ll talk when you are done.”

    12. Rat Racer*

      My husband, wonderful man that he is many ways, gives the WORST career advice ever. Partly it’s because he gets mad on my behalf whenever I’m facing something/someone frustrating at work, partially it’s because tactics that work for him would never work for me. So, I have learned that whenever he gives me advice “You should march right into your boss’s office and DEMAND…” I do exactly the opposite, and it works out pretty well.

    13. Liana*

      My family can be pretty blunt with each other, and both my parents tend to offer outdated career advice (mostly my dad, but my mom’s not innocent), so when I ran into this with them, I just went with a “I’m not going to do that.” And when they asked why, I just said “Because that’s a bad idea” or “Nobody does that anymore” or my personal favorite, “Because I’m not going to.” They probably thought I was being pigheaded, but they did stop offering advice after awhile, so it worked!

    14. Camellia*

      Could you explain your reference to Newfoundlanders? I’m curious, having just discovered “Republic of Doyle” a few weeks ago on Netflix (and loving it).

      1. March*

        Sure. :) I’ll keep it short so it doesn’t completely veer into OT, though.

        Today is the one hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel, in the Battle of the Somme in WWI. Eight hundred soldiers from the Newfoundland Regiment went over the top into no man’s land to storm the Germans, and it went very badly – only 68 men answered roll call the next day. The island suffered, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that entire communities were lost as a result. It’s always a bit of a sad day here, but especially this year.

      2. Meg*

        It’s Memorial Day there, and this year is the 100th anniversary of a big World War I battle that killed hundreds of Newfoundlanders.

    15. Anon Moose*

      Ugh. I know this struggle with parents. The advice to say “thanks” and do your own thing is good, but if this continues happening, you can also try to talk to them directly about it. I.e. why are you consistently giving me career advice and not listening to me when I tell you that I will not do it for legitimate reasons? My mom at one point admitted she was partially doing it because she felt helpless and anxious about my job search and continued lack of success. Some of their advice was good, but some of it was out of touch and her anxiety and my anxiety combined weren’t helping. After a while I said, “I appreciate that you want to help but it is getting overwhelming/ anxiety provoking for both you and me. If I need advice or help with job stuff, I will ask, but I would like you to stop giving me the same advice I’ve already rejected over and over. And at the end of the day, it is my job search and my career and I will make the decisions about how to go about it.” Repeat as necessary. “Mom, we’ve already discussed this.” At the same time, I stopped ranting to my parents about my own frustrations with my job search, which precipitated a lot of the conversations, and instead ranted to friends in similar situations, which helped. Then I went and made several somewhat risky moves that the parents didn’t agree with completely but that worked out fine in the end. Now they tell me how impressed they are that I went ahead and did those things.

    16. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      -I would feed them horror stories about xyz intern who did that and look where it got them, and I wouldn’t mince words.
      -I could try it once on a different place/folks and garner a response. Then go back to parents and say it really didn’t work. (My mom told me to give workers a fancy $40 trinket and exotic food as a thank you, I told her it was against policy, she’s the one who drove the car and wouldn’t hear of me not giving it). Suffice it to say, I don’t intern there any more, I give only ty cards, and my mom occasionally listens to me.

      Note: My mother did the same thing, but I live a state away from her and got a job offer doing something very different from what she suggested. Sometimes you can’t reason with people, and your only escape is getting an excellent-paying job, living far, far away.

  6. legalchef*

    I applied to a job yesterday where they said they wanted a cover letter, resume, and references. I sent those, and then got an email this morning asking me to fill out a 10 page application! I’ve never done one of these before so I have a few questions:

    1 – They ask for 3 supervisor references. I don’t have 3 that I’d want to use, since I have been at this job my entire professional career. Any internship supervisor reference would be from 2006 at the latest, since I interned at this org the summer after my second year of law school. The only 3 I theoretically could use are my former immediate supervisor, my former unit director (who is still at my org so I don’t want to use him), and my current unit director (who I don’t want to use because I don’t want them contacting my current employer). What do I do?
    2 – They want me to list out my employment history (including my salary, ugh). Though I’ve been at the same place the whole time, I’ve had 4 different job titles (all doing the same work with progressively more responsibility). Do I count those as 1 position, or 4? Does the clinic I did in law school count as employment? How far back am I supposed to go? Do I go back to my first job in college in 2002?
    3 – Will it look bad for me if I check off the box that says that I do not want them contacting my current employer?
    4 – They want my high school info, including any honors I received in HS. Hell if I can remember that. Can I just leave the honors section blank?
    5 – There is a question asking me list any other experience, skills, or qualifications that I think should be considered, and they give computer skills and volunteer work as examples. I wrote a sentence that kinda summarizes my cover letter. Is that enough?

    If anyone has any answers for me, I would really appreciate it! Would it be bad to send an email asking for clarification of the supervisor references and employment history?

    (I guess it’s a good sign that they sent it to me, since I’m guessing they don’t have people spend the time filling it out unless they are interested in interviewing, but still!)

    1. Megs*

      For number 2, I usually list this kind of thing as different positions for lengthy application purposes. Lame, but at least it accurately captures job responsibility. I wouldn’t list a clinic as employment, but as an academic activity like a journal or moot court.

      As for your last question, I wouldn’t think a quick clarification question would hurt. The person getting the email is most likely not the one making decisions, in any case.

      1. legalchef*

        Thanks! That makes sense. I’ve asked a few friends and I have gotten an equal number of “separate them” and “keep them together” answers.

        Would it change your thoughts re the clinic if the application says to include volunteer work?

        Also, for the description of the job, can I just copy and paste from my resume? (forgot to ask this above)

        1. Jaydee*

          I think list clinic as employment. It is much more similar to an internship than moot court or journal would be. Depending on the exact clinic program, you likely had actual clients, created work product of a substantial nature, and handled types of matters that may or may not be the same as what you did in later jobs. Now that your about 10 years out of law school I wouldn’t devote as much resume real estate to it as I would to your post-school jobs. But it can still be a good way to highlight a particular experience that might be relevant to a future employer.

          Also, good luck with the job search! Your career path sounds very similar to mine (clinic, graduation mid 2000s, one employer since then and the resulting fear of requests for references).

          1. legalchef*

            I definitely did have actual clients at my clinic, and I represented them in court and at hearings. Definitely different than my journal, which is listed as an activity in my education section.

            And thanks! What are you doing/did you do re references?

        2. Megs*

          If they said to include volunteer, then I would definitely include it. And I copy and paste all the time for these things and it hasn’t stopped me getting interviews. I’ve been trying to get a job with the state and they love these kind of things.

    2. CMT*

      Jeez. Do you really want this job? This would probably put me off. I also don’t think it’s either a positive or negative sign about how much they want you. I bet having a ridiculously long application is just part of their process.

      1. legalchef*

        I was trying to think positively about having to fill this out. I wish they would have just included the application with their “how to apply” instructions.

        As for if I really want it… maybe? It would be a step up and would get me out of this job, which definitely needs to happen sooner rather than later.

      2. higheredrefugee*

        If you are going into corporate/large non-profit from a law firm, then this is likely the form they ask of every employee. Many times, you get this application because they are serious about you, but have to follow HR policies that apply to everyone. Particularly for professional positions, neither the hiring manager or the candidates are interested in having this form before it is needed. It also helps weed out candidates that object to filling it all out, either because they are divas or really aren’t that interested in the position.

        If you can, yes, check do not contact my employer, and indicate that you are willing to determine the best contact when an offer is forthcoming, but until then, your search needs to be confidential. Being with the same employer for ten years, you need to have someone that can speak on your behalf, even if it is a supervisor that has since left your current employer. Using past clients in the references is usually a good win, if you can prep them properly before reference calls. As for sharing your salary, leave it blank, or enter zeros, and simply tell them that information is confidential, just as they keep salaries of their employees confidential, and you’ll be happy to talk about whether their hiring range is within your expectations. For both of these, a call to your HR contact is in order so you’re not writing it down and getting a better sense of timeline.

        As for high school, again, I suspect that this is the company-wide form, which this part is relevant for hiring receptionists and mail room clerks. I’m sure you were on Honor Roll or Dean’s List and National Honor Society, and if you can remember that much truthfully, that’s good enough. But because you are pushing back on things that are more important to you like salary information and references, play ball where it doesn’t really matter. This shows that you understand that this org’s culture may be more structured than the one you are leaving. This is also where your legal clinic can help show that you have worked with multiple kinds of clients and environments.

      3. Panda Bandit*

        The sad part is that this application pretty much mirrors the kind used for retail jobs. I hope they aren’t going to spring some terrible 100+ question “psychological” test on legalchef.

    3. Dawn*

      “I guess it’s a good sign that they sent it to me, since I’m guessing they don’t have people spend the time filling it out unless they are interested in interviewing, but still!”

      Nope, they have terrible hiring practices. When I was job hunting I specifically did not follow through with companies that wanted an invasive application in addition to my resume because ain’t nobody got time for that. You might not feel that way about this particular position, but I’d strongly suggest moving on to applying to another job that doesn’t want such a ridiculous requirement out of their job applicants!

      1. Foxtrot*

        Yeah…at first glance it sounded like something that could be required of a job with extensive background checks. But I’ve never heard of places needing to know high school *awards* after you graduate college!

      2. Isabel C.*

        Seriously. I thought it was bad enough having to deal with the fifty different application screening software programs–I always do fill them out, but I always also wonder if, given that I’m submitting my resume, anyone cares whether or not I add “work experience slots” to account for the sixteen years that I’ve been out of college–but high school honors? Lord, no.

    4. IT_Guy*

      #2 – I would leave off the salary. A lot of companies use that information to low-ball the prospective employee. If the ask for it, I would inquire what the salary range of the position is.

        1. JHS*

          I would second the advice to leave it off. If they press you for it later, you can tell them then. It’s sort of like when someone asks for your social security number and you prefer not to list it.

        2. Slippy*

          If leaving off the salary puts you in the “reject” pile they are doing you a favor because it would be highly likely that they are going to use your previous salary against you.

    5. Pwyll*

      #3 – No reasonable employer will be concerned that you don’t want your current boss to be contacted. It’s very, very normal.

    6. A. Nonymous*

      That sends all kinds of red flags to me. I wouldn’t include my salary and I certainly wouldn’t feel like my highschool education was important! The last question is reasonable, but like you said, it’s IN your resume/cover letter. Sounds like they don’t read those and just send out this farm application.

    7. J.B.*

      I had an application like this before a first interview. We were not the right fit, shall we say. I did enter each separate job I’ve had within the current organization because it showed a clear progression.

    8. Turanga Leela*

      Not sure of most of these, but…

      1: List your former immediate supervisor and then whoever else you’d usually use. Internship supervisor from 2006 is not ideal, but okay. Also maybe a law school professor you TA’d for, or your clinic supervisor? It sounds like this is a pretty rigid place, so I wouldn’t try to list fewer than three references, but make sure they are people who will say good things about you, and make sure the former immediate supervisor will be able to talk about you in depth.

      3: No, that doesn’t look bad. Definitely check the box saying not to contact your current employer. Based on advice I got on this blog, I also never give my current supervisor’s phone number if I can help it—I write something like “Professor Farnsworth, CEO. Please do not contact, since I am still employed with this organization.”

      4: Yes, you can leave your HS honors section blank. If you remember anything, though—if you were valedictorian or a National Merit finalist—I don’t think it hurts you to include it.

      1. Panthalassa*

        My very large employer has a similar application, which I suspect is designed to be relevant for all positions and all applicants. There are many people where high school is their last formal education, and in those cases, honors level etc. could set an applicant apart. We also have primary source verification of education, and back ground checks so if an applicant can’t survive the (admittedly arduous) application form, they are going to really hate being an employee!

        1. Turanga Leela*

          That’s always what I figure—if you haven’t graduated from college, your high school record could matter, and that’s why it’s in there. Since legalchef has a professional degree and is several years into her career, the HS section is probably less relevant for her.

        2. legalchef*

          I think that’s it, that it is the same form for all positions and applicants.

    9. H.C.*

      #1: Sometimes you can use former co-workers who are more senior than you (esp those who have trained you and/or can vouch for your work to some degree) or your supervisor’s bosses. In either case, give them a heads up about the reference request, as well as a note on the application about their exact working relationship with you.

      #2: I’d list out the four titles separately, with an emphasis of the greater responsibility part. As far as how far back to go, I would say only as long as those positions are relevant to the one you’re applying for (e.g. if you’re applying for a legal position – no need to include the part-time retail job you had in college).

      #3: It really shouldn’t, since it is totally understandable that you don’t want to jeopardize your current job.

      #4: You can; alternatively, you can order a transcript for yourself to keep on file for this & future applications that may ask for HS info.

      #5: I would list them out again, since whoever’s evaluating your job application may not have access and/or time to review your cover letter as well.

      1. legalchef*

        There is no one more senior than me except my current supervisor, and no one trained me except me (including my former supervisor… cough.). My former supervisor’s boss is the former unit director I mentioned, and I don’t want to use him because I am still here.

      1. ChrysantheMumsTheWord*

        What about explaining why you only have one supervisor reference and that your current employer does not know you are looking? A good hiring manager will be understanding and may be able to supply you a workaround.

        My current job required 3 supervisor references. Because my prior position was over 10 years, my most recent and third supervisor was my current employer at the time and I did not want them contacted. I explained this to the hiring manager – she let me use a former colleague for the third reference and I was good to go!

        1. zora.dee*

          don’t worry about explaining it on this application, though. Seriously, this is probably only going to get a cursory glance anyway. They won’t really look closely at what you put down for references until they get to that point of the process. Just that there is SOMETHING in those fields is good enough for right now.
          WHEN you get to that part of the process, you will be able to explain it to the hiring manager directly.

      2. zora.dee*

        Ignore the “Supervisor” part. I know, you are nervous that they’ll be mad, but this is just the reality of your situation, so try not to worry about it too much.

        Put your former supervisor, and then 2 other people who can speak to your work, peers are fine. If they are at all interested in you they are probably not going to throw out your whole application because you dont have 3 supervisors listed.

        When (being positive!) you get to the interview/references part of the process, they might ask you again, for more supervisors, but at that point you will have the opportunity to explain the situation and if they are at all reasonable they will understand.

        I know you’re a lawyer, so your instinct is to be super literal, but really, take some of the things on this application with a grain of salt. ;o) The application is the same for all positions in their firm, so they don’t all apply to you.

        Good luck!!

    10. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Giving that level of detail is (a) really difficult and (b) probably not useful to the hiring company. I’ve considered lodging all my info w/ NCEES’s records system to make it easier to apply for engineering licensure in other states and tracking continuing education. The level of detail required actually put me off as it asks one to start with the first job after high school. One of these days I’m going to tackle it again, but, in the meanwhile, I can’t imagine doing that level of detail for anything less than that.

  7. bassclefchick*

    You guys! I have a job! It’s a permanent job too. I got the verbal offer this morning and will get the written offer sometime today. I’ll be at an assisted living facility as the rehab admin assistant. I’m SO excited! Thanks for all the encouragement and advice. I start on the 11th, so one more week to goof off.

    1. Not-So-Sad Grad*

      Congratulations and big hugs! You’re doing extremely important work and will make a huge difference in the lives of elderly people and their families. Thanks in advance for devoting your career to the service of others.

    2. Betty Sapphire*

      Congratulations! My boyfriend works at an assisted living facility. He absolutely loves working with the clients. Enjoy!

    3. Christopher Tracy*

      Congrats! You’ve been searching for some time, and I’m glad you stuck with it because look how it paid off. :)

    4. bassclefchick*

      Thanks, everyone! This has been the longest stretch of temping in my life and although I really loved my agency, I am SO GLAD I’m done with that. Bonus part – I’ll be making more money than I was at my last assignment! Plans for next week? Finish bingeing on Orange is the New Black! LOL

  8. Grad school hopeful*

    I need some advice on the grad school admissions process. I graduated from undergrad 2 years ago and have been working full time since. I’ve recently decided I’m ready for grad school and am planning on apply to health care administration programs this winter to start next fall. However, the programs I’m interested in require applicants to have taken statistics. I took stats related and based classes for my business degree but I don’t have any stats courses on my transcript. (Unless an AP stats class that my college accepted for math credit would count, which seems unlikely.) Do I just need to take an undergrad stats class as a non degree student? Would doing it online (at an accredited non profit university) not be taken as seriously as doing it in person? Or would a community college class work?

    1. Megs*

      That seems like something specific to the programs you’re applying for – can the admissions office help?

      1. really*

        You usually have to actually apply before they will tell you what will or won’t count.

        1. Stephanie*

          Eh, not necessarily. At one point, I was looking at grad programs in Y (I majored in X, a related field). The graduate admissions coordinators I spoke to were pretty straightforward about if things would or wouldn’t count. Key is just to ask far enough in advance. Most coordinators I picked up were pretty friendly and wanted to ensure you submitted the strongest application.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            This. I was looking into getting a Masters in Business Continuity, Security, and Risk Management, and the admissions coordinator went line by line through the requirements with me to make sure my application would stand a chance.

      2. Marillenbaum*

        As someone who used to work in admissions–if the admissions office can’t help, check with the university’s registrar’s office. Often, they are the ones who make the final determination of credit.

    2. really*

      It is possible that they will accept what you took for business school. They will look at your prior course work and will either accept you without reservation, accept you provisionally, or reject you out right. If you get a provisional acceptance you will be told what you need and you will either have to take it before you start your program or could take it at the beginning of your program.

    3. Stephanie*

      I’d go talk to the admissions coordinator for the program and explain your situation. Based on what’s required for the program, they’ll give you an idea if your stats background is sufficient.

    4. blackcat*

      Email someone in the departments you are applying to–there should be some way to do it. If your college accepted the AP credit, it may very well count for some programs. Otherwise, I’m sure taking a community college or online-non-profit stats class would work.

    5. Pam Adams*

      At my university, a 3 or better on the AP Statistics test counts as completing a Statistics course. You might still want to take a community college stats class to refresh.

    6. Kelly L.*

      I see this exact situation often, and a lot of times people will just take it at a community college.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I’m in a different field, but I was able to take a prerequisite class for my graduate degree at a community college (and online) without issue.

          1. higheredrefugee*

            This is incredibly common in graduate programs, especially specifically for stats. The Admissions Coordinator in either the graduate studies office or the department will be able to answer this question for you. Some colleges will want that class completed before you apply, others will be okay with applying first but likely no decision (or a conditional one) until the grade is submitted to them. But having the grade in hand with application improves your chances at any scholarship money or TA positions or the like.

    7. KL*

      Does your transcript show that you were given credit for the AP class? That may be enough to explain why you did not take a statistics class as an undergraduate student.

      I used to work in graduate admissions, and here is what we would tell students when they came to us with these questions. Contact your program. Most departments/programs have a graduate coordinator and graduate coordinator’s assistant and the assistant is normally the one “in the know”. Explain your question and he/she will normally let you know. That being said, if neither person replies, I’d think long and hard about joining that program. Some department may look at your situation and say you’ll need to take an extra class or two to make sure you’re up to speed.

      1. KL*

        I forgot to add one thing – make sure you contact them, be specific about your question. Don’t just ask if you ill or won’t be accepted because you’re missing that requirement. That’s usually when they pull out the standard “you must apply before any decision can be made” answer. Explain that you don’t have a the statistics class because you had AP credit, and ask is you need to take a statistics course to make you a stronger candidate.

        1. Grad school hopeful*

          This is really helpful language! Thanks KL and everyone else for your advice, it making me feel a lot better about my undergrad self thinking that never taking another math class sounded like about the best thing ever :)

          1. Anxa*

            Also, make sure that even if AP Stats counts as a stats class, that it hasn’t ‘expired.’

            This may not apply for your graduate program, but I’ve encountered many where you have to have taken pre-reqs within the past 5 or 7 years (although this mostly for science/allied health, I think).

    8. NASA*

      My program gave a conditional acceptance for our statistics class. The Masters in HC Administration was our sister program. I’d say 90% of us needed statistics and we all took the undergrad class. I went to school full time, so it was easier to just take it on campus. Do whatever is easiest for you (be in online or at a CC)!

    9. Liana*

      I ran into something similar when I was considering grad school – tons of grad programs want people to have taken statistics (I was looking at MSW programs and even they wanted stats). All of the admissions officers I spoke to said that you could either a) take it as a non-degree student, or b) do it online. Nobody seemed to particularly care which option, as long as you have it. I don’t know about community college, but in all fairness, I never asked.

      Seriously, I’d go with whatever the most convenient and/or cheapest option is for you – I’m pretty sure most programs aren’t going to care where you took the class, as long as you have it on your transcript.

      1. Vulcan social worker*

        MSW programs have required research classes. I still remembered how to do algebra and I’d done very well in stats as an undergrad, but people who didn’t struggled in research. I had an old-school professor who made us show our calculations by hand to show we understood what we were doing and didn’t let us just plug everything into Excel. Having gone to high school during a time when you only got to use a graphing calculator for higher math, not a basic calculator in everyday math, this was no hardship, but some of my classmates groaned about this quite a bit. Social workers are not known for our quantitative skills. I like math and stats.

        1. Liana*

          That’s interesting about the research classes, although it makes sense now that you mention it! I actually don’t mind math, or quantitative analyses in general, so I think stats won’t be too much of an issue for me, but I was definitely not expecting to run into that requirement when I started looking at schools.

    10. Ultraviolet*

      It’s a really good idea to ask someone at each program about this! Find the grad admissions coordinator at each place (in your prospective department, not the university as a whole) and email them. Be specific in your question though. It sounds like your question would be, “I took X and Y business classes, which are based on stats, but not an actual stats class. I also have college credit for the AP stats exam. Would my application still be considered? Or would it be declined outright for not meeting the stats class requirement?” You could additionally ask, “All other things being equal, would taking a stats class this fall before applying strengthen my application?” but there’s a bigger chance they won’t want to comment on that part, so be sure to include the first question.

      Also, health care administration is really far from my field, so I wanted to check: when the application instructions say you must have taken stats, is it obvious what level class they’re talking about? Is it a class in the math department, or a specialized one in health-related undergraduate programs? A math department usually has at least two different levels of stats class, so you’d want to know which one is required by the grad programs in order to guess whether your AP credit and business courses are equivalent. Apologies if this question is totally off-base.

    11. Anon Moose*

      I’m going to grad school in a few months! For my program, there was an economics requirement. I had the requirement, but they did admit people who did not and now they have an online class for people to complete before they matriculate. They also fielded a ton of questions about this during the admissions process. Bottom line, online or community college should be ok BUT talk to each program you’re thinking of applying to about it. If your business classes count, you can maybe address it in an “other” section on the application. Or say “I plan to take X class at Y place if accepted to meet the requirement.”
      But talk to the admissions staff. You’re not the first person with this question and it doesn’t reflect badly on you at all. You want to make sure your application is the strongest it can be, and they actually want that too!

    12. W.Irving*

      In my professional experience, most admissions offices will review your transcripts for you and let you know what you may be missing before you apply. In the grad admissions office in which I worked, we accepted AP credit – pending that you received a minimum score that we stipulated – to meet our requirements. The process may be different at the schools to which you are applying, but it never hurts to ask.

      Something to note, though: more often than not AP’s (and transfer credits) don’t show up on official transcripts. I recommend keeping a copy of your unofficial transcript handy for situations like this.

  9. Megs*

    I work in a professional open-office situation. One of my coworkers has been taking 20-30 minute plus breaks without marking it on our shared timesheet. We’re all hourly – he’s been working about 7-7.5 hours a day, which technically means one paid 15-minute break. I noticed this on accident a couple of days ago and observed happening yesterday as well (“amusingly” he just clocked in and promptly left the room for going on 7 minutes now). Our manager isn’t in the room with us so would never be aware of this unless I bring it to his attention. It doesn’t impact my work at all, but I am one of three pseudo team leads and am irritated with someone abusing the very generous freedom they give us. Our manager relies on the three of us to let him know what’s going on, but has never said anything about keeping an eye on people’s timesheets. I wouldn’t say anything if he was just taking a lot of short breaks, but these long breaks seem excessive. Should I say something?

    1. Boo*

      Eh, if it doesn’t impact you, I’d leave it alone. I can’t imagine how you’d bring it up in a way which doesn’t make you look a) petty and b) like you have too much time on your hands. For all you know the manager may well be aware anyway.

      1. Megs*

        I don’t want to look petty, but it IS my job to make sure the project is running smoothly and to alert the manager to any issues, so point b isn’t at issue here. And the manager is absolutely not aware of anything. He’s only manager in that he’s the one who talks to the client.

          1. Megs*

            Not really, but that’s the client’s fault, not the team’s (they’ve given us an impossible deadline and moral is not great). I’d say of the team of 25, there’s a good 10 people who are good at their job, five who are mostly useless, and everyone else is in the middle.

    2. legalchef*

      What does “pseudo team lead” mean? Do you have any actual authority over this person? If so, then maybe you can mention to your manager that it seems like he is taking a lot more than his actual allotted breaks, and you are concerned with how this will appear to the rest of the staff, and ask if there was any special arrangement made to allow him to take those breaks.

      If not, I wouldn’t, unless it starts to impact your work. You don’t know what arrangements he might have made with your manager, and if it isn’t actually impact your work then you might just look like you are tattling.

      1. Megs*

        We’re all non-exempt hourly with absolutely no benefits, so while people have freedom in terms of when they work, if they’re clocked in they’re supposed to be working (aside from the 15 minutes). As I said, I wouldn’t care if it was just taking lots of short breaks, but being away from his desk for 45 minutes without clocking out is concerning.

        It’s hard to describe the leadership structure since it’s all rather unofficial. Technically the three of us don’t have different titles or pay – we are all contract-based employees working on a project by project basis. Over the year I’ve been working here, they’ve phased away from having a project manager directly involved in the job and delegated that work to one of the team members. We’re responsible for reviewing everyone’s work, answering questions, deciding when a question needs to be elevated to our client, and letting the project lead know if we’re on-track or if any serious issues come up. So maybe this IS supposed to be my job to let them know about this?

        1. Observer*

          Unless you have been specifically asked to monitor people’s time, don’t. You are not getting any of the perks or pay attached to management, why take on one of the thorniest down-sides.

          If your work or the project were being negatively affected, then that would be a different issue. But, since you say that that’s not the case, stay out of it.

    3. Mike C.*

      It doesn’t impact my work at all,

      Ok, then you’re pretty much done here, unless this –

      relies on the three of us to let him know what’s going on

      means something more that it sounds like it does.

      1. Megs*

        Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have put it that way. The only reason I care is that we’re the eyes and ears in the room, and it has never been defined what that means. In the year I’ve been here, only two people have been fired, and one of them was on my watch (his work was abysmal and he fell asleep the same day we asked him to fix what he’d been screwing up). I am definitely supposed to tell the manager if people’s work is sub-par, I just don’t know if this counts.

        1. Mike C.*

          Well, is the work sub-par or not? If this person takes 20 minute breaks but gets all their work done then it shouldn’t matter. If they’re not or the work is otherwise sub-par, then focus on that.

