open thread – July 29-30, 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 :)

{ 1,258 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann Furthermore*

    Yay! In early. I’ve got a situation on my hands that I don’t know what to make of.

    In early June, I was contacted by a search firm in the Bay area about a job with a company headquartered there, but with an office in my area, for an ERP analyst role. They submitted my resume, and the hiring manager passed, saying they wanted someone with more experience with the applications the position would support. I moved on. Then last week, someone at a local search firm called me, and when she gave me the details and the name of the company, I said it sounded like the same position and explained what had happened previously, and that it sounds like they haven’t found anyone for the job yet. She said they could resubmit it. Then the next day, she emailed me and said they couldn’t work with me, because they have a contract with my current employer, which states they cannot recruit people from my company. This seemed like a load of BS to me – I have never worked with that firm before, and they do not place people in my department – they work with another group that uses tons of contractors. She wouldn’t budge. Then on Tuesday, I was contacted by yet another firm about the same role, this one back in the Bay area. I explained the situation again, and the guy emailed me a job description. It was weird – the connection was terrible, and because he had a very heavy accent, I only got about every 3rd word he said. And when I called him back, someone else answered with just, “Hello?” and said, “Uh, yeah, he’ll call you back….” And when he called back, it was very disjointed and honestly the whole thing had the feel of some random dude running a business out of his mom’s basement, even though I looked up the firm and they seem legit. Then on Thursday, the same job popped up again on Dice, for yet another firm. So I applied for it, just so I could talk to someone, exchanged a few emails, which ended with the person at that firm saying that since my resume had already been submitted, they couldn’t submit it again.

    WTF is going on? To me it seems pretty simple. An employer has an open position. They looked at me once, and didn’t think it would work out. Fast forward a few weeks, they still haven’t found anyone, so maybe they’d be willing to reconsider. But these people are treating me like I’ve been blackballed or have cooties. I just don’t get it. If it worked out, then they would get a commission. And really, is it so terrible to say, “Hey, I’ve got a resume from someone you looked at before, but she’s still looking and you still have the job open. Do you want to reconsider?”

    Is this how it works? Are placement firms a bunch of shady, fly-by-night operations? And why would so many firms be fighting to find people for one single position like a bunch of rabid dogs? And once you’ve had your resume submitted once, is that it? Are you out of the running forever?

    And don’t even get me started on the dingbat who called me and then said she couldn’t work with me, when my current employer is the first thing on my freaking resume.

    I looked at the company’s website, and couldn’t find the job listed there. I even tried finding the hiring manager on LinkedIn. I’m at a loss. If I’m not right for the role, fine…but how am I supposed to know that for sure when this single role is being passed around like a hot potato and no one will give me straight answer?

    TL;DR: Mutliple recruiting firms keep contacting me about the same role, but then won’t talk to me once they find out my resume has already been submitted. All I want to know is if the employer will reconsider me, since they’re obviously having trouble filling the role.

    1. Dawn*

      Recruitment firms have VERY strict standards about how they operate, doubly so in the Bay area where there are all kinds of allegations of employee stealing going on.

      Your resume was submitted once by a recruiting firm and you were already passed on, so no other recruiter wants to 1- step on the original firm’s turf and 2- waste time submitting an already rejected resume.


      1. CM*

        Agreed. It’s annoying that you keep getting these calls about the same role, and that the recruiters are giving you BS explanations. But you should expect that once you’ve applied for a job through any avenue, including on your own, you don’t get another shot. Recruiters typically can’t and won’t do that.

      2. the gold digger*

        allegations of employee stealing

        OT, I know, but since when is it wrong to entice someone to leave a job to work for you by offering the employee a better deal?

        1. Dawn*

          There’s a lot of bad blood between the giant tech companies in the Bay about employee stealing because there’s huge liability over protecting proprietary information. It’s super disruptive and there’s been a bunch of articles about how several large companies were discovered poaching employees from other places.

          It’s not wrong to offer someone a better deal, but it starts to get shady when you go to employees of your direct competitor, offer them a better deal, they leave and come join you, and then oh hey look 6 months later look at our new Competing Product! Even if the employee doesn’t directly give over proprietary information, they have indirect knowledge about Original Product (having worked through kinks in the product during the product build)

        2. Kyrielle*

          Another time it’s generally viewed as wrong – not related to the issues in the Bay Area – and where it’s more dangerous of a choice to make is when you “steal” employees from a client.

          So a recruiter who has two big firms as their clients is not going to want to hire employees from A to go to B or vice versa, because the other half of their major income stream will get ticked at them. It’s a “professional courtesy” that if not followed, could get the recruiter replaced.

          And a previous company I worked for that loved to hire people to work as trainers who already knew our software as users, usually could reasonably hire a person away from a client…ONE person. But not, perhaps, more than one, because that would be taken poorly. (Yes, it happened, and yes, it was taken poorly. Not to mention it messed us up because we had more support calls, because we’d hired away their two strongest experts in maintaining it….)

    2. Amtelope*

      I don’t think it’s worthwhile or even particularly appropriate to resubmit a resume for a job you were already turned down for in June. The company has your resume on file, and if they wanted to revisit candidates they passed on, they could do that (through the original placement firm — another firm isn’t likely to want to “poach” your candidacy from the original recruiter). But I don’t think reapplying is going to lead to a different result than the one you got a couple of months ago.

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      My guess is that you are tied to that first search firm that you applied through in June and once that is realized by the other firms that is why they are giving you the run around. My understanding when I worked with an outside firm was that if they submitted you no one else can submit you. Best option would be to contact that first person again and see what they say.

      1. Karo*

        Yeah, if nothing else can you imagine the rigmarole around paying the commission/fee if a second company submitted your resume? They’d both have claims to you, and it’d be a huge mess. I agree that your best option is to contact the people that originally submitted you.

      2. Nico m*

        Yes. Tell the original recruiter the employer is still searching so can they look at you again.

        The fact that theres loads of recruiters swarming over the job points to some incompetence on the employers part. I doubt theyve got your info nicely on file with a rational note on why you are unsuitable.

    4. Liana*

      This sounds … kind of bonkers. I don’t know how badly you want this job, but at this point, if I was in this position, I’d walk away entirely. And the next time someone called me, I’d explain that there’s been some confusion regarding my resume and I’m no longer interested.

    5. IT_Guy*

      It’s a very common practice for recruiting companies to be very anal about not wanting to be seen as ‘poaching’ employees from one company to send to another that they support.

      As far as the headhunter with the bad connection, it could quite easily be someone from a call center in another country. I get lots of cold calls and emails from people with strong Indian accents. The have call centers in India and all they do is cold call people all day.

      Your best bet is to contact the original company and ask them if you could re-submit you.

    6. zora.dee*

      I think everyone else had great comments above, but I’ll just add, I think there is a huge boom in recruiting firms in the Bay Area, because of the tech boom, and it’s true, some of them really don’t know what they’re doing and don’t have good systems in place, they are just trying to find some way to ride the revenue coattails of all the tech/startup money floating around.

      Some of these recruiters are more professional and organized than others. Don’t take it personally, there is a lot of cluelessness in this city in general right now. ;o)

    7. periwinkle*

      Former recruitment agency peon here: This is not a Silicon Valley thing, it’s a recruitment agency thing.

      The contract between client and agency includes language about how long an agency “owns” a candidate. If the agency submitted you to the client, even if the client declined to interview you, the agency “owns” your potential candidacy for a certain period of time (as stated in the contract; 6 months or 1 year are common periods). If the client hires you, the client pays the agency that owns your candidacy REGARDLESS of any other agencies which re-submit you. If you apply directly after having been submitted, they’ll still have to pay the agency if this happens within their ownership period.

      TL;DR version: No other agency will submit you for this position because they’ll get $0 for the placement.

      If the position is still open and you’re still interested, contact the original agency and ask them to re-submit you.

