open thread – July 15-16, 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 :)

{ 1,283 comments… read them below }

  1. Mockingjay*

    Meeting Minutes Saga – The FINAL Chapter!
    Dedicated to Wakeen’s Teapots, Ltd.

    So, my last week was just as eventful as the beginning of my sojourn here at Toxic Job.

    I had called my company manager (the one in another state) as soon as I had accepted the offer, to give just under 2 weeks’ notice (due to the 4th of July holiday). I planned to also inform the Government Program Lead (“Boss”) and my Government Team Lead – we’re co-located on this program – so I could set up a nice, orderly transition. Company wanted to wait a day or two to inform the customer, so they could begin searching for another tech writer. I advised against waiting; I wanted an open and smooth departure. Nope. They gave me a gag order and waited to call the Boss until COB last Friday. (Knowing that my company wasn’t handling things properly, I did inform Intrepid Colleague in secret and we quietly worked out what needed to be handed over.)

    Needless to say, Program Boss was livid. Not about my leaving, people come and go; but that the company waited so only a week was left to transition and close my tasks out. Monday, the start of my final week, was a very uncomfortable day. Rather than me announcing the departure personally and professionally to my coworkers (“I’m leaving and here’s the plan to wrap up my work; it’s been great working with you”), word was spread via shouts in a meeting and the rumor mill. Which is how my immediate Government Lead found out. I got a scathing email from her.

    I had to go and apologize to the Government Boss about how the announcement was handled. He is a PITA customer, but this is a concentrated industry (one government agency in the area with contractor support) and I didn’t want to burn any bridges. He accepted it (albeit grudgingly); having worked with my company for a while, he knows how they operate and he figured I would have told him earlier. I doubt I’ll be on his Christmas card list, though. I also apologized to my Team Lead and showed her the plan to close out my work.

    During the rest of the week, I did my best to complete my tasks and deliver documents. One major item was – wait for it – Meeting Minutes, for a three-day technical conference. I hustled to get the minutes written and reviewed. When the minutes were completed, I informed the project lead so they could be formally delivered. His response: “oh, the minutes aren’t a deliverable; we just had you do them as a courtesy to the guests. You can go ahead and email them out yourself.” Gah! I spent 43 hours total on that conference, between prep, minutes taking, and minutes editing. The program had late deliverables on its other projects because I was tied up in that effort. Ah, the futility of it all.

    And thus ends the Meeting Minutes Saga.

    In which our heroine made a small difference; she wrote a style guide and created templates which most of the staff use, and persuaded the IT staff into setting up SharePoint properly.
    In which she did minutes for nearly 130 meetings and conferences that no one ever read.
    Intrepid Colleague will take over as senior writer and move into the coveted back corner cubicle (biggest and quietest in the building, with a window).
    And the Admin Assistant will continue to play with her phone in meetings in lieu of doing anything constructive.

    The End.

    1. LiteralGirl*

      An epic tale; I hope the next chapter is much more rewarding and far less toxic for our heroine!

    2. Boo*

      Ugh, I feel your minutes pain.

      I take all the minutes here, and nobody ever reads them. I even offered (twice) to provide additional admin support to another team since the team lead had in the meeting mentioned they were struggling…but since I did so in the email with the minutes, I don’t think he ever saw my offer.

      1. Mimmy*

        P.S. I’ve been taking Minutes for a state-level council for the past few months – I put a lot of thought into them, and I sometimes wonder if anyone ever reads them :/

        1. sam*

          Trust me – someone reads them. Lawyers. We read all the minutes if and when (a) we need to due diligence something or (b) something goes wrong.

          1. kk*

            I can confirm. Reading meeting minutes was sometimes the most interesting part of the audit, bc they can be full of drama and point to things that need further investigation.

        2. vpc*

          I am responsible for reading annual reports from grantees, which contain meeting minutes. I did actually find one that said “blah blah blah, I don’t think anyone reads these so I’m done writing them, blah blah blah…”

          Of course, there was also the one that said “asdf asdf asdf asdf” in place of program accomplishments…

          oh yeah, we read them. And those two? We read a lot more carefully than we do some of the others.

    3. Rat Racer*

      Popping invisible champagne for you! May your next job be much more interesting on the work front, with infinitely more boring office politics – Cheers!

    4. SophieChotek*

      Loved your post.
      I am glad you are getting out of Toxic Environment and best in the future!

    5. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Oh my goodness – they handled that poorly! But at least you handled it well so three cheers for your next job!

    6. Pineapple Incident*

      You’re an excellent writer. I hope you’ll charm us with happy stories from your new NOT-ToxicJob (hopefully ANTI-ToxicJob). Good luck!

    7. C Average*

      I would’ve been so very tempted to drop some weird Easter egg into the final set of minutes.

      “The head of the facilities committee delivered a short presentation about replacing the east bank of elevators with a spiral waterslide. The presentation was well-received, but there were concerns about ADA compliance.”

      “It was decided that the third Monday of each month will be Bring Your Cat to Work Day. Each employee is responsible for bringing their own litterbox.”

      “Due to budget constraints, we will no longer offer internet access, and staff computers will gradually be phased out and replaced with manual typewriters. Retraining will be offered for those employees who are unfamiliar with the technology.”

      A couple years ago, a commenter here described the elaborate Rickroll Easter egg she left behind when she quit her much-detested job. It was so brilliant that I had to steal the idea when I left my much-detested job last year. It took six months for one of my former colleagues to stumble across it. It was a very satisfying way to say a final goodbye.

        1. C Average*

          Yes! I loved that story so much that I did the exact same thing. I created a series of folders on the shared drive with names that got progressively more ridiculous: “Top Secret,” “Really Really Top Secret,” “What Part of Top Secret Do You Fail to Understand?” and so forth.

          In about the twentieth folder down, there was one Word doc titled simply “draft.” It had a “draft” watermark and a bunch of graphic elements typical of a company document, and the only text was a bit.ly URL. The URL was, of course, a YouTube video of Rick Astley performing “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

      1. Hlyssande*

        Oooh, a Rickroll easter egg? I might have to see if I can find that because it sounds amazing.

      2. Stephanie*

        My coworker did that once. We send out a lot of reports to the operations folks that we’re sure no one reads. One time he sent one out and instead of saying “Email me with questions”, he said “Email me if you want to grab a beer and discuss the meaning of life.” No one replied.

    8. Lemon Zinger*

      This chapter made me feel like I need a glass of wine! I’m sure you feel the same way. Here’s hoping your future will be brighter!

  2. This Alison*

    I’m wondering how to field an impending salary question where I have more information than I normally would:

    My husband recently moved to another state for a job at an organization which is paid for through the local public university. I’ve applied for a job at the university. Because he is sort of an employee of the university, my husband has access to the internal HR website, which has salary ranges posted for many university positions. This is not a comprehensive salary schedule which I’m used to seeing from public universities I’ve worked at before, but a document that shows, for a number of departments and titles, the “Range Minimum” the “Market Reference” and the “Range Maximum”.
    Because this is a public institution I was also able to find, through some web searching, the actual salaries of each of the employees of the office. They seem to be quite low compared to the ranges in the internal document.

    For example, the person in the position a salary rung up from mine in is making $112k when the range is $111k (min) – $139k (market) – $208k (max). The person in the rung below is making $70k and the range is $59k (min) – $74k (market) – $111k (max). The person in charge of the office makes $180k and the range is $139k (min) – $174k (market) – $261k (max).

    Is there a good way to leverage this information during a salary discussion? Or is it not helpful to bring up an internal salary range when it seems to vary so greatly and I don’t have all the information? The salaries in my field vary greatly depending on the type and location of the university, but I was surprised to see such a wide range listed.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      You are a unique person with unique skills.

      This information is a good guide to what they are willing to pay. You will have to decide if that range is acceptable to you. If you think your skills are more valuable, then maybe you command a premium. In my experience, you will never reach the maximum of the salary band in a university setting before being promoted to the next band.

      The other thing you have to remember is salary bands have nothing to do with budget. While the band may be $100k to $200k, they may only have a budget of $120k.

      I would not, in no uncertain terms, bring up that your husband has access to this information. In fact, I think you don’t bring it up at all. Your value is your value. If they are not willing to pay that price, then you have to move on.

      1. This Alison*

        Thanks for your reply. That’s a good point about the budget versus salary band. It’s so tough to know what I’m “worth” in an entirely different location, though!

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I wouldn’t bring it up in the interview but you have the advantage of knowing the salary ranges ahead of time and won’t undervalue yourself or price yourself out of the job. That is huge!

    3. Overeducated*

      I think it will be helpful to be able to argue for your “market” value above the minimum with more confidence, provided their hr database has accurate estimates.

      1. This Alison*

        Yes I was thinking the same after looking over the ranges versus the current salaries. Unfortunately the band for my position is missing, so I’d have to try to divine the market value for my range based on the other two (which I’m less confident about, of course).

    4. Coffeepots by Hazel*

      Yes, I think you can use this information, but only as deep background.

      For starters, you can use the info to weed out positions that pay way less than your bottom line. If your bottom line salary is $X, and a job you’re considering has a band minimum of $X/2, you might opt not to apply, as the evidence suggests they tend to hire folks at or near the minimum, and even if you did get an offer, you’d probably end up too far apart even after any negotiating to make it feasible.

      You could also use the information to guide any salary discussions that might happen down the road. It’s not unreasonable, if you’re asked point-blank about salary at a point that’s fairly early in the process, to say that you understand the range for the position to be $X-$Y, and that you’d expect a salary somewhere in that range, with an exact number to be determined later once you’d learned more about the position. (I might use rounder numbers than the ones you cited, e.g., $110-140k instead of $111-139k, just to make it a little less obvious that you’d used a current employee’s access to poke around the internal HR site, but IME having a general sense of what a position or pay band pays at a large university just shows you’ve asked around and done your homework.) Further on, if you received an offer, you could also use the info to evaluate it and determine whether it might be productive to ask for more.

      Based just on what you’ve written, though, you may want to be careful concluding the current staff salaries are low, or expecting and demanding to come in at a salary that’s at least at the market or midpoint of the range. It may be that the ranges are for all employees in a given position or salary band, regardless of how long they’ve been there. It may well be that most people come in at or near the minimum for their pay band, and get to or above the market rate only after several years of experience and raises. The 2 individuals who make just above the minimum and slightly below the market rate may be relatively new to their positions. Conversely, the ranges may have been adjusted/increased recently, and when this happens, employees whose salaries are already within the new ranges for their jobs rarely get a bump just because they’re now at the 10th rather than the 30th percentile. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to negotiate a starting salary above the minimum, especially if you can cite objective reasons why you deserve more (e.g., job calls for 7-10 years of spout design experience and you have 12; you have the advanced degree or certification that’s listed as preferred but not required). However, you may want to be prepared for the possibility that you’ll be offered a salary at or near the minimum, and that there may not be much room to move this up unless you have a very rare, high-demand skill set, or are enough of a superstar and at a high enough level that there won’t be other almost-as-good candidates waiting in the wings if they don’t hire you.

    5. A Government Drone*

      Our state has listed salary ranges, but they are pointless. There is no range. You are hired at the bottom of the range and you stay there forever.

    6. Mel*

      The salary range is sort of irrelevant to you. What is relevant is how your offer, experience, lack of tenure, education compare to employees with employees in a substantially similar job. You should be looking for where you should fall within the range of employee salaries based on those factors. Also, you should be looking at what other universities in the market area pay.

    7. Newish Reader*

      I’ve worked at a university where it’s not uncommon for external candidates to come in making much more than current. Particularly if the existing staff have been working there for quite some time. The rationale is that current market conditions may require a higher salary to attract and recruit qualified candidates. And we used to have policy that restricted the maximum raises for current employees, even when they were promoted or changed roles. Therefore, staff that were there for decades could make less than someone brand new to the organization.

      So the information you have is just one data point. You don’t know the budget they have in mind for this position, the quality of the candidate pool, or how strictly they adhere to the market reference for new hires. As with any position you’re considering, negotiate based on your skills and experience in conjunction with research of market value for this role. And decide what your minimum salary is to accept the position.

    1. Mike C.*

      Here’s the new 737 MAX.

      The final 727 ever built, converted to fight oil spills.

      FA-18? Sure, why not.

      Oh yeah, here’s a Dreamliner. :)

      1. Yggdrasil*

        Got to see an FA-18 and the F-35 at the Ocean City air show a while back. Both were incredible. The Hornet was so loud, I could imagine ISIS hearing that sucker from 20 miles away. The F-35 was like something out of Star Wars.

      2. Anon for this*

        My brother flies a Hornet. We were able to go out on the carrier one day last summer and see a brief airshow on the flightdeck. It was so cool (and yes SO loud)!

      3. fposte*

        Well, shoot. I was totally going to go out today and bank a Dreamliner 80 degrees, but it says “Do not attempt.”

        Those are awesome, Mike. You folks must be pretty proud.

      4. acmx*

        I like ANA’s livery on this one (with Mt Fuji). Haven’t flown on a 787 yet – I need to fly on that one :)

    2. periwinkle*

      Okay, we must be co-workers because who else would focus on these particular products?

      Happy Centennial Day! We’ve got a massive quantity of pastries in a conference room but team members in a different building are celebrating with cake and Italian sodas. *envious glare* (then again, they’re in a dumpy office building and we’re in THAT building, the reeeeally big one)

      1. bluesboy*

        What are Italian sodas? I live in Italy and I’ve never heard of them (although I suppose here they wouldn’t call them that! )

        1. bluesboy*

          Ok, answered it myself, don’t know why I didn’t think to Google it before asking!

          1. periwinkle*

            They’re part of the standard repertoire of any non-Starbucks coffee place in Seattle – Italian sodas, lattes, matcha. Red Bull energy drinks, and combinations thereof. Red Bull-enhanced Italian sodas are oddly popular…

            1. insert name here*

              Wait, is this only a Seattle thing? I always assumed that all US coffee places had Italian Soda!

              1. periwinkle*

                They probably do but I never noticed them when living in DC! Every drive-through espresso kiosk around here has Italian sodas, even the “bikini barista” stands that rely on more than beverage selection to attract customers.

                I’ve been considering moving to a different work group that’s more in line with my long-term career goals. However, they’re located in a building that lacks an espresso kiosk. Hard to believe that’s even legal around here.

      2. Libby*

        I don’t work for the same company, but I work in a building a few miles south. When the wind is right, I get to see the really big planes landing at Payne Field fly right over my office building.

  3. Anon42day*

    The library system I’ve been applying to tends to hire from lists made from previous job searches fairly frequently. There’s a part-time opening that I’m more than qualified for, but I know I won’t accept it unless they can magically make it full-time. I’ve been having trouble getting on interview lists for some unknown reason (even branch managers don’t understand why I can’t get past HR), so I’m wondering if it’s worth applying to this part-time job with the goal of getting on the list for future positions that are similar in duties, but full-time. On the one hand, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. On the other hand, I don’t want to disqualify myself from other potential opportunities because their system works this way. I have seen full-time jobs filled by people who applied for part-time jobs in the past. Thoughts?

    1. Kyrielle*

      I wouldn’t. If they offer it to you part time and you turn it down, especially if you say it’s because it’s part-time, you’ll have gotten yourself on the wrong sort of list entirely – someone who dealt in bad faith at worst, or who couldn’t work out terms with their organization, at best. I would interview only for jobs you’re potentially willing to take if offered, because having it offered to you and turning it down, over something you already knew before the first interview (and something as non-negotiable as part-time vs full-time) is not going to help your case.

        1. Snarky Librarian*

          It really depends on their hiring system. I work for a public library system that has a truly labyrinthine hiring system. It took me two years of applying and interviewing just to get into the system and many more years to earn a promotion. Our HR is also really big on using hiring lists to fill positions, but they’re really finicky about it. If you make it on to the list for a Teapot Associate II position then you are eligible for any future Teapot Associate II positions, full or part-time. But if you are on the Teapot Associate I list you are not eligible for a II slot.

          Also, my system doesn’t hold it against you if you are offered a position but decline. I wouldn’t tell them you are turning down a part-time position because you need to be full-time, but if you just politely decline you aren’t going to end up on a black list. I can’t speak for academic libraries but public libraries lose their chosen applicant all the time because our hiring process is so slow. Declining an offer is totally understood and applicants are always welcome to apply again in the future. Just my two cents, I totally understand your frustration and worries, I’ve been there!

    2. Zillah*

      How do you know that the branch managers don’t understand why you can’t get past HR? Do you volunteer there or have something else that makes them familiar with you? If they feel strongly enough that you should be getting through, they could consider calling HR to make sure that you’re put through.

      If they don’t know you professionally, though, it’s possible that they’re just saying that or aren’t aware of how many applicants there are at a time. Library science is a field that’s completely inundated with qualified people, so the issue may but that the openings that you’re more than qualified for are getting dozens of applications from people who are also more than qualified for them.

      1. Anon42day*

        I already work in the system. I have at least two managers advocating for/mentoring me. From what they’ve told me, HR and the library system are on very unequal footing, and the library/its staff has no power over HR. They’ve tried calling on my behalf before and it hasn’t worked. I’ve tried calling, as well, and have received the “you’re not qualified,” even though (at least according to the description), I was.

        If it was just one manager, I’d believe it’s possible they were just saying this stuff, but it’s two of them.

    3. Pix*

      FWIW, if you can’t get past HR, getting on an interview list at all probably isn’t going to help you. Is it worth it to you to find out why you can’t get past HR? Or would it maybe be smarter to find another library system to hire into?

      At least for me (also a librarian), being friends with HR has made everything so much smoother. I can’t imagine being able to do anything, let alone the diverse and fascinating things that they’re having me do as a first year librarian, if HR did not trust me.

      1. Anon42day*

        The weird thing is, I already work for the system and I’ve gotten past HR for my current position (as-needed, floating substitute doing library assistant-type duties). I’ve also gotten past for a full time position interview once before. The branch manager in the interview, after rejecting me, said I should keep applying at that level (associate) and higher. I got my MLIS a couple months ago, too, and I was expecting that to help, but it hasn’t. Those two times are the only instances I’ve gotten interviews out of the several I’ve applied to.

        I’ve talked to HR a few times and their reasoning is always that I’m not qualified (which isn’t always true, if I’m supposed to match the job description as supplied by the application). Part of the problem is the system is relatively big and in an urban area, so HR probably has plenty of other things going on and doesn’t take kindly to me calling every time, so I avoid it unless I’m really attached. They also don’t update the application status on govjobs, so I can’t always follow up in a timely manner unless one of the branch managers lets me know they’re in the interviewing stage.

        I have been applying to other systems, but with a foot already in the door here, it makes the most sense to me to put most of my effort there. I do work for another public library system regularly and work full time in a special library (plus I have years of customer service experience). It’s frustrating, for sure, but most of it is out of my control.

        1. Donna*

          Is it possible that they’re relying on a keyword matching software program to assess whether you’re qualified, and you didn’t use the correct keywords and phrases? Or possibly it’s a human error: I’ve had to ask that my application be re-evaluated once in a pay dispute.

          1. Anon42day*

            The time I had that interview, that was the case. I was told I should have been referred and hadn’t when I followed up. They referred me for an interview at that point — but I worry that doing this too often will ultimately cause more problems and, as I mentioned, I don’t always have insight as to where they are in the process. It’s a real pickle.

          2. Anon42day*

            And I am careful about using those keywords in the description as much as possible without forcing it, but it’s possible I’m picking the wrong ones!

            1. Chaordic One*

              I was once in a similar position where my supervisors, several department heads, had recommended me for a promotion, but I wasn’t getting past HR. (This was for a state job and I already worked there.) My supervisors took me by the hand and had me reapply and pretty much vomit back, word for word, everything listed in the job description accompanying the position announcement as previous work experience in both the application and in my revised resume.
              It was not concise, not easy to read, not how I would have normally done it, and not what resume guides would recommend. But, it made it past HR and clearing them, I had a perfunctory interview and was promptly promoted. Of course this might not work for your situation, but it might be worth a try.

        2. DodoBird*

          Are you applying for librarian jobs now? Or applying for PT or FT library assistant jobs?

          Because in the former case, the competition is fierce for librarian jobs right now – and has been for a while. In the latter case, I don’t think that getting your MLIS is really that helpful, and might even be detrimental (they’ll think you’re overqualified & going to want to move on soon).

          In any case, I would urge you to apply for the PT openings. In my system, lots of people start off as PT and after 6 months-1 year, they transfer to a FT position. When there is an opening, first it goes to reassignment, so that anyone in the system of the same job class can apply. If it doesn’t fill by reassignment, only then (after securing funding, etc.) does HR post the job to the public. That’s why most (60-70%) of the librarian jobs in my system are posted as PT ; the FT jobs are filled by PT permanent employees transferring in.

          Good luck!

  4. Crafty Time Lord*

    I do a certain kind of crafting (keeping it vague for anonymity). It’s easily portable that I often do on my lunch break in our break room, keeping my hands busy while I chat with coworkers. My coworkers all love my crafting (one has even mentioned paying me to craft something for her) and so does my boss, who always looks over my shoulder and compliments my work when she sees me in the break room.

    My question is, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing up the logo of our department in my crafting element and gifting it to my boss. The logo could be easily transferred to my crafting and I could make it anywhere from the size of a cellphone to the size of a hardcover book, so it’s not like it would be a large cumbersome and awkward thing. I mentioned it to a coworker friend and she liked the idea, said she could even picture our boss putting it in the lobby or decorating our table at events with it rather than just putting it in her office.

    One part of me feels like my boss would really like it because she is very crafty herself (not in the same element so she couldn’t make what I make), likes my crafting, and I think she’s very fond of our logo (it went through several drafts these past few years but we seem to have settled on one she really likes for a while now). However I’m a little worried that it would be seen as childish, like a kid presenting their school artwork to a parent to put on the fridge. And I know we’re not meant to gift up but I already have the supplies so this wouldn’t cost me more than my time towards the project. Not as worried about that as I am about the gesture itself seeming a little out of place. Thoughts?

    1. Collie*

      Oooh, tough one. I think it comes down to how the gift is presented. If you give it in the spirit of giving it to the director as opposed to giving it to the company via the director and you gift-wrap it (I’m imagining cross-stitch that could be framed, but maybe I’m totally off and gift-wrapping isn’t an option), I don’t see that as coming off as childish. Just handing it to someone, yeah, I can see how that might be perceived as young. Of course, I don’t agree with this perception, but, it is what it is. Also depends on office culture.

    2. Fawn*

      This is the kind of thing I wouldn’t do because I’d be super worried about creating an obligation for her to display it (which is probably just social anxiety talking, but whatever). Could you make one for your own workspace then, if she comments on it, make her one of her own?

    3. Gandalf the Nude*

      If it’s what I think it is, I’d make one ostensibly for myself and make sure my boss saw it while I was working. Then when she commented on it, I’d offer to make an additional one for her.

    4. Temperance*

      I’m female, and, FWIW, I tend to shy away from doing stereotypically feminine things at work like crafting. I might avoid this for that reason.

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I think it is a nice, thoughtful gesture and one that will probably be appreciated. I wouldn’t get hopes up about it being placed in the lobby but from what you said above it sounded like she admires your talent and would enjoy the item. The one item Alison seems to be okay with gifting to superiors are handmade items and this fits the bill.

    6. Weekday Warrior*

      Depends on your workplace but at mine the idea that someone spent a lot of non-work time crafting something work-related would be a bit weird. Sort of like the guy who re-crafted an entire TV Guide for Elaine (Seinfeld). As a manager, I’d be a bit taken aback if it were done by a clerical/admin support person and really worried if it were done by a professional. But I think this could be workplace culture dependent.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I did it once when I worked in a materials lab–we had a little stuffed duck named Bertram that migrated around to people’s desks. Once when someone was out with a cold, they put it in her chair and I put a tiny blanket made out of a napkin around him.

        I put him on the org chart as a joke and one weekend I made him a desk out of a shoebox complete with lab reports, a chair, and a tiny pair of wire glasses. When the company closed, Bertram and his desk came home with me. :3

        I also got the giant squeaky fake rat we used to scare each other with by putting it on top of lunch in the fridge.

    7. Allison*

      At one job, we had a inside joke mascot of a French Canadian black beaver. As a Christmas present one year, I made my boss a stuffed black beaver wearing a t-shirt with our logo. It sat on the top of his filing cabinet for the 4 years after I stopped working for him. It was a great way to show how much I appreciated working for him.

    8. Aloot*

      Since you know your boss likes the craft you do, I’d say go for it!

      How you present the gift to your boss can do a lot to avoid the fridge-school-art situation you’re worried about. I.e. less “look, look, I made this for you! *expectant and hopeful eyes*” and more “I made this and thought you would enjoy it.”

    9. orchidsandtea*

      If it is something like cross-stitch or knitting or papercraft, I’d get the piece nicely framed or put in a shadowbox, complete with matting if applicable. That elevates it a bit. (I think highly of crafts to begin with, but in the professional world, it’s best to keep things as polished as possible.) And I’d probably give it on a neutral holiday rather than a personal one like a birthday, or just leave it in her office on a Friday afternoon with a brief, cheerful note. “Thought you’d like this! Cheers, Crafty” etc.

    10. Jennifer*

      You could just ask your boss if she’d be into that or not before you make it.

      But from what I read here, I suspect she’d quite like it.

      –fellow crafter

    11. zora.dee*

      Could you make it “for the office” rather than specifically for your boss? and offer to put it in kind of a central-ish location? (On a central file cabinet, in the breakroom, etc) and then leave it to your boss to suggest that she wants it in her office ,or in a more prominent spot?

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        This is a much better idea. I don’t think gift-giving is really appropriate in the workplace to begin with, but why not use your skills to make something that will make everyone happy?

      2. Crafty Time Lord*

        I’d definitely be fine with giving it to the ‘office’ but how would I do that? I’d want her permission before I put anything up on a wall anywhere and give her the power to place it. I guess I figured by giving it to her, it would be in use in the office; I doubt she’d take it home with her.

        1. JaneB*

          I think t would be much easier to have a conversation with her, maybe when she looks over your shoulder in the break room, about how it’d be fun to craft the logo, but what would you do with it then? Would everyone think it would be OK to display it in the break room etc? Then her reaction can guide you…

          1. zora.dee*

            Yeah, that’s good, too.

            I think giving it to the ‘office’ is sort of the same as giving it to her, it’s just in the word choice. So, either in a one-on-one with her, or at a team meeting when there are other people around, just say “Here, Boss, I made this for the office. I don’t know if there’s anywhere to put it, but I thought it would be fun.” You’re physically handing it to her, but you’re making it about the group, not personal to her.

    12. DodoBird*

      I am bucking the trend and say DO IT.

      You have a good relationship with your boss; she likes your crafting; she is crafty herself; and honestly, it would just be a cool gesture.

      First you can make a joking offer to make something for your boss, just to test the waters. If she responds with (joking) enthusiasm, do it. If she politely demurs, maybe don’t. A nice non-surprise gift is still really nice.

    13. Ann*

      For what it’s worth I work in the arts and this would be a charming gift that isn’t really a gift because it’s also “work” because of the logo. If people at your office enjoy arts and crafts even if you aren’t an arts business it might still be a fun gesture

  5. Editor*

    I would really love a sanity check on something, seeing as everyone involved is acting like this is the most normal thing in the world. I did a phone interview for an editor role last week, and did another phone interview with HR yesterday, which seemed pretty normal, until the end of the HR interview when the recruiter let me know that there would be two more all-day, in-person interviews (ok…), and during the second one (which due to vacation timing would need to go first), I’d need to give a 45-minute presentation on myself (wait, what?). They’ll give me three days to pull it together.

    Apparently, only the first 10 minutes are supposed to be me taking about myself and my skills; the remainder of the time I’m supposed to present a detailed overview of one or more of my recent projects or case studies. That just seems… bizarre. It’s not like I’m going for a C-suite or marketing/sales position (where I could see this making sense). I guess I could talk about a couple of projects I’ve edited, but I really strongly doubt I could make it last longer than 15 minutes. Other folks mention this requirement on GlassDoor, but no one seems particularly perturbed by it.

    Combined with the fact that they don’t allow even occasional WFH, I’m considering dropping out of the running entirely rather than deal with this headache. Am I crazy for thinking this is crazy?

    1. Leatherwings*

      That’s completely insane. Not only can I not imagine writing and practicing a 45 minutes presentation about a project I’ve worked on, I can’t imagine sitting through that for every candidate I interview. WHAT? And two all day interviews seems truly excessive.

      Seems like this is a place with zero flexibility or care for people’s time. I would drop out and politely let them know why.

      1. Editor*

        Oh man, that’s a great point—if I do end up hired, I’d have to sit through other people doing these presentations whenever a position opens up. Such a huge waste of time.

    2. Wilton Businessman*

      Sounds a little onerous. I guess if you want the job, you have to put on the horse and pony show.

    3. K.*

      You are not crazy. All of that seems excessive. I can see having you talk through an editing project, but I would have you do that during the in-person interview itself (“please come prepared to discuss a project you’re particularly proud of,” etc.), which would not take two full days. My God.

      1. Editor*

        Ah, I forgot to mention that I also did a full edit of one of their (fairly short, already published) docs as an editing test. That’s totally the norm to me and 100% expected. A PowerPoint about me and projects I’ve done just seems like too much.

        1. K.*

          Yeah, I’d definitely have you do an editing test (and have done them myself, as well as writing tests) but as you say, that’s to be expected. The rest of it is way too much. Sample work, editing test, interviews with key folks (not all day!) is plenty.

    4. insert pun here*

      What kind of editor are you? Book/magazine/technical/website? Something else?

      In my experience as a book editor, phone + all day interview (sometimes multiple days) is the norm, plus detailed written editorial plan, though I’ve never been asked to give a formal presentation like the one you describe.

      1. Editor*

        Technical editor, and this is an IT company. I understand that they’d want to be rigorous and honestly don’t really have a problem with multiple interviews… this just seems so extreme for tech.

        1. insert pun here*

          Yeah, this is absurd. An editing test and/or a piece of sample work and interviews with key stakeholders should pretty much do it. I could see them asking you to briefly (MAYBE five minutes) talk about your philosophy of editing, but 45 minutes? Nope.

        2. Another Technical Editor*

          For the position I just started this past Monday, my interview consisted of about a 45-minute one-on-one with my direct supervisor followed by about a 1-hour editing/writing test (this for a position requiring access to classified information). That’s it. My previous job had about the same procedure. What you’re describing is way beyond anything I would consider normal.

    5. Ama*

      For a faculty position in academia it’s not unheard of to have to give an extended presentation and or a mock lecture, but I’ve never heard of it outside academia — and in academia junior faculty candidates in particular have been prepping their talks for months. I can’t imagine being given three days for a 45 minute talk.

      1. Honeybee*

        I work in UX research (we hire PhDs) and we do it here. You can get anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to prepare, but the idea is that most of our presenters are presenting some research they’ve probably already presented somewhere…and also, preparing a presentation in a short period of time is actually a skill of the job. Three weeks is much longer than you’ll have to prepare basically anything that we do, lol.

    6. Slippy*

      This seems a bit nuts. If they can’t figure out whether they like you or not after the first all-day, in-person interview the second day is not likely to help.

    7. Jadelyn*

      I’d nope right on out of that process myself tbh. That’s excessive, unless you are absolutely in love with the job, location, benefits, literally every part of the package, in which case you might suck it up and do it anyway. But short of that? Take the yellow-orangeish flags for what they are and get out before you get in.

    8. Editor*

      Well, the more I think on this requirement, the more I realize that this is way more than I want to deal with right now/ever and really speaks to a level of unreasonable expectations that I’m not OK with. No wonder the pay is so good. :<

      So… any advice on how to gracefully back out? I just received an email letting me know my presentation interview is scheduled.

      1. Leatherwings*

        How about this:
        Hi Bob, After much consideration I’ve decided to remove myself from consideration. While I really admire the work that X Company does, the requirements for the interview process are far greater than anything I’ve ever experienced and I’m afraid I can’t commit to preparing such a long presentation in addition to taking two days off for the interviews. I wish you luck in finding the right candidate.”

      2. SophieChotek*

        It seems like you could say the more you consider you don’t feel your goals/interests/skills ets are completely aligned (or some variation), you are thankful for opportunity, but knowing you won’t be pursuing this position any longer and cognizant of the importance of everyone’s time, you are withdrawing your name from consideration so that they can focus on other candidates.

    9. Soupspoon McGee*

      Why not turn it into a presentation of how you pulled a difficult project together, how you gathered information or proposed changes, some of the back and forth that led you to make particular edits, and how your work played an important role in the project’s outcome?

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If they’re asking for that much of your time (two days on top of what you’ve already done!), they should be really, really careful to make sure all that time is necessary and being used well, not filled with fluff. The whole thing feels really inconsiderate of your time.

    11. Calacademic*

      I’ve done this type of interview process… for PhD level research work. You mention it’s a technical job, so if there are lots of technical people around this might be what they expect for their interviews. But I agree, this seems overly much for an editor’s role.

    12. College Career Counselor*

      I don’t know how far up the food chain this position is, but this is not an unreasonable thing in the higher ed world. I’ve been asked to do anything from 5-10 minutes up to 30+ on some aspect of career services, projects I’ve worked on, etc. Generally, I’ve had more than 3 days to put this together. In the higher ed case, they want to see that you can put together a presentation and deliver it effectively to an audience, as you’ll be working with students, faculty, alumni, trustees, etc.

      3 day turnaround seems rushed, and the length of time talking seems a bit much as well. If you’re interested in in the role, I’d shoot for 30 minutes (you’ll probably go over).

    13. A Person*

      I don’t know what part of the country you are interviewing, but this sounds suspiciously like a (RARE) thing some companies do that involves a “trial”. I think it’s reasonable to take yourself out of the running if you aren’t excited enough to take the time, but I wouldn’t conclude that means the company is crazy. (I’ve seen some signs that this can lead to better hiring overall.)

      However:
      – Have they at all acknowledged that this process is unusually burdensome for you? Any company that does something this above and beyond should be able to explain the reasons. I’m guessing from your story they ARE acting like it’s normal, which is a bigger flag to me than the process itself.
      – Are they clear on what the all-day interviews are going to entail (are you going to do work, are you actually getting interviewed by 6 people *shudder*, etcetera)

      1. DoDah*

        The company I used to work for did a 50% version of this. They required a full day–and 2 presentations–one about the product and one about anything the candidate was interested in.

    14. Honeybee*

      I don’t know about for your particular role, but I’m a researcher and that’s exactly how my job conducts interviews. We schedule a 1-hour slot for our candidates to talk about a specific past project or set of research projects. We do it for all of our roles – including our junior researcher roles.

      Is it possible that you’re in a department with a lot of people who have roles for whom this makes sense? If you’re going to an editor role on a team full of, say, sales coordinators or researchers or consultants – who do presentations regularly and are going to be evaluated on it – the team may have (bizarrely) decided to extend that requirement to everyone.

    15. Troutwaxer*

      I think the question goes something like this:

      1.) You will working with individual authors to improve their documents/books.

      2.) You will be acquiring multiple books/articles from multiple authors and curating their entire line of books and/or documents?