          1. Megs*

            His work is kind of bad, but about half the team is kind of bad – we’re drones with law degrees being paid the bare minimum for amazingly tedious work, so the bar is really low (pun intended). I think my resistance to letting this go is that the way I cope with this job is by trying to pretend that quality and integrity matters, but honestly, no one cares.

            1. OhNo*

              I think “kind of bad” plus getting paid for what sounds like a LOT of time that he’s not working qualify for raising it to your boss.

              High performers should get leeway when it’s possible. Good employees should get leeway when it’s possible. People who half-ass their work should not. It sounds like he’s in the last category.

              1. Megs*

                It’s the lots of time that is really raising flags here. We’re really flexible about breaks – if someone wants to get up every hour for five minutes to walk around or pee or take a phone call, I do not care and often do the same myself. It’s the sheer length of time that’s a problem – 45 minutes on Wednesday, 35 and 20 yesterday, 25 today (and it’s not even “lunch” time).

                1. Mike C.*

                  I think reasonable people can disagree, but can you imagine going to your boss over a 20 minute or 25 minute break?

    4. ND*

      This would irritate the crap out of me. I know there’s really no way to address it without starting drama, but…ugh.

      1. Megs*

        Right! I don’t get paid extra to be keeping things running smoothly and it drives me nuts when low performers are essentially paid more for me because of this kind of nonsense. I really wish we didn’t have a shared time-sheet or I hadn’t noticed this. It only came to my attention because he messed up something a couple of days ago and I was waiting for him to come back from “lunch” to deal with it when I realized he wasn’t logging his lunch at all.

        1. Jaydee*

          If you’re going to bring it up, that would be the thing to bring up. “Jane, I wanted to talk to you about a situation with Fergus. Last Friday I was reviewing his memo in the Teapots Inc. and Teapots R Us merger and noticed an error. I tried to discuss it with him right away, but he was at lunch and he hadn’t clocked out. Normally I would assume that was an oversight and not be too worried, but I’ve noticed it’s actually a pattern with Fergus. He’s away from his desk for long periods of time without clocking out. It’s making it harder to get timely responses from him when I need them.”

          I also think it’s a vicious cycle. If contract work pays a pittance, then only lawyers with few other options will do it and those who do it best will soon find other options. Which means the quality of the work will be lower. If the quality of the work is lower, then firms will feel justified in paying a pittance. Which means the quality of the work won’t go up, which means the pay won’t go up.

        2. Undine*

          Ah, but that does affect your work, then. Because you want to be able to schedule around his lunch (when did he leave? will he be back in 30 minutes or in five?) and you aren’t able to. So you can mention that to your boss then, as a “It would be helpful to know Fergus’s schedule, but he hasn’t been clocking out and when I need to talk to him, I don’t know when he’ll be back in the office.” And leave it at that.

        3. Observer*

          That’s a bit of a different thing. The thing you bring to your boss is that you’ve found mistakes and then can’t find him to work on fixing it.

          You are not being paid to be the hall monitor. Don’t take on the job unless you get paid to do it, because it’s a dreary task. As bad as your work is now, it’s going to be even less pleasant if that becomes part of your job.

          On the other hand, not being able to find a co-worker who needs to fix something sounds like the kind of thing you should be bringing up to your boss.

          1. Megs*

            Ooh, very good point. I was so irritated about this dude I didn’t think about possibly being asked to make this a usual thing. I HATE HATE HATE policing grown-ups and definitely wouldn’t want to put a bug in my boss’s ear about it.

    5. A. Nonymous*

      Is he getting his load of the work done? If so then this wouldn’t bother me at all. If you guys are having to pick up the slack then I’d say something. For me it’s pretty cut and dry

    6. animaniactoo*

      Can you indirectly ask your manager if he wants to be notified about something like this?

      “Hey, naming no names, but I’m aware that someone took an extra long break this week without logging out for it. Do you care about this? If I see that kind of thing becoming a pattern, is this something you want me to bring up with you?”

      Be aware that it’s going to be a dynamics issue for you with your two co-workers if they suddenly realize that you’re a little more official than just the pseudo-lead and will report them for stuff like this.

      1. Megs*

        I like your approach. I’m pretty sure most of the team knows I was partially responsible for that one dude being fired, so I’m not too worried about the dynamics. I hate a lot of things about this job, but people are pretty low drama and that’s awesome.

        1. Alston*

          I was in pretty much this exact situation a few years back. Brought it up to the people above me and they told me to tell him to knock it off, but gave me no authority to enforce any consequences. So the dude was better for a couple days and then went back to normal. Basically my bosses weren’t shelling out enough on his salary that they really cared if he was there/productive or not.

    7. Sasha*

      As I sit in my doc review job right now, I second other ppl’s advice to bring it up with the individual reviewer. I presume you are a team lead? This is totally in the realm of team lead duties.

    8. Click*

      Are you close enough to just ask boss in a non detailed way? Something like: “Hey I know we’re supposed to keep you in the loop about team issues. I was curious if that includes how others seem to be managing their breaks and time? I think there’s some unrecorded breaks happening and I’m happy to go into detail if you want, if not I’ll let it go.”

  10. Dawn*

    OK seriously wanting to hear from all sides about this! Hypothetical situation here:

    You’re a hiring manager. You’ve interviewed a good candidate that has the right qualifications, a good attitude, good references, and you think they’d fit in well with the team. However, you then learn (through a due diligence Google search) that the candidate has totaled 5 cars in the last 5 years, and has a caviler attitude about it (think “LOL yeah I’m so clumsy! Ha ha my partner doesn’t let me drive our new car ’cause I’d probably crash it!”)

    Would you then hire the candidate anyway? Job has zero to do with driving, and the only reason you even know about the car crashes is something that came up as part of your due diligence check (like you Googled them and they didn’t have their social media on lockdown and you saw them laughing about it).

    My husband says no, that information shouldn’t affect your hiring and it’s none of your business what they do when they’re not at work. I say that since I learned about it in an innocent way as part of a due diligence check then it absolutely should affect my hiring decision and no, I would not hire them because totaling 5 cars in 5 years plus their caviler attitude about it reflects very badly on them.

    This question came up because we met someone who has done just that- totaled 5 cars in 5 years (their fault each time), and who is completely flippant about it and thinks it’s funny. So I started thinking about whether or not that would factor in a hiring decision for me if I happened to be a hiring manager.

    Super curious to hear what everyone thinks!!!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think it shows a huge disconnect between actions and consequences, and a lack of responsibility for possible bad outcomes. Just because they haven’t killed or maimed anyone yet doesn’t mean they won’t in their next accident. Some accidents are unavoidable, but this person seems to think it’s cute that they are reckless with their two-ton machine. I’d probably not hire them for anything with deadlines or responsibilities, which is most everything I can think of. Backup fry cook, maybe.

    2. EmilyG*

      I wouldn’t hire this person because they’re demonstrating such a cavalier attitude about other people’s safety… even if alcohol isn’t involved, and I would suspect it is.

      1. Dawn*

        I have good knowledge of the person in question and know that it’s literally *just* carelessness, but for the sake of the thought exercise I’d assume not knowing the cause behind the crashes.

        1. Observer*

          Knowing that it’s just carelessness actually makes it worse, in this case. If it was alcohol there might be a reasonable presumption that this person won’t drink on the job, so his alcohol problem MIGHT not affect you. But, if he’s just a careless idiot who doesn’t understand or that his carelessness is putting people at risk, I wouldn’t trust his ability to act responsibly and carefully.

          Character matters.

    3. CMT*

      I think you’re absolutely allowed to use any information you find, even if it isn’t immediately relevant to the job. And particularly in this case, I think it would be a big negative for this candidate.

      1. Grumpy*

        Not always. In my world “Goooling” a candidate would be a background search without consent.

        1. CMT*

          Well, it may be against some ridiculous company policy, but it’s certainly not illegal.

          1. Rowan*

            I don’t think having a policy against it is ridiculous at all. What if you learn that the candidate is gay? Or pregnant? Or was diagnosed with depression? In the US, those are all categories legally protected against discrimination in hiring. You can’t un-know what you learned, and now the candidate can argue that you didn’t hire them because of it. It’s the same reason why it’s not a good idea (or illegal?) to ask questions about those areas in the interview.

            I’d actually love to see Alison weigh in on googling candidates or employees.

            1. CMT*

              Well, if you interview somebody in person, you’re going to find out which protected class their in, anyway. It’s pretty much impossible not to. So as long as you don’t make your hiring decision based on that information, why would it matter?

              1. Rowan*

                How would you know someone’s religion, sexuality, or complete health status from an interview, unless you’re asking extremely-dubious-maybe-illegal questions?

                1. CMT*

                  You’re being overly cautious here. The law doesn’t prevent employers from *knowing* these things, just basing hiring decisions on them.

                2. Honeybee*

                  As Alison pointed out you’d already know (perceived) race and (perceived) gender and gender expression; you might also have some (perceived) religious information (e.g., a Muslim woman wearing hijab or a Sikh man wearing a Dastaar).

        2. Liana*

          … No, it’s definitely not. Legally speaking, Googling a candidate and doing an unauthorized background search are not the same thing at all. Your company may have a (ridiculous) policy against it, but it’s not the same thing.

          As for Dawn’s particular example, I honestly don’t think I’d factor it into my consideration of the candidate if the job has nothing to do with driving. Not everyone is a good driver, and it may be that the candidate is one of those people who is just a bad driver, and hopefully has taken steps in his/her life to ensure they drive as little as possible. I’d file this under “annoying, but not relevant”.

          1. higheredrefugee*

            I would give the benefit of the doubt that the candidate’s cavalier attitude might be covering up embarrassment. I mean seriously, I deal with my embarrassment by not talking about it, but everyone functions differently.

            That said, adding questions to reference checks about how a candidate deals with mistakes (do they accept accountability) and feedback might have helped you know whether it is just this topic or a general attitude.

          2. Observer*

            It’s kind of hard to buy that line if he’s totaled **5** cars, and laughs about it.

    4. ZSD*

      Assuming the totaled cars are recent, then I wouldn’t hire them. However, if what you’re seeing is *old* social media, and it’s been four or five years since they last had an accident that you know of, then I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’ve grown up and shaped up.

    5. really*

      This would certainly affect how I thought of the candidate. But I would suggest going back to the references and ask how the candidate dealt with mistakes or pushback. I worked with a guy who was of the no harm no foul school of thought and that drove me crazy.

      1. Jennifer*

        Oh, this is a very good point. You need to find out if it’s a sign of other bad traits in other areas, or if you’re hiring Stephanie Plum.

    6. Mike C.*

      This whole “reflects very badly on them” thing doesn’t make any sense to me, because it has absolutely nothing to to do with your job and modern cars are trivially easy to total.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yeah–totaled doesn’t necessarily mean busted up into a million pieces–AFAIK, it just means the insurance company thinks it’s more cost-effective to replace it than to fix whatever’s wrong with it. I’ve had friends whose cars became “totaled” with what looked like pretty minor damage–it’s just the car wasn’t worth much to begin with.

        1. Manders*

          That’s a really good point. There’s a huge difference between an entry-level employee who keeps having cheap cars written off after minor accidents and an executive who smashes up his brand new sports cars so badly they aren’t cost-effective to repair.

          1. Mike C.*

            The other thing to note is that those high end cars are going to be even more expensive to repair than normal because small production runs mean higher part prices, higher costs because of the badge itself (compare otherwise identical Audi and VW parts) and higher end cars are a lot less reliable than a mass produced Toyota or Honda.

      2. Stephanie*

        I agree. My mom had a few years where she had a higher-than-average accident rate–a couple she was at fault, but not all. It’s pretty easy to get into a car accident where I live–speeding is the norm, signage is sometimes not great, and there are pretty lax distracted driving laws. Hell, I almost go into one a couple of weeks (I wasn’t at fault–someone tried to switch lanes and didn’t see me). If this person’s job involved being a delivery driver, sure. But for a desk job, that’s unfair.

      3. Jadelyn*

        I’d be less worried about how badly he actually crashed and the level of damage – what worries me about this is the careless attitude. I wouldn’t let this be the one thing that turns me off the candidate, but as “really” said a few comments up, I’d be pushing his references pretty hard on his attitude toward mistakes, his conscientiousness and such. It could be that he’s a careless nitwit off the clock but super conscientious and careful when he’s at work, and in that case, sure, crash your cars all you like on your own time. I’d just want some reassurance that his “lol whatever” attitude toward that is not typical of his attitude toward other serious things.

          1. CMT*

            I don’t buy the argument that it doesn’t apply to the job. Somebody’s cavalier attitude will show up at work, whether it’s applied to their multiple car accidents, or the TPS report.

            1. Mike C.*

              Why? There are certain things in my own life that I’m cavalier about and others that I’m not. I’m certain that true for your own life. Why wouldn’t it be true in this example as well?

            2. Honeybee*

              That’s not necessarily true though. Number one, you don’t know why the candidate has a cavalier attitude – it could be a defense mechanism. Number two, just because he has a cavalier attitude in one area doesn’t mean he has it in another. I might use looser written English on a message board out of habit, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write a memo, for example. I wouldn’t want people to use my tweets as a writing sample when the two have nothing to do with each other.

    7. Manders*

      I’m a terrible driver and I totaled a car in a really bad crash when I was in high school, and now I work at a law firm that handles car accident cases. So I wouldn’t say that joking about bad driving skills is enough to prove that someone will be bad at a job that doesn’t involve driving.

      I joke sometimes about how bad I am at driving and the various car-related mishaps that have happened to my family (crashes, fires, and bears, oh my–none of our cars go quietly into the good night). BUT I would be wary of someone who is cavalier about costing someone else money or hurting people. Joking or making light of that could be a sign of a larger lack of judgement or empathy.

    8. Rowan*

      I’m not sure googling someone should be a standard part of the hiring process. You’re too likely to learn something that puts the potential new hire in a protected class (sexuality, medical status, whatever), and then it could be argued that info influenced your hiring decision.

      1. Honeybee*

        First of all, everyone is in a protected class. The law states that you can’t discriminate on the basis of certain protected classes – so for example, under the law, not hiring someone because they are a man is the same as not hiring someone because they are a woman (both are illegal). It doesn’t only protect people in marginalized groups.

        Secondly, simply knowing that someone is in a marginalized group (or not) is not reason enough for them argue that it influenced your hiring decision. Or rather, a person could argue it, but they’d have to provide evidence for the argument for it to get any traction. Simply knowing someone’s gender or race doesn’t mean you used the information in hiring; if that was the case, nobody could ever not hire people…in general, but especially not women or minority racial/ethnic group members.

        I don’t think employers should refrain from looking up any information on candidates simply because they might run across some protected class information on candidates.

    9. Pwyll*

      I think it’d depend on if there is a possibility of the employee ever needing to drive for the job. If so, it’d inform my decision, but I don’t think it’d be the only consideration.

    10. wet gremlin*

      I likely wouldn’t hire, from worry that:

      1) They’d be as careless with company property

      2) They cannot follow directions (for example: the rules of the road)

      3) They do not learn from their mistakes

      4) They lack any discretion

      1. wet gremlin*

        *This is of course based on the “5 cars in 5 years” aspect, plus the cavalier attitude. A couple of bad accidents? That could happen to anyone.

      2. Mike C.*

        Wait, how do you know all that about the person and that it applies to every other aspect in life? For instance, if they “cannot follow the rules”, how is it that they aren’t in prison for multiple felonies? That they even made it to the interview to begin with?

        Everything else about this person is perfectly fine, so they indeed can follow directions, show discretion and so on. Otherwise the hypothetical interview would have been a complete mess, right?

        1. wet gremlin*

          Like I said, it’s one of several concerns that would jump out at me in this situation. (The alternative explanations for such a high rate of serious accidents would not improve the candidate’s standing: that they either don’t pay attention or that other people are below their concern.) Sure, you could nitpick apart any one of these concerns, but all of them in concert are what would steer me away. The cavalier attitude would be the killer. And of course, it’s an extreme hypothetical the way it was posted, so let’s not go into the weeds.

          1. Honeybee*

            I think Mike C.’s point is that all 4 of those concerns may or may not be true, but you have no way of deriving that information simply from the fact that the person crashed 5 cars and seems cavalier about it in front of other people on social media. I don’t think that’s nitpicking at all – that’s examining them on face. It’s drawing, IMO, potentially faulty conclusions from a limited and inadequate amount/type of data – how they drive is not necessarily indicative of any of the four things listed above.

    11. Miss Elaine E-Us*

      While the role may not require driving, how much responsibility does it involve. If he is that flippant about totaling five cars in five years, how flippant would he be if he killed/injured a patient/leaked sensitive information/accidentally created a hazardous workplace situation? Would he treat company/client property as cavalierly as he apparently treats his car (and the people in it)?
      In my very humble opinion, that’s what due diligence is for — to uncover those issues that a resume and interview process don’t show.
      Just my two cents.

    12. bb-great*

      I wouldn’t consider the car accidents one way or the other–there are a lot of variables there–but having such a cavalier attitude AND sharing it on unlocked social media is questionable judgment imo, and that would give me pause.

    13. LCL*

      Does this job you are hiring for involve driving (you said no), machine operation, forklift operation, any kind of working with heavy machinery or tools? If not, I would hire him. Easy for me to say, he wouldn’t get hired for my work group because driving is part of the job.
      But based on what the majority of people here are saying, I think he should do something about his facebook page because many people would hold that against him.

    14. LBK*

      I wouldn’t hold that specific information against him, but I would be extremely wary throughout the process of other signs of related behavior (cavalier attitude about risk, recurring dramas, etc.).

      1. Mike C.*

        Yes, this is key here. You can’t use the driving history as a substitute for actually checking this employee out. Maybe they just suck at driving.

    15. animaniactoo*

      I’d have a bad taste in my mouth, but I’d give them the opportunity to correct it.

      “I came across this while doing a little more research on you. From your comments you seem to think it’s not a big deal, can you explain why you feel that way or have taken that tack in talking about it?”

      1. Mike C.*

        Wait, seriously? As the employer, how is that any of your concern? That sounds like a really personal question.

        1. animaniactoo*

          Because it’s a question of your judgment, situationally. Which is important to me as your employer.

          How you handle having it brought up also tells me something about you as an employee. There will be times that you will be in potentially embarrassing work situations. And if you’re going to have your social media that open, you better be prepared to get questions about it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t think there’s any way to ask that though without it sounding really … off. I think it’s fine to pass judgment on it, but I don’t think it’s an employer’s place to demand explanations from a job candidate about behavior in their private life.

            1. animaniactoo*

              Hmmm, I wasn’t thinking about it as “demanding” an explanation, vs exploring it. How about putting out there as “I’m curious about this if you’re willing to talk with me about it”?

              1. Mike C.*

                I would still just focus on the stuff that actually applies to the job and make a judgement from there. I feel like folks are falling into this trap that “someone how does X means they’re a bad employee” when X doesn’t really have a lot to do with the job in the first place. It’s a red herring.

                1. Dawn*

                  Yeah, and that’s the argument that my husband has. But to me, it’s a potential reflection on a person’s overall personality. However, I am really appreciating your dissent in this discussion because now I’m really wondering which side of the fence I’m on!

                2. Wheezy Weasel*

                  I think society is too quick to use proxy methods of determining someone’s ability rather than wanting to find out objectively. There may be some rough correlations between bad credit, some marijuana use, traffic tickets and bankruptcy, but there are plenty of people with a spotless record that are also poor hires. It’s like seeing jobs that say ‘reliable transportation required’ and then asking that as a hiring checkbox question. Is that because too many people were trying to use unreliable transportation as an excuse as to why they weren’t coming in?

                  Does the hiring process really needs to dive into social media to help the internal company people feel better about offering a job to that candidate? I can understand if a person’s posted professional publications which run counter to your own company culture, but Facebook is the land of cat videos and grandma using the Facebook wall instead of a Message to ask if Aunt Sally stopped by yet.

          2. Honeybee*

            This would tell me something about an employer, too, and would make me think twice about accepting a job there. It would be really weird and invasive if an interviewer came to me and asked me about this, as it has absolutely zero bearing on the way I do my job. It’d be one thing if I had, say, lots of pictures of me blackout drunk on social media or lots of offensive or politically charged tweets or something…but my car totaled? And knowing that a potential employer is judging me for it and using it as a way to determine how I handle confrontation? I don’t think I would want to work for that employer. Are they going to be digging through my social media and judging and springing stuff on me like this regularly?

      2. Liana*

        Uhhhhh if an employer brought up something I said on social media and worded it like this, I would be Not Happy. I just don’t see how you could address this with someone without sounding invasive and just … weird.

        I also just don’t see how it’s a big deal. Some people are just bad drivers. It doesn’t make them a terrible person, it just means they shouldn’t drive.

        1. EmmaLou*

          yeah but…. doesn’t it also show that they aren’t very self-aware? I mean…. they are still driving… and thinking it’s funny …. in spite of smashing evidence.

          1. Natalie*

            Eh, assuming this is the US there are a lot of places where people just don’t have a choice. I wouldn’t put too much on the fact that they still drive. And as someone else mentioned, the attitude in social media might be covering up embarrassment or trying to seem less scared than they actually are.

      3. Jaydee*

        I wouldn’t bring it up directly. What the person will hear when you ask that question is, “So I was skimming your Facebook page and now think it’s relevant to grill you about stuff you posted there.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the interviewee ended the interview right then and there.

        What you could do is tailor your questions *about work-related things* to address your concerns. So you could ask him to tell you about a time when he made a significant error and what he did to address it. Or you could describe a past situation where an employee made repeated, careless mistakes that had potentially significant consequences and ask him how he would handle a similar situation if it happened to him. Then you get to see whether the cavalier attitude carries over into the workplace.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Yes so much to your second paragraph. Those are the types of questions to ask that don’t delve into the candidate’s personal life.

    16. designbot*

      I’d consider this from a different point of view than I’ve seen above–are they your only choice, or are they neck and neck with other candidates? If they are above and beyond the best candidate, then hire them anyway. If you’re looking for reasons to select one person over another, then this could be that thing. Basically sure, consider it, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

    17. Purple Jello*

      Found on social media? You mean like a personal account for friends and family? Wouldn’t someone be more apt to “color” their posts in this type of situation?

      While this would be a red flag for me, if the job doesn’t involved driving, I would check professional references for how this person handles errors on the job.

    18. MsChanandlerBong*

      I wouldn’t use the information in my hiring decision. Social media profiles are a curated view of a person’s life. He may be saying, “Oh, I’m so clumsy” in response to a comment about the accident, but he may be mortified on the inside.

    19. Pennalynn Lott*

      I’m a little late to the party, and haven’t read the other comments, but one of my best friends in college was like this. Very clumsy, very “spatially impaired”. Honestly, she should have had her DL taken away. In the 2 years I knew her, she caused at least a half-dozen [minor] accidents with other cars and had twice that number of “single vehicle” accidents (i.e., backing into a light pole in a parking lot). [She also regularly had a bruise on her left cheek from where she whacked herself in the face with the receiver when answering the phone. Uh, and she also burned her ear once when she was ironing and the phone rang. . . and she put the iron to her ear.]

      BUT we worked together in a payroll-processing company and she was a FANTASTIC employee. Attention to detail, going over-and-above her required job duties, a hit with all the clients. She was so good that she was recruited away by Oracle to work for their consulting arm.

      So while I’d never let her drive me anywhere, I would certainly be happy to hire her as long as the work didn’t involve anything physical, like properly packing fragile equipment or efficiently loading a delivery truck.

      1. Natalie*

        That’s a good point. I have a friend who, as a friend, is just a complete space cadet. But she’s incredibly good at her job and extremely diligent about the things she space-cadets about in her personal life.

    20. Not So NewReader*

      Real life situation. A government agency that I know of had an audit for insurance purposes. If you have never seen one of these there is NOTHING that goes unchecked. When the results came back, they had to set up to have everyone’s driving record checked, even if the person was not driving for work purposes. Having a bad driving record was grounds for immediate dismissal is what the insurance company and DMV told the agency. Yes, it was irrelevant that the person did not drive during their work day.

      While I don’t agree with this, it seems to be an issue. In your hypothetical there are lots of variables that would have to weigh in. I think that checking with company policy would be an order, as opposed to a manager just deciding randomly what to do without checking in with others. Notice I am not agreeing with this, but unfortunately, this is the world we have.

    21. Jen*

      Didn’t read all the responses but this may have been said- is it possible that the vast majority of these accidents are not the candidates fault? My dad had 4 totaled cars in a span of 5-6 years, and NONE were his fault. I could see how after a tree falls on your car for the second time, or someone rear ends you for the 3rd time, you get a little flippant about things. “Another day, another call to the appraiser to see how much they’ll give me…”

      Devils advocate…

    22. EmmaLou*

      Total total’d five cars? In how five years? Destroyed them? That’s a lot of cars. In 30 years, we’ve only had two cars totaled and they were both out of our control (someone ran a red light and t-boned him and the other was sliding on ice.) Now he has bumped into things more than I have: concrete posts, curbs, carport post, but that’s just because he drives more than I do, I think. We’ve been rear-ended, sideswiped, backed into, but nothing else totaled. Is the person exaggerating his/her stories for effect? Golly.

    23. Kimberlee, Esq*

      I would not factor it into consideration, because:

      1) I would presume that nobody got hurt in those accidents (people are seldom flip about car crashes where people were seriously injured,), and
      2) The job doesn’t involve driving and there’s no reason to assume that someone who is bad at driving is bad at anything else in particular.

      Some people are just bad at some things. It’s like not hiring an accountant because you found out they’re bad at coding HTML. I, as others have mentioned, would assume that this person just doesn’t drive that much.

    24. Betty (the other Betty)*

      “totaling 5 cars in 5 years plus their caviler attitude”

      I’m not sure you can rely on public social media posts to tell you that their attitude is cavilier or to help you discern how someone really feels about something. I can see someone making a joke about this on facebook while feeling remorseful and being apologetic to their partner in private.

      So I guess I think that if I discovered this by googling I might not weigh the information very heavily in my decision making. If, however, I called the person’s references and their former manager told me about this as an example of the potential hiree’s general attitude, I’d reconsider hiring.

    25. Library Director*

      I wouldn’t consider it, but then again I had 3 totaled cars in 3 years. The first someone ran a stop sign and t-boned my passenger side. The person in the passenger seat was in traction for months. I had a broken arm. Because I didn’t immediately go into a full explanation people assumed I was at fault.

      The second car was on an icy road. I was driving at an appropriate speed f a r behind a car. The person in front decided to slam on his breaks and make a left turn. Even with the precautions I took I still hit the car.

      The third time I was exiting a drive with a blocked view of the street. I was inching out to clear the road when someone pulled out from the curb without checking and hit me. Because I was entering the road I was considered at fault.

      Cavalier attitude sounds like my approach. I can wallow or laugh. I choose to laugh.