      Handy tip: If you see a position on Dice, Indeed, etc that was posted by a recruiter, do a search on phrases from that posting. A lot of agencies post the client’s job description text as is, so you’ll likely find other agencies with the same req and can pick which agency to talk with. Heck, you might even find the company’s own job posting. Companies would rather hire directly if the right candidate falls into their laps because hey, no agency fees!

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yup, this is what I was going to say too, 100%. No one else will submit you, because the first company to submit your resume still has a claim to you.

        Also, in addition to agencies putting the client’s job description up as is, there are also shady agencies that recycle former job postings (including ones they never had the contract for) in order to get you to submit your resume to them, so they can then tell you “oh, that position was just filled, but I can submit you for positions B and C” – nevermind that B and C are barely any relation to the original posting you were interested in, other than being in the same vague general industry. Or recruiters who re-post descriptions from company’s internal hiring portal and strip out the “no 3rd party recruiters” line, so that the recruiter can submit you and then insist that since the recruiter “made the introduction” they are owed a fee if the company hires you – never mind that the company never authorized them to hire on their behalf.

        Don’t get me wrong – there are legitimately good recruiters out there. But I’ve interacted with just enough bad ones that screwed me over that I pretty much avoid them unless 100% necessary.

    8. MillersSpring*

      The overseas in-a-hurry recruiters are a huge PITA. I think the hiring company lists certain positions on some recruiting portal, and these overseas recruiters start dialing prospects as soon as it is 8:00 am in their US time zone. They’re trying to be first in submitting your resume. And they usually have zero ability to find an ideal candidate–they’re just looking for anyone in LinkedIn in the target city with the target job title anywhere in their past jobs. For example, if the job is teapot spout designer, and you were a teapot spout designer 12 years ago, they call you even if you’ve been a Senior Director of Teapot User Experience for four years. So annoying and time wasting.

    9. Ann Furthermore*

      Thank you everyone for the comments and input. It’s been awhile since I was on the job market, and I haven’t really worked with recruiters before. It makes sense now why another firm won’t touch you if your resume has been submitted by someone else. But these firms could go a long way, and save everyone on either side of the phone/keyboard a whole lot of time if they would just take 2 minutes and explain this to people who may not be familiar with the rules.

      I’m going to call the original recruiter that reached out to me, and if that doesn’t work, then move on to the next thing. I’m getting pretty discouraged by my job search. 2 months, and only one callback/interview, other than this one. I ended up turning it down because I would have had to take a pay cut, plus the employer is in the midst of an executive shake-up, and the hiring manager, who was a really nice guy on the phone and probably would be a cool guy to work for, has given his notice. Red flags everywhere. But anyway…anyone who looks at my resume says some version of, “OMG, your resume is great! You have amazing experience!!” But I can’t get it through the applicant tracking systems. Grrrr.

  2. Gwensoul*

    No question but I have had an eventful week.
    1. I applied for a new role for the first time in 8 years. It is doing the same thing I am now but for a different area of the company which is great, I love what I do but am board talking about the same projects. I had reached out to a recruiter a worked with for a few years to get advice on how to approach it with my boss and she is the one recruiting for this job, score! So she is letting me go under the radar so I can see if I want it before I tell my boss, who I love and will be so hard to leave. The nice thing is since I don’t have to leave I can ask the culture questions I really want to know like work life balance.

    2. I stopped pumping at work this week! It is so freeing to have two hours back in my day, i get to go to the gym!

    1. cjb1*

      Congrats on #2. When I finally stopped pumping at work, it was super liberating! Not to mention it was nice to not have to take off my shirt in my office all the time.

      1. Future Analyst*

        YESSS on both comments for #2. I just stopped a month ago, and I still feel like I’m reeling from all the “extra” time I now have!

      2. kbeersosu*

        Ditto to this. Especially after twice spilling/leaking everywhere and not having a back-up set of clothes on hand. Had to go the bathroom and awkwardly try to dry myself off with the hand dryer…

        1. cjb1*

          kbeersosu, yes! I had one of the bottles leak onto my pants once… I smelled like milk for the rest of the day. Probably nobody but me noticed. Lesson learned about keeping an extra outfit in my car… which even though I’m a year out from pumping at work, I still keep an extra outfit with me at all times. Previously in case the toddler got something all over me and/or we had a diaper explosion (I babywear). And now because I’m expecting #2 in a month and am terrified of my water breaking or peeing myself in public!

      3. AnonInSC*

        Another formerly pumping mom to do the happy dance with you! I can’t believe I’ll be pumping again soon. It’s the only thing I really don’t know if I can do the second time around!

    2. Millenial Lady*

      Hello AAM commenters,
      I’m in my third year working for a very dysfunctional family-owned company. I’ve been applying for other jobs for a year, but want to stay in the same city, so haven’t found anything thus far. I’m suffering from insomnia, migraines, and stress-related weight gain, mostly due to the work environment and combative/deceitful attitude of my supervisor. I’m so discouraged and dream about quitting everyday. I try to focus on my positive accomplishments, but most of those my supervisor takes credit for anyway. What can I do to stay motivated and positive while I keep job searching? Many thanks.
      -Millenial Lady

      1. MommaTRex*

        I’ve been there. I wish I could give you some helpful advice, but all I can think of is “Don’t give up!” I remember that first day of my new job – driving in to work, I realized that I didn’t feel like throwing up! There is hope; you will find work at a place that doesn’t make you mentally and physically ill.

      2. ToxicNudibranch*

        I had a similar situation at my last office. There were two things I did to save myself, and my sanity (mostly) while I was completing a long and frustrating job search.

        1) I gave myself permission to emotionally “check out” of the job entirely. I still showed up on-time, I still performed my job duties well, I just lowered the hell out of my expectations and stopped going above and beyond in any way. I had to proactively engage in positive and rational self-talk. “Fergus is being irrational. This is not normal behavior and his response is disproportionate to the situation. You have done nothing wrong. Ignore the bluster and fix the situation.” “You don’t have to get in the middle of this, and it’s okay to say you have no opinion on [thing or situation].” It was *hard*, especially since it’s very, very difficult not to internalize being treated like crap and having to fight an uphill battle everyday. But I tried. Sometimes I was really unsuccessful, but I tried.

        2) I actively filled as much of my non-work hours as I could with things that brought me a sense of accomplishment or relaxation. I had a pretty hectic life then, so it was tough to find time that was just for me, but I made sure to take 5-10 minutes to myself when I got home and before bed, I became religious about taking my breaks and lunches away from my desk, and I decided to take an evening class (check with your local school district!) that met once a week for an hour. It was a class on arranging flowers, but I also considered water aerobics and salsa dancing. Sometimes I just went to the library for an hour.

        Good luck in your search!

  3. Green Square*

    Should I leave this job? I work freelance, and the project I’m on is split into two halves. I’m approaching the halfway mark and haven’t officially signed on to the second half. If I want to leave, it’s now or never.

    On one hand, I’m exhausted. The hours are insane. A 12 hour day is considered getting home at a reasonable time; it’s frequently 13-15hrs. There is just no realistic option to work less, due to peer pressure, and the fact that the deadlines are extremely tight. My health is suffering. I’m gaining weight from eating delivery at work all the time. My blood pressure is high and spiking. I feel exhausted and sad all the time, which keeps me from exercising. I am already working far from home, and have to go farther for the second part of the job. The long hours are about to get longer because we will work weekends as we get closer to the end. Everyone just seems so obsessed with work. Like nothing else matters.

    On the other hand, it pays a ton. If I finish this job, I could pay off my student loans. I could afford to take several months off afterward. I could protect my reputation and get a good reference. I could put my name on a very high profile project and enjoy not only the glory but the showpiece on my resume. I’d have enough to be comfortable while job searching (for a lower stress project).

    I know that there is no absolutely right answer and that I have to make the decision. But I’d love to hear some perspectives. Thank you.

    1. Marzipan*

      How much longer are we talking about, if you stayed and finished the second half of the job?

