open thread – July 22-23, 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 :)

{ 1,183 comments… read them below }

  1. UnCivilServant

    New poster, been lost in an archive binge of the site for a few weeks.

    I’m looking for insight into a form of job candidate behaviour I’ve seen and this seemed like the place to ask. I don’t routinely do candidate searches, as my main role is a technical one. The place I work at had its technical staff decimated by retirements and had done a pretty poor job of succession planning. So we were looking to take on some consultants to fill the gap.

    The place I worked had an “eclectic” mix of technologies. Often it would be a case of if the industry standard was now chocolate teapots, we’d be using mixed-berry samovars. So in our listing, we had a lot of these technologies as “optional extras”. We didn’t need an expert on mixed-berry samovars to relieve the load, we would be happy if we could get someone who could operate samovars, or even just a charcoal burner so that the in-house people who did have the advanced knowledge didn’t have to keep dealing with the low-level stuff.

    Anyway, when we got to the phone interviews, there was one candidate who listed extensive experience with mixed-berry samovars but when asked “can you give us an example of something you’ve done involving them?” proceeded to read from the into to the wikipedia page. If it were merely the uncommon technologies that they did this for, I could at least grasp that they were trying to bluff their way into the door. But they did this for every single item on their resume. The question would always be “What have you done with…” “can you give us an example of…” and they’d read off from some internet site about the technology instead of addressing the question.

    Did they honestly think we would go “a warm body is better than an empty seat” and hire them anyway? In case it isn’t obvious, we did not hire this individual. In fact, we ended up not hiring anybody because there was no one we believed could be counted on to provide more value than the time required to train and/or supervise them. (An empy seat in this instance being less of a problem than someone who’d add a lot of overhead to existing staff).

    1. Leatherwings

      It sounds like the candidate did take the gamble that you wouldn’t notice. As for why people do stuff like that? It’s probably because they’re desperate. Candidates don’t usually think about it from your point of view “do I think they’ll go with a warm body” but rather from their point of view “I need a paycheck/to get away from my toxic boss.”

      1. UnCivilServant

        I’ve been ruminating on the possibility, but on the call I couldn’t get the candidate to say anything that wasn’t cribbed off of the internet. My dual problems were: 1 – this was one of the first three interviews I’d ever conducted in my life and 2 – I work at a government agency (as per the handle) and going off-script in an interview is frowned upon.

        1. Leatherwings

          If someone is obviously cribbing from wikipedia, I would wrap up the interview really quickly and reject them. You learned valuable information from them, and they are not the right person for the job.

          1. UnCivilServant

            Yeah, we knew pretty early we weren’t going to make an offer to the guy, but procedures dictated that we needed to score every candidate on every skill on our listing and write a justification for it to avoid even the appearance of discriminatory hiring (governmnet bureaucracy, yay) so as the interview dragged on, I kept trying to phrase and emphesise the questions in a way to get the guy to mention anything he had personally worked on.

            I’m surprised I managed to avoid yelling “Stop reading off the internet and start answering the questions”. That would not have gone over well.

            1. UnCivilServant

              I realize the way I phrased that might be construed that he had tried to answer. The disconnect was the questions were about his specific work experiences with X and the answers were textbook generalities that sounded like written prose instead of conversational human. (hense the suspicions and the follow-up searches online)

              1. UnCivilServant

                And I responded to myself on the wrong instance of my comment. But the person to whome the comment I was hoping to clarify got it anyway.

                (see, I’m familiar with poor communication)

            2. Ad Hoc

              As another civil servant, I can relate to the procedures required in the hiring process, even when they’re less than helpful. That being said, I’ve experienced some of what you’ve described where the candidate spouts off key words or phrases, without providing any concrete examples of how he/she actually applied the technical knowledge. After a few recruitments like this, I started having the candidates do exercises in the technology using test data. For example, I prepared an exercise using test data that required the candidates to build complex formulas in Excel to create a report while I observed and evaluated. This required candidates to come in to the office to be screened rather than over the phone, but it really weeded out those who truly did not have the needed technical experience. I even told the candidates in advance that they would be expected to do an in-person technical exercise as part of the interview process, and several decided to decline the interview when they heard that.

      2. Jadelyn

        This is probably especially true given that it’s a technical position – a lot of the time the hiring, or at least early screening, is done by non-technical people who wouldn’t necessarily know the difference, so he thought he stood a decent chance of getting past that because they wouldn’t know any better.

        1. UnCivilServant

          I would have loved to interview the paper candidate the resume described. Though I fear it was at least highly exaggerated if not outright falsified.

        2. Doreen

          I was once on a panel where the candidate was asked to describe her experience using Excel. She said she used it to send emails. The other two interviewers didn’t see any problem with that answer.

          1. UnCivilServant

            … *headdesk*

            This was the reason I was conducting the interviews in my case – I was the only one who could determine the accuracy of claims made by candidates.

            And with office integration, are you sure you can’t trigger an email from within Excel?

            1. doreen

              I asked what sort of emails, just in case she was referring to emailing spreadsheets. She said she emailed everything (including requests for leave) using Excel, which you can’t do in our version. Unless of course you are typing the request into the boxes on a spreadsheet which is its own problem.

              Of course, she wasn’t chosen and I had to interview her again for another opening.(govt bureaucracy) Every answer ended with “and then I go home and beat my cat”. Except the last one. That was “There’s not much left of poor Fluffy but a tail”. This is why I hate interviewing.

              1. Another Jen

                You can actually write email integration using VBA that will allow you to click a trigger button and it would pull in whatever you tell it to. I have mine set up to do it for things like employee X, starting on date Y has cleared all their background checks. It even pull sin email addresses, subject lines, etc if I want it to.

                1. doreen

                  I don’t think that be useful at my job- unless you can set it up to pull information from the circa 1985 mainframe system where our records are kept. I’d love it if I could- I wouldn’t have to copy and paste so much.

          2. Library Director

            Ouch, that hurts.

            About 10 years ago the updated IE didn’t work with the online classroom used by all our state universities. We were interviewing for a new computer services person. I asked what Internet browsers the candidates were familiar with. Most looked at me blankly and said, “Internet browsers?” I had one say, “Why would you use anything other than Internet Explorer?” When I gave the situation of patrons not being able to get to school assignments she argued that having multiple browsers was dangerous to our computers.

    2. Rocky

      Yeah, they’re bluffing and hoping you won’t catch it, and/or that the people hiring don’t have a technical background, and will just take any answer. I recruit for some technical positions, and it’s really common for candidates to just throw out a bunch of acronyms – and that’s pretty much all they know is acronyms. Or say, “Oh yeah, I’ve worked a lot on the mixed-berry samovar platform,” and then find out that what they really mean is they took a class on it, or messed around with it at home. I try to dig in a lot more now.

    3. designbot

      I agree with other posters that they figured you wouldn’t catch it (after all, I don’t go looking up teapot design on wikipedia since I’m already steeped in it–I wouldn’t recognize if someone was reading off that description). However, is there a chance that they are indeed capable with the technologies, and what they actually struggle with is communication? I could see someone doing this when they don’t know how to “elevator pitch” what they do.

      1. UnCivilServant

        I became suspicious because his response was about the technology in a “X is a program to do Y” format when the question was along the lines of “tell me about the kind of work you did with…”. I later verified my suspicions by running a few web searches after the interview and coming up with pretty much the exact verbiage the candidate used.

        I might have agreed with you on communication (It’s not an unusual deficiency in my field), but if the response to every answer came from someone else’s writing online, that would be a communication skills deficiency that would make any knowledge in the technology worthless. At the end of the interview, I couldn’t tell you anything about the person on the other end of that phone beyond the fact that they had an internet connection.

        1. designbot

          AH, yeah, if they are also answering just to the left of the question, then I’d agree with you. That’s also just a really frustrating thing without the copied answers! I’d be tempted to answer something like, “yes of course everyone in this room understands what X and Y are–we are interested in hearing about a project you worked on using X so that we can get an idea of the depth and breadth of your experience with it.”

          1. UnCivilServant

            I wish someone had throught of that on the day. It might have gotten them to realize we’d seen what was up and give some honest answers.

            As I mentioned it was one of the first times I’d interviewed anyone, and the other person from the agency didn’t really ask any questions. They were there to help me not mess up but were from a different unit, plus they could atest to my treating all of the candidates fairly if someone accused us of anything.

      2. sayevet

        “I don’t go looking up teapot design on wikipedia since I’m already steeped in it” A+ pun

      1. Not So NewReader

        An empty stomach or threat of losing one’s living quarters can drive people to desperate measures. I would just frame it as here is a person who reeeeally needs a job.

      2. Slippy

        You get some pretty interesting applicants to government positions. Gov HR is supposed to screen them but I think they let a few of the crazy ones through for laughs. Also with these “eclectic technologies” there is certainly a strategy in the technical community to “fake it until you make it.”

    4. Audiophile

      I’ve been desperate, especially recently. But I wouldn’t fathom reading answers off the internet.

      1. OhNo

        Yeah, even at my most desperate I’ve never gone so far as to plagiarize Wikipedia to try and bluff my way into a job.

        What do you suppose this person thought would happen if they got the job? Would they just have kept bluffing and hope their coworkers picked up the slack for the work they clearly don’t know how to do?

        1. Ife

          “bluffing and hope their coworkers picked up the slack for the work they clearly don’t know how to do” — is that not how everyone goes through their first few jobs in tech?

          1. catsAreCool

            Some of us in tech tell the truth and when we have work we don’t know enough about, we ask our co-workers questions so that we can do the work ourselves.

        2. Audiophile

          I think everyone at some point has probably been desperate enough to blue their way through an interview. But there’s a big difference between bluffing and plagiarism.

    5. Mephyle

      Desperation, and perhaps a strong self-confidence that if they could get their foot in the door, they could pick up the rest of the knowledge needed on the job. Probably they did think just as you said, that a warm body (especially one who considers themself a quick study) is better than an empty seat.
      Also, kudos to you for your masterful use of the teapot and other decorative hot beverage container industry jargon.

      1. UnCivilServant

        kudos to you for your masterful use of the teapot and other decorative hot beverage container industry jargon.

        I don’t have space to actually own a samovar, but I have a nice set of cut crystal Russian teacups and holders. They hold more tea than a western teacup (and many coffee cups)

    6. Mike C.

      Echoing what others have said, but I’d also add that there are lots of places that inflate the actual experience needed with specific tools and software packages to perform the job at hand. I haven’t done this myself, but I know of many who didn’t have as much experience with a specific tool (but related experience with similar ones) who got the job, learned the specifics right there and were perfectly fine employees.

      Yeah, it’s dishonest to a point and it won’t work with every package or regulatory regime out there, but at the same time many employers assume that you need years and years of experience with a tool to be an advanced user when others might just be quick learners. Example – I saw a job ad that required 5-8 years of using Tableau, then listed the specific things Tableau would be used for. I’ve only used it for 2 years, but I could easily perform what they needed. Is it lying to inflate the resume if at the end of the day you can perform the work when needed? Likely, but I think it’s more of a grey area than it first appears.

  2. Regular poster venting anonymously

    Is it possible to snap out of BEC mode? Bc I’m getting there, It’s not there yet but I can foresee it happening and I really don’t want it to get there because we’ve gotten along otherwise.

    But yeah right now, almost everything irritates me, bc they watches my screen and sometimes comments on stuff, like when I’m online shopping and comment on how beautiful the model is etc or posts here–it’s to the point I don’t post anything anymore bc They’ll comment/read it. (I’m posting this from a bathroom stall btw).

    It didn’t bother me before, but I think what pushed me over the edge from not minding to now barely tolerating it was when I was watching Netflix, and a very unattractive person was on the screen, and they said I look like that person….I know I know my appearance is my personal issue and all, and I know it wasn’t malicious intent…..but I’m still pretty annoyed about it.

    When I get in full blown BEC mode, which is very rare, there’s no coming back from it. I don’t want to request a seat change because I love where I sit and I don’t dislike my coworker. Is there any coming back before it gets worse?

      1. College Career Counselor

        +1 on the privacy shade. Those things are great–a couple of colleagues in my office have them because they work with student confidential data all day long (but they sit in open offices).

      2. Regular poster venting anonymously

        I’ve tried that but we sit so closely together that if I were to do that, I’d never be able to see my own screen.

        1. nofelix

          I think they’re talking about a product which is a clear plastic layer over your screen. It appears opaque when viewed from oblique angles, so that only the person using the computer can see the screen. Similar to those used on ATMs. They’re made by 3M I think.

      3. Sadsack

        Or simply ask, do you mind not commenting on what’s in my screen? I guess it depends on a few things as to how that convo goes.

    1. Apparatchic

      These… all kind of sound like activities that are a big bonus to be allowed to do at work, not something that’s actually related to your job? Like… online shopping and Netflix, maybe save that for home? I don’t know, she does sound annoying, but you could probably solve this by sticking to work. That way, when they’re nosy, you have a right to say “This is work-related, please MYOB”.

      1. Regular poster venting anonymously

        I actually don’t mind sharing work stuff… We are allowed to do other stuff as long as our work gets done so I don’t feel guilty about using Netflix at work, esp when I’m on my break

        1. Apparatchic

          Fair enough! I realized different industries probably have different rules about this, I’ve just never worked in an office where Netflix was even allowed so I wasn’t coming at it from the right perspective. Privacy screen for you!

    2. animaniactoo

      Have you tried asking them to please stop commenting on what’s going on on your screen?

      1. Regular poster venting anonymously

        No, because it didn’t bother me before, until they pointed out my resemblance to someone. In the moment I didn’t say anything but glared. I’m prepared to say something though if it happens again

        1. Temperance

          This is the perfect opportunity to put on Star Wars and point out that he looks like Jabba the Hut. Just sayin.

          1. Regular poster venting anonymously

            LOL I wish. I just think it’s inappropriate to comment on a person’s physical appearance (i.e., weight, height skin color etc) and I’d feel way too mean doing that.

        2. animaniactoo

          Why wait? Approach it before it happens again.

          “Hey, this is something that’s been starting to bother me and I wanted to talk to you about it before it happens again. I know that we can be pretty slow and casual sometimes, but I would really appreciate it if you don’t comment on whatever you may see on my screen. It tends to be a bit jarring and feels like you’re looking over my shoulder, even though I know you’ve probably just glanced and couldn’t help seeing.”

        3. OhNo

          It might be worth having a few phrases on hand, so you can find the one that works best to make them quit. Some people respond best to a gentle callout (e.g.: “Could you please stop commenting about what’s on my screen?”), some respond to more aggressive tactics (e.g.: “Why are you looking at my screen? You have your own computer.”), and others will respond only to the most straightforward comments (e.g.: “Stop looking at my screen and commenting on it, you’re being irritating.”).

        4. pope suburban

          I actually find it weird and offputting that their comments generally seem to have to do with appearance and attractiveness. That’s possibly a bit beyond BEC territory. It’s pretty rude to be going on and on about people’s looks like that.

    3. afiendishthingy

      I’ve seen this question here before, and generally a few people answer “yes, it’s possible to snap out of it, just try to find something you do like about them”. For me, though, no, it’s never been possible. So it’s probably dependent on your individual personality and circumstances.

    4. KathyGeiss

      Getting out of BEC can be hard regardless of what got you there.

      I find that I need to let myself live in the BEC for a short time and have a plan to distract me out of it. For example, I have a friend who I can reliably vent to. We’ll have dinner, I’ll get all my BEC complaints out and then we’ll do something fun. I find if I try to ignore it or immediately get over it, it gets worse from build up.

        1. Lucy Honeychurch

          ‘Bitch eating crackers.’ It’s a stand-in for being so annoyed by someone that even innocuous things that they do frustrate you–i.e., “look at that bitch eating crackers like she owns the place!”

    5. nofelix

      I find that it’s not the person that’s the problem, it’s general life stress lowering your ability to cope with annoying behaviour. The solution to BEC mode is to make positive changes in your life that outbalance anything the B can do. Easier said than done I know.

      1. Regular poster venting anonymously

        That’s possible, I’ve had a rough week, and a stressful last few months.
        I think it was the comparison to the actor/character itself thats upset me the most, I know my own appearance is my own problem and no one else’s, but it’s been a few days and it’s still bugging me…It’s still annoying when I’m online shopping and they roll the chair over and comment on how beautiful the model is.

      2. Talvi

        I agree. I find I get to this point when I don’t get enough alone time. It’s funny how both my roommates going away/visiting/family/whatever on the same weekend knocks me right out of BEC mode. 48-72 hours with no human interaction whatsoever and I’m right as rain again. (It will be glorious when I finally earn enough money to no longer need roommates…)

    6. Karo

      I’ve been on two ends of the spectrum with BEC mode. With one woman, I finally realized that I was being really unfair and that in the end her actions didn’t effect me, so I was able to be nicer to her. This doesn’t sound like the case for you, though. It sounds more like my other end of the spectrum and how I feel towards my current co-worker.

      One of my friends/fellow AAMers suggested rewarding myself every time the person did something obnoxious. Choose something that you can’t normally do or don’t normally let yourself do and then every time you find yourself wanting to throw things, do that. Go take a Pokemon walk. Eat a piece of chocolate. Spend 5 minutes reading AAM.

      I still get annoyed with my co-worker, but now it’s like I’m looking forward to it. “Oooo you started making clopping noises, that’s a piece of chocolate!” “I told you how to do this 10 times and you’re asking for more help, time for a pokewalk!” etc.

      I’ve found that this has had the added bonus of making me realize that some days it’s really infrequent. So when I’ve had a week of only one piece of candy a day, I’m more forgiving to him on days where I’m getting something every 30 minutes. (I mean, I still get my candy. But my mindset isn’t as foul.) And it actually helps me curb my eating – before I’d be snacking mindlessly on chocolate, now I’m waiting til he does something.

      1. zora.dee

        Oh, this is good, thanks. I’m getting to BEC mode with my Entire Workplace (or I’m already there), and I am really glad someone posted this question, because I need to snap out of it, too.

        1. zora.dee

          ok, now i have to post my latest BEC issue.. We have shared snacks for the office, bags of popcorn, dried fruit, etc. And ever since I started here, everyone takes a small paper plate and pours a little food onto the plate, then puts the bag back in the drawer.

          The newest employee keeps taking the whole bag back to her desk. 1) it means that no one else can have any of that food until she is done. and 2) it means her hand is going in the bag multiple with all of her germs all over it!

          Gah! I have gently pointed out that I use a plate and pour some out, and even said “oh yeah, we all use the plates” and her response is either to not respond, or to say ‘oh, i dont want to be wasteful.’ OMG, you are missing the POINT. Now, I’m going to have a hard time saying something without snapping becuase I’m in such a bad mood, so I’m trying to wait until I feel more calm. But come on, who DOES THAT?!?!

          1. Mephyle

            It is time to be more direct (not blunt, rude, or brusque, but direct) and explain the POINTS to her. “Please don’t take the whole bag to your desk. The rest of us do it [this way] because (1) and (2). Thank you.”

          2. Kyrielle

            And, if she doesn’t want to be wasteful because paper plates are wasteful, she can easily bring in a single plate or bowl that she can dump the snacks into, carry back to her desk, and wash as often as she feels is needful.

    7. CMT

      I cycle in and out of BEC mode with one of my coworkers, basically dependent on how personally frustrated I’m feeling at the moment. It really has nothing to do with the coworker; she doesn’t actually do anything wrong, I just project a lot of my own frustration and bitterness on her at times. I know this is completely unfair to her, so I’ve been trying very hard to recognize when I’m feeling this way and what the root cause is, so I don’t sit here silently fuming.

        1. Canadian Natasha

          BEC or BEC mode refers to the meme “[b-word] eating crackers”. It describes the situation when you’ve gotten to the state where anything the irritating person does- no matter how innocuous- makes you angry.

        1. Annie

          May I ask why this language is encouraged here? I used to find this site a wonderful feminist space for work advice but lately I’ve been avoiding the comments because of this. I understand I might be the minority on this, and I still really enjoy all of the rest of the daily content and will continue reading regardless.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            It’s a fair question. I wouldn’t normally be cool with calling someone a bitch here. I think in this case it’s kind of making fun of the mindset of the person who’s using the term — as in, the other person is just eating crackers, and you’re having an obviously unwarranted reaction. But you’re right that the word itself is a highly problematic one.

            1. Annie

              Thanks, that’s interesting. I guess I haven’t seen it applied to men so even more than just the word bitch (which I agree is problematic) I find the gendering of feelings at work in this way to perpetuate a lot of myths that you spend so much time dispelling. Even if men do get referred to as BEC it’s still essentially saying that he’s acting like a women with feelings and that’s a problem, as opposed to whatever the real problem is

      1. Fafaflunkie

        I wondered this myself. Urban Dictionary is your friend here: B**check Eating Crackers.

    8. Not So NewReader

      I remember a long time ago, I was reading over a person’s shoulder. I thought nothing of it, but they were quite annoyed and told me immediately. Which, I would rather hear about it right away than have it go on for months. It was just not a big deal for me to stop shoulder reading. I did find their level of upset to be kind of large compared to the nature of the problem.

      Just tell the person to stop commenting about things on your screen. I do think that part of what went wrong with the comment about how you look like this other person, is that the situation has just gone on too long. I know I would be partially mad at myself for not saying something sooner. In my situation, I had never met anyone who was bothered by shoulder readers. After that I had a higher awareness.

      I do think, though, that screens are a pretty public thing. I can read quickly, so even a glance at a screen or a piece of paper and I can’t help but take in some of what is there.

    9. Dirk Gently

      Two things have worked for me

      1) Make a conscious effort to notice when your BEC does or says something helpful, kind, nice, smart, or otherwise positive. If they say something useful in a meeting, or hold a door open for you, or whatever, think to yourself “That was a helpful comment from Becca!” or “Becca did a nice thing for me!”. It sounds silly, but it actually works.

      2) If you’re in the habit of bitching about your BEC to someone else who also finds them annoying, try to cut it out, or at least cut it down. My regular mutual-BEC bitching partner went on parental leave a while ago and I started finding BEC much less annoying almost instantly. The habit of saying “OMG you’ll never guess what Becca’s done now” as soon as something happens makes every little incident seem like a much bigger deal than it really is. It was a very good lesson for me to learn, and now that my bitching partner is back, I’m (mostly) resisting the temptation to complain about BEC every time she annoys me.

      1. Product Person

        I was just listening to a podcast in which someone mentioned having a “5 minutes rule”. Give yourself 5 minutes to complain to your bitching partner, only once. From then own, you have two choices: learn to live with the issue, or figure out how to get rid of it (with a privacy shade like suggested, finding a way to move to a different area from these people, or even, as a last resort, find a different job — hopefully with better colleagues and more space between desks!).

        I liked the rule and will start applying in my own work life.

  3. Sunflower

    I had my annual review last week and my boss would like me to think about the future and where I want to go. In legal marketing – specifically in event planning- you gotta move around to get promoted so my boss is fully aware that I will not be here for the long haul and I will probably end up switching careers down the line at some point. My boss is also all about career advancement and I know she would support me no matter what direction I took.

    I can’t see myself doing event planning forever and could see my next job as one where I step away from it. I feel like I could enjoy a job with the same skills and amount of stress but make more money. I really like the planning logistics part and the amount of travel- I travel about 25-35% of the time which is perfect and I don’t think I could do a job where I rarely travel. I’m also feeling a bit of the sales itch and think I’d do really well if commissions or bonuses were tied to performance. I love talking to people and networking- it’s what I’m best at!

    So any ideas what kind of jobs might fit this? What are some resources you guys used to help figure out your next job/career step? Anything you asked yourself specifically that helped you decide?

    ps- i know i drop off the site during the summer a lot- i try to pop in every couple days but i miss ya’ll and hope everyone is doing well!

    1. designbot

      Possibly accounts management? Coming from a creative field, the people I know who do best at it have those sales and people skills combined with ability to assess the logistics of a project.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      What about moving over to venue management?

      A few of my friends work for hotels. museums, and convention centers as the in-house event sales person. They almost all came from event planning, so they are able to help clients understand the space and event needs.

      1. YupYupFriYAY

        I was going to suggest venue management as well, I have a friend who works for a university and handles on on-campus events, from athletic events to college fairs to weddings. Started as an event planner, moved into venue management and loves it. Been doing it for 15+ years.

      2. OhNo

        Does that have much travel usually? I’m not familiar with the field at all, but it seems like that would be a pretty single-location-focused kind of position.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          My friends do travel, but more for conferences and checking out other venues rather than doing events other places.

    3. HYDR

      What about development or alumni relations? You can still plan events (School-based), travel (to your school’s club cities), sales (well, maybe a stretch, but you are selling your school/programs that need funding), etc. It’s a great area to be in, and there are SO MANY FACETS of the advancement/development/alumni world. Just a thought!

    4. Product Person

      Wow, if you like sales, and based on what you describe, you should have no trouble finding a great sales job with that amount of travel. I’m in the tech industry and see a big shortage of people who are good at networking and motivated to be partially compensated via commissions or bonus. Start talking to your network about sales jobs, you may find something you like pretty soon!

  4. Pontoon Pirate

    A question in two parts:
    1) I recently accepted a position at a Fortune 500 company; in doing so, I will be leaving a large-ish non-profit. Compensation was the biggest factor, but there were other reasons, too. My supervisor has been great, but he wasn’t able to make any necessary changes until I’d already had my final interview with the new gig.

    Who here has made the jump out of non-profits? What surprised you? Do you have any regrets? Any pearls of wisdom? My whole professional life has been in non-profits of some kind or another with the exception of one stint at a small firm right after college.

    2) Relatedly, I’m undergoing fertility treatments and have been for some time. My new manager knows I have an ongoing medical issue that doesn’t/won’t impact my ability to work, but I’m nervous about the optics in the first few months of leaving early/arriving late as I juggle testing, lab work, consultations, etc. And yet, I’m not willing to put these treatments on hold because I’ve already been trying for so long. I guess I just need validation that as long as my work is good, I should take my manager at his word when he says I can schedule things however I need to.

    1. Bonnie

      My biggest surprise leaving nonprofit for corporate was the culture change. YMMV but my new company didn’t have the team/we’re all in this together atmosphere that my nonprofit had. I don’t say this to scare you — as I know my company has culture issues aside from non being a nonprofit. That was just surprising to me. It is nice to have money to spend on resources, though! And of course, the paycheck. I think I’ll be returning to nonprofit eventually, but that has a lot to do with my personality and the city I live in. Good luck!

    2. Temperance

      I sort of did this – I focused on working in legal services orgs during law school, and took a firm job instead.

      The BIGGEST stretch for me was trying to get used to the fact that you only wear a single hat here, for the most part. There are people who do everything. I don’t make my own copies, do my own filing, or even edit my own documents. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY USING YOUR RESOURCES.

      1. Pontoon Pirate

        Thank you for saying this! I have so many hats right now I might as well own a millinery shop. In some ways, I’m kinda worried I won’t be able to let some of that stuff go. I’m as guilty as anybody of finding a nobility in the quiet suffering that is the NPO worker’s plight.

      2. SeekingBetter

        What exactly is considered a large company? Almost all of the companies I’ve been applying to makes you make your own copies, filing, and other duties as assigned. Company sizes where I live employ about 50-400 people. I used to work at companies under 50 employees which, of course, would require you to wear at least ten hats or better.

        1. Temperance

          I’m an attorney, so it’s a little different than working at a company. My firm has about 1100 people across the US.

    3. Graciosa

      I can’t help with #1, but regarding #2, you should absolutely take your manager at his word.

      One advantage of working at a really large company is that this stuff is totally normal.

      Good luck.

      1. Bend & Snap

        THIS. I did the exact same thing in 2012 after trying to conceive since 2006. My boss was cool with it and I got pregnant on my first IVF cycle in the new workplace.

        I assume you’ve already vetted your health insurance but the one surprise for me is that there was a separate service I had to use to qualify through my employer. Just an extra step, NBD.

        Best of luck OP!

        1. Pontoon Pirate

          Thank you both for the encouragement! I have that sort of flexibility where I am, but it took my several months before I felt comfortable taking advantage of it. These days, I need all the help I can get, so I’m not inclined to wait around.

      2. OhNo

        Especially if this is a larger company than the nonprofit you were at, it will be even more normal than you’re used to. People at big companies tend to be more accustomed to people being out for appointments/vacation/sick time, because there’s so many people that there’s always someone out for the day.

        I mean, keep an eye on your boss’ reactions if you’re worried about it, but I suspect it’ll be just fine.

    4. ashleyh

      I worked at a non-profit I LOVED and then due to relocating for my husband’s job, ended up at a position in soul-sucking Corporate America.

      For me, the biggest struggle was going from an organization that I loved, supported, and believed in whole-heartedly to a place that was just a job. I had so much passion for my job at the non-profit, whereas in my new job it was just a place where I did the work, got my check, and GTFO. My favorite part of the job was 1) we got bonuses (bonuses were illegal at my non-profit due to some tax codes) 2) I didn’t have to hire people just because their parents donated a lot of money (I’m a recruiter)

      For what it’s worth, I was not exactly happy to leave my job, but due to the relocation/furthering my husband’s career, I needed to, so I think I was a little bitter about that. Since then I’ve gotten a new job, still a regular for-profit company where making money is the main point, and I’m MUCH happier.

      Overall, the biggest adjustment for me, and something I still struggle with, is knowing that my work now doesn’t really help anyone. I mean, I help people by giving them a job, but at the end of the day my company is working to make rich people richer. It’s a little soul-crushing, but I try not to dwell on it (and instead, bask in the feeling that my job is very secure and I got a big huge bonus last year)

      1. A Girl is No One

        But, without corporates, there’s a whole lot less money for non-profits, so you could look at it as facilitating non-profits in an indirect way…that’s not entirely soul-crushing is it?

      2. Not So NewReader

        Making rich people, richer: But at least they are upfront about it. They say this is what we do. I got really sick of the higher ups in expensive suits and cars while my coworkers were on food stamps. We were supposed to be taking care of protected people, it appeared to me that we were making lots of money for a certain few people at the top. I expect to see this at [rhymes with Fall Mart] not at a place that services people with disadvantages.

      3. Library Director

        Another component to keep in mind…Unless it’s a privately owned corporation the profits are supporting non-profits, retirement funds, etc. We have an endowment fund and the interest is our major funding source. Without the corporations making money we would have had to severely limit services to the public. Resume classes? Gone. Pre-K classes and spectrum storytime? Gone.

    5. Chelsea

      As some one who has only worked for non-profits and eventually hopes to make the switch to the for profit sector, I’m curious how you leveraged this switch (I’m also worried about trading off weeks vacation for higher pay – I know this is probably inevitable, but what was your experience?). (I also can’t wait to see the responses to your questions as well!)

      1. Pontoon Pirate

        For KayDay below as well:

        I’d like to think I wrote a kickass cover letter, and it’s true that the tips here certainly helped with that, but I also paid close attention to what the job description was asking and how I could translate what I was doing at the NPO to what this new company was asking for. My line of work has a pretty direct correlation to private sector work–think IT, communications, finance, HR–so in the cover letter and in the interview process I was still able to present the kinds of outcomes a private-to-private candidate would.

        The question of being able to make the transition successfully came up a lot during the interview process, but my ability to herd cats and work with multiple stakeholders on multiple projects (a given at a nonprofit) with multiple changing priorities was something I could point to as an asset. It showed I can be fluid, think quickly and that I understand the implications of a deliverable on multiple levels.

        One of the scariest moments was the salary negotiation. I’d done the research I could, but frankly, I’ve been so underpaid for so long the idea of a rational salary range was almost unbelievable. I almost shot myself in the foot because I couldn’t believe someone would be willing to pay me private-sector rates for my work. (I suspect next week I’ll be writing in with an enormous case of imposter syndrome).

      2. Pontoon Pirate

        Also, to your question about trading vacation for pay: in this singular experience, at least, I didn’t have to give up any vacation. I lost a few days sick leave, but I never used my full allotment. If and when I’m able to conceive and carry a child: my partner and I will cross that bridge when we get there.

    6. KayDay

      I’m so happy you asked this, because I have been wondering about similar questions, too! (And thanks to those who have already answered.) And so sorry to hijack your thread, but I’d also be interested in learning about how exactly people made the switch from non-profits to private sector? What type of work were doing doing at the non-profit and what do you do in the private sector?

      I sometimes wonder if the private sector would be a better fit for me, but I feel like I’ve been living in the NGO bubble for so long that I just have no idea what it’s like and what opportunities there are outside it….

      Anyway, best of luck in your new endeavor!

    7. KellyK

      Since you’re starting a new job, I think you should quietly tell your manager you’ve got medical stuff going on that requires appointments on short notice. It’s nothing serious, but you’ll often have days where they call you Tuesday and tell you they need you back Wednesday morning. It’s worth mentioning, because fertility stuff requires *a lot* of appointments. I’ve been there, and I totally sympathize. My bosses were both understanding and didn’t pry for details.

      For optics with your coworkers, you might just casually mention as you leave early that it’s for a doctor’s appointment so they don’t think you’re slacking.

    8. BatterUp

      I jumped out of the non-profit track recently, and am never going back! I feel so much less taken advantage of in my private sector job- there is zero expectation that I am going to, for example, work scores of hours of unpaid overtime, “donate” to the org by not submitting my (sizable) mileage reimbursement, or share a hotel room at a conference with another employee. Frankly this has been an easy change and I wish I had made it years ago!

    9. Pwyll

      Biggest change for me was being able to buy the resources I need. I was doing some huge project my first week and had laid out a ton of materials on the conference room table. My boss walked past and asked me what I was doing. “Preparing the binders.” He just laughed, shook his head, and said, “No, no. Send them to Kinko’s and have them create 5 binders. You need to be focused on x.” Blew my mind.

      Same thing about a week later, I mentioned off-hand that a project would be easier with something and boss shrugged and said, “So buy it.”

      1. Blue_eyes

        This. After working as a public school teacher I’m still tickled by the unlimited supply of lamination sheets and printer ink/paper at my current job. I can pretty much ask for anything I need and my boss will approve buying it.

    10. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      I made the switch and then went back…but I went back to a state university, which felt like a nice compromise between NP and for-profit.

      I had the opposite experience as a lot of folks. My corporate job expected **way** more out of me than my NP jobs. I was working as a consultant though, so it was definitely a bit about the job I chose.

      What I appreciated then, and miss a bit now, was the ability to make a decision and move forward. There was no decision by committee or having to take something to the board for approval or ensuring you have managed to follow every last line of the oddly bureaucratic rules.

    11. lfi

      i did… last year i went from a 550 person religious non profit to a 3400 headcount employer (and our parent company is 40,000+).
      culture is different – i now sit in a cube farm whereas before i had an office. i can wear jeans to work every day. however, we have holiday parties, sometimes catered lunches, pot lucks and sometimes happy hours. NO MORE UNIONS (nothing wrong with them.. just hard to walk the union/non union line).
      even though i’m salaried, work ends as soon as i step out the door. my department has about 30-33 people in it spread out across 15 offices whereas before i was part of a department of 4.
      people are often here because of the paycheck, not the work.
      money for projects often isn’t an issue – we just deployed a new HRIS/payroll system and add on were easy to be approved, whereas in the non profit it might have been on the table for the follow year’s fiscal budget.
      i should say that my experience is a bit different because while we operate as our own individual company, our parent company dictates a lot of what we say/do/offer.

      if you want to chat more, let me know. :)

    12. FelineFine

      Speaking only about the fertility treatment part: if you start IVF you will be going for labs every other day after you start the medication. For me, I made sure to be the first patient in the clinic at 7am so I was never late for work. Luckily, my retrieval was scheduled for late afternoon and transfer for a weekend. Most clinics know that their patients work and you should be able to schedule your treatments with minimal disruption to work.

      Best of luck to you!

    13. Mike C.

      I went from a very small private business to a huge one, but there are some things I’d like to point out that were a pleasant surprise.

      There are usually lots of small and interesting perks that you wouldn’t always think about. I have access to a lot of discounts through suppliers. It’s easy to move around to different jobs. There’s lots of different types of training and education around. We have dozens of online subscriptions to all sorts of interesting but normally expensive publications. Every doctor’s office in the area knows how to deal with your insurance without a second thought. If you need resources, they are generally there. There is a sense of stability, even if things are rocky elsewhere – it’s like being on a huge boat in a storm vs. a canoe.

      At the same time, it takes a lot more effort to get that boat to make a turn, stop or get started again.

      1. Mike C.

        To compare, the difference in sizes between the two employers was about three orders of magnitude.

    14. ShanShan

      I worked at non-profit for several years and it was struggle for me moving to the for-profit sector. I was pretty close to my coworkers at the non-profit so it was hard to leave. I work at a corporation now, but it is medium sized and the owner works in the company and is a person who truly cares about the employees. That made the transition much easier. I think it would have been much harder to go to a sterile corporate environment.
      I also learned a valuable lesson in leaving, as I should have left much sooner. I was being underpaid and really had to push for raises at the non-profit. The reason I stayed so long was because of how I felt about my coworkers. After I made the leap it was easy to look back and see that was a poor personal choice for me!
      Good luck and baby dust to you!

      1. SeekingBetter

        Wow, you guys are so lucky to have found jobs that paid what it’s worth! I’ve worked for both a nonprofit and a small corporation and was always underpaid. All the jobs I have been applying to in my field, literally, pays only $2,000 more than minimum wage (both corporations and nonprofits). I work in marketing/creative by the way, and work in the Midwest but near a major city.

  5. Daisy Dukes

    The article yesterday about being emotionally detached after having to stress about checking email after hours really helped me put into words how I feel about my job.

    It’s been so much stress and such high turnover that I feel completely emotionally detached and don’t want to be here anymore :(

    A former coworker emailed me a few weeks ago saying how much better he’s being treated at his new position!

    Just putting this out there for positive vibes on my job search!

    1. kbeersosu

      Good luck! I was in a position that required being attached to my email/phone at all times for 10+ years. And I thought it was so normal. Until I took a position in the same area, but without all that. And I LOVE IT. It’s weird what we think is normal or are willing to put up with until we get the context of looking at how others work…

  6. Anxious new grad

    How do you know if you are not good at something vs. if you are still learning. How did you know what are weaknesses or things you cannot do vs. things that are challenging but you will improve.