    26. Honeybee*

      If I was already going to hire the candidate then absolutely, I’d still hire them. I fail to see how their having totaled 5 cars in the last 5 years has anything to do with their ability to do the job. And the reaction could seem flippant for any variety of reasons, especially if I found it on social media. Their social media reaction might not even reflect how they actually feel about it – social media is a highly curated outward rendering of how we’d like others to see us, not necessarily our actual deepest thoughts. But even if it is, that could be their outward way of dealing with the stress of having to replace 5 cars in 5 years (that sounds expensive).

      To be quite frank, if I had just totaled my fifth car in an at-fault accident in that many years, I think I’d be joking about it with friends, too, because joking about it would be my way of letting off steam and psychologically dealing with the incidents. I joke about serious things all the time, because humor is how my mind processes stressful things sometimes. It wouldn’t mean I was cavalier with my belongings or with my money, nor would it have any bearing on the way I would treat my employers’ belongings. And frankly, I’d be really irritated if a hiring manager stumbled across something so minor as my personal reaction to a personal event on Facebook or something, and didn’t hire me because of that. It’s one of the reasons I keep my social media as locked down as possible, because you never know what minor, completely unrelated thing will tip someone over the edge.

  11. AnAppleADay*

    Are there any reasons for me TO discuss my pending bankruptcy with my supervisor? It’s the result of being disabled followed by a divorce and not making enough to cover my basic needs for me and my child. Any reasons to NOT mention it? I don’t plan to discuss it at this time but I suspect at least one creditor contacted my place of employment.

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      Only mention it if you will need some accommodations (e.g., time off to be in court). Unless your boss is a personal friend, best to keep this to yourself.

    2. Amy M in HR*

      An someone in HR, I do not see how this would be relevant information for your supervisor. Your HR and payroll departments will be notified by the courts (because if you are on any kind of repayment plan usually your wages will be garnished), however, I have never forwarded any of this information on to supervisors or managers as it is none of their business.
      Also, creditors should only be talking to HR, not your supervisor, and again that is not information that HR should pass on to anyone.

    3. Mononymous*

      Be careful if you decide to change jobs, or even roles in your current company, if your work is the type to require credit checks upon hire. I know of someone whose boss encouraged her to apply for an open internal position, who then disclosed that she had some credit issues due to a divorce, and asked whether that would pose a problem for a background check if she did go for it. She was told it would be no problem, applied, got the offer, but then surprise! She wasn’t eligible for the job due to the credit issues. The problem was, now that the company/HR was officially aware of the credit issues, she wasn’t eligible for her old role, either. Yikes. (They ended up putting her into some other admin-type role where the credit issues weren’t a conflict so she still had an income, since it was basically their fault that she got into that mess, but it was no longer in her field/career path. I’m sure it had some long-term negative effects on her career.)

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        What the what?! They actually did this to a current employee who had already clearly proven herself responsible, at least enough to recommend for another position? They wouldn’t take her divorce into account? Your poor friend – that’s a lousy company to work for.

        1. Mononymous*

          Yeah, it sucked. :( It’s a highly regulated industry, so I think there were regs or laws of some kind involved once the credit stuff was known officially by HR–but the manager should NOT have assured her that everything would be fine when it clearly was not.

    4. CAA*

      If you hold a U.S. government security clearance, then you are required to notify your company’s security officer. Otherwise, no, you shouldn’t mention it.

      As a manager, this is not something I would want to know about my employees. People do tell me things like this, and I always feel so awkward. After a few go-rounds, I’ve finally landed on a response of expressing sympathy and recommending that they call the EAP, while emphasizing that I will never know if they took that advice or not.

  12. Victoria, Please*

    Does anyone have a treadmill desk? Do you like it? Wish you hadn’t got it? What kind? Please tell!

    1. Manders*

      I set one up at home and I LOVE it. I made it myself with a craigslist-scavenged treadmill and a board C-clamped to the arm bars to hold the keyboard and the mouse. The monitor is bolted to the board and the tower sits on the floor. It’s not the most elegant setup but I think I only spent somewhere in the $100-$200 range for everything except the computer itself.

      I mostly use mine for writing and playing video games. One thing that can be tricky is that if I get really in the zone playing a game, I might walk for an hour or two and only notice afterwards that my knee or hip is stiff. The treadmill has a different sort of “give” than a sidewalk or a dirt path and you do need to take breaks to stretch and take good care of your joints if you use one. I also do sometimes long for those fancy setups where you can swing in an exercise ball to sit down when you need to–I have to switch to a laptop when I need to sit down.

      Mine is also in the kitchen, which means that if I’m standing on it but not walking it’s very tempting to wander away and grab snacks. There’s something about sitting down that makes it a little harder to get distracted by other things in your house, I think. It might be different in an office setting.

      1. Manders*

        Physical health improvements: I’ve noticed much less back pain, even when using my sitting desk at work, since I started using the treadmill regularly. I think my core strength may be a bit better. My endurance for standing and walking does seem to be slightly improved, but I was already walking at least 3 miles on some steep hills every day so I was already in decent shape. I haven’t noticed any weight loss, but I changed nothing else about my lifestyle when I changed my desk–if that’s what you’re looking for, you’d probably need a higher intensity exercise program or an aggressive diet. It’s an excellent mood booster, I got through some tough times by cranking up Fallout 4 and power-walking for a while.

    2. Friend of Mine Does*

      I don’t have one, but my friend does and loves it. She said it took some getting used to and found a few things:
      1. She had to drink a lot more water than before
      2. When she got it, her instinct was to go too fast.
      3. She finds some tasks are not as conducive to using it (from a concentration perspective, or at least for her). I think she either stops the treadmill or goes elsewhere for those tasks.

    3. NoTreadmillDesksForMe*

      My former employee offered them. I tried one once and walking on it while reading or typing on my laptop made me feel very dizzy/car-sick. Normally running on a treadmill doesn’t bother me, but trying to walk even slowly on one while typing was not good for me. Other people were able to use them just fine. I recommend testing one out before purchasing.

  13. Audiophile*

    I posted last week that I lost my job. While I haven’t found a new one yet, I did get quite a few requests for phone interviews and got at least one phone interview done. I think it went pretty well and hope it leads to an in person interview. I have another phone interview scheduled for Tuesday.

    I’ve begun applying for jobs out of state as well, mostly in FL. I have a friend who lives in Fort Myers and a cousin who lives in Tampa. All of the phone interviews have been for jobs in NY though.
    Should I mention in my cover letter for FL jobs that I’ll be in the area at the end of the month?

    1. ZSD*

      Good luck with the interviews!
      Hm. I’d lean toward mentioning that you’ll be in town in the cover letters so that they know you can come in for an interview, but I’m ambivalent.

    2. A. Nonymous*

      Good luck!

      I don’t think that it’d be a big deal. If I were looking thru applicants I would just take it as an “of course” they would be able to be in the area and working when I needed them since they applied for the job.

    3. Florida*

      I would mention it. You don’t need to mention that you will be visiting friends. Just say that you will be in the area from these dates.
      Someone might want to schedule it then, so they can save money on flying you in.

      1. Audiophile*

        I started mentioning it in a few cover letters.

        I’m definitely not senior enough to warrant being flown in.

  14. DropTheDatabase*

    How can you if you’re just not suited for something, or if you’re just going through a tough learning curve and need to push through?

    I have been doing database reporting and development for about a year now at a large public university. I have a variety of responsibilities, which include server/system administration, maintaining custom programming integrations, and then some database reporting. I don’t do a lot of straight coding – like writing SQL reports. I enjoy all of my work, but I’m getting really frustrated with the coding portion. I like doing it, and I feel satisfied and accomplished when I complete a report – only to feel crushed when the client comes back to say, “These numbers don’t match what I have, “ or something else is wrong, and we go through a few rounds of revising the report until we reach a satisfactory outcome. The issues are a mix of my own mistakes, or the client has bad data, or there’s a misunderstanding of the data being reported on, etc.

    I do not have a programming or computer science background – I have an English degree and am just naturally techy. I fell into the database reporting stuff by way of being a support tech in my department. While I have gotten some training from more senior colleagues, they are extremely busy with more complex work, and don’t really have time to give me in-depth training. Most of my knowledge is self-taught, usually through trial and (lots of) error.

    I keep on trying to educate myself, triple check my work, take things slow and pay attention to detail, but I feel like I keep screwing up. So I’m not sure if I’m just unsuited to be a programmer and need to focus on another career path (system/server admin), or if this is normal for a junior programmer, and I just need to persevere. I feel like my bosses are eventually going to get fed up with my mistakes and slow pace. I have always received, and continue to receive, glowing performance reviews, but one client got frustrated with me because of a coding issue and complained to my director, and I don’t want that to happen again. I rarely make mistakes in my other responsibilities, but it feels like with coding, there’s just always something wrong with it – a typo, a validation step I missed, or a different approach I could have taken that would make things better.

    Any insights are most appreciated!

    1. LBK*

      Well, first things first: can you isolate what percentage of these issues are truly just due to your own error? To me, things like the client having bad data or there being a miscommunication about what’s required aren’t your fault, and you shouldn’t be counting those in you “is this the wrong job for me?” calculation. Personal mistakes also tend to stick in your mind much more than anyone else’s, and you remember them more than you remember the times there weren’t any issues. Step back and really look at the pattern – I suspect it’s not as bad as you think.

      That being said, you can also help mitigate the communication issues by asking for clarifications before you run anything. Reporting is one of my core job responsibilities right now, and I rarely run anything just based on the initial request unless it’s extremely simple and explicit. If there’s any aspect of the data where I think “Hmm, do they mean X or Y?” I just go back and ask. It may feel annoying, but it’s much less annoying to ask 100 follow ups beforehand than it is to have to make even 1 correction after.

      1. DropTheDatabase*

        Thank you! I will think about things in that manner. While I do ask some initial questions, I think I’m not asking enough. I think a lot of my own mistakes are coming from making too many assumptions.

        1. LBK*

          And that’s totally understandable, because those times when you are able to just pick up a request as-is and turn it around right away with no questions usually solicits a really good response – I know I love those “Wow! That was so quick, thank you!” emails. It makes you look like a data superhero to be able to take any request and come back with the perfect data set right away, but it’s just not feasible all the time for more complex or vague requests, and it bites you in the butt more often than not unless you’re working with an assumption that you know will be accurate 99% of the time.

      2. Anne S*

        This was going to be my question – I do something like this, and the first question we always ask with these is ‘are we comparing apples to apples? Are we sure this is the same metric we’re looking at?’

        1. LBK*

          Ha, I use the phrase “apples to apples” probably 10 times a day. I hate it because it’s so buzzword-y but it’s so effective and such a necessary consideration when working with data comparisons.

      3. Jadelyn*

        “I rarely run anything just based on the initial request unless it’s extremely simple and explicit.”

        THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS. I do a lot of reporting at my job, and people come to me with all kinds of requests. After a handful of “well actually, can you also add XYZ to it?” and “oh, I didn’t mean like that” incidents early on, I developed a habit of having a probing conversation about it when they first submit the request, taking copious notes, and checking back if I run into any other questions during the process. The more you know upfront, the less often you’ll run into issues. (Bad data, on the other hand, there’s not a lot you can do about unless you’ve got control over the data-gathering side of things as well as the reporting side.)

        Also, if you have regular clients, you’ll probably come to anticipate some of their quirks eventually. It took me about a year and a half to get into my “groove” and learn my biggest requestors’ habits and needs. Now, with certain people, they don’t have to get all that specific, because I know what they need the report for and what they’ll want to know for it, so I can even extend their initial request a little to make sure they don’t have to come back asking for another report later. But that’s just a time and practice and people-reading thing.

        You might also consider asking your director if there’s any budget for training and staff development, and if so, would they be willing to pony up for you to take a basic programming course or two at a local community college, or an online school? Just one class can honestly give you a nice basic grounding in principles that will hold true across a variety of coding languages and types of systems, and might help you feel a bit more confident in your work.

        1. LBK*

          That second paragraphs is great and definitely reflects my experience as well – after doing requests for the same people enough times, asking those clarifying questions and remembering what the follow ups usually are, I’m now able to anticipate their needs a lot more frequently and proactively.

          That made me think of another suggestion, which is to tap into the mental database of your coworkers if possible. I have newer coworkers that come to me often and say “Bob sent me an email asking for X – do you know what he means by that?” and generally I do, or at least I know the right question to ask. If you have those same kind of internal resources within your department, definitely leverage them!

    2. Dawn*

      “it feels like with coding, there’s just always something wrong with it”

      Welcome to coding!

      Your letter sounds a lot like you have some imposter syndrome going on around your coding duties since you come from a non-techy background. Seriously, if you are getting glowing reviews and are doing all you can to mitigate mistakes on your end (by going through your code carefully and trying your utmost to understand requirements before you code a product) then don’t worry about little mistakes. Check in with your boss that he/she is happy with your performance, and say that you want to become more confident in your coding abilities then ask if they have any suggestions about how to do that.

      But seriously, don’t worry about it if you’re getting good reviews and most of your clients are happy in the end.

      1. DropTheDatabase*

        Thanks! There’s definitely some imposter syndrome going on, especially since my department merged with another and now I’m surrounded by people with CSE degrees.

    3. addlady*

      How long have you been coding? Mistakes are SO normal when coding.

      Also, if a significant portion is due to bad data, or a misunderstanding–that has everything to do with programming, and nothing to do with you. People aren’t used to thinking in the particular way that data and coding require, and so often give vague criteria where SQL requires mind-numbing specifics. So, something all SQL coders deal with ALL the time.

      1. DropTheDatabase*

        I’d say direct coding experience – maybe a total of 11-12 months. My coding projects are somewhat spaced out between my other duties. I actually started doing this type of work almost 3 years ago, but I have a lot of other things going on as well.

        We definitely have dirty data issues going on. Every time I work on a project, there’s a new and surprisingly data issue I’d never have thought of. :)

          1. J.B.*

            After 9 years I’m still in the learning phase. If you’re not learning anymore it’s time to move on.

            Also to OP: if there’s anyone who can mentor you they can coach you on specific patterns to look for.

      2. addlady*

        Also, remember–your English degree might give you a hand up in communicating with non-techy people. After all, those other people might be good at comp sci, but not so good at bridging the gap between techy and non-techy people. Given that most of your issues are in people not communicating what they want, that gives you an advantage in the long run!

        1. addlady*

          Sorry, I’m not trying to brag, but I guess I am. All I’m TRYING to say is, not everyone who gets a compsci major is brilliant at coding, and not everyone who doesn’t, isn’t. Sounds like you might actually be really good at your job, but don’t realize it because of the label you’re giving yourself.

    4. LadyMountaineer*

      I’m a SQL/Python junkie (basically a data janitor) and quibbling over numbers is ALL DAY EVERY DAY for me and I like it. I hated sys admin work (because it appears to non-tech managers that you “do nothing” and I never was able to get in a groove.) Different strokes for different folks I guess.

      To reduce your frustration tough I would ask users to fill out a report request form (just to think about the data they need like which fields, how they are grouped, totals etc) and include with it the numbers to match to up front and the methodology they use before you even start. I even set that expectation up front “this first pull might be junk” and make sure that they know that THEY have to tell you which records are included that shouldn’t be and which aren’t that should be. I document the heck out of those back-and-forths. Make sure your management knows that they can’t just lob a request to you and leave.

      I also teach SQL at a coding bootcamp at night so let me know if you want some help. :)

      1. DropTheDatabase*

        Thank you! I like the form idea, and also letting them know the first copy of the report is really a first draft. I think most of our clients have an expectation that the first spreadsheet they receive is the OFFICIAL report.

    5. pieces of flair*

      Could you look into opportunities for more formal training in this area? Either a course at the university or some kind of coding workshop? Universities are usually great about staff tuition waivers and supporting professional development in general.

      1. Stephanie*

        This was my thinking as well. Tuition benefits are pretty standard for university employees. If they’re not, could you find a course and propose it as training and development to your boss?

        I’m admittedly not the greatest coder myself. It definitely requires a different way of thinking.

      2. DropTheDatabase*

        Yes, I’ve been doing a lot of online training classes with the support of my manager. I’ll look into taking some courses here at the university. Thank you!

    6. Mike C.*

      I do not have a programming or computer science background

      All this means is that you’re going to have more mistakes and need to catch up a little bit. There is no shame in that, and everyone is going to screw things up programming.

      This reminds me of something my alma mater did in part to vastly increase the number of women who graduate with CS degrees. There’s a mandatory programming course and usually they just put everyone into the same thing, regardless of experience. What they found was that people who had never programmed before were in the same room as those who had been programming for a decade or more, and were getting discouraged at seeing others have it easy that they convinced themselves that “programming wasn’t for them”, and they would leave for other majors.

      The solution was to have “black” and “gold” (school colors) versions of the course. The same materials, lesson plans, exams were given to each, but they were split up by prior experience. Thus if you were new, you saw that everyone else around had to work at it and didn’t convince yourself that “programming wasn’t for you”.

      Same thing here. Just keep at it, ask lots of questions and you’ll get it. It’s a skill like any other.

      1. addlady*

        +1000 if my mother hadn’t been a coder, I never would have been, for exactly this reason. She pressured me into giving it a shot. Otherwise, I would have immediately disqualified myself for not having been a nerd who coded since I was 10. And you know what? Now I’m actually better than some compsci majors, because of my attention to detail. Turns out coding experience isn’t all you need to code. ;)

          1. addlady*

            It definitely feels like a “club”, and you KNOW some people are working hard to play that image up. Although, it’s something I have done myself plenty of times, albeit in different areas.

          2. DropTheDatabase*

            Thank you everyone! Everyone in my dept is pretty nice and willing to help, I just have to work on not being intimidated…they seem to program with such ease and speed, and it’s easy to forget that most of them have been doing it for 10+ years. There’s just a lot of pressure from the clients for fast turnaround times and pristine first drafts, so they don’t have a lot of patience for more junior people.

          3. catsAreCool*

            Interesting article, but I’m female, and from generation X and a computer science major, and I don’t remember people ever saying stuff like not everyone is cut out for computer science.” to me. I’m sure some people looked at me and figured I wouldn’t be all that good at it, but I don’t remember anyone actually saying it.
            Maybe I was just fortunate. My parents always tend to think their kids can do just about anything, and I think I absorbed some of that, so maybe if someone did say that to me, I just rolled my eyes and thought that person didn’t know much.

            1. Paquita*

              I have a AS in Computer Technology and I don’t use it at all. I did finish just so I would have the piece of paper. One of my programming instructors told me that I would not want to program for a living??. He also became a friend and was trying to help me out. He was right. I only decided on that as a major because everyone thinks Computers! Jobs! Money!.

    7. J.B.*

      I have a non-IT background and the coding I do has become the most enjoyable part of my job. A lot of the confidence comes from familiarity with the dataset and having figured out my mistakes and why they were made. I would recommend the following:

      1. Have conversations when a data request is made. Often people want “this thing” but don’t have a lot of perspective on what data there is and specifically what the limitations are.
      2. If this has been done before, get an example so that you can compare your results to it. Where there are differences find out what they are and be proactive about addressing.
      3. Spend some time with the database structure. Which records are parents and which are children? Do some truth testing on the results. If you have access to the data entry screens, did you get all the records you expected or are some key ones left out? How are the records defined? (You can sometimes have problems matching up two similar looking fields that are formatted differently, say extra spaces.)

      Those mistakes you describe are totally normal. You get used to what to look for. At first it’s down the rabbit hole, but then you come up with a sequence of checks to make.

    8. Tau*

      I second it – welcome to coding! Mistakes happen, bugs happen, misunderstandings happen. It is, sad to say, how it works.

      Anecdote time: my very first bug-fix after I started, I screwed something minor up that broke an entire part of the program. It wasn’t caught in testing, and it was only when the client reported errors popping up that we figured out what was happening. Thankfully the product was still in user acceptance testing so I didn’t actually break any real, live systems, but still. I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come back out again. But nobody around me blamed me at all, nor did it come up in my performance reviews. Bugs happen to the best of us.

      Speaking of performance reviews, this:

      I have always received, and continue to receive, glowing performance reviews, but one client got frustrated with me because of a coding issue and complained to my director, and I don’t want that to happen again.

      I would focus VERY STRONGLY on the bit before the “but”. Clients are not in a good position to judge what is or is not good coding, or what is/is not a reasonable rate of mistakes (“any mistake is unreasonable!!”). Your boss is. Your boss is, frankly, in a better position to judge what is/isn’t reasonable for a junior programmer than YOU are! And your boss is giving you glowing performance reviews. That means a lot!

      It sounds like you’re generally in a tough spot because you are working directly with clients and your code is going directly to clients. In general, when it comes to software development, the process looks more like… design -> code -> test -> client (simplifying). Testing should be a separate phase, DONE BY SEPARATE PEOPLE. Good programmers do not necessarily make good testers, and it can be extraordinarily hard to spot mistakes in your own code. And then any complaints of the clients will also go to someone in a support/analysis role, who filters for the relevant details and verifies the problem before sending it on to a dev. But in your situation, it sounds like the roles have been compressed to… you + client… meaning you are missing a lot of the buffers and failsafes there usually are in the process. I don’t know if it’d be feasible to change that via e.g. getting a tester to run through your things before they go to the client, but in any case be aware that that isn’t really typical for dev jobs and may be making your mistakes seem bigger than they should be.

      So, yeah! I don’t know if you’re suited to coding in the sense of whether you’d be happy as a programmer – you have to know that – but none of what you say sounds like you’re doing a bad job at all, and the glowing performance reviews really clinch that.

      1. DropTheDatabase*

        Thank you! Yes, we don’t have a separate testing phase. We don’t really have phases…a project or a report just gets assigned to a person, and you do everything yourself. I usually try to get one of the more senior people to check my work, but often they are too busy.

      2. catsAreCool*

        There are always going to be a few people who aren’t happy no matter what you do.

    9. Qestia*

      I do something very similar for work, and what you’re describing sounds completely normal to me (especially since you’re getting good reviews!) In my experience it doesn’t even matter if the data is correct – once the user sees it, they may decide they want something different.

      Some things I do – I try to find a reference point. So, if I know what, for example, the total number of students was in 2015, I try to replicate that number in my report before generating a number for 2016 or for some subset of students.

      Second, I try to be clear about definitions. E.g. “This report show expenses based on this hierarchy, is that the one you normally use?”

      I call everything a draft – “this is what I have so far, am I on the right track? Is this what you were expecting?”

    10. DropTheDatabase*

      Thank you everyone for your comments, they are very helpful and have given me some concrete things to work on!

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Keep in mind that not everybody has validated their data as it goes in. This means that you may have to validate the data on the way out! Also, be aware that sometimes data that looks bad might be good depending on the requirements. For example, it’s completely normal for a history professor to deal with dates that have only 3 digits, or maybe even 2 digits, so figuring out the validation issues is a major big deal.

        And yes, as others have advised, talk to people! That’s a huge deal!

        Another big deal is to learn about the tools the programming language provides you rather than rolling your own. If there’s a “teapot visualization library” available, use it rather than create your own teapot visualizer. You don’t have to be a “programming geek” but you should definitely become a serious geek about the programming language you use.

        And lastly, make sure you run the data and look at it first before handing the program to somebody else.

    11. CAA*

      First, it’s completely normal for reports to go through multiple iterations before they provide the information the requester was looking for, so set that expectation with your clients up front!

      If you’re making actual errors, such as totaling things instead of counting them, then slowing down and paying more attention should help; but if it’s more that they asked for X but the data shows Y, then this is just how report projects usually go. I have a small team of developers working on reports, and their process is to first interview the client to find out what they’re looking for, then investigate the data to find out what’s there, which sometimes requires more research to find out how it is collected. Then they have a conversation with the clients where they describe what they’ll be able to provide before actually building the report.

      Also, is there anyone else doing similar work with whom you could partner up for QA testing? Developers don’t test their own work because it’s very hard to spot mistakes in code you wrote, and having someone to bounce ideas off of during development who can also take a look at your results before you hand them to the customer can be a huge help.

  15. Spills*

    More venting than a question, but I am dealing with terrible boss at my new role. I am the event coordinator on the team, and as my time goes on here, I am noticing more and more how this director has ruined relationships with vendors and hotels, and royally screwed up almost every contract we have for this year.

    In the time that I have been here, we have run 5 programs, and for each one, the number of rooms and event spaces booked was waaay off. I’m talking booking 25 rooms for a night when we expect 80 people to be there, and then having me scramble to try to find accomodations for them. I have spent much of time here so far working with the hotels to renegotiate, but I can tell that they are frustrated and this is not the first time this has happened while working with our company.

    Most recently, we put high pressure on a hotel to create and finalize a contract with us in 2 weeks, sat on the contract for 2 months while she thought about it, booked it, and then subsequently cancelled it within another month, all due to her changing mind. We have gone back to the hotel many times to renegotiate the cancellation fees, and each time I contact them, I can feel my political capital getting worse and worse, as they see I am associated with this terribly unorganized team. I do what I can to make the salesperson understand I am frustrated, and that this is not usually how I operate while trying not to throw the team under the bus, but I am concerned that this happens with every one of the hotels that we work with, and that I will get a terrible reputation. It also does not help that this director will go behind my back and contact the vendors directly, cutting me out of the negotiations, although she is confused and often ends up taking us 3 steps back each time. Hopefully I will be able to mitigate some of this in 2017 as I will be involved in the the contracting, but it is so frustrating that someone else’s incompetence can directly affect my relationships and reputation.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I’ve been in a similar position before, and it really sucked. I’m sorry and I hope it gets better. I found that being really upfront about the challenges you’re facing helped mitigate some of the frustration with external people, which it sounds like you’re already doing. As long as you’re doing your best and are polite and apologetic, people will read that and I don’t think it will damage your personal reputation.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Also, this. These contacts know it’s your boss who’s causing the chaos and not you. Don’t be afraid of standing up for yourself and your own capital in these situations. You may need these vendors in your next job, too.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      No advice, just sympathy from another event planner. My boss is usually on top of things, but every now and then she’ll rush me to get something done, then sit on it for weeks or months, and then frantically scramble to finalize it way after the deadline. Your best bet, if it’s possible, is to build out event estimates based on what actually happened the last time you held the event and present that to your boss. You can always scale down a hotel block (though, not always without financial impact); it’s much harder to expand it after the fact. Hang in there!

      1. Spills*

        Thanks for the encouragement! I am looking forward to when we begin planning for 2017 where I can try to create more accurate event estimates and accurate contracts, but until then, the rest of 2016 will be a wild ride :)

    3. zora.dee*

      Wow, it sounds like you are the person who took over my job! (where i got pushed out because I asked my boss too many questions about things she was asking me to do, which was apparently undermining her authority)

      Honestly, I gave up on my boss, there is no way she is ever going to change. And some of these things you will be able to mitigate if you do the contracts, but some of them (her sitting on a contract and then cancelling) will probably never change. If your primary concern is protecting your own reputation for future events/positions, you can definitely get the vendor staff on your side a little more. There are ways to say “I am so sorry, I am always the last to know these things.” and subtly imply where the fault lies. Then the vendors will understand who is the problem here, and it is not you. Which means if you move to another position in the future, you will be able to work with these vendors again and your reputation will be fine.