        1. neverjaunty*

          That sounds horrible. If your health (mental and physical) are already tanking, imagine how much worse it will be after another eight months of the job getting WORSE. You’ll spend those “several months off” recovering.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            It does sound horrible, but 8 months? Could you wrap you head around another 8 months of intense miserableness; but 1 year from now you can enjoy your summer!

            1. SystemsLady*

              In this situation? I have been in it for a similar period of time and completely disagree – no, it’s not just 8 months. I was physically suffering burnout after just 4.

              I agree there’s value in trying to stay attached somehow, but without breaks this is legitimately unhealthy.

        2. SystemsLady*

          At the VERY least see if you can’t get two months off somewhere in there, or a week or two off *regularly*. Even if it means asking for a competitor’s help.

          I was in a situation like this and it lasted a little longer than 8 months. The above would’ve been the minimum to keep me together on a regular basis – it was unfortunately not what I had for the first half. Everybody was toxic and encouraged each other’s obvious burnout in an arguably dangerous feedback loop, and I didn’t even fully realize it until my boss started getting me breaks.

          Since you’re a freelancer, you don’t have to listen to whatever toxicity they throw at you for taking these breaks as long as you have arrangements to get the work done. This took me far too long to learn.

        3. designbot*

          If it were me, I’d buckle down and do it. Sure it sound bad, but the payoffs really are pretty solid at the end. Just imagine a life without student loans…

    2. KT*

      I mean, the best part of freelance is not having to put up with crappy hours. This doesn’t seem like a healthy situation for you, no matter how much it pays.

    3. Dangerfield*

      How long is this second half likely to take? If it’s short enough, I would strongly consider powering through – those are pretty hefty advantages. However, they are not hefty enough to take precedence over your health, and it sounds like you’re suffering. If it was, say, a month, then I’d want to see it through but if it’s another year of this, then I think I would quit now.

    4. Camellia*

      You don’t mention how long the second part will take. It seems like the question you need to answer, to put it bluntly, is will you survive the second half? Gaining weight, is bad enough, being exhausted and sad is even worse, but high blood pressure is very dangerous. Please consider those risks carefully.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Any possibility for negotiating as a freelancer that you can’t maintain the pace and will need to pull back to say 10 hour days?

        How do the odds look for taking some of the money and investing in some serious self-care while you’re doing the 2nd half? I’m talking a weekly massage appointment, outsourcing a healthier meal that you can bring in with you to work, etc.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Yeah, try this. See if you can’t negotiate for more months at a lower schedule, or for a lower schedule so they know they need to add someone else to keep it moving at the same pace.

          If they won’t do it, figure out if enough money can help with the schedule crunch (guess: no), exercise (guess: probably not, although can you do conference calls on a cell while going for a walk?), food (yes: search on ‘personal chef’ and don’t be afraid to spend for it), household care (cleaning services, etc.), servuces to help with stress (in your not-so-copious spare time, of course – this includes massage, but also therapy, which among other things can help sane people deal with ridiculous situations), and so on. IF you could throw enough money at the problems and fix them, and IF you still come out ahead when you factor that in, then maybe.

          Otherwise? It’s not worth it. But even *if* you can throw enough money at it to fix it, I’d still try to negotiate it down first – living in the pressure cooker, even with lots of abatement strategies, is still not ideal. You are a human being, not carnitas, and “braised” is not your ideal setting.

          1. Lauren*

            The problem I see with using all those services is that they cost probably as much money as the OP would earn for those hours. Given that it’s likely to be a more one-to-one trade off, the use of the services really does need to be considered since all the other stresses are still there. In other words, this might not be as worth it as it initially appears.

            1. Kyrielle*

              Possible, but not guaranteed, but that’s why I said “and IF you still come out ahead when you factor that in”. I can conceive of cases where it might – depending on how big Green Square’s loans are, and cost of living, we may be talking quite a bit of money here and even eight months of the various services might be worth it.

              But definitely important to make sure that (a) it solves enough of the stress to be able to get through without worsening health impacts and (b) you still come out ahead, by enough to make the remaining stress levels worth it.

      2. wet gremlin*

        Oof. Eight more months of what you described above, and you could be dealing with the health consequences for years. Those consequences will eat at your life and your money. Is what this job can give you in return worth it? I wish you the best, either way.

      3. rozin*

        That’s a LONG time to deal with that kind of ongoing stress, which could lead to permanent damage. I’d lean towards “no.” Yes, the money is great, but if you have to burn through all of it on your “new” medical expenses due to the extreme stress, I don’t think you’re going to end up ahead. There will be other jobs, but you have only one body. See if you can mention that you worked on it on your resume to at least get some of the “high-profile project” benefits.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you do stay, can you use some of that huge paycheck to get really healthy food delivered or bring in healthy frozen meals? Look up one of those meal prep/assembly places, some of them will also make them for you for an additional charge, and I am almost sure that at least one I have looked at delivers.

      I personally don’t think it’s worth your sanity, but if you do decide to stay, the fact that it pays well can and should be used to counterbalance some of the crappy effects it’s having on your life.

      1. Hermione*

        Agreed on this point! If you do stick with it, I would figure out other ways to use some of that money to make the rest of your life easier during this time period – use zip cars instead of public transit, or buy a bike to get exercise in when coming in/out of work; Hire a maid or farm out your laundry to a laundry pick-up service for the duration; Use Peapod pickup to grocery shop instead of wasting precious downtime.

        Do you have freelance friends you could sub out some of the less vital work to? Or if you have a lot of administrative stuff, could you hire a short-term/temp assistant for a few hours/week to make things easier?

        Decide that you’re taking at least one day off every two weeks, or that you’ll allow yourself to sleep in and arrive at 11 or 12 on weekends. Drink LOTS of water, and keep fruit and veggies on hand to keep you from grabbing a donut instead. Do not apologize for setting down-time/break boundaries.

        1. Green Square*

          Haha, I already pay to have my place cleaned. I work on an industrial state in the middle of nowhere, so I have to drive (ughhhhhh I miss transit and walking).

          Sadly it’s highly confidential work, so no subcontracting allowed. It’s kind of a messy situation. I’m an employee on the books, despite it being a freelance job. So I can’t hire help. And I can’t control my hours. It’s not a good environment.

          1. SystemsLady*

            Oh no, that’s awful! You have all of my sympathies, I know the feeling and the resulting guilt for feeling it.

            Do you have any leverage at all with your position to insist (and I mean absolutely insist) on better hours? It sounds like you are all but impossible to replace, after all.

      2. writelhd*

        Second the mail-order food idea. My grandparents still live at home but have a hard time cooking and getting to the store, so they use Blue Apron and they’ve tried out Green Chef too. The companies deliver boxes weekly with ingredients and recipes for healthy meals for each day you order already sorted, labeled, weighed, etc. My grandparents still do the actual cooking, but it’s generally faster because ingredients are already assembled, the cooking is generally easy steps, and it does at least give you something healthy, saves you trips to grocery store, and saves you the emotional work of having to make decisions about what to eat, which in my opinion is a way underrated thing when you’re stressed and tired. They change the recipe every day and apparently they never repeat. If not feasible to cook every day, maybe a few times a week are manageable and infuse some more healthy choices into the diet mix.

        1. Yetanotherjennifer*

          Thirding. There also all sorts of independent chefs who can cook you up a week’s worth of healthy meals ready to pop in the oven or microwave. If there isn’t one in your area then look to the nearest big city and work out a mail delivery arrangement. I’d mention places like Schwann’s and Omaha Steaks but their food is expensive and very high in sodium. I’ve used them to send care food when I wasn’t local but I wouldn’t live off their food long term.

    6. themmases*

      Wow. How long is the second half of this job? I think that makes a big difference.

      I would lean towards job searching. You could find something that would pay you well without harming your health– no matter how prevalent the conditions at your current job seem, you won’t really know until you look. I would also push back on the idea that there is a now or never point to leave any job. There are ideal and less ideal times, sure, but if anyone would really penalize you for the timing of your moving on, if question the value of having a good relationship with someone so demanding and weird.