    1. Leatherwings

      I knew I was just not good at something when I wasn’t improving a little every week or two. For me, I get better at something gradually (I don’t have lightbulb moments that often – it’s more like turning up a dimmer) and I notice that things get easier as I go, even if it’s just a teensy bit. Most people (especially new grads) aren’t great at things right away and it just takes time.

      I’m also not sure if there are too many things most people can’t do vs. deciding that the learning curve is just too steep to be worth it. Without more specifics, it’s hard to say for sure but generally I think people can improve at anything, it’s just a matter of how quickly it can reasonably be done.

    2. Newby

      That is a tough one. Most people can improve given the proper resources. I have found that when my progress plateaus it is a sign that I cannot master the skill given current resources.

    3. Bend & Snap

      I think one big indicator is whether or not you’re enjoying the process. Are you excited to learn more or is it a slog? Are you interested in the task or is it a real chore?

    4. Hellanon

      I used to get my students to do comprehensive skills inventories on themselves when they were going into job search mode. Basically, a four-column spreadsheet, asking themselves What do you like to do? What do you not like doing? What are you good at? and What are not good at? I’d ask them to keep it work/school/activity focused, and to be really honest; the idea was to look at transferable skills but also to get an idea of where they mapped onto different jobs. So, for example, I am good at sales, but relationship-based selling, not fast-beat, high-pressure sales; I hate, and am bad at, anything to do with columns of numbers or sitting & doing the same thing all day.

      What you might think about is doing a really comprehensive inventory, thinking about hobbies & activities as well, and then see where the columns intersect the things you are having trouble with at your job. Are the mistakes in areas where you know your skills are basically strong or are they in things you know you’ve never been good at? Is a lot of your day spent doing things you are good at but don’t essentially like? (these are not the same thing; I am capable of event planning but don’t enjoy it, for example) You may be able to get a good start on answering these questions, then take the results to your manager & show her what you’ve figured out, get her feedback, and come up with a plan. Keep in mind that it takes anywhere from 1-6months or more to feel like you are getting a handle on a job, even after you’ve had lots of them!

      1. UnCivilServant

        What do you do when the skills that the person is good at are also something they hate doing? I am curious mostly because that’s my perennial career delemma, my bills-paying skillset is something I’d rather not be doing (and what I’d rather be doing can’t cover my cost of living).

        1. Data analyst

          I am curious about the opposite, if you really like job, but are not the most amazing person ever for it. I like reporting, but I am wondering if I was more detailed oriented or better at math or comp sci, would I spend less time on it and be more efficient and make less mistakes.

          1. Not So NewReader

            If you understand the job overall, you can train your brain to look for ways to be more efficient and to catch more mistakes. The question is, “do you want to make this investment?”

            What I did with one overwhelming job was target 2 or 3 rough patches at a time. I would go through streamline, organize, whatever was needed, then I would move on and pick 2-3 more areas that needed beefing up. You can’t make yourself into Superworker in one day or even one week. Honestly, sometimes it’s the average people who do the best job over the long haul BECAUSE of their commitment to working at their weak areas and their commitment to non-stop learning.
            Just my opinion, but if I liked the job, I would beef up my commitment to doing better and learning more. I am convinced that one of the Biggest Secrets in work places is that it’s not our ability to do the job that makes us a superstar, it’s our willingness to take on what we do not know or understand.

        2. Not So NewReader

          My friend and I talk about this type of thing. If you love gardening and decide to open a garden shop you will learn to hate gardening. The old saying, familiarity breeds contempt.

          I don’t even know you, but I do know that 99.99% of the people out there are good at more than one thing. Think of something else that you are good at (your friends/fam can help with this). OR think about things that are tangent to what you are doing now.

          The other thing you can do is look at your life goals. Hey, you have an income stream that supports you. Can you do something during your off hours that you actually want to do? Then the job just becomes something that you do so you can do this other thing in your off hours. Sometimes Job Hatred grows if nothing is happening in our personal lives.

    5. designbot

      I’m not sure I would agree with the conclusion that weaknesses = things you cannot do. Maybe they aren’t where you want to focus your energies, but weaknesses absolutely can be improved upon. So with that understanding, I tend to just not ask myself that question, but rather “Is this really necessary for my development? If I spent my whole time focusing on (things I’m better at), would that hurt me, or free me to become a rock star in that area?”

    6. Overeducated

      One question you can ask is “is this a learned skill?” For instance, I’m not good at keeping track of lots of numbers without making mistakes, and honestly, “just enter data/do transactions/edit spreadsheets for 8 hours with no mistakes” is…not really something you can train yourself to do very easily, as I’ve learned in multiple positions over time. The best you can do is try to check it over and catch your mistakes more. So I know from experience I wouldn’t be a good bank teller or accountant. On the other hand, I have learned some higher level math and statistics, which are challenging but more conceptual, so I know it’s not a “bad at math” or “learning disability” thing, I just suck at that kind of repetitive detail work. I’d ask yourself “what kind of weakness is this: one that’s hard because of an uphill learning curve, or one that is more related to how I think?”

    7. writelhd

      Honestly, I don’t think this is a question that you can ever answer concretely, because it’s a subjective cut off in your own head and not a pass/fail state of existence. People can learn a lot of things with enough time, sometimes it’s more whether or not you feel like you are and can keep learning and are still enjoying the process, or if your experiences are so negative that you just hate what you are doing. Even that is never so clear cut, at times I both love and hate my job, and I feel like I am still learning even after 6 years. Mostly though I am really motivated and interested in my job, so that makes me want to keep doing it even though I still fall short on a lot of things that I wish I didn’t. But I can also look back and see how my learning is refining what I’m doing, like, I used to do x, but now with more experience I now do x plus y and it works out a little better and that one thing that happened really helped me see how x and y relate. Some of that you really just can’t get until you do it! Doing takes time, like, years of time. But if you can look back at what you do and see some accomplishments as well as failures, and if you can process and understand what led to the things you perceive as failures and have learned new things because of them, and especially if you have the help of a mentor or colleague with enough experience to keep your sense of what is a failure or accomplishment and what isn’t from getting completely out of whack, I’d say that’s a sign you’re not bad at what you’re doing, you just need experience. Experience is more important than innate skill. Once you start having the experiences, those become valuable.

    8. Not So NewReader

      A good boss can gauge whether you will get up to speed or not. I have trained a LOT of people* and I can watch a person and I will know if they are going to figure it out. Look around you, perhaps you can ask the boss how long the learning curve is on the job, that may spark a discussion on how you are doing or how you should be doing. Or maybe you have a cohort that would be happy to reminisce about how long it took her to learn the job.

      *I helped a friend get her driving license. Even though she had a list of worries as long a your arm, I could see that she had enough in place that she would be successful. And she was.

    9. RR

      Are you making the same mistakes, or are you making new ones? When I have new staff joining, I fully expect them to make mistakes — especially at the entry level. Most of the work world I am familiar with does not include skills one is just automatically good at; it’s very much learn on the job. For new staff, I am happy to explain, walk them through new processes, etc. I am less happy to be having the same conversation the fifteenth time.

    10. Aardvark

      If you’re able to learn from your mistakes and generalize your understanding of a situation from new experiences, then you’re still learning and you’re on the right track. If you can’t learn from your mistakes, that’s a sign that you might not be good at what you’re doing because you’re “not good at it”.

      BUT! !!!!! !!!!!

      1) You might not be good at it because you have to get good at something else first! Once you master that skill, then you can learn the new skill. My job requires some data analysis, and I know I am not as good at it as I would like to be, because I need to spend some quality time with stats…so I am “not good” at some aspects of analysis, but I can see a path to get there.

      2) You might not like it, which can make it difficult to learn. I was originally a teacher, and I was Not Good At It, partially because there were a lot of things related to teaching that I did not like doing, so I did not put enough effort into learning them, so I was therefore bad at them.

      3) You might not be “good” at it for reasons intrinsic to you. When I was teaching, my personality wasn’t a great match for teaching, because I am not a very assertive person and that made being at my job difficult
      however,
      3a) Some of these things are things you can change or things that might change over time. If you are “not good” at something now, you might realize in a few years that you are good at them because you have, for lack of a better phrase, “grown up” some in the intervening time period (I am more assertive now and would likely be better at related aspects of teaching if I went back.)

      4) You might be better at it than you think and be a conscientious person. (Google the Dunning-Kruger effect). Have you checked in with your boss about how you’re doing? Are you receiving feedback that you need to improve? Are people with similar levels of experience to you in a similar place?

  7. Church Dancing Honey Mustard

    Has anyone here gone through a merger and/or buy-out and if so, what was your experience like? Was the “new” company better than your previous one? What was good and what was bad?

    Also, has anyone’s company supposed to be bought or merged and it ended up falling through?

    1. Bend & Snap

      I’m in the middle of one of the biggest mergers of all time, and I’d love to read answers to this. It’s scary for sure.

      1. harryv

        I survived a buy out. My company was a global MNC telco that was bought out by a large European telco. As expected, a lot of layoffs came and came in waves including outsourcing and nearshoring. You simply have to lose the mentality that your group and role is vital to the org or customer and evolve. Be flexible in the tasks and responsibilities offered to you. Be that person who they choose over others who aren’t willing to evolve. I still periodically run into people from my old company and give each other that virtual “nod” to that we survived.

    2. Anon for this

      My previous company was bought three times over the years. In my experience, it depends a whole lot on what the buying company is and what their goal is.

      First buyout – the company didn’t have anything like us, we were adjacent to their space, and they wanted to add us to their “suite” of offerings. Result: we kept doing what we were doing, but now with directives to move in ways they thought made sense. We were not adjacent ENOUGH to their space, and some of the directives were problematic, but we mostly kept going on. (Think: we made custom white chocolate teapots for set of customers X, they made assembly-line teapots (dark chocolate, milk chocolate, etc., but no white chocolate) for a set of customers Y, where X and Y “seem” alike from the outside but actually don’t have much in common.)

      Second buyout – the company was an investing firm and wanted to invest. Result: actually, better than #1, because they wanted _us_ to tell them what _we_ could do to achieve their numbers. We went back to focusing on etching the white chocolate teapots the way the customer wanted, instead of trying to standardize etching to please everyone. We did, however, have a whole lot of penny-pinching measures and we were constantly on edge about making the numbers. We also had a salary freeze in this time period, but that was more due to our customers finally feeling the hit from the crappy economy.

      Third buyout – the company was a competitor that made custom etched white chocolate teapots. We had some accessories (saucers, teacups) in styles they didn’t have. They wanted our etching patterns, customer base, and accessories. Result: massive office closings, scheduled layoffs, people who weren’t scheduled to go bailing anyway. We saw the etching on the teapots, as it were.

      In all cases, the upper-upper part of management tended to vanish with the buyout; HR functions were weakened with #1 and gutted with #3. (With #1 and #2, they owned us but we were still separate, so we kept a minimal HR doing basic stuff while other things went to the owner’s HR. With #3, they absorbed us, and our HR was redundant.)

    3. kbeersosu

      No direct experience but my mom works in a field where this happens a lot. (Her company has been bought/merged/changed so many times that I have trouble remembering what her title is/name of her current company is at any given time.)

      She was a lot more prone to stress earlier in her career when this was happening because she didn’t know what to expect. But now that she’s seen a little bit of everything, she’s able to roll with the changes as they come. She always keeps her resume up to date, has an eye out for postings in case she loses her job, always is ready to negotiate a severance package. But she really just keeps working and moving, because there’s not much to do until an announcement is made. (At least that’s her motto.)

      1. SL #2

        Your mom is super smart to be always ready for those new opportunities in case the old one doesn’t work out. But I’m lucky enough to have a job where I’m secure for the next 3 years minimum thanks to guaranteed funding, and I can’t imagine living with the stress of always being in passive job-hunting mode. I feel for her!

      2. Kyrielle

        Yup! I will say that in my experience, worrying about it is the worst thing you can do. Thinking about it and planning for it are good, and as your mother notes, then just keep working and moving. Having your resume up to date in case you need it? Excellent. Spending a lot of time fretting? Not productive.

        And not healthy or comfortable. I know someone who worried every time our company was bought, or every time there was any blip or wobble in numbers or possibilities. I think in his imagination he went through layoffs/company closing/loss of jobs/failure about once a year on average (some years really bad, some years really good). Over…a run at that company of more than a decade, before it *actually happened* and the layoffs materialized.

        I remember that studies have shown that imagining the scenario and worrying about it puts us through as much (nearly as much?) stress as actually going through it, so that’s a *lot* of unneeded stress.

        When I find myself worrying about something I can’t control, I ask what I need to do reasonably ‘in case’, address that, and try hard to redirect my attention / settle myself down when I find myself worrying. I can’t stop the thoughts from occasionally cropping up. I can stop feeding them.

    4. MissMaple

      I can speak to this a bit since I’ve gone through it twice. I’ll be honest, both time it didn’t go well and I ended up leaving the company within the first year. I suppose it does depend on the health of the companies involved, but in both cases the company I was part of seemed to be the “loser” in the transaction based on the state of the books at the time.

      At the first company, they almost immediately started layoffs (in 2012). I was caught in the third round, but there have been many rounds sense. In general, morale was not particularly high before the merger, and it only went downhill from there. Almost everyone who I worked with in 2012 is no longer with the company.

      The second time this happened, I’m not sure any of us realized that our branch was in such dire straights. They announced that they were closing our location pretty quickly. In addition to that, there were serious issues combining the IT systems meaning that everything was slow and impacted our work for more than 6 months after the closure of the merger. The bureaucracy of the new combined company made it difficult to get our work done. Once again, a huge number of the people I worked with in early 2015 at the beginning of the process are no longer with the company.

      Let me know if I can answer any more specific questions. I really hope your experience is better than mine :)

    5. lionelrichiesclayhead

      My previous company was bought about a year before I left. There were initially a lot of positive feelings about this because we felt like someone was going to come in and finally fix all the issues that had been plaguing the company. This was unfortunately not true at all and things got radically worse especially when they moved all of our clients over to their finance system which was just awful. No layoffs from this merger, at least not yet and it’s been about 2 years since the company was bought, but things have actually gotten worse not better which I didn’t think was possible. So instead of layoffs there have just been masses of people quitting.

      There were certainly some positives as the company that bought us out was a Fortune 500 company and had better benefits, less expensive medical, discount on stock, etc. But unfortunately the actual environment for workers was not improved upon. To be fair, things were horrible before the buy and they just ended up getting worse. But it’s not like things started off all unicorns and lollypops before the buy.

    6. Elizabeth West

      This happened to me twice. Two different companies I worked for were bought out. The first time, nothing changed–we just had new owners and went on as usual. I ended up leaving soon after but for other reasons (tired of the more sales-related aspects of the job).

      The second time, at Exjob, we did go on as usual, but then things started to change–a huge global conglomerate bought us, and things started to get more corporate (it was a smallish business). We started to have supplier problems, etc. and dealing with the recession aftermath was difficult, though we didn’t close. Then they hired a new VP who was supposed to oversee us and a sister company. He came in and started laying people off right and left at the sister company. Then it was our turn (this was the layoff I got caught up in). He’s not even there anymore! He blew in, dumped a lot of good people, and then blew out. :P

    7. anon for this

      I have to say, one of the worst situations to be in (granted, this particular merger was an epic CF) is when you work for the acquiring firm, but your part of the business is folded into the far larger firm that was bought. In this particular case, it didn’t help that it was smack in the middle of the recession, in a notoriously stressful industry, and the firm we bought (to keep them from going out of business) has a…unique corporate culture to say the least. (If you haven’t guessed – they have probably the only corporate logo I can think of that features male genitalia.) The rainmakers stayed, and could somewhat protect their support staff, but the rest of us were driven out either by layoffs or by the utter disfunction of how the merger was handled.

    8. Bowserkitty

      My mom is going through this now. She works for a pharma company that got bought out by a bigger European company. I guess I can’t speak to the first-hand experiences, just what she has told me, but several departments were cut/outsourced to Europe and they’re going through hell in finance trying to have the European systems (and time difference) align properly with the American ones.

      She was really hoping they’d offer her a severance package but they like her too much to let her go, apparently. :/

      1. Bea W

        This happened to the Pharma company I work for. Drives me batty when I have to make a purchase through company websites and things default to euros or I search for something and for some reason it insists on bringing up everything in French.

        There were some good things about it, but mostly it’s been confusing and frustrating. I like my job a lot though so I keep my focus on that and not on the stuff that makes me lose my mind.

    9. Biff

      Kinda. My company was outsourcing the teapot glaze testing and verification process, and decided to bring a bunch of us in house. They didn’t handle it that well in the following ways:

      1. They didn’t put someone at the helm who knew how testing was supposed to work.
      2. They didn’t address in-house issues. (Some folks were not thrilled to see us arrive.)
      3. They (quote) expected us testers to be younger/hipper/bouncy. It was a weird expectation.

      They did handle it well in the following ways:

      1. They paid very decently.
      2. They gave us time to relocate.
      3. They had our spaces set up and ready to go.
      4. They made a serious effort to integrate us with the team.

    10. RedBlueGreenYellow

      We’ve been through both a buy-out and a merger in the past few years.

      The initial buy-out wasn’t pleasant. We were bought by a private equity firm that was making a first foray into our industry. There were significant layoffs that were handled poorly enough that at least half of the people management wanted to retain found other jobs and left. Efforts to decrease costs in some areas by under-paying recent grads led to huge turnover and furious customers. Morale and benefits both plummeted.

      The second buy-out/merger is going better. The new umbrella owner has a better understanding of the industry. The merged companies have complimentary strengths. Most of the business units are collaborative and want to work together to build a new company, though we’re still not on a shared infrastructure, which makes it hard to share information. (IT is trying really hard, but especially with 2 of the merged companies having been through massive layoffs and budget cuts in previous acquisitions, there just aren’t enough experienced IT folks, and some of the legacy infrastructure is a mess.) Morale is higher. Benefits are improving. We’re hiring, rather than having more layoffs. Most of us seem to be cautiously optimistic.

    11. Not So NewReader

      It is helpful to find out why the new company bought your company. That can give you a sense of how things might go. If you hear a lot of conflicting stories or the things you do hear do not make a lot of sense, you can expect it to get a little hairy before it settles. If your gut says, get out, pay attention to your gut.

    12. HKM

      I actually left my old company because of a buyout. Another company from India who had lots of money and some experience in teapot making (but generally low quality or cheap teapots) but lots of experience in teapot displays, weren’t doing very well, bought us, high end teapot makers with big name clients, and had a large proportion of our high end teapot making outsourced to India, where it would be done by people who didn’t have those skills….it didn’t end well. A lot of people didn’t have contracts renewed, more left of their own accord, and one of our other overseas sites closed entirely.
      It got better though. It took several months and they didn’t retain the employees they wanted, but the culture is improving and the share of work between sites is less absurd. I actually want to go back!!

    13. Gem

      We were acquired recently, and we’ve not seen much changes as they wanted to be able to offer our services to their existing clients (they’re print marketing, we’re a digital agency). I’ve heard grumblings of how the acquirers don’t understand digital so its frustrating to explain how and why we do what we do, but other than that, no difference.

    14. CA Admin

      I actually work for a firm that buys companies to sell or merge them, so here’s what I’ve learned from the other side.

      C-Suite and upper management are the most likely to lose their jobs. Usually within 1-2 years, unless there’s someone really talented that they want to keep on. These firms tend to have a whole roster of talented execs that they can slot into their new companies, so anyone who’s not amazing will likely get phased out. The lower level you are, the less likely that your job will be significantly changed/phased out. Admins who’ve been there for decades get kept while their bosses are shown the door.

      Your benefits will probably change next fiscal year. If they’re really great or really terrible, then they’ll probably get transitioned to whatever is industry standard.

      If it’s a merger, not just a buyout, then there will be growing pains with the new teams learning how to coordinate. This is much harder on all employees than a simple buyout, but the acquiring company has a huge incentive to make sure it happens effectively. Figure out who’s in charge or a major decision maker and do things the way that person wants them. If you have an obstructionist boss or coworkers, they’ll likely be replaced. Be the person who makes things easy and they’ll keep you around and look at you for future promotions.

      All this sounds scary, so what’s the good? When we buy companies, we come in with operations heavyweights who know how to get shit done. Between them, their top-shelf consultants, and the new management, these companies tend to do very well under our ownership–considerable better than they’d do by themselves. Processes and org structure get revamped for efficiency and effectiveness and growth tends to take off. There are lots of opportunities for employees who’re willing to embrace the changes.

    15. Kate H

      This kind of happened to me. I worked as a remote contractor for a small company for three years. The money wasn’t much but it was a nice bonus while I was at uni and I loved my work. They got bought out by a larger company and everything went downhill fast. I found out after a great deal of radio silence and a snail mail letter that wasn’t even personalized to be for contractors–it was addressed towards our clients. Despite promises that nothing would change, I spent several months waiting on a contract with my original terms. At the end of that, I was told there would be no contract and I would have to submit a resume if I wanted to be considered to stay on as a contractor. I sent my resume and never heard back.

      Damn I miss that job.

    16. Jen RO

      Yeah, a merger and a buyout (also a rumored merger that fell through). Honestly there were virtually no changes at my level (i.e. lowest), except that the merger was a good opportunity to get rid of some low performers, including one who was making life hell in my department. (I’m not in the US, and firing someone can take up to 6 months of building documentation. Said coworker was laid off after the merger – “totally not performance-related, honestly”, but everyone knew.)

      The company that owns us now introduced more processes and procedures – some good, some not. I just treat everything as the reality of corporate life…

    17. Jennifer

      I haven’t but my mom has. Her experience has been mostly good. They only canned one person–her firm had a data entry person and the chain firm that bought them didn’t do that sort of thing. They have agreed to keep everyone employed for a year. The new company actually takes them on fun trips for free. My mom loves the new boss. Her job has pretty much stayed the same but a few people were shuffled around.

      On the other hand, since everyone was a “new” employee they all went down to only getting one week of vacation a year (and this is a fairly big multi-state chain company, so this seems cheap to me) and NO sick time. Which has been a huuuuuge problem since this is the year she came down with a medical problem requiring surgery. She hasn’t been able to HAVE said surgery since they got bough September 1 and she’s still waiting. Also, she’ll be out 1-3 weeks per surgery and she needs two…and that’ s one week’s vacation. So that is really awful.

    18. Windchime

      My company is going through a buyout and it’s been really, really rough. Some departments haven’t been impacted in the least but others, (IT, Human Resources, Compliance) have been heavily impacted and people are super stressed and on edge. Many people have left and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more leave over time. So I don’t have happy stories to tell right now; maybe in another year or so it’ll be OK.

    19. Mabel

      My division (of a global corporation) was bought by a much smaller consulting firm that does exactly what we’ve been doing. Before the purchase, we were constantly told that what we do “is not a core competency” for the division. So it was nice to work for the new company where it was one of the core competencies.

  8. Aria

    Long time reader, first time poster.

    I applied for a job on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, I received an email from the hiring manager, asking about my availability to interview “in the coming days.” I promptly replied that I would be free on Monday and Tuesday. I haven’t heard back from the hiring manager, and I’m worried. Is this normal behavior? Is there a possibility that my email went to the manager’s spam folder? (I use Gmail.) Should I email again? (I’m pretty sure the answer is no.)

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Kelly L.

      Probably just moving slowly and didn’t literally mean the next few days, more like a few weeks.

    2. Audiophile

      This is pretty normal from my experience. I’ve replied and heard zip after an email or two. I’ll usually give it time before writing it off.
      I would give it through Monday and then email again, either mid Monday or Tuesday morning.

    3. designbot

      It’s only Friday morning, I wouldn’t be worried yet. Most likely she has to coordinate with multiple other calendars, including interviewers and other candidates to put together an interview schedule that works for everyone, and that can take a bit of shuffling.

    4. I'm Not Phyllis

      It happens – I wouldn’t worry yet. They may still have to schedule everyone from the panel in and are experiencing some hiccups with that.

  9. Amber Rose

    Update from last time: my supervisor is more practical than my manager and when she saw the schedule, said she will be here through August. So I do not have to do shipping or fail utterly at forklift driving.

    Sanity prevails.

    New thing: husband has until August 29 to prove he deserves to keep his job. He does contracts for health services, and has enough errors in them that his boss isn’t sure about keeping him.

    Does anyone have advice I can pass to him on not getting stressed and making more mistakes, and also on searching out and fixing the ones he makes before sending out his work?

    1. Dawn

      Have him make a checklist that he goes through for everything he sends out! Checklists have saved my butt soooo many times.

        1. Leatherwings

          I think he needs to practice this outside work. Can you or someone else close to him walk him through some documents similar to the work he does and correct them together then let him practice on his own and receive feedback?

          When I was teaching, the best structure I learned is “I do, we do, you do.” Since you’re working with an adult, I think it would be appropriate to just do “We do, you do”

          He’s probably not going to become an amazingly perfect speller overnight, but if he practices with someone who has an eye for editing he will improve and hopefully identify some strategies that will help him at work.

        2. Dawn

          Seconding the recommendation from SophieChotek below to use Grammarly. I LOVE IT. Even the free edition is super helpful.

        3. Newish Reader

          Reading backward as part of a proofreading step can help spot spelling issues. Or reading the item out loud to himself. I assume he’s already using spelling and grammar-check software tools? They aren’t perfect, but can be a good first-time pass.

        4. Scarlett

          What’s causing these errors? Is he being careless, is he rushing too much and not proof-reading, does he not know the correct way to write it, or something else? Once he figures out why it’s happening he can to make a plan for how to address it.

          If it’s rushing, he needs to find strategies to slow down, like a checklist he has to stop and consult. If it’s carelessness, a checklist (e.g. run spellcheck, read over, leave for an hour and reread, get someone to proof, or whatever procedure will help) can be helpful to make him focus on the need to check these. If it’s a lack of knowledge, he needs to be learning the correct way, so which tools and strategies will help with that? And so on.

          The biggest thing is likely to be time management so that he can put what he’s doing aside and come back to it with fresh eyes to proof and edit. It makes a big difference.

        5. Ineloquent

          Long term, have him start reading classical literature in his spare time. It eventually becomes reflexive.

    2. SophieChotek

      I agree – a checklist that he literally has to check off might be a good idea in this case.
      (If you mean that type of error – something missing, a clause not correct).

      For spelling/grammar, there are other programs like Grammarly, having your computer read it aloud to you, reading the contract sentence by sentence backward (aloud) and those types of tricks, but I assume you mean other types of errors.

      And I know its hard to not be stressed in such a situation…not much good advice…just the old cliche about trying not to be stressed, slowing down,…

      If it’s the same type of error, maybe trying to discover why he keeps making it might help reset the mindset…

    3. animaniactoo

      Put the contract aside for an hour or 2, go back and review it, put it aside for another hour or 2, go back and review it again.

      If he can put it aside for a day before going back to review, all the better.

      The goal is to create a break between what his mind is seeing and thinking is “right” on information he’s just seen, vs something he might pick up on later because he hasn’t just seen it/been working on it.

      Being your own proofreader is never the best method, but when you have to do it, you have to work in ways to make yourself approach it again as “new” and “unseen”.

      1. DG

        THIS IS HUGE!

        This has saved my butt so many times. When I get to the end of the day and I’ve been staring at the same report for hours, I’ll close it and then open it up first thing in the morning with fresh eyes.

    4. Temperance

      Instead of doing one from start to finish and sending, he should take a break and move on to a different contract, and THEN go back and review.

    5. Liane

      *Is there some sort of preview function in the software he uses? When I edit my own articles, I use WordPress’s preview, which pull it up as it will appear on the webpage. Since it looks so different I can pick up my errors, whereas in the working page I will miss most of them. If there’s no preview in his program perhaps he can change the font type, color or size temporarily?
      *If he can read them aloud or have the computer do it without bothering others that is a great idea.
      *I haven’t tried going backwards through the article, but it makes sense it would work, so give it a try.
      *Even if he uses spellcheck &/or grammar check, he still needs to read it over. There are a lot of things they don’t pick up. Spellcheck can’t tell if you used the wrong homophone (to/too/two) or if the typo just happens to be a real word (you typed can instead of cane or hag instead of had).

    6. EmmaLou

      So glad you are not hopping onto the forklift because that was just insane.

      My best advice for your husband is good sleep, healthy food (especially breakfast and lunch) and escaping during his off time. I mean when he gets home, to do whatever it is that doesn’t make him think about work: movies with explosions, reading Hitchhiker’s Guide, listening to old George and Gracie shows, building model fairy houses, making Downton Abbey costumes (okay, probably not the last ones). My husband tends to make more mistakes when he’s tired and feeling pressured. Crazy mistakes that he’d never normally make.

      For me, it’s time of day. I am more alert and do my best work in the morning. So I’d check over things then. Especially anything I’d done in the middle afternoon.

      Wishing him the best! It sucks to make mistakes and then get pressured over never making mistakes!

      1. EmmaLou

        Oh! I also find that having someone read out loud what I’ve done helps or if that’s not feasible, I try to read it quietly aloud myself.

    7. Da Bizness

      I use the free version of grammarly but I really like spellcheckplus.com. It’s completely free and he can just copy and paste the contract and go through the errors. The good thing about grammarly is you can install it on your web browser and it automatically checks whatever you type into your browser. So if he installs grammarly and then copy and pastes the text into spellcheckplus.com he is killing two birds with one stone because both will check for his mistakes. I suggest using 2 because they aren’t perfect and he wants to catch as many mistakes as possible.

    8. Troutwaxer

      Is it possible that your husband is an undiagnosed/untreated dyslexic? That would both give you a treatment plan and some legal recourse under the ADA.

  10. Anon E. Muss

    A coworker (Jenn, contractor), had a chat with another coworker (Lydia, regular employee, more senior than Jenn) about Lydia’s treatment of Jenn. Lydia openly admitted that she was treating Jenn poorly but blamed it on stress and a busy environment. Lydia then admitted she not only treated Jenn poorly, but me (also a contractor, most junior), too (Jenn and I have discussed this but Jenn did not bring me up in the conversation). Lydia reiterated that she was aware of her treatment of us (though said nothing of how she treated others in the office, which Jenn and I have observed to be friendly and respectful) but that she wasn’t going to do anything about it and basically we had to deal with it. Lydia has apparently also heard this feedback from others in the past.

    We have no idea what to do. HR is for regular employees. The manager in the office is friendly with Lydia (and has treated Jenn and I similar to how Lydia has though not to such an extreme and she’s extremely busy so we don’t see her taking this information in a measured way as she regularly becomes panicked with normal duties of her job) so we expect her to side with Lydia who has been around far longer than we have. Our contracting agency is an option, but we’re concerned they’ll (a) ask us why we waited so long to speak up (Lydia’s pattern of behavior is subtle and deals largely in tone and in other difficult things to prove; her admission may or may not be worth anything), (b) side with their client (the organization we work at and, by extension, Lydia), or (c) remove us, either in our interest or otherwise (super unlikely, but you never know). Contacting our agency is also problematic because it’s really not a matter in which an email would do and there are few truly private opportunities. When asked how things are going, it’s always done within the office where others can hear, so neither Jenn nor I are comfortable speaking up at that point.

    Any ideas? (I’m at least a little comforted that those around me agree Lydia’s behavior is “unheard of,” including her agreeing that she’s awful and her subsequent unwillingness to do anything about it.)

    1. Liana

      Actually, I’d still recommend going through your contracting agency. You can always reiterate that you’d prefer to stay with the company, you like working there, etc, but are having a hard time with one of the employees. Any chance you can set up a private phone call ahead of time, and take the call either outside or in a stairwell?

      1. Anon E. Muss

        That’s what we’re leaning toward. I hadn’t thought of setting up a call ahead of time, though I wish there was a better way to have both of us on the line so we’re both informed. I’ll have to think on that some more. Thank you.

        1. Liana

          Hmm. Any chance you can coordinate a time that works for both you and Jenn, and then take the call on speakerphone in your car or in a conference room with a closed door?

          1. Anon E. Muss

            We take public transit to work. A conference room might work, but it may also look suspicious.

            1. Dynamic Beige

              Lunch time. Find somewhere close by that’s reasonably quiet — parking lot, park, local business/restaurant — and use your cellphone. It may take a few days to find somewhere that works and if you’re not usually going out to eat, doing it for a few days to enjoy the weather/take a walk/run some errands will cover it.

              Although honestly, if Lydia is such a pill and admits it, she is not going to change. If no one above her has noticed or is interested in telling her to knock it off, she’s not going to have any reason to and might get more waspish once you report her (not saying you shouldn’t, just that it might have the opposite effect). Your best bet might be just counting the days until the contract ends and then getting out of there.

              Alternately, you could try killing her with kindness but that can take a lot out of someone.

    2. Adam V

      > Our contracting agency is an option, but we’re concerned they’ll (a) ask us why we waited so long to speak up

      For that, you can tell them that you waited until you could speak to Lydia yourselves to see if she’d fix it. Now you have, and she admitted that she probably wasn’t going to change her behavior, so now you’re looking for other alternatives.

        1. Anon E. Muss

          It’s likely they wont; I’m a bit of a worrier and like to be prepared for (read: panicking about) all possible outcomes. Thanks for the reality check. :)

    3. Longtime Manager

      You have described a situation in which Lydia treats you and Jenn “poorly”, but you have not stated that it is any form of harassment and if you are a regular reader of this site, you know that poor working conditions exist, but harassment involves specific actions. If it truly is the case that you are simply being treated poorly then I would not make it a big deal. A simple written statement by both of you to your supervisor in your company just to get it on the record is the proper thing to do. I would then follow up to see if your company supervisor forwarded the statement to your company HR for their awareness.

    4. stevenz

      I wouldn’t leave HR out of the process. Lydia is their problem, so if she’s the troublemaker, they need to know about it. And I can’t imagine they won’t want to help you, too.

  11. NJ Anon

    Hi all
    Need advice. Interviewed for a job on 6/10 for a job that would be a higher level, 20k more per year and a 10 minutes commute. At the end the interviewers said it would be a long process, was I ok with that? Of course I said yes. Haven’t heard anything since then. I am going on vacation first week in August. Should I let them know? It’s only a week and I’ll have access to email and phone.

    1. NJ Anon

      Forgot to mention next step is second interview with board members. Waiting to hear if I “made the cut.”

    2. Sarasaurus

      I would let them know. It’s useful information for them to have, and you can just frame it as a helpful heads up.

    3. Leatherwings

      Eh, I wouldn’t bother. If they call you for a second interview, you’ll presumably be able to email or call them back while on vacation and explain that you need to schedule it for a week out. Considering that the process is lengthy on their end, I can’t imagine that being an issue.

      1. Jadelyn

        Eh…speaking as someone who gets stuck with the occasional bizarrely glacial recruiting pace, especially for high-level or executive positions, it tends to be a hurry up and wait kind of thing, mainly because of scheduling so many other executives/board members/etc. to try to be in the same place at the same time for interviews. So we might interview someone, then sit for six weeks, then all of a sudden some Thursday afternoon the CEO is like “okay we’re ready for interviews next Monday and Tuesday, set it up!” Unfortunately, like it or not, the pace for a recruiting process tends to be set by the employer, not the candidate, and one part being lengthy doesn’t mean the next part will be the same.

        So I would say do let them know you’ll be out of town that week, so they don’t get blindsided by “the only week we’ve got all the board members available to interview, we find out that you’re out of town, oops”.

    4. OlympiasEpiriot

      I assume you were in contact after to thank them. Were you planning on keeping your phone on? If so, don’t bother telling them.

      Keep up with the interviews, though. Good luck!

    5. Newby

      Don’t bother telling them in advance since they will be able to contact you. If they contact you during that week and want to schedule something right away you could tell them about your vacation at that point.

    6. BRR

      If it’s not an inconvenience to have access to phone and email I wouldn’t. If they contact you and want you to interview that week you can just let them know you are out of town and when you are available.

    7. K.

      Since you’ll be somewhat plugged in during your vacation, there’s no need to let them know you’ll be away. If they call you when you’re away, you can simply say you’re out of town until [date] and ask to schedule the interview after you get back.

    8. Not So NewReader

      I would let them know. I just went through a similar situation but our board was hiring. We knew it would be a long process. A couple people said they would be away, we were glad to know that they would be back and we had not lost them because of our loooong process. The vacation itself did not weigh into our final decision at all, we just did not want to lose candidates. I vote for telling them, “I will be gone from August x-y. But I will be back in town on August z. I just wanted to let you know I am still interested and I am available by phone or email if you wish to contact me.”

  12. Audiophile

    I started my new job this week and a lot of things are giving me pause and setting off red flags.

    I’ve discovered a portion of my job is being done by someone’s daughter. Making me think, I’m unlikely to be given this task. My desktop isn’t completely setup leaving the other half of my job inaccessible.

    I also unfortunately overheard some pay related issues but have been assured that a check will be issued to me in a timely fashion.

    At this point, I’ve reopened my job search. Is this bad form? I haven’t put this on my resume, but part of me feels guilty for reopening my search so quickly.

    1. SophieChotek

      Oh, no!
      No, I don’t think it’s bad form.
      And as to your resume– leave it off — as AAM always says, it’s a marketing document, not a list of every job you’ve ever worked — if it winds up being a really short stint — many might not notice….

    2. Dawn

      “…overheard some pay related issues but have been assured that a check will be issued to me in a timely fashion.”

      RULE #1- If they can’t pay you, RUN AWAY!

      Not bad form at all to leave a job if it was completely misrepresented to you AND they are having money troubles!

      1. Graciosa

        It’s a fair rule, and I agree with it – but what was listed in the original email doesn’t support that.

        Overhearing some pay related issues could be something like a delay in paying overtime (because the employee didn’t submit it until the following pay cycle), or an employee providing an incorrect routing number for the bank account (yes, it happens) or a host of other things that have nothing to do with the company’s financial stability or pay practices.

        If there’s an actual failure to pay, I’m totally on board and no one would expect anyone to stay under those circumstances. Nor would the individual have any issues with explaining the early departure – this would be totally understandable. I’m just not sure that’s what’s happened here.

        1. Audiophile

          Gracisoa,

          Let me explain a little more.

          It came out on my 3rd day that w4s weren’t submitted to the offsite bookkeeper and would likely hold up pay. While this is easy enough to solve, there seemed to be no sense of urgency. I wasn’t going to be the only one affected by this, the new employees who began before me would also be.

          1. DoDah

            This happened to me at current employer. I wasn’t paid for a month. The controller’s admin forgot to submit my paperwork. It was the first in a long line of red flags. I’ve been here a year (and frantically job-hunting).