      But your boss is probably not going to change. So, yes, the organization is probably going to burn bridges with a lot of venues, and you will need to let go of it and not take it personally. Just do the best you can but at the end of the day, shrug and know it is not your fault. HUGS! I was totally there and it was really hard.

    4. justsomeone*

      I feel your pain. I really do. I’ve been pushing against exactly this kind of thing at my company for the last three years. It’s a constant struggle. No real advice, just sympathy.

  16. LBK*

    Piggybacking off this morning’s question about being bored at work: I’m someone who’s motivated by learning new things and dealing with new challenges. I’ve run into a pattern now where about a year into every job, I’ve mastered everything there is for me to do, including every available stretch assignment. I’ve loved my current role that I’ve had for about a year and a half now but I’ve fairly abruptly hit a wall where there just isn’t anything else for me do to (and ad hoc assignments have dried up, so I don’t even have some interesting variations of the usual challenges to keep me busy).

    So my question is two-fold: 1) similar to today’s question, is there anything else I can be doing in this situation? I’ve already asked for as many additional assignments as I can get and I’ve already done massive efficiency improvements to all of them (which is probably also partly why there’s so little work to do – one task that used to take up a week every month can now be done in about 2 hours). 2) Is this something I’m just going to have to accept? Are there jobs out there that are constantly challenging and providing new opportunities to learn, or do I just have to deal with the fact that I’m going to end up being bored after a year or so and I’ll have to let the pay, benefits, culture, etc. drive me to stay motivated after that?

    1. CMT*

      I’m really curious to hear people’s answers to your second question, because it’s a problem I have, too. I just hit two years in my current job and I’m so miserable because there’s never anything for me to do, and when there is it isn’t challenging work. I feel like my brain is atrophying and I’m losing intelligence every hour I sit at my desk.

    2. SittingDuck*

      I am also almost 2 years into my job – and feeling the same way. I loved my job when I first started, there were all sorts of challenges, I learned a lot of new skills, and I got to do what I love – organizing and simplifying things. Now I feel I may have done so much organizing and simplifying that I’m bored most of the time – because I took tasks that took other people a full day to do, and changed how they are processed to take less time (plus i’m proficient at these tasks) so now they take no time at all, and I spend a lot of my day wondering what I can do next.

      I too have wondered if this is just how jobs go – after you learn the basics, and provide your input/expertise into making things more efficient – is the job just going to be drudgery from there-on out?

      I don’t have any advice, i’ve been job searching lately to see if I can find something that will be fulfilling again…..

    3. A. Nonymous*

      I confess in my field this simply isn’t an issue for anyone. I’m one of those people who refuses to say they’ve “mastered” anything now. My major advice is to go back into the skills that you feel you do perfectly and look at them again. Is there anything new you can learn? Are you truly as close to perfect as you can get?

      If there’s no work to be done because slow times happen, maybe you could ask your supervisor about job training opportunities?

      1. LBK*

        Within the broad spectrum of the responsibilities I handle I’m definitely not maxed out, but I’m maxed out for my role, which is the issue. I do reporting right now, so to go up to the next level in that area I’d have to move over to our analytics team – and I’d be happy to do that, but that just continues the pattern I’ve had of getting a new job every 1.5-2 years once I cap out in what my current role offers.

        Maybe this is a better question: are there roles or fields where the skill cap within that given role is a lot higher? Am I just choosing jobs that are too niche or too low in the hierarchy?

        1. CAA*

          I think that’s pretty normal. As you get more proficient at a task, to fill the same number of hours, you either have to do more of that task, or take on a new task. Neither one is wrong, it just depends on what makes you personally feel fulfilled. Some people get a sense of accomplishment from creating 20 reports in a day instead of 10, while others want to learn something new and expand the scope of their role. Without knowing your specific situation, moving from reporting to analytics within the same company seems like a very natural progression and something you could do after 1.5 to 2 years of good performance in your current role.

          For roles or fields where you don’t need a new job to grow your skills — my own area of software development is one. Systems and Network Administration are others. Since technology changes so rapidly, there’s a lot of opportunity to learn something new and develop expertise without switching companies or even getting a new title.

          1. LBK*

            I had a feeling tech-related fields would be a good match. I’m in finance currently where I basically ended up by accident. I have no passion for the subject matter, I just like working with data and that’s all the same in any industry. So maybe an industry transition would help not only find more expandable roles, but also add an element to help sustain my motivation if the field itself is also interesting to me?

            1. AnonyMeow*

              What’s the size of the companies you’ve worked for? If they’ve all been fairly large, you could try working for a small organization. At small companies, it’s a lot easier to expand your role because they are usually people-strapped and tend to be more flexible about organizational boundaries. Your bigger-impact ideas might have a better chance of getting implemented at small organizations, too, though of course that means you’ll have a whole variety of things on your plate. It’s not for everyone, but it might be worth a try?

              1. LBK*

                Yeah, I’ve only work for 2 companies and they’re both big multi-national corporations. The first division I worked in at my current company was very new and small and so it operated very much like a smaller organization, which was one of the things I loved about it, so that’s a great suggestion – maybe I need to go smaller to somewhere that covets people who want to wear multiple hats and work on big, high visibility projects.

                1. Kimberlee, Esq*

                  yep! Since you’re in finance, you could look into office management jobs that involve bookkeeping, for instance, but would also have tons of other stuff happening.

        2. A. Nonymous*

          My field definitely. I work as an equipment technician and there is ALWAYS something to do. Broken equipment needs troubleshooted/fixed, customers need educated, new equipment to learn about, training schools, and a lot of enrichment happens.

          I could never do a desk job for the exact reasons you’re mentioning. Sure, some days I sluff off since it’s the Friday before a holiday and no one is here, but I think that’s universal. Most days I get in about 6,000 to 12,000 steps and feel pretty accomplished when I get home.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Have you talked to your boss about it? I’d want to know if a good employee was feeling this way because it might indicate we should be adjusting your responsibilities.

      1. LBK*

        So, this is another element of why I’m asking the question and why I feel kind of guilty about thinking about moving on, because I love my boss and I’m afraid the answer will “Sorry, nothing else in this department for you, time to go.” That’s what happened to the person who was in my position before and she ended up moving to the analytics team that I mentioned above because that’s the natural next step from this team.

        I’ve never felt bad about being ready to go to the next step when it’s happened before because, frankly, it was the perfect excuse to get away from crappy managers. But she’s been an incredible boss and mentor and I’m hesitant to leave her after all the support she’s given me. Which I know is probably silly because I’m sure nothing makes a boss happier than seeing their protege succeed. But I also really like being autonomous and getting paid well and being lavished with praise, and it’s tough to walk away from that into the unknown of a new team.

        I suppose the answer is to just ask her about it and given how awesome she’s been about everything else, maybe she’ll find a place for me under her that will give me the step up I’m looking for, right?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! I mean, the answer very well could be “I recognize that you can do more but I don’t have it for you, so I understand if you’re getting ready to move on” and she could leave it there. But that would be okay, and there’s nothing stopping you from saying “no, I’m actually really happy here, even if we don’t increase my role” if you want to say that.

          1. LBK*

            Huh. Somehow I genuinely hadn’t considered the idea that I could still choose to stay after the conversation, regardless of how it goes. That kind of opens the door for me to have this talk, because I was thinking of it as once I say something, either she’s able to find something for me or I have to leave, but I guess there’s nothing that dictates that to be true.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, the talk doesn’t need to be “I am ready to not do this job anymore.” It can just be “I feel like I’ve mastered my responsibilities and I’d love to take on more if that’s ever possible.”

    5. Jennifer*

      This is where I’d start working on my own personal projects during work hours if you’re absolutely out of stuff to do.
      As for being bored, I don’t know. That may just be a factor for you in every job and you’re the sort that wants to come in, reform everything and then leave. On the other hand, you could go work where I do where there’s always some new complicated thing being thrown onto the top of my already avalanche-full plate. Some industries may have less to do than others, but mine is so short-staffed that there’s not a lot of time to be bored. (Except right now because I’ve oddly managed to finish everything for the time being, so…personal project time! I write book reports on history books because NERD.)

    6. designbot*

      As to your last question, there are definitely jobs out there that constantly provide new opportunities to learn. I’ve been in design for around 10 years (tried a couple of things before settling into what is now my specialty), and every job I’ve been in has really be based on this. Even when you get to a point of competency or even mastery, each client and each project you encounter is different enough to keep you on your toes and learning new things.
      I’m not sure what you do now, but is there a way to shift into a more design or problem-solving based role?

      1. LBK*

        There is definitely a problem-solving element of my role that I really love, but fortunately/unfortunately we’ve gotten really good at solving problems and therefore haven’t had any big ones in a while. My old team lead and I did a ton of analysis about root causes of our usual issues and created standard methodologies for researching them, and now I can pinpoint and resolve most of the issues we encounter literally within minutes. Once again, being too effective shoots me in the foot!

        1. designbot*

          I suppose I mean a different sort of problem solving then… the “problem solving” I encounter in my work is in the form of projects that take months or years, each of which has a different client with a different goal, a different site… even when you think you 100% know what you’re doing, there will be some unique aspect to it that you’ve never encountered before, and this is still true for people who’ve been in the business for 30 years. What I’d look for if I were you is a role that helps create custom solutions to complex or large scale problems, rather than repeatable ones.

          1. LBK*

            What I’d look for if I were you is a role that helps create custom solutions to complex or large scale problems, rather than repeatable ones.

            That’s a fantastic insight. Thank you.

    7. zora.dee*

      Honestly, this is why I love working on events, because on almost every event, something will go wrong that is completely out of my control, and I get to figure out how to solve it! And it’s always slightly different, so I never get bored with problem-solving. ;o)

      But yeah, maybe if you talk to your boss, she’ll have some ideas of bigger strategic things you could spend some time thinking about, or maybe there are other things she can think of that you could learn about. You might as well ask, especially if she’s a great boss!

    8. Clever Name*

      Look for jobs that are described in the ad as “fast paced environment”. Consulting is a good way to never be bored. Small firms tend to have smaller projects (that are short-term rather than lasting years), and you can wear many hats. I too get bored easily, and I finally found a place where I’m always busy and always learning. I’m a top performer at my company, and I have about 4 major roles.

    9. knitcrazybooknut*

      I was a graphic designer and a database administrator for a year and a half each in two different companies. I got bored once I “fixed” everything – organized, simplified, made things efficient and cost-effective.

      I interviewed for a temp position in HR one Friday, started Monday, and have never been bored since. I did payroll in that company for seven years, and now I do HRIS for a state university. I am never really bored. I am not an extrovert; I don’t like talking on the phone; I would rather sit in my cave and get work done than have meetings. But when you’re in HR, you’re dealing with people, and you never know who is going to walk in the door with what kind of problem. Also, the laws are constantly changing and evolving; now that I’m in a state institution, the budgets flex and spin all the time; and my team is still dealing with the neglect this position suffered before I got here two plus years ago.

      I agree with the person who said look for “fast-paced environment”, and you may want to look either on the small business side (many hats to wear for each person) or the very large business side (many possible roles in one company). Definitely talk to your manager and see what they say.

    10. Beancounter in Texas*

      If you ever consider a job change or career change, you sound like a process analyst jedi. If you nabbed a job as a consultant with a very busy consulting firm, I’m betting you wouldn’t get bored with that.

    11. July*

      Curious to know what field you work in and what your role is? It’s a bit vague and too open ended to ask “are there jobs where there are regular things to do?” when that really varies by industry and role!!

    12. Kimberlee, Esq*

      To your second question, you might be well served to seek out more generalized, as opposed to more narrow and specialized, jobs. I work in what I would call Operations, but I’ve done office management, a bit of bookkeeping, some scheduling, some compliance, some HR, some admin, some writing, some recruiting and interviewing, some budget work… in my current job, I do some amount of almost all of the above, and have found that I just thrive more in roles where I have a wide range of tasks, rather than specializing in doing one thing. Every day is different at my job, but mastering responsibilities still brings me big rewards in terms of productivity.

      Especially if you’re really fast at learning new things, try learning some stuff that is adjacent to what you’ve been doing. Most organizations love having someone around that is really good at doing a lot of different kinds of things.

  17. AMD*

    Has anyone ever happily transitioned from a high-paying career to one that pays significantly less, like 2/3 as much or less?

    1. Megs*

      It happens a decent amount in the legal profession. One of the partners who worked in the same practice group as my husband left for a government job which pays 1/3rd as much (or less), and she seems amazingly happy.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I was just going to say that! A good friend who worked in Big Law recently switched to a corporate counsel job. While she’s not exactly thrilled with her current position, she’s much happier overall. Granted, she still gets paid much more than I ever will, but it’s significantly less than her last few gigs.

        1. K.*

          My best friend took a 50% pay cut to go from BigLaw to in-house counsel. She’s much happier. I have another friend who went from a huge, prestigious firm (one of the most prestigious in the world) to a much smaller one in her hometown. My best friend relocated too. Both moved to cities with lower COLs, which helped mitigate the lower wages. Both are totally happy with their decisions.

    2. Andy*

      Kind of? I went from a fairly well paid private practice paralegal to a university administrator and I love it. There was major balancing, though!
      1) my commute is 5 minutes long now, as opposed to sitting in traffic for 40 minutes each way.
      2) although my pay is waaay less the benefits are amazing and include total tuition remission for me, my spouse, and our kids.
      3) did I mention the commute?
      4) my wardrobe budget got reduced by a million times and I’m still stylin’ pretty good within this office’s culture.

      Pay’s not everything, and I love it here. (this being said, when I was sent a request to interview for another well-paying position in a federal office I was sorely tempted to jump ship and try to come back when the mission-based job in DC was over. Decision pending)

      1. Rebecca Too*

        I recently left a job that paid really well, but killed my soul. I had so much responsibility, I worked crazy hours, I was relied upon for so much that I mentally buckled and had to take FMLA for a month just to recover. I quit that job, and took a position that is the polar opposite in every way of my old job. That would include the salary, but I cannot tell you how much happier I am! No more ridiculous 4am starts because the “big boss” is coming. No more working weekends and holidays (yay! This is my first 3 day weekend in 15 years!!), and best of all, I love the work. My commute went from 30 minutes to 15 minutes, I’m saving so much money because I pack my lunch everyday, as opposed to taking long, carb-loaded lunches to deal with my stress, and I’ve really gotten to know and like all of my co-workers. For me, it’s been completely worth it. Yes, making a lot of money is nice. But when you’re too unhappy and stressed out to enjoy it, then it kind of doesn’t matter.

    3. Jaydee*

      I think the reason it’s common in BigLaw is because there’s 1) a clear trade of $$$ for other things (work-life balance, specialization, lower stress, etc.) and 2) usually still plenty of money in the lower-paying career path.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Yes. About a year ago I took a 37% pay cut for the job I’m in now.

      I did it very deliberately, because I decided to step back in my career. I was running myself ragged, in an organization with operational values that ran counter to mine. I decided to “demote myself” and do work that was more fulfilling and sustainable to me. (I shifted from a director-level position at a national, startup nonprofit to more junior position at a larger, but locally-focused nonprofit) .

      I don’t have any regrets about the choice I made. The money has been fine; I’m very pleased with the tradeoff I made. What’s been harder is… pride, I guess. I sometimes find myself frustrated that I have more experience than folks two levels up from me (or when someone at my level — but on a different team — with literally a decade less experience than me, gets a promotion). I made this choice on purpose; I and my current employer both knew that I had the experience of someone at least a few levels up, and that I decided for good reason that I would prefer to be in a more junior role. But it still stings a bit!

      (BTW, what led me to even consider a more junior role, was when I realized that my favorite job, and all of my friends favorite jobs, had been really early in their careers, when we got to do the direct work we were excited about. As we progressed in our careers we traded the fun, front-line work for increased salaries and prestige. I decided to go back to the fun part.)

    5. Anxa*

      I can’t say I’m happy with the transition all around, because I don’t make enough money to survive on my own, but day-t0-day I’m much happier as a professional tutor than I was as a server.

      Make a lot less per month, but whenever I stop fretting about the future and long-term sustainability of my job, I’m much happier.

      The problem, though, is that since I’m education staff, I’m not really part of the core staff of the college, and so the pay and lack of benefits just is miserable.

    6. NoTurnover*

      I’m in the midst of making a change from compensation of about $80k to…well, a lot less. A LOT less.

      I’ve been saving like heck for the past several years to make a move like this (though not necessarily this specific one) possible.

      New job is something I’m passionate about, and if it goes well, eventually I’ll make more (though probably never 80k again). As for whether the transition will be happy, ask me again in six months!

  18. YouKnowME*

    I just got an email for a phone interview for a chain dr officeish today at 1:30, they got my resume from indeed. I don’t particularly want to work for them doing desk work but I was going to the interview just incase they took me by surprise and there was something interesting but then they sent me an application. This thing is 8 pages long, they want a full employment history, & a list of my social media accounts(not happening) and saying ” I accidently left my wallet at my father last night when we were there for dinner so I cant give you my drivers license until tomorrow” isn’t going to start this off on a good foot at all. I’m not handing my social media accounts over, MAYBE after being offered a job I would tell an employer that im #InstagramFamous but not im not giving an interviewer my instagram info so they can see me in my underwear teaching people how to deal with HUGE amounts of loose skin after loosing more than 1/2 of my body weight. they don’t need to see my gym pictures prior to interview. this inter view isn’t going to go anywhere and im in a rotten mood, can I just email and say “thank you but I don’t think its a good fit?”

    1. ZSD*

      What?! Social media accounts? And this isn’t even for some sort of PR position? That strikes me as a ridiculous request.

      1. neverjaunty*

        And a stupid one. Social media accounts can reveal a lot about race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and so on.

        1. Honeybee*

          It’s not illegal or even problematic for people to know your race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and so on. You will get a lot of that information (or perceptions of it) just by meeting someone in person. It’s only a problem if you use it to make hiring decisions.

          That said, I still think it’s a stupid request.

      2. Audiophile*

        Even for a social media or PR position, it can be invasive.

        Do I have a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account? Yes. Do I ever really give them out when applications ask? No.
        I’m not looking to increase my followers on any of those platforms, so it doesn’t give any real insight into whether I can increase your followers and engagement on your posts.

    2. Dawn*

      can I just email and say “thank you but I don’t think its a good fit?”

      Yup. You have my permission and my blessing :)

          1. Jadelyn*

            I’m having a great day so far and I still agree with you – that’s about what I’d say.

      1. CAA*

        It’s also fine to email and say “Thanks, but I’m not comfortable providing information about my personal social media accounts before we’ve had a chance to talk and see if this position would be a good fit. Could you let me know whether that’s a requirement to proceed with the interview?”

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          I’m not comfortable providing information about my personal social media accounts before we’ve had a chance to talk

          Change that to, “I’m not comfortable providing information about my personal social media accounts for a job that doesn’t require that information,” and that would be exactly what I’d say.

      2. Jaydee*

        My blessing as well. And I agree with the advice to let them know the social media account request is WAY over-reaching.

    3. Pineapple Incident*

      ABSOLUTLY YES, you can and should blow these people off- and the way you’re doing it is very polite (better than they deserve). There’s no standing for a doctor’s office to collect that information from you as an applicant even if you had sought them out.

      If they saw something in an internet search of your name that turned them off, it’s a fair thing to let that color their hiring decisions. However, they can do that on their own and don’t need you to do their work for them- vetting potential employees is on the employer beyond candidates’ responsibility to be honest in their application materials.

      If you want to make a point with them especially since they contacted you first, I would mention something about how unnecessary it is to collect people’s social media information, not to mention invasive.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Since they contacted you and you’re not particularly invested, tell them why you’re no longer interested! For instance: “Whoa, that’s pretty invasive. I don’t think it makes sense to move forward, but thanks for your interest.”

      1. Calliope~*

        Alison, if she was at the offer stage, would it still be considered invasive? I wouldn’t want to give my social media information at all regardless but am wondering if this is normal?

          1. AliceBD*

            I manage a national brand’s social media; we’re the biggest player in our field. And my personal social media accounts would not be helpful at all in evaluating me for a position managing social media. I rarely post on my personal accounts (except for Facebook, which is pretty locked down), and when I do I am intentionally not optimizing them for exposure. A much better metric is looking at how I handle my current job’s accounts. So unless you’re being an influencer and saying you can help someone because lots of people follow you, or you’re very junior and have no other examples you can give (although in that case, you could probably find a volunteer organization to help to give you examples; I have several friends running the social media for local animal shelters), then I still think looking at the social media is invasive and not useful.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But most of those (although not all) are about being able to access your account, not just to view it the way anyone else might.

    5. Florida*

      I’m sort of a smarty pants in these situations, so I might say, “I noticed the application asked for my social media accounts. I think it’s fair for the interviewing process to include equal transparency on both sides, so I would like the social media accounts of everyone in my chain of command.”
      I’m not saying this is the best way to handle it – it’s just the type of thing I might do.

  19. Christopher Tracy*

    I’m coming up on six months in my current division soon (July 18) and I’m wondering how to approach my supervisor about getting a review – I’d like to ask for a raise. We do individual file audits once a month, and I’ve had excellent feedback about my work, so I know I’m doing a very good job. And during my monthly one-on-one with my supervisor last month, she told me I’m doing a great job and she can definitely see about giving me more complex assignments because I catch things she sometimes doesn’t. Then there’s the fact that I didn’t get a performance review at all for 2015 – my previous manager from my last division was supposed to do it in March, but she never did. That caused my current division to defer my review period (because HR requires that all employees have something in the system regarding yearly reviews). Problem is, they never indicated when the deferment would end and they’d do a formal review.

    Like I said, I fully believe that I’ve gone above and beyond in this role since I started, they’ve all said I’m performing at a very high level (including my divisional AVP, who claims I’ll be running circles around him soon), and my division president gave me a surprise bonus out of his own bonus check back in May – but my division just hired a bunch of new people, we’re bringing on one more person soon (a graduate from my training program), and we didn’t get the business we thought we were going to get. We’re still in a great spot financially, but I know they were counting on having way more money than we currently have. I know that my work merits a pay increase, but I’m wondering if it’s incredibly tone deaf to broach this topic right now given everything noted above as opposed to in December (the anniversary of when they hired me). I guess I need a script for how to discuss this with my supervisor. She’s pretty cool and I don’t feel intimidated, and she goes to bat for her people hard – I just don’t want to put her in an awkward spot with our division leaders, especially since my promotion in January already came with a 10% increase from where I was salary wise last year.

    1. A. Nonymous*

      I would just ask. “I’m excited to get into more complex assignments and I appreciate all the feedback you’re giving me. Based on my improvement, do you think it’d be possible for me to get a raise in this fiscal year?” You’re a hard working employee from the sounds of things and it’s a harmless question to ask. Gauging her reaction will help you figure out how hard to push for it.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Oh, I plan to ask, I just wanted to know if the timing sounds off to anyone else or if I’m way overthinking this.

        1. A. Nonymous*

          I don’t think so at all! You seem really eager and happy with what you’re doing and I wouldn’t find you out of line.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            I am really happy about this job :) It’s nice after the horror of the last couple of months in my previous division. I’m so happy here, that when a director from another division approached me early this week about applying for a job his division is about to post (which would report directly to his Senior VP), I turned him down. If only they’d had this opportunity back in November when I was still looking! But yeah, if things continue to go well here, and I’m fully aware things can turn on a dime depending on the moods of those higher up, I could see myself staying a few years with this group. It’s been an incredible learning experience so far.

    2. BRR*

      I’m thinking it’s too soon. I’m not sure though if it’s different for internal promotions. It also depends I think how your company works (mine rarely gives raises) and how your pay compares to market rate.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        See, our company is all over the map with this because we have over 40 business units/support services, and each one operates differently. So like, the guy I went through my company’s training program with was promoted twice in one year after our respective placements (so his division has no problem giving out raises in six month increments). But then other divisions only hand out raises during official review time, which is in March. I’ve taken on a lot of work this year and have exceeded expectations (their words), so I’d like to think that I’m not incredibly off base by asking if another increase is possible. I’m trying to move into the next quintile – I’m currently in the one reserved for people who are just learning a role whereas my work product indicates I should be in the next one up – and the next step up if I were to get a promotion at some point in the future is three pay grades above where I currently am, which would mean my division would have to give me, like, a 25% raise to get me to the starting rate for that role. I highly doubt they’d want to give me 25% at one time. So I’m trying to slowly inch up to put us in a nice position for when they’re ready and able to move me up to the next job band.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            I’ve been with this company nearly three years and don’t know if that’s a thing. I’ll ask one of my former managers about it.

  20. Sara M*

    We discussed this before, but I can’t find it.

    ADHD people, how did you learn to stop interrupting? I’m terrible about it and I need to change. Both at work and at home. Can we either point me there or start a new discussion here?

    I’m a mild case but I can’t take medication for it. Thanks.

    1. Kristine*

      I also have a problem with interrupting! I don’t have ADHD, but a host of other mental health issues that can make my mind race.

      My advice is breathe deeply during the conversation and force yourself to be a present listener. Folding my hands or doing something slow and methodical with them (squeezing a stress ball, doodling, etc) has helped me focus long enough to let the other person finish talking, as well as actually listening to what they’re saying.

      I’d also recommend taking up yoga and/or practicing meditation. They’ve done wonders for my concentration.

    2. BRR*

      Over time it’s gotten easier to recognize when it’s about to happen so I can stop myself. At first I would always remind myself before meetings. I’ll also write down anything that I feel is so important that I need to interrupt with it (which is usually why I do it).

    3. Andy*

      I have a ‘WAIT’ mantra
      it helps me, although like all habit-changes it took a while to really be part of my processes

    4. Gwen*

      I’m super bad at this, and I usually don’t realize I’m doing it. If I’m in a meeting, I try writing a note down about what I want to say so I don’t get the “I HAVE TO SAY IT NOW OR IT’S GONE FOREVER” feeling. In person, I just honestly try to breathe and literally bite my tongue, and to be Really Active as I listen? Like, nodding and making eye contact and really closely listening to what they’re saying to remind myself that it’s time for listening and not for talking.

      1. Click*

        I have a personal parking lot in every meeting. Notes of things I’d like to add or discuss when I can. It’s not an easy habit to break. Good luck!

      2. ADULT ADD/ADHD??*

        I’ve no official diagnosis, and am in the process of figuring it out – I am 32. But yeah, I often feel like “I HAVE TO SAY IT NOW OR IT’S GONE FOREVER” because I will definitely forget by the time the other party finishes, unless i focus on what I want to say but then that means I miss everything the other party is saying because I’m trying to make sure I dont forget!

        Writing it down would be helpful if possible. Like in meetings. But i dont know aside from that.

    5. addlady*

      I’ve given up. I’ve just tried to start a new habit, so that the first thing out of my mouth is typically a whisper. It’ll keep happening, but people will not hear it, and then I can decide whether it was actually something I wanted to say or not.

    6. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Honestly? This might sound like I have low self-esteem or something and I really don’t, but I just remind myself that what I have to say probably isn’t that interesting. Seriously, whenever I’m in a conversation, I look around and think about what everyone else is saying, and think if my 2 cents is really that big of a deal.