      You really shouldn’t play around with a job that is hurting your health. It’s not safe to assume that the symptoms you’re describing would just disappear once you’re able to leave. I once got bronchitis from the stress at an old job, the sickest I’ve ever been as an adult… Two years later things are still different. And that’s not even for a chronic health problem!

      If this job leaves you reluctant to take on anything like it again, or needing months of that you will have to explain in your next job search, that has costs too in terms of lifetime earnings. I would really only call this worthwhile if the second half of this job would be over in less than 6 months.

    7. SophieChotek*

      Honestly, as someone with student loans (and floundering about on how to pay for them), that would trump almost everything else for me. 8 months does seem like a long time, but it also (in the end), would probably go by pretty fast. The prospect of paying off student loans plus having enough to rest for a few months afterward and having a great project on my resume all sound like pluses.

      That said, I do understand your concerns about health problems–which are not to be taken lightly. Is there any way to pack your lunches to ensure you are eating healthier (and not spending money on takeout anyway?).

      Best of luck with whatever your decision is. I know my opinion is very prejudiced because of the student loan situation. If I didn’t have loans (and this colors how I see things), I probably would lean more towards not doing something like this.

      1. Green Square*

        Sadly, for lunches, not really. I spend so little time at home lately that the thought of going to the grocery store, getting stuff to make lunches, preparing it … just doesn’t seem possible. Work brings in food at no cost to me, which I’m very lucky to have, though I wish it were more nutritious.

        I’ve been fighting like hell to pay off those loans. That’s a big part of what is pushing me to keep going, regardless of whether I should. But as some other commenters mentioned, the cost of damage to one’s health might offset the gains of paying off loans.

        1. Jersey's Mom*

          It sounds like you’re still relatively early in your career, and you think completing this job will result in a very big payoff for your resume/business connections. Any chance you could talk to someone else in your field for a second opinion? You may think it will result in a big career bump, but perhaps it won’t be as significant as you think?

          Because if it’s not, then you’re down to comparing 8 months of extra long hell workload versus lots of money (and no significant resume builder).

          Also, you may want to have a talk with your GP — explain what’s been happening the past months at work (stress/ BP) and what might be coming up and get his/her professional opinion on the potential short and long term impacts to your health.

          Finally, can you have a talk with work about ordering food from a place that has semi-healthy options? Maybe stocking up on frozen veggie meals that can be microwaved?

          1. Green Square*

            I’m about to enter my 8th year, so not exactly, but I’m actually leaving this industry after this project in any case. Part of the reason I’m considering staying is to have the best possible reputation when trying to change industries.

            1. animaniactoo*

              Wait, in that case, DON’T DO IT.

              Seriously. After 8 years, if you don’t have enough of a reputation to outweigh not signing on for the 2nd half of this project, any reputation cred you could get for it (even with it being a prestige project) is negligible.

              Go find something else.

        2. SystemsLady*

          Do you already have somebody on the same project who (while they may be indirectly upset at you for increasing their work) would give you a good reference if you were to leave with plenty of notice?

          (You might need to give extra notice in this situation, unfortunately)

    8. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Could you negotiate some perks for the the second half? Maybe a gym membership near the second location plus a hotel or company apartment for part of the time so it cuts down some commute (drive in on Monday and stay in the location through Friday)? Maybe sign up for a meal delivery system like Nutrisystem or scour Pinterest for healthy pack-able meals you can make ahead on the weekend and bring in with you (healthier food options will probably help with the lethargy as well as the weight and blood pressure).
      If you absolutely cannot continue as is be up front and tell the company in order to complete the project you need X, Y, & Z. If they agree some of those perks might offset the stress and get you into a place where your health and productivity improve over the next 8 months plus paid off loans and a nice vacation. There is a benefit to a solid reputation (especially as a freelancer) and paid off debt – if you can find a way to minimize the cons so you get these benefits its worth asking for.

    9. Tea*

      Would it be possible for you to take some kind of break or vacation between the two halves to decompress and recharge and gird your loins for the second part? Are there any rituals, techniques, even expensive things you could indulge in that could take the edge off the worst of it? (I’m thinking… massages every week, fancy sushi, mani/pedis, your own personal hot tub, etc.) And lastly, would you be able to use your current situation– you’ve stuck with them through the first half of the project, you want to stick with the second half, but you’re just burning out and thinking of leaving– as leverage to improve your working conditions at all? I do understand the crushing pressure of everyone working the same awful hours (13-15 hours W T F) and being in the same “in the trenches” mindset, but I think there’s a good chance that your coworkers and probably your boss would rather have someone knowledgeable and experienced in your role instead of a newbie– and they want that enough to give you a little slack.

      Those are some pretty hefty positives, and it sounds like taking on this project will have some pretty significant, measurable positives in your life and a definite impact on your future. Maybe… MAYBE, that’s worth being utterly miserable for 8 months for, but it’s not worth being miserable and suffering in the long term for, and if you can see this project impacting you to that degree, it might be a better idea to cut yourself loose while you can.

    10. Alston*

      So I worked these hours for about a year while saving up to go back to school. It’s doable, but intense. I don’t know how high your student loans are, but if you’d be able to pay off a substantial amount I would probably do it.

      I would definitly do some stuff to protect my health. Get as much sleep as you can, tea, vitamins, and probably cut down on the ordering out. I would look into freezer meals (smaller portions and fewer calories), or even Factor75 (which is basically Blue Apron, but the food is already cooked). Especially with Factor75 you’d be getting some fresh good food, but you don’t have to cook it, and it’s probably the same price as your delivery.

      If you want, I think you can do it, good luck!

    11. wishingwell*

      OP, your situation now sounds almost exactly like where I was late last year. I was actually on anxiety medication for a while, entirely because of work-related stress. I kept telling myself to hang on and just get through the project, but I eventually reached the point where I realized my health and sanity were more important.
      I left and found a new job. This one does pay less – I’ve had to make adjustments in my spending habits. There have been a couple of times when I’ve wished I was still making that kind of money, but then I remember the hell I was in and I realize leaving was the best decision I ever made.
      Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck, OP.

    12. The Cosmic Avenger*


      It sounds like they’re treating you like a full-time employee, not a freelancer!

      Or am I thinking independent contractor? Is there a difference, or are they different terms for the same status?

      1. SystemsLady*

        I’m suspicious of this as well, but it could also be the really intense guilting tactics companies like this love to use and not actually what OP needs to listen to (not like those are two different things over this kind of time period though…).

      2. Green Square*

        Astutely noted. I am an employee on the books. I just have a predetermined layoff date, basically. They basically get the best of both worlds. It’s not a good environment and this will be my last project with them regardless of whether I complete the second half.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Ugh. Well, at least you get benefits and have taxes withheld.

          If you have a lot of trouble deciding, flip a coin. (Bear with me here.) Then see if the decision via coin flip is a relief or a downer for you. Sometimes when I over-analyze, I need to do one of these to remind myself of what I really want.

        2. SystemsLady*

          …blech is about all I have left. I hope whatever decision you make turns out well for you. It sucks that this kind of thing makes it impossible to interview elsewhere while working.

          Most of the industry people I worked with had a career history of one project-length jobs, so it is good to hear you plan to leave what must be a similar industry. Dangling money and a reference is how far too many terrible, awful, no good, very bad project managers working for huge companies keep 3 employees who doing the work of 9. You don’t have any obligation to be the stretched Band-Aid over their extremely poor resource planning.

          1. HoVertical*

            Oh, I like that: “You don’t have any obligation to be the stretched Band-Aid over their extremely poor resource planning.” Very eloquent, and very succinct. :)

            Green Square: Seriously, my friend, don’t do it. If your health is already taking a hit, that is cumulative, insidious, and Very Bad (TM). Corporate guilt-tripping is an absolutely dreadful thing to do to a valued employee. What’s next? A bad reference (when, by reading between the lines here, I’m inferring you have in some way yoinked their collective fat out of a pretty good-sized potential fire!).

    13. MC*

      Will leaving at this point impact your ability to get new jobs in the future? Will this burn any bridges? I think your situation sounds awful and it’s definitely going to be a difficult 8 months but, if those 8 months will cost you future earnings – you have to consider it.