            1. Audiophile

              I wasn’t paid for a month at oldjob, but that was because of start date and the way their pay periods worked. Not related to indifference or paywork issues.
              Thankfully, I still had a few checks coming in from the job I’d just quit.

          2. Observer

            That’s a red flag. Not as bad as “they don’t have the money to pay”. But still. Do they realize that delaying your pay is utterly illegal. They can’t even do that if you were the one who failed to submit your paperwork. If THEY messed up, that’s TOTALLY and COMPLETELY on them to make sure you get paid on time.

            So, the error is a problem. But mistakes happen. The lack of urgency makes it really worrisome.

            1. Audiophile

              The lack of urgency is what concerns me. When I say overheard it, I mean the conversation actually took place in front of me, but no one was directly speaking to me.

              1. stevenz

                I wouldn’t read much into it. They may sound like it isn’t urgent because it’s out of their hands to influence and they’re smart enough to not get stressed about things they can’t do anything about.

                As for being in the job market… we’re *always* in the job market.

    3. Graciosa

      If the “red flags” include an assumption that you will have a problem with part of your job – even though you haven’t had one yet – because someone else has been handling it – that’s a bit of a leap.

      You’re also assuming because of an overheard conversation that you’re going to have payroll issues – even though it hasn’t actually happened.

      Your desktop setup isn’t complete yet – which isn’t great form, but has been known to happen even in my Fortune 100 company.

      I’m seeing a lot of fear about what *might* happen in the future, but not a lot of actual red flags. It sounds like you’re panicking in a job you haven’t even held for a whole month yet, and without a lot of concrete cause.

      You can certainly leave this job off your resume if you panic yourself right out the door, although you will need to include it on applications that require a complete job history (as ours do). Your extraordinarily short tenure would not impress me unless you had a much better explanation than you’ve given here.

      The smarter course would be to give it a little time – like a few months – and see if anything bad actually happens.

      1. Audiophile

        I understand what you’re saying. I can’t really afford to give it a few months. If I’m not getting regular paychecks, I have to look for something else. This is my only other job, though I’m regularly looking for part time work, I have nothing else to supplement income or benefits.

        I’m not worried about having an issue with my job in my ability to perform, I’m worried that I won’t be given the opportunity to perform the task, based on the fact that the person who currently performs it is ED’s daughter. So chances of her being stripped of these duties is slim.

        The desktop setup I’ve managed to deal with, either having people email me or print things out for me to work on. Anything beyond that, isn’t available right now, as everything is held on a server and I don’t have access to it yet. (No IT here, so big boss has to do this and hasn’t had time yet.)

        There are issues beyond this but I was trying to keep it short.

      2. designbot

        To me though that’s the difference between a red flag and an actual full-blown problem. What Audiophile’s listed are genuine red flags–indications that things are unlikely to go well as things progress. If she waits until they are full-blown problems, then she misses the opportunity to just bounce on as though this never happened.

    4. Bob Barker

      I did the same thing a couple years back. Searched for what felt like forever, found a good job, liked the people, got job. Started new job, and the third day I was in the office witnessed two close coworkers arguing rancorously in a staff meeting. Like, guys, wait till I’ve been here a week, will you?

      Sign of things to come. It was a wretched hive of backbiting, conspiracy, and incompetence. I re-opened my job search within a month, and was gone at 4 months.

      I still list that position on my resume, because I went from Org 1 to Related Org 2, and it would be weird to pretend I hadn’t. But I have the great boon of having been formally laid off from Org 1 (being on layoff notice helped me get hired at Related Org 2), so I can pretend that I didn’t get hired and want to quit immediately. Even though that was absolutely the truth.

    5. Dynamic Beige

      I’ve discovered a portion of my job is being done by someone’s daughter.

      Is she a full-time hire or a summer student? Also, there was a letter here recently by someone who had been hired by their parent and they hated it, they were looking for a way out. I’ve seen some situations where a company had someone on-staff who did a certain job, but they weren’t up to snuff on it, so they brought in someone else who did have those skills.

      One would think that companies would have their crap together when it comes to onboarding someone new, but that isn’t always the case. As a freelancer, I’ve cooled my heels for hours in some places and they knew I was coming and that it was time-sensitive. It’s been a week. While it’s a good idea to keep your eyes open, and I’d say there’s no harm in continuing to discreetly keep the job search up just in case, don’t go pulling the rip cord just yet, this could just be some turbulence.

      1. Audiophile

        She’s not a full time hire, she’s part time to my knowledge.
        There doesn’t seem to be any timeline for her to transition out. And now it’s come out that she’s creating a plan through at least the end of the year. That likely means I won’t have these responsibilities until January. That’s a long time to wait, at least it is in my opinion.
        I’m one of only four full time staff members.

        1. Aussie Teacher

          Ask! Go to your manager and say, “I’ve noticed that some of the duties of this position are being done by Daughter. Is there a timeline in place for handover of these duties?” Just be direct and this should get you the information you need to make an informed decision.

    6. Not So NewReader

      Right off the bat, I have to say everyone is different AND only you see the full story.
      Based on what you say here, I’d ride it out a bit longer. They hired you for a reason, they were aware of these other things and they still hired you. Have you talked to the boss about any of this? Maybe there is something you can do to help get your desktop set up. Ask about another person doing half the work you were hired to do.

      Part of your panic could be the lack of facts. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by finding out what the rest of the story is. Let us know how it goes.

      1. Audiophile

        Only big boss can set up desktop, no IT. No HR. No accountant, only a bookkeeper who works offsite and part time, which contributed to the paycheck issues.

        There’s no timeline for daughter to leave and unfortunately I can’t ask. I’ve been told by manager that, who’s assistant executive director, that she will speak to big boss about daughter. But from everything I know so far, she’s staying through at least Dec.
        I’ll wait till I’m back from being away and see if my desktop is at least set up and if I have a paycheck waiting. Then take it from there.

        1. Undine

          There’s no harm in continuing to look. Remember, applying for a job doesn’t mean you have to interview; interviewing for a job doesn’t mean you have to take it. If you see something you like, you can still apply — chances are good you won’t hear back for a month anyway.

  13. OlympiasEpiriot

    We are on Summer Hours, so the office is relatively quiet today. After getting some time sensitive items wrapped up, my To Do List Thing for the day is to write a follow-up e-mail to the partners who conducted my annual review I described in the “What to do if you are being paid less than male co-workers” thread.

    I posted it a day late and a dollar short, so I’m dropping it here again for fun.

    Well, I had my review a few days ago and, no, I didn’t address it with your — very sensible and courteous — model sentences.

    Two partners did my review…first time ever that no department supervisor was present. They’ve changed their procedure. I think I was triggered by being told in two sentences that were nearly back-to-back how much they value my ‘site presence’ and capacity to manage rogue and even dangerous contractors into fixing problems on site (this is frequently as the sole representative of my company on a site with potentially multiple code and OSHA violations, removed from easy public access) BUT I’m seen as ‘abrasive by people’.

    My response was (name changed to not give away things except how I was feeling at that moment) “Really? Do you mind me asking if this was also relayed in Gunnery Sergent Hartman’s review? Because, if it wasn’t, this is clearly a DOUBLE STANDARD.”

    A bit later, I segued away from a bizarre string of sentences on their using the word “happy” by saying “…and, well, since you have already established that I’m seen as ABRASIVE, I would like to take this opportunity to bring up my compensation…”

    I’d like to add that after Partner #1 who can’t keep a thought in his head for more than a minute…good thing he’s so smart or he’d suck at engineering…Partner #2 leaned over and said “Just so you know, *I* don’t find you abrasive.” It was interesting watching those two kinda contradict each other on several things. This place is so disfunctional.

    1. KM110

      Woof! That is so dysfunctional. I was once also told I was abrasive…for asking about my future with a company (I was an intern). Needless to say, they used that “abrasiveness” to not offer me a full time position come review time.

      Good luck!

      1. OlympiasEpiriot

        I’m a very male-socialized woman. I’ve gotten this stuff my whole life (really…like parents being called to my school to answer charges that they aren’t doing their JOB as parents to make me be a lady when I was in F*^&ing kindergarden), I can’t change, so, since some people seem to feel it and others don’t, I just go with it. I also try and act like I am not expecting that this name-calling is interfering in my life. I know I’m already guilty of Breathing While Female.

        My problem here is that there was nothing I could ever do to make Partner #1 not be bothered/intimidated/irked by me. And he’s got some power. I’ve got a couple friends in the Partner Suite, but, he’s the one who runs the HR aspect.

      2. Cafe au Lait

        What is with “asking = doing something wrong.” Years ago, I worked at McDonalds. I loved the drive-through window, and was really good at it. So, I’d ask my manager if I could work the drive-through during my shift.

        If I did that, then my manager would reassign me to the front counter, or food prep. It was bizarre.

        1. Not So NewReader

          When I returned to college, one of the courses I took that required team work was also being taken by my friends. I asked the prof, a former corporate executive, if we could be on a team together. He said, “Since you asked, the answer is no. Just because you asked.”

          I had a hundred comebacks for that remark but I said nothing. What I really wanted to know is what was he trying to teach in that moment? What did he expect me to learn from this situation? I know what *I* learned but I just wondered where he thought he was going with that.
          This is the same guy who at the very end, the moment of truth, gave me some advice on finishing the project. I followed his advice. Then he said, “What did you do THAT for?” Because you said to do X. “I never said that.” More learning, but I bet it was not the type of learning HE intended.

          1. Tex

            Theory: Maybe was trying to get you out of the habit of asking permission….trying to transition you from school mode to corporate mode.

            On the other hand, your second anecdote makes me think he is capricious.

    2. AnotherAlison

      I don’t like that feedback at all. I do think it’s one of those typical things women in business, and particularly women who are in historically male roles deal with.

      I don’t know how things resolved for you in the review, but if you are still annoyed by the comment, I would go back to them and open up a broader conversation on this. Then figure out where to go. We recently started initiatives for women in our division to address this kind of crap, and some of the things we are going to be doing is teaching the rest of the employees how to give feedback to women*. I think you’re going to come out ahead if you take their comment and 1.) figure out if you are inappropriately abrasive (just because someone else is and didn’t get that feedback doesn’t mean your not being a jerk), and 2.) learn how to calmly react and educate them.

      It’s also worth explaining why you have to use harsh tactics with some contractors, and possibly ask them if they have suggestions for things you could do differently. Men may not understand that another man in a management role simply has to ASK or DIRECT someone to do something and it gets done, while a woman sometimes has to repeat herself 4 times.

      *I have no idea if this is going to get results or not, but we have to many women being called “bitch” or whatever. Guys need to learn to knock it off, and male sponsors and managers need to learn to back up their female managers and leads under them. I’m finding men don’t know any of the women-in-engineering problems we’ve been dealing with since middle school. You’d think they do, but they don’t. I’m willing to give it a shot.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot

        Honestly, I’m more amused (but pissed in the global sense as we have very few women, have a high turnover rate for the women who do come to work here, and have few of the presenting female interns apply — this being modeled onto a 15+ year veteran of the firm is not helping them be attractive to younger women) about the word, especially since it was pretty obvious that Partner #1 was stating his opinion behind “people”. It isn’t the contractors who complain. I mean, yeah, they complain, but it’s construction, our position is frequently adversarial, and who cares. Their complaints about personality don’t matter if they’ve been messing up and I had to read them the Riot Act. I’m looking out for our clients’ concerns and my legal duties.

        The review is really more of a starting point for this year. Nothing was resolved. I have a lot of history here, there’s a lot of bad in the firm as far as people-management issues; one of the things that really shows that up was how I had not gotten a particular ‘privilege’ I had requested (think ‘a resource’, call it Resource X) several years ago. It was not ridiculous and would not have cost anything. Not giving it to me actually was interfering with my work, I had made two polite requests for Resource X through the proper channels. That particular Partner #1 was at a printer with my one day and brought it up, making a big deal about how he was giving me Resource Xbeta. He showed me Resource Xbeta and I, unfortunately, told him off. Elevated voice, vulgarities, the whole 9 yards. Only thing I didn’t do was make it personal.

        The next day after the weekly staffing meeting, my department supervisor came to my desk and said “Hilts, we (meaning Supervisor of Tea Pot Bowls and Supervisor of Tea Pot Lids) made it clear to Partner #1 that the firm needs to do a better job of smoothing employees’ work life. We got his agreement to give you Resource X. I recommend staying late tonight to take control of it before he changes his mind. Your colleague Hendley is also staying late for his Resource X.”

        In a normal company, someone losing their temper like that would probably get them fired. In this case, someone stood up for me and got me (that totally reasonable thing) I had wanted AND got someone who hadn’t asked for it, but deserved it, his.

        I had/have my reasons for staying. But, ….argh…. and I’m supposed to be mentoring younger engineers.

        [Bonus points for anyone who gets my names references.]

      1. OlympiasEpiriot

        No. But, I’m direct. I have found over my lifetime (I am middle aged) that this is interpreted by some as being belligerant, abrasive or just downright unladylike. For a while, they seemed to be dying off. But, I’ve met some very young guys who seem to have been indoctrinated with antediluvian ‘values’ somehow.

        Any other questions? :-)

  14. B

    I am searching for a position somewhere else but in the meantime…does anyone have advice on how to deal with a supervisor that is a “Do as I say not as I do” type or is it one of those just know this is who he is?. The other wrinkle in all of this is if I say the sky is blue he will automatically say the sky is orange. But if he says the sky is blue and I say the sky is orange I am absolutely out of mind, don’t know what I am talking about. There is also no possibility of discussing this with him, or going to anyone higher, as he would say I am completely in the wrong and upper management is lackluster at best. Combat this with me being a high performer I am held to a much higher standard than others in the company. As you may imagine, that is very frustrating and annoying especially combined with the previous supervisor world.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Ugh, I had a professor like this in college once. Very annoying. I needed the class and didn’t want to take it again, so I just did what I was told and endured it until I could get out. I’m sorry you have to deal with this guy.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Yeah. I would say to get everything he wants you to do in writing somehow. If he tells you to do X, send an e-mail about X. Or take notes as he’s talking and repeat back to him what you’ve heard. Frame it that you’re trying to improve your ability to execute his tasks. “So to wrap up, you asked me if I would Orange Sky this project and…” “Orange sky?!? The sky is blue!” Make a big show of scratching orange out and writing blue in. “Blue sky this project and then deal with the teapot handle issue by next Tuesday. I’ll get started right away.”

        Transfer/new job. He’s not going to change.

  15. London

    I may be resigning soon but my boss is brand new to the company. Do I still resign to them or should I pull in their boss too who’s been supervising me for a few months?

    1. Liana

      I just went through this! I gave my notice to my direct manager, who was new (had only been in the role for 6 weeks). I’d stick with that – I don’t think anyone is going to find fault with it, and you can always offer to tell her boss’ boss directly if New Boss would prefer. Generally speaking, I’m a fan of sticking to the chain of command unless there’s a clear and obvious need to jump it.

    2. Lauren

      I have a similar question. I *might* be resigning soon from a position, where I am contracted to work for an agency through a staffing agency. Also, I work evenings and weekends, while the boss works days, so we are rarely at work at the same time. It would make sense to me to talk to the boss, rather than shift supervisor, because she is the one who handles all of the HR related stuff. Do I call her and set up a meeting? Do I give notice over the phone?

      1. Partly Cloudy

        In your situation, I would say contact the staffing agency. They’re supposed to be the middle man for this kind of stuff.

    3. Partly Cloudy

      I agree with Liana’s advice.

      Just to add to that, could you arrange a meeting with both of them at the same time without arousing suspicion? I did this when I resigned from my last job – I wanted to give notice to my official boss and another person with whom I had sort of an unofficial dotted line relationship (they were at the same level as each other). Granted, I got lucky in terms of their availability with no notice, but I asked one to come with me to the other’s office. I’m sure Person A figured out what was going on during the walk to Person B’s office, but instead of a day or two of speculating, it was more like 30 seconds.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I would give my notice to my new boss.

      The only exception for me would be if I had a toxic boss or a confused individual who I did not fully trust. In that case, I would give a copy to HR or whoever.

  16. Sarasaurus

    I have a bit of an odd question re: breastfeeding in front of coworkers. My 10 person team and I are having a little cookout/party at a park to celebrate the end of our busy season. This is a completely optional social event and is outside of work hours. Some people are bringing their partners and/or kids, but not everybody. I’m planning to bring my baby son, who I nurse. Would it be strange or inappropriate to breastfeed my baby in front of my boss and coworkers? I’m very pro public breastfeeding in general, but something about being with colleagues makes it feel different to me. Would you be weirded out if a coworker started breastfeeding in front of you? I could certainly wear a cover or bring a pumped bottle, but those are both a little annoying and inconvenient for various reasons. Maybe I’m way overthinking this.

    1. Batshua

      It depends on what you’re wearing, maybe? There’s ways to breastfeed without a cover that seem more … modest isn’t the word I’m going for, but less “HEY LOOK I HAVE BOOBS” and more “nothing to see here, just feeding my baby”. I think this depends both on the top and the nursing bra, but this is just my observations as outsider, having never breastfed in my life;

    2. AnotherFed

      Yes, that would be weird. It’s like the bikini question earlier this week – something that would be fine if it weren’t a work event, but not so good in a work context.

      1. Sarasaurus

        Yeah, that’s sort of what I was thinking. Do you think wearing a nursing cover would make it better or should I just skip it altogether and bring a bottle?

        1. Newby

          Most people would probably be ok with a nursing cover, but if bringing a bottle is an option you probably want to err on the side of caution. It’s one of those things that shouldn’t be a big deal but often is.

    3. Leatherwings

      I am also very pro-public breastfeeding, but it might make people slightly more comfortable if you stepped to a bench away from the cookout area for a few minutes to do it. Should you have to? No, but I think that’s just the reality of it.

      1. Friday Brain All Week Long

        I’m SUPER pro public breastfeeding, but was actually a bit shy about doing it myself. Plus I had one of those babies that would take the cover off each and every time and was distracted by everything. So I always went somewhere private to nurse and if I was in your shoes, I’d probably do the secluded under-a-tree thing too. Which you should do for YOUR comfort and your baby’s, not for anyone else’s.

        And FWIW I wouldn’t bat an eye over a breastfeeding coworker, nor would my husband. But not all people are normal like us as Mila Kunis just pointed out this week.

        1. Overeducated

          I agree with all the others on this option. I am super in favor of normalizing breastfeeding, and in almost any social context I have not hesitated to do it in front of people, but work people are the one exception, just because unfortunately if someone else is irrationally uncomfortable with it, that’s the one place where it affect you more negatively. I would just make a slight effort to go somewhere less visible, in whatever way works for you and your baby (mine also wouldn’t do covers, and sometimes got too distracted around people to breastfeed anyway).

    4. OlympiasEpiriot

      I wouldn’t be weirded out, but I’m female and nursed a baby. I didn’t do it in front of most, though, not out of decorum but because he was SO easily distracted. He liked settling down to eat somewhere it was peaceful and seemed to benefit from me not interacting with anyone at the time. So, if yours is at all like that, bring him along but go find a nice spot under a tree away from the others to nurse.

      Ymmv.

    5. Sarasaurus

      Forgot to mention: we are all women, if that makes a difference (though I think a few are bringing their husbands/boyfriends)

      1. Kyrielle

        That does make a difference, yes. In your shoes, I’d be tempted to bring a cover in case I felt more comfortable using it; otherwise, I’d just say, “excuse me, I need to feed (him/her)” and step away. If there was a bench I could sit at facing away from the gathering, I might do that, or under a tree, or the like. But a little distance away, so that anyone who is uncomfortable with it can pretend it isn’t happening / ignore it. I’d only use the cover if *I* felt more comfortable that way (but I’d want it with, because that would depend on what the space options were, who else was there, etc.).

        With my firstborn after 6 months or so, I wouldn’t have brought the cover, but that’s because he haaaaaaaaaaaated (or maybe looooooved?) the things and responded to them by grabbing them and flapping them around while he ate. Not only were they not covering him, he was literally almost waving a flag. Everyone had to look. >.<

        1. Elizabeth West

          LOL that’s hilarious. “LOOK EVERYBODY I’VE GOT MY NOM NOM FLAG!”

          I’d probably just bring a cover if it were me–and the baby didn’t do this, haha.

          1. Kyrielle

            It IS hilarious. It’s more hilarious now that I’m not living it. I actually had someone tell me I should ‘cover that up’ which besides being holy whoa rude, was so NOT possible. ‘that’ (at least, the baby portion of it) had *no desire* to be covered up, and had arms and hands with which to express this. The truth is I personally would’ve been more comfortable with the cover. If it had, you know, been allowed to function as intended by the other party to the transaction. As it was? Oh, heck, no.

            (I was sort of stunned in the moment, and said something about he’s hungry and I’m not obligated. Which, I suppose, is better than nothing, but really, I should’ve regaled her with the tale of what he did with covers. You think *this* isn’t discreet enough for your tastes, ma’am?)

        2. Library Director

          Oh yes, my youngest son was like this. No covers (said in my best Edna Mode voice)! I used try and color coordinate our clothes (he was in a yellow onesie I wore a yellow top) so he blended in while eating. I never thought of this, but maybe a portable, shade umbrella would give shade and privacy.

    6. Red

      A cover would reduce the likelihood of commentary, but I think generally your comfort and the bebe’s comfort trump, because it’s not like if someone else is uncomfortable talking to you while you’re breastfeeding, they can’t go talk to someone else for a few minutes until you’re done. I mean, I wouldn’t suggest whipping off a t-shirt and sitting there fully topless while bebe nurses, because doing THAT in front of your boss could definitely be awkward, but that would be because “topless in front of boss is generally inappropriate,” not anything to do with the breastfeeding in general. Put half a moment’s thought into getting bebe settled without flashing people, be prepared to graciously let people go “Oh, uh, I want to go say hi to Jane, I’ll be back in a few minutes” and you’ll be fine.

    7. Liana

      Hmm, I think I’m with Leatherwings and OlympusEpiriot on this. FWIW, I wouldn’t have an issue with seeing a coworker breastfeed – babies gotta eat, and I’m all for increasing acceptance of public breastfeeding. But if there’s any way you’d be able to step away and nurse behind a tree/in a secluded spot, I think that’s a nice compromise. A nursing cover would also work well, but I know some babies don’t deal well with that.

    8. Apprehensive

      I can throw in my two cents as a 30 year old childless woman. I am totally pro-breastfeeding. Would I still be slightly surprised if you whipped out a boob mid-sentence at a cookout? Maybe, but I’d personally be fine with it after I processed for a second. I may have a slight hiccup in carrying on a conversation with you while you do it (because it is not something I ever really encounter), but if you carried on as if nothing was out of the ordinary, I would, too. Would I be fine with you discreetly breastfeeding in a chair somewhere? Of course! I can’t speak for everyone, but I say (for the sake of any embarrassed co-workers), just be discreet but totally go for it.

    9. matcha123

      I saw my mom breastfeed my sister when she was a baby, so I’m no stranger to breastfeeding. But, it was always presented to me as something private. So, yes, if I were at a work function and my coworker had an infant on her boob I’d be weirded out. I wouldn’t say anything, I’d just move elsewhere and give her privacy.

    10. Kate

      I work in a field that promotes breastfeeding and I have seen this a few times (although in actual meetings, not social events). Unfortunately, I think it does give people pause, even though it shouldn’t. Best bet might be to find a comfortable chair a little out of the way and feed him there. I have breastfed and pumped in front of colleagues, but only other mothers

    11. Sibley

      Here’s what I care about:
      1. Baby’s fed.
      2. Don’t take your top completely off.

      Beyond that, do whatever makes you and baby comfortable. Oh, and I have been around while a coworker breastfed her baby. She was sitting, lifted her shirt some, and attached baby. No problems. Conversation continued.

    12. Biff

      I work in tech. While I think people would SAY they are comfortable with it, and be polite about it, I think it would color their thinking come next review. Or if you made an over-sharing faux-paux later. I realize that’s not the societal ideal, but I would definitely only breastfeed with a cover on or in a secluded spot away from the group.

    13. TheLazyB

      I still nurse my five year old (just at bedtime for two seconds!) and fed him anywhere and everywhere probably until he turned four -except at work, where I only ever fed him in a closed office (I was only visiting). Work is the one exception I made. Being a social event and mostly women though… I think that should be ok.

    14. The Avocado

      I think you should just do it. If they are weird, you have useful info about your coworkers. I mean maybe go for a one up one down class thing style, but yes! Do it! It’s not weird! If it helps, I took my baby to work once as a quick drop in, and she ended up demanding to feed whilst I was in a meeting with my boss…! It was fine, he was fine, it’s not like you’re dancing around shouting Wooo Boobies!

      Unless every female coworker is wearing a top up to their neck, you’re fine. And don’t use a cover unless you want to!

    15. Grumpy

      Almost all of my co-workers are males. Breastfeeding in front of me wouldn’t be the weirdest thing they’ve done. Not even close.

    16. EmmaLou

      My husband would be deer in the headlights. He’s trying to adjust to 2000s but just the other day he came home from the grocery store and told me that he’d gone around the corner and there was a woman breastfeeding and he said he apologized and turned right around. So he’d blush, stammer and not talk to you until you were done. With a cover, he can act like a normal, human being. He still may avoid you until he thinks you’re done. For me, I’d cover or bring a bottle, but if you’re comfortable, it doesn’t bother me.

    17. Mephyle

      Is it obvious when you’re breastfeeding? Some mother–baby pairs are lucky that way because they can nurse/feed in a way that no one except another person in the know realizes what they’re doing. To people who haven’t been around breastfeeding much, it just looks like a mother holding a baby. I was lucky that way, but I’m realizing it’s not the majority experience.

    18. Ineloquent

      My sister can nurse by placing her baby in an ergo baby carrier and just covering her with a blanket- it just looks like the baby is napping and she can still be social.

    19. stevenz

      “Would you be weirded out if a coworker started breastfeeding in front of you?”

      No more than if anybody else was doing it.

  17. Batshua

    I haven’t heard back from the job I interviewed for and I’m afraid to ask.

    Is there a way to do it without sounding needy?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe

      How long has it been since you interviewed or had any contact with them? Did they give you any idea of their timeline or when you might hear back? If it’s been 2 weeks, it’s perfectly reasonable to shoot them an email to check in and inquire about the status of their process. It can be short and sweet, something along the lines of:

      “Dear Valentina,

      I hope you’re having a wonderful week. I wanted to touch base with you regarding the Teapot Coordinator position, and was hoping you might be able to provide me with an update on the hiring timeline. I am still very interested in the role, and would love any information you could provide.

      Thank you,
      Batshua”

    2. Anon for This One

      No advice, but I’m in the same boat and interested to hear what others have to say. Good luck!

    3. K.

      Depends on how long it’s been since you interviewed. If it’s been a few days, don’t reach out. If it’s been a few weeks, I think Not a Real Giraffe’s wording is fine. (If you have another offer in the works but are more interested in this other job, I would reach out and let them know that – it might push them to make a decision faster.)

      Asking about the hiring timeline is one of my default interview questions, so you might consider doing that going forward. It’s a totally reasonable question!

    4. Lily Rowan

      On behalf of the Hiring Managers of America (and/or elsewhere), I apologize for taking so long to get back to you! We want to be thoughtful and considerate, but it is hard to find the time to that! And sometimes it takes even longer to get back to second-tier candidates, because we don’t want to reject you yet, but are looking at other people first.

      But anyway, I know it sucks.

      1. Lillian McGee

        Seconding this! I’m also dealing with a hiring team that won’t make a decision and am keeping these poor people in suspense. I will get back to you I promise!

  18. Folklorist

    ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!! Stop right there, you. Go do something you’ve been putting off, then come back and tell us what you did! Now, gosh darnit!

    1. Bibliovore

      Exactly where I am right now and it worked so well the last time. MUST do conference expense reimbursement now. Carrot- AAM. I will be back when that is completed.

    2. KellyK

      I updated my to-do list, including due dates. I try to keep a running tally of everything I’m working on, including whether I have questions out to people and what specific things I need to do to move the task along. I had le get out of date, but it’s happy now (and I can work on some of the things on it).

    3. Jules the First

      This is my anti-procrastination week. I’m five pages shy of the end of the 30-page text I’m editing…which is three pages further than I was before reading this post. I get points for that, right?

    4. Hellanon

      Arrgghh, compliance, baby!

      (Just making sure we are ready for a compliance visit from our state overlords – which we most emphatically are not, at the moment.)

    5. Trix

      Ugh fine.

      I’ll go clean out my inbox. It’s been a crazy week for my company, and for my role within the company, and I’ve been neglecting it. The longer I put it off, the more I don’t wanna deal with it.

    6. Garland Not Andrews

      I went and completed a couple of travelcard setup accesses. Doesn’t take but a minute, just needed to get it done! Now it’s done!

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

      Well, I already had done it. I bought a monitor riser for my home desk a couple of weeks ago and have been putting off putting it together. It was easier than I thought, though odd. It’s held together with rubber bands. Weird. Unfortunately, it’s too tall. I have a shelf above my main part of my desk that’s part of the whole desk overall, and with the riser, the monitor won’t fit under it. Annoyed. Also, this isn’t my desk. When we moved to our new house my husband’s desk didn’t fit really well with where his computer would be so he took mine and I got his. And mine was really nice!!! Grumble.

    8. Kate H

      I did some household chores that I was “taking a break” from. I can think of a few other things I should do but I think I’ll return to procrastinating.

  19. Kate

    For once I can participate! SO annoyed this morning. We have spent several months getting a new hire set up for our group (I work for a very large company and there are lots of hoops to jump through for new hires). The candidate we offered it to came recommended by a colleague we trust. We knew the person had an ongoing internship but they assured us several times that it would not be a problem to get out of early. We had made a verbal offer including salary and benefits a month ago, but it took a while to get the offer letter the candidate wanted due to the above-mentioned hoops. Now the candidate has informed us that they are playing a central role in an ongoing project (they did not disclose this previously) and that the company does not want to let them go before the end of the internship, which isn’t for 5 months. Candidate is trying to negotiate some way for them to do both jobs for the first 5 months, which really is not an option. I need someone yesterday and am just frustrated at the lost time.

    1. Graciosa

      I don’t blame you at all – how frustrating!

      Is there a second choice candidate who could also do the job? Honestly, even if you restart the search from
      scratch, you could probably get someone in place sooner.

      I would be really irritated with the candidate who wanted me to accommodate his poor communication / dishonesty / whatever that led to this.

      1. Kate

        Current candidate was actually our second choice (first choice declined due to the amount of travel). Ugh, so irritated

  20. Tawanda1983

    Just an update from a past poster. I wrote in on an open thread about 6 weeks ago because my partner and I both worked for the same organization under the same supervisor. He was/is having a great experience, but I was not. I am happy to announce that I’ve moved on and am ending my first week in another position that provides much of what I was lacking in the former position (training, support, consistent working hours).

    I wrote in to get input on how to make the announcement/advice for my partner because we weren’t sure my leaving would go over well since we’d both been with the organization less than a year. Turns out that the folks in my unit were very supportive- they understood that the hours were bad, especially with a young child. And some even sent me flowers in my new office on my first day here!

    The only downside was my supervisor’s response. She said that she was really surprised at my leaving, even when I pointed at the long/odd/inconsistent hours that I was working, which had not been explained/advertised (the job posting said “occasional nights and weekends”). She claimed that it was normal for someone to work 50+ hours in their first few months, that I could have changed my hours if I needed to (though I was regularly told not to do so throughout my time working for them), etc. But then she also said that family needed to be first. So I think she thinks she’s supportive (saying the right words) but not actually supportive (not accurately explaining the needs, expecting 50+ hours regularly while paying well below market rate). Either way, so happy to have moved on!

  21. Regular Coffee Drinker

    Hey readers with depression, how did you navigate it and work?

    I was just diagnosed with depression. (Like, a week ago). I’m gearing up for treatment and cognitive therapy. I am trying to arrange my appointments outside of work hours, but so far everything available clashes with my work schedule. I’m choosing therapy over work since my depression has me so low sometimes that I have suicidal ideation. (I’m not planning anything, it’s just…when my thoughts start spinning out of control, I think about it)*.

    I can tell my boss is frustrated by these appointments. We’re a small crew spread out over many hours. When one of us is out, the others need to cover. Plus, I just finished physical therapy for a work place injury that happened in April.

    Should I mention anything? So far I’ve been vague. “I have an appointment from ‘x-time’ to ‘y-time’; I plan to be back to close.”

    My boss is currently working on her PhD in psychology, which is why I think she’d *get* it, but I’m still wary of bringing in my emotional & mental issues into my workplace.

    * I have the National Suicide hotline phone number programmed into my phone. I’ve also been open with my husband, and I am trying my hardest to avoid all my depression triggers.

    1. Leatherwings

      Sorry you’re dealing with this. I would just make a regular appointment and tell your boss you have to be out on Wednesdays from 4-5 or whatever and continue to keep it vague.

      I hope you start feeling better soon.

    2. Dawn

      1- oh my god so many hugs. SO MANY. I have been where you are now and it’s hard!
      2- FANTASTIC for you for putting your mental health first! I hope that therapy and treatment go well for you!
      3- If you feel like you have the emotional energy to, I suggest sitting down with your boss and saying “Hey, I have an acute medical issue that I am dealing with right now, which means I have to go to appointments [during these times]. Here’s how I pro-actively plan on dealing with making sure all of my work gets done while I’m having to go to these appointments. I hope to have a resolution on this issue within [timeframe] and I’ll keep you updated if that timeframe changes.” That way you’re expressing the seriousness of it without telling her exactly what it is. If she asks for clarification you can decide beforehand if you’d like to disclose exactly what’s going on.

      1. Pwyll

        +1 on this. The annoyance may reduce if your boss knows these are medical appointments and not just random things you could be scheduling outside of the work day. You don’t need to say it’s mental health related, just that you’re being treated for a health issue.

      2. Regular Coffee Drinker

        I normally have one weekday off, except for the summer. I’m hoping that I only have five more weeks of this before everything even outs.

        My performance review is next week, so I think I’ll preemptively bring it up then. Something along the lines of “Lately I know that I’ve had to schedule several appointments mid-day. There’s an outside-of-work issue that I’m working very hard to get a handle on, and my goal is to minimize the impact it has on Office.”

      3. K.

        Co-sign (especially on the hugs!). If you can schedule a standing appointment with your therapist, that might help because your boss and team will be able to consistently work around you, but if you can’t, I’d tell your boss that you have a weekly appointment for “a medical issue” and leave it at that. I wouldn’t give a time frame for resolving the issue though; if you find you need to go to therapy indefinitely, so be it, in my opinion. Of the people I know who are in therapy, I’ve been going the shortest amount of time (six months). It takes as long as it takes.

    3. WhichSister

      If you are in the states, I would look into using FMLA for your appointments. It can be sporadically used like this. I found this out the hard way after HR brought it up to me after the fact when my daughter was being treated for depression. (3 hospitalizations plus 3 appointments a week not to mention calls from school during panic attacks)

      I was salary so it didn’t impact my take home, it just meant the money came out of a different bucket.

      I would discuss with HR

    4. KellyK

      You can mention it to her without going into the specifics. You’ve got a medical issue that requires recurring appointments until you get it straightened out. You’ll do your best to keep it from interfering with work. You have an appointment at X time. You tried to schedule it outside work hours, but they didn’t have anything available. That’s totally reasonable. You can also ask her, for the future, if you have to schedule during work, if there are days or times she’d prefer you avoid if possible.

      But yes, you need to put your health first, and it is 110% okay for you to do that.

    5. Muprhy

      Good for you for getting help! I also have depression. I’m not currently in therapy, but I was, and I know that can be hard to make the necessary time for it.

      Mental illness SHOULD be treated like any other illness, but it often isn’t. And you can’t always tell how someone is going to react until you see it. I agree with what Dawn said. Describe it like a medical issue (which it is). Try to schedule your appointment in advance so you can give work plenty of notice. Or try to get a regular time, so they know when it’s coming up. They shouldn’t have a problem with you getting treatment for an issue, whatever it is.

    6. March

      I’m glad to hear that you’re getting help. Depression is awful.

      A little over a year ago I was employed full-time in a work term at my university and I would visit the campus wellness centre to meet with my therapist. In my case, I was able to take my hour-long lunch break once a week and walk to her office, but it doesn’t sound like an option for you.

      Depending on your relationship with your boss, it might be best to say – as others have said already – that you have a medical issue that requires weekly appointments. It is so important to take care of yourself.

  22. Anonon

    An internal client of mine is so rude on email. It’s usually hard to grasp tone in an email, but not with her. She includes plenty of ALL CAPS and ! and ?? that make it clear. The general tone is what you’d expect from someone who’s been left waiting on a Comcast support line for an hour, not someone communicating with a colleague. I have good relationships with everyone else, so I don’t think it’s me.

    At this point, it’s crossed over from offensive to funny. I’ve gone from terse but polite to doubling down on cheeriness. Lots of :) and “thank you!”

    1. Lillian McGee

      That’s the ticket! The only behavior you can control is your own. Might as well take the high road ;)

    2. happypup

      Oh gosh, my old boss used to send the nuttiest emails. It drove me crazy until one day I happened to be in her office as she got an email from somebody that she responded to immediately. She kind of spoke it aloud as she typed, in a totally normal tone. But I could see her screen and what she typed was, “BUT can you send the report?????” So from there on out I just figured she had sort of weird email etiquette, not that she was constantly irritated with me for no reason at all.

      1. orchidsandtea

        I saw the opposite once — an ex who typed super cheerful things while muttering passive aggressive nonsense under his breath. Cast our long-distance relationship into a whole new light once I saw that.

  23. Plaster

    There was some discussion in the thread about bad job candidate behaviour the other day about what’s suitable for a writing sample. What do you guys think? For a generic writing sample…

    -Academic paper?
    -Blog post on an academic topic?
    -Blog post on an academic topic some people find geeky? (Like the video games example from the other day, or my example, linguistics for conlanging.)
    -Excerpt from genre short story? (romance, sf/f…?)
    -Excerpt from literary short story?
    -Excerpt from literary genre story? Like, could Neal Stephenson submit an excerpt, or is it poison as soon as there’s a tech thing we haven’t hit yet? What about a romance story before the romance starts?
    -Blog post about fiction?
    -Blog post about your personal life?
    -What about writing done for another organization?