      Most people like talking more than they like listening, but most people also view conversations as “talking and then not talking until you can jump in and talk again.” I speak up when I know I have something valuable to add, but I set a threshold for myself that I mostly jump into a crowded conversation only when I know I have something really great. If you find yourself interrupting people a lot, your personal threshold might not be high enough. Think to yourself “is what I want to say REALLY so much more important than what this person is saying that I need to jump in here?”

    7. YaH*

      For me, it took being medicated, although that’s not an option for you. It helped curb the impulsivity and short-term recall issues that are often the cause for the need to interrupt. I didn’t have to be afraid that I was going to forget what I wanted to say before I had a chance to say it.

      However, at work I bring post-it notes and paper into meetings and jot down notes of what’s being said, with a little asterik or arrow to the side and one or two key words that will help trigger recall of what I wanted to say when it’s the appropriate time.

      At home, you need to enlist the help of the people you live with. If someone is talking about a problem they’re having, ask them if they want you to offer advice or if they just want a supportive ear. That way you know whether you can sit back and take the pressure of coming up with ideas off of your shoulders and just be a good listener, or whether you’re going to have to practice your non-interrupting skills super hard. :)

      You may have to train them to give you positive reinforcement. When you’re having a conversation with a family member or friend, interrupting says, “What I have to say is more important than what you’re saying”, and it also says, “I’m not actually listening to you and thinking about what you’re saying, I’m thinking about what I want to say next.” Both of those are so hurtful, which you already know.

      Search for advice on active listening skills.

      I’m not sure how to do it with another adult, but with a kid who has a habit of interrupting, I try to catch them “being good.” Every time they let me finish a thought, “thank you for letting me finish without interrupting. It makes me feel good that you were really listening to me. What do you think about what I was saying?” If you’re up for it, you can ask the people you live with to do something similar. Ask them to tell you how it will improve your relationship when you stop interrupting them.

    8. Adhdy*

      This is something I’ve conquered pretty successfully, but I started getting coping strategies pushed at me as a kid. The most effective:
      -Repeating back in my head what people are saying. Sort of a 1 second time delay. I find that it forces me to pay attention and puts my thoughts on a back-burner.
      Also, sometimes I:
      -Track how many times I’ve spoken with hash marks on my pad
      -Create elaborate geometric shapes
      -Use a notation system for ideas/thoughts so I can save them for later – I draw a box around mine
      -Like the other posters – ask myself how much value my thought or question actually adds at the moment.

      Also, I once had a kickass manager who gently told me that other people take longer to reach the same conclusions, and to shush so they could get there on their own. It helps to know that we’re probably going to get there eventually, I guess.

  21. Mike C.*

    Well here’s a bit of a dozy from the Wall Street Journal:

    “If a new job forces your hand, work overtime to repair your relationship with your boss. Ashley Stahl coached a manager who reluctantly quit after getting a new job offer. It included a 60% pay increase and promotion to a higher level of management but also an ultimatum: “Either show up Monday and take this role, or don’t show up at all. ” Ms. Stahl, chief executive officer of a Santa Monica, Calif., training company for millennial job seekers, says the woman found ways to mend fences with her former bosses by referring several candidates to succeed her and returning later, on weekends, to help train her successor on her own time.”

    I mean really?!

    I also love the example of the employee who saw illegal things so she wrote a nice, long letter explaining why she shouldn’t work here anymore instead of, you know, reporting the employer to the proper authorities.

    This article isn’t all bad of course (yes, you should check your contracts first and yes, you should actually speak to someone about issues that come up rather than just leaving, I mean duh) but seriously, this article is pretty special.

    1. H.C.*

      I love how the author never mentioned how that’s the (rarely used) other side of the “at will employment” two way street works.

      Also, double UGH at the millennial implication of them being more likely to leave sans notice without the stats to actually back it up.

    2. Slippy*

      I love (sarcasm) how the article pitches quitting on the spot as an employee problem that employees need to fix. Outside of a few outlying cases if you have people quitting on the spot it is an employer issue. It was a nice attempt at reverse psychology though.

      1. Mike C.*

        “Yeah, all these people keep quitting without notice, it must be a new trend”. Let me rephrase that:

        “Yeah, all these women I keep going out with never return my phone calls, it must be a new trend.”

        Maybe if this keeps happening, the problem is with you…

    3. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      “Employers may also ask new hires to sign employment contracts requiring them to forfeit pay for unused vacation or paid time off if they quit without notice.”

      Is that even legal if the employee has the time accrued?

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        When I left Evil Law Firm with two weeks of unused vacation time, they didn’t pay me a single cent for it. I’m still mad about that.

        1. Audiophile*

          Most employers state up front that they won’t pay for unused vacation, if an employee resigns. This is one of the many reasons, that I take my vacations or in some cases, stay on part-time and use the vacation sporadically.

  22. Betty Sapphire*

    I started a new job about two months ago and love it here. My question is about my previous employer: I was paid in direct deposit there, and did receive final paycheck in a timely manner. Since I finished in the middle of the pay period it was at a lesser rate (as expected), but I never received my paper pay stub. This is something I want to keep primarily for my personal files. Also, the person in charge of payroll had a history of messing up. (For example, he didn’t pay me for a day of work in my first paycheck and would forget to pay contracted employees altogether. Sometimes PayChex would call because some things were not given to them.)

    My question is: Is requesting my final paper pay stub something I can ask for, or have I missed my window of opportunity?

    1. Packers Fan*

      I think you can absolutely ask. Either call the person in charge or your old manager and say “Hey, just realized I didn’t receive a paper copy of my last paystub. I like to keep this for my records. Could one be mailed?” It might take a few tries but I think you’re well within reason to ask for it.

      (Also, I feel your pain. I left a job with someone like you’ve described doing payroll.)

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        Seconded- you have more than the right to ask. iIdon’t think 2 months is past your expiration date on this kind of thing either.

    2. BRR*

      You’re good. If they reply how long it’s been I would respond with something saying yeah it has been two months, why didn’t you give it to me by now (but much more polite).

    3. Jadelyn*

      I’ve had former employees come back six months later asking for all their pay stubs (which are available in their login to the system, which they keep access to for a year after separation, so it’s not like they actually need me to do it). Trust me, a couple months is nothing. Just email them and ask.

    4. Mike C.*

      I can never understand how incompetent people can be assigned to payroll. We have thousands of years of recorded history where empires rise and fall only because someone was paid (or not) on time.

    5. Joanna*

      If it was years and years ago I’d say probably not, but requesting that kind of documentation after only 2 months seems entirely reasonable to me.

      1. Tx anon*

        Unless you worked for the company I used to. Requests for duplicate pay stubs were met with “we don’t do that, you’ll see it on your w-2.” Paper checks would be reissued but duplicate checkstubs would not be – if your direct deposit went in, they’d claim they mailed the stub and would refuse to send another.

  23. Anonymoosetracks*

    Next week I have a final-round interview for what is basically my dream job! I need to talk to my current boss before the interview. He will get a call from the interviewer either shortly before or after I interview- it’s all in the same field and they work closely with each other- basially his reference is probably more important to my chances than the actual interview. I expect a good reference in general- my performance reviews are top of the charts and he has given me several bonuses recently in a field where bonuses are vanishingly rare. But I also know he will be disppointed to know I’m looking to move on. Based on what is typically done in the office it is definitely expected that I would give him a heads-up before he gets a call from the interviewer, and we have the sort of relationship where, if I tell him how want him to pitch my career goals and accomplishments in his reference, he will do so. So talking to him beforehand, in-depth, is important because I can use it to strengthen my presentation. One problem, though, is that I’m out of the office working offsite on an urgent project all of next week until the interview. Should I just call him to have this conversation? It is the sort of thing that I imagine would be far easier and better in person. Should I try to get into the office somehow? I just have no idea how best to handle.

    Also I am three months pregnant with my first child and have not told anyone at work yet. My instinct is to wait until this is all settled. Do you think my instinct is correct?

    Basically this is a lot at once.

    1. A. Nonymous*

      I think your instincts are correct in regards to your pregnancy.

      Also, I would absolutely reach out to my boss if I were you. That way no one is caught off guard. It’s not the best way to talk to them, but it’s much better than being blind sided.

    2. Laura*

      Tell your boss about the new job ASAP, but don’t mention your pregnancy until you have secured the new position.

  24. anonny*

    any tips on how to politely decline a job offer?

    it started months ago and is now just wrapping up, when things at my current job had turned south. however, things have gotten better (more responsibility, communication, exposure to things).

    this process has caused me to do a lot of soul searching, and with upcoming potential life changing events (having a child) i believe it makes more sense to stay put where i’m at. so.. if a job offer comes today from another firm.. how do i politely do this?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      “Thank you so much for the offer and for taking the time to meet with me and learn about my candidacy for the role. I have immensely enjoyed getting to know more about Company and the team. At this point, I have decided to take my career search in a different direction and regretfully must turn down this offer.”

      Or something more in your voice :)

    2. animaniactoo*

      “Thank you for the offer, however I have chosen another opportunity.”

      “Thank you for the offer, unfortunately due to changes since I started interviewing I am going to stay with my current position.”

      Depending on how much info you think you need to give them. And thank them for their time and tell them you enjoyed meeting with them.

    3. BRR*

      I personally like a thank you and decided to pursue another opportunity. I think any more info is kind of weird and over sharing. Also if you are a 100% certain you wouldn’t take it, I would withdraw my candidacy.

    4. neverjaunty*

      I would not wait for the offer. Contact them immediately and give them the ‘thanks but another opportunity’ speech others have suggested, and add ‘I appreciate all the time and effort you have put in and wanted to let you know as soon as possible’.

  25. DMouse*

    I’ve worked for the same awesome boss for the last 9 years. About a year and a half ago, we were part of a group that was acquired by another company. Although in theory my job was supposed to be the same, the new company took away most of the responsibilities that I actually enjoyed doing, and I spend most of my time on the parts that I really don’t like. And often don’t have enough to do. My boss and I proposed a whole bunch of things I’d be happy to take on, but the giant company we work for now isn’t really interested in having me do anything else. There’s also not really anywhere to grow because we work at a remote office away from corporate, and they mostly only hire for their corporate office.

    So obviously has been time to get a new job for a while but here’s the issue – I have been dealing with an extremely upsetting and difficult family situation for several years. My boss is amazing, I have a ton of flexibility in my hours, work from home whenever I want, or even days when she knows I’m not working a full day and doesn’t care. I rarely have to stress about any work projects. So I feel really stuck. I’m worried about how I would manage going back to a 40 hour a week, less flexibility situation, as well as concerned about whether I would find a good boss and coworkers again.

    1. Dawn*

      Is it more important for you to have flexibility and a no stress job or to have a challenging, rewarding job *at this point in your life*? Answer that question and then you’ll know what to do. ALSO, once you have decided what you want to do (stay or go), figure out how you’re going to meet the needs of whatever part of you is getting the short end of the stick in whichever situation you’re in. SO, if you stay, how are you going to work on feeling fulfilled professionally? If you go, how are you going to make sure you don’t get stressed/ meet the needs of your family (maybe hire someone? maybe therapy? maybe back off some?)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I stayed at a job too long because with family stuff, it was easier to have a familiar job than have an unfamiliar job for the reasons you show here.

      It sounds like you have ten solid reasons for staying and one solid reason for leaving.

      Consider time in blocks rather than long term. Decide to stay, oh, another 6 months, 12 months, whatever and then look at your decision again. At that point you might decide to do another 6 or 12 months or you might decide to start looking.

      Sometimes difficult situations shift and that shift allows us to do other things with our lives. For example, when a parent went into assisted living, this caused a shift in my life. I was able to consider finishing my degree, which I did. I wished I had done more of this type of thinking over the years, where I could use little breaks in old patterns to make a change in my personal setting.
      And yes, emotions get very heavy. Part of making the decision to do a major change is mustering the determination to make a go of it. If you can’t see yourself mustering the determination, then your answer could be as simple as “wait a few more months”.

      With some on-going issues, I started making small changes that lessened my involvement or lessen the amount of time it took to deal with the issue. This may or may not fit your setting.

      If you see no end in sight and you do not see your situation shifting in the future to be less time-intensive, then maybe this is what to look at right now, rather than look for a job. There’s a lot to be said for jobs that we can keep while we work through family stuff.

  26. ABC123*

    This is too late for this job, but I’m wondering if anyone has any advice on negotiating salary in this situation, in case I ever have this happen again. I applied through one of those automated systems that requires you to put a salary requirement. I was worried about pricing myself out of even getting my resume looked at, so I put a little lower than I would have initially stated in a discussion, but a salary that I would be able to accept. I had read through the advice here and thought I would be ready to negotiate when I got the offer, but the way HR worded it threw me and I just ended up accepting. When making the offer, HR said “I see you asked for $x and that’s what we’re offering you”. Was there a way to counter after that? I couldn’t think of anything and this was a position that I really wanted and the salary wasn’t awful, but I would have liked to try to negotiate a little more.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I would have said that yes, you entered that number in the system, but that it would fluctuate based on additional information you learned about the role, the benefits package, etc. I would’ve asked if there was any flexibility on the offer, based on information that you gathered during the interview process.

      If possible, I always enter a range instead of a flat number in those automated system, of write a number and then in parenthesis, put “(negotiable)” “(depending upon full package)” or something along those lines.

    2. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

      I’m no good at the exact wording, but in the moment I think it would have been entirely reasonable to say something to the effect of:
      As you know, I had to provide that figure in the application, so I provided $X, which is the minimum I would consider. Knowing what I do now about the position, I think $Y would be the market value of this position.

    3. BRR*

      I would say something about learning more about the position and/or total compensation package.

    4. zora.dee*

      I would just say “Well, actually, after learning more through the interview, I was hoping for something more like $X. Is that possible?” and then stop talking.

  27. Not Karen*

    My employer is rolling out one of those stupid personality assessments to “help” us work together more effectively. Any suggestions on how to politely yet firmly request to decline participating? Any success stories on declining participation?

    1. Mike C.*

      I’d suggest linking such articles like the one on Vox about how they aren’t really useful. (Link in response)

    2. EA*

      It was forced on me. I had to do a myers-brigg as part of a training. I just wrote in my review of the training all the reasons why this isn’t helpful.

      1. Slippy*

        Attempt to make art or cool designs from filling in the dots or if it on a computer just ABBA CA DABBA and finish in record time. Explain away finishing so quickly by saying efficiency is part of your personality.

    3. Grumpy*

      YMMV but I cited the clause in the facilitator guide that forcing the exam on someone was an “unethical use of the instrument” and pointed out that they could be reported and lose their “ability” to use the exam.
      Also, ug. I feel for you.

    4. Laura*

      Just had to do TWO personality assessments this week for staff-wide training! (Myers Briggs and PETS)

      Both were really short and didn’t take up too much of my time, so I just did them. Protesting them is NOT a hill I want to die on, nor is it something I want to be known for. I think they’re stupid, and so did most of my team when we discussed the results during training. Whatever.

  28. Amy M in HR*

    So…exciting news! I wrote in on an open thread a few months back regarding the amazing cover letter and resume I wrote thanks to AAM’s advice which I used to apply for a position on the other side of the country from me. A few weeks later I wrote that the company had asked me in for an interview, and were willing to wait until June as that was when I would be in that city for vacation. Well, this week I was offered (and accepted) the position! YAY!!! It means moving without my husband (who is military and will stay at his current duty station for the next year), but it also means I will be able to set up our “forever home” in the city we love and he will join me upon his military retirement next year. Thank you so much Allison for you great advice, I feel like this would not have happened with you!

    1. Dawn*

      YEAHHHHHH GET IT GIRL!!!! That is AWESOME! I hope it goes amazing and awesome and swimmingly! Kinda bummed you have to spend a year apart from your husband (god I would be devastated if I had to do that!) but YAYYYYYYYYY on the job!

      1. Amy M in HR*

        Just saw this today – love your user name! My personalized license plate says “NorCal”, gotta rep the home state no matter where we are stationed!

  29. thehighercommonsense*

    This isn’t a question, just a story for y’alls amusement:

    I’m a bureaucrat, in a workplace that enjoys parties “for employee morale.” At the moment, we’re scheduling a party for the end of the fiscal year. A notice went to out to folks, asking them to sign up for a potluck dish or cash. Okay, no big deal. Most people took the cash option, I assume because they figured someone would collect all the cash and get some larger main dishes or something.

    A couple days ago, we got an email thanking folks for their potluck contributions, but chewing out the people who’d signed up for cash (*which was included as an option on the sign-up sheet*), saying “thanks for taking the easy way out, but you will cause someone else to have to stop on their way home after a long day to pick something up, so please consider picking up something yourself, which is just as quick and easy.” (….but not as easy as giving cash to someone else.) Today, we got an email again telling people to quit signing up for cash, and oh by the way, you should plan on your dish feeding 50-60 people.

    In case anyone is wondering if this is an anomaly, at our last employee appreciation event, senior staff were required to contribute money each to feed an entire division, a particular business unit (mine) had to make up a song/rap about our jobs, with a chorus based on [a popular hymn], and the decorations featured—I SWEAR I am not making this up–balloons with pictures of dive-bombing airplanes dropping skulls. SKULLS. The slogan? “[Company] soars to new heights!”

    If I had a question, it would be “how do I respond to this stuff, other than ignoring the ridiculousness,” but if anyone has similar stories, or suggestions for making this even more painful or deliciously awkward, I am definitely open to hearing them.

    1. Stephanie*

      Whaaaaa? You have to be able to feed 50-60 people? That’s a crazy amount of people to expect a home cook to be able to feed.

      1. thehighercommonsense*

        I’m preeety sure they meant that 50-60 people total are coming, and we should scale our dishes appropriately, but after the dive-bombing skull balloons, I’m not so sure.

      2. anon who needs a name*

        Honestly, in that situation I’d just bake a tray of brownies and cut them up into very small pieces until I got to 60 and be all, “here’s my 60 piece food contribution”.

        1. Stephanie*

          Or make a bunch of salsa (maybe double a recipe) and be like “Hey! Everyone can take one chip and dip.”

    2. ZSD*

      Is the potluck mandatory or something? I’ve never heard of people contributing cash for a potluck. If people don’t want to cook, they just shouldn’t sign up to participate.

      1. thehighercommonsense*

        It’s a voluntold thing. You don’t have to participate! But you will be chased down until you do.

        1. Laura*

          This is when you smile and say “Oh, I’m so sorry. I have an unavoidable appointment that day, so I won’t be able to make it. I hope it goes well!”

    3. A. Nonymous*

      Woah, that’s horribly aggressive, isn’t it? I wouldn’t attend if I was expected to feed that many people from my home kitchen and I love to cook!

    4. Jadelyn*

      Wow with the bizarre guilt thing, like…okay? So I’m supposed to prioritize someone else’s ability to go straight home over my own ability to go straight home, even though YOU OFFERED THAT OPTION in the first place? That is so rude. I have chronic pain and fatigue problems that make stopping off at the store after work anything but “quick and easy”, and I would DEEPLY resent being scolded for trying to conserve my limited energy and stamina by taking an option that was OFFERED TO ME. Holy hell is that crappy of them.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          Now I’m curious about where you heard it then. (And maybe why you haven’t heard it recently.) I wasn’t born until the mid-eighties, but I was raised with this saying and hear it on the regular now.

          1. Florida*

            I think it comes from a military TV show or movie. I’m not sure which one, but I always thought it was a faux-military saying.

    5. CMT*

      Ugh, that sucks. And I thought I had it bad with monthly potlucks, that I mostly don’t go to anyway. We also have a cash option here, but one of the admins collects it the day of and orders pizza. I think it’s a system that works pretty well.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe you can find a dish shaped like a coffin to bring your food in, once emptied it could be used to catch all the falling skulls.

    7. Rubyrose*

      This does not sound enjoyable – who thinks it is? Expecting senior staff to feed an entire division? Have a personal appointment on that day that you cannot change.

      From the 80s – a holiday lunch, people were given the option of bringing a side dish or contributing money. This place was heavily male, so there was a lot of money contributed. However, people were contributing what would be the equivalent of $2.00 today. Party organizers decided by buy cheese and sliced meat platters from a local gourmet caterer. Do you know how expensive those are? For those of us who had to come at the end because we had work posts that could not be left without coverage, there was nothing left but a spoonful of a side dish and some parsley from the meat platter. It was not pretty and the organizers could not understand why some of us were upset. In the end, they never did a potluck again.

    8. NoTurnover*

      With the cash option, I would NOT have assumed that I was making someone else stop by the grocery store on their way home! That’s a really weird way to organize things. I would have assumed that the organizer would pool all the cash contributed and place an order through a restaurant or something for sandwiches, pizza, something along those lines. A little extra work but frankly less work than coordinating the potluck contributions of 50-60 people to make sure they add up to a balanced buffet.

      1. AliceBD*

        My division regularly does 40 person potlucks that are balanced. There’s a sign up sheet in an obvious and easy to get to location, and it has numbered slots divided by type (so x spaces for veggie, x spaces for dessert, etc). You write your name and what you’re bringing, first come first choice. A few emails go out telling people about what it’s for and when it is, including where the sign up sheet is, and encouraging everyone to sign up, although it’s not mandatory.

        The people who can’t/don’t want to bring something don’t have to, although they usually come to the talking portion of the event (15-20 mins of team bonding in the form of funny stories or trivia; nothing embarrassing or requires prep). You just bring a normal sized dish and there’s always more than enough food. We have a designated social committee who make sure we have paper goods and who send out emails and coordinate everything. All of this takes place during the workday in our office, although if you’re making something homemade you usually make it the night before. If you want to run out for 15 mins to the grocery store nearby and pick up something they made as your contribution, that’s also OK. I think some people give cash to the coordinator for the commercial sandwich platter we sometimes get, but I usually sign up for dessert and then either make box brownies or buy grocery store bakery cookies.

  30. Bookworm*

    I’m not sure if people have seen this yet or not, but this is a commencement speech from Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs (I think that’s the show) –

    It’s called “Don’t Follow Your Passion” and I think it relates to some of the discussions we’ve had on the subject. A kind of fun 5 minute watch.

  31. echosparks*

    I have recently accepted an internal promotion at work. I went through a performance review for my current position for 2015, which was glowing. The raises based on performance don’t go through until after I have moved to my new position. I’m still a part of the same organization, just in a new role, should I still get the raise I earned based on my performance from last year? While my new role is a promotion, I took a pay cut to get it, so it matters to me more than if I had just gotten a raise anyway.

    1. Angela*

      I’m going to guess this is work-place dependent. At my last employer, a change in position meant a change in when you got raises (it would reset to be yearly on the date of the start of the new position). It was a big downside if you just wanted to switch departments and it didn’t come with pay bump, because you had to forfeit a raise for that year.

    2. CAA*

      This is just guess-work, but if you agreed to a new salary for the new position, it’s probably based on the new department’s budget, which won’t include a raise based on your previous performance.

      If the timing was such that you started the new job, then got the review for your old job, you can ask your new manager whether the raise would apply to your new position, but you have to take no for an answer. If the review happened before you actually started the new job, then I wouldn’t even ask.

    3. snowball*

      I have worked at places that give raises annually based on higher date/promotion date (so if you are promoted in June you are not given a raise until the next June) and other places where everyone gets raises at the same time each year, but your raise is pro-rated based on your time in a position (so if you would qualify for a 3% raise but you were only in the position for 6 months, your raise is actually 1.5%). Your raise for the promotion would account for any raises that you “missed out” on based on taking the promotion. (My mom worked at the second company too, took a promotion in November, and was not eligible for another raise for 14 months.)

      My guess is that you will not get a performance-based raise if you just accepted and moved to a promotional role, even if your salary is less, but I don’t know your office.

  32. SaviourSelf*

    A vent:
    It is so frustrating when applicants ignore and/or don’t read the requirements for a position! We have posted for a position that states a specific degree and license required for the position, 90% of the applicants have neither and don’t even both to acknowledge or address that it is listed as required and why they can do the position without it.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Sorry to hear that. I can understand that is frustrating.
      Possibly they are just filling out applications for unemployment, etc. so they can say they filled it out? (I know that is what some people say.)
      Or they just don’t read.
      I work on a committee for academia, and for crying out loud, most of the people have Ph.D.s and still cannot follow simple instructions such as “include your email on your submission” type of thing.

      1. SaviourSelf*

        They all say they’re currently working but most are wildly unqualified. I’m wondering if it is just a quirk of advertising on LinkedIn and people just hit apply because it is in their general skill set without looking at industry or qualifications.

        1. CMT*

          Do you have the LinkedIn apply (or whatever it’s called) set up? Like, the one where you just hit one button and you’ve applied? I know I’ve seen th0se and “applied” to things outside my skill level. Mostly just because they advertise it to me and it takes only one click, so why not?

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think a lot of people who see the degree requirements and still apply do so because they feel they can make a strong case for they they are still totally qualified.

      The license requirement, however? No, if a specific license is required and you don’t have it, then you need to do better at following instructions!

    3. ginger ale for all*

      I have heard stories, but have not actually seen the applications, where libraries are looking for librarians and require a masters in library science and people apply with a high school degree and say that they love to read.

      1. Marian the Librarian*

        I am a librarian that sometimes hires other librarians, and I have seen these applications. Definitely true.

      2. Library Director*

        Oh yes! We state on our application for experience, “Do NOT say ‘I like to read.'” Yet it still happens. I’d be more interested in their collections of left handed mittens or petrified food (I know a librarian that has the latter).

      3. Honeybee*

        I’ve heard stories from English professor friends about getting some applications like that for faculty positions – people who don’t have a PhD in English nor do any scholarship in English, but reason that they like to read so teaching collegiate literature classes should be easy enough.

    4. Slippy*

      Is it common to have both the degree and license? Also is your pay competitive for someone who has both?

      1. SaviourSelf*

        You cannot have the license without the degree, but can have the degree without the license. The license is really the key.

        Our pay and benefits are above market.

        1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

          If the license is key and you can’t have the license without the degree, I wonder if it might be helpful to take out the part referring to the degree and be extra super clear about the license being required. Since the degree seems to be what people are trying to argue against I wonder if it might be better to just not reference it at all. There are plenty of companies who require a degree for no real reason so I think it’s normal for people to question that. It’s much harder to argue against a specific license and since someone with the license would have the degree it seems like the license is the part you want to emphasize. Just a thought! Good luck though. I’m sure it’s frustrating to have to sift through resumes who clearly do not meet the minimum requirements.

          1. SaviourSelf*

            Thank you, good idea. It is certainly worth trying! I’m just annoyed I didn’t think of it!

            I love this community.

    5. Jadelyn*

      I hear you. My organization requires English/Spanish bilingual skills for like 75% of our positions because the main communities we serve tend to be Latino immigrant communities and a lot of our members speak Spanish primarily or solely. So I emphasize “bilingual REQUIRED” all over the place in our postings and yet I STILL have to weed through a ton of resumes that don’t have any mention of speaking Spanish at all. I can’t even imagine how much more frustrating it would be for something as specific as a required license and people applying without it!