      In the meantime, there are a few things you can do including taking small 10 minute breaks to just walk around, getting some healthier snacks or even requesting lighter options from the delivery places. If they’re small mom & pop shops, a nice conversation about options might be possible. Also consider options for staying in local hotels – if anything to get you a longer night’s sleep once a week or so.

    14. Temperance*

      I would probably stay through. Having fully paid off student loans + a resume booster are what would push me. Then again, I have a lower-income background, and that colors many of my choices/opinions.

      1. Jaguar*

        Yeah, this is where I would come from as well. Not having debt is the only consideration for me.

        Green, you should figure out the worst-case scenario of each. It sounds like the worst-case scenario of staying is that you will feel extremely fatigued and burnt-out, will have put on more weight, and will have done further damage to your idea of normal after working in a dysfunctional workplace. Worst-case scenario if you leave is that you will still have student loan debt while changing careers. Which is more manageable eight months from now?

        1. Jaguar*

          Bear in mind that working somewhere that sucks and is draining gets worse exponentially, not linearly. Even if the workload and dysfunction levels stay the same, the 5th month is worse than the 4th month which itself is worse than the 3rd, and so on.

      2. Lissa*

        Me, too. I totally understand where those saying “leave” are coming from, but fully paying off debt plus increasing future opportunities plus some time off – I’d be able to do it because of the finite end date. Though, it would also depend on the alternative, ie is the alternative potential unemployment, or still-good but not as good pay somewhere else?

    15. Marillenbaum*

      Personally, I would walk. Yes, it’s nice to have your student loans paid off, but a job this bad sounds like it would make it hard to work after it’s done, just because of the severe burnout. Your health is really important, and I’d be wary of selling that off.

      1. EmmaLou*

        Yes and eight more months will take you through the holidays (if you celebrate) and for most of us those are not less stressful times. Just pointing out the “stress + holiday stress” even if you love holidays as I do.

    16. Formica Dinette*

      Counterpoint to many of the comments up till now: this job is literally killing you.

    17. Belle diVedremo*

      Different questions:
      If you complete the second half of the project, and it then takes you 6-12 months to recover physically, how easy will it be to begin looking for work after that long a break? Interviewing in a different industry, how will you explain that break? If you stay, what will your reference from this job say? How will that reference change if you start but find you cannot complete the second half of the project? What will change if you leave now, part way through the second half, or complete the project? What will you need from your reference from this job – both in looking for your next job, and in looking for the job after that one?

      You’re on the books as an employee. What benefits are you getting, and can you use them all? If the next 8 months will be more consuming than the first half, can you take a significant vacation before starting the second half? Don’t let peer pressure push you into making decisions, use it to inform them in part by looking at the price those peers are currently paying. If you decide to stay, how will you plan for self care over time? What does your doctor recommend for self care, and how can you build on those recommendations in a sustainable way? What will your plan for self care look like at the completion of the project if you decide to stay?

      I really understand the desire to pay off student loans and have a healthy bank account. Is it worth it? If the second half of the project would pay you that much, have you already made a significant dent in your student loans, and been bankrolling a good chunk? A friend of mine in her early thirties just had a heart attack yesterday. Her kids are under 5. What is best for you long term? Your blood pressure won’t drop instantly, and your adrenals will take a good while to replenish.

      It’s hard to made good decisions when you’re exhausted and sad all the time. Can you take a break, and ask yourself the question when you’re feeling better?

      Good luck.

  4. animaniactoo*

    I have been dying waiting for this partly to omg wtf vent, and because I want to double quadruple check how abnormal this looney tunes setup is. Please be patient, this is pretty long, but (I think) necessary to explain the wtf clusterf and how it got to this level.

    I work with licensed artwork. With one Unnamed Licensor, any time our creative team had a question about direction we were receiving or whether we’d be okay to do do something, we had to go

    Our Creative -> Our Business Contact -> Their Business Contact -> Their Creative.

    About 7 years ago, they said “Half the time, the business people in the middle don’t understand what’s going on or why, they’re just relaying, so we’re going to get out of everyone’s way and let Creative talk directly to Creative”.

    Fabulous, worked very well, issues generally solved quickly with an e-mail or a phone call to do the “well what if we…”

    Then the west coast based licensor acquired another brand which came with its own relatively small east coast office. Politics and all that, east coast office to be kept open. In order to justify the expense, etc. since so much of their administrative etc. work was now being brought over to the WC offices, they decided that all east coast licensees would now report into and be managed through the EC office. No more talking to anybody in WC offices except upper management. Even though WC office will still be doing all the approvals on everything via the official submission channel.

    Several times, this has meant that when we officially submit items that have been worked on with the EC office, WC office (in charge of overall brand image, integrity, etc.) makes additional changes, up to and including completely changing the design direction.


    This is already nutty making.

    Now onto this past week. New brand launching that we have been asked to design against. Initial designs done a year ago. Newer designs done more recently, at EC’s request, to show to Major Retailer. Done. EC makes some final revision comments, asks us to officially submit. Do so.

    While waiting for final WC comments back/approval, WC UM asks us to revise designs again, because they want to make a pitch to Other Major Retailer and our Chocolate Teapot designs are not a cohesive look with what the Chocolate Cozies people have done and gotten approved. They send us the Chocolate Cozy designs alongside a jpeg of the very first designs we did last year for visual reference.

    This request comes in late afternoon for oops, quick turnaround, can you have it done in 3 days? Sorry, that’s when OMR needs it. Okay, it’s 3 designs, 1/2 from scratch to match, and I bang it out. They get it the morning they need it. The same morning, we get back the official approval on the previous versions that were in process.

    Feedback comes on our latest revisions (we’ve gone too far, even though they are now cohesive with the cozies). Through the back and forth feedback, we run down that WC UM had no idea that we had in progress designs in the approval channel. Because… wait for it… they don’t have access to the submission system to see what’s in there. Decision comes down, need to revert back to those, but make additional changes to them to match them more closely to the Cozies.

    My boss is ready to rip someone’s head off.


    Here’s where it gets really interesting. My WC creative contact (Abernathy) and I have each other’s cell numbers because over 3+ years of communicating we both had moments we were out of the office but still needed to be available. When the initial no-contact came down, we saved them which allowed a quick text for “Hey, in these comments you sent back, did you mean me to do X or Y?”, just to save ourselves heartache and headaches.

    This week, Abernathy texted me to say “let’s talk tomorrow to finalize this collection.” Has never reached out to me first before for this level of “hey, we need to sort this out”. Calls my cell from their cell to have the conversation. But now we have a problem. Because I have a meeting the next day with the EC office, and my boss has me printing out all the ridiculousness to show what’s happened, and sort the mess out. Um. I’m not supposed to be talking to WC. How am I going to explain these changes in this meeting? “Oh.” he says.

    Goes off to tell the (newest, there’s been turnover) EC person, Azalea, he’s talked to me and given me direction so that I can talk openly about this. He tells me he works well with Azalea, and he’s going to talk to her about us being able to continue to talk like this as long as it’s on our cell phones. So that it doesn’t show up on the official company phone logs that we’re doing this. Abernathy seems to expect Azalea to agree to this.

    My sister says Dilbert is in the next cubicle, and another friend described this as “an org chart that looks like a defective pretzel”. Licensor is a major market player, household name.

    How common is this level of bizarre? In major corporations?

    1. Anna*

      I can only speak from a government contractor working for the DOL, but this is common in government! And it is slowly eating away at my soul! It’s the kind of decision-making done by people 300 feet up who can’t see what’s happening on the ground and I am sorry you’re dealing with this BS. I would be careful that you’re not getting yourself into the middle of a political fight between the two offices, though. The clandestine “only on the cell phones” level of secrecy is weird and could come back on you if Abernathy needs to defend his actions.