    Everything I think it seems like it would cause some hiring manager to scoff. On the other hand, do hiring managers really want to receive 30 bland short-answer essays about leadership? (And that feels extra contrived because who writes essays about leadership in their free time with no personal or academic angle?) (Although I’m sure you’re out there, and when it comes to writing samples, I guess you got the lucky number!)

    1. SophieChotek

      I’ll be interested in responses!

      (When you mean academic paper – do you mean, written for school — or an academic paper published in a journal or presented at a conference?)

      Or would company prefer you write something on the spot (which might not be as good) as a polished academic paper/blog post), etc.

    2. Technical Editor

      For a professional writing or editing position, I wouldn’t want to see anything personal or literary. I’d choose:

      – Writing done for another organization (it is professional writing)
      – Blog post on something related to the job / industry
      – Academic paper if the 2 above aren’t available*

      *If you are a recent grad. If you’re not – don’t give me a sample from 5+ years ago

      One or two samples is enough — don’t give someone 30. Your writing portfolio should be carefully crafted to display your best, most relevant work.

      Good luck!

      1. Always Anon

        I think you have to ask. Because some companies have very specific ideas about what they want, and they don’t tell candidates.

      2. LadyKelvin

        I think Plaster was saying that the hiring manager would get 30 essays on leadership from 30 different applicants, not 30 essays from one applicant. But thanks for the confusion, it made me giggle a bit to think about submitting 30 essays for a writing sample. “How’s this one? You want writing samples, I’ll give you writing samples. Muah ha ha”

    3. Pwyll

      Obviously this is very much dependent on industry and occupation. But if you’re not in a creative field, you’ll likely want to provide a writing sample that uses expository writing, not creative/fiction writing. So, academic papers or blog postings on relevant topics make sense. If you’re an editor or proofreader (and you have permission), showing a before and after can be helpful. For most of my career, fiction would have been a big no-no (I’ve worked in conservative industries).

      The big things to watch out for (in my industry) are to ensure what you’re using you either have permission to use or is public, and to make sure you’re using something that hasn’t been heavily edited by anyone else.

    4. Always Anon

      I think these days you have to ask the hiring manager specifically what type of writing sample they are looking for. Last time I was asked for a writing sample, I sent a marketing email blast I had written (about a page long, and very text heavy), along with text from a promotional brochure I had written. I sent this because the position description described that one of the responsibilities was to develop marketing materials.

      And the hiring manager accidentally included in me in a reply to her boss about how she’d asked for a writing sample, and how what I provided wasn’t appropriate and that I was an idiot for not knowing what constituted a writing sample. I removed myself from the candidate pool at that point because if they bitching about me before I even have an in person interview (this was after a phone interview) then I have no shot at the job and I don’t see the point in wasting my time. Well that and I have no interest in working for a company that is careless enough to include candidates in their bitch sessions, and isn’t clear about what they want.

      However, it did teach me to ask the hiring manager specifically what they are looking for so that I can provide them with the right kind of writing sample.

      1. Technical Editor

        I’m sorry that happened to you. That manager was a jerk!

        I can see the issue from both points of view, though. If you’re applying for a tech or business writing position, the writing sample request is pretty clear: send professional writing samples that showcase your skills in technical or business writing. That means we want to see a manual, procedure, brochure, something along those lines.

        But if the industry is more nebulous, I can see how a candidate would have questions. For marketing, customer service, or other type of industry, it really should be on the manager to explain what kind of writing samples are acceptable. Candidates shouldn’t have to guess!

    5. Kate M

      It obviously depends on the field, but it needs to be something as close to what you’d be doing in the job as possible.

      For a Communications job: a press release, or possibly a professional blog post
      For research: a memo on a topic you researched
      For business: a memo similar enough to what you’d be doing in this job, probably one from your last job

      Things like that. I would only ever use an academic piece if you work in academia, or if you’ve just graduated college and have nothing else to submit. And I wouldn’t ever use literary/personal writing, unless of course it’s very relevant to the job. But even in jobs like publishing, I’d think a memo related to publishing/editing would be more relevant than a story.

      1. Plaster

        I don’t want to seem thick, but what IS a professional blog post? I mean, if I apply to a job with a linguistics research group, my blog post about grammatical tone in Igbo seems professional–but is it still professional if I’m applying to a mining corporation, or do I then find something in mining to write an imaginary blog post about? :P

        Entry level is also hard because we don’t have a lot of business writing to fall back on. (I, uh, may not even be quite sure what a memo is.)

    6. Christopher Tracy

      When I had to submit a writing sample for the training program I was hired into at my current company, they required a writing sample and asked for anything that was submitted for a grade in college. Now, a lot of the people that get hired into this program are not recent grads (I had been out of school for four years at that point), so I thought that was kind of odd, but was grateful I still had stories for my journalism classes saved on a thumbdrive. I submitted one of those stories and a media alert I wrote when I was a marketing communications co-op intern.

      Typically, I’d err on the side of submitting those types of things unless there’s a specific request for something else.

    7. Another Academic Librarian

      Granted, I work in academia, but if I were to ask for a writing sample, I would expect to see an academic paper that had been published or accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. In most cases, an accepted or published chapter in a book with a scholarly publisher would also be acceptable.

      1. stevenz

        The OP says “generic.” I agree that it shouldn’t be fiction/literature/personal. Most places just want to see that you can write clearly and substantively. Best things are pieces in which you do a little analysis and make a recommendation that is backed up by the analysis. (This a real one you did, not something you created just to have a writing sample.) It doesn’t have to be directly related to the kind of work the job will be doing, as long as it’s a good representation of your thought process and writing ability. Five pages is plenty long enough.

        In academic setting, the requirements are a bit different, so read others’ recommendations here. But I wouldn’t submit some 30 page article with 112 footnotes for a non-academic job. No one has time to read that much, especially if it’s something that will baffle them anyway.

        Something I do with every writing sample is write a few sentences at the beginning to say what it was written for – audience, setting, use – and reception, to give context. I also try not to do any editing of an original document, though I don’t know why.

  24. ali

    I love my job but I am suffering from horrible burn-out. I’ve dug myself into a hole of poor organization and I’m behind on all of my current projects. Every time I feel like I’m catching up, something new and “urgent” gets thrown in the mix and I get behind again. I’m normally a rock star employee – have literally been called that several times in reviews. Here’s the catch, I’m out for 4 days starting on Tuesday for surgery (so not a vacation) and I feel like I can’t even take 4 days off without getting more and more behind. There’s no one to cover for me or take over my work because we’re a team of two and my coworker is just as behind as I am (and he’ll be off for two weeks in early Sept for a new baby).

    I just don’t know what to do. I need a real vacation, and some time away where I’m not worried about things, but I don’t feel like I can step away until things are in a better place. My manager is great and is doing what she can to help, but generally our processes are really screwed up and that’s what’s causing the problems. We’re working on fixing them, but it’s going to be long and painful until they are fixed. So what can I do short-term?

    1. kbeersosu

      Well…your boss should be leading this, but I think you could suggest a team meeting to get aligned on goals, projects, and how you’re going to handle incoming assignments for the next few months. Especially given that your coworker is going out on leave in a month, if you don’t start having these conversations now it’s only going to get worse. And your boss may not understand how bad it is if you’re all working individually on projects, but once you’re all at the table you may be able to help her get a grasp on the larger picture.

      1. ali

        Oh, we are having these conversations and she is definitely in the loop. I mean immediate short-term – like what can I do today and Monday before I leave to make myself feel like I’m in a better place while I’m out?

        1. Not So NewReader

          The reality of it is that this is poor planning on management’s part. I think I would tell myself that they should have been able to see that someone would be out for some reason and there would be a scramble. Not my fault I was the first person to need time off.
          I am sorry, this really sucks. I know it is hard, but decide that for the next x days you are just not going to think about it. When you catch yourself thinking about it, correct yourself with “I will worry about that when I get back to work.”
          Too much worry can impact your heal time, motivate yourself by saying, “now is not the time for work worries.”

    2. Jersey's Mom

      Absolutely have a meeting with the boss. Also talk with your co-worker. You should both bring a list of current tasks; be ready to say how many hours/weeks each task will take, and how many new “urgent” tasks come up over the course of a week. It’s time for your manager to step up and prioritize your workloads with the understanding that due to health issues (surgery/baby) you will both have limited hours.

      Help the boss understand that the solution is not simply “you guys need to work more hours”. Some projects may have to be temporarily delayed — or the company needs to hire/outsource some work.

    3. Hermione

      It may also be helpful for you to do a brain dump of every single thing that needs to get done for every project. I used to take a piece of legal-sized paper, split into 8 sections, and label each one with projects or areas of interests. Then I would dump every little thing, no matter how small. The key was including every actionable item (i.e. Confirm budget with x, draft e-mail invitation, pull invitee list, set up RSVP form, send e-mail, send reminder e-mail, send final reminder e-mail), not just overarching goals (“Plan Lecture/Reception”). Include key things that you have already completed, and CROSS. THEM. OFF.

      Then:
      *Calendar the things that can’t be done just yet.
      *Make a separate list to batch those items that can be batched (i.e. maybe you need to check with x on both the budget and the menu, and those can be done simultaneously).
      *Highlight Today’s MUST DO’s (preferably just 3-4), but maybe mark 2-3 more as Dream goals.
      *Save 45 minutes somewhere during your day (preferably either midday or near the end when you’re feeling sluggish) and tackle any tasks that will take 5 minutes or less.
      *Be sure to cross off completed items when you’re done!

      I used to make lists like this one or twice a week during busy periods, once every 3 weeks during slow periods. Whenever the list started to not reflect the things I was doing (that is, if I’m constantly adding more things to the bottom or to a “miscellaneous field”) then I re-wrote it. Keep your old ones though, and date them on the back or something – it’ll feel good to look back at all the completed to-do’s!

  25. Mo

    On the website of a medium-sized company, I saw a description of a position that seemed RIGHT up my alley. However, it wasn’t listed on the “current openings” page — rather, it was on a section of the website called “Opportunities for Certified Teapotmasters.” (I am a certified teapotmaster.) It wasn’t clear to me from the wording whether this was a currently open opportunity, or something that they offer periodically (the description made it sound a little bit like a structured training program, with cohorts of certified teapotmasters being taught the particulars of the role), or something only open sporadically. There were no instructions for applying, no one to contact, no place to drop your resume for them to have on file. But I was very curious so I contacted corporate headquarters to ask about it. They told me to send a FAX inquiring about the position to one particular individual, and couldn’t give me any more information.

    ISN’T THAT WEIRD? Or am I weird for getting in touch at all?

  26. Dave

    No real news in my job hunt.

    A co-worker who was laid off at the same time as me has found a job. I’m happy for her, of course, but also frustrated–I think I should be far more employable than her, and the job she got was one I would have been interested in. (I somehow missed the ad!) I wish there was an easy way to get feedback, especially when I’m not getting much of any reaction to my resume and cover letter. I get why they can’t provide that. It’d just be nice, in a perfect world, to learn why I got passed over. There have been a few jobs that have come up that I’ve thought “I should at LEAST get a callback for this!” and I’ve heard nothing. My former co-worker got pretty far down the interview process for 2 jobs and also got a call back on another just after she accepted the one she did. Two of those I saw and didn’t think I was qualified for. I’ve since submitted applications.

    I do have a meeting booked with the guy who runs a company that I’d be very interested in working for. The company is basically an agency/consultancy that does the kind of work that I think I want to be doing. I don’t know if this is for a real position or not, but I do have a friend who works there who I know put in a good word for me. That’s not until early August though.

    Anyway, applied for 5 or 6 more jobs yesterday. In the meantime, I drummed up a freelance gig for a former employer that’s actually interesting. There’s no chance that this will turn into something permanent, but it will pay the bills for the next couple of weeks at least.

    1. it happens

      Did the co-worker do the same job as you did? Now that she has a job maybe you could congratulate her and ask if she would share her resume. You can tell her that she’s clearly having better responses and since potential employers don’t provide feedback, looking at a successful resume would be really helpful to you. And then look at it objectively and see where the differences are – not to copy it, but to revise yours in line with what employers seem to like.
      Good luck in your search

    2. Mirilla

      I totally understand where you are coming from. I’ve been searching for probably 8 months and there have been jobs that I know I was qualified for, yet not even an initial phone interview. I have tweaked my resume, provided thoughtful cover letters, and am applying at jobs that are relevant to my experience.

      I’m starting to get a complex over it!

    3. Not So NewReader

      Are you aiming too low? I don’t know why that idea hit me, you said she applied for a job that you would have applied for and you are more employable. I wonder if the places you are applying at see that you are out of their league.

      This is a left-handed compliment, not meant to be insulting. I had a boss that I thought the world of and he stepped in some crap. I gave him the same advice, he should aim higher, once he got the crap cleaned up. He was surprised, he said no one ever bothered to say that to him.

    4. JadeShrew

      I’m sorry you are struggling – I totally understand those feelings, and I’m really impressed you are keeping it up. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

    5. NewDay

      I totally understand! It is difficult when you are trying so hard and someone else gets a job easily. A friend of mine found a job very quickly after her contract wasn’t renewed and I have been trying to find work for months, so I know how you feel. Hang in there! I second the advise about the cv/resume. Best of luck!

  27. Not Me

    I posted a few weeks ago about the awful management on my team and how I had to go on leave for stress. I think things are starting to turn around; I have an internal interview for a different team with a manager who is a really nice, laid-back guy. Wish me luck!

      1. Not Me

        I had the interview and it went well. Apparently I’m one of the top two candidates, so that’s gratifying to hear. The job turns out to be a little more application support that I thought so that seems kind of stressful since I’ve not done a lot of that type of work.

        I’ve been on leave for almost a month and I can tell that I’m still too anxious and maybe not ready to go back yet. I hate this feeling.

  28. Sunflower

    My friend was recently let go from her job. She had a bad performance review, they needed to let someone go and they picked her. She has been there for 5 years since she was an intern during college (she is 27). She was over the job and needed desperately to move on but she is facing some issues.

    She never finished college and she only has a semester of credits left to get her bachelor’s degree. Long story short, she was struggling academically at the same time her parents moved 1000 miles away from her hometown to retire. They wanted her to take a semester off, come live with them and then they would support her when she returned to school. She wanted to stay in her hometown and couldn’t find a way to support herself through her last semester so she took this job and that’s where she’s been.

    She’s been job searching but obviously she will now need to majorly step up her efforts. She asked me for advice and the question I’m asking is does she go back and finish her degree? Her parents live in the same city as a large, well regarded state school and my feelings are she should bite the bullet, move home and finish school there. Yes living in boring town will suck but she has a good relationship with her parents and she’s been barely covering expenses living paycheck to paycheck so she’ll be able to save some money. I feel she is still way too early in her career for her to have enough experience to negate the college degree and it’s only one semester left. My other suggestion is to bite the other bullet, take out loans to support herself and finish college in the city she’s in.

    So what do you smart people think? Also if anyone has any advice for job searching without a college degree that would be great!

    1. Dawn

      Her choice here depends on a lot of things, but the biggest one for me would be could she find work in what she wants to do without a degree, and is her degree relevant to anything she might want to do in the future?

      If it were me, and if she could handle it financially, then I absolutely would say finish the semester- BUT she doesn’t necessarily need to move to do it does she? Could she do it online instead?

      1. Red

        If she’s only got one semester left, the requirements may be too specific to be workable in an online program. In all three of the four-year universities I’ve gone to, the online class options were super slim pickins outside of a degree program that was specifically designed to be offered online, and I had to do a lot of hoop jumping for electives and requirements that were outside of the core program even when my program was intended for online students. (I graduated from UNC-Greensboro while living in Washington and Indiana. I got grandfathered in and had to take my bio lab requirement locally and transfer it, because there were no options for it online, but the year after I started they changed the program requirements such that you had to have all your classes outside of the department completed before you could be accepted into the program because they couldn’t guarantee that they’d be available online through the school.)

        1. TL -

          Most schools require.you to take the last 60 hours of upper division classes at that school. I don’t think one semester left is going to translate to any school but the one she went to.

    2. Red

      I’d do it. I mean, I say that as someone who finished a bachelor’s degree at 32. One semester left, if her parents are willing to help her out with that, being able to add a degree to her resume will probably open a lot of doors, especially if it’s a degree that’s even vaguely relatable to her work history.

    3. Liana

      If she only has one semester left (and is working in an industry where bachelor’s degrees are the minimum standard for education), I would HIGHLY recommend she bite the bullet and finish it. It really will make job searching a lot easier, as frustrating and/or unfair as it is. Does she have student loans already? If not, taking out loans for a single semester shouldn’t be too onerous, I think, particularly if it’s only tuition and not room/board/etc. If she already has loans and is nervous about the idea of taking on another, then moving in with her parents sounds like a good Plan B. Tbh, the fact that she has parents she can live with to offset expenses is really unfortunate – not everyone has that backup plan.

    4. Leatherwings

      Can she work part time while finishing up her degree? If not, it’s one semester to deal with living in a small town. That’s like 6 months at most and if it’s going to help her career I would do it.

      I wouldn’t take out loans if she can avoid it though.

    5. TotesMaGoats

      From a degree completion standpoint, she will be better off if she finishes her degree at the place she started it. If she’s only got one semester left most places are going to make her retake a BUNCH of stuff.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead

        Yes! I came to say exactly this. She has one semester left if she returns to the same school she started at. When you transfer schools, unless it’s in the same state school grouping or possibly another location of the same school, you’ll have to take a minimum number of credits to receive a degree from the second school no matter how many courses you have previously taken. So if she is going to a completely different school she will likely have a lot more than just one semester to complete. I learned this the hard way when I left my first school after 4 years with 1 year left in a computer science degree. When I transferred, I was looking at 2 years to get a degree: 1 year of actual degree course work and 1 year of just “whatever” to fill those required credits.

        Hopefully she will be attending a satellite campus of her original school but this should definitely be checked out.

        1. TotesMaGoats

          Yes. Most US schools, private and public, require 30 residency credits in order to graduate. Residency in this case means you took the credits from that particular school (paid them money) not physically where or how you took them. Plus transferability of credits will be an issue unless it’s a state school system and even then can be tricky. If the credits are too old, you might lose them anyway.

          I had a student that was 1 class, seriously, away from finishing her degree at an North Carolina state institution but had moved to MD. She would’ve had to restart her entire program. So, instead of forcing her into my school, I found another school in the state which had the appropriate equivalent course, set her up with the registrar and sent her on her way. It worked out perfectly for the student.

    6. Expected to pay more than my fair share

      Finishing the degree may not be a bad idea but switching schools probably is. They usually require a minimum of credits to be taken at the school to get a diploma from there. So she would have to take/repeat courses. Since it has been 5 years your friend should go to the school and see what she would need to do to complete her degree before she makes any decision. Programs change and she may need to take more classes then she thinks.

      1. MoinMoin

        Building on that, it might make the most sense to make sure credits would transfer to the original school so you finish classes at the new school but still get the degree from your original. But the time gap is definitely a factor.

    7. Graciosa

      Unfortunately, I wouldn’t assume it would only take one more semester at a different school to get her degree.

      Most institutions have policies that significantly restrict transfer credits. I have a relative who had completed a degree from a very reputable school, but wanted to change fields and was forced to take at least three years of classes to do so (they wouldn’t accept all sorts of general education requirements and heaped a lot of stuff on top of the major requirements).

      My recommendation would be for her to go back to her original school and ask how she can complete her degree as quickly and inexpensively as possible. A sympathetic counselor at the school who knows what transfer credits are acceptable could help her navigate. I think that’s her best starting point.

      Job searching without a college degree is very hard for almost everyone except someone with a skilled trade (or part time retail or food service positions). My employer follows the trend of requiring it for almost all basic positions – even when someone has a demonstrated track record of success in the same role. I’m not saying I agree with this, but it has become a reality for a lot of the business world.

      Completing her degree will also let her take advantage of any career services her school offers, which can help her find entry level positions that may only be communicated to those centers (and may not be advertised broadly elsewhere).

    8. Pam Adams

      I am an academic advisor who deals with multiple students each year who are trying to complete degrees. (A current one left in the 1980’s!)

      Please recommend that she contact her former school. She may well be able to complete the requirements at her local school and transfer them back. That’s often a quicker way to complete a degree, rather than transfer somewhere else.

      1. zora.dee

        Gah, I wish you worked at my former school! I have been trying to finish mine for many many years (1 Credit!!! Because of a technical screw up, long story) and every semester I start the whole process with them and then at some point they drop their end, and I have to start all over again! They are making it so hard, and I don’t understand how I went to the only college that can’t get their sh*t together to help one student finish one credit.

        1. Christopher Tracy

          Can’t you just ask an academic advisor at the school to waive the credit? I graduated six or so credits shy of what my degree program required after negotiating this with my advisor (and him taking my case to the dean of the school, who signed off on the request), and I wasn’t even a returning student. Seriously – they should not be holding up a degree over one measly credit.

    9. BRR

      She should definitely finish the degree. It would probably be easiest to finish where she was at. I agree with Pam Adams to call the school and clarify things. At this point it’s mostly about being able to say she has a degree. Also if she moves in with her parents, she may not be eligible for in-state tuition there and out of state tuition is likely expensive.

    10. Rachel

      I did this – also at age 27! (I hadn’t finished college due to some health issues I had at the time.) I’d been taking classes here and there to transfer in, but after I went back to my old school for a group reunion one weekend, I realized how much I missed the place and started seriously thinking about going back full time. It took me a while to decide, but about a year later I quit my job, packed my things, and moved back to my old college town for a year to finish up. I was lucky that I was in a place in life where I was able to do that – I didn’t have a mortgage or any dependents tying me to where I was living, and it was financially feasible.

      Yes, it was a totally different experience being a senior at 27 than it is at 21. : ) I did much better than I had the first time around – even made the Dean’s List. And after years of working 8-5 Mon-Fri, having a schedule consisting of one 1 1/2 hour class Monday and Wednesday, four 1 1/2 hour classes Tuesday & Thursday (with no class earlier than 9:00 and having anywhere from 1/2 hour – 2 hour breaks in between – with the last class ending at 5:30), and no classes Friday was no sweat for me. : )

      I’m very glad I did it. I am guessing your friend will be too.

  29. Elle the new Fed

    I work as sort of an admissions officer for a large program that attracts a lot of recent grads. I’m contemplating career trajectory and am sort of at a loss of where to go from here. Recruiting and other hiring work seems like a logical step, but I don’t actually do any of that now… Basically I standardized interview, assess applications and select to enter the program.

    Are there any admissions officers (or former ones) who have experience or ideas on where to look next?

    1. GovHRO

      Do you work with Pathways or PMF recent grads? If so, you might just want to push for stretch assignments with staffing or work with strategic workforce planning.

      1. Elle the new Fed

        No, unfortunately. I’d share more specifics about the program but I am afraid I’d out myself! Admissions really is the closest thing I can think of to how my role in selecting for this program is structured.

        But thank you, that is a really helpful recommendation as far as work to start looking at within my current agency.

    2. Lemon Zinger

      I work in a hybrid admissions-financial aid role at a large public university. Do you like working with students? Admissions is a wonderful way to get into a university, and it can take you so many places. Many of my coworkers leave admissions after a few years to do special recruitment initiatives, academic advising, event coordination, etc. It’s hard to get in to a university, job-wise, but once you’re in, the possibilities are almost endless!

  30. Lemon Zinger

    My team is wrapping up a week of training with a team-building event: bowling, in the middle of the day. Late last night we got an email saying “you are permitted to wear nice jeans and a [organization] polo shirt for bowling.” Well, I don’t have a polo shirt, and I couldn’t bring myself to wear jeans to work, so I’m wearing a comfortable dress and bike shorts underneath.

    Yay team-building! …Said no one ever.

    1. Elizabeth West

      LOL!
      We used to go bowling in gym class for a week in high school. Everybody looked forward to it because we got out of school and there was pinball and snacks (I’m old). I don’t think I’d want to do it at work, though!

      1. Lemon Zinger

        I went bowling for high school gym class too! We went once a week. I’m pretty good at it, and I owe it all to the class. :)

    2. Bob Barker

      Bowling! That’s a good one. My group had to do ice-skating once, outdoors. Think that little rink in front of Rockefeller Center, minus the celebrities. We did it, and even taught one group member how to skate from scratch (he’d never been), but… it was cold out! No, I didn’t enjoy it, No, it did not team-build, No, it did not make me feel warm fuzzy thoughts toward my boss, even she she bought us cocoa.

    3. Lillian McGee

      We did bowling way too many years in a row… at least it was manual scoring so I had a reason to sit out.

      This year we went to a beercade. Much better choice!

    4. Jules the First

      We play softball…which is super fun for those of us with no depth perception (no, I cannot catch a ball, and no, there is no amount of practice that will make it possible)

    5. AnotherAlison

      We’ve done bowling for team building in a few different departments. In my previous depts, they actually had bowling shirts made for us to wear (small group). I thought it was one of the more fun events, honestly, but I’m talking about going to the newer, luxury bowling alleys that have really good food and drinks.

      Worst team building ideas include mud volleyball and go kart racing, imho.

      1. K.

        We bowled as part of the holiday festivities at a previous job. We had a great time – bowling is such a silly activity, we just had fun with it and didn’t take it seriously.

    6. CV

      Heh. We went curling for a team-building activity. It was the sort of “not mandatory” team building that management judges you on for missing. So, me, at 34 months pregnant, out on the ice…..

    7. Witty Nickname

      My team did a team-building event earlier this year that everyone actually enjoyed! We went to an improv theater and had some improv training (the theater has a program they do with a lot of companies that uses improv techniques to teach good collaboration and communication skills). Nobody was forced out of their comfort zones (there were a few opportunities for people to get up on stage and act, but it was all voluntary – we had plenty of people who were happy to do it, and the rest of us were able to sit back and avoid it). Everything else was pairing up and doing fun, simple exercises, and nothing was in front of the entire group. It was fun, it was laid back, and it was actually useful for team-building!

      I was forced to do some improv when I went to a competition with the public speaking team in college (I did one competition with them and decided it wasn’t for me. I love giving presentations and speeches, but am not the person who is going to come up with them in 5 minutes about topics I’m not familiar with. Give me 30 minutes and an internet connection and I’m good. But improv is something I would not be good at, even now with a lot more life experience. At 16, after having been homeschooled most of my life? Disaster). Anyway, I was unsure about the whole improv team-building thing going into it, just based on that past experience, but ended up having a lot of fun.

  31. Mia Magpie

    I sent in a question, but I need advice in a hurry. I hate my office; they’re a bunch of hypocrites who talk a good game about communication, but don’t seem to understand how it works. I always seem to find things out at the last possible second, and it’s always my fault for not knowing somehow. -_-

    On Monday, I was told by VP that I was to be hijacked (from being administrative assistant to a small section of the department to being the administrative assistant of the whole department, and most specifically, to the department head). The original admin is out on disability for heart issues, and she’s been gone for 3/4th of a year almost. In that time, numerous people have come through to be her temporary sit-in person, but they have all either left the company immediately or immediately applied for new positions, and everytime someone leaves, I have been roped in to do her work on top of my own.

    This time, I am to virtually stop my other work just to work for this department head. I am to be given full time hours (I only worked about 30 or so previously) and a pay increase to the old admin’s rate, but still am considered “Temporary” and am thus paid no benefits.

    A) I was starting to hate my job already for being repetitive and monotonous and never getting any sense of community. or feel of appreciation for supporting my 5 person team with everything. B) The department head is an out-of-touch, demanding, OCD manchild who everyone has to cowtow to, and I hate him even more. Our first interaction was him literally screaming at me for the placement of a party item on a table. C) I was given no choice in the matter, which, again, no communication, and makes me feel even less agency in my job than I did to begin with. I’m just to be subject to department head’s whims and he barely acknowledges me at all, except to be grumpy and give me more work. He wants me to stay late (with no notice) because he can’t prioritize or remember the new leave time that he forced on me.

    I’m miserable. I already have depression and anxiety, and at least in my old job I could leave early if need be or even take a mental health day. My old supervisor was aware of my situation and very understanding, especially when things got slow. Now I have to get someone to cover for me everytime I want to take a day off. I feel like I have no power and my only option to change my situation is to quit. This organization is out of touch, several years behind the times, and no one else here seems to care about me. They claim to support employees, but it’s all talk.

    VP told me I would no longer work for my old section. Department head told me I would still, when they get slammed. Today, VP told me that I’d be paid my new rate for 4 days out of this week. Department head told me I’d be paid at my old rate (a whole $5 less an hour) until next week. I am fuming and scared and anxious and I hate my life right now. The money, big name organization, and job experience hardly feel worth it.

    What should I do?

    1. Mia Magpie

      Other things of note:
      My old supervisor was on vacation this week, and from our email back and forth, she implied that my reassignment was done behind her back, even though when I asked “does she know?” they told me she did.
      Most of the girls implied to me that they were stressed out working for DH and that was a major factor in leaving. I myself have hated every time I had to go sit at his admin desk and answer his phones.

      1. Mia Magpie

        And by VP, sorry, I’m referring to DH’s direct underling. It was just easier than trying to dance around his actual title

    2. Newby

      Is there a reason not to start job searching? If you are miserable and your job is significantly changing you can try to stick it out until you get anther job. If asked why you are leaving you can cite the fact that the job is now significantly different than the job you accepted as well as the fact that you are considered a temporary employee.

      1. Mia Magpie

        I’ve been searching for over a year now. This was supposed to be a foot-in-the-door sort of job, but so far, nothing else of mine has gotten in. I’ve been applying to many other places, but the last phone interview I did (a few weeks ago) I found out later that the position had been cancelled.

      2. Liana

        +1. The fact that you’re still a temporary employee is enough of a reason to start, and potential new employers will be very understanding of that, even if you don’t explain any of the other (very good!) reasons you’d like to move on.

    3. animaniactoo

      Talk to everybody. “I do not think that I will be a good fit in this role, because I am not able to regularly stay at the last minute with no notice.”

      Also, they can have you probationary, but if they’re over 50 employees, they don’t have a choice about providing some benefits like health insurance. They can’t describe you as “temporary” while having you there for full time beyond a limited period of time. Check the DOL for the applicable laws.

      If talking to everybody doesn’t work, take your new $5/hr higher salary and book a weekly massage with it, and focus on the fact that you can now list this as a full time job on your resume, etc. which might increase your attractiveness while jobhunting.

    4. KellyK

      That sounds really awful. Since you mentioned below that you’ve been looking for a year with no luck, maybe take a look at your resume to see if you can improve it, and make sure you’re doing a good, specific cover letter for every position you apply for.

      When your VP and Department Head give you conflicting information, mention that to the second person and follow up as much as you need to get a clear answer. (Like, “Okay, thanks for letting me know that it’s X. When I talked to Bob yesterday, he said it was Y, so you may want to make sure he’s aware/double check with him.”)

      Also, since your work life is crappy right now, try to do as much self-care as you can outside of work. Do some kind of physical activity that you like, and that, ideally, gets you outside. Spend time with people you care about who make you happy. Try to get enough sleep. All that good stuff. If you’re not already seeing a therapist, it’d probably be a good idea to start.

    5. I'm Not Phyllis

      This sounds awful. It’s hard when you work with an organization that says all of the right things about caring about their employees but they have no idea what that actually means and their employees are left more frustrated and angry then anything else.

      Job hunting is number one because you sound truly miserable there. I know you’ve said you’ve been doing that for more than a year … is there any way you can get some help or advice? Have people read your resume and give you advice, practice your interview skills – whatever will help.

      In the meantime, you really need to figure out who your boss is. Is it VP or DH? Having them giving you conflicting information isn’t a good idea so you need to figure out who’s really calling the shots and go with their direction. If it’s VP and DH is asking you to do work that VP specifically said not to, then let DH know that VP asked you to focus on X task, and you can work out an appointment for the two of them to talk if necessary. You can’t control how they’re communicating it with your old supervisor – that’s between her and her bosses … and trust me, I’m sure she knows what they’re like.

      One last thing that I want to say is that you do have a choice here. They’re stringing you along with the idea that this was a “foot in the door” and it doesn’t seem like it is. You’re being treated like a regular employee even though you don’t have any of the “security” that comes with it. That said, you do not need to accept being treated like a doormat. If you can’t stay late, you’re allowed to say so (although – if it’s an emergency and you can make it work then you should), and you are allowed to voice your concerns re: being yelled at, your pay and benefits, and your mental health needs. You may be a temporary employee, but you’re still an employee and a human being and they need to remember that.

  32. LawCat

    I’m hoping to hear soon from a position I interviewed for a couple weeks ago (second interview). I know they were checking references this week because one of my references told me they contacted her. *Really* want this job!! It would be a great end to my week to get an offer.

    The starting salary (I already know the range, government) is something I would be quite happy with. Would it still be worth negotiating to try and get it higher? I’d actually rather have more vacation time to be equal to what I get now (it’s a different branch of state government than I am in now so I don’t think my “time in” for calculating vacation time counts). I feel like government tends to be more rigid in what they will negotiate on (if anything). I definitely have the fear that “trying to negotiate will get the offer revoked” and need to try and get over that fear (I’m really good at negotiating for others on various things, but terrible at doing it for myself!) I’d appreciate any tips from the AAM community!

    1. Pwyll

      In my experience with state government, vacation time wasn’t negotiable at all. I was told (who knows if true) this was because of the union agreements they had in place, even though my position wasn’t a member of the bargaining unit. I’d definitely ask about whether your tenure can carry over though, in my state it usually could across most state agencies and state-run corporations.

      However, they did have some flexibility with starting salaries as long as it was within the range and they could justify it qualitatively. When I negotiated for salary, I didn’t have the offer revoked or even an implication that they were annoyed, even though we hit a wall at one point where the “human capital specialist” told me he couldn’t make any further changes to the offer. So, I don’t think it hurts to ask.

      1. UnCivilServant

        It may vary from state to state. The state government I work for does not negotiate salaries with individuals for most titles. LawCat is a handle that sounds like it might belong to a lawyer, which was one of the few categories with any wiggle room at all (and then not much)

      2. LawCat

        I’d be going from a union position to a non-union position and union contracts should have no bearing on this position at all (in the branch I am in, I have seen highly rigid rules put in place so non-union positions end up with similar benefits to union employees like what you describe, but this separate branch of government has no relationship with the unions or the agency that set up the scheme of rigid rules).

        I wonder if I should try to negotiate vacation AND pay at the same time, or try to negotiate what I care more about (vacation) and then, if that is not fruitful, try to negotiate pay. Not sure how to transition the topic though.

        1. Pwyll

          I don’t have personal experience here, but I think the traditional negotiation tactic is to ask for more than you want so you can back into what you actually want? So, perhaps request both, and as a compromise say it’s really the vacation that would be valuable? So long as the negotiation isn’t back-and-forth endlessly, I should think that wouldn’t be too egregious. Especially given how long government hiring tends to be.

    2. Darth Brooks

      The government isn’t one for really negotiating, but you might be able to get them to bring you in at a higher step of you’ve got extra experience or education. I’d be really surprised if you could get more vacation, but I’m only really familiar with CA State government and some of the counties.

      1. LawCat

        I know the overall range (it was advertised), but not if there are any “steps” within the range. (This information is widely available where I work now, but not in the other branch of government). So that could give me an opening, “I understand the range is $X-$Y overall, but are there steps within the range and, if so, how do those steps work?”

    3. One of the Annes

      Yes, do negotiate. Some state agencies do negotiate salary. My hiring manager for the agency I worked at in my former state expected candidates to negotiate, even for junior positions (wish I would’ve known that before I accepted the initial offer!). When I moved to my current state and was offered a state-agency job, I successfully negotiated a higher salary (using Alison’s suggested scripts). Former state was a nonunion state, and current state is a union state (and my position is a union position), so that did not matter at all.

  33. Vanishing Girl

    Today is my last day at current job, and I start my awesome new job in my old city August 1st. It is so hard to stay focused and actually get things done today, but I will try my best.

    Happy Friday, everyone!

  34. Bend & Snap

    Okay kids. I am having to change my meds and my anxiety is not well controlled right now. I’m hoping to get a handle on it over the weekend but how can I get through today?

    Main issues are motivation, tiredness, wanting to punch people who talk to/near/around me + being annoyed by texts, emails, IMs. And generally feeling anxious obviously.

    I’m listening to white noise on noise cancelling ear buds but would love any other short-term coping advice to get me through the workday.

    1. Dawn

      Identify what NEEEEDS to get done today and make a list- preferably short stuff that won’t take too much brainpower. Turn off your phone and your IMs- if you can do so and still do your work. Good idea on the earbuds- maybe put on some good jams to combat the tiredness?

      Also, be extra nice to yourself too- realize that your brain isn’t at 100% efficiency right now and adjust your expectations of yourself accordingly. Try to get through your list, but be gentle with yourself if you don’t. Try to not get annoyed at people, but be gentle with yourself if you lose your temper. The way you feel right now is temporary!

    2. Leatherwings

      I don’t know if this will help you, but I get annoyed easily as a symptom of my anxiety and I suck on hard candies or cough drops. It especially helps with the people who make noise around me because it gives me something to focus on. It’s like a different stimuli than all the annoyances.

      I also set timers for myself to help with motivation – I force myself to work for 20 minutes followed by a 5 minute break.

    3. Sunflower

      When my anxiety gets really bad, I tell myself ‘I just need to get through today’ and then I break it down into smaller time/project incremnets. ‘I just need to get through this hour’, ‘I just need to get through this report’. But try to give yourself an easy day if you can.

      Also it sounds simple but closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths instantly calms me down a bit. Try listening to some soothing music and doing that.

    4. voluptuousfire

      Avoid caffeine (if you’re not already) and make sure you’re eating well. Anxiety and your blood sugar dropping suddenly is no picnic, especially for the mood you’re in now! Hangry is not fun for anyone. Try having a cup of herbal tea. I like Well Rested tea from Trader Joes.

      If you have Gmail, you can shut off your Gchat to get stuff done. I’d recommend telling your colleagues you’re going off the grid and are spending your time in your inbox. When I have a ton of emails and chat windows start blinking, it can make mine go through the roof.