      1. SaviourSelf*

        At least they’re making it easy for me to move them to the “no” pile and let them know that they won’t be moving forward. Silver lining and all that :-/

      2. NacSacJack*

        Ummm Jadelyn, do you have remote positions? A friend is moving to Des Moines and has been studying Spanish (Medical Translation) and needs a job.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Sadly, no…we’re a credit union and our branches are all in California, and the jobs pretty much have to be done on-site for all except certain executive and tech positions. Best of luck to your friend, though!

    6. Margali*

      OH YES!!! I spent hours going through a pile of resumes for a position that stated that 3-5 years experience was REQUIRED. I would have been ok with someone who included a cover letter that stated why they thought they could do the job with only, say, 2 years of experience. But the waste of my time reviewing resumes that showed ZERO experience, argh!

      1. Eden*

        My favorites are the ones who have zero direct relevant experience, when 3-5 years are required, whose cover letters tell me that upon further perusal of their resumes I will discover that they are “exceptionally qualified.” For what?

        I had one today where the applicant referenced their practice of meditative self-care through painting as a qualification. The range of application quality is amazingly broad. The terrible ones make me very sad though. I picture them sitting in an empty room wondering why they never hear back and it makes me feel awful.

    7. Anxa*

      Is there a way you could ensure there is no ambiguity about that?

      For years I would avoid applying for jobs where I hadn’t met all of the requirements. I’m getting bolder now because people (here and elsewhere) have made a case that requirements can be a wish list.

      As an applicant, it can be very difficult to determine how literally you should take the requirements.

      If I see two sections, one with “minimum” and one with “preferred,” I do not submit my resume if I don’t have the minimum. But even in these cases it can be tricky if there’s a really large employer with a form job ad and it seems like someone wrote up a job ad, then tried to make it fit into the form ad and you can’t tell how intentional things are. In fact, I didn’t apply for a job where I didn’t have a minimum requirement (one year experience), then had someone ask why I didn’t apply…knowing I was looking for a similar job. I said I had 6 months, not one year, and he laughed. So…it can be hard to tell.

      Maybe just spell it out more clearly?

      1. Anxa*

        I know this is a vent more than anything, but I’m wondering if perhaps there’s something about the licensing requirements that’s driving applicants to do this.

        Is there some sort of experience-license-experience catch 22 circle? For example, I had a license lapse because I didn’t get full-time work with a certified agency without two years. Now I never will, even though the county hiring freezes have lifted, because I can’t afford to retake the course to get a new license. Similarly, I have considered trying to break into a very closely related field, but in order to licensed you need a certain level of experience. Yet all the more entry level jobs still require that license. It seems like without an orchestrated internship or other intervention there’s no way to break in.

        Perhaps that’s part of it?

      2. MoinMoin*

        I hear you on this. Especially because I often hear it repeated that men will apply for a job if they have, say 60% of the qualifications and women will only apply if they meet 90% (or whatever the stats are) with the moral of the story being to lean in. But then I read stuff like this! Ah, it’s always a balancing game!

  33. Stephanie*

    This is less a question and more a general comment.

    I sprained my knee Wednesday during my kickboxing class (er, fingers crossed it’s just a sprain). It seems to be feeling a little better, but I’m still limping (knee is stiff). The day of, I called out at work because I was barely able to walk more than a few feet. I go in last night and my big boss freaked out a little (knee is a bit better, but I still have a noticeable limp). I work in an industrial facility that isn’t handicap-friendly and he was worried doing my rounds would aggravate my knee further and turn it into an on-the-job injury. Told me to call HR and get their take.

    Thing is, I was actually planning to give notice next week, with my last day being at the end of July. The optics of it don’t look great (but I’m leaving, so I suppose that doesn’t really matter). I also don’t want to go through a formal accommodation process when I’m leaving so soon. Thoughts?

    1. RR*

      Can you tell your boss you really appreciate his concern, you’ll think about this over the weekend/next few days (not sure of your work schedule) and see how your feel?

        1. Laura*

          No! My boss just broke her foot. Well, her child did it, actually. Hope your toe gets better soon!

        2. Audiophile*

          Ooof, feel better.

          I’ve never broken anything. *knocks on wood*

          Although, last year I thought I might have broken my foot or ankle, I never did go to the doctor and the pain eventually went away, so it was probably just a bad sprain.

      1. Stephanie*

        Update: I just called out tonight. I talked to HR and they said I’d need to use up my sick leave/personal days/annual leave and then use FMLA or short-term disability. My Big Boss was like “Well, you have the benefits. That’s what they’re there for. Come in after the weekend…”

    2. A. Nonymous*

      As someone who had a nasty knee injury in a TKD event, DO NOT stress your knee! If your body’s telling you to back off, take the time. If you’re leaving the job soon it doesn’t matter. You can’t plan an injury

    3. Construction Safety*

      Typically we would require that the employee get a full release from their doctor prior to returning to work. For those who cannot afford to go, we would send them to our Occ.Med. on our dime. We will supply the Dr. with an accurate job description. We don’t typically do modified work for non-work related injuries but YMMV.

  34. ACK298*

    Asking for a friend/colleague:
    We work in a very specific field and her position is unionized. She has gone from being an intern to an assistant a full-time temp (twice) of over six months. Recently a full-time permanent position opened up , but when she applied she was told that since she is a temporary employee (and therefore not in the union) she could not apply during the internal posting period but had to wait for the external posting period. The position has now gone external, and she has gone to apply and was told that she will not be considered for the position because one of the internal candidates (that was not hired for this positions) is in the union, and they cannot “justify” hiring my friend (who has more of the specific experience and training for this position) because of union rules dictating years of employment when considering candidates who are both in the union/internal candidates – essentially if two internal candidates who apply have comparable qualifications the one who has 8 years employment gets the job over the one with 6 years employment. However, as I mentioned before, my friend is neither in the union (you have to be a full-time permanent) employee at this organization, and was told that she would be considered an external candidate during the internal posting/hiring period.

    What should/can she do? Should she speak to HR or the hiring manager?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I’m NOT an expert on union rules, but I doubt there’s much she can do. It seems like they’ve made their decision (and the decision is likely based on union rules that they hire people based on seniority. If they hired your friend over the other internal candidate they’d get into big trouble with the union).

      Appealing decisions like these rarely works out well anyways.

      1. ACK298*

        That’s what I told her. I think what is frustrating her is she was just told “we’d hire you if you weren’t in the temp position right now, because you’re an external candidate but not REALLY external so the internal candidate might complain to the union and we don’t know what they’d say since you’ve been working as a temp.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          They could have asked the union what their stance would be. But they did not. It sounds like they had someone in mind for the job anyway.

          I have been through this stuff. Please let your friend know that the rest of her years with the company would go like this, always another wrinkle, always an unforeseen.
          Ask her to consider if this is something she really wants.

      2. J.B.*

        Probably. But maybe she could go to HR and ask for advice on this situation. Like are there other opportunities she might be able to pursue, or what is within the rules/contract.

    2. Natalie*

      Seems to me it wouldn’t hurt to at least ask – she could present these two somewhat conflicting instructions and see what they say. The worst outcome is the outcome she’s got now, after all.

    3. Jaydee*

      My guess is that some or all of the following things are true.
      1) The bargaining agreement says that if there is an opening in a certain job classification it first has to be posted internally to see if anyone already in that classification wants to transfer. If multiple people in the same classification want to transfer, the one with the most seniority gets picked. This is really common to ensure that the most senior employees get first crack at an opening on a better shift or in a different branch office.

      2) The bargaining agreement says that temps/part-timers are treated as external applicants for this purpose. So a temp who has been there 9 months doesn’t get priority over a full-time, permanent employee who has been there 6 months for the good shifts/offices.

      3) Wakeen is a permanent employee who applied for the opening and wasn’t chosen. Your friend Jane is a temp but has more experience in some aspects of the job than Wakeen does

      4) Management/HR thinks the union will contest the hiring of a temp when a permanent employee applied and was turned down.

      It’s possible the union really would contest this. They might see it as a way to circumvent the seniority rules and the bargaining agreement. That’s actually kind of legit.

      It’s also possible the union wouldn’t care but management is gun shy or just wants to get a jab in at the union.

      It’s also possible that management/HR is misunderstanding the bargaining agreement in some way.

      I would suggest that your friend ask HR about it and also ask a union rep in her office about it. That way she gets both sides of the picture and should know pretty clearly where she stands.

      Often where this type of situation comes in is where management wants the flexibility to hire temporary workers but without offering them all the benefits that permanent employees get under the bargaining agreement. It sucks for the temp worker because that may mean they don’t get insurance, PTO, 401(k), etc. or it may just mean they do t get seniority for internal jobs. But it also protects the permanent workers from having those benefits gradually eroded. Why hire a permanent worker who is subject to the bargaining agreement when you can just hire a “temporary” worker with no benefits, grievance rights, etc., keep renewing their “temporary” contract for a year or two (not so temporary anymore) and then promote them ahead of a permanent employee who has been there longer?

    4. Stephanie*

      I’d speak to HR. Worst case, they’ll say she’s SOL. I was in a sort of similar situation about a year ago (except I was looking for management jobs at my company). That being said, she might be stuck. Usually, those bargaining agreements are pretty ironclad.

  35. RVA Cat*

    This is just tangentially work-related, but….
    A co-worker in another department died this past weekend after a short battle with cancer, at an obscenely young age. We were acquaintances who bonded for while when we had kids a few months apart two years ago. I didn’t even know she was sick, just thought she’d moved on. Now it’s just eating at me. I will sign the card and contribute to the fund for her kids (the toddler and another in elementary school) and I feel like I should do more but I have no idea what. It’s just eating me alive right now, I just turned 40 and she was younger than me, plus I had a health scare a few weeks ago. The more I try to push it out of my mind the more I obsess on it. Your thoughts?

    1. Dawn*

      Does your office have an EAP? Call them and see if they can recommend a grief counselor, or maybe even a group grief therapy you could go to. Death and mortality is hard, don’t be afraid to ask for help processing.

      And many, many hugs to you!

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      Since you didn’t know her well, is there another colleague you could ask about something you can do? Gift card or something? A colleague just lost her husband and we got her a massage and a restaurant gift card. We plan to do it again in 4 or 5 months when so many people will have forgotten and moved on.

    3. J.B.*

      That is so tough, I’m sorry. Restaurant gift cards are great, especially since they will probably have lots of food in the short term but not in the long term. In a few months you could offer to host the kids for a playdate or something. (Break for dad and fun for kids.)

      1. RVA Cat*

        Restaurant gift card sounds like a great idea – that’s what we did for one of my colleagues when she lost her father. I can have my son “sign” a sympathy card with crayon scribble or a handprint too maybe.

        Re: EAP etc., I have a therapist but haven’t gone in awhile, I think it’s time to make an appointment. The health scare in question was a miscarriage so that’s it’s own grief, which I thought I was over but maybe not.

        1. Laura*

          Your son participating in a card for the family would be a really nice gesture. I am so sorry.

    4. BronxRosie*

      First, don’t beat yourself up over this. You had no way of knowing what was going on in her life and were kind to her while she was living. The father of the children is probably struggling to find a new normal. If you have children around the same age and live close enough, taking the children out for a fun day with your kids may be welcomed. Dropping the father a note for his kids (or her parents if they survive), with a happy memory about your co-worker is valuable. If you have any pictures from company events, share them as well. Be kind to yourself. You sound like a good person with a big heart.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Sounds good. One of the reasons I was beating myself up is that I like the playdate idea, but I’m scared the kids will start talking about their mom dying and my son will get scared. That’s so selfish but he’s only 2.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Can someone help you build a plan of what you will say to your son if the other kids do start talking about their late mom?

        2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

          They very well may speak about their mother’s death, and only you know your child’s capacity for handling a situation like that.

          I would suggest doing the play date. I think it would be good for the kids, as well as your son. Children can always surprise us with their resiliency and capacity to handle things far outside of what we expect.

          However, before going, I would pay a visit to your local library and ask the children’s librarian for assistance with finding age-appropriate books on death and dying. Some I found through a quick browse include: Goodbye Sheepie (loss of a family pet); When Dinosaurs Die; and Rabbityness.

    5. A. Nonymous*

      I would absolutely donate to the fund and I echo the advice to see if anyone closer to her knows if there’s anything more that you could do. If you can’t help out elsewhere then maybe donate your time or something to a charity in her name?

    6. Intern Wrangler*

      One other idea would be to write a personal card with some remembrances, so that her children would learn more about her and about who she was at work and have something to look at when they get older.

      1. Jaydee*

        That is a good idea. As children, your coworker’s kids will hear those stories and know that their mom had friends at work who cared about her and they will know she did important, meaningful grown-up things. As adults, they will look back at those stories and see their mom as a full, multi-dimensional person.

    7. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I responded on another part of the thread of answers, but also wanted to say this for you, as well as everyone else.

      PLEASE, everyone, take the time to make a will, and have plans in place for if you die. Once you’re in your late twenties, you need to have a will. You need to have a place where you keep regularly updated passwords for everything from your Facebook to your bank accounts. You need to know how your family will pay for your funeral (at least $10K), and you definitely need to know what will happen to your organs if they’re viable.

      We never anticipate passing away at a young age, but when you see it happen so close to you, death becomes very real.

      My condolences, RVA. Don’t be hesitant to speak with someone if you need to!

  36. MAB*

    Any advice on how to politely tell an employee that things that she did 20 years ago, though important to her, are no longer relevant in today’s work force. I am not talking regulations or the like, more like the hours and the holidays she had to work.

    1. Me234*

      “When was that, Gwen? Oh, 1996? Wow. That was 20 years ago. A lot has changed since then. We do it this way now….”

    2. knitcrazybooknut*

      In a similar situation, coworkers and I referred to these stories as “This one time? At band camp?”

      1. Clever Name*

        I’ve actually said that to a coworker who was launching into some irrelevant story. They laughed. :)

  37. bb-great*

    Question on addressing employment gaps!

    I finished undergrad in May 2011 and was unemployed until I started grad school in August 2012. Then I finished grad school in May 2014 and didn’t find a job until January 2016. The first gap was wanting to work before grad school, and finding that a BA with little other experience was a tough sell. The second was the bad job market in my field, compounded by a recurring health problem that made me reluctant to take the standard advice of being willing to move cross-country for an entry-level position. (This health issue is under control now.)

    Good things: in both cases, I left my jobs just because I graduated and was no longer eligible for those positions and that’s clear from my resume. I also think I otherwise have a decent employment history for this point in my career, good references, and have twice been hired back by a former supervisor (internship led to student job, different student job led to the job I have now).

    Bad things: Two very long gaps and really nothing to show for them. I wasn’t doing the kind of professional development, etc things I could have been doing.

    The job I’m working in now is temporary and will be done by December at the latest. Hiring can take months in my field, so I’m looking now. I know I need to proactively address these gaps, but I’m not sure what kind of wording I should use in my cover letter. Advice?

    1. Laura*

      Say something like “I was unable to work during [dates] due to health issues which have since been resolved. I am especially excited for XXX opportunity because…”

      Just keep it vague, professional, and make it clear that you are no longer unwell.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        I wouldn’t mention anything about health issues in a cover letter. If you get an interview and they ask about the gap, that’s when I’d use this language. Unconscious bias is real, and talking about a long-term illness (even if you claim it’s now under control) could lead to someone questioning your ability to perform the job.

  38. Turanga Leela*

    Alison, I finally listened to your appearance on the Dear Prudence podcast, and I was so excited when I heard your voice! I hope this isn’t too weird to say, but I have a voice like yours: higher-pitched but not squeaky, a little breathy, very traditionally feminine. I sometimes worry that people won’t take me seriously at work because of it, and I’m so encouraged that you’ve been an effective manager with a soft voice.

    I’m not knocking either of our voices—I really like my voice and people have mostly responded well to it. I just don’t hear a lot of successful women who speak like me, and it was SO encouraging to hear.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I remember listening to one of Alison’s podcast interviews last year (??? something like that) and being surprised that she sounded nothing like she did in my head.

      I, too, have one of those voices.

    2. Anxa*

      Very similar here (well, have a very female, high pitched voice).

      My voice is so high; I feel like it doesn’t match my personality at all, for years I hated it. Plus, internalized misogyny and not wanting such a markedly gendered voice.

      I feel like I have to yell a lot (not scream, but like….really really work hard at sending my voice out into the world) just to order food at a restaurant, etc.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        People with hearing loss often have a lot of trouble hearing my voice. Something about the pitch of it makes it hard to hear. I am great at projecting if I’m in a professional context, but when I’m at home, people are always asking me to speak up.

  39. Don't say my name!*

    I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my job changing under a new manager, and going on a PIP because panic, etc., and asking for accommodations due to my math LD. I think I also posted (or maybe not) that I had also talked to my boss last week in a weekly check-in and she showed me the spreadsheets. It was data entry and the formulas were already set up, kind of like the one I’m working with now. I thought (and said) Okay, I can do that–it’s similar to what I’m doing now.

    Today, we had the meeting with HR and my boss to discuss possible accommodations, and I found out more about the requirements this position will need to take on. It’s not just the entry; it’s verification and analytics, which requires pulling the number data weekly and checking its accuracy for budget forecasting purposes.

    The latter of which I cannot do.

    They still want me to take the Excel training, and I’m fine with that–I said that it might actually be illustrative of what I can and cannot do, since I might be able to get to a certain point with it and then no further.

    HR said there was a tech editing position open, internally, which she was trying to find out more info on, and which I could apply for internally. Both she and NewBoss said it sounded right up my alley, and she read the short description and it sounded like something I could do. I don’t know for sure because But I would have to apply for it, and there is no guarantee I would get it. (I plan to apply anyway.) If I don’t, I will be unemployed because I cannot do this job the way they need me to. There is no accommodation because the person in the position will need to be the one who verifies the data. There is no other place I can work that pays what this place does in this area. It’s the gold standard for employers around here.

    I. Am. Screwed. Completely, utterly, 100% screwed. The nightmare is happening.

    Tl:dr So basically, there is no accommodation that will enable me to do what they want/need me to do, and I WILL lose this job.

    1. GOG11*

      I’m so sorry that you’re in this situation. I hope you can transition to the new role.

    2. SophieChotek*

      So sorry to hear that! I hope they can find a different role for you. Sympathy.

    3. Don't say my name!*

      Thanks. :(
      Just to clarify, I would have to pull data from the sheets for a weekly report, and check the numbers to make sure they’re correct. My LD precludes the latter; I can’t tell whether a total is accurate or not. If I did it by hand, I couldn’t be sure if it were accurate or not. Since the numbers go to corporate for forecasting, they HAVE to be accurate. It’s basically accounting shiz, which I have been trying to avoid (and thought I had).

      She said this is what they need the position to be able to do. So basically, I have to be able to do it–there is no someone else checking to see if it’s correct. It’s not just data entry, which I COULD do.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I’m a little confused here. Excel doesn’t screw up summations. Is it possible they’re just asking you to make sure individual numbers get put in the right spots? If it’s a sheet that pulls numbers from elsewhere and into formulas, and then only displays the output, then you can set up the spreadsheet in such a way so that you can see where each number is coming from, verify it against it’s source value, and then check the summation to ensure it includes all the values (by verifying all numbers are highlighted by the formula, not by redoing the summation yourself).

        It’s tough to explain without seeing the spreadsheet myself, but an Excel guru or power user could probably set you up with an accommodated spreadsheet. It might be worth hiring a consultant for an hour or two if there’s nobody in your office that can do this.

        1. Don't say my name!*

          As I said above, they still want me to take the Excel training, and I’m fine with that–I said that it might actually be illustrative of what I can and cannot do, since I might be able to get to a certain point with it and then no further.

          I cannot see if a total is correct. So I wouldn’t be able to tell if I mis-entered something on the spreadsheet from looking at the total–I might be able to if I spent an hour going over EACH! and EVERY! number. But even then, it’s not guaranteed to be accurate. If I make a mistake ANYWHERE, I don’t see it. It’s invisible. I doubt I’m going to have time to do that–the department I currently assist is very small, but we’re adding a shizload of people with this merge. Which will add to my workload and so far I’m the only admin.

          Anything other than basic math that does not include division, fractions, percentages (she emphasized this), and any kind of averages, etc., is extremely difficult for me. I told them exactly what I can do and how I would have to do things–with very detailed step-by-step instructions. But I don’t think that will help if they’re asking me to do something I’m unable to do with any degree of accuracy. (i.e. the percentages, etc.).

          NewBoss said the numbers are very important–corporate uses them for forecasting and they HAVE to be accurate. I can’t guarantee that, because I know from experience how difficult understanding even the most basic things can be for me.

          Analogy: it’s a choir and I’m a soloist, and they need someone who can hit all the notes. They don’t want William Shatner doing a tone-deaf recitative.

    4. Tau*

      I am so, so sorry. That is awful. :( I really hope the editing position pans out. I just – I’m furious on your behalf that they’ve changed your job out from under you to something your disability precludes you from doing and are now going “oh well, too bad” about it. You don’t deserve this.

      1. Don't say my name!*

        Thanks–I don’t know; maybe the training will help us find a way for me to do it. I told my boss this, but I also said I don’t want to promise it can, either.

        Well I wanted things to change in my life, but every time I ask the universe for that, or a door opens, it only opens onto a worse thing. :( Maybe this will be the good thing….

        *really wants to believe that but is just so tired of it all*

        1. Windchime*

          My prediction is that the Excel teacher will be an attractive single man who is looking for Ms. Right. Maybe that’s the door?

          Hang in there. Fingers crossed for the editing job.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Me, too. Scary stuff. Hang tough and know that a bunch of people are sending good vibes your way.

        1. Don't say my name!*

          Thanks, you guys.

          I hope this works out but there are no guarantees. If I have to leave and go back to front desk work I will fecking die. I hate it so much I can’t even stand to do it one hour a week. But maybe I’ll get the other job and then won’t have to (please please please please please).

    5. Windchime*

      Hugs, friend. I’m in a situation that’s not exactly the same but similar enough that I can relate to how you are feeling. It’s super scary and upsetting. Take the Excel class and apply for the other job; please know that your friends here are all supporting you and care about how this turns out for you.

      1. Don't say my name!*

        *hugs back* Thanks you guys. It means a lot that you care. The universe doesn’t seem to!

        I have NOT told my heli-mum* about this, because she has a friend who is an educational advocate and I really don’t like her–she kept creeping on me a few years ago–talking to me and fishing for info, etc. I think she wanted me to be her poster child for LD people or something. Ew ew ew ew. I finally had to ask my mum to call her off and stop talking to her about me. I’m afraid Mum will tell her if I say anything. I’m trying to handle it myself like an adult of my advanced age would!


  40. Susan C*

    Yay, finally managed to have decent timing with this thread! I’ve been trying for three months now to yell about NewJob :D

    You guys, it’s awesome. Thanks to everyone here for moral support and great advice! I really, really like the people, the work, and so far even the clients. I like that we’re all a bunch of big damn nerds, and that there’s a sense of cohesiveness through the entire company even though we’re spread out on three major locations on different continents (and a bunch of additional satellite offices), and many people travel or work from home a lot.

    I also like that they screen well (and I mean 4 separate in-person interviews for an entry level job well) and only hire people they know will have their heart in it, which means once you’re in, you’re given a lot of freedom and trust.

    I think the only worry I have is that a) eventually, I might have a hard time transferring to another company, because the role I fill now is not necessarily something very common, and b) my growth potential within the company is somewhat limited by my (un)willingness to relocate internationally.

    1. Camellia*

      And you never know, things change, and in the future you might be able to consider relocating.

  41. Caledonia*

    For those who have been following me:

    Still no job but I may be able to move, pending everything going through with the flat sale ok (I officially accepted an offer).

    But….I really want to travel for a month before moving and starting somewhere all over again. It’s just that there some really decent job opportunities up at the moment :(

    Oh, what to do?

      1. Caledonia*

        Now is the best time though I think. I’m not going to have this much money and opportunity again…I’ll see what I can work out.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Congrats on flat selling.
      Glad to hear you have decent job opportunities!
      (Could you interview and negotiate start date? I mean with moving, etc.? Two-three might be reasonable.)

  42. SNS*

    There’s a bit of drama going on in my office right now, and while I have no intention getting involved, I was curious to hear others’ thoughts. I have a very, very amazing boss (also the owner of the company) who caters lunch for the office (about 30 people) everyday. Our office manager is in charge of ordering the food and cleaning up afterwards.

    Recently she went on her honeymoon and my coworker took over her responsibilities for the week. He and our HR/accountant (owner’s sister) decided to reform the office manager’s system. They had a long conversation in our (mine and the coworker) shared office about how office manager ordered too much food and would take the leftovers home for her husband to bring in to his office the next day. Turns out ordering less food didn’t work out and they ended up having to run out for more.

    When the office manager returned she wasn’t surprised by their failed attempt, but HR/accountant told her she should stop taking the leftovers home in case people wanted to eat them throughout the week. Now our fridge gets full by Wednesday and everything pretty much gets tossed on Friday. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the office manager taking home the food as now it seems like it’s just going to waste, but I get the argument that the boss is paying to feed our office, not the office manager’s husband’s. What do you guys think?

    1. Me234*

      Does the boss give her permission to take the leftovers home? Boss is paying for it, I’d say that’s his call.

    2. Pwyll*

      We used to do this too (though nowhere near daily! Wow). Our system was: put it in the fridge overnight and at the end of the next day, whatever was left was up for grabs to take home. That gave coworkers the opportunity to have another lunch out of it if they wanted, but also wouldn’t waste food.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes, this. That eliminates the concern about ‘deliberately over-ordering food so as to take home’, and gives everybody a fair shot at the leftovers, without wasting food.

    3. Miss Elaine E-Us*

      My first thought is, “Where do I apply! The boss caters lunch? Every. Day? For 30 people?”
      Based on the post, I think all involved should be very wary of wrecking a very generous perk.
      Concerning what the policy, I don’t know. The office manager has taken on a pretty demanding role: feeding 30 people every day can’t be easy. Letting her take the leftovers doesn’t seem like too much to ask. However, if it’s to the point where she’s saying, “Honey! Will you want Filet Mignon or Duck A’L’orange for lunch tomorrow?” then there needs to be a change.
      Is the staff complaining about her taking the leftovers and not leaving it for everyone else? Or is the HR/accountant/owner’s sister questioning the expenditure? Are there limits as to what people can order?

      Wow! Catered lunch. Every. Day. My flabber has been gasted.

      1. SNS*

        I know! I feel insanely lucky I found such a great company to work for. Even if this perk got ruined I’d still love working there, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. They started it when the company was only a few people and luckily have continued it as the company’s grown.

        We have a schedule of restaurants and none of them are particularly fancy, nor does she ever order something she knows people in the office won’t eat. It’s like trays of sandwiches and salads, that sort of thing.

        I’ve never personally heard people complain, but according to coworker and the owner’s sister, people have. I think it was a combo of those complaints and the expenditure that made them want to reconsider how lunch was being handled.