      For 1.) the requirements you’re facing are insane. For 2.) they make perfect sense.

  6. BayBreeze*

    My interview this week went very… Weird. We were meeting at a conference room on a college campus. When I arrived at the correct time, the people in the conference room were students who had reserved it to study all day. The front desk had no knowledge of it being booked for interviews, though I had an email proving I was at the right time and place. I called the intern who had arranged the interview and she had no idea what had happened or where her boss was. She told me not to stick around and she would call me to set up a phone interview later. (And yes I will keep all this in mind about my potential boss/employer).

    But really I’m curious if this has happened to anyone else. You show up somewhere for an interview and there is no one there, the appointment was not schedule or simply forgotten.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      I’ve showed up and waited for 30 minutes. After that I told the receptionist that they can call me to reschedule if they were still interested. They called, I wasn’t interested.

    2. Kristine*

      Yep, this has happened to me once before. Showed up on the date and time that had been set with recruiter. The person at the front desk wasn’t expecting me and called up the person I was supposed to interview with. He was out of office for the day. I sat in the lobby for 30 minutes while the recruiter found someone else to interview me. He’d never seen my resume before and was only vaguely aware of the job they were hiring for. That interview lasted all of 20 minutes and was super awkward. I never heard back from anyone at the company or the recruiter.

    3. Aurion*

      Yup. Showed up for an interview, the receptionist set me into a meeting room. 45 minutes (or was it an hour?) and two checkins later, I discover the president (the interviewer) wasn’t even in the building. Previously the receptionist had said he’s “tied up in a meeting” but didn’t mention he wasn’t even on-site.

      I left to get to my paying job. There was another interviewee in the lobby, presumably in the time slot after mine and just as baffled. The receptionist was still trying to convince me to stay with “he’ll be here soon!”

      They did not call again to schedule another interview. I would’ve hung up on them anyway.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I showed up and was sent away and told to come back an hour later. I was meeting with two guys, one of whom was out at a holiday lunch and totally forgot about me. It wasn’t so bad in the end, because I liked them and wanted the job, but it was weird.

      Also weird because the office space was brand new and they didn’t have a waiting area. I went to Starbucks to cool my heels.

    5. DevManager*

      I had this happen from the opposite direction – two candidates, two different managers, interviews on the same day. Candidates both told each other’s time by the internal recruiter setting it up – I was in a meeting and could not interview at the time candidate showed up, candidate was not available at later time and we ended up losing him to another manager in the same org.

      That was a rough hiring period – there were four of us looking for similar roles at the same time and no small bit of candidate sniping going on.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      That’s odd. I work at a university, and this kind of thing would never happen. I would see this as a bit of a red flag about the hiring manager.

    7. Aardvark*

      Yep! I was called in for an interview, drove 30 miles, checked in at the front desk, waited for 15 minutes, only to have a very confused person come out and tell me they’d already filled the position…

    8. Pineapple Incident*

      When I was a teenager I went to a grocery store for a bagging job after talking to someone who said their store manager would make time for me at TIME. I show up at TIME, talk to someone who says they’ll talk to Boss and then proceeded to wait for 45 minutes because I didn’t know any better. Never met boss- eventually I went up to someone else and they said he must have just forgotten he agreed to see me because he was on a call and wouldn’t be off for a while, and asked if I wanted to keep waiting. I told them to forget it.

    9. Kate*

      This did happen to me once. I was looking to relocate, and traveled about 5 hours to interview (on my own dime.) Arrived at the correct time and place and could immediately tell that no one knew why I was there. The person who was supposed to interview me wasn’t on site. What’s worse is that she had called me to set up the interview herself, so this was not a case of no one relaying the info to her. A colleague interviewed me and I was offered the job. I ended up accepting, and am still with the company now, although in a different department. The person who was supposed to interview me never explained what had happened, but she was a decent, if hands-off, boss.

    10. Darth Brooks*

      I showed up to two interviews at the same place where they were completely unprepared for me. In both cases, they kind of threw something together for me, but the interviews each only lasted 15 minutes. I felt weird leaving.

    11. Artemesia*

      I had this happen once after I lost a job in a big merger and was encouraged and applied to a local institution (by them). I was on a short list of people from the merger they were interested in hiring (or so I was told by their person). My interview was with the President; he didn’t show up. Someone else I knew professionally walked by and saw me sitting there for an hour and said ‘You might as well go home, he always does this to white applicants — it is his hobby.’ He never did show; I didn’t bother rescheduling.

    12. shorty*

      Similar thing happened to me but not quite as bad. The recruiter never called me for our scheduled phone interview. I got in touch with him the next day and he basically said he forgot about the interview. I ended up accepting the job and I’ve been there 6 years now. The company as a whole is great and I think that was just one bad recruiter who was a poor reflection on the company. I’m glad I didn’t let it factor into my decision about accepting the job.

  7. Zinnias Bloom*

    I’ve been working in marketing for several years and just feel stuck. I’ve been feeling stuck for a very long time. I am “good” at what I do, but I’m just not passionate about the work I do. I’ve worked in a corporate environment for awhile, and also have an agency background. I’ve been thinking about going back to an agency because I really enjoyed the environment and work (although I always worried about being laid off if we lost a client) but I just don’t know. :(

    Has anyone else transitioned into another career field after working in marketing or communications? If so, do you have any advice or tips?

    1. Chloe Silverado*

      I have no advice, only replying to commiserate. I’m also considered good at my marketing job, but I’ve lost interest and most days feel like a drag. I try and focus on the positive parts of my job (fairly solid job security, great co-workers), but that only goes so far. I’m definitely interested in a career shift, but I’m not sure what to do next either!

    2. junipergreen*

      I too needed a switch, have recently moved on from a marketing role (not technically an agency but operated on a similar model) to a non-profit gig. Now I use my marketing skills in program development, communications, strategic growth efforts, etc. I do miss some of the agency-ish life, but patrons are sort of like clients, and fundraising campaigns are sort of like ad campaigns… there are a lot of crossover skills I’ve been pleased to discover, and being mission-based can take a bit of the sting out of long hours (usually!).

  8. Karo*

    I see a lot of blogs and whatnot suggest setting a time to check your email and to only do it at that time, so that you can have uninterrupted focus elsewhere – the “How to Stay Productive After 3 pm” article in Alison’s last round-up mentioned it in passing, I believe.

    Has anyone been able to implement this in their real lives? Did it actually improve your day-to-day? I feel like it’s a pipe dream for many offices, but I want to be proven wrong!

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      I think it’s really, really dependent upon your job functions and what other systems that you have set up. I used to have a co-worker in a connected (but different) department. If she sent a request and I had a question on it (easier to ask via email than phone, especially when we need to document and are dealing with multiple, complex requests), I was expected to just know that she only checked her email twice a day and wouldn’t get back to me until her “email time.”

      She also deletes all emails older than two weeks, so therefore can’t be expected to know anything that was communicated to her via email more than two weeks ago. And I have never known her to leave a voicemail with anymore information than her name and a request to call her back – so you never know what she is calling about.

      1. De Minimis*

        I could never do it, have a lot of urgent requests at my job and they are almost all via e-mail. I’ve considered maybe trying something where I spend maybe 10 minutes out of each hour dealing with whatever e-mails have come in since I last checked, but I imagine I’d have my boss saying every few minutes “Did you get that e-mail from X?”

        I’ve heard deleting e-mails is a bad practice, though it would depend on the e-mail. But at my job we’ve often needed info from e-mails that were well over a year old that thankfully someone saved.

        1. Karo*

          Yeah, I can’t imagine deleting emails every two weeks! I try to purge and archive things regularly, but even at that I only permanently delete my deleted items once they’re more than a month old…And I’m seen as very risky here.

          1. Lindsay J*

            I have to delete (or archive) all my emails regularly and it drives me nuts. In my last job I kept most emails so I could refer back to them. Here I have a 150 MB mailbox and have to purge almost everything or else my inbox will fill up by time I return from the weekend.

      2. Escalating Eris*

        For me personally, the twice a day email idea would be totally unrealistic. Also, how hard is it to check your email every half hour or so? You don’t have to reply to all of them straight away – just the ones that are urgent. The rest can be dealt with during less busy times.

        I keep nearly all my emails. Doing that has saved my butt on several occasions.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Yeah, it’s not realistic for me at all. In my last job if I returned an email more than like 10-15 minutes from when I received it people would be sending second requests. Here I can wait an hour or two but any longer than that I would be assumed to be slacking.

    2. Temperance*

      I do a modified version of this, because the actual “hack” is pretty ridiculous. There was a letter here a few months ago from a woman whose coworker decided to only check emails twice per week.

      I typically work for 90 minutes, then check email. I have pop-ups enabled so I can address the urgent requests that might come in.

      1. Formica Dinette*

        I also do the modified version, but I have the notifications disabled because I find them too distracting and I am rarely needed for anything urgent. If someone needs to speak with me immediately, they will call. (My phone rings an average of once a week.)

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I found it incredibly helpful just to turn off the email notifications. Now I’m not tempted to stop every time an email comes in, and instead I am catching up on emails when I have a natural break in my work.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        And this makes more sense if you have a job that doesn’t require you to always be on top of email. (Mine does.)

    4. Camellia*

      It depends on the company culture. I’ve worked at companies in the past where this would have worked fine. But my current company treats email like IM; you are expected to read and reply immediately, if not sooner. Occasionally, for some meetings and if you are high enough on the food chain to get away with it, you can specify a meeting as “no laptops” or “all laptops closed unless on a break”, so you will have undivided attention, but generally that just means that breaks get dragged out while people work furiously to go through their mail.

    5. Joseph*

      I don’t think it’s generally feasible, but you can definitely do it on a smaller scale in many (most?) jobs.

      Rather than going full-bore and only answering emails between 8:30-9:00 and then 4:30-5:00, you instead block it off as five minutes an hour. This way, you never ignore something for hours on end, but you also aren’t stopping every four minutes either.

      Also, someone else mentioned this below, but turning off notifications alone is a big step. Especially if you use Outlook, it’s really hard to resist the siren call of “gotta check it” after seeing the first 20 words of the email.

    6. Applesauced*

      I would love to do that, but I realize the people I work with would not be on board.
      I tend to get distracted by email, so I’ll delay even looking at a new one until I finish the task at hand – last week my manager walked over to my desk 5 minutes after sending and email to ask if I was done with the task she had emailed about.

    7. Voluptiousfire*

      I did this in a previous role and it really helped. My primary communication was email, so I would set up a two hour block in the morning and afternoon and would answer emails then. My job required a lot of scheduling, (not immediate), so this worked well. If I finished early, I’d get started on another project in my queue.

    8. Post it*

      I did not have set times to check my mail. However, I started my day with checking e-mails, so you could call that a set time, but I think that that is what most people do. I turned off the whatyamacallit popup thingy in the lower corner of the screen to alert me to a new e-mail. This is what made quite a difference to me. If it would pop up while I was working on something, it would draw me to the email and out of what I was doing. So my suggestion is to strat by turning that off :)

    9. Ife*

      I think I could actually do this if I wanted to. But I don’t want to! I would constantly be wondering if there was something I should be aware of.

      It would definitely be possible for me though. We don’t have an expectation that emails have to be answered right away (usually within 1-2 days is the norm), and if something is urgent the person will IM you or walk over to your desk.

      That said, I only get about a dozen or two dozen emails a day. And about half of them are sitting waiting for me when I log in in the morning. So I don’t think I would gain much productivity by ignoring emails, since I’m not getting interrupted that often.

      1. Ife*

        Oh and reading some other replies, now I’m thinking about Old Job, where I did get a TON of emails every day. That job, I would check emails at the beginning of the day and handle whatever had come in, then go do some work (no notification when emails arrived). Depending on what I had to accomplish, I might check emails one or two more times that day, or I might just check them 30-60 minutes before I left for the day. Response time was expected to be about 1-2 days. So it is definitely doable! I think the expected response time is key, not volume of email.

    10. Honeybee*

      Nope. I might get an email that requires me to change the shape of my entire day or week – add this project, kill that project, add this to that deliverable, can you do this in the next two hours? This is especially true if any of my products are anywhere close to a release. I do try to have some times when I zone out and don’t check email all day long, especially if I’m doing something that requires a lot of concentration, but I can’t get it scheduled to one specific time a day.

    11. Chaordic One*

      Yes, I did it in my last job and it helped to a point. I had a certain set of tasks that I had to do first thing in the morning everyday and those took priority over email. Sometimes the volume was light and I might get through them in a couple of hours, other times I wouldn’t get through them until the afternoon.
      Sometimes, I would get those first-thing-in-the-morning tasks done as far as I could and I would have to stop and momentarily wait before I could proceed any further. While waiting, I would look at my email (the oldest one first) and maybe respond if I had time before returning to my first-thing-in-the-morning tasks. When those morning tasks were finally done, it was on to the email and being overwhelmed.

    12. AliceBD*

      Wouldn’t work in my position. I do social media and a lot of work on our website, and a lot of my emails have me adjusting what I’m putting on social sites/the website and/or when it is going out. Or it is a Fw Fw Fw from someone higher up that needs a quick response.

      I have Outlook and I like the little pop-up because it tells me if it is something I need to read pretty soon or if I can ignore it until I finish what I’m doing. I also love Clutter because I have it trained pretty well, so all of the marketing emails I get (everyone in the marketing department gets a lot of marketing emails from other businesses, so we can see what’s happening in the industry) and the notification emails go into there. I do only check Clutter a couple of times a day, and it keeps from junking up my main inbox with things I can delay.

  9. March*

    I’m trying to decide if I’m open to moving across country if it means finding work. If times were different, I don’t think I would – there isn’t really much habit of people moving out of the city here for school, since we have a university with a very low tuition rate and a number of varied programs. There’s only been two instances in my family of people moving out of province for work. Although the moves paid off in both cases, there was a definite disconnect when they came back, and I don’t really feel nearly as close to them. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so hesitant to consider moving out of province, even if it means getting a great job. The only times I’ve seen people do it led to them becoming more distant, and I don’t want to lose that connection to my family.

    Unfortunately, I’m in the oil and gas industry, which isn’t doing too well, and the jobs for new engineering grads here are few and far between. I did apply a week ago to one in town, in my field, and I’ve got my fingers crossed.

    Does anyone have experiences that they wouldn’t mind sharing? Or advice on moving away for work?

    1. ZSD*

      Last year, I moved about 2500 miles to take a new job, and I don’t regret it. It was very stressful, but I’m proud of myself for making the big change. It felt brave, and I’m glad that I had the guts to make such a dramatic move to try out a new career path I’ve been interested in for a long time.
      HOWEVER, I didn’t live close to my family before the move anyway. The last time I lived in my home state was in high school (i.e., I went to college out of state and haven’t moved back home since). So my situation was different than yours was.
      I don’t think living away from my family has made me less close to my parents emotionally. Honestly, the distance helps me stay sane in that regard. My brothers also live in different states, and I’ve never been that close to my cousins, so all of that is moot in my case. If you have a large extended family that all live in your province and to whom you’re very close, then yes, I guess moving away could diminish that closeness.
      On the other hand, you’ll make new friends in the new place and eventually develop a “chosen” family, so it’s not like the net number of people you feel close to will be forever diminished.
      So: If I were you, I’d go for it, but it sounds like you’re much closer to your family than I’ve been, so YMMV.

    2. Wilton Businessman*

      Moving away can be a great experience and a chance to broaden your horizons.

      I graduated College and moved 700 miles from home. My parents were youngish and visited a few times a year. As they got older, the visits were fewer and fewer and I ended up making the effort to visit them more often. I’ve found that you have to make the effort to stay connected.

      1. Mike C.*

        It’s funny you say this because I spent some of my summer in high school working in a lab and asked some of the profs advice on picking schools and one of them said the very same thing – go out of state. It was really great advice.

    3. Lawnonymous*

      I am the only one in my extended family (think aunts, uncles and cousins) that has moved away from the area my extended family lives in so I understand the concept of “no one moves away”. And I didn’t just move around the corner – it is more like “only-feasible-to-travel-home-is-by-plane” away. I have managed to stay close with my immediate family by flying home at least twice a year so I don’t feel like our relationships have suffered because I no longer live in the same town. My relationships are definitely different but they aren’t worse. Some of the friendships I had that were fading away have disappeared completely but I think that would have happened even if I stayed. That being said, one of the drawbacks is that I am not there for everything (which was a big change for me) – I miss all my nieces’ and nephews’ concerts and hockey games except for the ones that happen when I am home for a visit. The other way this has manifested itself is that I find it hard to buy gifts for my siblings – I was so used to being in their houses and up-to-date on their lives that it used to be easy to find a gift but now it is more difficult. One of the perks of moving away is that my relationship with certain family members is better because of the distance (sometimes distance = clarity). One of the downsides is that I use half of my vacation every year just to visit. My family do visit from time to time but not regularly (which may be because I go home so often). On the upside, there are great perks to living where I do – especially in my professional life. As ZSD noted, you will develop relationships in your new city and you will discover things about yourself that you never knew before you moved. And for me, there is always the possibility of moving back to my home town so I never feel like I am trapped here. The professional experience I have gained cannot be taken away so I can always transfer it to another job if I decide I need to move home. And keep in mind that there are no wrong answers here – just different outcomes. Best of luck.

      1. March*

        That sounds a lot like it would be for me, as well – it’s a 700 km drive to the next nearest city, but you’d have to hop on a plane for a few hours to reach any urban centre.

        I’m definitely unsure about moving for work, but hearing input from people is definitely easing my major concerns. I think I’ll apply to jobs that pop up and if I move, well, hopefully it’ll work out.

    4. MoinMoin*

      It sounds like a quality of life question only you can really weigh for yourself, but I do absolutely think it’s worth it to live in different places for all the reasons stated above. Also consider your mid-term career path. Would it make sense to move elsewhere to make yourself more marketable in your locale of choice in the future? Would moving allow you to stay in your industry/gain skills/be promoted/be more financially secure and in turn make it more likely you’ll be able to return to your hometown in a better position? I’d think the tradeoff would be worth it in that case. To me it seems like moving gives you more potential and opportunity and if not, return home with personal experiences gained and nothing lost but some time and effort, whereas staying leaves you on a known mediocre trajectory and the potential for regret.
      I hope someone that actually lives in/near their hometown and likes it gives you some advice too, though, because I’m another person that left my home state within a month of turning 18 and has never really looked back. No 2 members of my immediate family live in the same state and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

    5. Almond Milk Latte*

      Food for thought: Moving 1500 miles away from my parents brought us closer than living under the same roof together. We had to intentionally make time to catch up, and I found that we spent more time having heart-to-hearts about the meaning of life instead of talking about which one of us is going to pick up milk and bread.

      1. ali*

        Yep, this is my experience too. We had preset scheduled times to call each week, and we ended up talking anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour any given week, but it was talking about real things. I’ve since moved to the city they moved to (after 11 years of being away from them) and that time away has definitely made our relationship stronger.

    6. orchidsandtea*

      Are you single, both physically and mentally healthy, and generally able to meet new people without great angst? In that case I’d encourage you to give it a try, because you can always move back. (I don’t say that lightly — moving is an expensive pain, and it’s never the same to return as it would be to not-have-left. But you can return, and that matters.) It’s hard to not have support when you need it, though, so if you’re in a tumultuous time like being newly-married or becoming a new parent or working out a health issue, you may not want to be without your “net” of family and friends.

      I moved a lot with my family and once 2300 miles without anybody. It worked out for me. I think I’ll stay here — I found an amazing community, I met my husband, my in-laws live here, and I have more friends than I ever have before. We may move some day, but I think we’re more likely to try 6-month sabbaticals in other places and then come back.

    7. EngineerInNL*

      It sounds like you’re probably from NL (correct me if I’m wrong) in which case moving to “the mainland” is a pretty big decision. Did you have any work terms that were outside of your province? If you did then I would really think about how you felt about being away from home while on those work terms, one of my friends moved to Toronto for an 8 month work term and HATED her life the entire time despite multiple visits home and multiple visitors during her stay. She took some pretty undesirable jobs after she graduated to be able to stay in our home city because for her it was worth being close to family and friends. You really need to decide if having a certain job will make you happier than being near to family and friends (which from your initial post does not seem the case). I know the job market is pretty terrible at the moment for oil and gas but there are other industries that are hiring which you can probably transfer your skills to.

    8. Lemon Zinger*

      I graduated from a university in California, where there are very few jobs and even fewer available to new grads. Living with my parents was not an option. I took a job in another state, and though I had suspicions about the job being right for me, I knew just getting out was the best thing to do. My suspicions were correct: I am NOT a salesperson. But the job market here is amazing, and I fell into a field that’s definitely where I want to make my career.

      Sometimes getting out is all you need to jump-start your life.

    9. CAA*

      Looking around my office, the conference swag I am using is:
      – a large mug from a recruiter
      – a USB hub in rainbow colors that folds into a flower shape (this is hard to describe, but basically it is something I can fidget with and something I can charge my devices with)
      – a miniature magnetic man kit (again, something to fidget with but much more interesting than a stress ball)
      – a magnetic clip that is holding up my calendar

    10. Colette*

      I moved from Saskatchewan to Ontario after university. It was really hard – it took me at least six months to begin to meet people, start to feel like I knew where I was going, etc. And I still miss family events. But …I go back at least once, sometimes twice a year. I’ve had many family members come to visit. And the Internet was just starting to become common when I moved, so communication is a lot easier these days.

      My great-grandmother moved to Ontario when my grandmother was just out of her teens, and it was almost like she fell off the edge of the earth – phone calls were expensive, flights were, too, so they were left with letters. Life has changed considerably since then.

      But you will definitely be a different person if you move. That’s not a bad thing – you’ll have life experiences you wouldn’t get in your comfort zone.

    11. AnonAcademic*

      I have moved from the NYC metro area to New England (4 hour drive away), then back to NYC Metro, and then to the West Coast a year ago (5 hour flight away), all for career opportunities. I’m in academia where frequent relocation early in your career is expected if not required. It has been a great experience although stressful at times. With each move it forced me to distill my friends down to people I really wanted to spend time with on visits back, and who were reliable enough to keep in touch despite the difference. So, while I miss my former homes often, I also have tons of cool places to visit, people to see, and places to crash! It’s amazing how a once or twice a year catch up session can maintain a relationship across the distance. Same goes for family – mine really cherishes the time we have together now. And some fraught relationships have chilled out because we’re not in each other’s business so much.

  10. She-Hulk*

    Has anyone received promotional items from a company that they actually liked, enough to keep and maybe even use? Also, what kind of things have you put directly into the trash?

    1. Collie*

      I’ve gotten some really great pens. If it writes smoothly and is comfortable, it’s a keeper in my book. Post-its are always safe, too. Microfiber cloths for cleaning glasses/devices are always welcome, too.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I agree. If it writes well, I keep it. (Uh…and try not to circle back for 5 more).
        If it is a cheap, ball point pen…not interested. But then I take it to my coffee shop side gig (where customers are always walking off with our pens, and we have no office supplies budget, and leave them there, so I guess I am doing secondary advertising, LOL, for whatever company the pen.)

      2. A Bug!*

        I got given a small cloth that clings to smooth surfaces; it’s meant to stick to the back of a smartphone so you always have it handy when your phone screen gets too fingerprinty.

        My favourite pen in my whole life was a promo pen. I was sad when it ran out because I don’t know who the manufacturer was.

        My favourite promotional material I’ve ever received, though, has to be a temporary tattoo. It was from a super-stodgy company in a super-stodgy field. It was literally just their logo and company name, and it just completely made my day. But that’s just me.

        I can’t think of anything that I put straight into the trash. I have a little basket for the stuff I don’t care to keep, and other people can rummage through it.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Yes! Ugh, I want like a million, it’s such a battery hog of an app.

      2. She-Hulk*

        I may or may not have purchased a 20,000+ mah external battery off Amazon this week for playing Pokemon Go ;)

        1. Karo*

          There’s a ton on sale right now, too! I got a smaller one, but it’ll still charge my phone 3 times :)

      3. Mike C.*

        If folks are looking for inexpensive high capacity ones, Monoprice.com is really great for that sort of thing.

    2. Mike C.*

      Does internal swag count? I got an inexpensive shaker with a juicer insert that was surprisingly useful. Also tons of random flashlights.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Flashlights are the best! Useful when crouching under a cubicle desktop to feed the monitor and power cords into the tiny opening with the (broken) plastic cap.

      2. Red Wheel*

        I once received a usb charger in a minaturized shape of my company’s (very very cool product).

      3. Margali*

        Can you link to an example? I’m intrigued, and I’m running short of ideas for the stuff CEO likes to give out for birthdays and corporate anniversaries.

    3. Leatherwings*

      I love grocery totes because they’re so useful and I hate having to buy them myself. A partner organization we work with gives away really nice umbrellas that people adore, though I imagine that’s expensive.

      Please don’t give me another notepad though. I’m sure some people use them but I sure don’t. I can get them at the hotels I stay at if I really need one anyways. So many people use laptops or tablets nowadays I find them useless.

      1. Biff*

        I got reusable grocery bags from Oboz shoes. It was fantastic — even when it died, I was able to use it as patch material.

      2. Lillian McGee*

        Yeah! Our org had some great grocery totes that I slowly accumulated by having to haul stuff to and from work.

      3. SophieChotek*

        I would love a good canvas tote (not a cheap one that so many places give out); I have a canvas bag tote with good handles…I use it every day.

        I’m admit i’m sick of the normal, run-of-the-mill grocery tote I see all the time though. I only have about 10 of them; after giving about 10 away.

        That said, a unique size one could be interesting; saw some smaller ones that are nice for lunches. And one company once gave away long tall skinny ones that were great for taking wine.

      4. Elizabeth*

        My favorite conference swag bag is large enough to hold a frozen pizza. The sales rep I got it from said she made her fellow reps and her orderer/buyer go with her to the grocery store and try putting common brands of frozen pizza into the various bag samples to get them to understand why this was important.

        If you’re going to do notepads, make them a larger size and either spiral bound or a soft-bound. I’ve got several that are perfect for project notebooks.

      5. Anxa*

        I actually do like notepads.

        I like grocery totes but I am kind of meh on the polyester style ones. My SO gets some pretty great ones from conferences that hold up really well and are cotton tote that have a nice drape to them.

    4. Charlotte Collins*

      The USHS once sent me socks! I wear ’em.

      Also, I’ve gotten insulated grocery bags from a few places. They’re very handy.

    5. NarrowDoorways*

      I have a coaster, several canvas bags, socks, legos, a plushie, a stress ball…

      Threw away a t-shirt and a rubber duck.

    6. Bowserkitty*

      We did 2gig USB sticks for conference swag at OldJob. We had so many leftover that me and some of my other coworkers pilfered them long after the conference was over and they were collecting dust in our storage closet. I still have some!

      1. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

        Just for future notice, you could donate them to a local homeless shelter or job program as we always needed them at the shelter I use to work at. Our clients could put resumes on them and take them with when they meet with job coaches.

        1. Bowserkitty*

          Ok, THAT is amazing and I had no idea such a program existed that used these! The only one I know of (other than what you just told me) is Flash Drives For Freedom, that sends USB sticks full of outside information to North Korean citizens.

          1. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

            I also had a friend who was a college counselor at a school in a lower income neighborhood and he would collect them to give to students for homework or college application materials. This is especially helpful if kids are using computers in libraries or other public spaces.

      2. sam*

        USB sticks are useful, but after the 1000th warning from my company to never, ever use one that we haven’t purchase ourselves or gotten from our IT department due to potential malware risks, I would be hesitant to recommend them as a general swag item.

        I personally like
        – backup battery chargers
        – umbrellas
        – pens
        – bluetooth speakers
        – calendars with dates that are useful in my industry (in my case, SEC filing deadlines)
        – the perennial favorite, Zagat’s

    7. Mockingjay*

      The small USB flash drives go into the trash. Their capacity is too small to hold more than a few files, and IT considers them a security risk so you can’t plug them in anyway.

      1. Bowserkitty*

        Admittedly, I use mine for TV episodes I convert from my computer to my PS3 and watch on there.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I want one! I want one!
        (I saw a great letter metal opener once at a flea market..shaped like a sword with company logo on hilt and name etched in blade.) Probably too expensive nowadays.

    8. Daisy Steiner*

      My husband had a lovely, lightweight zip-up rain jacket/windbreaker that he wore till it wore out – granted, not all that long as it was pretty cheaply made. But while it lasted it was very useful.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I had a fleece jacket that was The Best it was lined with an inside pocket, I wore it all the time. The zipper head broke so I am trying to decide whether I should put a new zipper in it or not.

    9. RinCat*

      I like grocery totes, small canvas bags (great for travel!), and small spiral notebooks, since I use for those my daily to-do lists and meeting notes.

      Normally I’m indifferent to mugs, but I went to this one conference a few months ago that gave out mugs that only held about 6 oz of liquid. They were so SHORT! I’m so annoyed by them! I know I need to let this go but THEY’RE SO RIDICULOUSLY SHORT. I’ll get over this some day, maybe…

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        On the flipside, I see those oversized Sports Direct mugs EVERYWHERE I go. I think there are becoming as ubiquitous in the workplace as those Arcoroc mugs were in the 1990s. They are great for making a decent-sized cup of tea.

        1. RinCat*

          I’m not sure. I considered that possibility, but they are just a bit too large for a typical espresso. It’s like someone took a regular 8-12 oz mug and just sliced off the top inch or so.

    10. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

      My org gives mini tape measures (as they have to do with our mission) at CFC/volunteer fairs and people love them. It is very handy to have as I’ve been out and needed to measure something small and now always have a way to do it and they attach to your key ring. Grocery bags are not as wanted as so many people have them but still handy. I got a coaster from an organization once which was super handy because I have it on my desk and always think of the org. when I use it which is obviously the goal.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I agree; mini tape measures could be nice. I have a couple…and never can find one when I need it tho.

    11. AVP*

      My company has nice pens and Sharpies printed with our logo and clients go nuts over them and often ask for extras. Apparently good markers fall into the category of “useful thing that I don’t want to buy for myself.”

      I love, love, love nice pens and good notebooks (some hotels give out Moleskine-style notebooks printed with their logo on the front and I hoard those).

    12. KE*

      I have a big clip with a magnet on the back that I keep on my fridge at home. Pens I always keep. Small notebooks if the quality is decent. Mugs, koozies and tumblers sometimes.

      Most technology-related things get trashed– iPhone case, flash drive, screen cleaner/wipe. They’re either redundant or lower quality than what I’d purchase for myself. Anything meant to be decorative (a fluff ball with googly eyes??) gets trashed immediately.

    13. AndersonDarling*

      My best items have been flash drives, a great umbrella, little bottles of spray hand sanitizer, and I once got a nifty water mister for hot days. I can’t handle any more water bottles/coffee mugs, tervis items- my desk overhead is overflowing with these.

    14. The Cosmic Avenger*

      My favorite was a laser pointer that communicated with a USB dongle, and you could use the pen-shaped pointer to also navigate your PowerPoint presentation.

      The cats never paid much attention to my PowerPoint presentations, though. :(

    15. Lia*

      I love notepads and quality pens. The battery charger I got at a conference is great too.

      Please, no more tote bags (I had dozens until I purged them), mugs, koozies, or cheap pens and highlighters.

    16. K.*

      I keep office supplies – pens (but only if I like how they write), notebooks, USBs, etc. I toss tchotchkes with no utilitarian value. The one exception to that rule was some Play-Dough I got – I gave that to my friend’s daughter, who was thrilled.

    17. sam*

      Don’t send food. I had a recruiter once try to send cookies to me without a return address as some sort of weird attempt at surprising me with a follow up call. This was right after the anthrax scare in NY. It did not go over well in my office. Needless to say, when he called a few days later, instead of finding an “appreciative” me, he got an earful about sending unlabeled food products to complete strangers. Did he really thing I was going to eat a random unmarked piece of food someone sent to my office?

    18. TheCupcakeCounter*

      My husband gets a ton of stuff from his annual conference. Our top faves are good quality pens, flash drives (we’ve even gotten some in really cool designs that are also multi-functional – a bottle opener and flash drive combo is still our favorite closely followed by the marker/drive combo), reusable shopping bags (big ones), and coolers.

    19. Lillian McGee*

      We had logo’d stress balls made one year–one is still occasionally lobbed across the cubicles.

      Once a law firm donated some books and handed them over in some really nice, sturdy canvas bags. I took one of the bags as payment for the schlepping.

    20. Charlotte Collins*

      When I worked for Disney, I had a ton of corporate-branded stuff. And I kept it all.

      My current company gives us a lot of branded stuff. Some of it I use (household items), and some of it I give away (shirts). Also, I’ve owned three different corporate-branded umbrellas. None of them lasted more than three uses. You cannot skimp on umbrella quality, people! Especially not in the Midwest, where rain often comes down hard with a lot of wind.

      1. Joseph*

        I would certainly keep all my Disney corporate branded stuff. Heck, people actually go to their shops and pay for stuff with their logo (I have a Disneyland magnet on my fridge right now).

    21. Jennifer M.*

      I got an awesome water bottle from my company. It is about a half liter size I think (honestly I don’t actually know, but seems bigger than 20 oz). Anyway, it is shaped like a liter bottle of soda for reference (this is relevant). It has the typical cap and spout. However, further down it has another part where the whole spout and dome-esque part of the bottle can screw on and off so that you can easily get in to clean it or not have to worry about aiming through a narrow spout to fill it. It’s a pretty heavy duty plastic (think the kind of bottles that come with a Soda Stream).

    22. Kristine*

      I’m actually the person in charge of ordering swag around here. Portable chargers, nice metal water bottles, and good pens have been a hit. T-shirts and mugs have been hit or miss depending on the quality (gave out some American Apparel t-shirts and nice big themed mugs at an event last week and got lots of good response on those). Plastic pens, notepads, laptop bags, can koozies, and cell phone card holders were all misses.

      1. Karo*

        We had someone insist that we order cell phone card holders because they were soooooo cool – we ordered literally thousands and NO ONE wants them other than this one guy who stops by our office whenever he’s in town to pick up more. Huge waste of money.

        1. Kristine*

          Someone ordered cell phone card holders before my time and the damn things are still here. We can’t get rid of them. Thankfully my husband loves them and takes one every time his rips. He also put one in the car to hold our gas rewards card.

        2. Joseph*

          No joke, I did not realize that cell phone card holders were actually a thing that existed until I read this posted.

          I just Googled them and I can’t understand what purpose they serve. Is it intended to replace my wallet? Because there’s so much that needs to be kept with me in my wallet (multiple credit cards, driver’s license, insurance cards, etc) that I can’t imagine wanting to put all of it on the back of my phone.

          1. RKB*

            I work at a gym and people put their membership cards in the back of their phone to avoid having to carry in their wallet. I also use one when I go to concerts/festivals/carnivals etc – places where I only need my debit, emergency credit card, and my license.