      Also give yourself a treat at the end of the day, t

    5. Lily Evans

      Is there any music that you might find more relaxing than the white noise? YMMV depending on what type of music you like and if you can work while listening to it, but listening to the loud angsty music I loved in high school always helped me relax when I was anxious.

      Do you have a lot of immediate things to get done, or can you coast for a day? Sometimes just accepting that it’s not going to be a productive day can take a weight off your shoulders.

      Can you take a break to take a walk? Even if it’s just for five minutes, getting out of the environment that’s heightening your anxiety can help. Also during breaks or lunch I’ve read funny things online, or even watched an episode of a show like Parks and Rec or The Office on my phone, because even just mentally checking out for a bit can help.

    6. KellyK

      Breathing exercises help me. The one that’s easiest to do is to focus on breathing out as slowly as possible. Another nice thing if you can take a quiet break away from your coworkers for a few minutes is to download an app called Calm. It has a bunch of nature scenes with soothing sounds, like a beach, a meadow, and rain falling on leaves. It can be a nice five or ten minute meditation.

      For tiredness, sometimes splashing a little cold water on your face in the bathroom or wiping a cold, wet paper towel over your eyes can help.

      Turn off any notifications that aren’t both job-related and urgent. (If you can turn off Outlook notifications and just check your email every hour, do that.)

      If all else fails, is a partial sick day an option? That depends on your job and the leave you have, but sometimes with anxiety, it’s easy to feel like you *have to* push through, when in reality, it might be perfectly okay to say you’re not feeling well and call it a day. Sometimes, even reminding yourself that you can leave if you need to helps.

    7. Bend & Snap

      Thanks everyone. I have a relatively light day but have to use my brain so blah.

      I took a lot of this advice, got out of the office for a healthy lunch, lots of water, trying to tune everything out and be happy when I cross something off my list.

      3 hours and 20 minutes to go.

  35. Dave

    Oh, another question I have about HRMS applications.

    Am I shooting myself in the foot by trying to dodge the salary expectation questions on these? I’ve filled out a couple where the field is open-text and I always write “Salary is negotiable depending on the total compensation package” or something to that effect. Then I had one that required I enter a number. I put in 0, because I hate playing this guessing game, and would rather talk about it with a person. But, did I filter myself out by doing so?

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      I know a lot of people who do the same as you. I do the same as well, and it hasn’t hurt me yet.

  36. Teapot Project Coordinator

    Anyone a PMP? If so, how long had you worked in project management before getting your PMP?
    I work as a teapot project coordinator and have for almost three years, but I don’t quite meet the PMP requirements for time in project management to take the classes to get a PMP certification.
    Did you find that the PMP requirements were flexible, or absolutely necessary?
    And, do you think getting your PMP was “worth it?”
    I love my work, but there’s a serious difference in salary for project coordinator –> project manager and it’s something I’m considering for the future

    1. Teapot Project Coordinator

      Oh and bonus points for anyone who has moved around in different industries as a project manager. I’m in an heavily male dominated field and I don’t want to stay in it for the rest of my career.

    2. Jules the First

      My sister got her PMP – I think she started after about three years of experience, but took a couple of years to finish the coursework. She started out in medical research design and now works in software. She is a huge fan of the PMP process.

      I do project management in a creative field and I’ve not bothered with a PMP because I didn’t think it was enough of an advantage – most of what I do is people management which has the happy side effect of keeping the project on track.

      I guess my perspective is that the PMP is worth it if what you do is process-driven and relies on implementing repeatable systems; if you do the kind of project management that involves coaxing people into meetings and enforcing deadlines but isn’t easily broken down into repeatable actions, then a PMP isn’t very useful.

      The best way to find out whether you meet the requirements is to reach out to your local PMP branch, who will have someone who answers questions about pros and cons and the certification process.

    3. MoinMoin

      My mother is, she loves it and would say it’s absolutely worth it. Then again, she also teaches PMP test prep through her local PMI chapter, so she may be biased. And she was deep into an industry and fell into the position, which seems different from how a lot of people find it now, so YMMV. I’m interested in possibly pursuing it but I don’t really even know how to get onto a career path towards it, but that’s my own deal, I only mention it to say that we’ve talked a bit about it. From our discussions, it seems like the cert requirements are pretty flexible- I was surprised that she seemed to think most of my workforce management and client payroll analyst experience might count- but if you’re still short on hours and have a secondary degree you may look at the CAPM as a stepping stone (hopefully someone else will chime in on this, I’ve heard mixed opinions on the hireability of it and whatnot, though the evolving opinion I hear seems to be that it’s worthwhile).
      Anyway, hopefully you’ll get more useful opinions than my secondhand experience, but I wanted to toss it in anyway.

  37. Day late, TPS report short

    As part of my job I have to complete quarterly status updates to “auditors” (not actually in the accounting field but the label works for my purposes) regarding each of my projects, and because these aren’t the underlying work itself I have on occasion gotten behind on what we’ll call my TPS reports. Usually the projects I am more confident in I find easier to draft updates about, while the more challenging files I struggle with updating too because I’m concerned if something proves wrong in an update it’ll be held against me later when discovered even if addressed. (This isn’t what I’m seeking advice on but just explaining the background on the dynamic at play.)

    Recently, my boss decided he wanted to review the organizing processes by which we get these TPS reports done and asked me and others on a group email within the week to let him know when the last update was on each of our files for him to aggregate. I intended to use the prodding to update everything anew and then send over a summary. Instead an overambitious co-worker took the group email as meaning she should create a spreadsheet of everyone’s updates herself and email the boss with us cc’d. The result is someone basically emailed by boss an unprompted list of everything I hadn’t yet done before I had a chance to address it.

    I know “tattling” is not an office construct, but I’m pretty ticked at being made to look bad unnecessarily. How would you handle?

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      Don’t handle this at all. Leave your coworker be. Don’t assume your boss even thinks you are behind on work. If he didn’t like the way coworker handled it he will say so.

    2. it happens

      You seem to be projecting your guilt at not being done with the reports onto your coworker saving you some work. If your reports are not overdue then I guess I don’t see the issue. Your process seems to be ‘do the report just before the deadline’ and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. Your supervisor may decide to implement a different (and maybe better) process, but the one you’re following now has worked up to now. Breathe

    3. Flora

      I wouldn’t do anything. It’s not like anyone fabricated info here to make you look bad. The info shared was accurate and asked for by your boss. You risk seeming defensive and petty if you complain about this.

      Resolve to stay on top of your work in future, and have a clear, non-defensive answer for your boss if they ask why your reports aren’t done.

  38. addlady

    I am doing things to deliberately mess up. It’s really strange to think about, but I am afraid of doing too well.

    The problem is, in some areas I’ve already been outstanding, so I feel like I’m putting pressure on myself to do exceptionally well, AND failing my own standards. Either that, or the pressure I’m feeling every time someone corrects me is simply my own perfectionism talking.

    It’s a really difficult balance, and I do feel like there would be bad consequences in terms of relationships with my coworkers if I don’t make enough mistakes, or if I make too many. I’m just about two months into my job, and I uncover mistakes made by other people already, although I try to do it nicely (why did you make that choice? vs “Look, a mistake!”). I feel like that really ticks people off, especially when I DO make mistakes of my own.

    Aaargh. Help please. Should I work to the best of my ability? Should I work slowly? How do I keep relationships up with my teammates?

    1. addlady

      I also think that in my decision to slow down the pace I’m learning things, I slowed down my work TOO much and really overshot the number of mistakes I can make. Argh.

    2. Sunflower

      What kind of mistakes are happening?

      In my dept, people make mistakes a good amount. Bosses don’t care- they care about fixing it. Meaning, if everytime a mistake was made, someone sent an email asking ‘why did you make that choice’ it would be a huge time suck and piss a lot of people off. Not sure if that is relevant to the mistakes that are happening with you. I work in a law firm and I’ve learned working with partners that you gotta have thick skin and not take things personally. That kind of mirrors over into our dept meaning we all just accept that we all make mistakes, other people catch them and it’s not about calling people out, it’s about making sure the work is done right. It could be that is the mindset of your dept.

      Also- IDK about you but i put A LOT more pressure on myself when I make mistakes. If I mess up, I freak out and OMG I can’t believe I did that but when other’s make them, I accept that they are human and we all make mistakes and I don’t think anything less of them. It’s a personality thing. Working on it in therapy.

      1. addlady

        Thanks, that helps a lot with the pressure on self side of it.

        There’s more too, though–like, one of the first few days at work, the guy who was training me told he wished I wouldn’t be so eager because then I would burn out. I heard “stop being such a Hermione.” I started making mistakes more often, and . . . I feel like he’s much happier when I’m making mistakes, and more unhappy when I make code that he doesn’t understand or point out (kindly!) one of his mistakes. So I started focusing on #1, but I think I overdid it. I can’t believe that this is a thing, but it seems to be.

        1. KellyK

          Don’t let people who are insecure about their own skills drag you down, and don’t make mistakes on purpose. It’s not your job to cater to his insecurities. You can tone down the “eagerness” if it’s annoying coworkers, and be careful about how or if you point out his mistakes, since he seems to be sensitive about it.

          Also, I don’t think asking someone why they made that choice is productive. If it’s a verifiable mistake that will cause actual problems, let them know about it matter of fact-ly. If it’s more of a “best practices” or your personal preferences issue, let it go. I’m a tech writer and editor, so to use my work as an example, if someone sends out slides with a spelling error, I will let them know, even if it’s not my job to fix it specifically. But if they send something out where they didn’t use the subjunctive mood correctly, or their bullets aren’t in perfectly parallel structure, I don’t worry about it unless I’ve actually been tasked to edit it.

          1. addlady

            These are things that people are using to train me. For instance,someone (same person) was helping me write some code and training me with what I wrote. I saw a mistake but simply asked him why he made that choice. I think he realized I was pointing out a mistake though.

    3. Amtelope

      Can you work to the best of your ability without focusing on uncovering mistakes made by other people? Unless your workplace is really dysfunctional, working quickly and to the best of your ability should be a good thing; correcting others when you’re new on a team, unless that’s specifically your job, not so much.

      1. addlady

        Yeah, I’m sure there are plenty of times I’ve been pointing out mistakes that weren’t in my direct line of work. I’ll stop doing that

  39. Bigglesworth

    I had my first phone interview for a role that is right in line with my skills and interests (international education). I think it went well, but I’ll find out next week if I made it on to the next round.

    I’ve been applying for a new job since my employer is putting into place a new religious policy I don’t agree with. We’d already lost 50% of the staff in the 13 months I’ve been here and we’re probably going to lose three more people in the next 3-4 weeks.

    Fingers crossed I get this role if it’s a good fit!

    1. Dawn

      A new religious policy? Are you in the US? Really curious what your employer is doing!

      And good luck with your job search!

      1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

        A lot of non-profits and private schools are exempt from this by being a “religious institution”. They have strict religous/moral codes of conduct. Things like living with unmarried person of the opposite sex is a fire able offense, etc.

        My husband was looking for a teaching job, and passed on a religious private school because it required that all staff strictly adhere to Benedictine values. As Francis fans, we would be fired.

        1. Bigglesworth

          I can understand where you’re husband is coming from. I work for an accredited, higher ed institution and we’ve had potential faculty members remove themselves from the running because of our lifestyle covenant. Since I went to school here, I didn’t have a problem with the initial one I signed, but there’s a new one coming out that I don’t agree with and I’d rather leave while I still have a job.

      2. Bigglesworth

        Thanks, Dawn!

        If you want to know more about what’s going on, I wrote to Alison and she posted my question about my situation at the end of March. I’ve been waiting and watching on the sidelines before sending an update to Alison and the rest of the readers.

          1. Bigglesworth

            Thanks, Elizabeth! I’ve been wanting to keep everyone posted, but the chaos is evolving so quickly it’s hard to keep track of it all!

  40. Diluted_TortoiseShell

    tl;dr version: I was given great scores on my performance review, but over an hour of negative feedback. Wondering if I am being too sensitive for feeling down about it, and not sure if I should talk to my supervisor or not.

    Long version: Although I am new to my role I earned top marks (4 out of 5) in all but one metric (which was a 5) in my first performance review. My 3 bosses spent the first ten minutes saying pleasant non-specific things like: “You are an absolute pleasure to work with. You are doing a phenomenal job. You are incredibly gifted.”

    Which is all nice but ….

    For the next 1 hour and 20 minutes they gave me negative feedback about 2 items they wanted me to improve on. They provided examples of how my performance here was not optimal, but because there were not that many examples they repeated themselves often. One example was used 4 times!

    I was not given a chance to talk during most of this, which was a blessing since I was fighting back tears starting around the 40 minute mark of criticism. (Tip: If you feel like crying, try clenching your glutes. It will help lessen the lump in throat sensation).

    After the session I was far too emotionally drained to say anything, and was using most of my energy to keep from crying so when I was given the chance to speak I just said “OK. I understand”.

    They then announced that I am no longer allowed to work from home because customer-facing staff complained it wasn’t fair. They also hinted that, although they “get” that I had 2 deaths in the family, I should be aware of the absenteeism policy. I asked if my bereavement leave counted towards absenteeism and they said no. I then asked if my absences were coming anywhere near being an absenteeism issue and they stated no. They just wanted me to “be aware” that the perception was that I missed a lot of work.

    I have been told in the past that I am too sensitive to feedback. It’s something I have worked hard on over the past 3 years, and I have not had nearly as much trouble accepting critical feedback as I use to. However this was awful for me! I feel as if I have been punished by having my WFH privilege revoked and this is the sort feedback I would expect to accompany 1’s and 2’s, not 4’s and 5’s!

    Am I being too sensitive? What do you make of this review? Should I talk to my bosses to clarify anything about this review or just leave it be?

    1. Kate

      I’m so sorry, that sucks. While you should be getting *constructive* feedback during reviews, even as a high performer, this sounds like it was poorly handled. The way they handled the WFH and comments about bereavement leave also doesn’t scream good management

    2. Bob Barker

      It’s a little hard to tell from what you write whether your bosses are jerks, or just not smart enough to realize that not every received criticism is reasonable and pass-on-able. I currently have a boss who is the latter, so in my most recent review she passed on a remark about my not being on-the-ball enough when going home sick. I reminded her that (a) that happened once, because I’m very rarely ill and (b) I was GOING HOME SICK, HELLO. No, I wasn’t on the ball, because I was so sick the letters on my screen were dancing around.

      She kind of went, hm, you know, it’s true, you’re almost never sick.

      In your case, it sounds like your bosses were either struggling to fill time, struggling to fulfill a requirement that they criticize, attempting to placate some coworker who has it in for you, or all of the above. I do think it would be worth it to push back on the loss of a privilege (“Okay, I didn’t do anything wrong, but you’ve taken away one of my perks. So what can I get instead?”). If you have a good relationship with any of your bosses, it might be good to say, “Hey, that was a demoralizing review. We spent a really long time on my faults, and very little on my accomplishments. Are you really that unhappy with my work?” Sometimes that latter conversation is a way of finding out whether they’re trying to manage you out. But sometimes it can give the boss pause, and make them re-evaluate how they handle reviews.

    3. LCL

      “They then announced that I am no longer allowed to work from home because customer-facing staff complained it wasn’t fair.”
      This sentence is very telling. Your managers are weak and being run by the stronger persons in the group. It’s worth talking to your bosses about, but don’t expect to feel better. One of the main duties of being in any kind of manager position is being willing to listen to all of the workers complaints, and then decide which are worth acting on and which shouldn’t even be passed on.

      And having 3 people spend 80 minutes! on your perceived shortcomings and repeating themselves? Anybody would be irate and upset. That was very unprofessional of them. Again, it sounds like the culture is one of ‘all opinions are valid and must be voiced, otherwise we are being elitist.’ ( I worked with someone like this, he believed it was immoral to not allow all opinions to be heard.) If you ordered milk chocolate instead of dark for the latest batch of teapots it is reasonable for the 3 supervisors affected to talk about it amongst themselves. It is reasonable for 1 supervisor to discuss it with you. It is clueless or sadistic (don’t know which) to have all 3 go over and over the same mistake 4 times.

  41. JadeShrew

    It’s been another two weeks of no responses or actual rejections for jobs. I’m up to 232 jobs applied for over the last year. I can’t help but think now that I have ruined any chances for moving out of my extremely dead-end position now. My advanced degree is both too much (I am past the point of internships – I’ve applied, but get immediate rejections) and too little (I don’t have enough rigorous statistical training for most non-academic research, and the professorial track is not possible for a host of other reasons). I’ve got a very stable job history – two years in my current position, seven years at my previous one, although there is a period of short-term contract positions between the jobs – but these jobs are not in the fields I would like to pursue. I began applying for jobs that would be lateral moves, but no interest there, either.

    I’ve redone my resume. I have Alison’s book. I follow the advice. I just…I don’t know. I’m going nowhere.

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      I don’t see a lot of jobs that ask for an MS in stats. Most want PhDs. I’ve never gotten a master in stats for that very reason. There are a lot of jobs I”ve managed to enjoy with a stats BS, but they are not strictly stats job. I’ve worked in a variety of analyst roles and love when I get a chance to bust out a t-test but it is rare. Do you program any? There are often statistical programmer jobs out there that are interested in BS and MS candidates.

      1. JadeShrew

        I have a Ph.D. in sociology. I do not have the background for programming and my doctoral program was qualitative focused, so I am not qualified for most research jobs.

        1. Bigglesworth

          What about applying to adjunct teaching positions? It might not be what you want to do (now or ever), but it could bring in additional income while adding something extra to your resume.

          1. JadeShrew

            I’d really like to avoid going back to that. I have seven years of teaching experience (five adjunct, two full time) and if money becomes a massive issue, I’ll do it – but I really don’t need to add more teaching experience. I also don’t want that to be my career.

        2. Lia

          Institutional research? How about development/fundraising research and analytics? the sociology PhD would make you an attractive candidate for both, with the qualitative information (most IR positions have a strong survey research component).

        3. Maiasaura

          What about a position doing qualitative evaluation/research work for a federal contractor? We have lots of folks doing that in public health/policy. The big names are RTI, Westat, ICF, Battelle, Danya, Deloitte, Scimetrika, Mathematica, and the Urban Institute. Consulting can be hit or miss but it usually pays quite well.

    2. Leatherwings

      It sounds like you might need to tailor your resume a bit more. If you’re applying for internships, take the advanced degree off.

      I know Alison says it all the time, but if you’ve applied for 232 jobs (like 20 a month) and consistently aren’t getting interviews, then you need to change something. It might be that you need to fix your resume and cover letters (even if people think they are good and they’ve taken all of Alison’s advice, they’re usually the problem) or you’re just not applying to the right kind of jobs.

      If you are getting interviews but no offers/late stage interviews, that’s where I would focus my efforts. I know the whole process is frustrating, draining and demotivating but if you keep focusing on improving then something will pop up!

      1. JadeShrew

        I have tried taking the degrees off; however, I then have to explain my job history, because for the past ten years the positions have required at least an MS. That is an awkward situation that gets me knocked out at the phone interview stage.

        What would be the ‘right kind of jobs’? I am applying to opportunities both in the fields I would like to move in to – entry level – and in the field I am currently in – both for lateral moves and hoping for a step up. I have gotten four phone interviews and one in-person interview, and nothing else.

        1. Leatherwings

          So you’re getting insta-rejected because of your degree but if you avoid it you get insta-knocked out because of your job history? Then this again sounds like you’re maybe not applying to the right kinds of things, or it just doesn’t quite follow. I can hear your frustration, which I totally understand. It’s such a frustrating process. But I think it’s possible you’re so deep in a rut that you’re not looking at this objectively and not taking constructed criticism as much as you could be if you weren’t so frustrated.

          And I don’t know your field so I can’t answer what kind of jobs you should be applying to, but 232 without many interviews is a lot and indicates that EITHER your resume and cover letters need work, OR you’re applying scattershoot to too many jobs that aren’t the right fit.

        2. Overeducated

          So as someone with a PhD in a discipline similar to yours, I had no luck whatsoever applying to entry level jobs. Only what felt like mid – level and stretch jobs. I wouldn’t bother applying to stuff meant for 22 year olds.

          1. Christopher Tracy

            I had no luck whatsoever applying to entry level jobs.

            This same thing happened to me when I was trying to change fields to something tangential to what I was doing before, and I only have a BA. I’ve only had about six years of post-college work experience, so I figured that made me entry-level (not to mention that I was trying to break into a field I had no prior experience or training in). Nope – I only started getting bites when I applied to mid-career positions in the new field. It was strange, but apparently the experience I do have is vast, and the transferable skills are highly desirable to employers in this other field.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      So, for what it’s worth, very, very, very often when people tell me “I’ve done everything you say and I’m not getting interviews,” when I look at their resume and cover letter … they have not actually done a lot of what I suggest. Obviously not 100% of the time because I’m not saying I’m a magical wizard or whatever, but a lot of the time.

      As an experiment, if you want, I’d be glad to take a look at yours and tell you whether I think that might be going on here or not (and if it is, to point you toward the things I think you need to focus on). If you want to do that, shoot them over to me at alison@askamanager.org and reference this conversation. (And if you do it today, we can use it to inform this conversation here, which could be interesting.)

      1. Bigglesworth

        This is one of the reasons I love reading your blog, Alison! You take a genuine interest in your readership.

      2. JadeShrew

        Thank you so much for the offer, Alison. I’m sorry I didn’t return to this thread earlier. I’ve sent my materials! If the discussion does continue here, that would be interesting!

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Okay, I looked them over and … well, yeah, the biggest things I recommend for resumes and cover letters are things you’re not really doing :)

          Your resume is a perfectly solid resume but it’s focusing on what activities you were responsible for, but not what outcomes you got from them. You can imagine someone in the same role as you having the same content on their resume, which is a flag that you’re not differentiating yourself by how you performed the job. In other words, the hiring manager can tell that you had a job with a job description but not how well you did it, and that’s the part that will make you really stand out as a candidate who excites them, especially in a sea of similarly qualified candidates.

          More on this here:

          https://www.askamanager.org/2014/02/how-to-rewrite-your-resume-to-focus-on-accomplishments-not-just-job-duties.html

          https://www.askamanager.org/2013/06/how-to-list-accomplishments-on-your-resume-when-your-job-doesnt-have-easy-measures.html

          http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2009/06/29/the-no-1-question-your-resume-should-answer

          Your cover letter isn’t entirely just summarizing your resume, which is good — you’ve created more of a narrative that ties to the job you’re applying for. But it’s still hewing pretty close to “here’s what I’ve done,” which they’re going to largely get from your resume so I’d love to see you use that space to flesh yourself out more with stuff they can’t get from the resume. More than that, though, I think what might be holding you back cover-letter-wise is that it’s written in a very stiff, formal tone. I think you could strengthen it significantly by writing more conversationally — right now it doesn’t sound very engaging (it sounds a little like you were gritting your teeth while writing it, which you probably were). Imagine yourself writing an informal email to a friend about why you’re excited for the job and why you’d be great at it — that’s much more what you’re going for here.

          Here are a few examples of cover letters that I think will point you in the right direction:

          https://www.askamanager.org/2011/09/great-cover-letter.html

          https://www.askamanager.org/2013/11/this-is-a-resume-and-cover-letter-that-work.html

          https://www.askamanager.org/2014/02/heres-a-real-life-example-of-a-great-cover-letter-with-before-and-after-versions.html

          To be clear, your resume and cover letter aren’t bad, not by any means. They’re like a lot of resumes and cover letters I see. But like most, they’re just not doing anything to strengthen you as a candidate. I think if you follow the tips above, you’ll really up your chances of getting different results!

  42. Jennifer

    On the good side: I am handling workload well, our temps are great, one of them finally got enough computer access to do more things, I got a round of applause JUST FOR ME for handling things well at work and a gift card. Huzzah!

    I do have one question, though: I’m supposed to be having daily meetings with my boss so I can ask her all the weird questions that people are asking me that I don’t have answers to. However, she’s so busy and swamped and being grabbed by other people that she’s well…forgetting about/kinda blowing off said meetings. I don’t want to be A Nag (and I feel like asking at all is being a nag), but…seriously, if we’re supposed to meet at 8:15 and she’s swept off by another manager for an hour or disappears or whatever, what am I supposed to do? Any suggestions? I don’t think it’s okay to have to keep asking over and over again, but….that’s pretty much what it’s boiling down to. It’s like trying to catch a butterfly.

    1. Dawn

      Send your questions via email when you can’t get her in person, if that’d work. That way at least she can see them and review them, and they don’t pile up from day to day to day if you can’t catch her.

      1. Jennifer

        Still kind of a problem since she gets over a thousand e-mails per day. I do do that, but it helps to get her attention in person to point them out to her.

    2. writelhd

      I don’t know your workload but daily sounds like a lot and maybe she’d be more able to meet them if you suggested you do it every few days, or weekly, instead?

      1. Jennifer

        I am literally the only adult staff member left in this particular group and I have not been here long enough to be able to answer every question I get, so we agreed to have daily meetings so I could get the answers from her. People will get angry if I don’t respond soon, so….yeah.

        Well, I did get a hold of her at one point, so that happened. But apparently some kind of huge drama involving crying happened and the managers were all meeting together privately for most of the day. Hoo boy.

  43. esra

    I can’t even, you guys, with this work mess:

    Our Leader of Teapots quit, leaving only the Handle Maker, Teapot Painter, and myself, the Teapot Designer. Our team is almost complete, but we really need a junior, someone to just pinch hit for minor teapot assembly.

    We’re hiring a More Senior Teapotter to replace the Leader, and in the meantime, they have brought in someone who ostensibly is supposed to help with the minor stuff, but has a lot of experience and is a friend of the president, and has the title of Lead Teapot Artist. A title that would typically mean he’s stepping in at a more senior level, but we’ve been reassured is meaningless and that he will just be doing the minor junior stuff.

    But it doesn’t seem they told him that. He’s come in, talking about all the Lead Teapot work he’s going to be doing, trying to take over my work, making meetings with other departments and generally steamrolling while telling the rest of the team to our faces that he’s just here to help + do long term planning. I brought my concerns to HR, in case I had misunderstood them, and they clarified no, this guy is here to help you, we’ll talk to him.

    So they did. Nothing changed.

    The head of HR asked for an update from me yesterday, and I told her my continuing concerns and said I was just going to sit down with the guy and hash things out. So I booked our team in (there’s just the four of us) for half an hour and said, hey, I think we’re on different pages of the same book, let’s make sure we all know our roles. Here’s what I understand our roles to be, and what I’ve been told, does that sound right to everyone?

    He lost his business. He started saying clearly the rest of the team was really frustrated and he was just here to lead teapot design in the grander scale while I deal with smaller scale design, and that he’s been meeting with other department heads to let them know he’s here for them. I said, no! We’re not frustrated, everyone is just a bit confused it sounds like and I think it would be good if have clear roles so we can be a smooth machine going forward. I said that I had been told I would continue to lead teapot design and if he had been told differently, that we should clear that up or we’ll appear disorganized as a department. The Handle Maker and Teapot Painter agreed that everyone just needs to be clear on roles, but this guy just kept getting more and more upset. We all agreed that we should talk to HR together, and he went to talk to them alone, while I followed up via email.

    What a mess. I’m second-guessing myself here, but I’m not technically in a leadership role! I’ve been trying to hold things together since our Leader left and we don’t have a More Senior Teapotter in place yet. I’m just a peer here. I don’t know if I should’ve talked to him on my own, passed it back to HR or what. I’m the type to confront things head on, but I feel like I don’t have all the information I need to do that.

    I think all of us need to just sit down with HR at once and get clarification, but that’s proving difficult to pin down.

    In conclusion, does anyone have some solid advice about finding enough money to retire on in your 30s.

    1. Master Bean Counter

      Buy a Powerball ticket. Other than that to retire in your 30’s is hard. You can’t have kids, a big house, or a nice car while you sock every spare penny into the bank.

    2. Kate

      Personally I would’ve talked to him on my own, then organized a joint meeting with someone up the food chain if that didn’t work. Is it too late to do that?

      1. esra

        It is too late. I honestly thought we could sit down and just have a “I’m here to do X,” “I’m here to do Y,” conversation. We have a meeting up the food chain now but honestly… Like I’m not an HR person. I’m just a peer on the team.

  44. Coffee Ninja

    I got a new job!!! At an internationally known university in my area, where I have been trying to get a job since I graduated college about ~10 years ago. I’m really sad to leave here – I truly believe in the work we do (it’s non-profit adjacent, cause-driven type stuff) but over the last year or so it’s a slowly sinking ship. The new job is a huge step forward career-wise. I still can’t believe I actually got it. I’ve had some exciting things happening in my personal life too, so I really feel like I’m going to wake up tomorrow and it’s all going to go away :)

    Perhaps the best part is getting away from my boss who likes to overly pry into my personal life and make me do her work on top of doing mine (our job functions do not overlap). She’s hardly spoken to me since I put in my notice!

    1. Bigglesworth

      Congratulations, Coffee Ninja (love the name by the way)!!! That’s exciting!!! I know what it’s like to keep trying for something and then finally getting it! I hope that all of this works out the best for you!

  45. CMT

    I got a rejection on Tuesday from a job I applied to last Friday. While I definitely appreciate knowing instead of waiting and waiting and waiting to hear back, the speed with which they rejected me stung. It was a job I was really excited about, too. I feel so stuck in this job I hate in a city I hate and I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing this job in this city until I turn into dust. I’ve been trying to get out for sooo long!

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      Don’t let it sting. They could have already hired someone so they got back to you quick. There app system could suck and auto-reject you for misspelling John when your name actually is Jhon. Any number of non-you are a good candidate reasons.

    2. Leatherwings

      I agree with Diluted_ToroiseShell, don’t let the timeline sting. Most hiring managers look at applications for a couple of minutes before deciding whether to move forward with you.

      I’m sorry you feel stuck, I hope you find something amazing soon.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      At the application stage, I usually know if I’m rejecting someone in about 1-2 minutes of reading their application, and often less. I wait a week to reject them so it doesn’t feel like you’ve described it here, but there really isn’t a lot of contemplating going on behind the scenes. This is very, very normal. And also not personal, even though it feels that way — it can just be about stronger candidates in the pool, or you not having a qualification you didn’t realize they’re looking for, etc.

      1. CMT

        Yeah, I know all this rationally. I’m just disappointed. I wrote such a good cover letter! You would have been proud of it.

  46. Anon Millennial

    Is there a post on AAM dedicated to what “Casual Dress Friday” actually means? My very formal boss (who’s in town every other week) said I could dress down today but his definition is probably khakis (not happening) and a nice but not dressy shirt. For any other visiting coworker it means anything from jeans and a nice but not dressy shirt to jeans and whatever shirt I feel like wearing.

    1. Leatherwings

      I don’t remember a post like that, but it depends so much on your office. In my office, that means jeans and a button down for dudes and jeans plus a nicer top or more casual dress/skirt is fine.

      I would model what your boss and coworkers wear.

    2. OlympiasEpiriot

      Click on the topic “workplace practices” in AAM’s topic list on the righthand sidebar. I’m pretty sure that will bring up a bunch of posts that would help you.

    3. Persephone Mulberry

      At my last company, the dress code actually spelled out what was acceptable for Casual Fridays. Jeans = fine, Jeans with holes or ratty hems = not fine. T-shirts = fine, T-shirts with logos/slogans/imagery = not fine. Tennis shoes = fine, flip flops = not fine (although lots of people ignored this one).

  47. Just me

    I’m feeling crummy because I just got a rejection for a job I really wanted. I passed the written exam and just interviewed for it yesterday. I was a good fit on paper and the organization works in a field of personal interest for me. In the interview I felt like I established rapport and things went well.

    I’m pretty sure they filled the position internally; it was to backfill a vacancy left when another internal candidate left to fill the next-higher position for mat leave, and I know they were considering someone internal.

    I lost my job 10 months ago and that was my first in-person interview in more than 9 months. I’m feeling sorry for myself, thinking I have no chance competing if they have someone on the inside in mind. I keep thinking they wanted that person all along, and that I was just a token due diligence candidate so my making it to the short list means nothing. This is aggravating; most positions I apply to are federal government and those take an incredibly long time to materialize, so this would have been a great shot at something quick.

    Ugh, now day drinking and hiding in my sewing room.

    1. JadeShrew

      Drinking and sewing is excellent therapy. I’m sorry for the disappointment – I definitely know the feeling.

  48. Mander

    Well, I just had an interview for an internal post and I think I completely failed the practical exam portion. For once I felt like I did well on the actual interview part, but despite studying beforehand I didn’t know enough about how to do the practical exercise and I did not even finish it, let alone polish it or check for errors.

    I feel awful. It was a great and rare opportunity and I blew it.

  49. S.M.

    Huge fan of the site, but I don’t think I’ve ever commented before. Here goes…

    Has anyone had success asking for a raise only a couple of months after receiving a merit increase? Long story short—my husband has been in his position coming up on 3 years but has been with his company for 10+. During time in his current role, he has received only one salary increase, a merit increase a few months ago. In the 2 years prior to that, no merit increases were given to anyone in the company. His performance reviews have been consistently very high, and he is frequently recognized as a top performer, both in his department and within the company as a whole, to the extent that he’s beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable with the disproportionate praise from his boss for his efforts versus his teammates’ efforts. However, he works closely with the rest of his team and knows he is the boss’s go-to person for big projects, creative problem solving, etc. Since taking the job 3 years ago, his job description has grown to include a lot of new responsibilities, and multiple new tech skills. He is the only person on his team that has these new skills/responsibilities (because he’s the only one who’s taken the initiative to develop them), and several of the new projects he’s responsible for are directly linked to his boss’s own yearly goals, in a way other team members’ projects are not. Because he’s a consistently high performer with a job that looks completely different from the one he originally accepted, he’d like to ask for a raise, but having just received a 4% merit increase months ago, he’s wondering if that will not fly. While 4% is great, and he’s appreciative, 4% in 3 years doesn’t seem like a sufficient bump for someone who has been recognized as a huge asset. Should he ask for another raise, and if so, how can he frame it so he doesn’t look ungrateful for the recent merit increase but instead makes a great case for why it was a good start—but not enough? Thanks in advance for any insights!

    1. KW10

      I think it would not be appropriate at this point unless something has changed significantly since the merit raise (new responsibilities, won a large contract, etc). Otherwise, the time to ask for a larger raise was then – it would seem strange to go back and raise it now (no pun intended!).

      1. S.M.

        I appreciate the advice! Now I’m wondering though—does that mean that when a company has a yearly process for reviews/merit increases that it’s never appropriate to ask for a raise at a different time of year? Or is it just problematic because in this case, the increase was just months ago? I’ve read in other blogs/articles that the worst time to ask for a raise is actually during annual reviews/merit increases because everyone is getting increases, making the budget tight (or seemingly so at least) during that time, but I couldn’t find anything on AAM specific to this. If there’s a post on, someone please point me in the right direction. Thank you!

        1. (Not an IRS) Auditor

          It’s not clear to me if he’s not gotten any type of raises for three years until the 4%, or has received COLAs but not a merit/economic increase until recently? Because those are two different situations.

          1. S.M.

            No increases at all — merit or cost of living, etc. — until the recent merit increase. So his salary is just 4% more than he started at in the role three years ago, but his job description and responsibilities have increased substantially. He has had some recent big “wins” at work, but the goal of asking for a raise now would be to get to a salary that better reflects his actually responsibilities and consistent high performance rather than just get an increase because he recently did something awesome. He’s just not sure about the timing, and we’ve found so much conflicting advice about when to ask for a raise (during review time versus not during review time). Wish it was more straightforward! Thanks!

        2. nerfmobile

          My company (a large one) has a formal yearly process, and also a half-year mark when various bonuses may be awarded. I’ve also seen promotions happen at that half-year mark, and I presume that sometimes raises-without-promotions might happen then under certain circumstances. I wouldn’t think they ever happen outside that period without something extremely unusual happening.

          In my company, if I were going to ask for a raise (above and beyond whatever raise my manager might have in mind for that annual process), I would have a meeting to make my case about three months before the annual process. That would get in into consideration before the manager conversations over budgets start happening, and would be my best chance at influencing the process.

  50. OhNo

    Is it normal and/or acceptable to take a day off of work to move?

    I’m about to move into my first apartment, but unfortunately the first day I can shift my stuff over is a Monday. I want to move in as soon as possible, and I’d really rather not wait until the weekend, but I’m not sure if it would come across as weird or unprofessional to take a day off to move.

    1. esra

      I think it’s completely normal. I’ve done it myself and have had several coworkers do it as well. You can’t always control closing dates etc.

    2. Dawn

      You don’t have to tell people why you’re taking a day off! You can just say that hey, you need to take Monday off.

    3. Liana

      TOTALLY normal. I have absolutely done this in the past. I can’t think of any reasonable person that would hold it against you.

    4. K.

      Totally normal. I think it’s assumed that moving takes all day (and even if it doesn’t take you all day to get your stuff from once place to the other, you’ll want to get at least some stuff cleaned and unpacked). I wouldn’t think anything of it. And congrats on your first place!

    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      We used to get an extra “Moving Day” at my old company. You could only use it once a year, but it was free and clear. I used it 3 times in 8 years. Totally normal!

    6. Kasia

      If you have vacation/PTO to take you can take it for whatever you want. You don’t need to give them a reason. But if they ask I don’t see why “moving” isn’t a valid excuse but you could always say you have a Dr appointment or something.

    7. Not a Real Giraffe

      Absolutely. I usually take the day before and the day after, too, so I’m not stressed about last-minute packing and the beginnings of unpacking. Moving is stressful and basically a part-time job. Most people know that!

      Plus, as others have said, it’s your vacation time. You can use it however you want.

    8. Jules the First

      I once worked in a job where one of the benefits was that they would move you house once per year, so long as you packed your own boxes and picked a weekday. God I miss that gig…

    9. calonkat

      I’ve taken days off to help my DAUGHTER move :) Most companies just need notice of when you need/plan to take a day off. The reasons are up to you.

    10. Jennifer

      I took a WEEK off to move. Nobody blinked an eye about it. I spent Monday packing up boxes, Tuesday getting my car repaired and calling to change my mailing address, got the keys to move in Wednesday (hence why I took the week because they told me I could get in sometime midweek) through the rest of the week.

  51. NylaW

    My boss has finally worked through a plan with HR to create 4 new positions and reclassify several of us into positions better suited to what we are actually doing and with job descriptions and adjusted pay grades to match. Yay, right?