      1. Joseph*

        Yeah, given that there’s apparently a huge turf war going on, you really should stop the whole cell phone thing. Look at it from the perspective of an outsider: An employee is (a) ignoring the established chain-of-discussion and (b) intentionally hiding it by using an untrackable method.

      2. animaniactoo*

        It’s been a political fight from the beginning. Which is why I/we tread carefully here.

        On the other hand, the ability to talk directly to the person who is actually doing the approval is invaluable and I would not want to pass it up if Azalea is willing to sign off on it, leaving only WC UM unaware of it.

      3. Anna No Mouse*

        As another contractor working for the DOL, I concur. I always thought this type of lack of communication and inability to make a decision was limited to government. I don’t know if I’m happy or sad to see that it’s not true.

        1. animaniactoo*

          I’m so very sad. Because this is redonkulous (to borrow a word from a friend).

          Thanks to everybody who A) actually read that whole thing and B) answered, even if the answer did turn out to be depressing. lol.

    2. CM*

      I was going to say very common, especially when there’s a post-merger situation. It often takes a long time to work out business processes.

      But then you got to the part about how you’re only allowed to talk to each other on your cellphones. ?? The rest is frustratingly inefficient, but the “no contact except on personal cell phones” just makes zero sense. Like, they need to pretend you haven’t talked to each other, even though they know you actually have?

      1. animaniactoo*

        Well, no. We’re not *actually* allowed to talk via our cell phones, we’ve done it anyway to get off the hamster wheel of having to go through 2 more people to say “Hey, you forgot to say whether you prefer version A or B” and similar one-offs that don’t mean the communication will necessarily show up in the changes.

        This convo that he reached out to me about is a new level of circumvention, and he seems to think that we’ll be able to continue it with Azalea’s buy-in. Which, yes, would put Abernathy, Azalea, and I all in the loop – I would loop in my boss cuz I’m not getting in trouble for this, and Abernathy’s boss already knows (I used to work directly with her, and she tells him to say hi to me when we’ve talked).

        1. animaniactoo*

          Which is also to say that my boss knows I’ll ask him for one-off clarifications and that he reached out to me to have this larger design convo before we had it. In the past, I’ve put out there the ability to do it if she’d like when we’re the ones with major questions/changes needed, but she hasn’t taken me up on it, preferring to go through official channels since the changes, etc. are such a visible result.

    3. SophieChotek*

      This sounds like a ton of headache!

      But honestly, at least for the Luxury Teapot Company I work for, I could totally see this happening. Actually something like this happened — not so much because of EC/WC divide and no talking rule – but asking for a major overhaul at the last minute just because someone ran across some new idea…

      And (as I think I mentioned in another thread months ago), people at my company go the phone call route to avoid the email thread. It’s not that they cannot talk together, but because all emails have to be internally read (and that causes delays), lots of folks skip to the phone just get things done.

      There is other weirdness out there!

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Yes. I have that problem all the time. Except with the option of being able to speak with a decision maker directly for anything. The more people who get involved, the more broken telephone line you’re going to play.

  5. always and forever anonymous*

    I feel like I’ve been inundated with awful recruiters lately.

    Last week, I was contacted by a recruiter for a job where the salary was excellent and the job didn’t seem exciting, but it was something I could do. I had a phone interview with the hiring manager who told me it was a contract position (and also really bored me about the company and job). The recruiter neglected to tell me this. When I talked to her after the phone interview, I self-selected out because I wasn’t interested in the job or in a W2 contract with no health insurance, 401K, or paid vacation time for a year. She got really annoyed and said it was such a great opportunity and the hiring manager really liked me and that private health insurance wasn’t that expensive (lol okay).She contacted me again this morning as a follow up, and I reiterated that I’m not comfortable taking a contract job when I have a full-time role with amazing benefits and perks. My employer sponsored health insurance is excellent right now. I’m not paying out of pocket for private insurance if I don’t have to.

    And then earlier last week, I had a recruiter tell me I was “picky” because I turned down an opportunity to interview for a job way out in the suburbs. I work and live in the city and I would’ve needed a car to get there because there was no public transit close by. Having a car in my city is a nightmare, and I don’t see the point in commuting out to the suburbs when I live in the city. You’d have to pay me a lot of money to go from working downtown to a carpark in the middle of nowhere.

    I assume recruiters get a commission when they land candidates, but seriously, how do some of them get away with these attitudes? I’m sure there are great recruiters out there, but I guess I haven’t had the pleasure of working with them.

      1. always and forever anonymous*

        No, I don’t think so, especially since I’m at the point in my career when I can be picky about what new job I want. But I was annoyed that a recruiter told me that because I didn’t want to buy a car for a job far away when I didn’t need to.

        1. Hibiscus*

          “Yes, I am picky. I can afford to be picky, I’m that good. Go find some better jobs if you want me to jump ship so you can get paid.”

    1. A. D. Kay*

      Some recruiters are like this. They are only interested in landing a commission (and are in fact under a great deal of pressure to do so), and act willfully obtuse when you explain that you don’t want to commute 80 miles RT every day. Or, as in your case, leave a full-time position. Or take a 3-month contract 1200 miles away for $27/hour.

      1. Arielle*

        Yeah, I got called “picky” one time for declining to submit myself for a position at a financial services company, despite having no interest in or understanding of financial services.

      2. always and forever anonymous*

        This one recruiter kept on saying that most contract positions don’t offer health insurance, and kept ignoring me when I said, “Yes, I understand that, which is why I don’t want a contract position”. I mean, I’m bored at my current job and have been looking, but I’m not trading in 90% coverage with a reasonable deductible for insurance I have to pay entirely out of pocket.

        Of course, then she tried to ask why I was so intent on health insurance and if I needed family coverage, which is when I ended the call because that’s none of her business.

        1. MashaKasha*

          I interviewed with a startup back in 99. It was the second interview and they had brought up the pay and benefits.

          They: “we don’t have dental”
          I: “well that’s not good”
          Their HR DIRECTOR: “Why? Do you have bad teeth?”

          I was young and naive, so I took that job. And yes, that dialogue was pretty much in sync of how they took care of their employees in general. (Although their sit-down-dinner holiday party was fantastic.) I left after three months, but not before I paid for a root canal out of my pocket.

          1. always and forever anonymous*

            I definitely ignored health insurance coverage when I was right out of college because everyone told me, “you’re young, so you’re healthy and have nothing to worry about!” and wow did that turn out to be wrong.

            I’m glad I got my act together and figured out excellent health insurance coverage was important because it meant I only had to pay the office copay when I got my wisdom teeth out and a specialist treatment didn’t cost me much either. I’m always suspicious of companies that get skittish about health insurance. I know it’s expensive, but it shows how much you care about your employees when you do or don’t offer it.

          2. Artemesia*

            In all my work life of 45 years I never had dental insurance — we are talking about 10s of Ks over that time that went into my absolutely awful mouth. Just spend $1500 the other day to replace a 45 year old crown. It will never end. If I had it to do over, dental insurance would be a must have.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Same here. When I was younger and very healthy, my only healthcare was Planned Parenthood checkups. No dental. I ended up with problems because I couldn’t pay out-of-pocket for checkups and cleanings. Vision is important too–it saves me a boatload of money. I normally wear contacts but they won’t cover both those and glasses–so I wore really outdated glasses for something like 20 years. They were $300 and I only got them replaced last year!

      3. K.*

        I had a recruiter say “It’s not THAT far” about a job (a contract job at that, so relocating wouldn’t have made sense) that was 50 miles away – so the commute would have been 100 miles a day. I simply said “Yes it is” and ended the call.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      They’re not good recruiters if they tell you you’re “picky” for taking a job that would completely usurp your commute from reasonable to nightmare.

      Recruitment is ultimately sales and good people skills are a main facet of the job. I can understand the frustration of trying to find someone for a role out in the ‘burbs for the recruiter, but there’s absolutely no need to take it out on a potential connection.