      2. Bridget*

        I hate metal water bottles. Anytime I’ve gotten one (and I’ve certainly never purchased one), screwing the cap on makes a horrible screechy noise that sets my teeth on edge. I’m probably alone in this but that’s my $.02.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I don’t like the ones that are shaped like a bottle — how the hell do you know those are clean? I have a couple of Contigo travel mugs that I put water in and another one I bought that has a wide mouth so I can see inside. In both cases, the lid is plastic/silicone so there isn’t any screeching.

      1. vpc*

        Yep! I dig those – good for cereal, chips, bags of rubber bands…

        The other item I got as a freebie that I use is a hot-beverage sleeve — not a can koozie, but like the cardboard ones you get at starbucks to keep your hands from burning, only in rubbery silicone. I keep it in my purse and in five years I’ve managed NOT to throw it away with my cup!

    23. Fawn*

      My all-time favourite was a tin of mints (Altoids-style) with the company logo on the front. Least favourite: stress balls.

      1. vpc*

        I’ve got an entire stress ball collection now though, and they amuse me. Not that i use them the way they were intended. I’ve got a honeybee, a buffalo, a football…

    24. AdAgencyChick*

      Umbrellas. My old job handed out purse-sized ones a couple of years ago and people LOVED them. Definitely saved at least a few people from an emergency $5 bodega umbrella purchase (you New Yorkers know what I’m talking about) since they’d leave the work umbrella at their desk and it was there if a rainstorm happened that people hadn’t prepared for by bringing one from home.

    25. periwinkle*

      Pens! Not cheap flimsy ones, though. The pens I keep are the more substantial ones with thicker barrels and soft grips (or soft plastic barrels). Definitely go with retractables, too. When I worked at a hospital, we all coveted the giveaway pens from the pharmaceutical companies because they didn’t skimp on quality.

      If you have a bigger budget, a mini 2- or 4-port USB hub would be an awesome giveaway. I’ve received plenty of USB flash drives over the years but what I really need is something to plug them into!

    26. Jaguar*

      I use a trade show t-shirt at in the gym (and it’s a truly terrible shirt!) and I use a bottle-opener from a software company (truly terrible would be unfair, but it’s not very good either) because my normal one is packed in some box somewhere and I can’t be bothered to find it.

      Otherwise, no, it’s all junk. I’m actually fond of turning that stuff down on the spot. If pressed, I flatly say, “I’m never going to use it and I’ll just throw it out.” It’s hilarious when I get the offended, “but these are our advertising materials you’re scorning!”

    27. WhichSister*

      Crazy but I once got a keychain that was designed to hold your chapstick. My significant other is a big chapstick user and he LOVES it. The chapstick slides right in.

    28. AnAnonTodayBecauseReasons*

      We give out cups (hot/cold) and sunglasses that people loooooove. I get emails all the time asking for more of them.

    29. Radio Wife*

      Media members can get some really cool stuff, and some pretty crappy stuff, too. My husband has gotten a really nice Columbia quarter-zip pullover from a college bowl game he covered. Last year, at one of the college conference media days, he got a very nice notebook, along with a set of earbuds in a nice zipper case. (Great when he needs to record/edit on the road)

      I’ve gotten, as internal “swag”, a fairly nice water bottle, a thermal lunch bag, and a sun visor for my car. Waaaay back when, I got two jumbo sized coffee mugs at a conference. (Mid-late 90’s) I still use those for soup.

    30. Karo*

      This is going to sound really weird, but we ordered booklights a few years back – like, before everyone had an ipad and before kindles were backlit – and they’ve been a huge hit, so we get more every year. People love them.

    31. SophieChotek*

      Generally, stress balls I would say are pointless.
      I did keep one that was shaped like an elephant tho — it was actually cute.
      It fit the company’s logo/brand…it wasn’t just a random ball…
      Then I could see a stressball/toy being useful and good branding…

      like a Pillsbury Dough Boy
      or a squeezable Starbucks mug…

    32. Almond Milk Latte*

      I have an ice scraper I got from a vendor that is the perfect size for keeping in my desk so I don’t need to dig out my car to get the tools I need to dig out my car.

    33. Crylo Ren*

      I used to work in event marketing and my partner currently works in that field, so I’ve seen my fair share!

      Most handy:
      – Portable phone chargers
      – Hardcover moleskine notebooks and pens (heavy ballpoint pens or fine-point Sharpies).
      – The best one I ever got was a pocket all-in-one screwdriver tool (it looked like a heavy metal pen, but you could unscrew the top and inside was stored a bunch of interchangeable screwdriver attachments). Unfortunately I lost it a few years ago :'(

      Least handy:
      – Any kind of phone case or tablet case. People have different-sized devices so it’s hard to find a good catch-all.
      – Stress balls, paperweights, or anything that’s supposed to just be decorative.
      – Standard-sized mugs. I’ve LOVED the really tall or wide ones I’ve gotten.
      – T-shirts or worse, polo shirts. In all my years of attending or organizing events I’ve only gotten one t-shirt I wanted to keep.
      – By far the most pointless thing I’ve ever gotten was bright blue and white knee high socks. They were a size XS but the foot part was ludicrously long – stretched all the way up to my calves so there was a weird little nub on the back of my legs! They were good for laughs, though.

    34. Joseph*

      Useful:
      >Highlighters. Everybody thinks of pens (and they are useful), but since virtually everybody gets pens, it’s just as likely to get tossed in a drawer as to actually get used.
      >Quality clothing – fleece vests, windbreakers, etc. Not talking about the ubiqituous t-shirt, but actual quality stuff.
      >Bottle openers – always good to have. Though probably questionable as an actual branding item – both from the associations with alcohol and since many people just stick them in a drawer/purse except when needed.
      >Durable office supplies (stapler, tape dispenser).

      Useless:
      >USB flash drives. They were cool once upon a time, but most people (including me) already have plenty. Also, in the age of Google Drive and smart phones, it’s far less common to need to physically copy a file using a USB drive. Also a security risk, though presumably a reputable company isn’t going to intentionally cause issues.
      >Umbrellas. By and large, they’re cheap and don’t last.
      >Rulers. People who use rulers for work need something fancier than your no-frills 6″ ruler. People who don’t either never uses rulers or already have one. The rulers given out as swag also tend to be really crummy and break too easily.
      >ANYTHING decorative. If it doesn’t have a purpose beyond decoration, then it gets compared with stuff I actually purchased specifically for decoration…and your crappy free swag is not winning that battle.

    35. Seal*

      Since I’ve started wearing glasses all the time, microfiber cloths are coveted items. I also have a USB adapter for my car (the kind that plugs into the lighter) that gets quite a bit of use. Tape measures, flashlights, and stress balls are also good. I have a ridiculous number of conference bags, but the ones I like best and actually use are the smaller ones and the ones that fold or get stuffed into a pouch.

    36. Viktoria*

      I love swag! The other day a Uline rep came in with a pad of post-its on a little mini pallet. I spotted it across the room and claimed it right away, it’s useful but also unique and cute so a complete win for me. I also use a promotional mousepad that I inherited on my desk, it’s nothing special but I look at it every day and would never spend money on a replacement, so that seems decent. I personally like mugs and water bottles, especially travel mugs. My company has promotional card decks that have been a big hit among my family, anyway- hopefully our customers like them too, haha.

      Not usually a fan of pens. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a nice one and I’m picky so it just feels like a waste of money. Tshirts, hats, etc. I never wear.

      PS- Bookmarking this thread for the next time we want to order promotional goods! Nice idea!

    37. Snarky Librarian*

      I got a squishy stress ball shaped like a brain from a local medical research company once. It sits in pride of place on my desk next to the miniature wooden catapult I got at a RenFest. But if I get one more cheap hat or flimsy plastic sunglasses from a vendor I’m going to lose my mind!

    38. Jules the First*

      The best swag I ever got was a little hardcover notebook (a bit bigger than a business card) but instead of notebook pages it was filled with post it notes and flags in like four sizes and six colours. So handy for travelling!

      1. Windchime*

        Ooooh, I got one of these too. I love it. I also got a highlighter pen that dispenses little sticky note tabs. I love that; so cool. Last conference I went to, I got some super cheap earbuds that short out and are uncomfortable.

    39. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Ones I can think of that I use a lot:
      – fridge magnets
      – chip clips (especially if they also have a magnet!)
      – notepads
      – pens (I’m kind of a pen hoarder)
      – those double-wall plastic tumblers with a straw (is there a name for those?)
      – mugs/travel mugs

    40. Emilia Bedelia*

      My dad’s company has phone chargers with several different cord styles – old iPod, lightning, micro USB, mini USB, USB… It’s so handy to have in my car because I always have a charger for anyone.

    41. Lemon Zinger*

      At an all-staff meeting, we were “pitched” by a nonprofit that makes its services available to our students. I found their business model to be really objectionable, so the marketing materials they LITERALLY forced on me went straight into the bin!

    42. Retiree57*

      I still have an ashtray that my dad got in 1962 with the company name. I realize ashtrays won’t generally fly in today’s world but it could be a cool momento for the right kind of event, e.g. A legalization celebration or some kind of retro Madman era thing. (for modern use, it has an amplification effect from the shape of the dish when I set my cellphone in it.)

    43. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Couple pro tips:

      First, the match the product category you’re shopping in to the budget you have. Shoot for at least mid-range quality. I think promotional dollars are wasted most when people attempt to buy the: $1 pedometer, $5 umbrella, $8 beach towel. If you have $5 to spend, don’t buy an umbrella! There are plenty of other product categories where $5 will get you a good quality [whatever], so let’s focus on those. You don’t have to buy the Cadillac but don’t buy the cheapest anything in any category because it’ll be exactly what you paid for.

      Second, always always get samples of the products before you place an order. Plenty of companies offer free samples to qualified buyers. The single biggest reason one of our customer’s might not get a sample is they didn’t allow enough time so, Second B, allow enough time . Even if a company CAN rush your order, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to do so.

      True story; I spent $250 of my own money on an order of stemless wine glasses last holidays. I didn’t get a sample! I was totally confident I understood the product – shatterproof, retail brand name and I was wrong. Order came in and I was crushed. I gave them out as gifts anyway but I was so sad. I won’t even use them at home.

      ALWAYS GET SAMPLES! lol, cannot believe I did that. :)

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        I also cannot believe I wrote “customer’s” instead of “customers”.

        sigh.

    44. Kelly L.*

      I’ll use tote bags, water bottles, good pens, good sticky notes, bottle openers, cups and mugs…

      Oh, umbrellas, I am in a constant state of just having lost mine.

      Won’t use bad pens, bad sticky notes, and OMG that one size fits all t-shirt that’s a men’s medium does NOT fit all! LOL.

    45. Nancie*

      I got a can cozy from a company ~20 years ago that I liked so much, I got my hands on a second one. I still have both, and use at least one of them daily.

      1. Nancie*

        I should note, these are unusual can cozies. Slightly hour-glass shaped, hard plastic inner liner (so condensation doesn’t get everywhere, including into the foam of the cozie) and an unusual foam that’s denser and tougher than normal.

        I wish I knew where to get more, one of them is starting to show some wear.

    46. Ife*

      I think a lot of items are going to be hit or miss. When people are handing out stuff at fairs or conferences, I avoid anything that doesn’t fit inside my purse or bag — so I flat-out refuse umbrellas, soft-sided coolers, towels(!), and the like. I also say no to clothing, because it is invariably sized for an average-to-large man, and I am a small woman. Sometimes I will accept a cloth bag, because I can use it for shopping.

      However, you cannot go wrong with pens. Everyone can use a pen. About half my pens in school were from my bank. Fridge magnets are ok if I want your number handy (e.g. doctor’s office, insurance agent), but are going in the trash if you are like, Starbucks or the grocery store or my employer’s vendor.

      Samples are good too, even if they are not really what your company sells. I have picked up hand sanitzer in little airplane-sized bottles from a grocery store stand at the fair.

      The weirdest SWAG I got was a measuring cup, like for cooking. Except it’s too small to use for much (only one cup). I used it to carry the hand sanitizer samples around until we got to the car. It will find its way to Goodwill or the recycling plant soon.

    47. Zinnias Bloom*

      In the past, we gave away ice cream (or frozen yogurt) scoops with our company logo and they were a huge hit. We also gave away small, tabletop golf putting games (got them on clearance for $1 each) and they were well-received too.

      I’m always a fan of regional or local giveaways. For instance, I was in Memphis for a conference a few years back and they gave away BBQ rib seasoning from Rendezvous (a famous BBQ place in the city). Delicious.

      1. TheCupcakeCounter*

        +1 – I got one of these from Hudsonville Ice Cream in MI and it is amazing. When they showed up at my new office (we are right down the road) with 12 tubs of ice cream and 6 scoops and then LEFT THEM ALL its possible I may have grabbed one of them and taken it home. I did help a lot with the set up and clean up so I earned it – only half stealing.

    48. Sadsack*

      Umbrellas! Good ones – vented golf umbrellas and compact umbrellas. I love a good umbrella. I proudly exhibit one with the logo of a law firm (I think) that my SO got at a seminar.

    49. Theguvnah*

      Swag I’ve gotten or given in the past few years that stands out:

      – lube and condoms (seriously! A sexual health organization)
      – individual bags of chocolate covered pretzels with simple logo stickers. A huge conference hit during sessions!
      – branded lip balm

      My org’s pocket compact, umbrellas and cell chargers have all been well received.

    50. Manders*

      I got a really nice metal water bottle as conference swag and was very peeved when somebody (not in my office) swiped it. The only problem was that I got so much swag at that conference it was awkward to carry everything around all day.

      Swag I threw away immediately: eyedrops for bloodshot eyes at a gaming convention. I am definitely not putting anything I’m handed at PAX near my eyeballs.

    51. Gwen*

      Swag we give out that’s popular:
      -Bottle openers
      -Beer can chapsticks (people go NUTS for these)
      -Koozies
      -Mini cocktail kits
      -Cute branded magnets

      Stuff I’ve gotten I like:
      -Cute magnets
      -Nice t-shirts (quality fabric, design on the front with subtle logo on the back)
      -Shot glass
      -Good pens
      -Nice quality notebooks

    52. EddieSherbert*

      I worked at a company that I’m pretty sure just stamped a logo or photo on the cheapest thing they could buy in bulk at the time:

      Stone coaster with photo of building I worked in on it (still have)
      Deck of cards with logo on it (still have)
      Chapstick with logo on it (used it)
      Foam puzzle cube with pencil holes in it with logo on it (right in the trash)

    53. Elizabeth West*

      We used to get tons of sample pens in the mail at Exjob and LabJob. I kept them because we never ordered anything from those places. At LabJob, we also got mugs, squeezy balls (once, a cow-shaped squeezy), and I snagged a really nice t-shirt from Fisher Scientific, which I wore until it became a rag. The only thing my boss at the lab wanted was a pair of sunglasses. She let me have the rest since I handled the mail.

      In my personal mail, I’ve gotten address stickers from my insurance company with my addy on them. I use them when I mail stuff, which isn’t often anymore. And once, the Humane Society sent me an umbrella with cartoon cats and dogs all over it in a fundraising letter. I had never sent them any money–I don’t know what mailing list I got on. It was a great umbrella.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh, I forgot one!! We had a meeting at corporate and the presenter gave out swag–I got a little plastic beach chair to put my phone on. I LOVE that thing.

    54. Aardvark*

      I just pilfered a vintage ’70s/’80s promotional SF Chronicle/Examiner ruler from my mother. It’s got measurements in picas, which is relevant to my non-work interests. It is the best thing.

    55. Kyrielle*

      Grocery bags would be awesome. Stress balls are awesome but…they make very bad company-advertising swag since people would be squeezing the heck out of them. But I do love getting them as freebies. Mugs! Good ones, not crud – I like the tall tapered ones, but that’s just me, maybe. Notebooks but _not_ notepads. Post-it notes, though, are handy. Pens if they are comfortable and WRITE. Please do not give out pens that already do not write on being received. Stickers, but I’m weird (and have small children). USB sticks but (a) only if they have some decent size (so not 8 MB, for the love of little green apples) and (b) don’t look moronic. Hint: if your company symbol is an animal of any kind, you shouldn’t pull the head off to access the USB part, because that just means you have a butt sticking out of your computer. (A company I used to work for totally did that, and I found it disturbing, every time I used it.) Mouse pads are okay, but you don’t exactly need a ton of them, so they tend to go unused. One company here did tubes of scented chapstick – actually those were pretty awesome. I got a small duffel once – that was really handy.

      Weirdest swag ever: a single brightly-colored pipe cleaner, with a tag on it with the company’s info. (Something or other about creativity and health. I forget.) I stripped the tag off and gave the pipe cleaner to my kid, so I technically can’t say I threw it out, but…mission not accomplished if I was supposed to remember the company’s name!

      1. Anxa*

        I feel like mousepads are actually a really good idea some places, since there never seems to be a system for washing them (and then if they do get washed regularly, theyd’ start to fall apart eventually)

    56. Nye*

      I was sent a Skulls Unlimited catalog after attending a conference where they were a vendor. I treasured that! Such a weird and amazing thing.

      The best conference swag I’ve gotten was a sturdy pint glass with the logo of the conference and the organizing agency. It’s by my bedside as we speak.

      I think these are especially noteworthy because we really don’t get much, or good, swag in my field. My partner is an engineer and he’s come back from conferences with books, flashlights, gloves, and all manner of loot in comparison.

    57. Lindsay J*

      I’m jealous of the swag my boyfriend brought back from a recent conference.

      A Yeti Mug
      A Contigo Mug
      An ID lanyard
      A Gym Bag (duffle bag, not drawstring)
      and a big, well made umbrella

  11. Mimmy*

    Has anyone ever used a LiveScribe pen for their work or school? If so, would love to hear experiences, pros and cons! I worry that requesting this device wasn’t the wisest move (it was a disability accommodation). No, I am not regularly paid, but they paid for the pen.

    I was just given a LiveScribe3 pen by my state council to help me take meeting minutes more effectively – at least I hope! I played with a bit yesterday; it has some really neat features but the reviews for the app were horrible.

    The acoustics of the room we do our meetings in isn’t great, and people are pretty spread out, so the recording aspect of the pen may not be useful.

    1. EmilyG*

      I haven’t used one personally but one of my former team members had one. It was the device he requested instead of something like an iPad and I was pretty skeptical. But he loved it and it actually worked when I tried it out, even with my awful handwriting. I’m fussy about pens so I don’t think I would have put up with it as my own writing instrument, but he liked it and obviously got a lot of use from it. Sometimes he’d email us all notes from meetings right after they ended, already transcribed. :0

    2. Microscope Jockey*

      A prof I work with has one and she uses it to record her lecture notes, so if she has to absent I can go boot up her lecture and students hear her voice and see the notes on the overhead projector, just like if the prof was writing notes on the board. The subject she teaches involves a lot of calculations, so writing them out on the board is a must.

    1. Audiophile*

      Taleo, Jazz, Jobvite, Resumator. [Insert name of terrible applicant tracking system here.]

    2. ljs_lj*

      +1

      They are universally so terrible and repetitive – who ever thought they were a good idea?

    3. Margali*

      Have you checked out JobScore? My office has been using it for years and we LOVE it, and it seems pretty straightforward for the applicants, too.

  12. The Cosmic Avenger*

    So, someone I volunteer with/for just got a big promotion…to the second level of a local gov’t org chart. But not doing anything that I would be involved in. Is there a way to ask her without sounding crass, hey, I’d love to work for someone parallel to you, can you let me know if there’s anything open? We have talked for hours before/after our volunteering gig, and she seems to really like the volunteer work I do, although it’s not directly related to what I do for a living, sometimes I have the chance to comment on my work experience when it’s relevant.

    1. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

      I have this conversation with volunteers all the time about positions their looking for/interested in so I would say ask about it! It’s helpful when volunteers let me know their interest or goals because if I see something that could be a match, I can connect them.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thanks, that’s encouraging! I actually sent her a LinkedIn request, I didn’t even realize she was on there! I only think of it for my day job, even though I added my volunteer activities recently.

  13. always anon*

    Question about contract work.

    I was contacted by a recruiter on behalf of a company for a job in a completely different industry, but for work that’s similar to what I do now. The job sounds like something I’d be interested in and capable of doing, so I’m going ahead with the interviews.

    However, this is a contract role for 6-12 months with the intention of full-time hire afterwards (the company wants it to be a full-time role, but it’s a new role and they need someone with specialized experience and they couldn’t find that internally). The pay is hourly as a contractor, but twice what I make currently. Benefits come through the recruiting firm while I’m a contractor.

    I guess my question is…has anyone left a full-time position with excellent health benefits for a contract position with no 100% guarantee you’ll get that full-time position? This job would be doubling my salary and bringing me into the six figure range. I live in a high cost area where six figures is breaking even for a lot of people in the city (it would really, really help me even if it was only for six months because I’m breaking even on $60K, so double that would let me pay off one credit card and put a solid chunk into loan payments AND save a lot).

    1. ThatGirl*

      To me, that sounds like a safe enough bet – I worked as a contractor for 4 1/2 years, hoping to be brought on full time, and finally was. In the meantime I got a lot of other leads for short-term contract jobs, and never pursued them because I didn’t want a less stable situation than I already had.

      But in your case, you could save a lot of money/pay down some debt, get some additional experience, and possibly a full time job out of it – it sounds like they really do want a FTE, but want to develop the skills first with more flexibility. As long as you’re actually interested in the job and not just the salary, and are confident enough that you could find a new job in a year if needed, I say go for it.

      1. always anon*

        Honestly, having been in a situation before where I had no money and no one to help me out, I do worry about having to pay more taxes or out of pocket costs for health insurance and then not having a permanent job at the end of it.

        The experience could help me out and the extra money would be nice, but I’m just panicking a bit at the thought of a contractor status and not being able to find a new job if something happens while I’m there.

        1. Natalie*

          No comment on the health care, but because of our marginal income tax structure it’s literally impossible that you still won’t come out ahead after taxes. If it’s twice what you’re making, that’s a big increase even as net pay – you can save a lot so you’ll have a big cushion if you don’t get hired, and if you do get hired you still have all the money.

    2. Wilton Businessman*

      If you have your financial safety net in place (6 months emergency fund), then go for it! Otherwise, what happens if they don’t want you after 2 months and you’re back looking for a job?

      1. always anon*

        I have three months emergency fund. When I say I’m breaking even right now, that’s not a lie. My current salary + rent, bills, & loan payments took me almost a full year to save up three months of an emergency fund. Six has always seemed like a pipe dream.

        1. Wilton Businessman*

          Well, that is something you’re going to have to decide if that is enough of a cushion.

          Ultimately, at the end of a contract, there is always some risk of “sitting on the bench” if they don’t take you perm. But if you get on top of your bills and get that 6 month emergency in the 12 months you work, maybe it will be worth it.

    3. Camellia*

      How would you get your health benefits? I did contract work for a while but the benefits through the contracting company were really crappy and my husband has a lot of medical needs. A couple of years our out of pocket medical expenses were around $28,000 (yes, you read that correctly), so that cancelled out the high salary.

      Also, it seems like many companies advertise a position as contract-to-hire but don’t really follow through, I think just because it makes the position seem more desirable. You have to be prepared to NOT be taken on full time and also to have the contract cancelled at any moment. I was okay with both of those because in IT there is always another contract right around the corner.

      But now I’m full time with a company with excellent benefits so I’m hoping I can stay here for a good long time.

      1. always anon*

        The recruiting firm said they pay for the basic healthcare requirements that have to give under law while I pay a $80/month copay/premium. I’m pretty healthy, but I still don’t want crappy health insurance because you never know what happens.

        The contract being cancelled at any time doesn’t worry me too much because it’s really no different than being laid off or fired at any time imo.

    4. Nanani*

      Is “double your salary as a contractor” calculated before or after contractor taxes?
      If it’s before, re-run your calculation in consideration of the fact that you pay the employer portion of the tax burden yourself when you are self-employed, which you would be as a contractor.

      1. always anon*

        I’d be given a W2 with taxes taken out, so I don’t think it counts as IC tax status. Even so, after taxes it’s still double what I currently make after taxes.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Oh yes, I meant to mention this — don’t forget about that part, it does cut your take home pay down!

    5. Rubyrose*

      I did. Seven years of working at home was driving me crazy; I wanted to go into an office and see people. What I found out that in my area full time jobs were pretty non-existent; companies wanted to bring you on as a contractor with the option of making you full time at around 6 months.
      It was a risk that I am glad I took. I figured out that the company would be a long term fit. But their HR department kept putting off serious salary negotiations and then there was a hiring freeze. I went looking and found a full-time position! Original company wanted to keep me as a contractor, but I felt they were shaky. Would never have gotten to where I’m at now without having been a contractor.

  14. Amber Rose*

    I’m seriously having a panic attack at work right now.

    The office manager is on holidays in August and the shipper has a family thing in August and so now in addition to A/R, sales, documents and safety, I have to be shipper for a week. My boss came up this morning and was like “any concerns about the forklift?”

    Yeah, I would say so! Let’s start with “I’ve never driven one and am afraid of them like I am all vehicles” and move on from there to “shipping is not something I know how to do at all”, “when in the hell am I going to have time to get anything done” and “if I knew I’d have to play shipper I’d never in a million years have taken this job. Seriously.”

    I’m so sick of this. I used to like my job, back when it was challenging rather than a living nightmare.

    1. Althea*

      Don’t you have to be certified or licensed to operate a forklift? That sounds… dangerous? Or at least iffy?

      Push back. Managers have to fill gaps when people are away, not just assume someone else can fill it. It’s part of the cost of doing business. There has to be a strategy.

      1. Boo*

        Yeah, this. Pretty sure you need a special forklift license. My bro was a contractor for the council doing roadworks and he had to take special tests to get a license to drive all the different kinds of vans/HGV lorries etc. You can’t just rock up to one and drive it with your regular driver’s license. You may also need to be insured by your company.

      2. LCL*

        There are rules about being qualified to drive a forklift. A call to your state L&I if you have one, or to OSHA, or a few minutes googling forklift accidents, will clarify that. So I would push back on the forklift driving. But the other part, the shipping, is actually an opportunity to learn how it is done and it would be interesting to do for a little while. You will make more connections, and gain resume experience.

        1. Amber Rose*

          I neither want nor need this experience. It isn’t interesting, it’s causing my anxiety to flare up and my blood pressure to rise. I’m literally about to vomit.

          1. Natalie*

            This is actually another excellent reason to refuse this assignment – if you get trained, it’s a million times more likely they’ll expect you to do this in the future. Push back now and save yourself the headache next time the shipper goes on vacation.

      3. Amber Rose*

        There are no official licenses required where I live. We have an in-house training we do for OH&S reasons and that’s it.

        There is nobody, no strategy. I am the office bitch. I do it all.

        1. Aurion*

          Where do you live? I can’t imagine forklift drivers not having a license!

          My workplace has an attached warehouse. Not all of my warehouse staff are certified forklift drivers (I had assumed they all are, but they’re not), and you better believe that the ones without the certification are not going anywhere near the forklift driver’s seat.

          1. A Safety Consultant*

            OSHA doesn’t have a license requirement for forklifts per se. You do have to be a qualified operator, which means you need to be given formal classroom instruction, specifics on the truck you will be driving, and a driving test. This training can be provided in-house by your employer, provided that the instructor is knowledgeable about forklift hazards and operation.

            1. Aurion*

              Sorry, I shouldn’t have said “license”. My tea isn’t working.

              Apparently in-house training is an option where I am, provided that the in-house training covers all the requirements (although a propane handler’s certificate is required if they transfer propane). I did not know this! So apparently the concept of in-house training isn’t that outrageous. That said, unless the boss is qualified to dispense forklift training, Amber Rose’s situation is still quite outrageous.

              1. A Safety Consultant*

                You want to get even more outrageous? OSHA currently doesn’t require a third-party certificate to operate a crane! They passed their new crane rule in 2010 that would have required it, but they keep pushing back the deadline (currently the end of 2017).

        2. Friday Brain All Week Long*

          If your state doesn’t require it, I bet your company’s insurance does.

    2. NarrowDoorways*

      Pretty sure training is required for safe operation!

      My sister ran over her foot with an electric pallet jack yesterday. It was her first week on the job and she ended up in the ER because they didn’t train her.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I know someone who nearly lost their leg by being pinned against the wall by a forklift! They could have died!
        You don’t really need a license/cert to drive a forklift. OSHA just requires that someone train you and test you on your skills. But I wouldn’t want a 30 minute lesson and then be told I was on my own. Holly cow! Sorry, I like my legs too much.

      2. A Safety Consultant*

        Yes, electric pallet jacks require the same level of training as a forklift. They are both classified as powered industrial trucks according to OSHA. Sorry to hear about your sister. I hope she recovers fully. This incident could result in citations for her employer.

    3. LiteralGirl*

      Amber, this is a safety issue. If you’ve never used a forklift, you have no business being responsible for driving one without serious training. Please push back!

      1. Natalie*

        Especially when you’re already stressed from doing too many other tasks! That’s not conducive to going slowly and carefully as you generally need to do when learning something new.

    4. Bowserkitty*

      Add me to the camp of “99% sure you need a license for that” or at least training…good luck :(

    5. Belle*

      I used to do HR for a manufacturer — you do need a license to operate a forklift:

      OSHA does require that every forklift operator be trained and certified to operate the powered industrial truck in the workplace, and that the operator’s performance be evaluated on the provisions of 1910.178(l)(3) every three years.

          1. fposte*

            I believe Amber Rose is in Canada, and if so OSHA wouldn’t apply.

            Here’s what I’m seeing, Amber Rose: Employers must ensure that work involving the use of a forklift is done either by a competent worker, or by a worker under the direct supervision of a competent worker, and that those workers are familiar with all safe work procedures or measures pertaining to that work. The employer must also ensure that workers are competent in the application, care, use, maintenance and limitations of the forklift, any safety or protective equipment that may be
            required in the use of a forklift. OHS REGULATION, SECTION 13

            Employers must ensure that workers are trained in the safe operation of forklifts that workers are required to operate, and workers must participate in and apply the training. Employers must inform workers of any health hazards from harmful substances (such as carbon monoxide from internal combustion engine forklifts) that workers may be exposed to and the employer’s procedures to protect workers’ health. Employers must also ensure that workers apply the training.
            OHS REGULATION, SECTION 15

            I realize that a lot of those regs are likely to be commonly overlooked, but I think it’s reasonable to argue that you are not a competent worker (on a forklift, I mean) and would require supervision by one.

      1. wet gremlin*

        ^^^THIS. Amber, please put your foot down about this. I operated forklifts and related equipment for a few years in various jobs and I can attest that even the smallest ones can seriously injure or kill you, or anyone working near you.

    6. Vic*

      That’s insane! First, I thought you needed special training to drive a forklift. At least you did when I worked for a company that had a shipping department. Trying to do this without adequate training and experience is clearly unsafe. Second, unless you can split yourself into 3 people, I don’t see how it will be possible for you to take this on in addition to everything else without making tons of mistakes. Oh yeah, and did I mention it’s not safe?

      1. Amber Rose*

        My feelings summed up perfectly. Even if I pass the in-house training (I helped develop it, it’s pretty slim) I would not consider myself a competent operator, nor am I able to clone myself.

        I’m a samurai, not a ninja.

        I foresee a week of angry customers and angry managers as I try and fail.

        1. Aurion*

          Serious question: how slim is the in-house training? I have no idea where you are, but if your area’s regulation is anything like mine, forklift operator trainees are either a) sent to an external course where they are taught The Way Of The Forklift (technically called Lift Truck Operator Training), or b) complete in-house training which must fulfill the same performance criteria issued by WorkSafe that the external courses do. If your in-house training is slim enough that you don’t feel that you’d be a competent operator at the end of it, then it fails the requirement by default (and, uh, your company shouldn’t rely on this training then).

          Also: insurance. I bet your company’s insurance erred on the side of caution and would throw a fit at anyone trying to operate a forklift on “slim” (inadequate) training.

          Your boss is a lunatic and this is dangerous.

          1. Amber Rose*

            It meets basic requirements. Our shipper goes to the external course. She shows people here how to operate the forklift, gives a short multiple choice quiz and makes them carry a few empty pallets from one place to another.

        2. zora.dee*

          Just don’t do it.

          I’m serious. Refuse.

          What are they going to do, fire you? When they are already down 2 people? They aren’t going to do that. But if you literally refuse to do it, the Boss will have to either do it himself or figure out some other plan.

          If you “Try” , “failing” could mean serious injury. Don’t do that. I know it’s hard to *not* do something when you are a problem solver (I am, too). But they need to learn the lesson that they can’t just give these jobs to just anyone, they are risking lives.

    7. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Don’t do it.

      You’ve never heard me say that, and I don’t say it much in life in general, but: Don’t do this.

      “You know that I’m always happy to help with whatever, but I’m not going to be able to operate the forklift while Percy is out. What other arrangements should we make?”

      Don’t do it.

    8. STX*

      Your boss can reach out to a staffing agency and hire a temporary forklift operator within 24 hours, and it would be way cheaper than consuming the time of a regular employee who has other tasks to accomplish. He could likely even hire one in 4 hour increments, so he could save all his packing work for the morning or the afternoon. Or he could take on the risk of operating the forklift himself. This isn’t your problem to solve.

  15. Nobody*

    The bathroom situation at my job has gone from bad to outrageous. I work in a complex of three large contiguous buildings — let’s say buildings A, B, and C, and I’m on the first floor of building A. The nearest ladies’ room is just down the hall, but it has been closed for over a week because of plumbing problems. The second-nearest ladies’ room is on the second floor of building B, but it has been closed for about 6 months because of plumbing problems, with no indication of any progress in fixing it. All week, I’ve been using the third-nearest ladies’ room, which is on the third floor of building A.

    Well, yesterday, I went to the third-nearest ladies’ room, only to find it locked with a sign saying, “Closed for renovations.” Now the nearest working ladies’ room is all the way at the far end of building C, on the second floor. It takes almost 15 minutes just to walk there and back!

    There are more men’s rooms, but their situation isn’t much better. The men’s rooms on A1, B1, and B3 are all closed because of plumbing problems, and the one on A3 is closed for renovations. The fifth-nearest men’s room is still closer than the fourth-nearest ladies’ room, though (it’s at the far end of B2).

    This is unbelievable — seven bathrooms are closed! I understand that they didn’t plan on the plumbing problems, but that doesn’t excuse leaving three bathrooms unusable for six months without making any progress in repairs. Also, why would they start renovating two of the working bathrooms when the five bathrooms nearest to those are already closed???

      1. Nobody*

        It’s 15 minutes round-trip, so I don’t think it’s a quarter mile… Depending on how they count, though, the ratio of employees to fixtures may not meet the requirements.

        1. A Safety Consultant*

          29 CFR 1910.141 is the code if you want to read it. The quarter mile applies to agriculture. Depending on the layout, having separate buildings may violate the “all places of employment” requirement of the sanitation rule. Count would have to include all employees in all of the buildings if they are using the same facilities. Hope this is helpful. Some employers may act more quickly if you let them know the law.
          https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9790

          1. Nobody*

            Thanks… The three buildings are connected, so maybe they can consider them to be all one building? I don’t know if they are violating the fixture to employee ratio, because it’s a 24/7 operation and I’m not sure of the maximum number of people there at any given time. Also, there are about a dozen buildings on site (not connected to the three main buildings), and if they can count the bathrooms in the other buildings, it might be acceptable. Oh, and one department has its own bathrooms (they’re locked and the people in that department have keys), so they probably count toward the number of fixtures even though most people don’t have access to them.