    But the one my boss wants to move me into apparently means I have to give up working from home two days a week. I started out doing this in the latter stages of a difficult pregnancy (to avoid bed rest) and then kept going after my son was born, for 5 years. It’s worked out amazing for our family and productivity has not been an issue. Once he starts school in a month, it will be even better, especially since we live 2 blocks from his school. I am the highest performer in my department and have nothing but stellar performance reviews. I talked with my boss and I can’t even get one regular work from home day. I have to be “visible in the office” all the time. I can work from home on occasion, but it can’t be a regularly scheduled day.

    I have enjoyed working from home so much and it’s actually helped me get things done by not having all the office distractions and interruptions (believe me, a toddler interrupting has been easy to deal with). My boss understands but is insisting because of issues with other people in our department. Apparently they have problems with me working from home so regularly and he is afraid those will increase if I am moved into this new position.

    I’m so mad.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot

      This sounds like a management problem that is being pushed onto you. Sorry to hear that.

        1. OhNo

          Are you sure you will get to keep your current schedule if you stay in the position you’re at? It sounds like your boss is really (overly) concerned with the appearances here, so it’s possible that he’d start making you come in even if you did end up staying in your current role.

    2. Temperance

      Do others get this flexibility, or was it a special perk because you were pregnant/mother of a young child?

      1. NylaW

        Nope. Not a special perk. We have three other staff members who regularly work from home, one of whom works from home every single day because she now lives 100 miles away in another state. (She does sometimes come in for meetings and events that are important to be resent for or that she feels would be better if she was physically there.)

        The general statement has always been that if we need to work from home to avoid using PTO or sick time unnecessarily, then we are trusted to do that and just send out a quick message that we’ll be at home so people can call our work cells instead of desk phone, or just use email. I would be fine with working from home on Fridays only, but apparently that’s not even on the table. This is very obviously a management issue that I’m getting punished for, but only because I’m being moved into this new position. The others being moved into new positions are not being told this.

        At this point I don’t want to change positions if things are going to be this way, because I know it probably won’t get better.

  52. Academia is Fun!

    Not sure if this is a Friday or Weekend open-thread question, since it’s for work purposes, but could apply elsewhere.

    So I’m finding there are situations in which being able to take notes on paper would be preferable to using a computer or iPad.

    But I have terrible handwriting to begin with, and have been almost completely out of practice in the 20+ years since I graduated from college. I literally cannot read my own notes if I’m taking them for more than a few minutes.

    Has anyone found good steps or tricks to really, really improve one’s handwriting, or for better notetaking in general (including anything that cuts down on the amount I have to write up)?

    1. Gandalf the Nude

      It’s certainly not unheard of to actually practice your handwriting, even if it feels a bit gradeschool. My partner got really into fountain pens for a while and decided he wanted to improve if he was going to be using these fancy writing utensils. So he actually sat down for about half an hour each evening to just write and improve his legibility. I think he mostly just copied passages from books or websites, so he could focus on the form instead of the composition.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I need to do that. I have fine motor control issues and handwriting for any length of time becomes difficult for me. I bet if I practiced, though, it might get easier. (Also cool pens, heh.)

      2. themmases

        Yes, this.

        Redesigning my handwriting used to be how I’d doodle when I was supposed to be paying attention in class. I’d find an element of handwriting I really liked (dramatic tall up and down-strokes? cartoonist-style caps?) and copy it over and over on the affected letters, then build up to connections and words until it felt natural to form letters that way. My current handwriting evolved out of a style I designed when I was 16.

        It’s not ideal to do if you’re the primary note-taker for a meeting, but it’s easy if you’re just taking notes for your own use. You can just incorporate something you actually needed to write down into your practice. Another option is to do it to keep your hands busy while you watch TV.

    2. Graciosa

      In the absence of learning shorthand (do they even teach it any more?) all I can suggest are known abbreviations. I use w/o (without) and wrt (with respect to) a fair amount, and others that are related to my industry and probably not transferable. I have specific symbols I use on the left margin to highlight action items, and I also use that margin for names or initials if I’m identifying speakers.

      You might be able to force yourself to print key items (like the first letter of a word or abbreviation you confuse with another) but I’m not optimistic about your ability to totally change your handwriting – which you’ve had for many years – especially when under time pressure while you’re writing.

      Good luck.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot

        Yes, shorthand is still taught. There’s online tutorials. You can just get a Gregg book (or print out sheets from the web) and study and practice. Most of that was self-taught anyhow, the teacher was there just to give encouragement and grades…just like typing ‘classes’.

    3. OlympiasEpiriot

      Shorthand. Easy to learn. Makes note-taking a breeze. There’s a couple different types. Gregg (to me) allows the fastest note-taking.

    4. Nanc

      I’ll bet your local library has books on improving your handwriting (I know mine does!). I used on called Your Handwriting Can Change Your Life, by Vimala Rodgers (it didn’t really change my life but I found the process of practicing very relaxing!). Also, what about a mini digital recorder to record the meetings/speakers so you can refer back to the tape if you need to?

    5. not a notetaker, really

      I’m not the best notetaker around, or anything, but a few things I do:
      -Embrace abbreviations, especially for words/project names that you use a lot. One thing that helps a lot when creating abbreviations of your own is to use a consistent system. For example, I tend to drop vowels, as well as the “in” in words that end in “-ing”. For example, painting becomes “pntg”, “teapot” becomes “tpt” etc. That way, even if you decide on the fly you need to create an abbreviation for a word, and then forget it later, you can fill in the blanks. I don’t drop vowels in all words, mind you, tht bcms a mss, but just in words that are being used a lot. Also, acronyms. If you’re a chocolate teapot designer, chocolate teapots can become CTP.

      -Leave lots of white space on the page–paper is cheap, and a line or two between topics or thoughts can really help.

      -Do something to call out action items in some way. Stars, arrows, whatever, but find something that works for you, and stick to it, and ONLY use it for items that you will need to take action on later. Starting this practice was the number one thing that made my notes better and more useful for me.

    6. BRR

      Other people in the past have said a fountain pen has helped improve their handwriting. Haven’t tried it myself.

    7. Tau

      May or may not be helpful, but: print everything. I haven’t written anything but my signature in cursive since they started letting us write however we wanted in school (seventh grade?) My handwriting is eh, my brother’s is absolutely appalling and we both write solely in print. It helps a LOT, because each letter being distinct means it’s not really possible to do the illegible scrawl thing.

      In uni, I also colour-coded my notes with something like eight different colours. It really helped not only with review, but with having them look nice the first time I took them – something about going to the effort of structuring my notes that way made me WANT to make them look nice.

      1. themmases

        Yeah, I would definitely say go for printing or only partially connected style… It’s what most adults fall into because it works. Connect letters when it’s fast to do so, and skip it when you need to draw some kind of flourish to connect the letters. It’s faster and easier to read.

        1. Aurion

          My favourite type of writing is cursive italic, because it falls into the middle between “nice looking” and “clean”. Spencerian script, for example, looks way too “flourish-y” to read easily, but cursive italic is gorgeous and very easily readable.

          The catch is, I don’t know how fast it is to write. I know practitioners who are good at it get faster, but I’ve never been able to figure out if they can actually write as fast as my (very poor) scrawl when I’m in a hurry. If I top out my max speed where it’s gorgeous but still only 70% as fast as my scrawl, I can’t be bothered, because nowadays I write so seldomly and when I do it’s in a hurry…

    8. EmmaLou

      My mother was a leftie and had lovely, beautiful handwriting. In the sixth grade, I heard my teacher berating a classmate for writing with his left hand, (she was a peach), and told him that no one who writes left-handed has nice handwriting. So I brought in a note from my mother. She sniffed at it, but didn’t berate the poor kid again that I heard. My handwriting, right-handed though it is, was never as pretty as my mother’s. However, I did adopt her practice of filling pages with big round leaning Os and right-leaning slashes to get the form better and it works. You could try that. (She did it because she had the same kind of teacher that I did and she was stubborn.)

  53. TotesMaGoats

    I work for complete and utter idiots. Students are on campus right now for residency and it’s a cluster. Bad attitudes are at an all time high. FT staff being unprofessional in front of grad assistants. People not doing or being where they are supposed to be doing or being. Adults. Professional, full time program directors. Meanwhile, I’m swamped doing the paper-pusher, data entry part of the job that I’m working to fill while also trying to do my director level job…while also job hunting.

    My husband has managed to switch from his current company to a new one with even better pay and benefits and only needs to work a half day today. So, that’s good but irritating when I’d rather be home too.

    And my work wife had a great informal phone interview this morning. She’ll be leaving me soon I know and I’ll be even more miserable. At least it’s Friday.

    1. OhNo

      Ugh, what is it about summer that seems to bring out the crazy in people? Somehow there always seems to be more unprofessional behavior, attitude, and general misbehavior and I wish I new why.

      As one person working with idiots to another: I’m sorry you have to deal with that. It sounds like a giant pain in the butt.

  54. Anonymousaurus Rex

    About 5 months ago I left a job I absolutely loved for a much shorter commute, considerably more money, and (I thought) more stability. I don’t love the new job. It’s fine, I can do it, but it is boring. My old job was creative and interactive with an awesome team, and now I spend most of my day doing TPS reports. My 2 mile bike commute on the beach makes up a lot for the days spent staring at spreadsheets.
    I recently found out that the program I was hired to oversee is going to be phased out over the next 6-8 months. (Decision for this came from CEO of corporate, way over my boss’s head.) Overseeing this program is currently about 80-90% of my job. My boss has assured me that they don’t like to let people go, but it’s likely I’ll get shuffled to another position when the program ends, or that my role will change pretty drastically and I won’t have any control over what kinds of things I’ll be doing.
    At my old creative job, I was being groomed to eventually take over my department. I recently found out that my former manager is leaving my old company to move closer to family. I had lunch with my old team yesterday to say goodbye to her. Both my former manager and her boss, the VP, made it pretty clear that I’d be welcomed back at my old company if I wanted to move back, as manager of the department. VP even said that they could work out some days working from home to mitigate the commute.
    I miss my old job SO much. But I absolutely don’t miss spending 2-4 hours per day in the car, and my old company was very small and not super financially stable.
    If I did go back, I’d be seriously burning a bridge at my new company, which isn’t something I like to do. I’d be much more likely to go back if this were in another 6-8 months, after the work of phasing out the program I’m running is done and I have created a solid year+ of working at my current company.
    I feel so on the fence about all of this–who knows if I’ll even have a job at current company in 6 months (or one I can tolerate)–but I don’t want to hop back to my old company if I can’t commit to the commute and get comfortable with the inherent instability of working there.
    What would you do?

    1. Biff

      4 hours in a car is a dealbreaker.

      Can you talk to your boss about edging into more creative pursuits, couched as ‘cross training.’ Something like “I understand in 6-8 months that the company is going to need me to have different skills. I’ve been thinking about it and I’d like to cross-train to do X, W, and H.”

      1. Anonymousaurus Rex

        Unfortunately the current job is in an entirely different industry, a highly regulated and notoriously not creative one. I do need to learn new skills, but they’re industry related. The job I have now will never become anything like the job I left–the change is too drastic. (Think from video game development to an accounting firm–it’s radically different, I just happen to have some niche skills that were needed for both).

        1. Biff

          Ooh, that’s tough and I don’t have any more suggestions. But if it were me, 4 hours in a car would be 100% no.

          1. Anonymousaurus Rex

            Yeah–that’s what made me leave the job I loved in the first place!! I think that’s the tough part, and the one that’s not going to change. Because of my partner’s job it’s not a great idea to move closer…you’re probably right, this might still be a deal breaker, even if I could work some days from home.

    2. Jules the First

      I did exactly that – left a job for good reasons for something less creative that paid better, and then a few months later was invited back to company 1 to run the department. I left again after a year – yes, it was awesome to have that step up, but in the end all the other reasons for leaving were still there and the promotion couldn’t fix those things.

      I recommend looking instead for that level of job elsewhere…but you could also wait and see what happens with the reorg…you might be pleasantly surprised with your new duties.

      1. Anonymousaurus Rex

        This is really helpful for perspective! I keep thinking that I want to go back, but the reality is the reasons I left are still going to be issues.

  55. Liana

    So, I am halfway through my six week notice period, and I have to say, I have completely checked out. I’m trying so hard to fight it, but it’s slow here during the summer anyway, since a lot of the physicians are on vacation and long-term projects tend to be put on hold. Add in the fact that I’m preparing to move to an entirely different country in a couple months, AND I’m doing wedding party stuff for a wedding in September (I’m a groomswoman, which is kind of fun, but trying to get the other groomsmen to be proactive in planning anything is driving me bonkers), and I just … I’m just so over this job. I’m not neglecting it, per se, and my docs all seem happy, but it’s getting harder to stay focused, and I still have three weeks left. What do other people do when they’re at this point?

    1. JOTeepe

      Six weeks!?

      I gave 4 weeks at my last job, but that was more because it was better for my personal schedule than anything else. (I had some time off planned I couldn’t move … which, then, ironically, I ended up having to cancel said time off due to a personal emergency that kept me in town and, therefore, able to come into work. But that’s beside the point.) I was incredibly busy during that particular notice period, but during most of my previous notice periods I’ve been wrapped up within 2 weeks.

      In one job in particular, 4 weeks was *required* if I wanted to leave in “good standing” (That is, cash out my PTO and be eligible for rehire), and seeing as my role was in a lull (it was summer, my “busy” season had recently wrapped up and wouldn’t ramp back up until after I had left) AND they (understandably) didn’t want to involve me with anything new, within about a week I had NOTHING to do. Seeing as New Job wanted me to start yesterday (they were absolutely fine with the notice period, but given the choice they would have happily brought me on sooner!) AND paid more money, I was quite annoyed.

      Anyway, tangent. When I am at that point I do my day to day, and try to see through anything that I can wrap up. If I start to get antsy, I’ll write some procedures if they are needed. Anything new that I know I won’t see through? I forward to whomever it is will be taking over for me. I wouldn’t worry too much about staying super focused. So long as you are doing what needs to be done on a day to day basis and you aren’t leaving things a mess.

      1. Liana

        Yes, 6 weeks! I actually could have given more – I’m moving abroad to teach English for a year, but I’m not moving until October. I had planned on taking most of September off to travel beforehand, but I still could have easily given 2+ months. I had chosen to hold off on giving notice until later in the summer, but then my manager emailed me, asking to set up my (extremely belated) annual performance review. I figured I couldn’t in good conscience go through with setting goals and expectations for the next year, knowing that I was planning on leaving soon, so I told her, and it worked out great.

        I’m definitely not leaving things a mess, but it might be worth taking a look at my regular tasks and seeing if I can write down the processes for them – thanks for that!

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      I’ve got a 3 MONTH notice period (note: not US) and its horrible. I’ve watched other people at my grade give their three months and then effectively check out for the bulk of it. The only reason its three months is due to some idiot executive, but 4 weeks is more usual in these parts.

      Right now Im at the very end of my contract and have been checked out since my last project went out the door 4 weeks ago. My department was shuffled around, idiots are running the place, and I’m not even real sure who my boss is anymore. I roll in when I want to and leave when I want to, and I took three hour lunches the last two days to get some errands run. But I’m really bored – as in too bored to even plan my own leaving party because I just want OUT of here already! Another week and a half to go.

      Ive been spending my time cleaning up files, looking for a new job, preparing for interviews and looking at vacation places :) I try to trim time here and there where I can (see above) but it all seems really pointless and I am more than ready to move on. I have lot of things in life on hold until I get some future clarity, but moving on is at least the start, right?! :)

      Try not to think of it as three more weeks. Get leaving out of your mind, at least for next week, and you will be amazed at how much faster the days go. THen when you get down to a week a half THEN you can start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

  56. Transit Whisperer

    I’d love to get AAM reader advice on an issue that came up this week. I was called to jury duty on Tuesday, ended up being selected and was out for a total of three days. I was checking my email after the second day, and noticed that someone had sent me some time-sensitive files to review. This person would have seen my Out of Office message, but it does not appear that he followed up to have another colleague review. When I looked at the files, I noticed some errors, and I am not certain they were corrected. Any thoughts on what I should do? I feel like I should talk to my manager and possibly my colleague’s manager as well.

    1. ElectricTeapots

      I think it would be reasonable to follow up with your manager and the person who sent you the files. Something like, “I’m still out on jury duty this week, but I wanted to follow up to make sure they’d been reviewed.” Either they’ll follow up and say yep, we saw you were out and went to someone else, or they’ll say nope, and you can start working to correct the issues you found. I would not go to the sender’s manager at this point (seems excessive, especially because they could have followed up with another colleague and not copied you), but I think CCing your manager makes sense, because presumably they are organizing cover for you while you’re out.

    2. Pearl

      I think it would be good to double-check with your colleague. If you don’t have read receipts to confirm, there’s a small chance the person did not get your away message. When my boss goes out of town, she sets away messages in two locations, and some people still don’t get them.

  57. Robbie R.

    I have a question which is somewhat sensitive, so forgive me if I come off as rude or harsh, I don’t mean to.

    I am at a new job, and I believe one of my co-workers suffers from anxiety disorder (he has taken calls about prescriptions for anti-anxiety meds at his desk — very unprofessional but that’s another story). I have a very mild case of it, so I am sympathetic to him.

    The problem is that he is usually stressed out at work, in an extremely vivisible way, and as I work closely with him, I spend a lot of time handling it. For example, when we testing a product and it doesn’t work right, he will get very upset and start either mumbling or IMing me about how I “screwed [favorite synonym can also go here] everything up” and how doomed we are. If I ask him if he could explain what the problem is so I can help fix it, he often just goes on about how everything is doomed and ignores me. A few times he’s almost completely shut down and just told me “I’m too stressed to handle anything right now” repeatedly.

    Again, I’m sympathetic to him because I deal with anxiety in the workplace too, but his own extreme nervousness is rubbing off on me and hurting my productivity. Because this is a pretty sensitive topic, and I’m new, I’m not sure how to handle it. Should I go to someone? What should I do?

    1. Leatherwings

      Oof, he sounds really hard to work with. I would be careful about assuming this behavior is caused by anxiety. It’s totally possible it is, but he also might just have a crappy attitude and be a really pessimistic person.

      I would speak to him directly when he’s not upset or anxious. Lay out what the issue is and how it’s affecting the work. Ask what you can both do to fix the issue.

      If that doesn’t work and you trust your manager, go to them and say “Sometimes Joe gets so upset when we’re testing a product and encounters problems that it makes it hard to fix it because he doesn’t articulate what’s wrong very well. How should I handle this?”

      1. Robbie R.

        He’s fine when not stressed out. The problem is that when he is stressed, it’s rough. It seems to happen about once a week. And don’t worry about, it was just a guess that I would NEVER bring up in the office or to anyone I work with. Not my own anxiety, not the anxiety I think someine else has, nothing. (personally getting a good therapist plus weightlifting changed my life! Maybe it’ll open some minds on mental illness when people see that big muscular guys can have anxiety too).

        I work in an open plan office, so talking with him one on one is gonna be a little hard. If I can’t figure out a way to organically do it over the next few days, I will go to our supervisor and say that Joe gets stressed out easily and it gets in the way of productivity, could you maybe please let him know mistakes aren’t life-or-death and it’s okay as long as everyone can work together to analyze and fix them. So racially what you said. Thanks for your wonderful and thoughtful reply!

    2. ElectricTeapots

      Anxiety is real and understandable, but if there’s one thing we’ve been discussing a lot on AAM this week, it’s that you can’t make other people shoulder the burden of your anxiety, which it sounds like your coworker is doing to you.

      How collaboratively do you two have to work? If the answer is “not very,” I’d start by no longer offering to help fix things at all. If he IMs you saying “I screwed everything up,” you can offer sympathy and then end the conversation: “I’m sorry to hear that, Joe!” and then go back to your work. If you *do* have to work closely and he’s frequently “shutting down” when you need him to collaborate, I think it would be reasonable to talk to your manager. Focus on how it’s affecting your work, not on his possible disorder.

      1. Robbie R.

        Yeah, we work pretty closely. So this has gotten in the way. You’ve verbalized my feelings perfectly; I don’t care why he can act in this way, (it was probably a mistake to reference it) I just want to be as productive as I can while I’m on the clock, and help others to be as productive as they can. I think i will privately talk to our boss and say something — but I’ll be very very clear that I’m not a manager and that I’m not trying to tell him to do anything.

    3. Temperance

      I would probably ask him directly what I did wrong, and how he thinks I can fix. I would give him one or two chances to deal before shutting him out and putting on headphones. His anxiety is stressing you out, and it’s not productive to take on his stress unless you can actually solve it. “Unless you can give me feedback, I do not think this is a productive conversation”.

      I think talking to your manager makes sense if you can’t get him to stop. “Bosslady, Donald constantly tells me that I’m screwing everything up and ruining X projects. I’m reaching out to you for feedback.” She’ll either give you good feedback or areas to improve on. After that, you can ask her how others have handled Donald and his anxiety in the past.

      My husband has an anxiety disorder, and when he starts going off the rails I tell him that he needs a time out and to pop a Xanax. If I say it, he will actually reflect on his behavior and take a Xanax. (Obviously, your coworker isn’t my husband, and it would probably be a bad idea to be so abrupt and pointed with a coworker.)

      1. Christopher Tracy

        Robbie was actually saying his coworker is IM’ing him stating he (the coworker) is screwing things up, not Robbie.

  58. March

    Just an update from last week, when I asked for advice on whether or not to apply for jobs away from home even though I was really hesitant – I’ve decided to give it a go! Realistically I need to work and it might be beneficial for me and my personal growth to move away from home and be forced to learn independence (even just going on a trip to Europe by myself for three weeks taught me that).

    There is a pipe dream that I’ll get hired by a company with an office here. That way, if after being away for a year or two I’m not happy, I could see about being transferred home. There’d be no guarantee of success of course, but I think keeping that in mind would make things easier during the transition to living on my own.

  59. TJ

    I think one of my coworkers is bulimic.

    I’m not going to go through all the reasons that I know … but I know.

    Am I supposed to say something to her? Or is that totally beyond the realm of what’s appropriate, even though she might need help?

    For context, we’re in different departments but work together on projects a lot. She was hired very recently and we don’t know each other very well.

    1. Leatherwings

      :/
      So tough. I wouldn’t bring it up unless you’re very close to her, which it sounds like you’re not. The best thing you can do is be kind and make sure that you’re a friendly face for her and treat her like you don’t know. If she wants or needs to bring it up to someone, she’ll go to someone she trusts. If you treat her normally and kindly, that’s the best you can do.

    2. Dawn

      Don’t bring it up, and don’t tell anyone. Be kind to her the same way you’d be kind to anyone else, and be a friendly face.

    3. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      I would read up on bulimic help sites and see what they recommend. They probably have instructions for what to do if: you are family, a close friend, or just an acquaintance.

    4. TJ

      Thanks for the advice. I’ll try to be friendly and supportive, but I’ll pretend I don’t know.

      Sucks, though. I hope she gets help.

    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      Bulimia is extremely difficult for even close friends and family members to make any headway on discussing with someone; as a coworker, it’s just very, very unlikely that you can say anything that will be helpful. The best thing you can do is to just be kind.

    6. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      This is just an aside, but they may not be bulimic.

      For example – a lot of people do not realize that acid reflux can cause nausea and vomiting. People think acid reflux = heartburn, but I got diagnosed with GERD because I started vomiting after every meal. There are a lot of different medical reasons that can cause vomiting after eating, including ulcers, pregnancy, etc.

      1. Turanga Leela

        Yeah, I knew someone who picked up an antibiotic-resistant parasite that made her vomit when she ate. It sounded awful.

    7. super anon

      I had an eating disorder that I have been in recovery for for 5 years.

      Honestly, when I was in the thick of it I was in total denial. The few friends who were able to see that something was wrong were not able to get through to me. When someone did try to talk to me about my eating and exercise habits, or try to tell me that I had gotten to thin I refused listen to them. I lost several close friends because I cut them out of my life for being “judgemental” or “jealous” when they would try to point out to me that what I was doing wasn’t healthy, or that I should eat more. I was only able to start recovery when I acknowledged and realized myself that I had an issue – before that, no one could get through to me.

      I would suggest you say nothing. Be kind and friendly to her. If (when) she does decide she wants help she will likely confide in someone she is close with.

  60. Z

    I’m really not sure how to deal with this problem and would appreciate any input. My office has always been kind of messy, but I usually have a pretty good handle on the projects I’m working on. But when I cleaned my office recently, I noticed a bunch of either reference articles that I was supposed to read or small assignments to do that I had completely overlooked, some of them over a year old. I’m so frustrated with myself that those fell through the cracks, and I understand that this is a big problem, but now I’m in disaster mitigation mode. Some of them I can file away, but others I’m supposed to pass along to my colleagues, and others are projects assigned last year. None of them have been brought up by anyone so far. I’m really not sure what to do – should I pass these articles along, which would bring attention to how long I’ve been holding on to them? Or just quietly file those away as well? For the assignments, should I do the research, and email the person with a note saying “I remember you asked me look into this”? I hate doing any of these things, and I’m so frustrated with myself. At this point I’m just trying to pick the path of minimal blowback to me (and obviously, will act promptly on future assignments). Any advice would be appreciated!

    1. Nanc

      Wow, kind of a tough one. For the info articles, if they’re a year old they’re probably out of date (depending on your industry) and I would just recycle the.

      For the assigned projects, I think you’re really going to have to step up and admit what happened. I would do a quick review and come up with a plan to complete them and then contact the assigner and be brutally honest. Admit you dropped the ball, ask if the project still needs to happen (if they haven’t followed up with you, it’s possible it’s already been taken care of) and let them know how you plan to stay on top of this type of stuff in the future. If they are upset, you may have to loop your boss in and have that difficult conversation with her/him. I get you’d like to avoid blowback but if you were my employee, I’d rather hear from you directly about what happened, how you’re going to fix it, and how you’re going to prevent the problem in the future.

      Good luck and let us know what happens.

      1. Z

        Most of them are background information, or things to review and see if we can use any of it for work. I’m assuming none of these were time-sensitive, or else they would have followed up?

        1. fposte

          I wouldn’t assume that, unfortunately. People don’t always chase stuff down, even if they notice its absence.

        2. Temperance

          I think I’m in the minority, but I would do the work (quickly) and not send it over to the person. I would assume that they’d follow up if it was important.

    2. fposte

      How much are we talking about? I think I might go to my manager with this, and include a plan for how it won’t happen in future other than “I will pay more attention.” My first thought was that you needed to contact the people who were supposed to get stuff, but if you send out six “I’m so sorry, I dropped this project, I can do it by next week” emails that’s going to raise some eyebrows.

      But I wouldn’t stealthily send the articles along or do the projects without acknowledging the time lag unless your manager advises that. Owning up looks better than that.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, I’d check with your manager first. And, as I said, explain what’s in place to keep it from happening again.

    3. notfunny.

      Are these really important projects? If they must be done, why not go to the colleague and let them know what happened (everyone has found things like this when they’ve cleaned out their email or office) and ask whether it’s still helpful for you to do the work?

  61. Master Bean Counter

    Odd moment of the week:

    Went to a professional society lunch with my boss. Sat across the table from not one but two people I had previous interviews with. Both were friendly. But the one that ghosted on me after the interview looked a little embarrassed and surprised to see me there. The other one ended up sharing with me that they are finally going to receive funding for the position I interviewed for two years ago. It was quite the interesting lunch.

    1. Lily Evans

      And that’s why you should always send polite rejection emails, the world just isn’t that large (especially when you’re in the same field).

  62. Anonymized User

    How does one do useful succession planning when A) the worker cohort is all about the same age, and B) younger people qualified and experienced in the work are thin on the ground.

    If we hire the most qualified applicants, they will likely be 50+, but we can’t hire less qualified younger applicants because they are younger.

    It’s a conundrum.

    1. Graciosa

      I’m not sure why – unless the succession planning is unreasonable.

      A worker in his or her mid fifties could easily accept a promotion and stay in role for a decade or more.

      Most of the time when hiring, I’m looking for someone who would be a few years in role (like 3). Unless someone has announced plans to retire, someone in their sixties is very likely to fill the bill.

      I think you need to be very careful about setting expectations for the position that are unreasonable and have an effect of knocking members of a protected class out of consideration.

      If you really do need someone in place for an extended period of time, the company should be offering an actual contract which commits to firing only for cause during that period or making full payment of salary for the entire length of the term.

      I frequently see that when the “need” for someone long term would result in an actual financial commitment by the company to match what they claim to “need” they suddenly decide they don’t really need the longer tenure *that* badly.

      – Which brings us back to the question of why couldn’t someone over fifty do the job?

    2. animaniactoo

      Create assistant roles for the older cohort that will allow the younger to get the experience they need and promote through the ranks as they gain experience. Hire the older ones who have the experience you need and expect that they’ll stick around long enough for you to have some sort of stability. Expect that you’ll always need to replace some of the older ones with other older ones and plan to have some overlap when they’re changing over. Have a backup for every role in the company as both emergency planning and continuing to look to promote from within.

    3. Always Anon

      I would encourage you to evaluate specifically how much experience is truly needed for those roles.

      I think it’s easy during succession planning to try and hire people with similar levels of experience as the people who would be leaving (for example, if the VP for Teapots is leaving you want to find someone who has 25 years experience in Teapots and at least 10 years as senior director of teapots, etc.), when that level of experience may not be necessary.

    4. Seal

      Why are you assuming the younger people will stay any longer than someone 50+? People leave jobs for all sorts of reasons, not just because they retire. For that matter, why wouldn’t you want to hire the most qualified applicant? Worst case scenario is that they can serve as mentors to your younger, less experienced workers so when the time comes they’re ready to move up themselves. In other words, built-in succession planning.

  63. EddieSherbert

    Shout out to Alison’s greatness!

    A lot of friends and family are starting to see or hear about changes at their work due to the new overtime laws coming out in December. Not a single one of them saw it coming and a lot have been very confused about what it means.

    Thanks to Alison, I’ve known for a few months and have a decent idea how it will affect my workplace.

    Here’s the link I’ve sent to a dozen people in the last couple weeks:
    https://www.askamanager.org/2016/05/the-new-overtime-pay-rules-are-here.html

  64. job searching blues

    My SO has been out of work for a long time (over a year now), after his former company relocated. He’s a main caregiver for elderly parents who were at that point in a state of crisis, and moving cross-country was a problem. Long story short, everything has gone wrong with that situation since then, and he spent nearly eight months on-call caring for them, running out his severance. (He’s still doing a lot of caregiving now.) Since then, he’s been applying for jobs and getting some interviews, but he’s in a weird position where he’s either competing with people with law degrees for positions where a law degree is a “would be nice” or competing with younger people for jobs (he’s nearly 50) for which he is overqualified. Meanwhile, the situation with the parents is still eating up a lot of his time and mental energy. I’ve given as much advice as I can on resume, cover letters, etc., but we’re in different fields so I don’t know if it’s 100 percent useful.

    But the question right now: he’s hitting a breaking point mentally. It’s hot, he’s torn between his own needs and those of his (ungrateful, frustrating) family, he’s running through savings, he probably needs foot surgery so he’s in pretty constant pain, he’s getting rejected from lots of jobs–and I don’t know what to do to help, mentally or literally. He has Obamacare insurance but it’s a pretty hefty deductible and a shitty network, so there are economic and emotional obstacles to trying to get some therapy. We don’t live together so there’s limited ways I can help financially (and he certainly doesn’t want to take money from me though I’m happy to lend it). What can I do?

    I think it’s probably also time for him to look into temping or some sort of survival job but he’s terrified that doing so = admitting that he’ll never have another salaried job, benefits, a salary anything like the job he gave up, etc. I don’t know how to offer the advice to temp without sounding like I agree with his worst fears. Any advice?

    1. Temperance

      Can you help him flip his mindset? He’ll come off as less desperate in interviews etc. if he has something going on. It’s not giving up to take a job that will pay the bills for now … and with so many jobs temp to perm, it’s pretty much a terrible idea to cut off this entire category of jobs.

      Is your partner a paralegal?

      1. job searching blues

        More legal and business affairs/intellectual property than paralegal, though some of his experience is analogous to paralegal work.

        And I’m trying on the mindset–it’s made harder by the fact that every time he gets himself into a better place, family drama rears its head again and drags him back into it.

        1. LCL

          Has he tried talking to someone about getting help for his parents and respite care for him? At the hospital my relative goes to, they have people that will help you identify resources and make some calls for you.

    2. Bigglesworth

      It sounds like his problem is two-fold – lack of boundaries with family and lack of job in general. As far as the job is concerned, many places have temp-to-perm positions. And I agree with Temperance that he will come across as less desperate in interviews if he is already doing something. The daughter of one of my co-workers found a permanent position this way. Temping is not giving up. Even in this time between jobs, is there a place where he could volunteer at (like if he is into sports – volunteer with a charity dedicated to sports & kids; shelters who need dog walkers if he likes animals; etc.).

      Also, has he looked outside of his field? Educational institutions may want someone with his skillset or the federal or state governments for that matter. I know intellectual property law is a big deal in the creative industries (music and digital media is what I’m specifically thinking of right now). Maybe he might find something in those fields if he’s not looking there already.

      Boundaries with family is something I didn’t have to really deal with until I married. My spouse’s family likes to know everyone’s business all the time. (My family holds the viewpoint of, “You’re an adult. We’ll give advice, but only if you ask for it.”) Since my spouse had difficulties creating those boundaries, we moved a full day’s drive away. Our relationship is a lot healthier with that distance. On that note, I understand not everyone is in the position to be able to move like that. Have you looked at resources that may be able to help him? Books, counseling, or hobbies to keep him busy and interacting with others outside of the family? I apologize if I’m reading too much into your description (ungrateful and frustrating) of his family. If I’m wrong, please correct me and let me know!

      1. job searching blues

        Your analysis is pretty spot-on! Really, all things considered, though it would have screwed up *my* life, if the corporate move had been six months later, it could have been the best thing that ever happened to him (well, except that he hated his boss at that job, but that’s another story) in terms of forcing some distance with the family. But that ship has sailed, regardless.

        He has been applying to some university positions and most of his background is in the media/creative industries so that would be ideal (but that’s where the “competing with lawyers” comes into it, because those are generally the kinds of jobs that an underemployed lawyer is going to be more willing to take a pay cut for). And he’s been working on some personal creative/marketing/media projects that are something to talk about in interviews, so that’s a plus.

        Still, I think something like dog-walking would be great for him (though might exacerbate the foot issue) because it would get him out of the house and exercise and bring in a little money… But probably the best thing I can do right now is encourage him to sign up with some temp agencies, even if he doesn’t really want to.

  65. MoinMoin

    Background- My husband got a promotion and we’re moving to CO. I stayed back to sell the house (done) and I’m lucky enough to have family with a winter home here so I’ve been able to stay in AZ while I figure out my next move, which was ostensibly to job search as I’d rather move up to CO without losing income and I don’t really have any timeline restrictions to get up there except that I miss my dog and my husband and the guest bed here is very lumpy.
    My department’s been in a bit of turmoil lately, some promotions and resignations, plus expansion to another office and a lot of client transitions all mean I felt secure (and dutiful) enough to tell them about the situation, that I’m outbound eventually but not really any timeline. I’ve asked about the possibility of working remotely, which may or may not be possible due to some of the work I do. Otherwise, the absolute longest I’d want to still be in AZ is the end of 2016, with or without a new job. They were very warm and supportive and I let them know I’d put together a general summary of what I’d like to do going forward, i.e. “A is my preference, I would also be willing to do B, C is not an option at all, if we do B, I would want to go about it xyz, etc.” but now I’m a bit stumped on what specifically I’d want, or at least what’s actually reasonable or not.
    Question- has anyone here ever had a lot of flexibility negotiating an end date like this? I want to say that I’d like to be remote and I’m willing to periodically come back on my own dime if need be (how often, how long, how much notice would be spelled out) as tickets are cheap between the two cities and I have plenty of guestroom options among friends and family. I know even if I went remote that the job would have an expiration date as I’d be in a more expensive place with the same salary and I don’t see any real options for advancement with the setup, but I still would feel comfortable committing through at least 2017 and that would give them a lot of time to get new people in and trained whereas now they’re in a crunch and even leaving at the end of 2016 would be difficult with a lot of new people going into year-end (this is accounting adjacent). I don’t know if telling them this would be an asset or detriment, though, because I think even if they can approve me being remote it may not be ideal so maybe they’d like to know it’s finite or maybe they wouldn’t want to bother if they’ll eventually have to replace me anyway.
    Second option, we either set an end date or we be really open and trusting about if I find a job or if they find a candidate (they’re interviewing for other replacements anyway so I did mention they may just get an idea of their candidate pool and see how feasible replacing me sooner would be). The thing with this is if we set an end date I’d be job searching now and worry about timing a start date to coincide. I’d want to make sure I leave the position in good shape but I’d still take a position I really wanted and end earlier (still giving 2 weeks notice at the very least) than stay to the end and risk not having anything lined up. Would reasonable employers agree with that or would they still be miffed I didn’t work until the end date if there aren’t any formal agreements in place? Alternatively, I’d stay until they had a replacement and/or the replacement was trained based on how involved they’d want me to be in that. Given that option, I’d like to ask for as much notice to an impending end date as possible but at least a month. Again, I don’t know how feasible that is.
    Sorry this is so long and rambling, basically any advice or anecdotes remotely related are nice. Thanks for reading!

  66. Anon Today

    I am a new manager with two direct reports. My boss has asked for a weekly update on what my direct reports are doing. One of the staff members, I have basically supervised since her start so I know what tasks she has and was easily able to help her come up with a brief reporting format. The other staff member has been here 18+ years and while I know from his calendar he’s in meetings 10-15% of the time, I’m really not sure what else he’s doing or how we should be tracking it. Prior to my promotion to the manager position (which he also applied for), he was reporting directly to my boss and I think she believes he spends at least some of his time (more than is reasonable) on non-work activities. Without fully understanding what he does, it’s hard for me to come up with metrics for him to report on weekly. Any suggestions on how I can start a conversation about “what do you do all week” (especially when his common response to me asking about his job duties is to say I should know since I’m his boss)?

    1. Bend & Snap

      you need to start having 1:1/check in meetings with him, asking him what he’s working on, asking for status updates, etc.