    4. Nicole*

      Bottom line is as long as the boss doesn’t care, no one else should. I do like how Pwyll’s office would handle it, though. That way everyone feels like they had a fair shake at the leftovers but no food goes to waste. Either way, I hope it resolves itself without too much drama or the boss deciding it isn’t worth the hassle because that is very generous!

  43. raisedeyebrow*

    Hi, all! Long time lurker, first time poster. I’ve got kind of weird/good-ish situation that I’d like to get some opinions on. I’ve been working at my first professional job at a Fortune 500 company for about seven months now. I was hired straight out of grad school, and I have a master’s degree in a field that is tangentially related to the job I was hired for. I’ve been learning quickly and was put in charge of my company’s merit process (over 5,000 employees) whenever the person I was supposed to be shadowing/helping had a family emergency and ended up being out for that whole month. It was hectic and stressful, but I learned a ton and got a lot of valuable exposure to executives. That was three and a half months in.

    I was hired at $40k and negotiated a $3k sign-on bonus for relocation since I was moving from another state. After the merit process I was pulled aside by my boss and given a $6k (15%) raise with a short but heartfelt “Good work.” My job is project-based and kind of feast-or-famine. About six months out of the year are spent preparing for and working the two merit processes for my company, but I have learned that the other six are very, very slow. I’m in the middle of one of those very slow periods, so I don’t feel like I’ve done much of anything. I have a ton of free time that I try to spend productively, but overall I feel like a bump on a log. However, my boss pulled me aside again two weeks ago and gave me ANOTHER raise–this time $5k. I’m making 27.5% more than I was when I was hired seven months ago. I was (and am) bewildered, especially since my boss didn’t really give me any more feedback except, “You do good work.”

    I was so surprised and flustered the second time that I didn’t ask for any more information. I know that both raises were personally approved by our VP, so they’re above-board. Do I ask him what I did to deserve a second raise? Or am I just suffering from imposter syndrome?

    1. SophieChotek*

      Wow! congrats! If they are pulling you aside and giving you raises…I’d say you’re just suffering from imposter syndrome! congrats!

      1. raisedeyebrow*

        Thank you! I still feel so surprised! My boss is a direct report to our VP, and he mentioned that he, our VP, and our Sr VP have been “talking” about me, but he won’t give me any more details than that. I guess I’ll cross my fingers and hope that it’s more good news!

    2. NacSacJack*

      Take the money and run!!! (To Best Buy, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Macy’s) Whoo hoo!! 27% increase in 6 months. hmmmm, if that happened to me, I’d be at the Mercedes dealer or maybe the Mini dealership

    3. Reba*

      How does your current (or starting) pay align with the market rate for your field and location?

      At my spouse’s first professional job, he got a 50% raise after a few months! But, he was definitely underpaid at the start, and once it was clear that he’s actually really good at their stuff, the owners offered the raise (no ask or negotiation, just “we can see this is what you’re worth”).


  44. Kristine*

    Just coming here to rant and possibly get some advice?

    I work for a school district that is notoriously dysfunctional. Part of my job is to plan events for the students, and GOOD LORD is it stressful!

    The process of planning events is so convoluted and slow that sometimes I won’t be able to finish planning events in time for them to occur. I had to cancel a small event that I planned TWO MONTHS in advance because my supervisors didn’t get back to me in time for me to order the food.

    It’s also difficult to plan because we’re not informed of deadlines. For instance, the deadline to submit event proposals was June 17. I had no idea there even was a deadline until it was mentioned to me by another person while discussing an unrelated matter. (By the way, I went to this other person after my supervisors were unresponsive YET AGAIN. This person got me the info I’d been trying to get for 3 weeks in under 10 minutes.)

    So, anyway, I scrambled to get the proposals done and they were submitted. The first event I proposed is supposed to be happening on July 8; it’s July 1 and I have no idea whether it’s been approved…and I can’t make the reservation until after I know it’s been approved. And who knows if I’ll even be able to make the reservation; the district has a reputation for not paying vendors, which leads to many, many places refusing to work with us.

    I’ve started not informing the students of events until I’m 99% sure they’re going to happen, because I don’t want to disappoint them. Then we have to scramble to get permission slips and/or recruit students to attend the event. It’s stressful for everyone involved.

    Does anyone have any advice on how to change this? I think it’s a cultural problem within the district, so I’m not sure how much I can actually change about this. :(

    1. animaniactoo*

      Have you given a proposal deadline by which you must receive approval in order to be able to make the event happen? Giving them a deadline with logical reasons like “need 2 weeks notice to book a location, plus 1 additional week to notify students and collect permission slips” gives you something to push back against them with “I need to know the status of this approval”, and lets you assume that the event is not approved if you don’t get an answer and pull the plug on it before it gets to the scrambling to make it happen phase.

      It also gives you coverage when people ask why events aren’t happening.

      1. Kristine*

        This is a great idea; thank you!

        I’m doubtful that implementing deadlines of my own will change my supervisor’s actions; however, as you said, it will help to have a paper trail that proves I tried my best to plan events.

        It’s really a shame, too, because my supervisor’s incompetence means that the students are missing out on (I think!) great activities. :/

    2. KR*

      Since you seem to be the go-to event person, can you reach out to someone and point out the larger pattern about how the approval process for events makes it nearly impossible to do your job? Maybe the whole process for doing events can be revamped – and it has a good chance of happening if you can dream up a system for your supervisor/the principal/schoolboard to just approve.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      There is no point to having events planned if people are not going to work with you.

      Yet, I know what I see around me. It’s totally acceptable not to return phone calls/emails and so on. It’s almost like a cultural change would have to occur and it would have to come from the TOP person on down.
      I would start keeping notes of which events fail and why. You may find patterns and figure out work-arounds. You may be able to build a core group of people who do respond and get more success that way.

      I have seen schools totally ignore other groups in the community. I have also seen schools flagrantly disobey water conservation orders and other things from local government. The problems run deep.

  45. frequentflyer*

    I joined my new company 1 day before the cut-off for eligibility for bonus. During the HR presentation for bonus and increment computation, the HR guy mentioned that while bonus will be pro-rated for new hires, annual salary increment will not. During appraisal time, I hit all my expectations, my boss said he has no issues with my work at all, but he warned me that my salary increment would be pro-rated. (I didn’t question him at the time.) Then I got my letter from HR and saw a miserable increment ($50, like less than 1%). I thought, the company’s doing badly, maybe I should wait it out. I mentioned to my boss how bad the increment was, and he just remarked, “it’s too bad, this company is really strict about pro-rating the salary increment”. Then one of my colleagues from another corporate department (I’m corporate too) who joined at the same time as I did, mentioned that her increment was like 4% (not pro-rated). Now I’m really pissed. What should I do?! The original HR guy who did the presentation had left the company, there is no HR policy or slides of the original presentation. I asked my other friend in HR and she mentioned the percentage salary increment was instructed by my boss. I don’t know whether my boss or HR is lying to me. What should I do? I now feel extremely pissed off and unhappy.

    1. frequentflyer*

      For further info, when I joined the company, they did not meet my salary expectations. I’m wondering whether my boss did this to me because I never express displeasure about anything (e.g. Low salary etc) because I don’t like confrontation and I’m generally very pleasant to work with. Am I a pushover? I like to think I’m this way because I trust that I will be remunerated fairly. I fear he has a misconception that he is remuneration me well (just because I don’t complain) when the truth is, he is not.

  46. Crylo Ren*

    It’s killing me to say “thanks but no thanks” to recruiters who reach out with amazing-sounding jobs in the fields I want to break into and with the title I want. But I’ve only been in my current role for 3 months and there are a lot of things that I want to accomplish here. The things that I dislike about the job aren’t bad enough that I can’t commit to staying at least a year. Plus, I’m already taking active steps towards a career change so there’s my eventual exit strategy.

    But it’s hard having to turn things down when, if these roles had opened up earlier this year, I would have totally leapt at the opportunity without any hesitation. :(

    1. Susan C*

      Maybe twist it into “No thanks, but can I reach out to you in the future?” or some way else casually indicating interest in keeping in touch? So many people complain about not knowing where to start with networking, and that’s some prime opportunities right there :) (assuming the jobs are real and they actually read your profile before contacting you, you know how it is)

      1. SophieChotek*

        Good point!
        Plus showing you are committed to your job/fulfilling what you committed to might go over well with (most) recruiters???

        1. Crylo Ren*

          I’m hoping that’s the case! The vast majority of recruiters are very understanding and seem open to keeping the lines of communication going, which is nice.

          The silver lining about turning these down is that I can forward them over to my former boss, who is also actively looking for a new role due to impending layoffs, so it’s not a total loss if I can help her move to a new role as well. Just hurts a little bit when I realize that I kind of ended up in the less desirable position and am now stuck here.

    2. H.C.*

      Well, since the recruiters’ jobs to filled those empty spots ASAPs, so of course they’ll try to market it to you (and who knows how many other candidates) as amazing opportunities.

      That being said, I do second others in keeping the conversation open with those recruiters; you might even want to consider inquiring more about these opportunities, to see if those recruiters are honest in their job fit assessment or just overselling those positions to you (or, if the job is indeed so great that you might actually reconsider staying in your current role for at least a year.)

      1. Crylo Ren*

        That’s true. I’m trying to remind myself that the role I’m in now, which I dislike, was also marketed to me as a plum role. So who’s to say that it wouldn’t end up worse for me in the end?

  47. GOG11*

    A sick time etiquette/norms question. At my workplace, when I am out sick, or have an unanticipated or pre-planned doctor’s appointment, I just email the folks I report to and say I’ll be out of the office. If I have to leave unexpectedly (like I become ill during the workday – thanks, migraines), I email to let them know that, too. In none of these scenarios would getting permission be required.

    Lately (like for several several weeks) medical problems have seriously disrupted or completely prevented my sleeping. Is it reasonable to take unplanned (not for a doctor’s appointment) sick time at the beginning of the day? So far, I’ve just come in and toughed it out, but it’s leaving me further and further behind for sleep. I’m working with my doctor, and luckily I’ll be on vacation here soon, but I’m wondering how that sort of thing would be viewed. It seems like if I’m well enough to work, I should be well enough to work at *start time* and deciding to come in late just so I can get enough sleep would be like making my own schedule. Am I being overly rigid, or am I correct in thinking this would be unprofessional?

    1. Manders*

      When that happens to me I usually email when I’m awake in the middle of the night, so my supervisors can see the time stamp and realize that someone who was up at that hour isn’t fit to work. I don’t have the kind of supervisors who check email around the clock, though, so I might not do it if they would be woken up by an incoming message.

      1. Laura*

        It’s definitely important to know how your supervisors handle things like this. I get emails from my boss at all hours, and she’s not really good at understanding that MOST people actually sleep through the night. :/

        1. GOG11*

          I have only ever gotten emails from my supervisors during business hours. We’re not in a super fast-paced industry and there isn’t really a reason to work round the clock. My supervisors/bosses are pretty laid back, and express concern/show they care when I’m ill (as opposed to being miffed or anything but totally reasonable and understanding). I think I’m just thinking poorly from no sleep.

    2. Biff*

      In my office that would fly. “I’m sorry, I was up almost all of last night due to medication interaction/killer migraine/food poisoning and I won’t be in the office” is an email I probably get weekly. (Our team is 100 people, approximately, and we ALL get the email, regardless of which department they are in.)

      1. GOG11*

        That is totally acceptable in my office, too. What I’m wondering about (and probably phrased poorly due to my sleep-deprived state) is whether it would be OK to handle coming in late the same way. So say I am up at 3 am and can’t sleep, is it acceptable to say “Due to my being ill, I will be in at 10 a.m. tomorrow” if I’m supposed to start work at 8 (I don’t have variable hours/shifts). If I had a doctor’s appointment, it would be fine, but it feels like just coming in late so I can sleep is different.

        1. Biff*

          Nah, I wouldn’t call that ill. I’d simply say “due to unforseen circumstances, I’ll be in later today than usual. Approximately 10am.”

        2. Jadelyn*

          I’ve done something like that – got home from a vacation after delayed flights and didn’t get home until after 1, so I set an alarm for my usual time, then woke up, texted my boss “My flight was delayed and I wasn’t home until the middle of the night last night – I’ll be in around 11:00, see you then!” and went back to sleep.

          If your manager is solid, they’ll understand and would rather have you there and able to work to your fullest later, than have you butt-in-seat but borderline non-functional at the start of the day.

    3. LCL*

      You are being overly rigid. Sick time is for when you aren’t feeling well, and for appointments. I think a verbal discussion with your boss telling them you are having health challenges right now would help you.

      I am one of the first people to complain about misuse of sick time. But that is only when people telling me they are misusing their time, and they do tell me. ‘I can’t come in because I’m too sore from doing landscaping’ or ‘I can’t come in because I scheduled a non urgent appointment during my workday, even though I have 5 full weekdays off every two weeks’ or I saw a newspaper photo of them at a pro sports event that happened when they were out sick, are all things that have happened.
      But ‘I can’t come in because I am sick and didn’t get any sleep’ is totally acceptable.

    4. A. Nonymous*

      Do you have FMLA? Most good bosses are really understanding of this, but if you have someone over them that’s a jerk you may have to explain that you run late sometimes. You’re being overly rigid and I think that it’s really best if you can get the health issues documented.

      Take care of yourself.

      1. GOG11*

        My company does offer FMLA, but I have plenty of sick time. I just didn’t know if that was an acceptable use of it. I think I have 3 weeks (after having used a week and a day’s worth over the course of the year so far – which is more than I usually use).

        1. A. Nonymous*

          It is, and I would get FMLA anyway. It isn’t extra leave time, it’s protection for you from any sort of retaliation if you use it. :)

    5. GOG11*

      Thank you everyone. This is very helpful and makes me feel better about approaching adjustments if I need to when I return from vacation. I really appreciate it.

  48. Pwyll*

    So, I’ve reached the point where I’m completely sure I don’t want to be a privately practicing Attorney any longer. I never actually intended to go into private practice and it just sort of happened, so I’m looking to move back into a role as an HR Manager or some hybrid Operations/HR role. My pre-law experience is all jack-of-all-trades type work, including HR and IT management, and political/government/regulatory work.

    We’ve talked a lot here about Attorneys having difficulty applying to non-law jobs, and I’ve found that to be true. If you were hiring an HR Manager or Operations person, what would you want to see in a cover letter that would explain the change? Given the way my work experience has gone, I can’t scrub all of it off my resume entirely without a massive hole. I’ve been using some variation on “I’m looking to return to a more hands-on managerial role using my previous experience establishing HR departments for early-to-mid stage startups.” But I’ve received literally no bites.

    1. Aphrael*

      You might try applying for government work. Experience crafting and interpreting regulations can be a strong asset in mostly law-unrelated fields.

    2. Christopher Tracy*

      Try applying for HR and/or operations positions in the financial services sector where regulatory experience is highly regarded.

    3. Anonymous-at-law*

      This is disheartening to me because I would be interested in a similar sort of transition to non-law or law-adjacent work but don’t have any of the background experience you have. Is there a way to sell your practice experience as a value-added perk for those jobs? Like, have you been practicing employment law or doing regulatory work that might somehow translate into the types of work you’re looking for?

    4. Renee*

      You may not be coming back to check replies but there were two things that worked for me. The first was that I managed to get a temporary contract management position. It lasted about a year, but it gave me some non-litigation/corporate experience that I think helped in my job search by bridging the firm to corporation gap. The second was that I put together a version of the much-maligned functional resume, with a short chronology of positions at the bottom. I broke skills into sections that applied to different fields and translated how my legal experience applied. I listed things like interpreting laws, explaining legal principles to non-lawyers, writing, forensic work, etc. I know that this is not a preferred way of doing things but I think that people think they know what lawyers do, but they don’t necessarily know the foundational skills required. Despite this being the “wrong” way to do things, I started getting bites after I started using it, and I’m now working in the type of position it sounds you might like — I run the admin component of a small technical manufacturer. I do accounting, HR, export compliance, and regulatory compliance, along with other stuff that comes up. I took a slight cut in pay in the beginning but three years in I make what I did at my last firm job — with the tiniest fraction of the stress level.

  49. AnonyMouse*

    What can I do about a co-worker whose negativity is getting me down?

    My coworker (let’s call her Elsa) is about 10 years older than me, and while we are peers in terms of our job description, I do think of her as senior to me because she has so much more industry experience.

    For the past few months Elsa’s been increasingly using me as a sympathetic ear, complaining to me about other coworkers, our managers (various), ranting to me about a worker in another department who annoys her, and non work-related life events. She tends to see the glass-half-empty side of most situations and doesn’t listen when I try to gently point out the positives or deflect complaints about our boss (who I don’t want to be discussing behind her back!).

    Elsa is not totally unreasonable, we do have a difficult manager so I get where she’s coming from, but when I’m frustrated already and am expending a lot of effort to work with our manager productively, it’s an additional drag to have a stream of negativity in my ear.

    Any ideas on how to divert the conversation? Not possible to avoid Elsa since we work closely together. Also since I consider Elsa senior to me, it feels more awkward to ask her to stop.

    Alternatively, any ideas on how to not come across as a willing sympathetic ear in general? I acknowledge it is my nature — I am that person in my friend group (willingly) and she is not the only coworker who comes to me when needing to vent. I do want to be friendly and am glad that my colleagues think I’m trustworthy, but I don’t want to be the local rant repository!

    1. Jillociraptor*

      This is such a challenge! Try to stop doing the nodding-and-sympathetic-sounds thing. Some good phrases might be, “I try to keep a positive attitude,” “Interesting, what are you planning to do about that?” “How are you planning to deal with that?” or “Hmm, that’s a negative way to see it.”

      I think you could also try to be direct with something like, “You know, listening to others complain really bums me out. I need a break.” Though I think overly negative people and people who have gotten to this place due to difficult situations usually don’t have a lot of perspective on how irritating they are. Since you have to keep working with her, it might cause more of a blow up than is worth it. The little nudges might be more useful.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Those are really helpful ideas, thank you!!
        I will stick to nudges for now I think, she would probably take offense to the directness. (Also we are actually in different offices and a lot of the complaining takes place over phone or IM so it’s harder for me to say something more direct and temper it with a smile or sympathetic face.)

  50. Blue Anne*

    The Unethical Employer Adventures continue.

    This week I discovered that about six months ago, we double-billed a massive order of tea machines. Got one set of purchase orders, sent out two sets of invoices… and two sets of machines. For some reason I’m the first person to discover it even though more than a dozen places have unexpected tea machines. It looks like it was my boss’s mistake, and I’m working on putting it right for her. But – she wanted me to lie to the clients while doing so. Call up the tea shops and say hey, your bosses want us to re-route that spare tea machine to another tea shop. So they’ll “be more motivated to help”. Nope. Not doing it. Argh.

    Same boss has also turned down all of my requests for small things that would make up for our mistake for clients. We shipped the wrong thing, let them keep it and we’ll ship the right one. It’s under a hundred bucks. That kind of thing.

    I’ve had two calls so far just today from clients with unauthorized credit card charges. I have, at least, gotten my boss to agree that we need to start doing credit card authorization forms. I’m going to write our unethical collections policies into the terms on the forms so at least it’s legal.

    Other boss called me “the accounting girl” this week. Livid. Deciding how I want to deal with it the next time it happens.

    I’m job hunting.

    1. Caledonia*

      Oh Blue Anne, I’m sorry :(

      At least it sounds if you’ll have no regrets leaving it.

      1. Blue Anne*

        It’s strange because in some ways, it’s actually a good place to work.

        All my colleagues, including the bosses, are pretty friendly. I could make work friends here. And the two bosses are forgiving of mistakes, which is always good, and respect the knowledge and I’m bringing to the role. They *are* looking at my recommendations for things like credit card auth forms, inventory management, and so on. They understand that I’m devoting a lot of hours to sorting out screwups made by other people and they’re okay with that. I can bring them my concerns and they’ll be taken seriously, even if I don’t get the response I want. It’s probable that I really could improve how their business is run. So part of me is going to regret leaving. Partly because I’ll feel like I let them down, partly because if I do turn this place around it’ll be amazing resume fodder.

        But then they show really scummy behavior to our customers, and my only regret becomes leaving the customers to the mercy of these guys.

        1. neverjaunty*

          The customers will eventually move on to competitors. You’re in the position of dating the guy who’s charming to you but rude to the waiters – it shows he’s a crap person, no matter how nice he is to you, and eventually you’re going to be on the receiving end, even if you don’t know it yet.

        2. catsAreCool*

          You don’t want to work long term for people who are scummy to the customers.

    2. SJ*

      Ugh, my boss calls me the “Twitter girl” sometimes (though that’s like 5% of my job at most) and it drives me absolutely insane. I am also job hunting. Good luck on your search!

  51. K130*

    I have what I guess is a written screening interview. It’s a federal government position, the process is weird. When I applied for the job, I answered a bunch of questions about my general experience and then my specific experience with the systems that this position uses. Since I didn’t have any experience with their specific systems, the correct answer was either “no experience” or “education/training but no experience”. Since they are all familiar systems, I just haven’t had the opportunity to use them, I chose the latter. I am honestly pleasantly surprised I made the cut. So now my 15 question screening, the answers are supposed to be between 100 and 250 words, which turns out to be a lot of words (this comment is about 180 and I think it’s rambly). The first 5 questions are “describe your experience on {these systems I have never used}”. How do I say “I have no experience but have read everything available about it”? In 100 words? Or is the 100 words probably not important for the equivalent of “N/A”?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I would describe in more detail the reading you’ve done and in what context you’ve done it.

      It doesn’t have to hit exactly 100 words I don’t think, but don’t squander the opportunity to provide details about your knowledge.

    2. Aisling*

      I would do the same as Leatherwings. I once applied for, and was offered, a federal position where my answer for one question was “I have no experience with this, but I am willing to learn.” They’re asking all applicants those questions, so just make sure to tailor it to your strength, which sounds like it’s research about something you’re eager to use/do. And then I’d list why you’re so interested in doing that task, based on what you’ve read.

  52. Ang theSA*

    My husband year review for his new job is coming up in a month. His job duties have significantly changed and he the market value for the job he is doing is about 10000 to 15000 more than what he is currently making. Although the review is from his manager, she really has no idea what his job does and the majority of his assignments come from the EVP. His manager is notorious for never really going to bat for her people and with such a significant raise, my husband does not think it will be likely he will get it from her. Would it be totally taboo if after the initial negotiations he goes to the EVP if it is not what he wants? He is really underpaid and he has a great rapport with the EVP since he works with her often.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      I’m not sure how wise it would be to go over his direct manager’s head for a raise if she doesn’t give him one. Undermining your boss with her boss typically doesn’t end well, trust me.

  53. Biff*

    So, I am not sure if I’m looking for advice or vent space or what. I’ll take anything, I think.

    I’ve been conducting a long-distance job search. I am in the teapot tech field as a senior QA specialist. If your teapot has problems that will drive the end user mad I’m the person who finds those problems and helps you bring your design up to standards and get it out the door, defect-free.

    I have talked to several companies in Desirable Location, and I’ve had several suspiciously similar and very bad experiences. The first place sounded really professional and up-and-coming on the phone. When I got there, it was full of 40 year old men who were trying to look 23 (think skinny jeans with ‘vintage wash’ tees and cheap blazers over the top of the tees), and three token blond women who were all much younger than the male employees and dressed very differently. The dynamic in the office was very awkward, to say the least. And they had DAILY NERF BATTLES. Daily. In fact, they even started at a specific time. Open office, no cubes, no walls, except for the bosses. The women were actually stationed in hi-vis desks, as though this would make up for the lack of diversity.

    Second interview. They spent a tremendous amount of time telling me about the company culture this time. They wanted me to work 70 hour weeks until they got their teapot testing rig up to speed. They expected me to come in all seven days. The office was, again, open office with no cubes, no walls. But with the added bonus of over 20 dogs in the office each day. And they were also allowed on the production floor. (Which sounded like a total safety violation to me.) When I explained I had a light sensativity, they told me that they really didn’t think they could bring me on because they didn’t know where they could put me in the building where I could have an open desk and a still avoid overhead lighting. I explained that I could ‘tent’ my desk, and they felt that would be far too isolating…..

    Third interview: They asked me two questions: how did I work with people who didn’t understand the basics of their jobs, and how did I work with openly hostile people. Then they spent almost 35 minutes telling me about their unique office culture. This is about to sound unbelievably, but…. they encourage everyone to bring their dogs, children AND SPOUSES to work. They admitted that a dog recently got sick and vomitted/pooped all over. They have nerf battles AND a ping pong tables. And they told me that everyone pretty much socializes with coworkers. Oh, and it’s an open office concept with no walls, no cubes. Oh, and they have a straight ‘biz’ dress code. (So yeah, nice pants around 15+ dogs and who knows how many sticky fingered children…. what?) There’s more, but I don’t want to out them quite yet. Let’s just say that the fact that it escalates from there has my jaw on the floor. They told me that they’d like to bring me in to help them bring some professionalism to their Teapot Testing department.

    I’m somewhat terrified that the next place I apply will require me to show up in clown clothes and sing stupid songs before onboarding with the team. Or something equally horrible.

    No, I’m NOT applying in California, just in case anyone asks. What is going on with office culture? Seriously, I don’t understand. Am I somehow triggering these crazy companies to be interested in me, or is this the way offices are going? As an introvert who isn’t terribly fond of people these places sound like hell on earth to me.

    1. Biff*

      And yes, I realize this sounds fake as all get out. I’m incredibly aware of that. But this is really happening, and I have no idea what to think or do. I realize that the business world seems to be gaga for startup culture, but this is ridiculous.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Doesn’t anybody remember going through this during the last tech bubble, where there was a competition to see who could have the zaniest office stuff, and then all of a sudden everybody found out that foosball leagues are less important than actually turning a profit?

        I’m sorry you’re dealing with this nonsense. Avoid startups?

        1. Biff*

          I’ve already been avoiding startups. Several of the businesses I spoke to basically said that they’d spent extreme amounts of money to rebuild themselves in the image of startups. :/

            1. Lily Evans*

              That does sound scarily close. The last one basically describes the episode where they brought Ben in to try to somehow figure out their finances.

            2. zora.dee*

              Your one-stop-shop for public relations, marketing, or anything having to do with reaching out to people, communicating effectively, and other desirable abilities.

              And over here is our office tiger.

    2. Pwyll*

      I hate painting entire industries this way, but I feel like this current generation of tech companies way overthinks the “fun culture” part and waaaay downplays the actual, you know, working part.

      1. Biff*

        I quite literally have no idea how you’d work in an open office full of dogs, children, uncomfortable pants, nerf darts and stray ping pong balls. Seriously, how? HOW? I have friends with the most severe form of ADHD out there and they have to have overstimulation to focus, and this would be overkill for them.

      2. Biff*

        Okay, honest question. You say upthread that you do HR for mid-sized startups. To me, these setups sound like an HR Nightmare that has already started and isn’t being dealt with. It’s not waiting to happen, it’s already in motion. How do you feel about it, though? I know little about HR.