        2. Biff*

          Oh sorry! I misread it as 15 minutes ONE WAY. But I agree, they may have an issue with the fixture-to-employee ratio.

    1. AVP*

      It also makes no sense. There must be someone in charge of facilities or operations who could be appealed to? If your company is renting the buildings and they’re being managed by a different entity, this is something they should be seriously negotiating over.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, that’s what I was going to suggest.

        Last summer we had one (of three) toilets disabled in the ladies’ on a floor that has a 5:1 women to men ratio for six weeks — when a second one went down, our COO kept escalating the situation with the building staff/landlord (we rent office space) until they came down *that* day to fix one toilet and had completely replaced the other by the next one. But I think she had to call six increasingly senior managers because everyone kept telling her they didn’t have any control over the repairs.

        That is not the only reason we aren’t renewing our lease and moving next spring, but it’s one of them.

      2. Natalie*

        If they are renting, they should be withholding their rent at this point. 6 months? F*cking outrageous.

        And that’s coming from a commercial landlord.

    2. GiantPanda*

      How many bathrooms do you have left? With increased usage the plumbing in the remaining ones might break down sooner than it otherwise would have…

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That’s what it sounds like to me, each bathroom is breaking down with an increase in usage. Whoever installed that plumbing did a lousy job.

    3. Viktoria*

      Wow, that would be unworkable for me! I mean, excepting at a huge hit to productivity. I use the restroom every hour on average and it takes me usually less than 3 minutes. This would take… 2 hours ?? out of my working day!

      And I happen to have a medical condition that is covered under the ADA- if I were in this situation, I would be requesting accommodation, and I’m sure that “having a bathroom less than 2 buildings away,” would be considered reasonable. Any chance that you or any of your coworkers might be able to take a similar approach, if it comes to that?

      And yes, Alison just recently answered a question and it was suggested that this kind of setup may be illegal. I think you and your coworkers need to push back HARD on this, if you haven’t already! Good luck!

  16. Althea*

    My husband is about to interview for his boss’s now-vacated position. He’s heard of other internal candidates for other positions being offered “courtesy interviews.” Suddenly we were both wondering what he would say if he walked in and they told him it was just a “courtesy interview.”

    His idea was, “I respect your time and I have X and Y to complete, so if you don’t mind we can cut this short and go on with our days.” I thought that was pretty good. Any other ideas?

    Horrible idea. “Courtesy.” Please…

    1. dear liza dear liza*

      Do they really tell the applicants that it’s a “courtesy” interview? I’ve been on searches where among ourselves we will call it that, but never publicly or to the candidate!

      1. K.*

        My brother had an interview once where one of the interviewers slipped and said “The person we’re going to hire …” The one who didn’t slip gave the other one a serious side eye and apologized to my brother, who ended the interview then. She also apparently sent him an email apologizing on behalf of her colleague. He was really pissed.

        1. sam*

          But you shouldn’t even discount these interviews. I went on an interview once where the job had pretty much been filled, but they were basically interviewing me as a courtesy to someone fairly high up in the organization that was friends with my stepmother. I actually knocked the interview out of the park.

          I didn’t get the job, because the job was 99% filled, but I did end up getting several other job leads and interviews out of that experience. In certain industries, HR people know each other, and will, quite frankly, call each other up and ask if they’ve seen any good candidates that they couldn’t hire for whatever reason. I got completely unsolicited calls to “submit my application” to some pretty major companies that I didn’t even know were hiring after that.

          Ultimately, I ended up getting a job outside of that circle, but don’t ever think that anything is in vain. Particularly when I was unemployed, I went on interviews for jobs I was almost sure were not right for me, simply because I was so rusty at the interviewing game that I needed the practice. I figured the worst that would happen was that I would be wrong.

      2. MoinMoin*

        I wonder if the courtesy interview is coming from higher up and the interviewers aren’t on board so they’re going the whole malicious compliance route. Either way, they’re definitely giving some interesting data points to prospective candidates.

    2. MoinMoin*

      Ridiculous. That said, I like your wording and if he (and apparently the interviewers) are up for being so candid, he may want to use it as an opening to ask about what the successful candidate had that set him apart, what he could do to strengthen his candidacy in the future, etc. If he’s invested in staying with the company and trying for a future promotion, at least….

    3. Lia*

      My ex had a courtesy interview once, only ex wasn’t aware that that is what it was. When the interviewer opened with “we have to interview X candidates before we can hire , although of course if anyone is supremely outstanding, we’d be happy to consider them”, ex left, saying not to bother counting it as a candidate interview.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        Good for them- that line the interviewer said sets some kind of vague high bar for performance at the interview for someone they’re likely to not consider at all. Jerk move.

  17. Worried.*

    So, I was recently part of a internal competition at work and my team won. Even though, I did the presentation, they decided to change everything I did. We won, but I don’t feel as if I was part of the team since nothing from my input made it to the final presentation. So, I feel bad for even getting the award. Is this normal?

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      Wow. I’d feel a bit sad/awkward too. But also…that is how teamwork works! And you still put in effort that may have helps with the direction overall!

    2. Cathy*

      I can relate. I’ve been congratulated for winning Addys (advertising awards), but it was for copy my boss edited and for a campaign he created, so I don’t feel like it’s my accomplishment. I think your feelings are normal.

    3. AVP*

      It’s normal but also, you were part of the process. They may not have had their ideas until they saw yours and had something to react to.

  18. NarrowDoorways*

    Very unhappy this morning. Anyone who speaks legalese?

    Payroll didn’t go through this morning, so all my scheduled bills overdrafted. I’m fortunate that my financially secure roommate was able to pay up the couple hundred she owed me without any advance notice as soon as I realized.

    The HR/office manager/payroll manager at my office … doesn’t seem concerned. I’d say flippant, almost. When I asked when everyone would be paid, he just kind of shrugged and said, “I dunno.”

    The issue is higher than him. The company was sold about 2 months ago to a huge corporation. The financials haven’t been figured out and our CEO is butting heads with the larger corporations’ financial dept. I know we’re 3 months behind on a few company invoices as well, so while there’s money, certain accounts (like payroll) are empty.

    In the end, we’ll probably be paid Monday, after money has been transferred into the payroll account. But that’s still illegal, I’m fairly certain, as Massachusetts wage laws says something about having to pay by the 6th day after the pay period closes. I just don’t know what avenues I have not only now, but if this happens again.

    This list seems to mention a treble fee, but I couldn’t really understand what specifically would incur the fee and who I would even report this issue to?

    http://www.mass.gov/courts/case-legal-res/law-lib/laws-by-subj/about/wages.html

    Thanks for any help, commenters.

    1. TheCupcakeCounter*

      You have got to be kidding! We’ve had that happen once while I worked at current job and for some reason the last 10% of payroll didn’t get processed by the program but we got a “Success” message. On Friday we got a bunch of calls from the end of the alphabet wondering why their funds didn’t automatically deposit. We found the error and as quickly as possible cut everyone paper checks and allowed them to leave and go deposit them immediately (on the clock). Anyone who had a check bounce was told to bring proof and we would reimburse all fees associated with the error. In the end a new IT person had set an update to run an hour earlier than normal since he had to leave for an appointment and didn’t realize that would shut down the transmission to the bank.

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        I’m glad the issue was discovered and fixed so quickly. That’s a great outcome for a crappy situation!

      2. Always Anon*

        Your company handled it very well. We had an issue several years ago with payroll not being processed until after a particular holiday, which resulted in everyone being paid 3 days later than indicated on our payroll schedule.

        The response of my organization, was opps…crap happens.

        1. DoDah*

          Yah..I’ve heard ,”it’s your responsibility to have a buffer.” This from the multimillionaire CEO–whose Father gave her seed money to start the company.

          1. Lindsay J*

            This is what I was told, too. Along with “We offer direct deposit as a courtesy to begin with. We could just cut you all paper checks and you would have to wait for those to clear.”

            Yes, but if I knew I had a paper check I needed to wait to clear, my bill schedule would be adjusted accordingly. And if I had been paid a living wage maybe I would have had a buffer. As it was I was living on ramen, rice and beans, and free food from the break room, (and the food bank when I could get to it, which I often couldn’t because I was working while they were there) and not getting my paycheck on time caused me to go without electricity for half the day.

            And this was a small company that was supposed to be “like a family”.

        2. TheCupcakeCounter*

          Yeah the company has handled a lot of things really well. When I started I wasn’t 100% happy with my pay even though it was a huge jump (I was way underpaid before) but I liked the org and everything else so well that I met them halfway. Just over a year in my boss called me into his office to tell me they were very happy with my work and these few other side projects I had taken on they were giving me an economic realignment increase that bumped me up higher than my desired salary and I was still eligible for merit and COL increases. In the 4 years I’ve been there have been quite a few retirements and the company puts on a bash for them with cake and punch and a really nice parting gift (today’s was a freaking kayak!!!!!). Most of the people happily worked here for 35 or more years.

      3. Ife*

        Your situation and NarrowDoorway’s are why I still have yet to set up automatic bill pay, even though my company has never [yet] been late on paying us. Your company handled the situation really well.

    2. NarrowDoorways*

      The online reporting system, where the pay stubs are, shows we were all paid.

      I did find out more. The CEO went golfing yesterday and chose not to do payroll Wednesday to make up for it. She’s now insisting she legally has all day and that she hasn’t done anything wrong. I’m a bit confused though. If that’s true, the money will still clear Saturday or Monday, which is late!

      I’m concerned that, based on her attitude and obvious lack of understanding of what it means for a staff living paycheck to paycheck, she’ll do this again.

      1. Karo*

        I don’t…What? In what world is your other work more important than making sure your employees get paid? If that’s the choice you need to make, then you choice needs to be to NOT GO GOLFING.

        That’s insane.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I worked for people like this years ago. You may not have the option, but I insisted on a paper check rather than direct deposit. They laughed at me. Then one day direct deposit bounced, no funds. Like dominos, people’s automatic payments bounced. It was a hot mess. All of the sudden, I was respected for my paper check choice.
        Depending on their set up, and depending on if they even offer paper checks, you may find this better. Lots of variables there and it could be that my setting was weird and most people would not make out well with paper checks.

        When you work for a company that is not responsible about payroll, then you kind of have to look around for ways to protect yourself. In my case, I went to the bank every two weeks, which was time consuming for me. But I chose a new bank near where I worked and I could run on lunch break or right after work that helped to reduce the time involved.

    3. Brownie Queen*

      I would suggest putting in a call to your states department of labor and talking to someone. Especially since you accrued a bunch of overdraft charges.

    4. Agile Phalanges*

      At my old company, we had a payroll direct deposit file not go through, and they said they would cover anyone who incurred late fees or bounced payments due to this. It is NOT uncommon for folks to set their automatic mortgage, cell phone, and other payments for the day of or the day after pay day, so even if you’re not living paycheck-to-paycheck, if you prefer to keep a reasonably low balance in that account and the rest of your funds elsewhere, it’s easy to have this happen if payroll fails to go through. I, personally, didn’t have an issue in the ONE day it took them to fix it, but I’m guessing for low amounts they probably would’ve just taken the person’s word for it, and for higher dollar amounts, a bank statement (with non-relevant figures blacked out) would have done the trick.

      I’d give your company a chance to come up with a similar concession before automatically going the legal route. Yes, legally they have to pay you within however-many days, but mistakes happen (ours was someone being negligent, and that person was fired, and then it never happened again while I worked there, but I see an IT-related glitch in this thread as well, and the employer handled it similarly). Good luck! And if this seems to be a pattern, polish up that resume!

    5. Gaia*

      I don’t have an answer for you but I am so sorry that happened! If there is one thing I cannot – ever – tolerate, it is a company messing with my pay. I work, I get paid. That is our deal.

  19. It's always something*

    I work at a public university. We accrue a lot of vacation time but the catch is that if you leave the university, you don’t get to cash out remaining time. You just lose it (same with sick). Because we’re in academia, it’s common for people to have a long time between accepting a new job and starting it, and on our end, it will take months to do a search to replace the person.

    Okay- with those details in place- an employee in another department gave notice that he would be leaving in six weeks for a new job. He had at least six weeks of vacation accrued, and he wanted to take it immediately at notice. The problem was that he was scheduled to take some vacation later in the summer, so everyone else in the office was planning to be out at various times during the six weeks he now wanted off. The supervisor told him he couldn’t take the vacation time because as a campus service point, the office has to remain open. The employee was very bitter.

    I could see both the employee and supervisor’s points- what do you all think? (Aside from the “no cash out” policy being very stupid, of course.)

    1. Althea*

      Aside from the university basically asking for this to happen with this policy…

      The employee was pretty silly to assume he could take that time. The point of a notice period is to provide some kind of ability for the employer to prepare for his absence. If he’s gone the whole time, there is no notice period.

    2. Audiophile*

      This is a pretty common policy, though. I think in all of my jobs, I basically couldn’t cash out my vacation as part of my final check.

      Generally what I ended up doing was spreading it out, taking holidays (I’ve had a few jobs where you didn’t get holiday pay or only got it for certain “major” holidays) or taking mini vacations.

      It would be nice if jobs would pay out vacation, sick, personal, etc but I understand why they don’t.

      1. It's always something*

        That’s really interesting! When I left my previous job I could cash out, and the way people new to our university complain about the policy, I figured it was an oddity.

      2. AF*

        I work at a public university, and we can cash it out, but there’s an accrual limit of 192 hours (24 days). And if this guy cares so much, maybe he will spend his last 6 weeks campaigning for a change to the cash-out policy.

        1. Lia*

          Same here. And if you accrue more than 40 days at the end of a calendar year, you lose the excess. Once you get vested, though, you earn 20 days annually, so it is very easy to go over the cap and lose time.

      3. Joseph*

        Paying out vacation/sick/PTO is a huge cost to the company. Even more importantly, it’s a huge *liability* for a big company given the number of days that you collectively have on your books if they’d have to pay out the money owed.

        That said, if the policy prevents cashing out, I’d follow the same as you and make sure to use my time regularly. I certainly can’t imagine letting six full weeks build up, that’s for sure.

        1. Audiophile*

          Exactly.

          I haven’t seen many jobs where an employee would be able to accrue six weeks of vacation.

          Most jobs I’ve seen, max out at four weeks of vacation.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      When I’ve been in this situation, I started taking my vacation days once I started my job search. I knew up front that I’d loose my vacation time, so it was up to me to use it before I put in my notice. I still lost about a week of vacation, but it was my choice.
      I’d never expect my company to let me quit then pay out my “non-pay-out-able” vacation because I’m giving a fake notice period.

    4. Rache*

      My place of employment also has a policy of not paying out PTO (sick/vacation combo) upon departure. Once you give your notice, it’s entirely your manager’s call on whether or not they’ll approve using any of the PTO during that time. However, it is also required that you work the last day of your notice period, or you will not be paid for any of it.

      1. Natalie*

        If you’re in the US it’s extremely unlikely that their last-day policy is legal. You generally have to pay people for all hours worked regardless of policies they violate.

    5. Retail HR Guy*

      How is allowing someone to take vacation during their notice period any different than paying them their vacation when they leave?

      “I want to leave August 1st and be paid out my two weeks of vacation.”
      “No, we don’t pay out vacation.”
      “In that case I want to leave August 15th and use two weeks of vacation starting August 1st.”
      “Okay, that sounds great!”

    6. NarrowDoorways*

      i can’t believe he thought that would work…. Most places have a policy that employees can’t take vacation during their notice period.

    7. Memboard*

      Where I live (ok in Canada) earned time off is payable at the end, no matter how much and no matter who creates the situation. It’s considered defered pay and is owed to you end of story.

      Sounds like they can legally rip you off. You need someone to campaign to change your labor code.

    8. Lindsay J*

      Most places I have worked at didn’t allow you to take vacation time during your notice period, since the notice period is supposed to allow you to transition your work to other people and you can’t do that if you’re on vacation. Also most places I have been at will put you down as not-rehireable if you take sick time during your notice period, for the same reason. (I imagine if you could prove you were actually sick they wouldn’t hold it against you. But every time I have seen it happen the person had just mentally checked out and didn’t want to be there that day.)

  20. Librarian Ish*

    Sigh. One of our student workers quit suddenly (I got a 6am text that she wasn’t showing up for her 7am shift because she wasn’t working for us anymore). My boss is as mystified as I am. I’m not mad about it though. It’s definitely unprofessional of her, but mostly I’m just worried for her. I’m also bummed because I otherwise would have given her a great recommendation, and now I don’t know what I would say.

    1. Enleft*

      I would reach out to her! Maybe a quick text just saying “Hi, I just wanted to check in with you. You left us pretty quickly and we are a bit mystified and just want to make sure you are ok.”

      1. Chloe Silverado*

        Agreed! If she was generally a great employee there could be something more to this. If you had a decent relationship I’d reach out just to check in. It wouldn’t make her resignation any more professional, but if something major happened that forced her to resign it may impact the reference you give for her in the future.

      2. Lemon Zinger*

        This. But don’t press the issue. It’s more than likely that she’s fine, just unprofessional about leaving a job. She may feel awkward.

      3. ModernHypatia*

        Seconding reaching out. Student workers often have lives that can go into weird tailspins very suddenly. Maybe she found out she can’t have a student job because she no longer meets the requirements (I supervised a student work position where you had to be a student in the coming term over the summer, and meet GPA and credit load requirements. Student transferred elsewhere, and had to quit the job immediately.)

        Maybe there’s a family emergency. Maybe there’s a personal emergency. Maybe she got a job that will give her more hours or money (or both) but has to start right away (that happened with some library workers who picked up home health aide jobs, and they desperately needed the money and didn’t know how to quit in a way that was less awkward and unnerving.)

        A brief checkin means she might be okay telling you what happened later, and also leave you some options for what you say to future employers.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yep. The one time (other than telemarketing) that I didn’t give two weeks’ notice was a student job. I gave them like four days, because that was all I had. I’d been going rounds with Financial Aid about my grants and loans, they finally stopped putting up with me, and suddenly I was no longer a student and had to leave the dorm within the week. And go home, which was several hours away, so that even if I’d been eligible to keep working at the campus cafe, which I wasn’t, I couldn’t have easily commuted there anyway.

    2. De Minimis*

      I’ve had a really bad time with student workers [ended up firing one about a month ago—that one was on me, it was a bad hiring decision on my part though we didn’t have a great applicant pool.]

      Some of the ones at my employer are great [many have worked here for their entire undergraduate career] but others are terrible. It seems though that almost all of them tend to give little notice when they depart.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Yeah, when I was a work-study student or student worker (they were different things at my university), I don’t think I ever gave notice when I was about to leave a job. It was customary for us to just stop signing up for shifts or showing up. Oh no, I almost forgot about the cafe job I had where I did give notice, but then went home for Christmas break since the campus closed down (including dorms), so that notice was moot. Not the best or most professional behavior, but it was astounding how many people did this.

        1. De Minimis*

          To be fair, a lot of them had situations where they found out they got a full time professional job and they were starting the next Monday.

          We have hired two students as permanent employees after graduation, due to their work quality [and also partially due to them being in the right place at the right time.] That’s why it bugs me to see students kind of slacking off, because I’ve seen that the job can actually become something more permanent.

    3. Jennifer*

      “Well, she was a great worker, until she quit with an hour’s notice out of the blue.”

      This is assuming she’d go to you for one after that, though.

  21. Bowserkitty*

    1. I work administrative in a academic hospital clinic and mentioned to a coworker the cadaver lab scares me. Then we got talking about other anatomy things and “plastination” came up. I thought I could handle watching the video. I could at first. Now my stomach is still turning. If I ever have to go back to our lab during our dissection courses I don’t know how I’m going to handle it. I turned into a deer in headlights last time I had to fetch some students. I was lucky enough that another student volunteered to go in for me when he saw my face.

    2. OldBoss got laid off yesterday. This is a woman who made my life hell and I’m still gobsmacked she wasn’t spared by the same type of layoffs that led to my own termination.

    1. Rat Racer*

      If it makes you feel better, I also work in healthcare, am non-clinical, and am terrified of blood and vomit. Back when I worked in operations, I had to baby-sit a medical practice while the official practice administrator was on leave. A woman who was very ill started vomiting blood in the waiting room – and I totally panicked. Fortunately, my boss, the clinical director, was onsite – but she never let me forget my deer-in-headlights moment.

      I am so passionate about healthcare policy, operations and strategy — but completely NOT cut out for care delivery. But the healthcare system needs clinical and non-clinical people: they are different skillsets. Just remind yourself that your value is not in your ability to look at dead bodies, but your ability to keep the trains running on time in an AMC. (Can you imagine your typical front line physician doing that? I can’t.)

      1. Bowserkitty*

        Thank you!!! I have no idea what I’m going to do if it happens again, aside from be perfectly honest with the person sending me down there. I’ve been lucky so far because the other woman (who does a mix of both administrative and clinical) has been doing these labs for years so she’s used to it.

  22. ZSD*

    Should I just butt out of this?

    My team member (she does NOT report to me) who is lowest in the hierarchy has a job that should definitely be paid overtime, but I don’t think our business is paying her OT. Generally, she has the type of job that should just let her leave at quitting time, but fairly frequently, I’ll get emails from her that she’s sent at 6:00 or even 6:30 PM.
    She’s out today, and in order to get her work done in advance, she came in early both Wed. and Thurs., and on Wednesday, she sent me an email after 7:00 PM.

    I don’t think it’s appropriate for her not to get paid OT. I’ve brought it up with her, but this is her first job out of college, and I think she might be nervous about bringing this up. (Or else she just doesn’t care, but I don’t think that’s the right mindset for someone to have about working long hours.) I did bring this up once in a casual setting to her supervisor, who kind of brushed it off. Actually, I think her supervisor erroneously thinks that our office’s work hours are 9-6 rather than 9-5:30, so she doesn’t realize that this person is working late when she stays until 6! (The supervisor in question is also a workaholic.)

    I don’t think this is right, but I guess I’ve tried to fight it. Maybe I just need someone to tell me to butt out! Thanks!

    1. Sibley*

      Actually, I think I’d report it to the State Dept of Labor or whoever regulates this. Typically, they don’t like it when an employer isn’t paying OT when required.

    2. KimberlyR*

      This depends on a lot of things.
      What is your state law on OT? Mine is after 40 hours per work week. So staying past the usual quitting time wouldn’t matter on a daily basis-it only kicks in once I hit 40 hours in one work week. If she is working early/late some days to make up for when she will be out, she may not be eligible for OT. I think this depends on your state so check that specifically. I think in California, anything over 8 hours per day is considered OT. (Don’t quote me on this! Check your state laws!)
      Is she paid hourly or salary (non-exempt and exempt. I always forget which is which.) Hourly people have to be paid for OT based on state laws, as mentioned above. I am paid hourly, so when I hit 40 hours in a week, anything beyond that is OT. My husband is salary, so he often works early/late and from home and doesn’t get paid for it. Thats part of his compensation.
      If she should be paid OT based on any of this, she doesn’t get a choice to not get paid it or bring it up. Its still illegal. They have to pay her if she is eligible for OT.

      1. Natalie*

        “Is she paid hourly or salary (non-exempt and exempt. I always forget which is which.)”

        How someone is paid (hourly or salary) makes no difference if you haven’t already met the duties test for exempt/non-exempt. I mention this just because it seems to be a common misconception that you can just decide to pay someone on a salary basis and that’s enough to make them exempt from overtime and other FLSA provisions. It isn’t. You have to meet the duties test and the minimal salary test first, and only then does it matter whether or not you’re paid on an hourly or salary basis.

      2. Crystal Vu*

        Salaried non-exempt and hourly exempt both exist. The latter is particularly rare, but it is possible.

  23. Hazel Asperg*

    I start a new job on Monday. I was fired from my last job a week after disclosing mental health problems (for ‘unrelated work performance issues’, apparently). I’ve disclosed to my new job that I’m autistic, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

    Wish me luck!

    1. Bowserkitty*

      I’m sorry that happened to you!! That’s absolutely silly given the ADA…

      Fingers crossed this new place will treat you better. Best of luck to you!!

    2. BananaKarenina*

      Kudos to you for your boldness! And, congratulations on your new job! What is your line of work!

      1. Hazel Asperg*

        Thanks! I work in admin, so lots of typing, filing and paperwork. Suits me really well.

  24. Kay*

    We have a new ED for our small nonprofit, at which I am program staff. I love what I do, but for the last 2-3 years we’ve been caught in that “do more with way less” cycle: no money, no resources, all the overtime, commit to safe programs only, nothing new or out on a limb.

    New ED wants to change all that. He wants us to be more nimble, more creative, more risk-taking, etc. Based on his track record at other orgs and on interacting with him and seeing the changes he’s made already, I believe he is serious and has the ability to follow through.

    On the one hand, I am SUPER excited. The stuff he wants to do is why I got into my field in the first place. It will take what I do from being more rote and stressful and make it invigorating and exciting again.

    On the other hand, I am terrified. I’ve been sprinting from fire to fire for three years, having my suggestions for risky ideas quashed, and I am tired and hovering on the edge of burned out. I am struggling with adjusting my thinking, giving my brain the soft landing and space I know I need to be creative and energetic again.

    It’s been a tumultuous few months, with staff turnover from those who refused to adjust, changes to many of the ways we do things, and a couple of big legacy projects that sucked all the air out of the room and all the brain cells out of my head.

    Has anyone handled this shift? Is it as hard as I’m finding it, even when I’m excited, or am I more burned out than I realize? Are there resources or ways I can re-invigorate myself to live up to new ED’s high standards and expectations? This is never a problem I thought I’d have; until the last few years I was always the wild idea person with a ton of energy. I have just gotten kicked around for so long that I feel like I’ve lost touch with that part of myself.

    1. Always Anon*

      You sound like you are burned out. How is your boss reacting to the new ED? Or is your boss the new ED? Because to me it sounds like you may need a vacation.

      Are you being included in the meetings that result in the generation of new ideas? I always find that to be helpful. How senior are you within the organization? If you are part of the senior leadership team, then a vacation and re- prioritizing your duties may help. If you are not part of the senior leadership team, then I think the same advice is pertinent, but I would also encourage you to talk to your boss about ways you can be included in developing the ideas for the organization.

      1. Kay*

        Current boss is retiring in a few months, after which I will report directly to the ED for the foreseeable future. So I’m transitioning between them now; reporting to current boss on a few projects, and to ED on all new ones. I am involved in conversations about new ideas, I’m mostly just nervous I don’t have any good ones because I’m being asked to think so differently.

        I do have a vacation scheduled in August that will hopefully do some refreshing, and I am taking comp time here and there after working 24/7 for most of May and June. The answer may be to just give it more time. But I get nervous and antsy when I don’t have anything brilliant to contribute!

        1. Always Anon*

          Just keep in mind that even if your idea isn’t brilliant, the enthusiasm in which you convey it will count for a lot. Especially with a new ED. They want to know that you are excited about the direction they are taking the organization and that you want to contribute, even if all your ideas aren’t actionable now or ever.

          And I bet because you are concerned that you ideas aren’t great, they are probably are pretty good and you are being too hard on yourself, and expecting too much.

    2. Lillian McGee*

      I had a similar experience, but we got a new ED AND an unexpectedly large infusion of funding. And we were evicted! So we had to change quite abruptly to allow for the inevitable growth of the org. Before that we, too, were working on a reactive basis nearly 100% of the time and it was exhausting and I was in the ED’s office in tears an embarrassing number of times.
      We did achieve stability though and it was due in large part to our investing in infrastructure. When peoples’ computers, printers, payroll, benefits etc. all began running smoothly, program staff had far more energy to work on what they were actually hired to do! Less turnover too.
      I hope your ED has a good track record for administration as well as program direction! It makes a huge difference.

    3. catsAreCool*

      Sometimes small ideas can be great too. I like to write down ideas when I think of them.

      I agree that you sounds like you need a vacation.

  25. Marmalade*

    I quit my job not long ago, and I’m so glad! It was a toxic environment with terrible management and some really difficult people. Because of grievances laid and serious allegations of bullying, a workplace investigation had to be conducted by a top employment lawyer. and I watched my coworkers really suffer. So I left and set myself free, and I feel so great about the decision.
    Anyone else recently quit and feeling so much better?
    For that matter, I’m really curious about whether others have been part of a workplace investigation before – it’s not a topic I’ve seen covered on this site. Pretty intense to have a taped interview with a lawyer.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      My last job was toxic and I just walked off one day and didn’t come back. The first few days were the worst because I was battling my decision against needing a paycheck. But by the third day, all the bad work vibes began to sluff off and I knew I made the right choice. I was still worried about $$, but I knew my happiness was more important. I tried to think of it as the biggest adventure of my life.

    2. RB*

      I’m also curious about others experiences with workplace investigations, as my office is about to start one because of an aggressive colleague!

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      I have been part of a workplace investigation, regarding an allegation of sexual harassment by a male manager toward a female subordinate. This was in retail. However, there was not a taped deposition/statement with an attorney. It only involved speaking with the HR rep, a witness (also from HR) and him transcribing our responses to a set of predetermined questions regarding the offender and the target of the harassment.

      However, he told us some standard HR bit about not talking to anyone else about our responses to the questions, what the questions were, etc. I believe they also threatened repercussions if it were determined that we lied about anything. It created a very tense environment that made working together difficult, especially in a retail environment where you’re expected to work together and appear friendly and outgoing at all times. All in all, not something I’d want to do again.

      And want to know what happened? Nothing. I believe the offender really said the things he was accused of, but he was smart enough to do it when no one was around and the business didn’t have audio recordings so it became a he said/she said. Oh…and our female manager defended him to the bitter end. Oh…and people who were questioned did lie about some other character related issues/outside of work activities that were raised by the girl harassed. Nothing happened with that either. Everyone just said “I don’t know. We don’t hang out outside of work” which was totally not true.

    4. Cookie*

      When I was in college, the faculty in residence of our dorm was investigated for sexual harassment. All the women in the dorm had to be interviewed and we definitely discussed our answers with one another. It was really uncomfortable, especially because it was my freshman year and I barely knew him – an upperclassman or previous resident would’ve had more info. In the end, he stayed but the rules regarding mandatory house events were changed.

  26. Gene*

    It’s looking like timing for our new hire coming on board is going to be *interesting*. If things go as expected, he should come on third week of August. I’m vacation for two weeks starting the 15th. Boss has surgery that’s going to have him out for at least 8 weeks on the 16th. And right now we’re a three person crew. So he’ll be there with the least experienced person for a week.

    1. BadPlanning*

      We often have newer people help onboard the newest person — at least at my job there’s a lot of setup involved (getting IDs, setting up special tools) and usually the last newest person is actually better at setup than us older people who haven’t set up from scratch before. I guess it depends on how much “read these instructions and let me know when you get stuck” to do — maybe not a week’s worth.

    2. fposte*

      In addition to the possibility of delaying his start, you could treat this as a soft opening–for the first week he gets indoctrinated in the workplace and gets familiar with manuals and practices. That might actually allow the heavier-weight stuff when you get back to sink in more easily.

    3. Gene*

      I’ve been driving today, it’s a race weekend, and this track is a 3 hour trip plus meeting a friend for lunch.

      The hiring process has been going on since about February. It’s local government… We delayed the oral panel a month because all the applicants who passed the supplemental questionnaire are out of state. That happens this week, then the civil service board approves the list the following Wednesday. Then we can do hiring interviews, probably the following week (they will be informed of the short notice for the second interview at the panel). There’s no negotiation over salary or anything, accept the offered job or not. Typically, we do hiring interviews and make an offer the next day.

      So, if they give 2 weeks, that puts out right in the middle of my vacation. Boss’s medical problem got worse rapidly, so the surgery is early. Hopefully, he will want some extra time to move and I’ll be back. If not, it will work out.

  27. Fireye23*

    I am in libraryland and have money devoted to staff training and am curious if anyone out there knows of any good seminars/webinars/conferences/etc. specifically devoted to working with individuals with special needs (all ages/various needs)?

    The money can be for our whole staff training or just a few but must focus on working with individuals with special needs. We have had various local trainings (Northeast Ohio) and I attend the Milestones Autism Conference every summer. We’re looking into becoming an affiliate with the Next Chapter Book Club already but wasn’t sure if there’s something else I’m missing! Thanks!

    1. Kay*

      It’s not a library, but the Museum of Science in Boston got a big IMLS grant a few years ago specifically to focus on education outreach to the autistic communities – both individuals and families. It was meant to include both techniques for their staff as well as an overhaul of some of their programming, and it was a Leadership grant – so there should be a white paper or final research product out there somewhere.

    2. Nanc*

      Why not partner up with a local special needs agency and create some training around local and existing clients? It would take more work on your part but rather than spending $$$ on general training which might or might not apply to your population, you could really learn more about your local current and potential patrons. Just off the top of my head, you could check with your foster kids agency, any stroke recovery agencies, Senior programs, migrant farm worker populations, long-term patients in local hospitals, etc. Is there a University in your area? It would be a great project for a social services major to help explore where there is a need that’s under-served.

      1. Fireye23*

        This is a great idea! We do partner with one non-profit already but I’m always up for more.

        Great news is this money is from a grant but the bad news is our hands are tied in how we use it. This money must be used to train in-house staff and what we have left is just enough for maybe one other training/seminar/webinar. We have used all of the other funds on various trainings/conferences and the programming pat of it already so just looking to see what else might be out there for the small remainder we have left.

    3. Art_ticulate*

      The American Alliance of Museums often has webinars or other workshops that you may find useful! I know it’s not library specific, but I’ve found that there is sometimes overlap in the fields.

  28. Audiophile*

    I’m happy to report I received a job offer this week and start on Monday. This was the organization I met with a year ago, made it to the reference stage only for them to ghost on me. I applied for the exact same position as last time, which happened to open up right around the time I lost my job. I did one round last week and they contacted my references. I accepted the offer on the spot. It’s less than I made with my previous job, but I knew I wasn’t in a position to negotiate.

    Here’s my question: I’m going to need a part time or contract job to supplement the difference, ideally I’d like to find a remote or telecommute position, if possible. Does anyone have any suggestions on where I might look? I only found a handful of jobs on Idealist and nothing on Linkedin.

    1. Nanani*

      I don’t see you listing your field at all, so maybe it doesn’t work that way for you, but remote positions are advertised the same way as office-based ones in my field. Look in the same places you’d look for regular jobs and check for remote/telecommuting being offered. Sometimes it’s “for the right candidate only”, sometimes the job is necessarily remote.

      I doubt there is an all-telecommuting job board that adequately serves every field.

      1. Audiophile*

        Whoops, I edited the question before I posted and deleted the mention of my field.

        I’m looking for remote communications/social media jobs.

        1. HYDR*

          Crowdsource (which sort of looks like a sister to UpWork). They are a local-to-me national company, and a guy from my town’s high school started the company. Glassdoor sorts of rips their business model around, but perhaps that is a good start?