      If he’s popping off like that it’s a different issue. He needs to be respectful and communicate. You should address that too.

      1. Leatherwings

        Yes, snotty remarks like “You should know, you’re my manager,” while technically correct, are not respectful or appropriate ways to speak to your manager. Seems like you need to have a bigger conversation with him about communicating with you.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot

          It also isn’t helpful. Depending on how fluid the collegial relationships are in a firm, a person can end up having a lot of tasks that don’t necessarily fit the official profile. Otoh, if a firm has clearly delineated tasks, well, the management above should have given that information to the new manager and she could have a list to use as a basis for review of what he is doing.

        2. Graciosa

          “You’re right, which is why you need to do a much better job keeping me informed. How do you propose to do that?”

      2. g'day

        On the 1-1 point, I saw this post this week and thought it was amaaaazing: http://larahogan.me/blog/first-one-on-one-questions/

        I wonder if some questions like this might at least help re-set the relationship a little bit. They might not answer the “what do you do all day?” question directly, but if the conversation is a little broader, maybe the person will open up a bit.

    2. Leatherwings

      I think you need to really get a handle on what he’s working on. He’s right, you should know since you’re his boss. Not just so that you can report to your boss what he’s doing, but so that you can actually manage him by setting goals, following up and providing feedback.

      Have a check-in with him (you should be doing weekly check-ins with him anyways as his manager) and lay out his projects, how much time he should be expecting to spend on them, etc. Have him lead the meetings so you can get an idea of where he’s at. It might not also hurt to make sure he keeps a daily to-do list where you can see it (On a shared Calendar or document works for me). You’re his manager, under no circumstances should you be in the dark on what he’s doing.

      I would encourage you to look into doing some management training (The Management Training Center has great resources). You mentioned this guy applied for your role. That doesn’t matter, you got it and now you’re his manager. He certainly seems like he can manage his own workday, but you need to be able to give feedback on it and manage when necessary.

    3. Darth Brooks

      You could arrange a sit-down meeting weekly or monthly (whatever makes sense) where you ask him to bring an excel spreadsheet or list of his ongoing projects and their status. Keep a copy for your records to ensure progress is being made, and require your sign-off at regular intervals.

      You can schedule these meetings as check-ins with both of your reports, and they’re also good for addressing minor issues as they come up.

    4. Jules the First

      I would be tempted to tell him that you do know what he should be doing but you want to know what he thinks his priorities are, so he needs to humour you and tell you how he’s spending his week.

      Also, presumably this guy has a job description and goals for the year?

    5. Nickibee

      I agree that the weekly check-ins are necessary. You may also want to institute the practice of a quick wrap-up email every Friday. My directs use the format of Accomplishments (what I did this week), Tasks for next week and Risks or Issues. Each section has 2-4 bullets. It takes about 5 minutes to produce and keeps everyone honest and up to date.

  67. Mica

    So, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and apply to grad school. Applications aren’t accepted until mid-September (nor looked at until February), so I have quite a bit of time to work on my application package. I want to get started on my statement of purpose on the next few weeks. I have lots of relevant work experience and lots I could say in my statement of purpose, but I don’t know where to even begin. I haven’t written anything that long in yeas and years (1000 words!). Does anyone have any advice for where to begin with your statement of purpose?? I think I almost need to read one before I start writing mine.

    1. SophieChotek

      I think it needs to be about why you want this degree, how it fulfils your goals, and why this particular program at this particular school is the right one for you (versus program at nearby school or equally well-known university which also offers degrees in field X). That’s my initial thought.
      (I am sure you can find examples online. Whether they are any good…well, after you read a few you might start get a sense of what seems good or what is not, or what works with your style).

    2. Calacademic

      First, be sure that going to graduate school makes sense. Done? Ok. Second, make sure that there are professors at the school that you are looking at that you want to work with. The rules are different for Master’s versus PhD work, but if you’re going for a PhD it is more important who you work with than where.

      Third, take your time on your materials. I think most deadlines aren’t until December or January. Is there an entrance exam (GRD)? Study for that now. Score well. Start lining up recommenders. Good luck!

    3. LadyKelvin

      You can think of writing a statement of purpose to be very similar to writing a cover letter, you want to give the selection committee a taste of your personality, why you are applying to the program, and most importantly what experiences you have had that will make you a successful candidate in their program. That’s the only place it is slightly different, instead of why you’re the best candidate, talk about why you will be successful in the program and how you want to use the degree when you are done, because successful alumni are what keeps a school going. I’ll post some links that I think are good guides for writing a statement of purpose in a reply.

    4. notfunny.

      Some programs are very specific about what should be in the statement of purpose – I would take a look at the webpage for some programs that you’re interested in applying to. If they are not available on the web currently, you might consider calling the admissions office and finding out what their expectations are. For the program that I will attend in the fall, for Public Health, the statement requested information about professional/academic preparation, why this degree program and then future goals/what you’ll do after completion of the degree. But each discipline is different and programs vary so I’d start by finding out what places require.

      It’s also not a bad time to think about why you want to do this particular degree, what you bring to it and where you want to go. Having ideas about this (and talking through them with others in your field) makes the writing process much easier.

      1. Kate H

        Seconding this. Psychology programs ask for the same things, with the addition of discussing exactly which professors you’d like to work with. It’s good to know the general things your field is looking for and also any specifics for a particular program. Also, it might sound like a lot, but 1000 words go by fast.

      2. Talvi

        Yes, exactly. Some of them are very specific, too. Also, in addition to talking about professors you might be interested in working with, you can also talk about the type of research you want to do. For example, in my field (Linguistics), you might talk about your interest in phonology, and maybe specifically child phonological acquisition, that sort of thing — this will help the department you’re applying to determine whether they have faculty whose research lines up with your interests.

        This varies significantly between Arts and Sciences, though. In my experience, students in sciences have already spoken with their supervisor and have worked out with them exactly what project they will be working on before they’re even accepted. In arts departments, it’s much more common for you to be assigned an interim supervisor and during your first semester/first year you will finalise which professor will be your supervisor (and this may or may not be your interim supervisor).

    5. Bigglesworth

      Check our Donald Asher’s book “Graduate Admissions Essays”. It was recommended to me by my one of my Honors profs and I found it incredibly useful as a jumping off point.

    6. themmases

      Scour the schools’ websites for guidance. They may have advice on other pages besides the official instructions. There may also be extra or different instructions inside the application once you start it. Register early even if you’re not ready to fill everything out to make sure you’re seeing all possible advice and instructions.

      You should clearly state your goal for the program and your career. Your SOP should demonstrate that you’re prepared and able to finish the program; and capable and committed to research if it’s an academic program, or a career track closely associated with the degree if it’s professional. You will also want to demonstrate that you are a good fit with that specific program– that you know about it, are excited about it, and would make a good mentee for someone there. Some schools will want you to have an individual in mind, some won’t.

      I handled mine a lot like a cover letter. I picked several anecdotes or accomplishments that demonstrated one of the above or just made me look good, and developed a one-paragraph summary of each. I chose more than I would put in any one SOP, like 5-6 of them. Then for each program, I chose 2-4 that could be used to demonstrate fit with that school, brought them in as body paragraphs, and edited them make them flow logically and make it clear what I thought the connection was to the school and the field. For me, the introduction was more a discussion of what interested me in the field ending with my clear statement of a career goal; then the conclusion was more about softer goals, like the type of impact I would like to have and what attracted me to the school overall.

      Avoid cliches when you talk about how you became interested in the field. E.g. if you want to go to library school, don’t open with a story about how you’ve loved reading or visiting the library since you were a child. If you have a real story like that, consider instead talking about an adult experience that made you decide to be a professional in the field instead of just enjoying it. Or how you decided to follow a path within the field that would require grad school.

      If you do it right, an SOP will also help you learn much more about your programs and decide where you think you belong. For that reason, I strongly recommend doing at least a draft before paying to send anything to a particular school. I paid to send my GREs to a couple of prestigious programs, only to realize while writing that I was struggling to find a specific group there I really wanted to be part of. Those were rejections and wasted money that never needed to happen, because I didn’t want to go there anyway!

      There is a great, comprehensive Purdue OWL page on writing personal statements, complete with opinions from admissions officers and examples. You may also want to peruse the forums at Grad Cafe.

    7. Stephanie

      What helped me was to think of it as a really long cover letter. 1000 words isn’t as long as you think—it’ll be two-to-three double-spaced pages. You’re making a case as why you’d be a good fit for the program.

      Read the department’s prompt. They may want you to list specific faculty you’d be interested in working with.

      Avoid cutesy. I made a faux pas and my intro involved a childhood formative experience (I talked about making dolls out of solder and my early “experiments” with solder for mechanical engineering programs). Now I was able to get into my top choice, but it may have been in spite of that. Overall, it’s not undergrad where admissions committees are looking for a more general overview of you as a person. That being said, it’s fine if your personality comes through. My statement wasn’t super formal—I wrote it thinking I was doing a long elevator pitch to someone who had a base-level understanding of my field, but wanted to know more about my specific needs.

      If it’s a masters, you want to communicate that this degree will help you professionally and makes sense given your career trajectory. For a PhD, you want to communicate that you can do original research and contribute to the field. Specificity is good. Your interests will probably change, but you want to mention specifically what you want to work on while there. You want to come across as having a high degree of focus.

      A book called Getting What You Came For helped me a lot. I’d also advise you get people in your field of academia to read your drafts.

      Good luck!

  68. Friday Brain All Week Long

    This is just me being weirdly clueless about what the right social norm is for a job application. My coworker was contacted by a recruiter at a competitor and he’s not interested in the job they have open (that’s not posted publicly yet) so he forwarded it to me. I wasn’t actively looking for a new job, but this is exactly what I want to be doing and I actually fit 100% of their criteria. Like, even their “would be nice if you know X and Y programs” and I know those. I’m probably the dream candidate.

    I used to work with the HR director at a previous job and we got along great, and now we’re also facebook buddies. Should I jump over the recruiter and go right to her or should I work with the recruiter first? Or maybe do the formal cover letter/resume to the recruiter and just drop the HR director a note that I applied?

    I love my work and my company right now but if the price is right, I fly.

    1. Dawn

      Go through the recruiter! You HAVE TO follow proper hiring channels at a company (whatever those channels may be) and skipping them makes you look really bad.

      However, drop the HR director a note that you applied as well, because that’s an awesome “in”- the HR director will likely go talk to the recruiter and might end up taking over your hiring process, BUT it’s super important to not jump over the recruiter yourself.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Since you used to work with the HR director, email her and ask. She might be happy to save the recruiter’s fee if it’s an external recruiter. And even if it’s not, she might be happy to fast-track you or say “definitely look at this person” or she might just tell you to apply through the normal channels. But you have a connection, so it’s okay to just ask her. (Circumventing the process is something you shouldn’t do when you don’t have this kind of personal connection. But in this case you do.)

    3. Red

      If you’re Facebook friends with the HR director, why not drop her a message and let her know you heard about such and such opening, you’re interested in applying for the position, and would she prefer that you go through the recruiter or go to them directly and save everyone the middleman.

    4. Friday Brain All Week Long

      Thank you all! I’ll drop her a FB note today to let her know I’m interested and how she’d like me to apply. From the email sig, it looks like this is an outside recruiter not with the company.

  69. Informal Non-Profit

    How do you list two positions from the same company when your old company was really informal and didn’t have official promotions and was casual about titles?
    I was hired as an Executive Assistant in July 2013, but I was basically doing all these Development related tasks (grant administration, grant writing, program planning, event coordination) right away. So I list them all on my resume. But I didn’t get the job title boost until maybe September 2014? But my old job had no HR department, so there’d be no way to confirm when this job title went in to affect. And I also still kept doing all my Executive Assistant duties (travel planning and heavy calendaring.

    So…should I just list it as

    Executive Assistant and Development Associate (July 2013-End Date)
    OR
    Executive Assistant (July 2013-Sept 2014)
    -Bunch of Job things?
    Executive Assistant & Development Associate (September 2014-End Date)
    -Bunch of Job Things)
    -Bunch of Job Things)

    Even though the listings of job duties would be the same? My job duties never really changed significantly just because the job title changed.

    1. Pwyll

      If your duties were the same, but the title only changed, I’d do:

      Executive Assistant (July 2013-Sept 2014)
      Executive Assistant & Development Associate (September 2014-End Date)
      – successes
      – successes
      – successes

    2. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      I would do:

      Executive Assistnat and Developement Associate (Sep – End Date)
      – accomplishments in this time period.
      Executive Assistant (Jul – Sep)
      – accomplishments in this time period.

    3. themmases

      I think it depends how important this job will be on your finished resume.

      I had a job like this where my title was changed basically to reflect stuff I was already doing. When it was my most recent job and a big chunk of my work history, I listed them separately. I wanted my work there to be impossible to miss and to have an excuse to spend a lot of space on it. If you focus on accomplishments rather than tasks, the lists will be different. You can also include on the more recent one that you were promoted.

      If you have more recent/better stuff it’s equally fine to combine them. It’s really more a question of whether your work at this job is important/impressive enough to merit two descriptions, or one.

  70. Anonacat

    Interviewing question!
    After having escaped an extremely toxic work situation in OldJob, one of the most important things I’m concerned about going forward is working somewhere with a good culture and effective management. And part of that is dealing with poor performers, who can have a hugely poisoning effect on a team.
    Is it appropriate in an interview to ask something like, “What is your process for addressing poor performing staff and/or substandard work?” Does it reflect badly on me, the interviewee, i.e., will they wonder if I’m asking for myself? Will it set up a negative (possibly subconscious) association with me as a candidate? And what is the best way to word such a question?

    Bonus round – what I am really interested in finding out is how potential employers deal with people who are perhaps knowledgeable and even skilled, but can’t communicate with their coworkers. (Although I of course wouldn’t say this, I really want to avoid a situation like there was at my old job, where a coworker was qualified ‘on paper’ but a horrible bully who was deliberately obstructive, wouldn’t answer questions, would throw fits, etc).
    In my opinion, if you can’t work with your coworkers, you can’t do the job. But too many employers don’t look at things that way. Is there a way to probe their attitudes on this kind of issue?

    1. Pwyll

      I think you’d have to be very careful with phrasing. Perhaps if you started out by discussing the communication frustrations you had at previous job? “One of the reasons I’m looking for new opportunities is my current position really does not foster collaboration and communication among colleagues. For example, many of our SME’s were siloed away from teams who relied on their expertise, so getting that information could be a challenge. Can you talk to me a bit about your culture around team communications?”

      And, in the resulting discussion, you could probably add something like, “And how does management here address people who aren’t communicating in that way?”

    2. Mirilla

      I’m interested to know this too, having worked in a company where this was an issue. It really affects morale all around and makes you lose confidence in the management. I too am trying to get out of this place and would like to avoid this in the future.

      1. Anonacat

        I have actually quit, in part because of this issue. I wasn’t the only one … instead of managing effectively and actually dealing with ToxicCoworker, they let three high-performing employees (from a single team), two of whom are SMEs, walk out the door.
        Anyway, since I’m retraining for a new field, I don’t really have to explain why I left OldJob. But I’m still going to assess companies very carefully in future.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think you need to explain, diplomatically, why you’re asking. For example: “I’m coming from an organization that did many things really well, but was usually very slow moving when it came to addressing serious performance issues, which could create a burden on teams. Could you tell me more about your culture in that regard?” … or something.

  71. Pwyll

    I am filled with annoyance. Applied for a job, third-party recruiter was pretty rude but able to finally schedule the interview after a ton of back and forth (no, I cannot do a 1 hour interview right now without notice. No, we need to reschedule because you called me 45 minutes late.), then they told me I needed to take a test at home. This required downloading software and being video and audio recorded during the test, which took an HOUR. The test? It was a practice LSAT (the logic games test you take to get into law school).

    This was an HR job. I am a licensed attorney. WHY would you use LSAT logic games as a hiring metric?

    An hour after the interview I was informed that I’m not a right fit. Bullet dodged, but . . . why?!

    1. Leatherwings

      Was this the same job that wanted you to do the Skype screen last week? If so, that’s the most annoying company on earth. An LSAT test? Really?

    2. LawCat

      That’s absurd. I can’t even see what an LSAT logic game would have to do with any position other than a position for coaching/teaching people how to take the LSAT.

      1. Pwyll

        This was one of those companies that “launched” by an Ivy League school’s “incubator”. My estimation (total guess, though) is that it’s a way to ensure you’re only getting Ivy League folks, while still being able to say you interviewed non-Ivy candidates.

        Which is stupid for a wide variety of reasons.

      1. Pwyll

        Actually, when I asked the interviewer why I was being asked to take an LSAT, she told me it’s actually an analytical skills assessment. Which, I suppose it is, but deflected the question.

        1. Leatherwings

          lol. That’s like asking “Why do I have to pay for my own cab to run errands” and them saying “It’s actually paying for your own uber”

          Okay yes but that wasn’t really the point.

  72. Kiki

    A question for you Crossfitters: do you have problems with being utterly exhausted the next morning and have low productivity? I sure do. I’m dragging and more than anything right now I want to go out to the parking lot and take a nap in my car. Good news is I’m in the best shape of my life, but geez louise I am tired. zzzzz

    1. Dawn

      Have you started doing Crossfit recently? What’s your sleep like? Are you getting adequate carbs? If so, what kinds of carbs are they and when do you eat them? Have you adjusted your caloric intake appropriately to offset exercising so much?

      If you’re working out after work and are exhausted the next day, the culprits I’d peg in order are 1- you’re not used to Crossfit yet; 2- you’re not eating enough total calories; 3- you’re not eating enough carbs/protein after your workout; 4- you’re not eating enough carbs/protein for breakfast.

      I’m a former competitive powerlifter who used to do 2-2.5hr workouts after work 3-4x per week, so I have absolutely been there done that :)

      1. Kiki

        Thanks for responding!

        Well actually I am a powerlifter, I just said Crossfit because it’s close and more people know what that is. I’ve been lifting for a couple of years, but I’m prepping for a meet in a month, so lifting heavier and doing more accessories than I have been. I’m doing all 4 of your ideas, actually. I think it’s because I’m kind of old. My recovery time is longer than it was 30 years ago. Which sucks. Last night I experimented with during workout carbs and had a protein supp in my car for the drive home. (10 RM deads @195 not too shabby for someone pushing 60 yrs)

        1. Dawn

          POWERLIFTERRRRR!!!

          Ya ok if you’re 4 weeks out from a meet you’re just pushing the hell out of yourself and it’s gonna be hard! I’d stop doing *anything* that wasn’t eating, sleeping, or resting, and maybe bump your overall food intake up a little bit? Otherwise… yeah, it’s gonna be hard!

          Good luck at your meet!

          1. Kiki

            But, um, I’m trying to make that lower weight class. lol aren’t we all. I may be doing the dehydration thing unless I get my act together. In the meantime though…zzzzzzz. :)

            Honestly, it’s not the major lifts that kill me, it’s the accessories, which I insist on calling “the bro stuff”. I’ve been hitting that stuff so hard, it’s exhausting. But gosh I am so much stronger than even six months ago. It’s hard to believe! Also, I’m down one dress size over a year ago, but I’ve GAINED almost 18 lbs. It’s all good. I just wish I could stay awake at work.

    2. Lia

      Not a Crossfitter, but I am a distance runner prepping for my next marathon.

      My best tip is that I DO NOT COMPROMISE on sleep at night. I need at least 7 hours a night to be functional if I am running or working out. I also hydrate adequately and have been cutting back on caffeine, which oddly is making me less fatigued.

      1. Kiki

        Gosh I wish I could run long distance, I admire you! Planning on a very early bedtime tonight. Like, 7:30.

    3. JOTeepe

      I am a distance runner that also does a lot of HIIT training. I saw in the thread you are trying to make weight, so that makes the nutrition difficult. I do my stuff for fun, so taking a day off if I am really fatigued is no big deal (unless it’s a scheduled long run – I don’t skip those, I adjust the rest of my schedule to accommodate them and make sure I am well-rested for them!), though I really prefer not to do that if I can help it.

      Are you able to work out in the mornings instead? I know that’s not possible for everyone, but if you can get up, go work out, then be tired at the end of your workday and then go home and relax, maybe that would be better?

      As for energy, I recommend the Nuun Energy tablets. (My favorite is the Cherry Limeade, but everyone has different preferences!). 1 tablet for 12-16oz of water would give you about the equivalent of 1 (60z) cup of coffee. Also includes electrolytes and other natural energy boosting vitamins and minerals. And the sugar levels are super low. So, basically, you get all of the benefits of water with the added kick of a bit of caffeine. Having some of this at work may help you stay alert?

      1. Kiki

        Thanks! Ordered! I also just signed up with Renaissance Periodization for 1:1 nutrition guidance. I think the timing and content of my meals probably needs tweaking, and of course they can help me cut without losing too much strength. I do love lifting…especially when I outlift the men. It’s so empowering.

  73. Pearl

    I work at a small non-profit and things are probably a little more casual here than they would be at a bigger or for-profit place. People talk about their personal lives a lot and possibly make comments they wouldn’t make at work, because for most of the people I interact with this is their volunteer gig.

    A co-worker of mine, one of the few paid employees, recently announced that she is pregnant. I knew for a few months but had not shared it because it wasn’t my information to share. One of the board members (a former president) came in a few days later to drop something off and commented to me that she was mad at my co-worker. Confused, I asked what she’d done. The board member said, well, she got pregnant!

    I was really startled and just said something like, oh, maybe it was unexpected (it was, but this is not board member’s business). I thought this was an unkind thing to say. It also disturbed me a little that the board member told this to me, because I am a woman in my mid-20s. I don’t actually want to ever be pregnant, but she doesn’t know that.

    I feel like she said as a roundabout way of telling me this is not a friendly workplace, don’t ever get pregnant. I feel very weird about it and honestly it has affected my perception of the organization, but I don’t know if it’s fair to judge them based on this one person’s reaction, even though she was the president for many years and is still very involved. I would ask my manager, but she also seems tense about the prospect of my co-worker taking maternity leave, so I don’t feel comfortable.

    I’m not sure how much of an opinion to form based on this incident. Has anyone been in a similar situation?

    1. Leatherwings

      I would say it depends on the tone. It was a rude comment either way but if it was in a light tone that conveyed she was making a (bad) joke, I would let it go.

      If she was totally serious… well I might still let it go because I don’t think there’s anything to be done, but make a mental note that this board member is a totally unreasonable person.

      1. Pearl

        She was serious. I will keep it in mind if I ever need to take medical leave, I guess. Thank you!

    2. Lillian McGee

      Ergh. As annoyed as one may be at the prospect of an employee going out on maternity leave the only appropriate reaction EVER is “Oh, that’s wonderful!”

      My dad had an employee that got pregnant and he was annoyed because she was not only a poor performer (and as it turned out, a thief), but he had found out post-hire that she sued EVERY ONE of her former employers with varying success. She was definitely playing the system. So, while he was outwardly supportive and congratulatory he decided that if and when she decided to come back to work she would not be working for him. He kept a file of her screwups and conversations about her performance (which took a nosedive during the pregnancy) and the owner was fully behind whatever decision my dad made… and she decided not to come back after all. HUGE relief. However, she did attempt to apply for unemployment which was denied because she was the one who didn’t want to come back!

      I have mixed feelings about how my dad handled all this, but she was not a good person.

      1. Pearl

        Thanks. I do understand why she’s annoyed, because it has been hard to keep anyone in the office for more than a couple of years, but I thought it was probably odd that she said it out loud to me.

        Finding out your employee sues all their employers is supremely awkward. It makes me curious about how she got references. Keeping a record like that, I guess, is one of the few things you can do. At least nothing had to be done about it.

      1. Pearl

        Thanks. That was my first instinct, but she acted like it was such a normal thing to say.

  74. Beancounter in Texas

    Any tips for finding a 30 hour per week job? I’m not landing on the right keywords, I guess, or the jobs are less common than I expected.

    1. Kiki

      It might be easier to find a 1/2 time job…where I live if you are more than one half an FTE they must provide benefits. So they would rather have two folks at 20 hrs/week than one at 30, if that makes sense. Not sure about Texas though, my state in general is (in)famous for its worker protections, so YMMV.

  75. Ann Furthermore

    Had my first job interview in 12 years yesterday! I think it went at least OK; the hiring manager and I talked for just over an hour. At this point, though, I’m thinking I won’t take the job if they offer it to me. I spoke with the recruiter on Wednesday afternoon, and he let me know confidentially that the hiring manager has given his notice because he wants to “spend more time with his family.” Which is cool, and may very well be legitimate. If he’s in a position to take some time off from working, more power to him. When I asked him what he liked best about the company he said that because it’s pretty small, he works with and talks to people in the field directly, and feels like he’s directly involved with things instead of being in a silo. Again – good point, and it was an interesting answer. Glaringly absent from his answer was anything about liking the people he works with, the company culture, and so on. The recruiter told me that this company recently replaced their whole executive management team, because they’re a pretty small operating, but growing, and the board wanted people with experience at larger companies in the industry at the helm.

    All of that raises red flags for me, but I’m not ruling it out just yet. At the very least, it’s good practice. I was glad to finally land an interview. I was starting to feel like my resume had cooties or something!

    1. Anon Accountant

      Glad you got an interview! Those definitely are some concerning things. But it’s great you are went on an interview. Good luck!

  76. Elizabeth West

    Not exactly work-related but sort of career-related:

    On Wednesday afternoon, I had an idle moment and checked my Gmail. I saw a reply from an agency I had queried for the ghost book and thought, “Gawwwd not another rejection. *sigh*” I clicked on the email to get it over with.

    It was a request for pages. 0_0

    You should have seen me–I shot out of my cube like my ass was on fire. My coworker came out of her cube right then and she said, “What’s wrong? Why are you shaking?” I told her, and she said, “YAAAAAAY!” Then I ran around the office like a crazy person telling all my work buddies.

    I went over the pages that night (thanks to eleven full edits, they were in pretty good shape) and shot them off the next day. Now to pretend this never happened so I don’t obsess over it. Right now, it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean anything….it means nothing….nothing at all…..breathe..breathe…breathe….

    1. Elizabeth West

      Thanks guys! I thought you’d want to know, even though it’s only a look. It’s the first time I’ve been asked for pages, so I was pretty excited.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      Yup, treat it like a job application — it’s sent in, now let it go. Better to be pleasantly surprised than to obsess and be disappointed.

      Oh, and I hope it means something too!

  77. Have to be Anon Today

    Am I crazy:
    I am actually starting to brush up my resume and considering throwing my hat into the job market circus again, despite the fact that:
    a) I love my current job, my boss and my team and just received a huge raise and promotion
    b) I get to work from home full time, with a flexible schedule that allows me to work east coast hours in California, freeing up my afternoons for things like yoga, taking kids to various lessons, taking dog for long trail runs
    c) I am highly overpaid for my job. In the 3 years since I left my last place of employment, my salary has increased by over 50% not including bonuses.

    The issue is that I don’t like the company I work for, even though I very much admire and respect the people I work with. My background is in public administration, and I always saw myself working for a government organization or a non-profit, trying to change my field for the better. Instead, I work for a for-profit mega corporation, who is deluged with negative press because – frankly – they deserve it. It just makes me sick to my stomach.

    I think about people I know and love who work with the homeless, who work on energy policy to help the environment, who are school teachers, nurses and social workers and feel so ashamed.

    On the other hand, my current situation allows us to save money for kids to go to college, and for us to afford a comfortable lifestyle in one of the most expensive parts of the country. Would it be even MORE selfish to force my family to make a bunch of sacrifices so that I feel better about myself?

    God, I just don’t know….

    1. UnCivilServant

      I work at a government agency. Government agencies are actually very bad at actually helping people. You would spend more time dealing with the bureaucracy and nonsense than making a positive impact, and as a result may end up actually feeling worse than you do now for trading your current circumstances for worse.

      1. Dawn

        YUUUUUP!

        Honestly… well, your Job doesn’t have to also be your Calling. You can go to your Job, make money, send your kids to college, and live a relaxing enough life to pursue your Calling on your own time. Volunteer, campaign, organize fundraisers, etc etc.

        Having a secure job where you make plenty of money to secure your family’s future and maintain your own health and happiness is HUGE. Only you can decide what to do with your life, but I strongly suggest going after your Calling in ways other than quitting your Job.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Aside from the fact that I don’t think you can have it all, all at the same time, always — there is nothing that says you have to stay at this job forever. If it really bothers you, then make a plan that in X years you will have saved up enough for the kids’ college funds and will go pursue your passions. Kids grow up and they may need you now but they won’t always (or at least they shouldn’t be as dependent always). Give up one activity or vacation/thing a year and put that towards your retirement account, figure out how to retire early. There’s nothing that says you can’t develop a new passion for something and this job is just the thing that funds it.

          From where I sit, job that you feel you’re overpaid for, with zero commute that allows you time for yourself and your family… that’s pretty sweet. Unless it involves collecting souls or something, I’m sure there are plenty of people who would gladly jump at having that. When you’re 80, I would bet that you will think back on all the things you were able to do, like walk your kids to school, rather than that you spent it working for EvilCorp. As that video is going around FB again, the palliative care nurse says that no one ever said on their deathbed that they wished they had spent more time at the office.

          Also, you never know what the future holds. Your company could merge with another, and you could be made redundant or something. Your spouse could lose their job, or get transferred somewhere else. There’s nothing that says you can’t look around and see if there’s another job out there that you would like better… but sometimes the grass isn’t really greener.

    2. Moonpie

      It is not always easy to balance need for income, need for satisfaction, and need for family time. But I think whenever you have options and are in doubt as to which to choose, go back to your core values. How do you want to look back at your life and how your time was spent when you’re 80? And if you’re worried about your family feeling the sacrifices, I think kids in particular will be impacted by your consistency in your values far more than in the cost or volume of their activities.

    3. JOTeepe

      Fellow public admin person. I am in govt, though for a while was private sector, and one of the reasons I went back is for a lot of what you state above. HOWEVER, I did not have the flexibility OR the salary that your job provides.

      Do you have the time (or desire) to volunteer for a cause close to your heart? With how flexible your schedule is, there might be an organization who could use your skills or passion for a few hours a week (or even a month!), and that would give you the outlet you are looking for.

      Seriously. If you like your job, are compensated well, and are given the flexibility you need to have a terrific work-life balance, don’t give that up.

    4. Have to be Anon Today

      Thank you everyone who responded to my note, and for reminding me that the grass is always greener. I feel so profoundly compelled to give something back – but maybe volunteering in my community is a better outlet than rolling the dice with my family as collateral.

  78. Lily Rowan

    How do you sell yourself for a job that would be a real change of field? I had a phone screen recently, and it took me about five minutes to say that my skills are transferable, and the different perspective I would bring would be valuable, but…. then what? I couldn’t figure out what else to say (and the hiring manager didn’t ask any specific questions at all), so any tips?

    I realized after the fact that I had under-prepared, because I am so comfortable talking about my work in my field, but I’m still not sure how best to prepare for that kind of thing.

    1. Leatherwings

      I would prepare some different but very specific examples about how skills are transferable to the new field.

      It’s weird that the interviewer didn’t ask any questions though – I would be stumped too.

    2. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      You didn’t ask this but I bring this up every time someone talks about field changes. Be prepared to have every future interview ask you why you changed fields.

      I used to be a scientist, now I’m a business analyst. Even though I have been in business longer at this point than I was in science I still get asked at every interview to explain why I changed fields. Be sure you have solid reasons for this and can demonstrate you are not wishy-washy moving forward.

      1. Lily Rowan

        Thanks — the trajectory between them would be obvious if I told you the two fields, so that seems like it would be less of an issue.

  79. AliceBD

    I am prepping my resume to start applying for jobs this weekend. I have some specific questions for the community. If you just want to link to one of Alison’s posts that answers my question that’s great; I’ve tried looking but I easily could have missed something. This is for a generic version of my resume. I will tailor it to the position the job post has info I can use but a lot of them I am seeing are pretty generic from recruiters. I do marketing with a focus on social media and I am 5 years out of college. 

    1. Should I include volunteer activities? Not with bullet points like my jobs have, but just to show I am a Well Rounded Indiviual sort of thing. The ones I would put would be admissions interviewer for my alma mater (which is well known and respected), local alumna chapter for my sorority (not expecting anyone to interview me just because they were in the same sorority or a sorority), and my church. My church is a mainline Protestant church but it doesn’t have the denomination in the name; think of it as like Trinity Church rather than First Baptist sort of thing. Would just listing these be good? I can elaborate verbally on them all. And if the section is good, is including the church OK? My mom was worried they would think I was super evangelical right wing, which I’m definitely not. But most of my social and volunteer activities do come from church. 

    2. When do you move on from a 1-page resume? I figured that at 5 years out of school it should still be one page but my mom (who is helping me by looking for typos, reminding me of achievements I’ve forgotten to put on there, and pointing out passive voice) thinks I’m experienced enough to go slightly over one page. 

    3. If you write for your current company’s blog, do you include the blog URL on your resume? What if you use the company byline instead of your byline for a lot of projects? I write 50%+ of the posts but mostly they don’t have my name on them, and lots of them are just themed collections of pictures and links to other things we do. (Same idea as “look! Here are all of the blue teapots we sell! Here are all of the winter teapots!”)

    4. Thinking ahead — references. My boss knows I am job searching, but she may also move on. My previous boss at this company (same company but former position) does not know and I would not want to tell her early; she’ll give me a great reference but she is not good at keeping things secret. When you ask people not to contact your current company until they are making an offer, do they know that applies to the company and not just the position? I will be reaching out to two supervisors from the company I was at 3 years ago, and I expect they will probably say yes. Do I need to worry about contacting my work-study boss in college? Everything before college graduation was student jobs — filing, customer service, etc. and that is not my current field. 

    I’m on lunch right now but will come back after work for any questions and clarifications. 

    1. Leatherwings

      1) Include relevant volunteer activities, but frame it as skill-based rather than just a “I’m a well-rounded nice person” thing – what skills did you develop doing those volunteer activities, what feedback did you receive, etc.

      2) 5 years out of school you should still be using 1 page IMO. 2 pages is only appropriate for people deep into professional careers.

      3) You could include a hyperlink to the blog so that a hiring manager can go look at it, but I wouldn’t link to just the generic blog, but rather a specific post you wrote (or if you can filter tags to be a series of posts that would work too). But know that most hiring managers aren’t going look at it.

      4) I would try to come up with a couple of different references so that if they ask when they’ve narrowed it down to a couple of people and use references to decide who to offer to, they’ll be able to find people to speak to your work. I’ve had success including a note by my manager’s name with something like (I would prefer you don’t contact this person until a contingent offer is made) and have them call others in the meantime instead. It’s totally possible they’ll call your work-study boss, and if you think they can speak highly of your work, you should reach out and ask them to be a reference.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe

        Agree with Leatherwings on #1 here. It’s great that you volunteer, but as a hiring manager, I would be more interested in how the skills you developed from volunteering would be transferable to this role. I care less about you being well-rounded than I do about you being a good fit for this specific position.

    2. Temperance

      I would probably not include the church work, unless it’s somehow relevant to what you want to do. I would probably also not list myself as a volunteer with Trinity Church, but with whatever organization your church works with (like Philadelphia Food Bank). It’s not lying.

      It also depends on where you live. I think someone who wrote a lot about the work they do with their church would raise some eyebrows here, but wouldn’t in the Bible Belt.

    3. Graciosa

      Regarding #2, I have never seen a resume that is “slightly over” one page that wouldn’t be better at only one page. Two pages starts to make more sense after about a decade in my profession, but lots of people still do well with one page resumes even then.

      All the resume has to do is get you an interview. The strongest resumes make the hiring manager want to talk to you; it should be both powerful and easy to read (plenty of white space, easy to scan, standard and legible font).

      A few really strong accomplishments are much more likely to do this than a many-bulleted list. Honestly, my eyes start to glaze over if I hit bullet number four or five and it doesn’t WOW me. I’m more tolerant of this for early career candidates with fewer jobs, but please don’t cram everything in on the theory that more is better. Demonstrating the judgment to separate top achievements from less significant ones will impress me more.

      If you were being introduced to someone important, you should be able to draw a distinction between being described as “Chris, who is responsible for ordering our office supplies,” and “Chris, who saved Company almost half a million dollars by negotiating better pricing with our paper supplier.” Keep this in mind when selecting accomplishments for your resume; the former doesn’t belong in the same list as the latter.

      To address some other questions, I don’t really care about volunteer activities unless you can demonstrate some actual achievements useful to the role for which I am hiring. Even then, they would only make the cut if you cannot demonstrate those achievements using a work example. In that case, you would include the *achievement* with an incidental mention of the applicable volunteer organization.

      I’m not going to care that much about the url on the resume. Again, I’m going to care about *achievements* (I hope you’re noticing a theme). Publishing X articles a week / increased readership by Y% – something you’ve actually achieved. If I need a writing sample, I’ll ask for it.

      I do see a risk if you include the url but don’t write everything on that web page – namely, that I may assume you’re responsible for something you’re not. What if you don’t get an interview because I read a badly written article by someone else (also under the company name), or ask about one I thought was good in the interview and you have to tell me it’s not yours? I think in your position, I’d wait to be asked for a writing sample, but I’m open to hearing from hiring managers in your specific industry that it has a different custom.

      Good luck.

  80. Levsha

    One of my very closest friends is starting to look for a new job and has asked me to write her a LinkedIn reference. We worked together a couple years ago for just under a year (that’s how we met) but have both moved onto new organizations since then.

    Pros:
    1. I want to be supportive
    2. While she won’t be mad if I don’t, I think she would be hurt if I were unwilling

    Cons:
    1. Everyone knows we’re besties. We’re basically event planners, and we come to each other’s events all the time, so all our friends, everyone at our jobs, basically everyone on my network knows we’re close, and so I think a reference from me would just look silly.
    2. I never managed her and we didn’t work closely, so while I could honestly say that her events are awesome, I can’t say much else
    3. I think LinkedIn is kind of dumb and just use it to keep track of professional connections and endorse my friends for silly skills like “cat herding.”

    What should I do?

    1. Leatherwings

      Don’t bother. You’re right that LinkedIn recommendations aren’t worth much anyways, and realistically if you haven’t managed or even worked closely with her it’s going to hold almost zero water. If you all are best friends, it’s impossible for you to be objective. You’d be spending your time and potentially putting your professional reputation on the line for something that won’t end up helping her anyways.