      1. always and forever anonymous*

        Yeah, I totally understand that they’re probably having a hard time finding someone to work in the suburbs, but you’d think they would understand that I don’t want to trade in my 15 minute walk for an hour and a half drive. That’s a big difference.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I agree, recruiting is basically a sales job. “You should buy this car. Yeah, the tires are flat but only on the bottom. You should buy this car. It’s the last car on earth. You will never find another car for sale anywhere.”

      3. Natalie*

        It’s pretty short sighted, too – often you forfeit all or part of your commission if the placement fails. It’s in the recuiter’s best interest to make sure their placements are good each way.

    3. IT_Guy*

      Recruiters make an amazing amount of money _IF_ they can someone placed. The commission can be as high as 35% of the first years salary. With that kind of money, all kinds of folks come out of the woodwork.

      1. always and forever anonymous*

        Ah, that explains why this first recruiter keeps trying to follow-up with me. That would be a pretty nice payout for her.

    4. Honeybee*

      So what if you’re picky? People should be picky about the place they spend 40+ hours a week at, and which has such a major impact on all the rest of the hours of their week. Top candidates are picky, and good recruiters should recognize that and find ways to work with the pickiness.

  6. Dangerfield*

    I’ve meant to ask this question here for the last six weeks, and have only finally remembered at the last possible opportunity. I have a new member of staff starting next week, and I have two questions. This is the first time I’ve line managed a new starter before – my other team member was an internal hire.

    1) What are some of the things you’ve found most useful from line managers in your first days at a new job? What would you ideally find out in your first week?

    2) I will only be in the office for a few days after my new team member joins us, then I’ll be away for two weeks. Is there anything especially useful I can do to help her during that period? I’ve got a list of things she’ll be able to do without much training, but I don’t want her to feel like she’s getting crap jobs because I’m not around.

    1. Dawn*

      Absolutely set expectations as to basic “how to get around” stuff- what hours you want her to work, how to contact you if she’s sick, how much advance notice you need for vacations, who to talk to if she has questions about insurance/payroll/whatever, the hours you’re typically in the office, how to make coffee, how to requisition pens, etc. SO MANY COMPANIES forget that stuff, and it is absolutely paramount to making a new employee feel comfortable and welcome from the first day. Everyone gets anxious in unfamiliar situations, doubly so when they’re professional situations, so think about how to make the unfamiliar familiar! Little stuff like where the bathroom is, the unspoken rule about not eating the plain granola bars, the way you have to jiggle the door handle to open the copy room, where to go when you need staples, stuff like that.

      Also set expectations for those two weeks that you’re gone and impress that the jobs that you leave for her are things you know that can be done without training- AND talk about the training she’ll get when you get back. Tell her what to do if she finishes up those tasks early (can she browse the internet? Read a book? Would you rather her start on project X, or read training manuals?) Point her towards who to ask if she has questions about anything while you’re gone. Oh, super important- try and make sure that everything she needs set up with your approval is set up before you leave (so stuff like email/computer/etc) because if you leave for two weeks and whoopsies, looks like she needs a manager’s signature to get Thing that is needed to get her work done….

      1. Dangerfield*

        That’s all really useful, thank you. I have lists with some of this stuff written out already, but it’s nice to have a confirmation that I won’t just be overwhelming her with details.

        1. Evan Þ*

          You’ve got lists written out? Great; give her those lists in writing. When I started my current job, I was deluged with information for the first couple weeks and missed about half of it before I realized I needed to start writing everything down.

    2. animaniactoo*

      How much leeway they have vs a more established employee for things like personal calls at work, or on lunch but still at their desks, internet surfing during down time, any internet surfing at all (i.e. is checking personal e-mail during the day okay? Or is it really not, and don’t follow the example of your colleague who has been here for 5 years and isn’t going to get slapped for it).

    3. EddieSherbert*

      Can she do training with any coworkers while you’re gone?
      I work pretty heavily with a software, so our new hires have 2 hour training blocks during the first 2 weeks with each team member as they learn the software. It was nice for getting the basics AND getting to know team members or at least put faces to names!

      1. Dangerfield*

        There’s not really any training other people can do – she’s coming in to relieve a lot of my responsibility. But she can definitely meet with other people around the building, and those would be good things to schedule in during my absence.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          We had two new hires start during a relatively slow period for us and we had them shadow not only people on our team, but people in other parts of the company. The other departments are ones that we either interact with regularly or we might need to know how our job affects them. For example, we are a Teapot Retailer in the merchandising department, so we had them sit with customer service, spend a day in a store, take a tour of our distribution center, sit with one of the people who inputs purchase orders, etc.

    4. Maria*

      Dawn made some great points for what a newbie will need while their manager is away, and I have one more: if your newbie’s desk phone is a recycled line, make sure she knows what to do if someone calls for the prior owner of the number. At my last job, I was assigned a line that used to belong to someone in international sales, and my first week was a comedy of errors as dozens of people called me (in multiple languages) looking for him.

      1. calonkat*

        This is an excellent point. I work in state government, and it’s worth googling “new” phone numbers that our department is assigned, just to have a heads up on where that number has appeared in the past.

      2. Chaordic One*

        At my previous job I was given what had previously been a fax number. I would pick up the phone and it would someone attempting to send a fax.


        I would then transfer the call to the new fax number and the fax would go through, but it was still a PITA.

    5. CM*

      Two suggestions: one, assign somebody else on the team to be her “buddy” and tell both of them that she can ask her “buddy” any questions she wants, including little things like how to print and what everybody on the team usually does for lunch. And two, make a list of things that she can learn or get familiar with on her own while you’re gone, so when she has downtime she can feel like she’s being productive and doing things to prepare for when you get back.

    6. Puffle*

      Probably depends on the job, but for me the most useful thing in a new job is knowing who to ask what, especially when something pops up that’s outside my field, i.e. “If you have an engineering question, ask John. If you need to know about x schedule, ask Sue”.

      Also, introductions! Make sure she’s introduced to people, and that they know she’s a new starter and might need a pointer on basic things like where the pens are kept or where she can park. It’s pretty scary when you start a new job and don’t know anyone, doubly so if your manager is out for two weeks and you don’t know who to talk to

    7. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

      Yes – meetings while you’re gone are key, even if they are just half hour get to know you meetings with various folks. This will help keep the new employee from feeling abandoned.

      Also agree on the idea of a buddy, or one of your peers, that they have met and are explicitly told they can go to with questions, including political things. I.E., Fred told me to do this thing Jane never mentioned, is he supposed to be giving me work?

  7. Annie Moose*

    I, along with several hundred other people at my company, will be laid off at the end of September. This is the first time I’ve been laid off, so I’m unsure of some of the etiquette here. In particular, there’s one coworker who’s been a mentor to me for the past couple years, and I really appreciate the effort she’s put in to help me. I’d like to get her a small token of appreciation for this (I was thinking a gift card to a local restaurant), but wasn’t sure if that’d be OK.

    The problem is, she’s actually been our team leader for the past six months, and she’s technically serving as my manager for the couple of months before my job ends. So does the “don’t gift up” rule apply here? Should I just tell her how much I appreciate her and leave it at that? The financial side of things isn’t a concern for me–I live frugally and (for the time being) have a good paycheck, so I have a nice buffer built up. A $25 gift card wouldn’t be a problem.

    (oh, I also have the minor problem of needing to find a new job, but I’ll get around to that eventually. I guess.)

    1. insert witty name here*

      IMO, give her a nice card writing down what you just said to us and skip the gift.

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        I agree. With you and her both knowing you’ll be laid off, coupled with the fact she’s been managing you, I think a gift would be highly unexpected and maybe even surprising. A nice card with your appreciation for her would make her day, though.

    2. sparklealways*

      I still wouldn’t do the gift card thing. It would probably make her feel awkward, especially since you are being let go. I think a card or letter telling her how much she has meant to you would be much more meaningful to her and more appropriate.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Agreed – even if you aren’t worried about the money, it sounds like she’s a good person who would probably feel bad accepting money from you considering the situation. And good luck to you!