          Something that you also might consider is doing freelance articles for college magazines. I can speak from experience that the big University I work for is ALWAYS in need of freelancers for articles!

    2. mehowe*

      I’m a freelance editor and I work out of my home exclusively and I get some jobs from http://www.upwork.com, although it takes some time to sift through because there a lot of *very* low-paying gigs. I don’t do anything with social media so can’t address the quality of the jobs in that area, but it seems like I have seen quite a few.

    3. mehowe*

      I am a freelance editor and work from home. I get some work from Upwork. It takes some time to sort through because some of the gigs are VERY low paying. I don’t do anything with social media but it does seem as if I have seen quite a few job postings in that area.

      (I tried to make this comment before and it didn’t show up. I’m sorry if it posts twice or shows up somewhere it shouldn’t. There is a reason I don’t do social media stuff professionally!)

  29. Meg*

    I’m feeling really conflicted about an internal job opportunity and would appreciate some advice! I love my job and am quite good at it, but lately I have been feeling a tiny bit bored. I feel underpaid and somewhat overqualified, but I’m still happy overall. Recently, my boss told me about an opening in another department and said that he would support me wholeheartedly if I wanted to apply. It would be similar work to what I do now but in a more specific area, and it would be a bump up in salary grade. He also said that there won’t really be any opportunities for advancement in our department, and in general there aren’t a lot of jobs in our area in our company. The woman who would be my manager in this new role reached out to me directly and asked me to apply.

    Seems like a no-brainer, I know, but I *love* my boss and my coworkers, we’re a very close-knit department. I know the would-be manager and she’s very nice, but I don’t really know what she’s like as a manager. For some reason I’m feeling conflicted about this decision, and I think part of it is impostor syndrome (I’ve been in my current role for 18 months and am nervous about moving up already).

    I do not feel like I can turn down the job if they offer it to me, so I would have to decide after my interview (which is next week) if I want to withdraw my candidacy. Anyone have any advice in general about knowing when you’re ready to move on or specific questions I can ask in my interview to help my decision? Thank you!

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      Your boss is telling you that he has great confidence in you and knows he can’t use you to your fullest ability. Sounds like a good boss. When he moves on or up, he’ll remember you.

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Go for it. Your boss sounds awesome and he is being very frank with you that you can do and deserve more and his department can’t provide that. Both managers sound like they are impressed by your work and 18 months is pretty standard for time in a department if you are at a fairly entry level role (for some reason I am assuming this). My first 2 roles out of college I was told straight out that the standard time in the position was 18-24 months and it was their expectation that after the first year in the role we would look at my strengths and see what I should be looking at in terms of internal movement opportunities over the next 6-12 months.
      I think it is natural to be a bit nervous moving on (especially if my instincts are correct and you are fairly early in your career) but think of it this way: these managers probably know a bit more than you do about how well you will perform in this role since they have seen your work and know more about the new role than you do and they are BOTH encouraging you to apply. That is a huge compliment and testament to a good management team. Plus you wouldn’t be leaving the company just that department so you could still see your old team quite often and possibly make even more connections.
      If you don’t take this opportunity I can almost guarantee that the little bit of boredom you are experiencing now will blow up in the next 6 months or so and you will eventually resent the lack of challenge, promotion, and pay. Don’t mean to scare you but I’ve seen it happen a lot.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        If you don’t take this opportunity I can almost guarantee that the little bit of boredom you are experiencing now will blow up in the next 6 months or so and you will eventually resent the lack of challenge, promotion, and pay. Don’t mean to scare you but I’ve seen it happen a lot.

        Yup. Apply and see what happens, OP.

    3. Newish Reader*

      Do you know anyone that currently or previously worked for the person that would be your new manager that you could talk with to get a better sense of what she’s like to work for? You can certainly ask her questions in the interview regarding her management style and how she defines a good employee, but a perspective from others could be beneficial.

    4. Lizard*

      Do you know anyone in the other department who could unofficially talk to you about what the would-be manager is like? It sounds like you’re in the optimal spot here–your current boss is aware of the opening and encouraging you to apply but is still happy with your work.

      As to specific questions, I really love Alison’s go-to question about what they envision an outstanding teapot maker in the role would be like. If they’re able to articulate the qualities that they’re looking for and it seems like a match to you, I think that’s a good sign. If they’re not able to articulate those qualities, that’s a bad sign that they’re not really seeing how this role is going to fit into their big picture.

      I really loved my last job and my coworkers, but eventually my husband and I decided that we needed to be closer to family and to live in a lower COL area. I started job hunting. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find anything as good as the job I was leaving, but it turns out I love my new job and my new coworkers too, and my work-life balance is WAY better.

  30. Anxious new grad*

    To those of you who do reporting: how many mistakes are normal? It’s been a month since I’ve started doing it ( I am a new grad)and I feel every week there is a new issue. Part of the problem is that client just gives a day to do the whole report and we need to synchronize 12-15 files. We created everything for the client since they are new client so that is another issue and I am creating everything for them
    Mondays when reports are due, I am pulling 12 to 13 hours and also work on weekends if they want something new included. Despite that, I always end up finding new problems in reports. I am frustrated and worried for my job
    :(. Any advice ?

    1. Boo*

      Everyone makes mistakes especially in new jobs. I think if you’re worried you should sit down with your manager (they should be having regular check-ins with you anyway) and talk to them about your performance and your workload (tbh it sounds like more of a workload issue than performance per se, if you’re overworked and rushing then anyone will make mistakes) – what are you doing well on, what do you need to work on, how can you work more effectively/efficiently etc. You’re probably not doing as badly as you think and your manager will be impressed that you are mature enough to raise it with them and should be able to help you manage/prioritise your work. Good luck!

    2. Wilton Businessman*

      Zero mistakes are acceptable.

      But being a new person, it’s your supervisor’s responsibility to check your work.

      1. Leatherwings*

        What? Zero mistakes? That’s nonsense. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes and pressuring yourself to be perfect will give you an ulcer.

        It’s how you handle those mistakes that determines whether or not it’s acceptable. If you fess up and learn from them and continue to improve, it’ll likely be okay.

        There’s certainly a threshold at which mistakes are overwhelming and not okay, and you should always strive to do the best possible job but let’s not pretend like it’s always unacceptable to make one.

        1. Wilton Businessman*

          It’s your job to provide numbers. If those numbers are wrong, people make bad decisions. Either do your job right, or don’t do it.

          But that’s not at all what I said.

          Being a new person, it is your supervisor’s responsibility to check your work. I am not expecting a new grad to be able to pull off a 13 file report successfully in the first month. But the person training you should be watching and deciding if the report can be passed on to the decision makers.

          1. Leatherwings*

            Yes as a new person, their work should be backed up.

            But at higher levels you either have to do your job right 100% of the time or don’t do it at all? That’s terrible black and white thinking and if I had a manager who thought that, I wouldn’t be there for very long.

            1. Wilton Businessman*

              Well, good job putting words in my mouth.

              We’re talking about pulling numbers for a report. If this is the same process, then absolutely, zero mistakes are acceptable. If you are trying to take this report from a 13 hour manual process to a 13 minute automated process, then yes, there are going to be mistakes on something new.

              I foster an environment where you can make mistakes. However, I expect you to learn from your mistakes and not make the same mistake again. So if you are doing a report and do the wrong calculation the first week because you didn’t understand something, fine, this is how you do it and this is why you do it this way. Make that same mistake four weeks in a row, we’ve got a big problem. Make that, you’ve got a big problem. I don’t pay people to keep making the same mistakes over and over.

            2. MoinMoin*

              I think it really depends on the type of work you’re doing. I work on data analysis in an accounting department and we expect 100% accuracy on anything going external because my mistake could mean a W-2C, someone having to repay their company money, someone not getting money they need in time, someone losing a home sale due to financing, or just some over-inflated executive losing it because he didn’t get reimbursed for something when he expected to and making everyone else miserable about it. Not to mention the possibility that one mistakes ticks off the wrong person too much that they remember it the next time our contract is out to bid…
              But for this reason we have a very extensive, thorough, auditing process to ensure this isn’t the case. I think this is what Wilton is getting at.

              1. Christopher Tracy*

                Yup. And zero mistakes with reports are tolerated in my field as well (risk management/insurance for financial institutions). But new people at my company are watched like a hawk until they prove they can do these things with little to no supervison.

    3. MoinMoin*

      A few mistakes if you’re new could be understood internally, but there should be a progression that the same mistakes aren’t happening. As a client I’d expect an audit process in place to catch them before the I see them, and if I were your boss/auditor I’d want to see your audit process is evolving to account for new potential issues as they crop up.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Please talk with your boss. It sounds like the client is not allowing enough time for the work to be processed OR it could be that you are doing way more than the client wants. It could be that the client is adding on requests and your boss is not aware of how much the client has additionally requested.

      It sounds like you are staying on top the of mistakes, you say YOU find problems and you reference a NEW issue every week. Continue to be diligent about not making the same mistake twice and continue to double check your work.

      In my opinion it can take six months or a year to settle into a job. I can’t tell if you are having settling in issues (normal for most jobs) or if you are carrying too large a workload by yourself.

      The best thing to do is go initiate a conversation with your boss. Don’t wait for your boss to come ask you about it. Try to have some organized way of explaining the problems. From what you wrote here I see two problems: the new 12-15 files are incomplete or not helpful and your second problem is that they keep adding something new each week. Let the boss know that they keep moving the target and that makes it tougher to hit the target. Give some thought as to how you would describe the problems, then go see the boss.

  31. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Well, the closure date for my office has been moved forward again. It used to be March, then December, now Nov. 1st. At this point, I kind of just want them to pull the plug already, but I don’t have a new job lined up and I’m getting worried about the cost of being unemployed and therefore having to pay out the *** for health insurance I don’t even use that much.

    It’s this horrible combination of feeling like there’s no time and yet at the same time feeling like nothing is happening and it’s all just dragging out. Can it be over and my new job show up already?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Sending you good vibes and hoping you hear something very soon.

      When time drags like this for me, I make a small list of easy goals each night before bed. The next day, I do the tasks and make a new list. It seems to help with that conflicting feeling of time standing still and time going through my fingers like sand.
      In times of crisis short term planning, such as plans for the day or for the week- can be a very powerful tool.

      Let us know how you are doing.

  32. Pooja*

    I had a job interview last week for a position where I happened to have some very specific experience working on that topic already (if that makes sense without going into too many details).

    When I got to the interview, I could tell based on the initial questions that I was missing a certain specific experience and it was something the hiring manager couldn’t budge on. I respected where he was coming from because he explained he previously had someone in the role without that experience and they ended up on a PIP. I figured that was the end of the interview at that point.

    But the hiring manager proceeded to give me a lot of unsolicited advice about my personal and professional life based on A LOT of assumptions. I was really shocked by the comments he was making because there was a heavy handed implication that the reason why I was job searching was because I didn’t do enough volunteer work and I needed to do more uncompensated work to get experience in this missing skill. I was getting increasingly angry and tried to explain I appreciated his feedback to cut off of the conversation multiple times.

    Now, I understand there is a time and a place for volunteer work. I have done a lot of volunteer work in college, graduate school, and after graduate school. I am no stranger to spending hours doing unpaid work if it can give me experience that I need. But I’m not in that position financially or mentally anymore, point blank. I’m angry because I feel like if I was a man, there wouldn’t be this push for me to continue working unpaid honestly. I’m angry because I feel like it’s degrading that someone basically assumes I don’t deserved compensation for work. I’m also angry because I feel like someone read into a lot and decided that where I was volunteering wasn’t good enough or whatever. I don’t have this skill, but it’s considered more of an entry level skill and my experiences have gone in a bit of a different direction. I don’t want to say too much more out of fear of being identified, but I can’t understand how the interviewer couldn’t see that (not in a bratty way, just as an objective I have experience doing x,y,z but not a).

    I don’t even know if I’m looking for advice but I feel like I try to be polite and civil no matter what. I have only cut one interview short when the woman started yelling at me and implying I was stupid. But I feel like I’m up against a wall because I don’t want to seem disrespectful to someone trying to give me advice, even though I’m not sure I believe it was helpful.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Just be glad you won’t be working at a company with that lunatic. If anything, they told you they are an emotional, terrible manager. I feel sorry for the person who gets the job.

    2. Biff*

      Ew. Just reading that made me feel like I was watching a bully teacher lay into that one student….

      Question — what kind of organization brings someone in who does not have experience that is REQUIRED (not, good to to have, or nice to have, but completely non-optional) for an interview? That’s crazy. This guy comes across as a total ass.

      1. Pooja*

        I’m not really sure. When I told my dad about what happened, he wondered if he thought the manager was trying to get a rise out of me, like I was supposed to say, “I don’t have experience doing ‘A’ but I’m so excited to learn!!” kind of thing? It’s hard to get a read because of how adamant the hiring manger was about how much the previous person messed up because they didn’t have that specific experience.

        1. Biff*

          That’s still not an appropriate way to interview. It should have been much more direct and forward. Eg. “I see you don’t have experience with gluten-free, dairy-free teapot design, but we wanted to talk to you as your other qualitifiactions for the position are good and this is something we are willing to help the right candidate learn.” He shouldn’t have lectured you on finding opportunities to get the education his company needed. That’s just wrong and it also came across as him saying it wasn’t worth it to pay you until you had this experience. Yet they can’t find someone with it…. strange.

          I’d walk away.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, I avoid companies that play mind games on interviews because it will not get better once I start work there. So even if your dad is correct, I would say you dodged a bullet.

    3. Lizard*

      You learned everything you needed to know about that guy, which is that he’s a know-it-all blowhard. Whether you had the right experience for the job or not, the fact that this knucklehead felt he was qualified to give you career counseling at your first meeting means you are 100% entitled to not take seriously a single word he says.

      And even if all that nonsense was some kind of misguided attempt to “challenge” you, it would still suck and if you took that job you would be stuck working for someone who thought that was a reasonable way to interact with people, which it is not.

      Count it as a bullet dodged and do the career development YOU think is appropriate.

      1. Chrissie*

        this knucklehead actually didn’t deserve your politeness. If what someone says makes you angry, “I appreciate your feedback” does not convey to them that they are overstepping a boundary.

    4. Fact & Fiction*

      Is it possible he was trying to get free help out of you by insinuating you should “volunteer” for his specific company? It was beyond rude either way but that would kind of explain his motives.

  33. SoFreekinAnon*

    I work direct care in a hospital type setting as a not licensed professional and I may have Hep C. I have some type of liver disease, the most likely being Hep C but we are waiting on lab results to come in Monday or Tuesday. If it is Hep C i’ll have to resign because of the type of work that I do but is it reasonable to ask that they transfer me to another department where I wouldn’t be putting patients or anyone else at risk?
    keep in mind that while I know and understand how to protect others there are times when exposure may not be my fault but the fault of those not necessary able to control themselves.

    1. SoFreekinAnon*

      **contraction may or may not have occurred while working, there was no specific known incident where contraction may have occurred, it was discovered while I was undergoing testing for something else.

      1. LCL*

        I hope your tests come back negative. But if they don’t, you should definitely talk to your company’s HR person. Since health care is what your job does, they must have policies that address this. If you have hep C they will want to know because there are things they have to do for patient care.
        This is also another reason to talk to L&I, because you are talking about possible work exposure. With modern science, isn’t it possible to kinda “track” a viral strain and figure out routes of exposure?
        (Yes it is obvious I don’t work in the medical field, but am kinda familiar with compliance and regulatory questions.)

    2. Temperance*

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. I think it might not hurt to ask, but your organization might have infectious disease protocols that bar someone with Hep C or other contagious diseases for the safety of your patients. If you work with children, memory care patients, or mentally ill folks, they might not have the self-control to understand proper and safe interaction.

      1. SoFreekinAnon*

        i’ll absolutely have to leave this specific field but I could do something clerical or administrative away from patients who could expose themselves to my virus. there are guidelines as to specific viral load numbers but even the smallest numbers would eliminate my ability to safely do my job. I just don’t want to be with out an income.

        1. A Safety Consultant*

          Since the exposure may have come from work, you may want to discuss the situation with the infection control nurse and/or risk administrator for your facility. They should have a policy in place to investigate the situation. You can also ask at that time about workers’ compensation. They may deny you if they don’t feel the exposure was work related, but you can file a claim with your state agency (and I’d recommend hiring a work comp attorney at that point) and depending on state laws and a court’s decision, you may receive compensation. Your employer should have a return to work program in place that involves job transfer policies. These programs save employers from paying more for disability under work comp if they can keep you working. If you don’t end up with work comp compensation, they may still give you a job transfer under their return to work policies. If your employer refuses to work with you, you’ll be looking at unemployment. Your state may also have job placement/training programs in place through their unemployment office. Good luck. I’m sorry this has happened to you and I hope everything works out in your favor.

    3. Biff*

      Check into new medicine. I just saw an advertisement for something that claims it cures it in two weeks. (This was at the doctor’s office.)

        1. fposte*

          Sorry, that sounds really negative, which isn’t appropriate. Some insurers are covering it, too, and SoFreekin may have more possibilities because of the possible workplace involvement.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Sometimes you can find work-arounds for the costs. My aunt was on a drug that cost $20k per month. Somehow she did not pay one dime for it.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I know it musty be scary, but I’d take this one step at a time. IF the test results come back for Hep C, then you can talk to HR. I don’t know what kind of work you are in, but as long as precautions are in place, most healthcare positions can accommodate communicable diseases. If you definitely cannot do your job because of the infection, it is your organization’s responsibility to find you another position.
      Unless they are completely incompetent, your HR Department will know what to do, so you don’t need to worry about that aspect of it.

    5. Sibley*

      Also, if you DO have Hep C, please talk to your doctor about possible next steps. There are new treatment options, so something might work to cure you and this wouldn’t be an issue in the future.

      Hoping for the best for you.

    6. echosparks*

      If your test comes back positive, you need to contact your hospital’s infection control department and talk to them about filing an employee incident report, STAT. If you provide direct patient care and have no reason to believe you contracted it in your personal life, then there is a huge likelihood you contracted in the course of your job. You would be entitled to workman’s comp and possibly even more depending on the circumstances of infection. Determining those circumstances is part of infection control’s job, they should have the ability to trace back through every patient you’ve come in contact with looking for a possible time of contamination. Hospitals take this **very** seriously and so should you. If there’s even a possibility you contracted it at work, I think getting transferred to another department would be likely, along with filing for workman’s comp to cover your resulting medical expenses. But infection control is where it all starts, they will have strict pathways to follow for investigating these kinds of possible exposures. At least at the hospital I work at, we are required to report possible exposure to infection control, so if you want to keep working there you may need to report even if you’re not sure it was from work.

    7. KimberlyR*

      I have worked in hospitals before, in clinical areas as a non-clinical worker (unit secretary). Usually you don’t get to transfer from department to department-you usually have to apply internally. But there is absolutely no reason why you can’t! There are so many positions that don’t require direct patient care (unit secretary, operator, billing department, purchasing, receiving, etc) so the Hep C shouldn’t matter for those. You may even be protected from disclosing your health status in some of the areas where is isn’t applicable (IANAL but seems like I’ve heard something about that. I would think thats discrimination if they don’t hire you based on a disease you may have IF that disease would not be relevant to the job.) Check your facility’s website or job board proactively and start looking at the possibilities they may have open. It might help you feel better to see what other options are out there if the news comes back that you do have Hep C. Good luck!

      1. KimberlyR*

        And to reiterate echosparks, definitely report it to Infection Control. I meant that they shouldn’t make you disclose this to any hiring manager you may encounter when applying/transferring to a different department. It wouldn’t matter to someplace like Billing if you have Hep C.

    8. Lizard*

      You should talk to your hospital’s infection control and occupational health folks before you do anything drastic or assume you have to resign.

      If it is Hep C, you should definitely look into treatment. The new medications are 99% effective after 12 weeks of treatment with minimal side effects. They are very expensive but most insurances do cover them (may need to have specific circumstances) and there are also some patient assistance programs available if your insurance doesn’t cover it. If you like your job I would DEFINITELY look into treatment before you do something like change jobs. I’ve been treating some patients in my practice and although the insurance stuff can be cumbersome we are having a lot of success.

  34. Sarasaurus*

    My boss mentioned possibly sending me to a conference this fall, and I’m really not interested in going for personal/family reasons. Namely, I have an infant I’m breastfeeding and don’t think I’ll have enough milk (5 days’ worth) saved up by then. Daycare is also a huuuge hassle, since it’s nowhere near my husband’s work and he doesn’t have the same flexibility with his schedule as I do. Basically, I COULD make this conference work…I just really don’t want to. Is it ever okay to tell my boss this, or should I just suck it up and go where she sends me? We have a pretty good relationship and a family friendly workplace in general, but I don’t want to be seen as less dedicated.

    1. Temperance*

      Will it be good for your career to go? Could your husband take a day or two off of work to accompany you, so you can attend while BFing?

      1. Construction Safety*

        Well, she might have to share a room with 3 co-workers, so it might be tight. ;)

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I had to go to a 5-day conference (well, desperate to prove that having a baby hadn’t slowed me down) that I knew would be great for my career. I arranged for a fridge in my rooom (for milk), left the baby with my parents, and flew to the conference from their home town, pumping at every possible interval. It was hard, but it was totally worth it career-wise. (He was 4 months old.) I love my son, but I felt great leaving him with my mom and the pumping wasn’t as onerous as I anticipated. That said: it’s what worked for ME. I’m a department head and I don’t go to conferences anymore if I can help it – it’s just not worth the aggravation.

      Good luck! I am sure you’ll make the right choice for you and your family.

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Is this a conference you would have liked to go to if you hadn’t just had a child? If so you should probably go – you have quite a bit of time before the conference to get details worked out. Planning stuff like this is a hassle with a young family (and definitely more so for moms although I have to give my husband a ton of credit for doing as much as he could while ours was young but nursing is a whole separate ball game) but time to plan ahead will make it easier even though it doesn’t feel like it now. My husband and I both left for a trip when our son was young and my parents were a huge help (lived in town) and his drove up from their home several hours away to take him for 2 of the days to give my parents a break.

      Another option is to find out if you have to go all 5 days. Could you look at the schedule and pick a few sessions at the beginning or end that would be the most useful for you and your company and make it a 2 1/2 day thing instead? Your boss might also really like this suggestion as a good faith effort on your part to be both a responsible parent and a good employee.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think your concerns are entirely reasonable and a reasonable boss would accept them. I would phrase it something like, “Professionally I’d love to attend the Teapots United conference, but logistically I don’t think I can swing that much time away from New Baby just yet. I’m definitely on board for their spring event, though!”

      Also, when is the conference, and when does a decision have to be made? If it’s not until, say, November and there’s not a concern about it selling out or anything, you could always phrase it as, “I’d love to go, but with New Baby it’s hard to tell right now if the logistics would work. Can we revisit it closer to the registration deadline in September?” You might know circumstances aren’t going to change, but it looks more like you’re interested in being flexible rather than claiming to know absolutely what the circumstances are going to be several months from now.

    5. Chameleon*

      I had a friend with a small baby attend a conference. She actually brought her mom who shared a hotel room with her, so she could go to her room during breaks.

      Obviously this involves extra money, so I’d only do something like this if it’s really good for your career.

      1. Lia*

        This was going to be my suggestion. I ran a conference last month where one of our attendees did just this, and it’s not all that uncommon.

    6. YouHaveBeenWarned*

      Pumping while traveling for work is rough. You have my deepest sympathies. I had a trial once while still pumping and was spending jury recesses in the bathroom with the pump and then smuggling my stuff back in in a banker’s box like a weirdo. One of the jurors saw me come out of a stall with my pump and tried to talk to me about it, so then we had to make a statement about it on the record and I’m pretty sure I’ve never been more embarrassed.

      That said, there are things you can do:
      1) as others have said, moms and mothers in law are wonderful during these times;
      2) there is a service that will send you a box every day to send your milk home overnight express. It’s $100/day but could help plug a gap for you if you don’t have enough freezer stash. Depending on your employer, they might pay for it;
      3) bring the baby and a caregiver. I have done this and frankly, it was a pain and exhausting;
      4) formula for a few days. If you’re pumping at the conference, your supply will be ok.

      That said, I have also pushed back on traveling while breastfeeding and it’s been fine. Careers are long, infancy is not.

      1. Audiophile*

        Oh my god, that’s horrifying. Who in their right mind thinks that’s appropriate?

        As a woman, I think we’ve all seen women breastfeed. I’ve never stopped and thought, “maybe I should chat with this stranger”.

    7. James Buchanan Burn*

      I recently spent several days away from my baby. My mom came to stay and gave her formula in a bottle, I pumped just enough to alleviate my discomfort, and my supply went right back to normal as soon as I was back with the baby. Your mileage may obviously vary, and I don’t blame you in the least for not wanting to do this trip regardless, but not having enough frozen milk saved up isn’t necessarily a deal breaker!

    8. Mander*

      My sister did the “bring the whole family” thing once when her daughter was an infant. But I think they were able to drive to the conference, which helped because her husband and older son weren’t stuck in the hotel room the whole time. I think she just met up with him and fed the baby on breaks. She was a bit older then your baby will be, though, so I don’t think she was feeding as often.

  35. Carissa*

    A little bent of a vent plus asking for advice: My counterpart is driving me nuts. We do the same job but for different departments. Her manager is gone for 2 weeks of vacation and apparently left her nothing to do/she has nothing to do. She has begun basically “eavesdropping” on my work calls and interjecting advice, suggestions, etc. and inviting herself to meetings that she does not need to be in. This is the end of week 1 and I want to staple her mouth shut and nail her to her chair. I don’t know how I’m going to survive another week of this without snapping.

    Any advice for how to handle this? I tried giving her a few things that she could work on but she is more interested in what I am doing/saying. If she doesn’t back off I’m going to lose it.

    1. animaniactoo*

      “Jane, please don’t interrupt when I’m on the phone. It happened alot this week and it’s making me a bit nuts. If you think I’ve missed something, you can let me know after I’ve hung up and I’ll consider whether I think it’s worth calling back for. Thanks.”

      It won’t totally solve your problem, but it should at least lower the volume on it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t give hints, it won’t work. Be direct.
      “Jane, I am sorry you have nothing to do and I have tried to help as much as I can. Please stop interrupting my phone calls and conversations and please stop attending meetings that you do not need to be at.”
      She can email her boss or her grand boss to find more work.

      We have to match our directness to the level of rudeness we are seeing.

    3. Isabel C.*

      See, this is one of those situations where I would *want* the co-worker that takes lots of personal calls/spends time on FB/etc.

  36. some1*

    Anyone have tips for when a coworker makes remark stereotyping an ethnic group? This happened to me the other day, and the remark was one of those “compliments” that’s still kind of generalizing like, “[People from X race] are really good cooks IME” and I was struck kind of dumb. I’d love a comeback that isn’t adversarial.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Three thoughts:

      1) It may not be possible to avoid being adversarial; your coworker may find any sort of disagreement or correction adversarial, because she’s likely to feel at least a little defensive. Maybe your goal should be to be kind, or to assume her good intentions instead.

      2) Tone is what’s going to matter most here. “Oh, I don’t think we can generalize cooking ability to whole nationality,” said neutrally, can correct the statement without sounding blatantly directive.

      3) Personally, I’ve come to a place where I don’t care much about preserving the feelings of people who say or believe effed-up things. Consider the possibility that it would feel and work better to just say it straight: “Um, Filsan, it’s messed up to generalize about an entire nationality like that, even when you’re saying something that’s nominally positive. Don’t do that around me anymore.”

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Totally with you on this:

        3) Personally, I’ve come to a place where I don’t care much about preserving the feelings of people who say or believe effed-up things. Consider the possibility that it would feel and work better to just say it straight: “Um, Filsan, it’s messed up to generalize about an entire nationality like that, even when you’re saying something that’s nominally positive. Don’t do that around me anymore.”

    2. Leatherwings*

      I would point it out in a non-adversarial tone.
      “Well, it’s not really cool to generalize an entire ethnic group, but I do like Ethiopian food”

    3. Rat in the Sugar*

      Ugh, yeah, I never know what to say when one of my coworkers comes out with something racist (I live in the American South, so it happens).

      Just a few weeks ago, when I was complaining with one of our admins about the Burger King down the street and it’s “could be excellent, could be completely wrong” kind of service, and she says something like, “Yeah, I went there the other day and my order was all messed up, and you know it was a black girl that served me…”

      Ugh ugh ugh. I kind of froze and just said “Well, every time I’ve gone there all of the employees are black, so whether I’ve gotten good service or bad it was a black person who served me.” and then I found something to do in another room. I always wish I could say something more when somebody does that, but I can never seem to think fast enough in the moment…

      1. Jaguar*

        Yeah, that’s the kind of thing I would speak up on, pretty much involuntarily. “No, I don’t know that.”

      2. Katie the Fed*

        I am over ignoring this kind of stuff. Maybe I’m a jerk, but I call people out on it. Usually by making THEM explain it. “Why would I know it was a black girl that served you? What does that mean?”

    4. Biff*

      I think if it’s primarily complimentary that maybe it’s not a big deal. There are a lot of stereotypes that aren’t so bad. Maybe wrong, but not nefarious. But if it’s negative, then I think you should say something.

      1. zora.dee*

        I really don’t agree. Just because a stereotype is for a positive trait doesn’t mean stereotypes aren’t harmful. It is really frustrating and hurtful to many individuals for something to be assumed of them just because they belong to a group. EX: “All Asians are great at math.” No, that is not true, and saying that about an Asian person who is not good at math can make them feel erased. And like they aren’t their own person, they are just a “thing.”

        I would call out any generalization no matter what it is, and I like many of the scripts above with a neutral tone.

        And I really urge you to think more about stereotypes being “not that bad.” It’s really not that simple, if you think about it from the perspective of people in those groups, I think you’ll see that.

        1. Jaguar*

          At the same time, it’s perfectly okay to not want to fight every battle every time. It’s an admirable position to take, but it really does come at a cost (not always, but sometimes) and the street fighters should acknowledge that.

          I tend to fight these battles every time they come up, but I totally understand someone that wouldn’t want to. I actually consider it one of my neurotic tendencies at this point as opposed to being a valiant crusader.

          1. zora.dee*

            That is totally fair. But I don’t think saying “i can’t fight this battle right now and am going to be quiet” is the same as “some stereotypes are positive.”

            I’m not trying to be mean or antagonistic about it, I just felt the need to encourage some more thought about why “positive” stereotypes are still harmful and wrong.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          There was a good article in Slate I think about the Asian kids in Fairfax County, Virginia, who don’t get into the elite science/tech magnet school, and who want to study liberal arts, and what outsiders they feel like.

          And yeah, positive stereotypes aren’t necessarily as harmful as negative ones, but they’re also not helpful or necessarily true.

          1. Stephanie*

            Well, with positive stereotypes, the harm’s more insidious (in addition to the outsider status). There’s a negative implication about what the person supposedly lacks. So with the Asians are good at math/smart overall stereotype, the implied flip side is that they are quants who can’t be creative or charismatic. You see the downsides of that positive stereotype play out with things like the Bamboo Ceiling.

            Signed,
            A black person who isn’t a good dancer

            1. RKB*

              Or their intelligence desexualizes them. Or, on the flip side, they’re fetishized and their intelligence is dismissed.

              Ah, stereotypes.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “There’s good cooks all over the world!”

      “hey, have you ever tried Y food? It’s great, too.”

      “X’s don’t have a corner on the good cooks market. I enjoy A, B, and C food also.”

  37. Raine*

    So how often do companies make a job offer and then never follow through? My younger brother tried to get a summer job last year, and after several rounds of interviews, was offered a job at our local big chain shopping center pending background check and drug test. They called him, told him he’d cleared both, and that they would call him again sometime that week to set up his training schedule.

    And then they never called back. He called them several times and each time he got increasingly huffy instructions to just wait for their call. They finally called him at like, the end of august asking him to come in, and he had to tell them he was headed back to college and the window had closed. For reference he had accepted the job in early May. He was up front with them on the application and during the interviews that he was a student looking for seasonal work and would be in New York come September. There’s no reason I can think of that they would have waited so long.

    After another summer of no luck finding a job, he’s been wondering if he should start applying for these things in March (april being taken up by exams). Why applying early for seasonal stuff isn’t a terrible idea, I don’t think these kind of long waits are usual in retail are they?

    1. Rat in the Sugar*

      Yeah, that kind of thing occasionally happens in retail and food, in my experience. I would have just let it go after two weeks of them not giving a date to come in and train.

      The same thing happened to a daughter of a friend; she applied and was hired at the same restaurant I worked at. They then proceeded to give her the runaround, never call her back, never give her any dates, no one knew what was happening when she tried to call, and after a few weeks she gave up, disappointed. I still have no idea what happened; I hired there with no problems and her mother later hired there with no problems. Just the kind of thing that happens in retail/food sometimes, I think–the environment can be so fast-paced and crazy that managers sometimes let things slip. (Though hiring someone and never actually bringing them on is a pretty big damn slip, imo).

      He shouldn’t have to apply super-early; with these places, if it’s going to work out you’re usually in uniform and working inside of a week. If they don’t at least have a firm date by a week or two after, I would assume the job’s not happening and just move on.

    2. NarrowDoorways*

      People are ridiculous. I’m not sure the earlier timeline would help.

      When I was in my 3rd year of college, I applied to work at the summer job I’d had the year before. I had all of my references contacted, did a full day interview, and then last minute they said, “Oh, we’re not hiring for seasonal…”

      Umm, well that was the first thing I mentioned when I called inquiring about SEASONAL work, so….

    3. Slippy*

      For retail and big box stores that is not all that unusual. You work (or don’t work) according to their needs and schedule. Since turnover is so high they are constantly accepting applications and hiring but following through depends on their week to week needs. Low skill jobs suck for a variety of reasons.

    4. Expected to pay more than my fair share*

      Many students apply during spring break for summer jobs. A local grocery store near me will hire a few college students but you have to have applied early as most summer positions got to those who started working for them during high school.

    5. Nanani*

      I had this happen when I was a student too, and had found a different summer job.
      By the time the off-blower called me back I barely remembered who they were and definitely was not interested, nor even able to go work there.

      Another reason to keep job hunting until EVERYTHING is locked down.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Especially if he is applying for retail jobs. Retailers will do whatever they feel like doing, he should go by actions not words. He is not working there until he is actually working there. Even then they can play with his hours by telling him he needs full 24/7 availability then scheduling him for ten hours.
        And I agree that grocery stores fill up early with summer help. Try to remember they are cutting the hours of the regular workers in order to hire the summer workers. Even when it goes as planned that does not mean it goes well.
        He should look around for something other than retail if possible.

  38. Nonny2016*

    Been at my job for almost a year and I’m looking again. I’ve read plenty of articles frowning upon job hopping, but I can’t say that I care anymore. If there’s not opportunity where you are at, and that’s what you need, I say do what you have to do.

    1. Leatherwings*

      But you have to weight that against your future professional status. Yeah, if you’re in a miserable situation and you have to get out, then look for a way to do that. But doing that over and over again is going to hurt you in future job searches and that’s absolutely something to consider and care about.