    2. Temperance

      Linked In recs aren’t really meaningful. It might be a kindness to let her know this.

      I’ll never, ever forget the weird resume that someone sent my husband that was just like 6 pages of Linked In references.

      1. Leatherwings

        ha! Hilarious.

        I would say there are more meaningful ways to help your friend too, Levsha. Offer to look over her resume or cover letter or something else.

    3. Levsha

      Also worth noting – she has a job, she’s just looking for a step up. (if she were unemployed, I think I would look at it differently)

    4. Liane

      *IF you want to* and would be able to give a good reference, you could offer to be a Personal or Other reference.
      I am still seeing these on a lot of applications I fill out. I don’t know if it is just the fields or my geographic area or coincidence, but it still get asked a lot.

  81. Jillociraptor

    I’d love a gut check on whether I’m being too territorial/sensitive about this…

    I have two peers that I work with really closely. We have different focuses but all collaborate on the same projects. We have a really open relationship so we are always giving each other feedback and suggestions, which is something I really like. However, several times in the last couple of months, one or the other has given me an idea that I was actually planning to do anyway.

    My first reaction was just to say, “Thanks, great idea!” because who cares if it was my idea or their idea, it is a good idea and we’re going to do it. However, I’m starting to worry that not being vocal about things I already had in place or in my plans to do are making them think less of me or assume that I’m not as generative or creative, which feels like it’s coming out in some of our conversations.

    I don’t want to get territorial or defensive, or give some kind of full daily accounting of all of my ideas and plans. But I do want the good things I’m doing to be visible. Any ideas for ways to respond when I get a suggestion that I was already implementing or planning to implement?

    1. UnCivilServant

      While a bit of an old line something akin to the adage “great minds think alike” might be a nice way of mentioning that the same idea had come to you. Perhaps not in those exact words. But after so long working together, you may have started picking up a similar perspective on things and common thought processes.

    2. Marina

      “Definitely! I was actually just thinking about that the other day. What do you think would work best for (piece of project)?”

  82. Gene

    The continuing saga of replacing the coworker who died continues.

    We held the oral board Wednesday. There were 4 applicants who passed the Supplemental Questionnaire and all had accepted the schedule with HR to come from out of state for the oral panel interviews. The first one went OK, not great, but solid. The second was a no call-no show. The third had sent an email the evening before saying she wouldn’t make it, so the HR Guy left the fourth one a voice mail inviting him to come in whenever he could make it if he wanted to come in early. Then he became a no call-no show.

    Out of 4 applicants who had accepted the interview time and date, three were no shows. We now have a list of one that will be approved by the Civil Service Board next week. Since he didn’t blow us away, we’ll look at recruiting again and he’ll be included on the list without having to jump through the hoops again.

    We plan on contacting the no shows to see what it was that promoted them to not show up, not “WTF, dude?!?” but more, “Was there something in the job or pay or benefits or process that made you decide to not pursue it?” so we can improve the next round of recruiting.

    But that takes care of the problem of the new hire starting while only one of us was going to be here. Always a bright side, somewhere!

    1. Leatherwings

      Idk, I wouldn’t contact the no-shows if I were you. If these were people who politely withdrew their candidacy or didn’t accept an offer then I would say definitely reach out to help you improve. However, no-showing to an interview demonstrates practically zero professionalism. Are those really the people you want feedback from? Also, do you really think you’re going to get helpful feedback from someone who couldn’t be bothered to send an email withdrawing?

      It’s worth looking into why you had so many people no-show, but I don’t think asking them individually is the way to do it.

  83. JMegan

    Just wanted to share a tip that I invented (or at least, I think I invented it!) to help me focus at work. I don’t have a diagnosis of ADHD, but my therapist and I have a theory, and I’m discovering that a lot of behaviours associated with managing ADHD have been helpful.

    I actually write the word FOCUS on a blank piece of paper, and keep the paper and a pen right beside me as I work. The first thing under the word “focus” is the ONE task I am meant to be focusing on at that moment. Then when a potential distraction pops up, I list it underneath the focus item.

    Like this:
    FOCUS!!
    *Write teapot article for newsletter

    NEXT:
    *Read Wakeen’s email
    *Post to AAM (yes, I really write this! Not because it’s a must-do, but because it reminds me not to do it until after I have finished the Focus item above)
    *Review policy submission
    *Submit vacation request for next week

    The “Next” list is written in chronological order as things pop up, either in my brain or in my email. I can’t turn the email notifications off because I sometimes do need to respond to things as they come up, but most of the time I can ignore them until I’ve finished what I’m working on.

    I have a daily and a weekly to-do list as well, and I’m very big on highlighting and using colours and all sorts of things to stay organized. But it’s amazing how much it helps to have a written reminder to just focus on This One Thing, and consider everything else a distraction in the meantime.

    1. Temperance

      I do something similar! I star anything urgent, and then do small tasks in between. I also print everything, because having a physical reminder is always helpful to me.

    2. Van Wilder

      This is cute! I’m a big time management system junkie. Like a crash dieter who never gets skinny, I never get permanently organized. But I’ve been doing the Bullet Journal for a couple months and it’s awesome. (Watch the video on bulletjournal dot com). You can use any notebook. I’m using the Moleskin square ruled book.

      1. JMegan

        I tried Bullet Journal, but couldn’t make it work for some reason. I think it’s because it doesn’t match *exactly* with the way I think, and I couldn’t give myself permission to modify it…I mean, obviously there’s no reason not to modify it if need be, but my brain works in mysterious ways. :) But yes, this “focus on one thing, list all the other things” strategy of mine is very similar to Bullet Journal, so maybe I learned more from it than I thought!

    3. LadyKelvin

      Can I also suggest the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. My husband uses it to manage his workload/life and I’m going to implement it because my current system of trying to remember everything doesn’t work, just as soon as I finish writing my dissertation. Its very similar to your to-do list except its organized by actions, so you have something on your todo list, like do taxes, then under it list the first couple of steps you need to take to do your taxes (i.e. download w-2 forms). Then when you look at your to-do list you don’t have to think about how to start the project, you already have the first steps written down and it makes starting things much easier, as well as give you an idea of how long something is going to take. As things come up you add them to the list but then you don’t have to be constantly trying to remember them. It’s pretty useful.

      1. JMegan

        Oh, I’ll check that out too – thanks! Like Van Wilder above, I’m a bit of a time management system junkie as well, so I’m always looking for new tips.

    4. zora.dee

      Ooo, I like that! It’s not a big problem in my current job, but I’ll keep it in mind.

      It sounds like you are super visual like I am, I love the book “ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life” by Judith Kolberg. It has various ideas, some of which have worked for work stuff, some for home, but it gave me lots of ideas about visual organizing that I have found really helpful.

      Good luck!

    5. EmilyG

      I like the FOCUS idea! I used to a few similar things when I was working full-time and in grad school (and had ordinary home responsibilities too).

      First, when I’m in meetings and my mind is racing through unrelated things I need to do, I just jot them randomly on a post-it in the front cover of my notebook with no regard to relative importance, and sort them out later. If they’re written down, they’re not jangling around my head.

      Second, when I had a weekend day with lots of schoolwork to do, I would make a list labeled SATURDAY with everything I was going to do on it. Farmer’s market, read chapters 4-6, lunch, start assignment 2, fold laundry, shower, dinner with friend. Basically, I put all of the fun and non-fun things on it and I could only do things from the list. Sick of reading the textbook? The remaining available activities before dinnertime are showering and folding laundry. Goofing off on the internet is not on the list and not available. It was weird but it worked.

  84. Yet another anon in nonprofit

    This week I got a phone call from the woman who replaced me at my last job. She asked where a couple of files were, asked my advice for working with the board, and then said, “Um… Do you know why they don’t offer benefits? This is my first big girl job and I was kind of surprised…” My heart just about broke for her. I left the job because of the general lack of respect for employees, of which no pay and lack of benefits was only one aspect. Sounds like they’re asking her to work more evening hours than I ever worked too, and of course haven’t mentioned the new overtime rules going into effect in January. I enjoyed many aspects of the job while I was there, but can’t imagine trying to deal with their gas lighting bullshit straight out of college. Poor girl.

    1. Van Wilder

      Ugh, just be glad you got out of there. She will soon too. And they will have no idea why their employees keep leaving.

      I recently had lunch with someone from my old department at the job I left 2 years ago and I was surprised/not surprised to learn that nothing has changed. They’re still losing analysts every couple months (out of only 3 analyst positions) and haven’t been fully staffed in the last 2 years, and still think it’s not them, it’s everyone else.

  85. HeyNonnyNonny

    Does anyone know of/use any breathing or mindfulness web sites that are work-appropriate?

    I can use headphones, but I need it to be a web site (not an app) that I can just play quietly to keep my breathing even during down times at work. Anyone have luck with these?

      1. HeyNonnyNonny

        Oh, Calm looks pretty good! Do you know if the locked levels are paid or just for people with accounts?

        1. Dynamic Beige

          I got the Calm app a while ago and there are some free levels, but in order to get the other programs, you have to pay for them.

      1. Trix

        Huge fan of A Soft Murmur! That was the only thing that got me through writing 20 annual reviews a few months ago.

        A combination of rain, thunder, and just a little bit of fire is perfect for me.

  86. Penny for Your Thoughts

    I am trying to negotiate an hourly wage for a part-time job I was offered. The starting pay is at the low end, and I asked if there was any flexibility, especially because I have extensive experience and a college degree (not required). The hr officer handling my paperwork told me that what is listed is the standard starting rate. I haven’t responded yet. Seeking suggestions for how to move forward.

    1. BRR

      It sounds like that’s what they want to pay for the job. It’s not just about your qualifications but it could be about what the market rate is for the job. Unfortunately it sounds like a take it or leave it situation.

    2. Graciosa

      A lot of positions are leveled based on the required skills, and the pay rate is set accordingly. Asking to be paid for more than they need doesn’t necessarily get you anywhere – they can find someone else to do what they’ve decided is acceptable for the specified pay rate.

      If you want to be compensated for additional education and experience, you need to find a job which is leveled to include those requirements at an employer willing to pay for them.

      Good luck.

  87. wth

    Some of you may recall my post last week about a manager who was inappropriately touching people. I can’t confirm this, but I believe that the owner has been made aware of it. I have no idea what happened to her or if she was written up (none of my business) but I do hope it stops. I’m tired of getting poked (hard the other day) & hugged at work. I also have never had a manager graze my ass with his/her hand before so that’s a new experience which I hope to never have repeated. I can’t believe in this day and age anyone would think that’s appropriate. Which brings me to my main question:

    This job is really burning me out. I mean, it’s just toxic and bad. The owners are brilliant people but have not much in way of social skills or actual management experience. I’m pretty sure they both (married couple) have never worked outside their own family businesses. In other words, they’ve never had a “boss”. I have seen bad decisions made, over and over again. Employees feel undervalued, unappreciated and just ignored. There is no open door policy. It just sucks all around.

    I’ve had good bosses in the past so I know they’re out there. I’m not asking for much really and I’m not asking for perfection. I thought I had a job nailed down last week but the guy was rushing the process and I literally only talked with him for 20 minutes. I was supposed to go back for a second sit down with him after he offered me the job so we could go over details. He then called and basically said that he had to check to see “what direction we are going with the job.” The job had morphed from what was in the paper and turned into something else, which was actually better for me, but I don’t know if he was annoyed with me for asking too many questions or if really the job maybe had never been approved by the board. I sent him an email after the July 4th holiday week was over to ask the status of the position and no word from him. Good thing I hadn’t given my notice as I was very close to doing so. He basically offered me a job then took it away. Lesson learned.

    I’m feeling like, in this job search, seriously? What is wrong with people. I mean, is a good boss literally a needle in a haystack? I had another interview a few months ago and honestly, the main owner was the most pompous, over the top, arrogant, “my workers are minions” type of person I had ever seen. Another family run company. I’m guessing family run small businesses are just dysfunctional in general but if I’m wrong, please let me know. I think I may start looking at larger companies with actual HR departments and structure.

    I need hope for something better.

    1. Van Wilder

      If I’ve learned anything from reading this site, small family businesses are especially dysfunctional. Good luck!

    2. Biff

      If someone touches you at work in a deliberately familiar way, you need to react EXTREMELY poorly. Yell “OMG, don’t touch me like that!” or scream. Or turn around an smack them hard, and tell them how scared you were.

      That aside, yeah, I do think finding a good boss has become a nightmare that it used to not be.

      1. Camellia

        Don’t hit them or you may find yourself in trouble, as in ‘assault’ and ‘police’. And honestly, I don’t really recommend screaming as a first resort. Use a glare, clenched teeth, and in a low growly voice say, “Don’t ever touch me again.” Practice this in front of a mirror if necessary. And practice by actually saying it out loud so you get used to hearing yourself say it. The low voice can be very effective because in a stupid way it lets the offender ‘save face’ and stop the behaviour without being embarrassed about it in front of everyone; this can be effective because many offenders, if challenged very publicly, dig in their heels and insist they did nothing wrong and a silly female is overreacting over nothing.

        1. Biff

          Hmm, you probably have a point there. I’ve never seen the police arrest someone for defending themselves against unwanted sexual touching, but I can see how a real creep could spin it into being assaulted. Ugh. I just love dealing with jerks. I always forget they play underhanded.

    3. Graciosa

      There are good bosses – and even just decent bosses who are still better than bad ones – out there in the world. I promise.

      I’m so sorry you’re in this situation.

    4. Anon Accountant

      And yes I’d recommend larger companies with HR departments. In a family owned business you can’t win unless you are related to them or their best bud.

      And I’m sorry to say that inappropriate touching happens and if it’s 1 of their family members that do that then there’s little that will likely be done.

  88. Van Wilder

    Petty complaint about a kind of annoying habit: people finishing your sentences. Is it a nervous tic kind of thing?

    We have a staff here who does this constantly and at first I thought she just always wanted to pretend to know what’s going on, which is related to the fact that she really doesn’t. But she does it all the time with everything.

    Yesterday, I was saying “Reach out to Tony Macelli” and she helped me by finishing with “celli” at the same time as me. Ugh, sorry, just venting I guess.

    1. Collie

      I’m guilty of this. It’s something I’m working on (though I’m more in control of it at work than I am in more social situations). I think the reason I do it is some feeling of efficiency. Since I was young, my mom has had trouble with memory issues as well, so it’s super common for family members to jump in and offer a word. I think, subconsciously, I’m trying to communicate that I know what the person is going to say, no need to say the whole thing, let’s get moving (even though I rationally know this is not always true — I certainly don’t always know what someone is going to say).

      But it’s definitely an annoying thing to encounter and the reasoning behind it doesn’t excuse it!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe

      I do this sometimes. Not super often, but I find when I’m doing it, it’s because I either already know the direction that the conversation is headed and just want to jump to the action items, or because I’ve already heard the story/direction/comment before. Agree with Collie that it’s a subconscious efficiency thing. I hate when I do it, I try to reign it in when I know it’s about to happen!

    3. Levsha

      AHHH our intern does this and it drives me crazy. I talk ridiculously fast, so I know it’s not that I’m leaving long pauses where it seems like I might have lost my train of thought, and it’s SO ANNOYING. I’m really trying to let it go though, since it seems like a tic type thing.

  89. Mdme Quillotine

    So I was job hunting recently and posted my resume on a few sites like Glassdoor, etc. I know the only response you really get from that is from insurance salespeople, but I figured it was worth a shot. What I did not expect was an unsolicited ‘resume review.’ I’m a designer so our resumes break a lot of the generally accepted rules for job hunting; lots of color and graphics, etc. It’s supposed to be indicative of your ability to organize information.

    Anyway, the two bits of advice they gave me was to add an objective (which: heck, no. I was SO HAPPY when I found out they’d gone out of style. I hate writing those things for all the same reasons they don’t work.) The other bit was to place my education section underneath my work experience, which I’ve never heard before. What do you all think about that? Good advice or bad advice? I’m inclined to think ‘bad’ since the other advice was sort of clueless, but I can see how my work history might have a more positive and immediate impact than my associates degree.

    1. Not Karen

      Yes, I would put the work experience first. Unless you’re straight out of school without any relevant work experience.

    2. Van Wilder

      I think when you’re a recent graduate and your education is the most relevant part, you put it at the top. But when you have more experience, especially when it’s relevant, you show that first. Sounds like a good idea.

      But booo: objectives.

    3. Leatherwings

      Agree that you should place the educations section under work experience unless you’re fresh out of school and don’t have much relevant work experience.

      Most important stuff goes at the top. For most people, that’s work experience, not education.

    4. Dawn

      Yeah, education goes at the end. When I screen resumes what I want to see is how, exactly, you can meet my needs (which were spelled out in the job ad). The faster you can answer that, the better!

    5. Anon for This One

      I’ve always learned that education goes first when you’re just starting out (and your education is probably more relevant than your work experience for many positions), but once you’re “established,” your work experience goes first. (This is the general resume rule that I learned, but it doesn’t necessarily apply for all resumes or CVs.)

      And objectives are so out. (They never made sense to me – isn’t the objective of all resumes to somehow promote yourself?)

    6. Aknownymous

      I’m an art director who has reviewed my fair share of resumes. Your education is not as relevant as your experience, which is not as relevant as your skills. So I would put the work experience on top, but keep in mind that in our industry, the portfolio is much more important in terms of impact. In fact, I look at the portfolio first, and will only look at the resume if the portfolio is good. And at that point I don’t really pay that much attention to the order, because your portfolio has already spoken for itself.

    7. Honeybee

      Depends on your field, but generally education does go under work experience in most fields if you are more than a few years out of whatever your highest level of education is. (One exception is academia, where your education always goes first.)

      1. JaneB

        Not in the UK, where it goes at the bottom of a reverse chronological listing of employment history…

  90. The Avocado

    I would really appreciate advice on being friendly at work, as I really struggle with knowing what is appropriate?

    I don’t want to impose on or freak people out so I try to go for warm but not too pushy. So if I see people, I say hi but I won’t start chatting about my life. I do talk a bit about things I’m up to when chats start up but I wouldn’t ask people out for lunch or to a party at my house. I suppose I want to avoid some awkward situation where people feel I’m being too pushy or familiar.

    But then I see colleagues in my new job (since November) who do meet up at the weekends or invite each other to parties and it makes me sad as they’re all lovely and I don’t want to accidentally exclude myself.

    Any advice really welcome.

    1. Van Wilder

      Sounds like you’re handling things reasonably. It depends if you want to be friends and hang out on weekends. Might be a good idea to not actively seek this out, as I’ve often regretted getting too close with coworkers, especially when the work environment changes and work isn’t fun anymore. But if you want to be included, you could amp up the personal chats a little. No need to feel bad either way though.

      1. The Avocado

        It probably doesn’t help that we don’t actually have local friends so I would Love to find some via work. So tricky!

        1. Graciosa

          Try meetups, or some activity you’re interested in – you really don’t want to have all your social life tied to work. It makes it really difficult if you change jobs or retire.

          Best wishes

  91. Brett

    I never have time to post anymore on Friday’s because I am so busy, which is good.
    I’m now a team lead with 3 direct reports. I have to be converted from contract to permanent, so it is a long process to make this all possible; at the end of it.
    By the time this is done, I’ll be at a 50%+ raise from where I was in February (and with full benefits this time!)
    It is really amazing how many times a day I now use information I learned here. :)

  92. Anonymous Techie

    Folks I think I need to adjust my attitude, but I’m struggling and need to vent.

    I work on a small help desk. We are down one employee due to turnover, and I am fairly new (less than one year). Two of my co-workers are absent quite a bit, but have legitimate reasons. Yet I’m struggling with growing resentment towards them.

    I don’t think a single week has gone by without at least one of these people missing a day of work due to their own illness or that of spouse or child. They both have been open about dealing with chronic illnesses and have family members with issues as well, so… I have no reason to believe these aren’t legitimate absences. On one hand, I’m glad we can allow these people the flexibility they need. On the other, it leaves me buried in work and frustrated because I show up every single day while they seem to miss 1 in 5. (Might be exaggerating the real amount here because I won’t let myself track it, but it feels that way.)

    I know it’s not my business. But it’s impacting my work since when they are gone, our already overloaded team struggles to tread water and I fall behind on my work while they have half the workload because they aren’t picking up new work while they’re gone, and things don’t get reassigned when they are here.

    Working hard on refocusing myself towards things I can effect (like being more efficient in my work and passing things on where possible), but I still feel myself suppressing an eye roll every time I hear one of them isn’t coming in to work.

    1. Dawn

      Have you talked to you manager? Not about their absences, but about how YOU are doing? “Manager, I am drowning, I’m falling behind on my workload, here’s what I’ve tried to do about it and the minimal progress I have made, I really need some help or some ideas from you about how to keep up.”

      1. Leatherwings

        +1. You need to frame it to be clear that you need help managing your workload when you’re covering, not that you’re resentful that you’re covering in the first place.

      2. Ex Resume Reviewer

        Not yet, but I think it is time to speak about it during my next check-in. I just haven’t been certain about how to bring it up without sounding like I’m complaining. Thank you for your wording, I will try it!

    2. Van Wilder

      Their absences are not your business but your increased workload is. I agree with Dawn. Especially if this is going to be a regular thing, your employer should have a plan that doesn’t consist of just overworking you, unless it’s only occasionally.

    3. animaniactoo

      Adjusting your math might also help. They don’t miss 1 in 5 days. You said “at least one” – so the likelihood is that they are mostly missing an average of 1 in 8. Which isn’t really much better.

      I agree with talking to your employer – if it’s going to be okay for people to be out this often, they need the coverage that another body can provide.

      1. Ex Resume Reviewer

        1 in 8 feels better though, more like every other week….

        I think there may be rumblings about hiring an additional person (beyond refilling the open role). I have no idea how long that may take to get approval though. I wish we would though. I feel like that’s the ultimate solution as the company is expanding pretty rapidly as well.

  93. Anon Today

    How do I tell my boss about potential home stress that may or may not impact my job, and SHOULD I even do so?

    My spouse and I separated recently after 6 months of various issues finally came to the point of no return. I’m not really certain at this point if we will wind up back together or not. What I have been is at least somewhat distracted for the past month or two as things got steadily worse at home. I’m still getting things done, but not as quickly and not as well as I am known for. That said, I have always been the type who doesn’t talk much about negative family issues in the office, or about family much at all. My coworkers know I’m married and that I have kids, but that’s really all the details they know.

    To complicate this, we have 3 staff doing my job (I am the junior one) and we really only need 2-ish. I’m concerned that being open about this might result in getting more of my few responsibilities removed. I obviously really need to stay employed.

    Ideas? I’m being good on self-care and the kids are fine.

    1. Overeducated

      I’m sorry to hear that. If I were you, I might alert the boss that you are in the midst of a really tough time outside of work, and are doing your best to keep it from affecting your job and not asking for any kind of change in your duties, but wanted to let her know just in case you seem a little tense or off your game.

    2. Amber T

      If you’re close enough with your boss and feel comfortable, I would ask her for a private conversation and let her know some of the details. You’re separating and it’s not easy, but you’re doing your best to not let it affect you at work. Or you could wait and see, and if it does affect you, own up to your boss and explain.

      If you have a coworker you trust, you could ask if they’d keep an eye out on your work quality. Not saying for you to dump on them, but a generic “hey, I’m going through a rough patch in my personal life and I don’t want it to affect me at work. If it seems like I’m falling behind on something, will you let me know?”

      I know we get a whole bunch of crazy stories here, but most employers/coworkers are human and know that crap happens in life. As long as you take responsibility for everything and own up to your actions, I think you should be fine.

      From one stranger on the internet, all the hugs your way! (((HUGS)))

    3. animaniactoo

      From experience with a friend who went through issues – you should at least share that you have some stuff going on in your personal life, you’re aware it’s affecting your work, and how you plan to address that.

  94. nicolefromqueens

    I could swear I asked this before I can’t find it, sorry!

    I’m a permatemp (2.5 years+) at a municipal government, where titles are, well, law. I work through a temp agency. My temp agency title is the vague “office assistant”, my municipal title is “temp”. My unit (7 people overall, my manager is here full time) really only does data entry. I also do pretty much everything my manager does besides personnel issues, which I could handle but protocol forbids (they do listen to my input though).

    For my resume I would think normally office manager would do work, but that would get a resounding hell no from any reference here. Any advice?

    I didn’t really have room for “serve as team lead…” as I have other points there. I put small project management, training, and the daily data entry responsibilities.

    1. Leatherwings

      Are you talking about listing your title as office manager? Don’t do that that. Just like you said already, it would raise huge red flags during a reference check.

      The best thing you can do is list your accomplishments in a way that makes it clear that your responsibilities went beyond just basic admin jobs.

      If you did something important like serve as a team lead, you probably need to edit your resume to make sure you can fit that on there.

      1. CMT

        Agreed that you should probably try to edit your resume, but you could also list your title as Official Title (More Relevant Title) on your resume.

        1. Liane

          Alison has recommended this several times for situations where your job duties/level are very different from what that title would be at most jobs, or your company simply has unique titles. I see no reason why it wouldn’t work in your case.

          1. Goats

            I think it is slightly different when you’re talking about job levels (assistant vs coordinator vs manager, etc), vs clarifying job titles that might otherwise be hard to parse (ie something like “Happiness Officer (Customer Service Manager) ).

            I’d definitely raise an eyebrow at seeing something like “Office Assistant (serving as Team Lead)” on a resume because those things typically do not go together. If I had a conversation with the candidate I’d poke hard at that to figure out what the actual arrangement was. If I found out after poking around that the “serving as team lead” was not formalized or verifiable, I’d just think the candidate was stretching the truth in order to look more qualified.

            That the OP said it would get a “resounding hell no” from the current workplace on reference checks indicates listing anything but the actual title in this case would be a bad idea.

    2. Anon Accountant

      Either list the duties you did, listing the office manager duties first or there was a post on here about listing something such as official job title and underneath that (served as ____________). In this case posted in the archives I think it was served as a tech administrator or something.

      But the official job title was first.

  95. 20something

    How do you deal with coworkers who try to undermine you by hijacking your conversations with other people and stealing others’ attention from you?

    I have a coworker who always “joins” or chimes in when I’m talking to other people, from our boss to other coworkers. When she joins in, it’s always to steal the other person’s attention from me. She starts dominating the conversation or changing the topic, and would speak only to the other person as if I’m not part of the conversation. She’ll start by aggressively complimenting the other person, saying how much she likes their outfit/shoes/bags, ask where the person got them, and then start a new conversation with that person based on that as if I weren’t there. As my conversations with other people are casual and not private or work-related, it’d be weird for me to turn to her and say something like “Sorry, but we were having a conversation”. The other person usually just thinks she’s being friendly, but my coworker doesn’t aggressively cut into other people’s conversations, only mine.

    I also had a similar problem in a previous sales job with a coworker who stole my sales. She’d cut in to my conversations with customers who were interested in buying, actually push me aside, and seal the deal under her name, and when I confronted her about it, she said it’s because she’s more experienced and a full-time employee (implying I wasn’t important because I was only part-time). Obviously, if she were only helping me, she wouldn’t count the sale towards her sale quota.

    What do people do with these types of disrespectful coworkers?

  96. Overeducated

    This week I learned that in the new job I’m starting, I will be paid via 1099. I had thought it would be treated as grant/fellowship income, with no tax paperwork, where you owe income but not payroll taxes (I know it sounds weird but that’s how it works for lots of grad students/postdocs). Now it looks like I’ll be owing employee AND employer payroll. Yikes – that’s an additional 15% higher than I was budgeting for. On the bright side, my salary will go up by about 9% to compensate for the higher tax burden, so it will only be a 6% cut to take home, more like if I were a W-2 employee with no benefits.

    But I think my taxes are about to get way more complicated. If I’m going to be taxed like I’m an independent contractor, I need to figure out what kind of information I need to save for tax time, what kinds of work related deductions and retirement accounts I am eligible for, and how to even calculate my estimated tax payments when I am married filing jointly (spouse is a postdoc, so our only standard W-2 income is from a part time job I’ve now left). For those of you who have experience with this, what resources do you recommend? Any major pitfalls to avoid or tips to keep in mind?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      First – check that you are indeed a 1099 employee. If you are using their equipment and facilities, and do not have to furnish your own laptops or have your own office outside of their business, you may not be 1099.

      I got illegally 1099’d when I was intern, and it killed my tax income. I was making only 200 a week and still had to pay 1000 in taxes because I had 0 business deductions. 15% may be the average, but typically people with 1099 income have deductions like equipment, space, etc. If you have no business expenses you can deduct then it can really hurt to be on a 1099.

      1. Overeducated

        This is kind of a weird situation legally, and if I got into the details I’d worry about doxxing myself. Suffice it to say I’m not going to argue it.

        Why would 15% be an average and not absolute? I’m talking about just the payroll taxes, which are federal and constant up to 106k or something, not income taxes. I will owe a higher percentage for income taxes, so I’m looking at the overall tax burden going from (for example) 15% to 30%.

    2. Margaret

      Are you able to find out what box on the 1099-MISC it will be reported as? It’s not something I’ve dealt with extensively with clients (as a tax preparer, although I am going to have to figure this out for my own taxes next year as my husband as a weird internship/research thing going on this summmer that’s being paid on a stipend), but I would have expected even a fellowship to be reported on a 1099 if it exceeds the $600 threshold – but that DOESN’T automatically make it self-employment income.

      First of all, the manner in which the payor reports income to the IRS does not inherently make it that kind of income – obviously you then have the burden of proof because the IRS will presume it’s correct, but you can fight it. If it’s not supposed to be self-employment income, then don’t reported it as SE income, and have the documentation to prove it when the IRS sends you a notice.

      But of course, the easiest path is to be consistent with the reporting whether you think it’s correct or not, but it’s only if they report it in Box 7 (nonemployee compensation) that it’s presumed to be SE income. If it’s reported in Box 3 (other income, which is what I would guess, without delving into it, to be the common place for fellowship income), it’s just other income, subject to income tax, but not SE.

      There are some resources on the IRS website for being self-employed, what kind of expenses might be deductible, etc. Keep in mind taking deductions and contributing to a retirement account, etc. are all optional – obviously they save taxes and help towards retirement, but depending on how much you’re making the hassle could end up being more than the savings is worth. If you’re making a significant amount, it might be worth at least consulting with a tax preparer (even if you plan to prepare your own return) to discuss what types of things you should be looking at. Many should be able to give you an hour meeting for not too much to discuss things even if they’re not going to prepare your return.

      1. overeducated

        Thanks for this very helpful reply. I didn’t know you could get a 1099 and NOT treat it as self employment income, I will have to look into the box distinctions and ask the funding agency if they can clarify. (I’ve glanced at the IRS site but found the easily Googleable stuff not that helpful – I think my situation is just weird enough). My husband and I have had fellowship income over $600 from multiple university, government, and nonprofit sources, and we have never received a 1099 for any.

        I definitely want to save for retirement if at all possible but different accounts have different restrictions – apparently you can only contribute to an IRA if you have W-2 income specifically, SEP-IRAs are for self employed people, and if you’re just paid straight off a grant there is no tax advantaged retirement vehicle for you. It kind of sucks.

        1. stevenz

          I don’t think your situation is weird. Once you get a couple of questions answered, like the 1099 questions others have suggested, it will be clearer what you have to do. Your employer can surely clarify your employment status for tax purposes. If you are considered a 1099 worker…

          Save receipts for anything related to work that isn’t being reimbursed or that would be a normal expense if you were a regular employee. Document mileage for work-related trips like driving to meetings. You will be able to deduct the standard IRS rate per mile. If you work from home, figure out what % of your house you are devoting to work-related costs – office space, pro-rata share of utilities, phone etc. Same with cell phone. Same with rent, mortgage, whatever. When in doubt, save it.

          You can make a good guess at your total income and pay estimated tax quarterly, based on your own or combined income. Once tax time comes, Turbo Tax or something like it can easily handle this kind of situation.

          Put money away for savings anyway. Don’t worry that it isn’t the right kind of account, just bank it and forget it.

  97. Good_Intentions

    Job renamed and restructured after I was fired

    I was fired from my position while still on probation nine days ago. Earlier this week, I went to the website of my former employer to see if HR posted an ad for my replacement and discovered the position I once occupied has been renamed and the responsibilities are different.

    Is there any way I can spin this in interviews?

    Also, because I was only there four months, should I leave the job off of my resume?

    Please share your thoughts, AMA commentators. I need perspective beyond that of my bf and myself.

    1. Leatherwings

      Nope, no spinning. Something that happened after you left doesn’t apply to you. If you choose to list it on your resume, you should list the title and responsibilities you carried out.

      That being said, I wouldn’t list it on your resume. Doing so means you have to explain why you were fired, and it’ll be easier just to leave it off.

    2. Graciosa

      This really doesn’t affect you at all – later changes to a job or department structure don’t alter the fact that you were fired.

      The best response in these situations is to admit that you were fired, and identify a cause (demonstrate self awareness) and provide an explanation of why it would not be an issue at your new job (because the medical situation that caused your attendance problems is under control, because you learned a better way to address the problem that got you fired, etc.).

      If you try to “spin” this into a layoff when you were fired, you will look like a liar during reference checks which will knock you out of consideration at any reputable employer.

      I have hired many people who learned from their mistakes or got a difficult situation under control. I don’t hire people who deliberately deceive me.

      1. Good_Intentions

        Letter from CEO about my firing

        At the suggestion of another fired employee who received support from the CEO, I sent him an email explaining that I was confused about my termination. He sent a formal response with a write-up I did not receive last week, which has left me angry, puzzled and still more confused.

        I received an additional sting to my pride when I noticed the package was misaddressed. This is the third time such an error has happened.

        I don’t dispute the comments that I was a bad fit for the position, but I am very distraught about the disrespectful and disorganized way my termination was handled.

        1. Leatherwings

          That sucks. It really sucks.

          But the reality is you can’t do anything about it. The position wasn’t a good fit, they fired you and you don’t work there anymore. The fact that they might’ve handled it badly doesn’t have any bearing on those facts.

          Leave it off your resume or come up with a really good explanation of what you learned from the firing when applying to other jobs. Good luck!

          1. Good_Intentions

            Leatherwings:

            Thanks for your abbreviated show of sympathy.

            I have removed the position from my LinkedIn profile and will use the same resume I had in February. Now, I just need to come up with a good rationale for how I’ve spent the past four months.

    1. Biff

      I work in tech with new hires. She has a lot of points, and frankly, I can’t speak to all of them, but while I have seen blatant discrimination I can also tell you that we don’t get a lot of female applicants, and frankly, the most recent few we’ve had were not good. The one we hired — not doing well. Has serious presentation issues and is often randomly absent. Is hiding issues from the boss. That said, we have women on our team who are definitely in potions of authority and getting raises/recognition for good work.

      1. Leatherwings

        That’s not an issue with her being a woman, though. That’s an issue with her being a bad employee.

        If you’re not getting a ton of female applicants, I think you need to really think about how to expand the applicant pool to make sure you’re casting a wider net.

        1. Biff

          I imagine if things go the way they seem to be going, this person would chalk a lot of what happens up to “I’m a woman, therefore….” instead of recognizing the performance issues. And we really can’t change the applicant pool — something like 80% of the people graduating with the required degree are men. So at least 80% of our applicants are going to be men if statistics play out.

          1. Leatherwings

            Well… I think that’s a completely unreasonable assumption to make about that woman.

            And that’s why the problem with diversity exists in these fields (I work in a tech-adjacent field). Because people shrug their shoulders and say “there just aren’t that many women.” It’s not as true as the people who make that claim seem to think it is.

            1. Biff

              I get what you are saying, but I also understand that if we hire women for the sake of hiring women, and people see that they are not working out, then it reinforces the wrongheaded idea that “women can’t tech.” Please understand that when we have good female applicants we snap them up and they often do well, but when we hire for diversity sake alone… we have issues that I feel reinforce the problem, not the solution. I hope that makes sense.

              And please trust me on the attitude I see.

              1. UnCivilServant

                I try to avoid the subject because of the strong opinions it brings out in people. One thing I’ve noticed in the type of tech jobs women seek out and end up in. At my workplace, in all of the application support groups – that is, the people who are experts on how the given piece of tech works as it relates to the user and in troubleshooting issues from that end, you get a large number of women. When I go to the infrastructure meetings – all men. The infrastructure deals with the cold iron end of the architecture – hardware and middleware. Given that the state incessantly engages in diversity focused hiring and outreach, the only factor left is self-selection.

                Personally my criteria is always “can you do the job on a professional level?” That’s all I’ve ever cared about, but when people bring it up, you occassionally look up to see who’s in what cubes.

                1. Honeybee

                  Given that the state incessantly engages in diversity focused hiring and outreach, the only factor left is self-selection.

                  Well, on a surface/superficial level. But you have to think about the reasons behind the ‘self-selection.’ It’s a result of socialization and norms within the tech industry. I mean, this is basically the old canard that women are supporters and helpers, so they get shunted into these roles pseudo-voluntarily even in an industry in which they are already in the minority. But if you’ve been taught your entire life that you’re supposed to be a supporter and a helpmeet and that it’s unfeminine and against your nature to seek out roles that don’t align with that view, it’s really hard to overcome that and you need Help.

                  I don’t know what kind of diversity focused hiring and outreach your company/state focuses on, but there are a lot of different ways to do it. There’s the blanket way – “We want women, and we don’t really care what department they end up in.” And then there’s a more nuanced way. For example, I work in video games, which is a microcosm of tech and even MORE male-dominated than tech writ large. A lot of women don’t apply for video games jobs not because they don’t want to work in games, because they don’t define themselves as gamers, or they don’t think they are hardcore enough to work in a games company. ON a surface level, it looks like ‘choice’ – it’s only when you bother to dig deeper into motivations that you realize it’s a constrained choice made under societal pressures that don’t need to exist.

                  One of the things that some companies do to combat this is, when they try to recruit women, explain to them the broadened definition of gamer (women are actually more likely to play certain types of games than men, but when they think of ‘gamer’ they are more likely to think ‘FPS game’. Once you explain that you also mean games like Minecraft or Super Mario or Pokemon Go, you get a lot more women who realize ‘oh shit, I am a gamer.’) Another thing is by explaining to women that the problems and challenges we tackle in games are the same as in other places in the tech industry, just applied to games instead of productivity software or an app or something.