        1. Pwyll*

          I used to do that with startup professional services and non-profits. Everything matters in balance: one of the neatest startups had decorated the main office area more akin to a living room, with TVs and food and couches, etc. They also had a very liberal alcohol policy. But everyone had a private office except the intern/receptionist. We could hang out, talk, drink, whatever, but you were out of there if your job wasn’t getting done, and in the busy season that included nights and weekends. It worked, but I think only because everyone was highly specialized and very senior (think a variety of accountants, doctors and lawyers. Very, very little support staff).

          IMO this kind of playground can work so long as there are explicit policies in place regarding how and when performance is measured, boundaries for people trying to get work done, and rules for what types of behavior are absolutely not allowed. And all of the supervisory/managerial staff need to be on the same page about enforcement of those standards. But this really only works in results-oriented jobs (as in, performance measured by completion of entire projects or project milestones), and it gets extremely more difficult to manage in any type of workplace with a wide variety of jobs. Sure, this might be great for your salespeople and coders, whose performance is measured based on number of sales/lines of code, but it would be absolute hell for your admin/compliance/QA/writing staff, who need to concentrate and whose performance is measured in final projects. Unless you segregate the areas where this type of work is being done, but that has its own headaches.

          IMO, in most businesses, if you want to do this type of thing just have a large, awesome break room. Don’t turn your -office- into the break room.

          1. Anxa*

            “IMO, in most businesses, if you want to do this type of thing just have a large, awesome break room. Don’t turn your -office- into the break room.”

            I share your opinion.

            It was be so cool if larger offices had a socialish breakroom and maybe a little respite room for quick naps or just to lay down (I’ve been having back pain lately, this would be a godsend for my productivity) for a few minutes.

        2. Pwyll*

          I’d also add: I would be shocked if most of these places you’re applying have professional HR people. Many startups focus on hiring their line personnel almost by happenstance or by leaving it all up to their venture partners.

          Lots don’t think they need an HR department because the end goal is to be acquired, and the parent company will handle all that stuff later on. What most of these companies don’t realize is that Google and Facebook get to make these zany offices because they can literally choose to hire only the 100% highest quality professionals anywhere in the world and can lavish gifts on them in order to keep them working insane hours. Your startup, no matter how awesome, doesn’t have 1/1,000 of those resources.

          1. zora.dee*

            Also, from what I know personally from the big companies you mentioned, the “fun” stuff really only got used after work hours. People would start drinking and playing games at the end of a 9 hour work day. Which to me is a whole other problem, because of the expectation that people want to spend their entire lives at their work place, because it’s FUN. But they aren’t playing ping pong all freaking day! It’s something you are expected to self-police because you are expected to get your work done first, and then you can spend the rest of your personal time hanging out at the office and playing with your coworkers.

            tl;dr; You’re Doing It Wrong.

            1. Pwyll*

              Ugh, this.

              Even better, one of my first jobs was at a telecom company in a call center. We had the most amazing, huge break room filled with board games and ping pong and TVs and video games in an effort to make the company “hip”. And the best was: I literally never, ever saw anyone use them. It just wasn’t done. I think if you’d tried to use them at some point you would have received a notice that you weren’t “fitting the culture” at review time. Especially because we had hours upon hours of optional overtime available, so why are you playing games?

      3. Honeybee*

        One of the things I like about my tech company is that it’s an older-gen tech company and thus has toned that waaaay down. I don’t need a slide or nap pods at work, thankyouverymuch. (From what I hear, the early days here were like that, but we’re too big for it now. And I deliberately avoided startups when I was looking.)

    3. Crylo Ren*

      You have my sympathies. I’ve worked at 2 companies now with startup culture and both times I hated it and only stayed slightly past a year. I honestly miss working at the stodgy, long-established companies the most because their culture and atmospheres were the best fit for my personality. (For the record, I AM in California, so it might just be the way offices are going here. Yeah, there’s a reason I’m seriously considering a career change that is more conducive to working from home.)

      1. Biff*

        I am presently in Cali and trying to leave. I’m in import, and I’ve accepted that I’m never going to be comfortable here. I do think it’s the way things are going here, for sure. I am also looking for remote work.

      1. Biff*

        Alison, my plan is to just send them a nice email over the long weekend that says something like “I so appreciate your time but I feel I am a poor fit for your team and would not be productive in the office environment as described.” If you’d like, I’ll happily send you a more detailed run down of how this interview went. You could run it as a “how not to attract top talent’ letter or something. Would that work?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          OH! That makes much more sense. I didn’t realize that either. In that case, maybe not quite as well suited for a horror story letter (I was thinking/hoping it was all the same company). Entertaining nonetheless though!

          1. Biff*

            I am pretty sure this is still very, very much in Horror Story territory. :( I’ll send it along as promised and at the very least, you can have a good laugh at my expense.

          1. Biff*

            Right? I’m stunned that there are more than a few companies that feel this is a sensible way to run a business.

      1. Biff*

        I do however understand your confusion — in my effort to not take up too much space, i didn’t make it as clear as I could have that these were three different horror shows.

  54. Collarbone High*

    A heartfelt thank you to the commenters who suggested B12 deficiency in last week’s question from the LW struggling to find enjoyable work. I’ve been plagued by lightheadedness, fatigue and odd memory lapses over the past few months, and a light bulb went off when I read those comments. I went to the doctor this week and yep, my B12 levels were way too low. I got an injection and started on supplements, and already I feel a bit better. Thanks, y’all!

    1. Manders*

      That’s wonderful! I totally remember that moment of, “Hey, I can concentrate again!” when I got my vitamin deficiencies sorted out.

    2. Sorry for the unsolicited medical advice*

      If you’re taking oral supplements, be sure to ask your doctor about being re-tested – some people can’t absorb B-12 when taken orally. If you start to feel like you’re having more symptoms a few months after having the injection, in spite of taking the oral or sublingual B-12, ask about the possibility of pernicious anemia which means you would need the B-12 injected. (I used to have to go to the doctor’s office for this but after a few years I started doing it at home, every six weeks.)

      1. Collarbone High*

        This is very definitely a possibility since I also have Crohn’s disease. We’re giving the supplements a try (I don’t love the idea of lifelong injections), but this is a good reminder for me that I need to be honest with myself and my doctor about whether the supplements are working. This is one case where I welcome the unsolicited medical advice!

        1. Sorry for the unsolicited medical advice*

          Glad it was helpful! I know what you mean about the injections, but neurological issues are so problematic that is worth it. And B12 symptoms are so easy to miss for other issues – everyone forgets stuff! Everyone is tired!

          I didn’t think so in the beginning but now I like an injection every 4- 6 weeks more than another pill every day, but I agree its a drag either way. Newly discovered health issues are always a rough adjustment to my mental picture of myself.

          1. Collarbone High*

            This was the biggest reason I’m so grateful for the comments. I was dragging my feet on having a conversation with my doctor because individually, each symptom is so nebulous. Lightheadedness could be anything from standing up too fast to a brain tumor. Fatigue? Well yeah, I work a lot. I was debating with myself whether this was just my new normal once I hit 40, and did I really want to go through rounds of tests over being lightheaded, and would a doctor even care?

            It made a huge difference to be able to say “I have these five symptoms, I have Crohn’s and don’t eat a lot of meat, can you check my B12?”

  55. not a cog in the corporate machine*

    I don’t work in the corporate world so I’d love feedback on whether what my spouse is experiencing is normal. His huge company is reorganizing, and at the same time, a senior person whom he used to work for in his old department (let’s call it Department A) left the company. He was asked to take on that person’s responsibilities and has pretty much shifted into that job full-time, though he still handles some of his previous job in Department B. it’s a lot more responsibility and the person he replaced was 2 levels above him. They are re-structuring everything and so it’s not clear where that role will fall in the new structure. He still technically reports to his boss in Department B, just because no one knows whom he’ll report to in Department A because of the overhaul.

    The major issue is–he’s gotten no raise or title change for doing a job 2 levels higher in a different dept! His boss in Dept B acknowledges that this needs to happen, but he’s reluctant to keep nagging Boss about it because, according to him, there are 400 other people whose jobs are similarly in limbo, and Boss is still waiting to hear decisions being made from above by the corporate overlords. But what’s he’s doing is particularly important and also something no one else wants to do (he’s earned a reputation for handling that kind of stuff with grace and skill) and so I really think he can push on this.

    FWIW, this is his second career and so it’s not like he’s been in this corporate world for 15 years–so he himself is a little unsure of how to proceed. I’m kind of going nuts because we really need to do some financial planning and knowing what/when this raise will be is kind of essential.

    Is this stuff normal for giant corporations and how do people handle it?

    1. Biff*

      IMO, Mission creep without pay creep is terribly, terrible common. It’s wrong. But it’s common.

      1. not a cog in the corporate machine*

        Ugh. But would it be such a faux pas for him to push on it? I feel like they will start taking for granted that he is doing the job for this pay rate. I mean, this would be as if I started doing the job of my boss’s boss for the same salary!

        1. Biff*

          I’m presently pushing very gently for a raise due to a mission creep myself. I don’t have an answer for you and I’m sorry about that. In some industries it’s a huge no-no. In mine it’s just iffy.

      2. Bigglesworth*

        I’ve never heard the term Mission Creep before, but I agree it’s common (especially in companies going through a reorg in my experience). I don’t work in a corporate setting, but I do know it’s very common in the school I work in. I’ve been pushing for a raise for six months and although my boss will acknowledge that I do so much more than what my job is, I probably won’t be getting a raise.

  56. Not Me*

    I’ve posted here before about how bad things are at work. Things came to a head on Tuesday; I was taken to a meeting in HR with my boss and grand-boss to talk about my attitude. Apparently the main complaint is that I said on one day that my plate was full and I was at capacity; then a few days later, I offered to help someone who needed help on an issue. So that meant I was “picking and choosing”. I’m also accused of not participating in team meetings while simultaneously shutting down conversations.

    I am absolutely gutted. This is all on top of me struggling with a debilitating health issue and I just am so upset and disappointed. I’ve applied for FMLA and am praying that the paperwork goes through soon. I need a break. I’m so disappointed; this new management team leaps immediately to the nuclear option whenever there is any kind of a blip in the team dynamic. They are ruling by fear and harshness. I’m sick about possibly having to leave my job because it’s a good company and a good team, but I don’t see how I can be successful here any longer.

    Words of encouragement and advice would be welcomed.

    1. Dawn*

      Fuck ’em. They’ve played their hand, it’s a really crap hand, and the only thing you can do is keep your head down, look for another job, do the bare minimum you need to get by, and leave ASAP.

      Also, if your company allows your management to be that ridiculous, THEY ARE NOT A GOOD COMPANY. Drill that into your head. There are real, actual good companies out there that also have good teams but don’t have the crappy stuff you’re having to deal with right now- take this long weekend to relax, mentally stick your currently company inside a Dyson sphere (Google it), and then go find one!

      1. Not me*

        It is a really crap hand. And you know what….you’re right about the management. I thought that my long history of being a valued employee and working hard and being kind to my teammates might mean something but it really doesn’t. Not here. It’s so upsetting. Thanks for your kind words, Dawn.

        1. Dawn*

          Yup, extremely upsetting! But there’s always people out there that’ll just take take take and never give anything back in return, and unfortunately, your managers seem to be those people. I PROMISE there are companies that would love to have you working hard for them and who would happily reciprocate by working hard to keep you!

    2. Biff*

      I had this boss/management for four years, and frankly it stemmed from the fact that my boss was an ass and wasn’t going to change. Anyone who accuses you of mutually exclusive faults is very likely showing abusive tendencies. Like most toxic relationships, it’s not something that can or should be salvaged. Now, it’s possible that what they are saying is genuine, but so poorly worded as to be un-actionable by you. In which case, that’s also kinda not your issue. No one can fix a problem that isn’t clearly stated.


      1. Not Me*

        Biff, that’s exactly how it feels — un-actionable. I don’t deny that there have been some problems and I don’t deny that I always have room for improvement (don’t we all?). Toxic is a good word; in the four years this management team has been in place, five people have been fired or quit under duress; two more of us are on the brink. This is on a team of about 12 people. Those aren’t great numbers.

        1. Biff*

          I’m going to strongly suggest that it’s not you. If you’ve lost nearly half your team, and are shedding more shortly, then it’s likely not an individual employee problem at this point. I’m not saying individual employees aren’t contributing, but more than the reason the company has problem employees or employee problems is poor management.

  57. Bigglesworth*

    Hey everyone!

    I have a question for anyone who has pursued a grad degree overseas (I’m based in the USA). How did you do it? What were some things that you wished you knew before you started?

    I’m currently looking at grad schools in the UK, Germany, and Belgium (I have others, but those are my top three). My spouse is game to go anywhere, so that’s not really an issue. I want to do this before I start a family, but I’m stuck as to what schools I should consider (I want to study international law or international relations), what they look for, funding, etc.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Cb*

      I’m American and did my MA in Eastern Europe and my PhD in the UK where I live now. It’s a great experience but can be tough for funding (I’ve never really heard of MA funding for people not from developing countries). I have a friend who did an international relations degree with a placement in Paris that sounded amazing. Visas for partners might also be quite complicated.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Thanks for sharing! It’s good to hear of another American going to school in Europe. What was your reasoning for studying in Eastern Europe and then the UK? I’ve been concerned about the logistics of it. Applying, moving, My partner works in the electrical field, but he has a music/recording technology background and is looking at getting his own MA in Technology to help with his goals. We’re hoping that we both get accepted and that it might make getting visas easier.

        Out of curiosity, what is your specialty? And are you teaching with your PhD?

    2. Foxtrot*

      What do you want to do after the degree? I started out wanting to work on international law before switching to engineering. (Weird switch, I know.) Understand that a lot of the international law and relations positions here in the US are appointed (I’m not good at playing the politics game, hence the career change) and will probably require you passed the bar. Going overseas sounds nice, but you’ll miss out on a lot of the political elbow rubbing that the US-based students will have.
      If you want to teach, that’s a whole different ball game that I know nothing about.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Hey Foxtrot,

        I love teaching and am currently working in higher ed. There is a large part of the work I enjoy (working with students, teaching, helping improve programs, etc.), but I don’t think I realized how political this field is. It’s really making me question whether or not I want to continue. There are a lot of things I like, but I don’t like how some of the faculty treat the staff. It’s frustrating.

        My entire undergraduate degree was focused around international human rights/nonprofit law. I still find it fascinating. I just took the LSAT in June and got a score of 157. If I go that route, I’ve been thinking about pursuing a JD/Master’s of International Relations.

        1. Foxtrot*

          I’m not sure how political the academia side is as that was never really my interest. I meant that I wanted to *practice* international relations, not teach it. Jobs in embassies, the ICJ, and other government organizations are a lot of who you know. You could probably work in international business relations or a non-profit, though. What I don’t know is if you’re eligible for the bar with a foreign law degree. That might be something to ask lawyers.
          I actually ended up doing engineering for the US government, so the political background has helped. It’s the elected politicians who decide our funding and it’s nice to know how they think.

        2. Foxtrot*

          I guess I would just parrot what Alison always says on this blog: think about what it is you want to do with the degree after graduation and then decide if it’s the right path. Living abroad for a few years could be an adventure in itself, but you don’t necessarily need to take on loans to do it. Plenty of businesses send US citizens abroad on assignments.

          1. Bigglesworth*

            Ah. I understand what you meant by political.

            Personally, I believe that there is a lot of value to be gained from living abroad and getting out of your comfort zone. If I pursue a degree in international relations, I feel like earning my degree in a different country will give me a different perspective if/when I work in the government or academia.

            I’m pretty sure that if I stay in the States for my degree, I will end up taking loans anyway. Between my savings, scholarships, and lower tuition, I’m hoping that won’t be the case if I go overseas.

            .I’m also watching the exchange rate to see if the dollar becomes stronger than the Euro or the pound. Depending on what ends up happening, my decision to study overseas may change.

            I’m also not planning on starting a grad program until Fall 2017 at the earliest. My job is uncertain right now (I’m the letter writer from the religious higher ed question that was posted on March 30). I’m job hunting too and if I get a new job soon, I’ll stay in it for at least two years before I start a grad program.

            All in all, life is very interesting right now.

            1. Honeybee*

              There is a lot to be gained from living abroad, especially if you want a career in IR. But graduate school is also a professional training experience, and your goal is presumably to find work afterwards. If you want to work in the U.S. and/or for U.S.-based employers, it may make more sense to seek a degree at a U.S.-based university. They tend to have the best career and alumni networks stateside, and also have overall better reputations amongst employers in the U.S. that value prestige (and academia is one of those areas that values prestige).

              You also might check out hybrid programs that allow you to spend one year abroad and one year in the U.S., and get the degree from a U.S. university. There’s a Columbia University/Sciences Po program in international affairs that allows that, and a couple of related programs at American University and Georgetown that do too.

    3. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      I did my masters in the UK.
      -I had a specific sub-specialty I wanted to study
      -I did a google search on said sub-specialty on English-speaking European countries
      -I refined the search, looking for where scholarships were offered.

      Then I applied to 3-5 schools of the sub-specialty, all of which offered scholarships. All were so much more affordable than anything in the US ($29k versus $200k) and there was free healthcare which was pretty awesome too :)

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Hey Carmen! Your process sounds a lot like what I’m doing right now. I’m still figuring out where to look for scholarships though.

        One of my big things is that I don’t want to end up like a lot of my peers – thousands of dollars in debt and not being able to pay it off quickly. It’s one of the reasons I’m looking overseas for a degree instead of staying here (that, plus I miss living in Europe to be honest).

        How did you find your scholarships? Were they all provided for by the schools you applied to?

    4. Susan C*

      In case of law, I’d probably have to warn you away from Germany – it’s one of the fields where our system just doesn’t have the undergrad/grad split like you know it (and that’s been spreading here too), but rather a continuous 5-6 year program that starts the moment you step into university and ends, iirc, not with a JD but the rough equivalent of the bar exam.

      International relations, however! (Or, you know, if there’s a law program that can accomodate you, which may certainly exist)
      – let location feature heavily into your choice. For example, LMU is a great uni from all I know, and Munich very beautiful, but do not go there unless you’re made of money. It’s not *that* good to make going into debt over cost of living worth it. OTOH, traditional uni towns like Heidelberg and Göttingen are great to live in, but the market for affordable housing is horribly crowded.
      – I can’t speak to the reputation of specific programs as it’s not my field, but, that’s the point really – always judge programs on a case by case basis, and don’t just go by the acclaim of the uni as a whole.
      – location, encore: if I were you, I’d probably look for something near the western border (maybe Saarbrücken or Aachen), because you might enjoy being able to just hop over to Brussels, Maastricht or The Hague for a day trip. Never underestimate how small Europe is! ;)

      Good luck!

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Thanks for that insight, Susan! I used to live in Vienna and loved how easy it was to travel all over Europe! I’ll start looking at schools on the western border and see if there are any that would work for me. :) If I studied law, I probably would stay here in the US. I know that I also want to get aMasters in International Relations and the cost/time it takes to earn one in Europe is a factor that I’m taking into account. Plus, I miss living in Europe. :)

        Too many of my friends went straight into grad school after earning their undergrad, but didn’t even think to look at international programs. As a result, they now have that much more debt to pay off. I graduated without debt and would like to keep it that way by saving up and making smart decisions.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      My field (in the physical sciences) is very international, so lots of people go abroad for grad school. Generally, they don’t accept foreign students without an offer of funding, but I suspect that varies wildly with subject.

      I do know that Taiwan offers full scholarships that provides a year of intensive Chinese studies, and if you pass the exam, a master’s or bachelor’s degree (depending on your education level) at a local university, which might be appealing for international relations.

      Visa wise, generally you can’t work on a student visa, or only in specific on-campus jobs. Spousal visas might be tricky and, in my experience, probably won’t allow him to work, so you’d either have to live off your funding, or your savings if there is no funding, or he’d need to independently get a work visa, the ease of which varies wildly with country and area of expertise.

  58. straws*

    How risky is it to post a resume to a job site like Indeed or Monster? I really want to put my resume out there for others to find, but my boss doesn’t know I’m looking. I don’t recall him ever using that type of service for hiring, we’re not currently hiring, and if we do hire anyone in the near future it’s unlikely to have anything to do with my job. But, I can’t imagine him reacting well, so it makes me pretty nervous.

    1. Leatherwings*

      Don’t do it. Those services rarely work (great employers rarely go looking there for great candidates), you get a TON of spam, and there is a definite risk your boss will find it or someone will send it to him. It’s not worth it.

      Just apply to job postings instead.

        1. straws*

          Yes, viewing the listings is what I’m doing now. I didn’t want to leave an option unused if it would be helpful, but it sounds like it won’t be. I will keep on with my search!

    2. Laura*

      It’s risky. Don’t do it unless you’re desperate. Anyone can find it. I wouldn’t worry so much about your boss seeing the resume, but you’ll get spammed by employers you don’t want to talk to and recruiters who try to head-hunt you for all sorts of positions that might be unrelated to what you do.

      1. straws*

        I’m probably inching toward desperate, but hopefully I won’t get to the point where I’m inviting (more) spam into my life! Points taken. Thank you!

    3. Joanna*

      Unless you have very specific, very in demand skills, I suspect your odds of being found by a good employer on a site like that are very low

  59. taylor swift*

    For the last 8 months, I’ve been tasked with picking up a coworker for work and driving her home at 3:30 (my day ends at 5). She lives just a few blocks away from me (and the office) so it feels petty to complain but it’s messing up my morning routine, and 3:30 is generally when I’m at my busiest, and she always interrupts what I’m doing to get a ride home. She doesn’t drive and her husband has medical problems so in the beginning it was to help her out a bit, but this has been going on since November.
    She treats me like a chauffeur and it drives me crazy. I’ve talked to my boss about it several times but it’s always “that’s just how she is, we’ll talk to her.”
    I’ve asked that others contribute so that’s been helping a little bit and I only have to pick her up twice a week now but it’s still so annoying to me and makes me so crabby.
    She also weighs at least 300 pounds and it’s causing a lot of wear and tear on my car (the bottom scrapes going in and out of the parking lot, and the side of the car is weighed down when she’s in it.)
    I don’t want to do this anymore but it feels very petty since it’s not really her fault that she’s heavy or that her husband can’t drive her any more, but at the same time she’s an adult and should figure out how to get to work on her own.

    1. SophieChotek*

      If it has become part of your job description, you might be out of luck?
      Although if 3:30 is your busiest time, could you talk to your manager about the timing? (Why does her day end earlier than yours?) She will just have to wait and bring a book?
      Or if she lives only a few blocks away, could company work something out?

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          We have no idea why she can’t walk, and it’s none of our business (or the OP’s). For whatever reason, this has become one of her tasks.

          1. Biff*

            I am going to have to disagree with you there. This seems to stem from an idea that people can’t walk to get around outside.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              No. You are assuming that it stems from that. But we don’t know: where the office is located, whether there are safe sidewalks, what the whether is like, if the woman has a disability, etc.

              The OP may chime in and answer these questions, but that doesn’t change the fact that we don’t (at this time) know what’s up.

              1. taylor swift*

                Her limiting factor is that she’s 300 pounds. As far as I know, she has no other disabilities. It’s an easily walked neighborhood, and the distance is probably 6-7 blocks. I have walked to work before (live about 8 blocks away) and am no longer really able to because of my ride responsibilities. However, due to her size I don’t necessarily think that asking her to just walk is an option – or at least, it’s certainly not my place to say it.

                1. Biff*

                  Whoa whoa whoa…. you are specifically bringing your car to work so you can provide a ride, not because you need it there???? This is way out of bounds. WAY!

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Why not just say “I’m no longer going to be driving to work, so as of next Wednesday, Jane will need a different arrangement.”

                  If they ask why, it can be because your car is breaking down and in need of major work, or your spouse needs it, or you’re selling it, or this is the one time of day you can get exercise, or pretty much anything you can come up with. You’re just no longer driving to work, period.

                3. Sadsack*

                  I think I’d start walking to work and take myself out of the driving pool. If they demand you drive her, you should be claiming mileage or getting some other reimbursement.

                4. Artemesia*

                  I can’t imagine driving 8 blocks to work unless you are transporting heavy stuff. That is barely exercise. I would stop driving immediately. First send your car to the shop for a week — the frammis and the krunkle are shot and being replaced. Maybe it takes a second week. Then let the boss know at the end of that week that you are not going to be driving your car to work anymore so Whosis will need to make other arrangements. And pretty clearly the co-worker needs to be making that walk for herself if it is possible and it sounds though it is, although not our call of course.

                5. Anon for this one*

                  I am currently clocking in at 321, and I still walk more than 2 miles in a day. Weight really should not be an excuse.

                  And just bless your HEART for driving your car to work just to tote her around! I love Alison’s response.

          2. sparklealways*

            Sorry, I disagree….

            OP has been “tasked” with this, but it is not necessarily an official part of her job. It may have been her boss saying, “Hey, taylor swift, can you give Jane a ride until she gets an alternate plan to get to the office?” which everyone expected would just be a temporary month or so long situation, so OP agreed and now it has become 8 months and nothing is being done. OP has every right to be frustrated and upset.

            If she is physically able to walk, just choosing not to, it is 100% the OPs business. It’s HER TIME AND HER CAR!! OP is being way too accommodating.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Goodness. It’s always a mystery to me which letters end up getting people up in arms.

              I asked above, but we don’t actually know how this task came to the OP. It could be that you’re right, that it wasn’t supposed to be a regular part of her job. In which case, sure, she should go ahead and bow out of it (… but she shouldn’t be as outraged as you seem to be; she can say no and go on with her life). But it’s also entirely possible that her boss has decided this is a good use of her time. She can push back on that and ask for help to make it more reasonable for her, but her boss is allowed to make that call.

              1. Carissa*

                Honestly curious question: You think it’s reasonable for the boss to order OP to pick-up and drop-off another coworker? Why is it OP’s job to do this? OP is having to use HER car (not a company car) and it’s causing wear and tear on HER car.

                OP- are you getting paid mileage and a sum for wear and tear? I don’t see how a boss can order an employee to pick up and drop off a coworker because they can’t figure out how to call a cab, a friend, a relative or something. If my boss ordered me to do this, I would be pissed off and start looking for another job.

                1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  Sure; why not? If it’s part of my work day, it’s no different (other than the reimbursement and/or insurance issues, which are separate) than any other things my boss may decide make sense for my role. I can dislike it, I can push back, but in the end my boss gets to decide what’s in the scope of my responsibilities (and I get to decide whether I want to keep the job, knowing that that’s a part of my workload).

                  In any case, it sounds like this is not the case here — the boss hasn’t assigned this task to the OP… she’s just gotten sortof stuck with it.

    2. Dawn*

      You suddenly have something very urgent that you have to do and unfortunately you can no longer transport her to and from work. You’ve helped out 8 months, you’ve done your due diligence, you cannot do it anymore period. Tell your boss, tell her, and then let her figure it out herself. Like you said, she’s an ADULT, I can see having to bum rides for a month or so while she figures out bus schedules, but right now she’s just coasting on other people’s generosity and not having to face the consequences.