      I left a job after a year because I couldn’t do it – it was awful. But I committed to staying at the next place for a few years to make up for it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, you need to factor in that you may be making things much more difficult for your future self, and your future self may really wish you hadn’t.

    2. Slippy*

      Yeah I agree. It is hard to take the no job hopping advice seriously anymore since more and more of us are hired on a per-project basis or as 1099.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But those things aren’t job hopping. Job hopping is about a string of jobs that were intended to be longer-term but which you left pretty quickly. 1099 work and project work are a different thing.

        1. Slippy*

          Well the overall job tenure job has significantly shortened so not sure where the bar is for changing companies to be considered job hopping. If Nonny makes it a year and there was not a prior agreement then that isn’t bad. Besides with expectations that employees ‘hit the ground running’ the adjustment period has shrunk as well (I heard people whisper that in times of old there was this thing called training).

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            There’s still training in some places, it’s just not as prevalent as it should be. I had zero training at my first job out of college, and they were shocked, SHOCKED, when I sucked at it and had to be let go three months after being promoted from the admin/office assistant position I knew how to do to the admissions rep/sales gig I had no experience in.

            The next two places gave me very adequate training, including the company I work for now (I came in as a trainee in an 8 month long paid program and they have two other training programs that last 18-24 months). Companies really need to start investing in their people again. If they found ways to do this, maybe employees would be invested in the company and the job hopping thing wouldn’t happen so much.

  39. MissMaple*

    Quick question, I’m sure it’s been discussed previously…I applied to an opening that was “Email HR with your information” last week on a company site. It’s now showing up on a recruiter site (without the company name). Do I apply through them, or assume they received my information in the email?

    1. Leatherwings*

      Are you sure it’s the same job? Even if the job description is word-for-word the same, it’s possible another company lifted it.

      1. MissMaple*

        Same small-ish city and definitely word for word with some specific jaron-ish things, so I assume it’s the same.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I would assume they received your information via the email. Once you go through the recruiter, you would cost them more to hire since they’d have to pay commission on you.

  40. Jennifer M.*

    My job offers the opportunity to telework one day per week. So far I haven’t taken them up on it. Primarily because I am still pretty new (started 2nd week of May). The other is that I usually work more efficiently in an office setting. But that was because a lot of my previous jobs required a lot of interaction, often with more junior staff so sitting down with them generally worked better. With new job I spend a lot of time writing analysis reports which I can do from home.

    However, I think I would need to make some minor investments for this to work. Because I analyze other documents, I would want to buy a monitor so I could have two screens going at the same time. And they don’t appear to be that expensive. Also, I don’t have a desk. In the short term, I could use the dining room table (I live alone and rarely use it for actual eating, it is mainly the gift wrapping table), but ultimately, I would want a more comfortable chair.

    But this job has a lot of flexibility so I would also probably be ok’d to work 7:30-11:30 (I usually leave the house between 7:15 and 7:30 so I could keep the same wake-up time) take a 2 hour lunch to do some errands and then 1:30-5:30. So if I could do this on Wednesdays (or Tuesdays) that would be pretty great.

    I just have to decide if I want to make the equipment investment. . .

    1. animaniactoo*

      I cannot stress enough the ability to grocery shop when the store is fairly empty. Seriously. Can’t stress it enough.

      Maybe that’s because just about any time I can go is either insanely busy or they’ve been cleared out of most of the sale items for the day, but as a quality of life issue – it’s pretty huge for me.

      1. Jennifer M.*

        Yeah, I was unemployed for about 5 months so I know the bliss of Wegman’s at 11am on a Tuesday!

    2. zora.dee*

      Some places that offer telework also budget for home offices. If not for everything, at least something to offset the costs. Have you asked? My current workplace provides an extra monitor/keyboard/mouse for each employee to have at home.

    3. Mkb*

      I bought my 2nd monitor off craigslist for $20. You could also look for a desk chair on there.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. There are many used furniture shops around me here and consignment shops. You can also consider tag sales. I think the easiest thing to do first to is email friends and family to see if they have anything they would consider selling you. Maybe you will get lucky and they will just give it to you.

        I bought a little six foot folding table, it has a carry handle, too. I love it. Right now I have my computer set on it, with plenty of space left over. Since it’s narrow (3feet?) it does not take a lot of space away from the room. I can use it for other things later. I picked it up for $20.

        1. Girasol*

          Me too: I worked at home on a great little desk that I got at garage sale for $15. Not that telecommuting was cheap for me. Installing high quality internet service in a rural area cost hundreds at the time. But in the end it was worth the investment, no doubt about it. Being able to bike over noon hour and come back smiling to work the afternoon in my shorts was wonderful!

  41. straws*

    I’m struggling with how to approach an issue with an employee’s work. My department has a “sister” department, with whom we share resources and work closely with on the same projects. Their manager and I both report to a VP. I’ve recently come across a lot of errors with an employee’s work from the other department. Because of that, I was asked (by manager & VP) to audit one of the documents he worked on by himself. I’ve come across a number of small errors and, this morning, one major one (like, out affecting our customers, major). I documented the error and fixed it, but now I’m trying to decide how to move forward. He’s not my employee to address it with and he takes everything personally, so I’m glad for that. His manager is on vacation for the next 2 weeks, and we were planning to meet on my findings upon his return. Our VP checks in with me every so often, so he knows about the issues in general and wants to address it as soon as I’m done. The goal was to make sure the concerns were valid so they could be addressed with the employee, but I’m concerned that something so major will escalate the situation. The VP is looking to make cuts in general, and I don’t want to update him with this and have him cut the employee while the manager is away.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Why would it be a problem for him to cut the employee while the manager is away?

      Genuinely asking – manager knew what the situation was before leaving for vacation. Did they leave any instructions about what happened if you came across something major or the VP wanted an update before they came back?

      Also, why do you think that the VP’s action will be to fire him vs waiting to discuss with manager?

      1. straws*

        Well, they’re 2 person departments. So there would be no one doing any of the work until the manager returned. We were also expecting minor errors that would be addressed (or a PIP at worst case), so there wasn’t any plan for significant problems. It’s possible that he won’t fire him, it’s kind of hit or miss with him. It depends on what else is going on, mood, etc. I don’t think he’ll want to wait to address it though, because that means 2 weeks where similar errors could occur.

        1. animaniactoo*

          I’d discuss with the VP now, and say something along the lines of “I realize this is a major issue and needs to be addressed immediately. However I would like to ask, if possible, that any major changes wait until [manager] is back from vacation. It’s easier for me to audit his reports than it would be if I had to add doing them from scratch to my workload.”

          That leaves you open that you’re not assuming that he’s going to cut the guy loose, rather than that he might try to reassign his workload to you or something.

      2. Sadsack*

        Also, that’s the VPs call, not yours. I don’t see how you can keep it secret. The employee being let go while his manager is out is not your fault. You did as his manager asked.

  42. Dave*

    I have been waiting for this.

    The place that told me that they wanted to create a position for me changed its tune after receiving my (well researched) salary range. They now say they have no open positions. I responded saying that I had felt there was mutual interested and emphasizing that salary was negotiable, and they have since been silent. Sigh.

    On another note, the founder/CEO of another company I had cold emailed asked me to connect with him on LinkedIn. How can I effectively capitalize on this? Send him a note and say “Hi”? Ask what piqued his interest? How can I nurture this contact?

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’m sorry, Dave–this sounded really promising.

      I would keep it really low-key on the LinkedIn request–that could be essentially a boilerplate response for cold contacts, and you want to keep your level of investment similar to his. I think you can send him one more email and I wouldn’t ask a question in it–I’d use it to say great, I did connect with you, and I’d include anything that isn’t on LinkedIn (depending on the industry and your profile, it could be a resume, could be a small portfolio, could be something recent you did that’s worth a sentence) and to reiterate your interest in working for him. Keep it concise, make it tasty :-).

  43. INTP*

    I have a question about negotiations for a promotion and raise situation.
    TL;DR: I’m in discussions to get a promotion if I plan to stay with my company for a while longer. I would love to accept the promotion and do this, but my current pay isn’t livable and I’d need a fairly significant raise to commit to not looking for other opportunities (~20%, which is less than $3/hour). When Boss and I reconvene to discuss my future plans and whether I should move into this promotion, how do I bring up the money aspect in a reasonable way?

    Long version: So, I have a Teapot Inspector role, in a major player in my industry (in which most Teapot Builders and Inspectors work as contractors, and in-house hands-on roles are rare in the US), that I am happy with in every way, except for the fact that it doesn’t pay well. This wasn’t an issue for me at first—I started the job as a grad student, then I kept it remotely when I moved across the country to live with my parents for free. But now I want to move out, and I need more money.
    I originally planned to use the job’s very flexible hours as steady employment while pursuing freelance work (which my boss knew from the time I started with the company), which pays better on an hourly basis. I then chose to take an opportunity to receive benefits in exchange for a 32 hour per week commitment over aggressively pursuing freelance work. I was freelancing in addition to the 32 hours for a while to bring my monthly income into a decent range, but ultimately found that with some health issues I’ve been dealing with, it just wasn’t sustainable for me to manage demanding clients on top of my day job.
    Very soon after I dropped freelancing, my boss asked how much longer I plan to stay with the company, and mentioned that if I plan to stay for some time we can look at additional duties I can take on for a promotion into the Senior level of my position. At the time, I was still completely unsure of how I wanted to proceed and answered in a bit of a wishy-washy way. After time to think about it, though, my ideal situation is to stay here for another couple of years—I still have a lot of room to grow here, my employer is very supportive, and having a steady W2 job will be a lot better for my personal financial goal. However, I just can’t commit to staying for another year or longer if I’m not making enough to move out on my own, which requires a fairly significant raise. I’ve looked at the numbers, and the raise where I would be willing to commit to this job is around 18%, but I’d be far more comfortable in the 25-35% range. (35% is less than a $5/hour raise, so it’s not as drastic as it sounds.)
    We’re going to revisit this topic to talk about designing a role for me, and I think the conversation will open again with my plans as far as how long I plan to stay with the company. I know that you don’t bring your personal financial needs into a negotiation, and it’s a bit weird to bring up the money before even talking about the role…but the answer to that question depends entirely on money. How can I convey that I’m interested in essentially changing my 5-year plan to stay with my company, but I will need more money to do that, without sounding antagonistic or entitled? My boss and I have had a very open communication about my future plans (she knew when I interviewed that I planned to freelance), so I want to be as honest as I can here.

    (Further details that might be relevant…I’ve been with the company two years, tenure in my position is usually pretty short, I’ve been told I’m one of the stronger performers on the team, I’ve received two 3% raises at annual review time and started to receive benefits a few months ago.)

    1. Catz*

      $5+/hour doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s $10k/year assuming 40 hrs & 52 weeks. I won’t discourage you from asking for a large raise because I’m doing so myself soon, however, I think 35% increase in hourly is a lot.

      However, you mentioned you’re working 32 hrs/week. If you worked 40, your take home pay would increase by 25% even with zero hourly wage. Maybe I misread and you’re already working 40.

      If I were in your shoes I would have the conversation about the new role and just ask what the salary range is for the senior position is, along with your other questions about the role. Asking the salary won’t seem mercenary, it’s part of the job, and until you get to that point in the conversation, just answer as if the new salary were agreeable. “Yes, is be interested in committing for another year in a more senior role;” or “I’m not that interested in project A but in result interested and I see a lot of growth potential in project B.”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’d tell him that I can’t make any commitments until I see the whole situation. And I let him know that you are looking for opportunities to grow yourself and contribute more to the effort.

      What this looks like:
      Boss: “INTP, we need a commitment from you before we continue discussing this.”
      You: “It would be unfair to you for me to commit to something that I do not even know what it is, you know yourself that you would not do that, either. I can tell you this: I feel that X Co is a very supportive employer and I am extremely interested in talking about a longer term plan. In order for me to commit I need a better idea of what I am committing to do. As you are aware, I am a person of my word and I am a good worker, so you know that once I hear the particulars, I will give you a solid answer.”

      What you are doing here is leveraging what you have in place. Show them what they know about you and how it is worth their effort to think this through, just as you are thinking it through. Also line up some info on what others in your area are getting paid for similar work.

  44. Anxious*

    For those of you who suffer from anxiety — can we talk about how it limits your career advancement? I am currently holding an interim role, at a level higher than I’m used to, and the stress has made my anxiety snowball. I am constantly nervous, have headaches, am snappish, the whole bit. This is all despite being told I’m doing a good job, which I believe I am. I’ve learned better coping mechanisms over the years, but I don’t believe it’s ever going to be solved completely. I’m wondering if I’ll ever be able to hold a high-level position (that I’m capable of doing) because I can’t handle long-term, sustained stress. The constant fire drill and competing demands of my job is literally making me sick, despite enjoying many aspects of it. FWIW, I’m in my mid-30s. I’m also a mom of young kids, so adding even more self-care to my routine seems like an impossible dream most days.

    Can anyone commiserate or share how they beat job-related anxiety?

    1. Leatherwings*

      A ton of commiseration from me. I have severe anxiety that I’ve only recently started treating with medication (Who knew it was possible to not have almost daily panic attacks. It’s incredible). I’m also still pretty early in my career, but I did hold a higher-up management position for awhile.

      For me, I needed to find the work that didn’t stress me out and moving higher up the ladder with that particular work. For me that meant finding work that is more focused on longer term projects than short deadlines because that’s what stresses me out. So even though the longer term projects are higher stakes once I’m promoted, I don’t feel huge pressure every single day I go to the office.

      I know for other people that kind of long term thing can cause existential stress though, so I think it’s about finding work that feels manageable to you.

      1. Anxious*

        I also prefer to work on long-term projects, because that’s where my strengths really shine. Unfortunately, due to the nature of my work, it is constantly being interupted by smaller day-to-day tasks that I can’t get off my plate (because there’s nobody to send them to).

        I feel discouraged because I’m hitting a plateau. I work on some high-levels stuff that I enjoy, I’m a good project manager, but being the constant go-to person is giving me literal panic attacks. I have been off meds for awhile, but I’m feeling crappy enough to consider using them again. :(

        1. Leatherwings*

          Maybe you need to find a position that has an associate or assistant below you to hand off a lot of the little things? Granted, that means you’ll need to manage which can be stressful, but it might be easier to focus on big stuff and manage than be interrupted with little things all the time.

    2. Apprehensive*

      I can commiserate, big time. I have worked while in college and for about a year as an administrative assistant, but I am currently in the first job that utilizes my degree. It took a long time to get an offer from anyone, and when I finally got one I just jumped at it. While there are good pay and benefits, the nature of the job involves regularly dealing with apprehensive or downright hostile people. I have been on depression and anxiety meds for years, and am by nature an introverted perfectionist…so it is fair to say that I have been a nervous wreck for these past two years and four months. It is so difficult! Having a new, more laid back supervisor has helped things (she replaced the old supervisor about six months ag0), but I have real trouble reconciling the reality that I am struggling with my urge to succeed. I wish I had answers for you. Hang in there. In your heart, you know you are doing a great job and are probably even making it look effortless. If wearing that mask becomes too tiring, you owe it to your health and your family to slow down your pace. If that means stepping down temporarily or permanently, it doesn’t mean you are any less smart or talented. Sometimes you just have to find a different path to fulfillment that fits your unique attributes.

    3. BananaKarenina*

      I am with you on the anxiety. I probably should have posted my previous AAM comment here. I have had anxiety since I was a child, but only in the last several years – on the job – did I experience its avalanche of devastating effects. It’s definitely impacted my work (no career “advancement” in teaching), and now impacting the time I spend applying to different organizations.

      One thing that has been helping is attending a support group – something I never thought I’d do, but being with people who also experience anxiety is quite encouraging. I don’t think mine will go away completely, either. DO you have people in your circle of family and friends who are supporting you through your anxiety?

      1. Anxious*

        As far as support goes, my sister and a close friend know that I have a problem. They also are anxiety sufferers and are good reality testers because they’ve been there. My husband is lovely and tries to be supportive, but he’s such a go-with-the-flow type that he doesn’t quite get how deeply anxiety affects me. He just sees the end result, which is an angry, stressed wife when things spiral out of control. Otherwise, I keep my anxiety to myself. I’ve never thought about a support group, but maybe I should look into it.

        Apprehensive, you put it really well. Sometimes, wearing this mask is just too hard and too hiring. It sucks to know that I have the capability to work at a high level, but not necessarily the capacity.

        1. Mimmy*

          Your last paragraph hits it on the head for me: I’m always asking myself, “I know I am very capable of doing X, but do I have the capacity to do it?” I particularly wrestled with this when I was contemplating a PhD.

    4. Mimmy*

      I have no doubt that anxiety has hampered my career advancement. I don’t get panic attacks or anything like that, but I have a habit of not giving myself enough credit for my skills and abilities. I also often second-guess myself. Maybe that’s more self-confidence than anxiety?

      Anyway, a couple of examples:

      1. At one previous job, I provided information & resources to everyone from individuals to professionals in a disability-related nonprofit. Despite assurances to the contrary, I was always questioning whether I gave the right resource or if I explained something clearly / appropriately to a caller. I was on probation status for six of the 11 months I was there (I was laid off).

      2. In general, I think I just tend to psych myself out of pursuing interesting opportunities because of the anxiety produces, even though I know deep down that I am likely denying myself the chance to realize my full potential.

      1. Not Me*

        Thanks, I just bought this. I’ve been struggling with terrible anxiety over the past year, and it reached a crisis point earlier this month. I’m now on leave from work because I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep and was having terribly scary thoughts about hurting myself (I’m under the care of a therapist and a physician and those thoughts have gone away with medication and therapy).

        My therapist feels that my anxiety is trying to tell me that I am in a super dysfunctional situation and need to get out of it, and that anxiety can sometimes be our friend. Not the kind of anxiety that spirals out of control, but the uncomfortable feeling that something is *wrong*. So while I’m out on leave, I’m looking for a new job and hopefully won’t have to go back.

        Long story short, maybe your anxiety isn’t happening in a vacuum and it’s just this particular place of employment that’s not right for you? I find constant fire drills to be exhausting and anxiety-producing, too.

    5. A Person*

      The combination of a therapist and the book “The Happiness Trap” really helped me with my anxiety, especially work-related anxiety. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but it helped me with the “snowball” effect.

      (Sorry if this is a double post, the first one didn’t take)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I started going into full blown panic attacks because of a crappy job and life stuff. It was a bad combo for me.

      Of the things I tried here are some things that helped:

      Breathing exercises. Boring as heck. Learn them anyway. It helped me sleep better. And when the anxiety/panic reared its ugly head, I had a go-to response that I could use anywhere and did not need special stuff to do it.

      I simplified my diet, whole foods, plenty of water. I noticed a big change when I stopped using fake sugars. I think I lost about 70% of my panic attacks just by removing fake sugar from my diet.

      You know when you get your presence of mind even partially back into place, it’s amazing how other things fall together. I learned I have to have a boss who knows what they are doing. I cannot work for toxic people or people who are just routinely sloppy in handling their work. I go into panic too easy if I privately believe my boss is an idiot.

      And I learned about self-talk. How do you reassure yourself? What tools do you have to help yourself calm down? I found that I could help myself calm down about Situation A by reminding myself of a time where I handled a similar situation and it worked out okay.

      If too many people are making too many demands on you, then that means teach people to find their own answers OR find ways to get them the info before they have to ask.

      Management means having a plan. You see a need so you build a plan. You see a project so you build a plan. Anxiety can SOMETIMES happen because we know we have NO plan. Fortunately, we live with ourselves and we get to realize the patterns in the things we worry about. Using a small example: I worry about heat in my house during the winter. I knew I had to build a good plan. I signed up for the budget plan so I know my fuel is paid for. Then I signed up for annual maintenance so that I know the furnace should be in good working order. I still worry some, but I know that I have taken steps to prevent foreseeable problems.
      And this is another thing, preventing foreseeable problems. We can’t get them all, but it is amazing how many we can catch. In building plans for what we do see, we gain practice and we get better at building plans. This means that when crisis of the moment hits, we are better able to figure out how to handle it.

      You answer could be “not now” or it could be “no, never” or it could be “build up some tools in your tool box”. Only you will know which one it is and it might take time to figure it out. I can say, keep reading here. Reading here will help you to grow in so many ways. My life is forever improved because of AAM. Knowledge is power, the more knowledge you gather, the more power you have to chose the right path for you.

      1. Not Me*

        This is such a helpful response. You are right; a lot of my anxiety happens because I don’t have a plan! I never really realized that until now.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My wise friend taught me this. Now it’s your turn to pass it forward at some point. It totally made sense once my wise friend pointed it out. I have never connected the dots before.

          Just recently I read where women (especially women) who feel their mothers were absent or neglectful are very vulnerable to panic attacks later in life. To me this drove home the point of build a plan. If a person feels their parents were lacking, one way to work at that is to be a good parent to ourselves. Part of being a good parent to ourselves is building a plan to protect aspects of our well-being and our quality of life.

          For me, it was like someone turn the lights on and I could see again.

  45. De Minimis*

    So I’ve been at my job 9 months, and have decided to apply to a different job nearby.

    I’ve always been told that most of a person’s job satisfaction is based on the people and relationships at their job, but that hasn’t been the case for me. I really like the people here, am paid extremely well, and believe in what my organization does, but I don’t like the actual work I’m doing, and feel like it’s been a step back for me professionally and that I should be doing more in my career [or at least get back to what I was doing at my last job.] But at the same time I will be really sad to leave when it does happen.

    My wife says she’s never seen me affected this much by a job—hard to enjoy my time off because I dread coming back. I’m not treated poorly or anything, I just don’t like what I’m doing.

    Has anyone else ever had a similar situation?

    1. INTP*

      I’ve been there. When I was a TA in grad school, I loved my fellow TAs, and got along well with my supervising professor. However, I was teaching a highly interactive class myself and it was just NOT in my wheelhouse. I wasn’t as miserable as when I’ve been doing work I hated with people I didn’t like, but I definitely wasn’t happy. I felt out of my element, drained, self-conscious, and overwhelmed every second I was in front of my class.

      I think great coworkers and management can make a boring or neutral job satisfying, and horrible coworkers can make an enjoyable job miserable, but if you’re spending most of your day on tasks that you find truly unpleasant or draining, then nothing is going to make that into an enjoyable job.

  46. New girl*

    I have a friend that works at a local college. We were talking recently and she told me that they get the week between Christmas and New Years off as a paid vacation. Is that something that is common at colleges?

    1. Leatherwings*

      Yes, very common.

      That’s actually also the case at my nonprofit organization too.

    2. Kristine*

      I used to work at a private company that operated in tandem with the local school district. We got that week off as well. One of the few things I miss about that job!

    3. Caledonia*

      Yes. There are no students after all, and very few staff. It’s a total dead period and would be quite wasteful to have staff working, the buildings open etc but they would just be marking time. Plus, most people would want that week off anyway. And it kinda makes up for the crunch times where you can’t really take holidays (exam periods, start of semesters)

    4. De Minimis*

      Yes, I think it is. I work for a non-profit that is closely affiliated with a university and we are closed the last two weeks of the year [though a portion of that is vacation time that is deducted from our leave balances.]

    5. Jax*

      I work at a public university. We have to take the week between Christmas and New Years off, but only Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and News Years Day are paid. For the rest we have to use PTO or take unpaid leave. I can’t tell you how much that bothers me.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        I also work at a public university. I haven’t been here a year, so I’m not sure what the policy will be, but I know the university is closed December 26 and 27. I assume those days will be paid. I’ll probably have to take PTO the rest of that week or I might just go to work, since there won’t be much for me to do and I can just relax at the office.

        1. Lady Kelvin*

          I wouldn’t assume that. At my university staff are required to take PTO on days that the university is closed, or take unpaid time off.

    6. Gabriela*

      This is fairly common. Many universities don’t even allow their students to stay in their on-campus housing during the holidays. It’s one of the perks of working at a university.

    7. AnonInSC*

      Yes. At least one major research university closes that week where I live. But, those holidays make up for other missed ones, such as Memorial Day. They don’t get that day without taking annual leave.

    8. Sophia Brooks*

      At my university it is not mandated– faculty do not have to work (but some do). Staff needs to take vacation, but it is a pretty popular time for it. We generally get to take off early on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

      I used to work through it because it was nice and quiet, but now I usually have vacation time to use up before the end of the year.

      1. De Minimis*

        We give people the option to come in or work from home during a few of the days if they don’t want to use the vacation. Usually we have around 5 days of the break that is to be used by vacation time [the rest are official holidays on our calendar.]

        1. Lemon Zinger*

          Ooooh, I like the idea of working from home during that time. I’ll ask my boss when we get closer to December!

    9. Seal*

      It is, although it depends on where the college or university is located. I currently work in an academic library at a large public university in a college town. We’re closed between Christmas and New Years because no one’s around; everyone gets those days as paid holidays. My last job was in an academic library at a public university in a major city; that place was open between Christmas and New Years, although many people took those days off anyway. Much prefer the holiday schedule here!

    10. twig*

      sadly, not at my university (it’s a state uni, for what it’s worth) but a lot of folks do take that time off using annual leave (which is fairly generous for the US)

    11. LPBB*

      Both my husband and I work for our state’s public university system. We do get that week off paid, but that’s only because they shift the ‘smaller’ holidays (Columbus Day, President’s Day, etc) to that week. So, in other words, Veteran’s Day is “observed” as a paid holiday on December 29 rather than November 11.

    12. Lia*

      Between my partner and myself, we’ve worked for 7 different universities, and the breakdown was as follows:
      2 closed that week, no annual leave needed
      3 open that week, paid off for Christmas and New Years, other days expected to work or take vacation
      2 closed but vacation required if you wanted to get paid for those days

      So, it varies. Generally, the smaller places were closed for the week.

    13. NASA*

      Yes! The non-prof I used to work at gave us the last two weeks of December off, paid. It was awesome!

      This was in addition to all the time you accrued off. So nice. Otherwise, I hated it there….

    14. Lauren*

      It is at my community college in California. In fact, we get 16 holidays per year (including Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day) plus generous vacation and sick time. I am so used to this that I was surprised, when I was considering another job in one of my dream states, to see that no other college I looked at did this. Most offered Christmas day and a few more throughout the year.

      I guess I am spoiled.

    15. Dave*

      I’ve worked at “regular” places that do this, too. One made the time optional (so typically just commissioned sales people would be in). Another said the office was closed, but it was expected that you save some vacation days for it.

  47. Ruby*

    My mother won’t stop telling me to lie/stretch the truth on my resume! I know not to do it, beyond the general ‘pick and choose what to market from previous positions,’ but I’ve been job hunting for nearly a year to no avail and she’s convinced that I’m being passed up because I’m “too honest” about what I can / have experience doing.

    1. calonkat*

      See if there’s anyone who can sit down and go over your resume with you. It may be there are legitimate ways of phrasing your experience that hits more “key words” that HR people look for. My sister (who is so much better at this than I am (compulsive honesty for the fail)) went over my resume at one point and suggested many wording changes that did help me start getting more interviews.
      Sometimes using different words can help others see your talent and experience!

      1. calonkat*

        Dang it, got a phone call and forgot to add:
        That MAY be what your mother is trying to get at. You are completely correct that you shouldn’t lie on your resume!

        1. Ruby*

          Thanks! I know that’s not what she meant but I should probably have some fresh eyes look over my resume anyway.

    2. Natalie*

      Might be time to just start bean-dipping her: non-committal, vaguely positive phrase, and then change the subject.

      “I’ll think about that. Hey, do you know where my orange shirt is? You know, the one I got in Cabo when we vacationed there last Christmas. Blah blah blah.”

      “Hmmm, interesting. Anyway, how about those Pocket Monsters?”

      “Huh, that’s a thought. So, like I was saying, I think I’m going to plant sunflowers along the fence line to attract squirrels I can use for target practice. Have I shown you my new .22?”

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Bean-dipping. Ha. I’ve never heard that term.

        I’m a goddamn bean-dipping master though, I’ll tell you.

  48. Vulcan social worker*

    Late Friday I had an email in which my address was in the bcc: field, and I was concerned that it was an indication of a group interview. I hoped I was misinterpreting that and asked others here for opinions. I was not misinterpreting it. I showed up and it was indeed a group interview, and not a fun one where we had to collaborate, but the go down the line, everyone answer and by the time the last person does, you’re reaching to come up with something that wasn’t said. With a internal candidate, and someone who does the same job for another organization that receives the same federal grant in another city. I went into the interview feeling confident about my abilities to do this job well, but not overconfident because you never know who else is in the pool. Well, this was the perfect example of that. I felt like I answered the questions asked of me well, but I also left feeling like there was no way I was getting it over the other candidates in the room. Guess I don’t have to wonder what I did wrong when I don’t get it. On to the next one.

    1. Megs*

      Wow, that sounds like a really crummy experience and I really can’t imagine how the hiring people got anything much good out of it. Are there fields where this kind of interview is common/useful?

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      These situations are ridiculous- be glad you aren’t going to end up working for this company. People who think this is a good way to interview are largely not efficient and usually have stupid ideas about other important things as well.

      Had a retail interview like this once. Except there were 8 of us.. Hiring manager called me after a week, on the day my family had to put a beloved dog to sleep (I was in the car on the way to say goodbye when I took the call) and said she needed me to come back in for a smaller group interview because she couldn’t remember any of our answers. Caught between anger at her bluntness with the situation and trying to hold back tears, I nearly told her go to hell and managed some kind of “Sorry not interested”

  49. Academic Environment*

    Hey y’all!
    I’m having trouble figuring out the proper way to address people in an academic environment. I’m a director level staff person without a doctorate. My go-to is generally if people have a doctorate, I call them Dr. So-and-So. My question is, is this the right way to do it? My concern is that I’m minimizing myself – because I’m essentially calling peers by their title even though I wouldn’t if they didn’t have a doctorate. I want to display proper etiquette, but I also want to look like I can hold my own in my position. No one that I have addressed by Dr. has said that I can call them by their first name, but I know that others do, and apparently this is ok? Not sure. Thanks!

      1. Leatherwings*

        Yep. One of my parents is a professor and will tell a staff member to call them by their first name, but they don’t want students calling them by their first name so it’s best to start from Dr. and see what they say.

    1. insert pun here*

      Professor is actually preferred over Dr., if the person is actually a professor (technically it’s the higher title.)

      On first email contact, “dear Professor Lastname, [text of email,] sincerely, myfirstname.” They will usually reply “dear myfirstname,” and sign with their first name. From there, we’re on a first name basis, forever.

      If you are working with people who are uptight (to put it nicely) about working with/around people without Ph.D.s, trust me, it won’t matter how you open or close your emails. Most professors I know are more concerned with how their students address them (i.e., female professors addressed as “Mrs. Lastname” is a common one.)

      1. Nye*

        This is all great advice! Seconding the point that if you are being formal, you should use the title if they have it. (E.g. Dr. Bigshot rather than Mrs. Bigshot.) Especially for women with advanced degrees, where “Mrs./Ms./Miss” can seem sexist (and sometimes is) if the writer/speaker would call a man in the same position Dr. (or Professor).

        That said, most folks with PhDs are fine with first names, and often prefer them. (I do.) But if you’re going to be formal, using the correct title is the best way forward.

        As a side note, formality is a good route to take for first contact. They’re uncommon, but there are a few professors out there of the old school who will be offended and/or baffled by being greeted with, “Hi, Bigshot”. I had a Latin professor once who went as far as referring to students exclusively as”Miss/Mr.” Lastname. Would not have used his first name for all the world. Come to think of it, I may never have even known what it was.

    2. Always Anon*

      I work with a lot of people who could be called Dr. so-and-so, and I almost always call them by their first name. The exception to this is if I am reaching out for the first time (and I don’t know them at all), then I refer to them more formally, and if they respond using their first name or my first name then I use it for all future communications.

      It’s worked well. Most people call me by my first name, and so I feel that if someone feels it’s appropriate to use my first name then they are happy for me to use their first name. I’ve never had an issue with this, except for one physician who got their panties in a wad.

    3. Marcela*

      I’ve worked all my life in academia and I do not have a PhD. I’ve never met anybody who introduce him/herself as Dr So and So or Professor So and So, so my rule is that if they seem young enough (compared with me), I call them by their first name; if they seem older, Professor First Name. I don’t think I have ever met an older older person who is not a professor, so I’ve never have to call somebody Dr First name. The thing is, in my area almost everybody have a PhD or is working to get one, so nobody gives a thought about titles. I don’t think some of them even realize I am not a doctor, although they know I am not in the same path as they are, for I am a software developer and they are chemists/physicists.

      Now, if you are thinking about email or phone, I do the same thing as insert pun here: in my first communication I am very formal. If they sign with their first name, that’s what I am going to use from that moment, including in person.

      As I am thinking about it, I don’t call anybody doctor precisely because I do not want to minimize myself. They can have as many PhD as they want, but I am still the expert in what I know, even without a PhD. Using Dr X, Dr Y, feels unnecessary deferential when there is no reason to. However, most people I’ve met are great people, not caring enough about titles or stuff like that. I’ve only met two scientists worried with “people’s places” and I made a point of never ever use Dr when talking to them or introducing them. If they don’t like it, they can complain to my boss (which they never did).

    4. Microscope Jockey*

      Dr. Last Name the first time you meet them, regardless of age, and whenever in front of students or the general public. First name most of the rest of the time. Since I am very young I call the older faculty Dr. X, Dr. Y, and Dr. Z (or whatever their last name initial is) in deference and because they are MDs who now teach. I refer to them as Elsa or Hubert when speaking about them to another colleague in private. The adjunct faculty just assume a PhD until they tell you they only have an MS and to call them Zeek, and then you address them as Mr. Fritter or Professor Fritter in front of students and the general public.

      1. Microscope Jockey*

        Also since you addressed us as “y’all” there is a geographic caveat that will vary. Some of my non-PhD colleagues do not mind, and actually prefer, being called “Ms. Deedee” in front of the general public and students. Those colleagues are from a geographic region where that is acceptable and considered respectful. I however refuse to be called “Ms. Microscope” because I am from a geographic region where it is not socially acceptable to mix formal and informal and it is considered a bit rude. Where I come from either you know somebody well enough to use their first name or you don’t and then it’s Ms. Jockey. I generally use my first name with the students and general public, the faculty, and the administrators because my role doesn’t require formality. If a colleague needs to tell a student to go find me they would say: “Microscope is in lab X down the hall.” Now Ms. Deedee might be fielding a call from a vendor rep for me and she would then direct them to Ms. Jockey’s extension. If you are in doubt about this stuff with your colleagues just ask.

    5. Owly*

      I have a phd and hate when people call me Dr. Owly. My degree shows my level of education, nothing else, and it makes me uncomfortable that people think they might have to treat me differently. I also, like Alison suggests, always sign my first name to emails addressing me as Dr. to help set the tone. And being a young female engineering phd, I’ve had plenty of people use it somewhat snarkily so overall I’m not that into it.

    6. Mander*

      I usually go with “Dr Surname” until told otherwise, at least when I’m meeting people for the first time. However, unless I know that they have strong feelings on the matter I usually switch to first name pretty quickly, and I dislike people who are pretentious about being a Dr. After all I have a PhD myself so I feel that I am technically a peer even if I’m working in a relatively low status and non-academic part.

      The only time I play the “Dr Mander” card is when people are being rude about my intelligence, when telemarketers call asking for Mrs HusbandName (because anyone who knows me knows I didn’t change my name, except apparently my dad), or similar. Although I think I did get bumped up to business class on a flight once because the person at the check-in desk made a comment about my passport saying “Dr” in it and I mentioned that I had just finished my PhD. Hasn’t happened again though, sadly.

  50. Hopeful*

    I am so excited to announce that I am starting my very own freelance graphic/web design business next year! I am taking professional development classes now to get my base skills and hopefully get started late 2017.

    My problem is that I don’t know how/when to tell people. I of course want to scream it from a rooftop but its not even named yet and I have no business plan. I am thinking it is best to not tell family/friends until it is more solidified next year but I am at a loss for what to tell my boss.

    I need to keep a full-time job at least while I get started or else I’ll be in financial ruin! I feel like telling my boss is the right thing to do and could open up more support/opportunities in the future… but at the same time I worry there’d be a target on my back and computer use/printing/calls would be heavily scrutinized. But then to hide it feels like I am lying to them and it is impossible to operate a business in a small town without everyone knowing…

    Then there is the issue of looking for future jobs (in an unrelated field, my training is in bookkeeping). While owning/operating a business is a huge thing for my resume I worry it’d be a huge red flag for hiring manager as there is the assumption I have one foot out the door and would prioritize my business needs. Should I leave it off? Is there any way to skate around this? Or am I overthinking it and it shouldn’t be an issue?

    1. Nanani*

      When I started freelancing-with-intent-to-start-my-own-business, I did NOT tell my boss.
      I did take pains to avoid conflicts of interest (e.g., no poaching clients) and not to use day job resources.

      It took about a year for my business to get off the ground enough that I was comfortable quitting the day job – though there was still some financial struggle in that too big for part time, not quite making full time area.

      So yes, definitely keep your day job at least for now. Make your own business an evenings-and-weekends endeavour and be SCRUPULOUS about keeping them distinct, so that even if your day job hears about it you can honestly say they are separate and had no reason to come up at the day job.

      1. Hopeful*

        I like the idea of using the explanation that there was no reason to bring it up at my day job, there is so much about my non-work life that doesn’t need to be brought into the workplace and I guess this is one of those things as well.

        My current plans of graphic design make it impossible to poach clients because I am with an accounting firm at the moment, in order to expand to bookkeeping I would need to leave my current job for however long my contract dictates.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      but at the same time I worry there’d be a target on my back and computer use/printing/calls would be heavily scrutinized.

      And it would, for good reason. You cannot use your full-time job’s resources for your freelance business. Just because they have a printer, it doesn’t mean you get to use it for your private clients — unless you work at Kinko’s and are paying for the service. Same thing with phone calls/e-mails/software.

      Here’s the thing: you are going to have to be completely clear with your freelance clients that you have a full-time job — or that you’re really busy during the day with projects and the best way to get ahold of you is by e-mail. Then, use your breaks/lunch to e-mail people back. If you need your full-time job, then when you’re there, you’re there, working on what they assign you, not using the time to build your own business. Trust me when I say this: if you do this, and you are caught, it will not go well for you.

      So, don’t tell your boss you’re doing this. What you do on your own time is your business, unless you are working for the only graphic designer in town, in which case you’ve got a conflict of interest and it will get back to them if you take local clients. Don’t use your full-time job’s computer/software for *anything* for your freelancing. If your clients aren’t local, so much the better for you. When you get to the point that your day job is interfering with your ability to work on your freelance jobs, it’s probably time to quit. Also, save up as much as you can because your income may (probably will) fluctuate but your bills will not.

  51. Ryan Porter*

    I’m looking for a position in the field of marketing or communications, and so I have set up email alerts on Indeed, Glassdoor, SimplyHired, etc. I check these emails daily, but I find there’s so much crap to sort through. I mean, for one, often many of the jobs that show up in these emails are completely unrelated to my search (like cashier). But the bigger issue is these emails repeat many of the same jobs day after day, and some jobs are repeated across various platforms. I’m worried that there might be some interesting opportunities slipping through the cracks. Any recommendations on how to make this aspect of my job hunt more efficient?

    1. Art_ticulate*

      Are there any professional associations in your field that have job boards? I have the same frustration with Indeed sending me retail and medical positions when I work in arts and culture. I don’t understand their filters, I guess.

      1. Ryan Porter*

        There are, but these job boards have a much wider net. Some interesting things do pop up. I actually want to subscribe to other services too, but I’m feeling overwhelmed as it is.

    2. Audiophile*

      I stopped using SimplyHired and Zip Recruiter for exactly this reason. I didn’t get much off of Glassdoor either. I’ve had much better luck with Indeed.

      What I did, was I’d search for “marketing” or “marketing communications” with quotes included and the area I was looking in. Then I’d filter it by a 10 mile radius. I found that any wider than that and those unrelated jobs started to show up. I also earmarked agencies I was familiar with and started visiting their sites pretty frequently. Those jobs don’t always show up on job search engines.

      1. Not Me*

        I set mine up for a very specific acronym that’s used in my field, and also set up the radius for 25 miles. I still get some leads from the other side of the country, but I’ve also found several really good opportunities using these kinds of filters.

    3. AliceBD*

      Thanks for asking this! I’m starting a marketing job search this weekend, so this is perfect timing for me. :-)

  52. AnAnonTodayBecauseReasons*

    Sad vent time: I’m looking to make my next move, out of a marketing position that’s been mostly internal communications. I like internal communications and what I’ve found is that I really hate doing social media. I think I want to be a product manager or a program manager somewhere but I don’t know how to make that shift. How do I move from MarCom coordinator (first job out of college) to a program/project/product marketing career? It doesn’t seem to help that there are very few entry/mid level jobs of that type here in the PNW. 90% of the openings I see for that field are for manager or senior level, and I’m not there yet. I’m just overwhelmed and don’t see how to make the move to a job I’ll be happier in.

    1. Anxious*

      Have you looked into higher ed positions? That is one way to get program/project marketing experience. Though, I have to say, there is a good chance you won’t be able to escape social media completely. (I hear you. Social media has been part of my MarCom job since 2010 and I’m so burned out on it. OK, let’s be real: I freaking hate it and do it because it’s a necessary evil.)

      1. AnAnonTodayBecauseReasons*

        I hadn’t thought of that, though I’m concerned that they won’t be able to pay me what I’m making now (I’ve got golden handcuff syndrome, somewhat). I’ll look more closely at them.

        **I meant project/product management. Posting before coffee, sorry.

        I do social media casually on the side for another small business, but I am heavily invested in the community, so it’s not challenging or scary and is kind of autopilot for that. But for a larger company, I just don’t want to!

    2. junipergreen*

      See my comment above about my recent shift to a non-profit… though if you’re concerned about your next position matching your salary, non-profit is probably not the way to go…

      I will say that any Communications role is going to likely have social media expectations attached to it – what do you dislike about doing social media? Lots of roles in marketing and comm will require you to develop social media strategy, but sometimes those roles have other team members actually deploying the strategy and aren’t responsible for the grind of posting and commenting and monitoring etc.

  53. Art_ticulate*

    After being fired from a toxic work environment in March, I relocated to a major city recently and started a new job at the beginning of July. Yay! But I have had a few obstacles in the two weeks I’ve been working: The air conditioning went out in my place and I had heat stroke (I’m nowhere near acclimated to the heat and humidity here), which caused me to be late to work on a Monday, and I felt sick for about half the day. Then, yesterday and today I had to call in sick with a horrible sinus infection. I can barely swallow because my throat hurts so bad and I’ve been fighting a fever. My boss has been understanding about it, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve already done something wrong and screwed up/made a bad impression. I don’t want her to worry about this being a pattern with me. This is probably just my own anxiety talking, right?

    That said, I do have a weak immune system and get sick easily, and I know that I’ll need to find an allergy doctor here and get tested for local allergens. I just finished two years of allergy shots in the last city I lived in, but clearly I’m allergic to different things here if I’m already getting sick after two weeks.

    On top of all that, I’m struggling with how to deal with a colleague. We both work under the same supervisor, and in fact they had my job before I came on board and are transitioning into a different role. Problem is, they are still very involved in my work until they fully move to their new role, which means that so far, there hasn’t been much for me to work on yet. They also tend to talk to me like I’ve never done this job before, which comes off as condescending. I’ve been in this field for almost ten years, and this person was on my interview committee, so they should know that I know how to do basic tasks. I’m sure they’re not intentionally being condescending, but it rubs me the wrong way and I’m not quite sure how to handle it. Am I being over sensitive?

    I’m nervous about handling these things because my last work environment accused me of being difficult and claimed I made colleagues uncomfortable by not being friendly enough. I was told that I didn’t say hello enough when passing people in hallways, didn’t smile enough, and it all culminated in being told I wasn’t a team player because I couldn’t go to the office Christmas party. Which was at breakfast time. When I had a public event happening at work that I had to be at. I ended up uninvited to the party by the executive director and after a very tense three months of the ED and HR basically harassing me to resign, they fired me.

    Sorry, I’m getting a bit rambly here. Basically I’m nervous about making a good impression and handling things better here than my last office because that experience was so awful that I’m now terrified of it repeating itself here. I relocated 600 miles for this job, so screwing up isn’t an option.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Wow, are you me? I got strep after my first week at my current job. I was so embarrassed and terrified that I’d be fired, but my boss was really understanding and didn’t even make me report sick time, so I’d still get paid. Since then, I’ve had to take time off for wisdom teeth removal and a couple of minor illnesses, and my boss has been more than understanding. If your supervisor has a heart, he/she will get it, and be reasonable. That said, do try not to miss work unless you absolutely have to.

      My work partner was also incredibly condescending when I came on board! She still is, actually. I just accepted that that she’s like that, and she’s ready to move on, so she projects her boredom and frustration on to me.

      Try to be easygoing and become part of the team. I’m not an overly friendly or outgoing person, but I’m doing my best to assimilate. It gets better when other new hires come on board, so you’re not the newest person in the office. Relax!

    2. Chaordic One*

      Um, would like some advice about dealing with allergies and sinus problems?
      Even though it’s not great, I would put up with the condescending colleague. Hopefully, she’ll be moving into her new role in the near future and you won’t have to deal with them very much in the future. Be nice to them, because you’ll probably need their help or advice at some point in the near future.
      I kind of suspect that at your old toxic job they were gas-lighting you. I can’t believe they made an issue of missing a Holiday Christmas brunch!
      At my last job it was a very social place and they were very into “relationships.” (i.e., people spent a lot of time BS’ing, and mostly about nonwork-related issues.) Sadly, I had a lot of actual work to do. When I focused on the paperwork, my co-workers thought I was being unfriendly. When I made an effort to build relationships with my coworkers, the paperwork slipped and then I was painted as not being able to do the job. I could never hit the right balance.
      Anyway, focus on getting and staying well, on your new job (with the condescending colleague) and on moving past your bad old job.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Your old place sounds very crappy.

      Try to tell yourself that you need to give these new folks a break, just like you want them to give you a break. This means holding everything in the best possible light until you find out for sure that it’s NOT.

      You can try to take some first moves conversationally with Mother Hen. Instead of saying “what about X reports”, say “I have done a, b, c and d in preparation to run an X report.” In other words anticipate what she will say and tell her before she says it. Assume that she just does not know what you can do and she does not want to come across as sounding like she assumes you can do everything automatically.

      If you are that nervous about losing sick time, then just go in and talk to the boss before the boss says anything to you. “I wanted you to know I am not usually like this and I am working on things so I do not miss more time.” It’s when they have to hunt you down and ask you that things get to be a big deal.

      Get some extra rest, you have so many different sources of stress here that anyone would be frazzled. Talk nicely to you, not your fault that your previous coworkers were jerks. But if you talk shabbily to yourself, that is something you need to work at. Follow up each negative thought with a positive thought. Correct yourself. “Those jerks are gone from my life. I have a good job now.”

      It sounds like they basically like you and you will probably land okay here.

  54. Ama*

    This week it was time for my annual fight with the communications department over our funding numbers. Background: when I arrived at this org three years ago as a grants administrator, there was a mysterious lifetime awarded number on all of our communications and collateral (so as not to dox myself, let’s say this number was 40 million). While learning where all of our documentation was located, I noticed this number was significantly higher than any number I could come up with using our grants database (it was more like $35 million). After appealing to our finance department to check our numbers, finance said *they* actually had $33 million so we all agreed we’d let finance be the final say in what the real number was, backed everything up to $33 million and started again.

    Every single year at close of fiscal year, communications changes the number without checking with grants or finance — they claim they are just “adding this year’s funding” to the previous year’s number but they are doing some very fancy rounding if so (somehow they added the 2 million in funding we gave out this year and got a new total 3 million higher). Every single year, they send me some collateral or press release to review and I ask how they got to that number. Every single year, they get defensive and appeal to finance, and finance backs me up. There has not been a new employee in that department in 2 years so this isn’t just a new person not knowing proper procedures. I just don’t understand why they don’t come to either finance or myself when they are ready to change the number — they ask me to confirm literally everything else about our grants program, but as soon as I say “hey I don’t think that’s the correct funding total” it starts a whole thing.

    1. Lillian McGee*

      Yikes. I (finance) sometimes grapple with development over a number or two but never to the tune of several million dollars off!! I wonder what they are hoping to achieve??

      1. Ama*

        I can’t say for sure about what happened with the original number (whoever generated it is no longer here), but I think it started because they round up the number we give them (say from 34.7 to “almost 35”) but then when the new year arrives instead of working from the new actual number, they want to add the new funding to the rounded number from last year and round that (so say we funded 2.5 million — instead of being at 37.2 by their calculations we’re all the way at 38). If you do that several years in a row you can get several million off really fast.

        I admit I am extra irked because when finance and I agree on the new number, I always put it in an easy access file for reference and it annoys me that they act like it’s the first time they’ve realized last year’s number was rounded.

    2. pieces of flair*

      Solidarity from a fellow grants administrator! If it’s anything like my college, they’re under political pressure from the dean/provost/whomever to come up with a certain number. It looks really, really bad if this year’s number is lower than last year’s.

      A few weeks ago, everyone else in my department was out on vacation and the dean asked me to project next year’s research spending. I painstakingly went through every existing grant budget and gave him the number I came up with (something like 8.8 million), with the caveat that we were sure to get more awards over the course of the year. He was very unhappy because this year’s spending was just over 9 million. I told him I’d double check with my senior colleague (who normally comes up with these numbers) when she returned.

      When I asked my colleague how she calculated these numbers and what to tell the dean she said, “well, we usually spend about 9 million and we know we’re going to have a few bigger grants coming in next year, so let’s say 12 million.” Her “math” was much quicker than mine and the dean was much happier.

      1. junipergreen*

        I think pieces of flair has got it – they’ve gotta be feeling pressure from the board or other leadership.

        gaaaaah – I feel for you Ama!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. Sympathy.

      One entity I knew of decided to review the departments’ budgets. One department put in for 5k per year to purchase X’s. Every year. So finally someone said, “Gee, you buy a lot of X’s, where do you store them all?”
      Then the truth came flowing out. “We don’t. We never buy the X’s. We just want 5k worth of wiggle room in our budget so if something comes up we can pay for it.”

      They did this for decades before anyone even inquired what they were doing.

  55. Megs*

    I have an interview next week! It’s with a small firm that mainly does business litigation and *gasp* I actually got the interview based on networking. This will be the first non-governmental position I’ve interviewed for in a long time, so I’m nervous on that part, but I really love the idea of working with small businesses so I think I can sell it. This is my third interview in four months so I’m hoping my new push for permanent employment is getting me somewhere.

  56. anonderella*

    ok peeps –
    (TL;DR – Do you work to live, or live to work? Can you be happy with a job that doesn’t completely satisfy you, but pays the bills, or do you feel like you need to enjoy and believe in your work?) I’m interested in how many people feel each way, or something different.

    question rattling around my brain as I prepare to exit the phase of my life that enjoys happy indulgence, nil planning or foresight, and the hope that anything is possible, (oh the good ol’ days)
    and begin to thresh out the seeds of focused potential, with an ever solidifying vision of how I want my future to look.

    this comes at a time wherein my personal life, that I am celebrating the anniversary of my cross-country move that finally closed the physical gap on a relationship that had been long-distance for four or five years previous to the move, and previous to being long-distance we’d been together off and on for about two years.

    My SO is fairly established in his field for being at still such a young age (we’re both 27); he got a great job straight out of college through a longtime family friend, and has really enjoyed the work (which is the same field as his degree) even though it has been challenging at times. I mention all this about his career because, though I also have a BA degree, I have no idea how I plan to apply it (though it is in psychology and I can broadly apply the varying courses I took) in a substantial, concrete way. I don’t compare us (I really, really don’t – it was a conversation we had before I moved up here that I might not get the same lucky break as he did straight out of school, and it may be a while before I am able to make as much as he does, and thus contribute to our common goals as much, and he understands that.), but it’s impossible to ignore that difference in where we are with our careers : that he is well on his way to having a strong foothold in a highly developing field (tech/software guy), while I am still floundering in indecision. We’ve had conversations before about an apparent lack of ambition in me, which I explained was a lack of confidence that the things I’m interested in are real things and services that other people in the world want and are willing to pay for. I’m not talking about crafts on Etsy – I want to help change the education system in the US. I want to be helping to plan sustainable communities around the world – I have a work-in-progress concept about the two combined. Mostly I want to help people; I’m not sure I could be happy at my work unless I truly believed in it. These are the lofty ambitions.

    I currently am a receptionist at a small-ish construction company in the midwest, and though I find the work interesting, it does make me feel bad to read about small businesses going out of business because of a chain moving into the area, and that’s mostly what we put up. I strongly believe in community, and the area in the south where I came from had a strong, well-established community that I had been involved with since teenagery. We just renewed our lease for another year, but we are looking at relocating after that, and I often talk with him about my expectations from community as he admits his ties to his own community are [appallingly nonexistant] (my words, but his feelings.). If I were to continue to develop the receptionist-thing, I would try to take it in a direction of executive assistant or some type of personal secretary, as a very good friend has been in that field for a while and, along with excelling at it, has been beyond helpful to me as I gain my footing. This is the career that I can do and do well, but will not supply the levels of autonomy, scope, and creative planning that my lofty ambitions would. That’s also a load of my brain, and a livable wage that I can make while I learn more about any specific company/field.

    My question is, as I feel like I am on the cusp of making a move on my future (which, doesn’t have to be The Last or Only Move, but it will be an important one that requires a lot of consideration), I find myself plied with the revelation question – Do you work to live, or live to work? Does your work have to complete you, or can you be content with a career that doesn’t completely satisfy you, but pays the bills? My SO is firmly of the latter persuasion; but we are decidedly different types of people who happen to be bonkers for each other, and we know it. He doesn’t care what I do, as long as I am trying my best and have thought through the ramifications of the lifestyle a career choice might have – my issue is that I have never in my life had someone who depends on me, and I want the move I make to be one that satisfies me, but considers him in that equation.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      So I read two things that you want to do: education and sustainable living. What you do: receptionist.
      Are you volunteering somewhere related to one of your interests? I suggest getting involved as a volunteer with youth/education and/or sustainable living and you may find your options and interests opening up. Also, it may satisfy that urge to have less-meaningful work life and meaningful volunteer work.

      Good luck!

    2. Isabel C.*

      Work to live, with some flexibility: I’d like a job where I’m enthusiastic about the mission, people. and duties, and I’d probably work harder for it, take more initiative, etc. But for decent pay and benefits, as long as I don’t *loathe* what I’m doing or who I’m doing it with (boring spreadsheet stuff is fine, but I am never working retail-type customer service again) I’m happy to put in a solid forty hours a week, go home, and think about other things.

      And if I had to choose between sixty hours a week at a job I really really believed in and thirty-five at one that was eh, okay, I’d certainly pick the latter.

    3. overeducated*

      I’m choice c: find a compromise I can live with. For me, that means not being on the forefront of new discoveries in my field, with unstable funding and lots of competition and travel, but doing support work for an agency that does, with a more livable salary and normal hours. Good luck!

    4. LCL*

      For me, I decided what my specific priorities were. In order, they were
      1. Not being homeless so I could have and keep a dog or two.
      2. Being able to live in a place that I could afford.
      3. Being able to afford to heat my house to 70F year round. Here, the first thing you cut back on if you’re poor is the heating/utility bill, because you won’t die if you don’t heat your house. You will be cold and miserable.
      4. Being able to eat whatever I wanted, when I wanted, at any store or restaurant. Within reason.
      So it was obvious making the big money was important to me. I chose a profession I was interested in and had worked in, got more education, got a good job and stayed with it.
      You have already identified your priorities are helping people and making a difference in the world. That is great you know what is most important to you! But it’s not an either/or thing. You can choose a profession (like nursing or law enforcement) that helps people, and have some money and job security.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Work to live, definitely. I’ve found that I actually don’t care about the bigger picture of what I’m doing very much, but the smaller picture is more of interest to me — ie, am I doing something that I am good at and can excel at? That’s what gets me going in terms of work inspiration. Whatever that work is, or what end it serves — eh, that’d be nice, but I don’t need it. And quite honestly I’ve had enough of financial instability in my life that “stable pay that can cover my bases” is way far and away more important to me than finding meaning. What good is being happy with the intangibles when I’m trying to drive on gas fumes and prayers in the last few days before payday?

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      I work to live, but I found out early on that I simply cannot have a job that mentally defeats me, or that conflicts with my personal morals. Luckily I am employed in a position where I help people every day. Though the position is sometimes frustrating, and I am definitely underpaid, I recognize that this is part of life, and I need to move up if I want the cushier, better-paid roles.

      1. De Minimis*

        My main thing I look for in a job is I don’t want it to cause stress or trouble in my non-work time. I want to be able to totally leave it at the office at the end of each day. I want to make as much as I can and feel good about what I’m doing, but the big thing is I don’t want to think about work much unless I’m actually working.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Work to live. What I do during the day has no relationship to what I want to be doing. I do it to pay the bills only. It’s been that way since I started working. I don’t consider it a career–it’s a job. If I were writing full time and actually publishing stuff, THAT would be a career, even if I still had to work.

      *sigh*

    8. Catz*

      No one ever says live to work to this question! But I love my job and get immense personal satisfaction from being good at it.

      You sound like you are in a similar position to me a few years ago. I worked as an AA then EA and I was pretty good at it. But I craved “autonomy, scope, and creative planning” and had “lofty ambitions” of having a career that makes a meaningful difference just like you.

      Take advantage of the fact that you’re currently in an adjacent industry to your goal industry of sustainable community planning. Learn everything you can and volunteer to take on projects that will grow your skills. If you move in a year, apply for jobs at nonprofits that do the work you are interested in – depending on your career growth, they might be AA/EA jobs.

      If you take a chance and pour your passion into your work, there are no guarantees it will make you happy. But it might, and if you keep a balance and still devote love and attention to the other parts of your life, you can “fail” in that particular career goal and still have a good life. You’re young and you deserve to give yourself permission to try and permission to make a mistake. If it doesn’t work out, you can pull back and redirect your passion to other pursuits (volunteering, hobbies, side business, whatever).

      This is all from my personal experience and anecdata, so take it with a grain of salt. I worked as an AA in an unrelated industry, then an EA in a my industry, grew that into a hybrid role doing My-Thing and EA. Now I do my thing full time at an org with a mission I’m passionate about, and I’m being promoted to take on more of the work I love. I didn’t job hop or quit without something lined up – you can be clearheaded and responsible while pursuing your passion. I pushed through some jobs I didn’t love to grow my skills, and it has been well worth it.

      1. anonderella*

        … are you my guardian career angel? Well your name is Catz, so it’s entirely plausible for me.

        I have read all the responses to my question and -wow- yours really resonated with me. I also have always felt that ‘shoot for the moon, if you don’t make it you land among the stars’ sort of philosophy rang true with me, and it’s how I used to look at my prospective career. I think I’ve become a little jaded about various things – something I’m actively trying to fix now.

        Thank you for reminding me it’s not too late. I’m smacking myself in the forehead for seriously missing that, though this particular company/organization might be riding the franchise-train, I am missing out on learning valuable skills by only focusing on how it differs from the direction I’d like to take.
        (honestly, I might save your comment bc it sounds scarily like something future-me would say to now-me.)
        thank you, thank you!

    9. Nye*

      I’m a live-to-work type, largely. I’m not sure I recommend it, but it’s very typical in my field (research science). I do love what I do, and it’s a huge part of my personal identity. But it’s also embedded in the culture in kind of insidious ways. I wish I could do this work, at this level, without so many late nights and weekends working, but that’s almost unheard of. Which I think is worth considering, when you’re thinking about a career path.

      Some professions have an embedded live-to-work culture, and it’s very hard (or impossible) to maintain a work-to-live attitude and succeed. What does that balance look like for people in your ideal field versus what you’re doing now? If you’re thinking about future directions, I’d say it’s absolutely important to consider what you want from work and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get it. A dream job isn’t a dream job if it requires you to live and breathe it and you’re happier with a better work-life balance.

    10. NicoleK*

      Work to live. I didn’t grow up wanting to be X. I just fell into the career. I’m good at what I do. I enjoy it most of the time. But if I won the lottery or inherited alot of money, I’d quit my job in a heartbeat. It’s a job. And it pays the bills. I don’t hate the job. I don’t hate the coworkers. I don’t dread going to work everyday, so I guess that’s good enough.

  57. Wendy Darling*

    Advice for leaving a job after 4-5 months?

    Yesterday I found out FROM MY BOSS that a coworker told her none of my work is useful to his team. This coworker comes to meetings where I present my work to his team and says absolutely nothing. He has never emailed me to follow up on anything I have presented. He has never asked me a single question. And I’ve been doing work from a wishlist provided to me BY HIS TEAM. So basically I’m giving them exactly what they asked for and he’s never given me any feedback but what I’ve done for the last two months is “useless”.

    As a result I got another iteration of the “I fought to get this position and you need to justify its existence” lecture. That makes four times I’ve been told that I need to prove to my boss’s boss that I’m worth my salary.

    I don’t want to quit because this job pays my bills and allows me the freedom to improve my skills a lot (because no one understands my field so I get to pick all my own tools and am choosing the ones I want to use in future jobs), but I want to move on ASAP. The hard part is I don’t want to pretend this job never happened because 1. that gives me a 6+ month employment gap to explain, and 2. I’ve actually done some really cool work I want to talk about, my employer just doesn’t appreciate it at all.

    I’m not even sure this is POSSIBLE. Right now I’m leveraging my network from my old job because my previous two managers are still at my former employer (I got laid off but would love to go back) and will sing my praises to anyone who’ll sit still long enough.

    Ugh. I hate this job so, so much.

    1. MacDizzle*

      You said you hate it, do you hate this situation or do you hate working there?

      I have a inept coworker that is always throwing shade on other employees, but most of it is projection. The guy is truly incompetent and seems like he has survived through life by communicating posturing in front of management types.

      Do you think that might be the case with your situation?

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I don’t like anything about the company and I’d been planning on leaving after a year before this happened. The entire job is a horrible fit for me and I actually regret taking it. The current situation is just especially egregious. I’m basically only hanging on for the health insurance.

    2. NarrowDoorways*

      I think an upfront explanation would fine fine if you did try to move on:

      I’m in the market for a new role because my previous place of employment created a new position for me, but struggled to integrate my skills and fully utilize me.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      Four months into my previous job it became painfully obvious that I needed to move on. It took 2 years, 4 months, and 17 days to get a new job.
      So be prepared, this may be a ride.
      In the mean time can you make it painfully aware to everybody that the other guy is less than helpful? I’d set up a meeting with him to discuss what exactly it is he wants. Sounds like he’s like he’s either threatened by your new position, or didn’t see the need for it in the first place. Either way I would work on finding a way to show him your value.

    4. mazzy*

      I think you should try to make this work a bit longer. From your description, I’m guessing you’re some sort of analyst. I’ve experienced this from the side of your coworker, sitting through presentations on analysis results that basically reiterated what we already knew, but not adding anything new or hitting the nail on the head in any sense. You also mention that you’re learning new tools. Could it be possible that you’re having to spend too much time learning new tools, and you’re wasting creative energy that way?

      I know it hurts to hear that someone was talking about you, but the message taken at face value isn’t insulting. He/she probably still needs the work done, just differently.

      I’d try to talk with the coworker to find out what is missing in the work.

      1. junipergreen*

        I’m with mazzy – there is a big gap here if all the work you’ve done in the past few months has been to serve a specific team, but aren’t regularly checking in with that team leader. You might have their high level objectives and be delivering on those broadly, but they might be in need of something more specific, or their original brief might have shifted considerably due to other factors… You won’t know unless you have an open line of communication with them, and I’d pursue that, stat.

        Also, just another note that you say the work you’re doing is cool, which is great for you from a personal standpoint. But from your company’s perspective, your work needs to have some demonstrative impact beyond the cool factor. Once you deliver on something that more specifically meets their needs, then you can wow them with the cool stuff.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I have meetings with this team every few weeks to discuss what I’ve done and whether that meets their needs. This coworker doesn’t attend probably half of these meetings, and when he does attend he doesn’t say anything except hello and goodbye. Honestly my boss telling me what he said was the first time I had ANY indication I wasn’t doing exactly what he wanted. I have straight up in so many words asked “Is this what you wanted?” and his underlings said yes. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to figure out they have needs I’m not meeting when they never express them! I can’t meet needs I don’t know about and I haven’t been with the company anywhere near long enough to anticipate needs people don’t express.

          My work honestly has no “cool factor”. I think it’s cool because I’m doing some automation and computational stuff that I think is really good for me to have more experience with, but it’s not particularly flashy — just incredibly useful. And in this case because of the state of what I have to work with, it is MANDATORY.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I don’t think there’s any way for it to not be insulting to have someone spend weeks doing the work YOU requested, schedule regular meetings with you to go over that work, make multiple presentations to you and your team of that work and invite your feedback on it, say nothing to that person whatsoever (literally he never says anything in meetings except hello and goodbye), and then go to that person’s boss and tell her she’s not doing anything useful. If he had a problem with my work he could have mentioned it to me at any of the last several meetings (I guess except the multiple ones he didn’t bother to come to). Or sent me an email. Or IMed me. Or anything. This man hasn’t talked to me in over a month. In fact right now I’m still waiting for him to respond to a meeting request I sent a few days ago. So you’ll have to forgive me if I can’t help but see it as insulting.

        1. catsAreCool*

          Either insulting, or maybe this co-worker is a total wimp who can’t manage to say “actually we need …” to you directly. I think the co-worker sounds like a pain though – he could at least give you or your boss specifics of any issues.

  58. Anon today*

    I need to vent around some people who will be horrified with me, because I am losing my mind.

    We have a fly infestation on our floor, which is the building’s basement. I don’t know why, but apparently it’s happened down here every summer for years (we just moved into the space this winter). It’s gross, but I can deal with it for a few months.

    About a month ago, right after it started, one of my coworkers made up a game of recording fly kills on a markerboard. Everyone is competing for the most fly kills. At first I think it was just a way to put a fun twist on an obviously gross situation, but it’s gotten out of hand.

    People are wandering around the office hunting flies down. They’re developing complex rules for the game. There is chatter about the flies and the game throughout the day. Kills are disputed when multiple people are after the same fly. Someone accidentally recorded kills on the wrong person’s initials, and the discussion around correcting the score got a little heated.

    My score is very low. I only participated for the first week, and then I got annoyed. I have the excuse that my job keeps me away from my desk most of the day, so I’m not here enough to kill many. I’ve been catching some grief over my low score, so I jokingly threatened to drag in a dead squirrel that has been decaying in the parking lot a block away, to bring in more flies so I could raise my score. I was going for shock value, trying to make a point about how gross the game is, but everyone found the idea entertaining instead.

    I’m working on a project that has been really stressful for me, so I think I’m a little more sensitive to disruption and irritable than I would normally be, but indoor pests gross me out. I’m tired of feeling like a big party pooper for not being as entertained about this as everyone else seems to be.

    1. Rat Racer*

      This is AMAZING – I am picturing people in camo with blacklights and fly-swatters stalking around office like they’re on a combat mission. Can someone just call an exterminator?

      And dude- you don’t have to participate: tell them you’re a pacifist. For all creatures including flies.

      1. Anon today*

        It is exactly like that, except without the camo and blacklights! We talked to the facilities manager about it, and she brought it a sticky fly trap strip thing, but my coworkers have been hunting flies so aggressively that it only has 4 on it so far because the rest have succumbed to death-by-flyswatter. (She called an exterminator about two months ago, when our resident arachnophobe saw one spider. Since then we’ve had an ant intrusion and now flies, and she seems to be trying over-the-counter solutions first now.)

    2. MacDizzle*

      This sounds gross and fun at the same time. Try using some barn spray. You’ll wipe out entire fly families in one shot.

    3. Art_ticulate*

      What the what?!

      Not only is it gross, but how much free time do your coworkers have that they can be doing this?

      Also, I feel like an extermination plan should be put in place for this space if people are going to be expected to work in it. Flies are gross. I wouldn’t want to put up with an infestation, even if it’s for a short time.

      1. Anon today*

        I try not to pick on how people spend their time, lest my time browsing AAM come under scrutiny. I am glad that they have enough breathing room to have a little fun at work, I just wish they weren’t so zealous about something so yuck.

        You make a good point, though, I guess if it’s an every-summer thing, maybe I have some room to talk to the facilities manager about having a standard plan in place to deal with it.

    4. Mustache Cat*

      I’m not going to lie, that sounds highly entertaining. If a fly infestation was happening in my building, I’d 1) lose my mind and 2) have to come up with some kind of gross coping strategy.

      But yes, if you can, I would seriously start lobbying your managers for professional pest control.

    5. Sadsack*

      Is this real? This is really out there and very funny. Sorry you have to deal with this!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      This sounds like it could be an episode of The Office!

      I’m sorry, but I find it hilarious. Though I think someone needs to bring in pest control because this is also very gross and unhealthy.

  59. Cath in Canada*

    PMP question!

    Have any other AAM readers managed to successfully claim PDUs* for reading this site? If so, how did you describe the activity, and how many did you claim?

    It should qualify under Education – Read (“Qualifying reading materials include (but are not limited to) informational, non-fiction books, articles, white papers, or blogs”). However, I’ve recently had a couple of claims initially rejected with a request for more information, so I’m a little wary of making another potentially disputed claim so quickly. I can afford to wait a few months, so if others have experienced any issues with claiming AAM PDUs I will hold off :)

    Their online system is definitely a little… quirky. I’ve attended official events put on by my local PMI chapter, and waited days for my associated PDU claim to be approved – but then I’ve claimed PDUs for a local meet-up event that’s completely unaffiliated with PMI and received the “claim approved” email within seconds, before I even got the “claim received, review pending” email. The two claims they initially rejected were for some volunteer work I did, presenting at a couple of local university career nights. I submitted links to the event with my name listed on the website, a copy of the program with my name and photo on it, contact information for the organizers, etc. – and they still rejected the claims. Luckily they did eventually approve them after I emailed them with a long-form description of the event. My manager has also had problems claiming volunteer hours recently, for activities that were approved immediately in previous cycles. I wonder if they’ve had people abusing the system with fictional volunteering…

    *Professional Development Units, required for recertification

    1. Girasol*

      Haven’t tried getting a PDU with blog reading but you can read books or read articles on the PMI website and claim PDUs. If you’re working in the field don’t forget to claim PDUs for your work experience. If you have Skillsoft access, their CBT classes count too.

  60. WhiskeyTango*

    Weird situation yesterday – wondering if there is anything else I could or should do. I am one of several teapot consultants who uses a staff of teapot analysts. All analysts report to an analyst manager.

    Yesterday morning (about 9:30) I went to speak to one of the analysts and her cubicle smelled overwhelmingly of pot. (It is legal in my state, but definitely not cool at work. It would be grounds for immediate termination.) I must have made a face because she immediately assured me it was not pot, but that she had burned some sage that morning before she left the house. I said, “It definitely smells like pot over here.” She said, “No, it’s just burned sage.” Honestly, I’ve never been around burned sage and wouldn’t know how to distinguish the smell if it was true.

    This analyst is on a PIP right now and she is putting in a lot of effort to try to get off it. I think it would be out of character for her to come in so obviously smelling of pot if that is what it was. I’m not sure what I believe.

    I did tell the manager what I smelled and what she said about burning sage. She is going to keep an eye on it. (The manager said she had not smelled anything that morning, but that something was giving her a headache and she is pretty sensitive to smell). I told the manager that if it was really burned sage, the analyst needs to be more mindful since it would give off the impression to anyone walking through our department (that is near the break room and rest rooms) that she is coming into work stoned. (And frankly, the smell was so bad, it definitely created an unpleasant atmosphere.) But if it is something else, we’d need to take action. Frankly, if she hadn’t immediately told me it was sage, I would have gone straight to her managers and told her I thought the analyst was stoned.

    My question is besides mentioning it to her manager, is there anything else I should do? (Mention it to my manager who also works with her? HR?) Am I being naive with the sage explanation? Frankly, part of the reason for the PIP is that she seriously lacks attention to detail and her work is sloppy.

    1. periwinkle*

      A quick Google search indicates that burning sage smells a lot like burning pot. It’s a purification ritual.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Which she might be doing because of the PIP. I mean, some people pray, some light a candle, some do tapping, some might take a Xanax and I imagine that some might try meditation/crystals/burning sage to do whatever they feel they need in order to mentally prepare.

        Does your department/industry do random drug testing?

        1. Mander*

          That’s what I was thinking. I grew up in an area with a higher than average number of new age types and Wiccans, and it would not surprise me at all if someone was burning sage as part of a religious ritual to help deal with issues at work.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, my friend uses burning sage to remove evil spirits. He sincerely believes it works.

        If it is actually sage, who or what was she trying to remove?

    2. Leatherwings*

      Nah, you’ve escalated it enough. Her manager knows and now it’s the managers job to deal with. Her PIP isn’t your problem since you don’t manage her, and it probably was sage (they do smell similar). You can’t smell it unless you’re at her cube either, right?

      This now falls in the category of “Not Your Business” and you need to let it go.

    3. NarrowDoorways*

      Know that she knows how strongly the scent lingers on her clothes, and she’s been making efforts on her PIP, she’ll probably not let it happen again.

    4. TCO*

      Burning sage has a strong smell that’s fairly similar to pot. It would be possible for the “untrained” nose to mix the two up hours later when it’s lingering in someone’s clothing. Whether or not her explanation is believable is up to her manager to decide. I think you’ve done what you need to do and it’s time to move on for now.

    5. Kittens*

      You’ve already mentioned your concerns to a manager, anything else would come off as overkill and look more poorly on you than her. Burning sage is relatively common and can definitely smell like pot if you don’t know the difference.

    6. Biff*

      Uhm, I don’ t think this is place for you to step in, at all. She’s on a PIP. The company is handling her correctly.

      I understand what you are going through (I hot desked with a severe alcoholic who regularly came to work blitzed) but it’s not your job and it’s not your responsibility. Please let it go.

    7. pieces of flair*

      If you start typing “burning sage” into google, “smells like weed” and “smells like pot” are a few of the first autocomplete suggestions. I don’t see any reason to disbelieve her unless she acting stoned.

    8. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      Even if it is sage, what’s the olfactory equivalent to the sage (HA!) advice: “Watch your optics.”

    9. Chaordic One*

      In the past I had a supervisor who would burn scented candles in her office. I never thought it was a big deal, but shortly afterwards it was announced that, in addition to “no smoking” there would be no open flames of any kind allowed in the building for any reason. No candles, no birthday candles on cakes, no burning sage or incense.

      Electric-powered scented candles and electric-powered incense diffusers were still allowed. Apparently it was a safety issue. At least that’s how it was framed in our office.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, if you go with what she is saying, she is admitting to an open flame in the office. It’s a safety issue in my mind, does not matter what she was burning.

        But, OP, I think you have gone as far as you can go on this one. Let management do their thing.

    10. Catz*

      I honestly find it hard to believe it was sage but in the absence of compelling evidence otherwise, I don’t see what else you can do, or why you’d want to. Her manager is aware, let her manage it.

  61. Hemming and Hawing*

    I need some outside perspective on something that is pretty silly and trivial. My partner’s family invited me to travel with them over the Thanksgiving holiday. They would like me to request one day off from work (the Wednesday before) if possible. My workplace is quite busy around the holidays and most people don’t take any vacation over Thanksgiving and Christmas, although it’s not uncommon for a few people to take 1 or 2 days off around this time.

    I did request one day off around Thanksgiving last year and my manager had no problem approving this. However, I feel kind of bad doing it a second year in a row. I’m at the point where I feel like I should request the time to appease my partner, but I would completely understand if my boss couldn’t approve this request for a second year in a row. Any ideas on the best way to word this request? I don’t want to sound like I expect to get this day off, but I also don’t want to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and come across as too apologetic.

    1. Nanc*

      First, do you really want to go? If so, talk to your boss but be prepared to hear no. You could also offer to work over Christmas and New Years and commit to working over next Thanksgiving.

      If you don’t want to go or have no strong feelings, you can simply say to your partner’s family your workplace is always busy over the holidays and they did let you off last Thanksgiving so you can’t really ask for it again this year. You could also suggest to partner’s family that you get together/travel with them another time and set something up.

    2. junipergreen*

      You could mention that you know it’s a busy time and are cognizant of the impact that can have on the workplace around the holidays, but would like to take that time off if it wouldn’t cause any staffing issues.

      I don’t think this is a huge deal – many people are juggling family obligations at that time of year. Good luck with your partner’s family ;)

  62. Infant Drum Circle*

    Hi there,
    I’ve been obsessively reading this blog for a few months now, and find it so fascinating and useful! This is my first time commenting.
    I will be moving across the country in mid August, and would like some ideas on how best to give notice to my current administrative job.
    Background: it’s a remote, about-half-time position doing general admin stuff and running registration for infant/toddler teapot appreciation classes. I’ve been at this position for 5 years, and for 4 of them, I have lived across the country from my boss and the rest of the organization.
    I’m the only person doing the administrative side of things, and my boss is scattered, disorganized, and haphazard at best. She also hates change, and so when I told her, after 1 year of working for her, that I would be moving to the other coast, she offered (actually kind of pleaded) to let me keep my job after the first move.
    In retrospect, it made it really hard for me to adjust to life on this coast, since I wasn’t getting out of my house very much, and wasn’t meeting people. So now that my partner’s job is giving us the opportunity to relocate to a city on our preferred coast, I think that I should make a clean break, and not carry this job through another move.
    Besides, the position really should be held by someone local to the organization, so that it can include distributing materials to teachers, emergency back-up if a teacher calls in sick, etc.
    My boss and I typically communicate via text or email.
    Should I submit my notice via email? Should I call her and and talk to her, then follow up with an email? Just call?
    Also, I was thinking that I should give lots more notice than is typical, since I suspect that a) she’ll drag her feet finding someone new and b) she doesn’t really know the ins and outs of the software that we use for registration and databases, so the transition may be messy.
    Thoughts would be much appreciated!

    1. Zillah*

      I would call, not email – even though email/text is primarily how you communicate, it’s not ideal for this if it can be at all avoided.

      Additionally, while it’s certainly considerate to give more notice than less when it’s possible and when you won’t be seriously affected if your boss decides to end your notice time early, I’d restructure the way you’re thinking about it. Her dragging her feet isn’t your problem, and you can’t let her make it your problem. If she doesn’t know the database, you can write something up during your notice period, and she or whoever else takes on your duties (be it a new hire or an existing hire) can learn it.

      It’s always nice to be considerate, but you shouldn’t let her make this into your problem – not now, and not after you leave (since I suspect she’s the kind of boss who could make a habit of calling after you’ve left the position for help). Give generous (~3-4 weeks) notice, document everything you do to make the transition as easy as possible, and then move on.

  63. Mirve*

    Any suggestions for mixer/getting to know you activities that are enjoyable or at least not cringe worthy? Looking for something for three separate groups that report up to the same boss, but otherwise do not interact much at all.

    1. Leatherwings*

      Maybe a brown bag lunch one day? I think you should make it optional though, because so many people dread and resent those things.

      You could also bring in coffee and donuts in a conference room – that’s much less intrusive and gives people a chance to interact.

  64. Zillah*

    I could use some insight from AAM.

    I work in library science, and I’ve had a couple grant-based positions that I’ve loved with a period of about a year of unemployment in between. I left the second one a couple months ago because my parents were moving across the country and I wanted to go with them, because my mother has ALS.

    I’m job-searching right now, but I’m also considering going back to school. I’m hesitant because my work history is a bit spotty (though I have good recommendations and solid projects to show for it), I still owe about $18k in loans, and I haven’t really taken regular science classes since high school. However, along with library science, I’ve always been really passionate about public health.

    I’d like to get a degree in it at some point, and I’m not sure if this is the right time or not, and I definitely don’t want to get a degree if there isn’t a clear career path afterward. (I’m not sure what it would look like.) There’s a program in my area (Albuquerque), but I’m not sure how good it is, and it doesn’t really specialize in what I want (epidemiology). I’m also not sure whether there are decent online programs, either – and, ofc, doing the degree online cuts me off from making connections that could be vital moving forward.

    I’m feeling really torn right now. Ideally, I’d be thinking about moving back to the East Coast, but my only real options are online or in New Mexico. My mom is doing pretty well considering, but I’ve only got a few years left with her at most and I want to make them count. I can’t do that if I’m across the country.

    I don’t know what to do. Any advice?

    1. the_scientist*

      AAM epidemiologist, weighing in! There are a few commentors here with epi and public health backgrounds.

      So, first: I’d think carefully about whether you’re interested in specializing in public health or epidemiology. Obviously, there’s a significant overlap between those two, but there’s also clinical epidemiology, infection control, field epi etc. that are very specific and require, in some cases, more specialized training. In general, epi programs are going to be more research-focused than MPH programs and you can expect to learn more about the science of doing science- principles of biostatistics, study design, data collection, systematic reviews, meta-analysis, writing papers for peer-reviewed journals. For an M.Sc in epi, you can typically expect to write and defend a thesis.

      MPH programs are typically more about applied public health, in my experience: health promotion, evaluating programs/policy. You’re likely to do a practicum placement, and a capstone project instead of a thesis. Of course, there are also MPH programs that allow you to specialize in epidemiology, so having a MPH doesn’t preclude you from having “epidemiologist” in your title, necessarily.

      Also, I’m in Canada and here I don’t think any reputable programs (MPH or epi) offer an online-only option. First, because a lot of MPH programs require a practicum, and second, because of the level of collaboration. This can vary by program (some can be quite cutthroat) but my program was incredibly collaborative- there were only 15 people in my class and we did all our assignments together. Our professors were totally okay with this, BTW- we were encouraged to view our classmates as colleagues. Plus, the material is challenging and the pace can be quick, so it’s helpful to have access to professors and have them be familiar with you.

      I don’t know that I can offer you any advice about timing, but I think it’s better to avoid grad school if you’re unsure about it. Plus, school will always be there, and you know your mom’s time is limited.

      1. Zillah*

        I’m most interested in studying how disease spreads and how to control it – so more direct application than research. That seems to be more in the realms of MPH, but I’m not sure.

        I’m not sure how many reputable online programs there are in the US, but Johns Hopkins seems to have one that’s mostly online (with about 20% of the time on campus). I’d hope they’re at least mostly decent, even if it’s online? I’m really not sure, though. (And unfortunately, I don’t have two years working in a health related field, so that’s a non-starter for the moment.)

        I guess where I’m having the issue is that while I want to spend time with my mom, I also don’t want to put my life entirely on hold (nor does she want me to). :/

        Thank you. You’ve helped clarify some things for me. :)

        1. the_scientist*

          I’m glad my long reply was helpful! I realized I also lied in my first reply- there is one MPH program in Ontario that’s primarily online, part-time with a minimal in-class component. However, it seems to be mostly for people with a healthcare background, so I guess it’s similar to the Hopkin’s program in that respect.

          1. Zillah*

            Very helpful – thank you again!

            It seems like my best bet is probably to try to bulk up on my science/math a bit (though I’m not sure what the best way to do that is – degree, formal classes, or just teaching myself) and try to find a job in the field for a couple years.

    2. Hibiscus*

      At the very least, you will have to bone up on your science and math in order to get into another graduate program. Epidemiology is filled with a lot of pre-med folk. In the meantime, I think there’s a moderate push for public libraries to do more health education (a WebJunction webinar on this in the last year-18mo). There might be some room in the medical librarian game, and/or health education. I think you need a relevant-ish job and more basic ed before thinking of grad school.

      1. Zillah*

        To what extent, and would you suggest a degree, formal classes, or just teaching myself?

        (FWIW, while I definitely need more education in science/math, I’ve always been pretty decent at them in general – I just didn’t take much in undergrad because I was a double major and didn’t have time. I focused on the harder science aspects of psych for my psych major, though, so I’m pretty decent with stats, and I’ve taken a lot of classes/written two theses re: various aspects of medical history.)

  65. Nervous Accountant*

    I wish I’d asked this last week but ah well–

    We did our performance evals this week. I looked at my last years self eval and I was just cringing at how positively I rated myself, so this year i was a lot harder on myself (2s and 3s as opposed to 3s and 4s LY).

    Did I just screw myself over?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I have a great boss, and he actually bumped up some of my ratings when I was overly self-critical.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I hope that’s the case. I do feel a lot more comfortable, but I also went through a severe period of extreme laziness/burnout? I did end up talking to my supervisor a few weeks ago and he assured me that it was normal.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Did you get negative feedback from your boss over your own self-evaluation?
      If not, and you feel your committment/output & productivity, etc. was on par with last year, of exceeded last year, it might be odd to downgrade this year.
      (Fortunately, I don’t have to assign numeric values to my own self-evaluations.)

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Probably you didn’t, but going forward, absolutely rate yourself as positively as you honestly can. If 2 is “not meeting expectations” then I would reserve that for times that you know you really, really bombed something.

  66. the_scientist*

    A couple of weeks ago, I flew across the country on short notice for a job interview. I ended up not getting the job. I don’t regret going; it’s an area of the country I could see us living in eventually, and the subject matter was really interesting. I realized after the interview that it was probably a little too simple/straightforward for me, and there was nowhere to really move up.

    However, in a classic case of “when it rains, it pours”, I’ve been promoted at my current job (it’s not official yet, but my boss just needs to submit the paperwork). It’s a temporary position, backfilling a position that’s backfilling a mat leave, but because it’s a “stretch opportunity” I don’t have to interview for it…..and I get a far more generous raise than I anticipated! I’ve done a lot of good work this year, and got a great review….but it can be tricky to move up here so I got lucky with the timing and with the fact that there’s been movement on my team.

  67. LizB*

    Good news this week! I work for a nonprofit in a program that’s a collaboration with a government agency. We’ve had a ton of trouble negotiating the parameters of our work with the agency; they have ridiculous expectations for our workload and a totally off-the-wall idea of what we should be accomplishing, and for months now my teammates and I haven’t been able to push back on those expectations or get the information we need because our managers haven’t been backing our play. Well, we’ve finally bumped the problem far enough up the ladder on our end! It had to go to my manager’s manager’s manager, but she is livid at all the crap we’ve had to deal with and has our back 100%. My grandboss (her direct report) is currently negotiating for changes in the paperwork we have to do, and she’s not letting him agree to anything until she signs off on it because of how badly he’s mishandled previous negotiations. It’s annoying that we had to go this far up in order to get any actual support, but as long as we can get some changes made I’ll be happy.

  68. Aloot*

    How to figure out if I dislike the job or if it’s the workplace?

    I’m doing what is most easily explained as an internship for office type work, and after starting I’m not sure if I’m getting cold feet in regards to the type of work (which I’ve touted as something I want to do as a career, which is now something I’m a lot more shaky about) or if it’s just the workplace that’s rubbing me the wrong way.

    While I was expecting growing pains from learning the new job, I’ve gone from feeling at ease about it to “I really don’t want to be working here long term.” Which makes it sound like it’s the workplace more than the tasks I do, but at the same time I’m not really all too pleased with the type of work I do either – though this could also be because I’m bored because the tasks just aren’t challenging enough.

    I’m in knots about this, because I don’t want to get hired doing an office type job only to agree two months later that I really do not enjoy that type of job whatsoever, because the job market where I live is hopeless at best and a soul-sucking mire at worst.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think if I could have some redo’s in life one redo I’d want is to be less knotty about jobs. I understand the knottiness and I also would like to encourage you to not to worry so hard.

      How long will it be before you know if you are going to transition from intern to perm?

      How long have you been at this position now?

      Can you look around and volunteer for some more interesting tasks? Can you ask your boss for more work?

      How have you made out getting yourself through previous tasks you did not enjoy?

      Sorry, it’s a bunch of questions and not anything hugely meaningful. Come back and tell us a little more, if you would please. Maybe we can help you sort this.

    2. NicoleK*

      Dislike the job:
      1. you’re bored, annoyed, confused by one or many of your core tasks
      2. you find yourself procrastinating starting several of your core tasks
      3. you believe that you’re over qualified for one or many of your core tasks
      4. you struggle with one or many of your core tasks

      Dislike the workplace:
      1. you don’t like your coworkers, the culture, and/or the mission
      2. you don’t feel valued as an employee
      3. you’re not sure how you or your role add value to the company

      Often it’s a combination of the job and the workplace

  69. Anon Accountant*

    Please let me know where I’m going wrong with my job search. AAM critiqued my resume about 2 years ago and I’ve used that with modifying it to tailor it more to the jobs I’m applying to. I’ve revamped my cover letter to be more conversational, show interest in the company and try to explain why I’d be great at the job.

    I’ve been applying since September and have only landed 2 interviews. I’ve sought only jobs that my qualifications matched but have applied to a few that I was overqualified for (think they wanted 2 years’ experience to my 8 years).

    What am I doing wrong?

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Apply for a few stretch jobs. Seriously. I got way better responses from things where I wasn’t a strong match. I think the magic spot was matching somewhere between 60-75% of the qualifications.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Honestly, I will not call people who seem overqualified on the assumption that they will need more money than I can offer, unless they really make a pitch in their cover letter that explains why they specifically want this job and not the higher-level job I would have assumed they would want.

  70. Temperance*

    I finally read “Lean In” last week, and LOVED IT. Can you recommend any other good books about excelling in the white-collar world, particularly as a woman?

    1. the_scientist*

      I love, love, love “Unfinished Business” by Anne-Marie Slaughter. It’s the social activism spiritual successor to “Lean In”, in my opinion. I was able to see her speak at an event last month and aside from being brilliant, she’s an incredibly engaging speaker.

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      Women Don’t Ask, by Linda Babcock, was one that made a big impression on me. I definitely negotiated more after reading it.

    3. PassingThrough*

      What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know, by Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey

  71. BananaKarenina*

    Anyone in K12 education who’s switched from teaching to a completely new role (e.g., moving from Certificated to Classified within a school district), or went to work at a college or university in a non-teaching role? How did you make the switch, and do you regret it? I would like to teach for one more year, and am applying for positions. But I’m having the worst trouble completing applications, especially cover letters (even when following AAM’s advice). Burnout, I guess.

  72. Kyrielle*

    This is work-related but not terribly important, but can I just GLEE for a moment? They’re doing a furniture refresh here and everyone is getting sit-stand desks. I have my new desk and I am loving it. I mean, I thought I’d like having it. I certainly don’t have a medical need for it (yet, and maybe now I can avoid developing one).

    I love being able to stand (and dance, and yes, we are in offices so I’m not dancing in a weird open plan space…that would just be disturbing) while working, but also, this is the first time in my entire career I’ve had a desk that actually could almost be low enough to be ergonomically correct for me if my chair is correct! (Almost. They’re dedicated to getting it correct, but the keyboard trays are on back order, and the lowest setting is 29″. Yes, I’m short, though I’ve known people who are shorter.)

    Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time with the chair too high and a footstool, or in a variety of non-recommended positions to otherwise make the chair work, or sitting at a forward tilt. Usually all of the above in rotation because none is perfect. The idea of not needing to do this is amazing.

    And even before the tray arrives, standing it’s actually correct. So awesome.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      I am so envious! We would NEVER get those desks in my underfunded office. The new manager has been setting her computer on a filing cabinet, but I don’t have anything at the appropriate height.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I wish I could export them for all the readers here that wanted one. They are so awesome. I was stunned when they said they were going to be doing this, but I’m definitely not going to be complaining about it. :)

  73. MacDizzle*

    About 5 months ago my company decided to transfer my manager to a larger facility. She started ‘grooming’ me as a replacement during the transition process as she was absent every other week. I was pretty positive I would get a fair shake until the way my regional manager handled the schedule of interviews. I don’t have the words to describe it, I could just tell that it was a CYA interview and that I wasn’t being considered. I’m pretty sure it was done as a courtesy to the outgoing manager. So I knew it wasn’t a for real thing, but there was one problem… workload/job scope. I spent three months being the boss every other week without any kind of concession (other than a courtesy interview). Once the new manager was hired, I waited about a month, and told him I was going to need a raise to maintain all this responsibility (I’m an admin assistant on a typical low hourly wage, AND I was already doing two jobs for the price of one). The idea for a raise was shot down by the management chain, and the last time the regional manager came down here, he was pretty aloof around me. I’m not upset about not getting promoted, I only worked here for a year and I don’t have a degree. I could see plenty of logical “exit doors” for that one. I am bothered that the fallout is now I’m an unofficial assistant manager for a company that pays a liveable salary to people filling roles like that.

    1. MacDizzle*

      *I really don’t know how to handle it at this point. I dream of quitting, is there anything that can be said or done to get the point across?

      1. fposte*

        Wow, that’s frustrating. Temp new duties can be a great stepping stone or a bad millstone.

        I’d consider looking elsewhere, as this sounds like a place that doesn’t have much growth room for you now and you’re basically disengaging as you type. But in the meantime, I think it’s reasonable to go back to your new manager and say that while you were happy to help with the transition, given the fact that he’s said your job isn’t expanding after all you think it’s time you stepped back to your old role and these tasks went back to somebody of the appropriate rank. With some bosses you could be even more candid, but it doesn’t sound like this is your case.

        The problem is that this situation is really good for them–they get this stuff done cheaper, and they’ve gotten used to that. You’re right that it’s not fair (I’ve been there myself), but that doesn’t mean they’ll be happy. All the more reason to look elsewhere.

  74. Amy*

    I interviewed for a job last Friday (so one week ago) and I think it went pretty well. I interviewed with two people and the first told me that in her opinion, she’d want to call me back for the second and final interview. She also said that once they’d interviewed all the candidates (the last one was meant to be this past Monday) they would send out a small assignment with a due date, and after those were received they’d schedule one or two people to return for the second interview. She definitely made it sound like all current candidates would be getting the assignment. I haven’t gotten anything yet, though. I know it would be a pretty quick turnaround for a second interview, but it sounded like the assignment was already decided upon so I’m not sure what would hold them up in sending it out. I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t follow up because that would be annoying, right? I already sent thank you emails. Also, they said the timeline for hiring was “very soon” but they also took 2 months to call me in after I applied so who knows!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe give them a few weeks, then check in? It’s hard to know for sure, remember your gut feeling is probably more accurate than a stranger on the internet. ;)

  75. West of the Mississippi*

    A coworker “Z” was assaulted in the community, and will need about a week off to heal. The assault was clearly a hate crime, and the effects are both physical and psychological. On a personal level, our coworkers and upper management have been very supportive of Z’s situation.

    However, Z has run out of all paid time off after recently sustaining a physical injury at work. HR’s suggestion is that Z should now take short-term medical leave without pay. For context, we have one pool of PTO that covers sick time, holidays, and vacation (34 days a year, accruing continuously) and are represented by a chapter of a national healthcare union.

    Despite appeals from Z’s mid-level managers to upper managers and HR, we are told that there is no mechanism to donate paid time off to another coworker. We’ve advocated, but the rationale given is that there is no way to create an equitable bank of donate-able PTO, and that such a system would turn into a popularity contest and would perpetuate inequalities along dominant identity lines.

    We work in human services, where giving above and beyond without commiserate pay is par for the course. We have a great office culture, despite being prone to burn out, but this kind of administrative rhetoric without opportunity to advocate really sinks morale.

    Could anyone suggest any models of equitable PTO sharing? Perhaps if I could cite examples or make a proposal, HR would at least consider implementing a model to support coworkers facing extraordinary circumstances.

    1. Temperance*

      I don’t understand the resistance to a PTO donation bank. I mean, sure, the popularity contest aspect is unavoidable … but at the same time, some situations and people are more deserving than others.

    2. LCL*

      I think they are defining equitable in a unique way.
      At my (large, government) job, sick leave donation is allowed. It is administered by HR, they send out email announcements that Jon Snow is in need of sick leave donations, all who are interested fill out a form donating hours and send the form to HR. HR does all of the necessary work.
      Sick leave and vacation are separate pools, and we aren’t allowed to donate vacation. Usually. Once in a while vacation donation is allowed for disaster relief.

    3. fposte*

      Our university allows donation but it doesn’t allow directed donation, so no popularity contest. It’s kind of like giving blood when your friend is sick even if you don’t have the right type–you’re giving to the source that’s being depleted rather than to your friend.

      1. SophieChotek*

        yes my coffee shop gig has PTO donation like this. I assume an employee out of PTO then “applies” or is just granted X hours…

      2. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Right, the one place I’ve worked where we could donate PTO was set up this way.

    4. Construction Safety*

      I don’t get why your worker had to take PTO for an injury suffered at work? Was this in lieu of worker’s comp? If so, your co-worker got hosed twice.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Not all workplace injuries are covered by workers’ comp – you have to review the specific policy language. Furthermore, temporary total disability (TTD) payments can take a few weeks to process and distribute, so even if it was a covered injury, the injured employee would probably still have to take time off according to their employer’s leave policy.

        1. West of the Mississippi*

          +5, This is the way I understood it. Z took about 48 hours of their own PTO before the employer kicked in. Considering it doesn’t cover the amount of PTO needed for the out of work injury, I think it wouldn’t be a worthwhile fight for someone with limited energy.

    5. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      When a young coworker of mine was diagnosed with cancer last fall, many of the execs wanted to donate PTO to her. But there was a catch – the varying rates of pay and their accompanying taxes. For example, when I earn a PTO day, it’s at my daily rate of pay. But when the CEO earns a PTO day, it’s at HIS rate which is much higher. So the taxes that I pay on my daily earnings are less than the taxes for him. But if he gives me one of his PTO days… then I have to pay taxes on his higher salary for the day.

      Why do they not give the ill coworker the PTO reimbursement at the various higher pay rates based on who donated to her so she can easily handle the higher taxes, I don’t know. But the company decided not to go that route, and everyone’s donating to her GoFundMe instead.

      1. Natalie*

        That seems really 0ff to me – as far as I know, payroll taxes are based on how much pay the employee actually earns, which in this case would presumably be their normal rate of pay. A PTO bank is essentially just a different funding source for the payroll, and I’ve never heard of payroll taxes being affected by, say, an income tax-free grant.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I don’t get this unless the person was getting paid the CEO’s salary for that day as well.

    6. Katie the Fed*

      Z got injured at work and they made her use her personal bank of leave to cover it? Um, hell no. That’s what she should focus on correcting when she’s back.

  76. Promoted*

    Negotiated Salary for a Promotion

    Does anything change when you are negotiating salary in a promotion setting? I was just handed an opportunity to build my own position (writing my own job description and title, but that’s an issue for another post), and from my new job description I’m narrowing in on a raise that would be about 27% over what I’m currently making.

    Should I just go in with my salary research, previous accomplishments and play it confidently and strong? Any suggestions for me going into this that would increase my chances for a positive outcome?

    1. Raises*

      I am in this exact situation. Look for my post last week with the username raises.

      Several people thought 25% was too high but I also got some encouragement and I’m moving forward with the ask – which is the middle of the pay band for me.

      Think about the unique assets you have as an internal candidate – my org is complicated and I understand it well, I have a track recorded of successfully pushing through new initiatives and great working relationships with internal and external stakeholders, all of which are vital to my new role. An external hire wouldn’t have those, heck they probably wouldn’t be able to write the job description, and would take several years to get there, so that raises my value.

  77. Kate the Little Teapot*

    For those of you who read the open threads every week, I just wanted to leave a quick update on all my queries about internal interviews – I got the role! I now project manage at my teapot agency!

    Would love to connect with other PMs or get recommendations of things I simply must read. I am delivering a service, not a product, if that helps clarify.

  78. Junior Dev*

    Any tips for working 45-50 hours at a new, fast-paced job when you have anxiety and depression–and not burning out?

    I start next week. It kind of hit me the other day how intense this job might be and I got really concerned about having time for self-care stuff like exercise and getting enough sleep, and about finding the balance between enforcing personal boundaries while also getting my work done.

    One upside is that I’ll have enough money for stuff like a gym membership and grocery delivery–I won’t be Scrooge McDuck but I do think I’ll be at a place where a few stress-saving shortcuts are available to me.

    Any advice? Especially from people who also have mental or physical health issues that suffer if they have too much work stress?

    1. West of the Mississippi*

      Ohh, this is good to know about yourself beforehand. I’m an introvert with anxiety & depression and still LOVE my job in crisis work that moves at insanity level and requires real-time response. First of all, give yourself enough time for this sharp learning curve. More time than you think you need or “should” take. It takes time to attain excellence at your job.

      Set up a schedule as soon as possible and stick to it like’s it’s your lifeboat. I cannot afford to let mine slip for more than 1-2 days without huge repercussions.
      1. Breakfast routine. I get up earlier than needed, read the internet, have a solid breakfast, do warm-up exercises.
      2. Make space in your day. Honor thy lunch break.
      3. Disengagement routine. You have to find a way to end your day when you walk out the door. You might have a little ritual around shoes, dog walking, affirmations that you say, etc.
      4. Set exercise schedule.
      5. Sleep hygiene. You know what you’re supposed to do…now do it! :)
      6. Weekend meal prep, including always having a few “bad day” meals on hand in the freezer or pantry.
      7. Balancing friend/family/self commitments. Difficult in practice, but try to be mindful of time you keep to yourself vs. promise to others vs. the week you might have next/ might have just had.

      Hope some of these are helpful, best of luck!

    2. Jaguar*

      One of the things with depression (as I’m sure you’re aware) is that your mind will fester and obsess on negative stuff. One of the reasons I like a faster paced, more engaging workplace is because it doesn’t allow your mind enough time to get into that stuff. You get the energy associated with go-go-go and the benefit of having your mind constantly on the matter at hand.

      Obviously, it’s important to be interested in what you do, or else stress can become a problem. And it’s important to keep up your self-care so you have the energy to work. But you might find that the environment is actually a positive one for your anxiety and depression, because it won’t give you a chance for that stuff to kick in.

      1. Jaguar*

        That said, obviously, don’t expect that to happen. Make sure you’re prepared for the worst, especially when health is involved.

    3. Slippy*

      Depending on how much control you have over your time break up your work into blocks of time. It is easier to work three four-hour shifts if you have an hour in between. Also find out which part of the week you are more effective and front-load hours there if possible.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      One thing that would have helped me at a stressful job was to have a savings plan and stick to it no matter what. There were too many times where I felt like I was on a hamster wheel. I managed to get some of my shorter term life goals but I never built up a really good savings.
      I would have gotten something meaningful out of that, as in, “I have this long term goal that I am working on for me personally.” On rough days, it would have been reassuring for me to know that I had a long term purpose.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Thanks!

        This is one of my goals–I already set up direct deposit to put 20% of my paychecks in savings, and I’ll look into saving with more specific goals in mind. If I do get terribly burnt out I want to be able to quit without it being a financial disaster.

        There’s been other goals I’ve been putting off til I had more money/a car (which I am now buying) and I’ll try and start making some progress on them.

  79. Christian*

    We had recently some articles about how to find out if a potential new firm is toxic, but I unable to find them. Can anybody find the links?

    My wife was contacted by a headhunter and she would love to leave her current firm, but the potential new firm has very bad reviews on konunu (germanies stand in for glassdoor) – so she is very vary and would like to use the interview(s) to find out if the firm is as toxic as suggested.

  80. Jadelyn*

    Does anyone have advice for presenting your case for a title change, without a salary change – in particular, a specific part of the title?

    I’m an HR Assistant and have been for two and a half years at this company. I was a regular admin/operations/facilities assistant at a few other places prior to that, probably a total of about 2-3 years, with retail jobs for a couple years before that. In recent months at my current company, though, I’ve become integral to our HRIS implementation and rollout, sort of a junior sysadmin taking care of all the West Coast parts and pieces.

    Yesterday, my VP (who is my grandboss, but I do a TON of direct work for him and it’s a small team anyway so we’re all pretty closely entangled) had me sign off on a request form to get me added to the cell phone reimbursement benefit our organization offers. He had already filled out the form, since the request officially comes “from” him, but it needed both of our signatures – and I noticed that under title, he had put “HR/HRIS Assistant”.

    Which is cool and all, and a step in the right direction, but honestly the part I want changed is the “Assistant” part! I’m turning 31 in a few weeks and I am beyond tired of always being an “Assistant”. I don’t know that they’d be ready to make me a full Generalist yet (or that I’d actually *be* ready to take on a full Generalist role), but “HRIS Specialist” or “HRIS Administrator” or just…something other than Assistant, because Assistant tends to convey a more administrative role to most people’s perception of what the title means. Which, yes, had been what I was doing, but my role is very clearly shifting in the last couple months and we’re even hiring an HR Assistant temp to take some of my administrative stuff off my plate so I can focus on HRIS and special projects with the VP (he’s been getting annoyed at having to “share” me with everyone else in the department).

    Am I totally out of line to want a title that conveys something a bit more…specialist, and less administrative? And how would I present this to them – both my direct manager and the VP?