    3. Leatherwings*

      I do think the “don’t gift up” rule applies here. Alison typically suggests writing a heartfelt note, which is probably going to mean even more to your coworker than a $25 gift card could.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes. I talked about this below in response to another comment — heartfelt notes of thanks always mean more to anyone than trinkets or gift cards. And yes, in this case, you’ve got “don’t gift up” going on too.

    4. Artemesia*

      Especially when you are being laid off, don’t even think of giving gifts to mentors. Everyone appreciates and remembers a nice note praising them for their help; if a card, make it a blank card with a nice note therein. Gift cards in this circumstance cost you more than they benefit the recipient and will seem odd.

    5. SophieChotek*

      Sorry to hear about the layoff! (I would write a card expressing appreciation and skip the gift also. In the end, I think the card would be more meaningful and leave a more lasting impression.)

    6. LNM*

      we went through a big round of lay-offs last October at my company, I survived but my manager, my mentor, and my mentee did not. I was devastated, and so were they. I wrote them each a long thank you card and included some nice-ish chocolate with it (<$5). They all mentioned how much they appreciated the card the next time we spoke.

  8. Show Me The Money*

    How do I tactfully ask prospective vendors if the price they have given me is the best that they can do?

    I’ve had to buy a lot of different things for our office lately (furniture, IT equipment, signage, etc.) and my boss has allowed me to do most of this work independently. This is all new to me and so far I feel like I’ve been doing fine, but I always feel a bit awkward when I want to know if a vendor can offer me a lower price. Any tips on appropriate verbiage to use that doesn’t come across as self-entitled or rude?

    1. AnonyMeow*

      I totally know what you mean. Negotiating for lower prices is something I don’t enjoy doing, especially when I feel that the products/services offered are top-notch to begin with, but I’ve come to realize that A) vendors expect it and B) looking out for my employer is a part of my job. So I usually say straight-faced “Is this the best price you can offer us?” Pretty much the phrase you used in the first paragraph!

      1. Show Me The Money*

        Thanks for your input! I suppose often times the simplest, most-direct way of presenting things is the way to go. :)

    2. Lillian McGee*

      I have an easy go-to which is asking for a non-profit rate or discount. Can you blame it on the budget? “I don’t want to risk going over budget here so is there any chance you can come down to x?”

      1. Anna*

        I get to use this, too. It’s a good built-in. You can also ask if they have any specials right now or discounts for new customers (if that applies).

    3. jm*

      “Would you be willing to consider a 15% price break if we purchase more than one teapot assembly kit?”
      “I noticed a similar teapot display box at ABC Store Online for $55.99. Would you be willing to match that price?”
      “If we commit to make you our sole supplier for teapot display boxes, can you commit to a price of [less than what they quoted] for 1 year?”

      And if they won’t give you a price break, you can always ask for extras…
      “We value that your company is local, has great customer service, quick turnaround, etc. I budgeted less than you quoted for the 15 desk chairs. Can you possibly throw in 15 rubber floor protectors at no charge?

      1. Dzhymm*

        If you’re offering something in return for special pricing (e.g. bulk purchase, sole supplier, etc) make sure you actually follow through on it. My business builds custom teapots, and it’s not unheard of for someone to come along and say “I’m outfitting a high-end catering company; what kind of price can you give me for 100 teapots?” You work up a price and then they say “That sounds great! Can you build me one teapot for that price then we’ll go from there?” You build the one teapot on which you barely break even, then you never hear from that customer again…

        1. Aurion*

          What I would do is sell them that one teapot at regular price, but if they end up putting in the 100 pc order I will credit them back the difference for the first teapot on the invoice for the 100 teapots. More of a pain so may not be worth it, but it sure would dissuade them from pulling that stunt. :P

    4. Elle*

      Your best bet might be to go out and get some competitive pricing on whatever item(s) you are purchasing. You can then go back to the original vendor and say, for example, “Office Max has this chair for $xxx, how close can you get to that?” It might be a little more time consuming then just asking for a price break, but I feel like it gives you a more solid base on which to ask for a lower price.

    5. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      I used to have purchasing as part of my job, and part of that was shopping around and getting quotes from multiple vendors. Even if you know you really want to go with Vendor A, you have some leverage if they quote you a higher price than Vendor B or C.

      1. Show Me The Money*

        All, thank you so much for the helpful advice! We are a nonprofit, which I usually make known up front but not all vendors offer a nonprofit discount right off the bat (although a few have). I haven’t done a whole lot of price comparison or shopping around which I need to start doing. Thank you again!

        1. zora.dee*

          Then you can always repeat later in the convo “Does that include the nonprofit discount?” If they haven’t explicitly said that.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I do this as a consumer. Find a reason, like everyone is showing here such as paying in full, prepaying, buying bulk, making a large order of dissimilar things, making a recurring order at definite intervals, or ask if they have “seconds” available (if appropriate).

      One NPO I know of pays for a consumable product 1 year in advance. This allows the NPO to get free service, even free emergency service. This could work with fuel for heating, toner for a copier and so on.

      Finding a reason will help you to feel less like you are begging or rude. Additionally, you can say, “Do you have a standard practice of discounting for x reason?” This way you are just asking what they do ordinarily and you are not asking for anything special just for your NPO.

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      I’m not being a smartass I swear, but “is that the best you can do?” Is totally fine. I’ve sat near purchasing at a couple of jobs and that’s exactly what they say. (Nicely and lightheartedly of course. Tone is everything)

    8. Aurion*

      I’m a purchaser who sits next to sales, so I hear both sides :)

      I think the least-annoying way to do things would be to give incentives for sales to lower the price. That could be “if I pay today in full via wire transfer/cheque (i.e. no credit card fees for your vendor) instead of waiting 30 days per my terms”, or “I buy in bulk”, or “your competitor ABC sells the exact same item for less”, etc. Generally speaking, if sales quotes you the price for 10 teapots, assuming you didn’t withhold information like you’re a non-profit that’s eligible for NPO pricing or something, that’s the best price they’re willing (not able, but willing) to give you absent additional information.

      Sure, you can wait for them to offer something like “we can give you 15% off if you buy 10 teapots at once”, and really, a good sales rep should do this anyway. But if you run into a not-so-great sales rep, by starting the process of negotiating you signal that you’re willing to work with them, and you’re giving them reasons to want to lower your price. And that opening often gives even reticent sales reps to try to counteroffer if they can’t meet what you ask for.

      Failing price breaks (because they have to protect their overhead and margins too), you can ask for extras–because maybe they have a discount on shipping rates so they can budge on that, or they can throw in an accessory they get for free, or Bob can help you with install, or whatever.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you should try to get the best price you can for your company, but as a cautionary tale… I worked one place where a higher-up negotiated with a vendor to get the price down very low (astoundingly low), and that was fine… except that the vendor decided to give us the absolute bare minimum in customer service, which, frankly, if I were them, I would have done too! Not saying you shouldn’t try to get a discount or a good price, but keep in mind that you should want a good relationship with them. Yes, you are paying them, and they should do their best to earn your business, but if you’re absolutely 100% ruthless with them, except them to be 100% ruthless with you (and follow only the letter and not the spirit of your contract).

  9. Reg poster going anon*

    How do you know when there is a permanent culture mismatch or if it’s just an environment you have to grow into? I started a new job 6 months ago and the culture is very much a “talk about things together but not really take action” type place. No urgency, no freedom to use your experience and knowledge to make your own path. Everything is a collaboration which stagnates action. I’m having a hard time with it as I come from a “lone wolf” position where I was well known for being the person who “gets sh*t done”. I feel so much like my hands are tied here. Do I just hate collaboration?

    1. MissMaple*

      I’m in a similar situation, but coming up on a year. I actually talked through my issues with our EAP counsellor and she told me that the job I’m in just doesn’t fit with my personality type. It was actually encouraging to hear this and I basically felt like it was permission to seriously think about moving on. It’s not that it’s a bad job or environment, it’s just not one that works for me. If you have EAP available to you, it might help to just talk through what you’re feeling and get some clarity. Good luck!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Do I just hate collaboration?

      What you are describing does not sound like actual collaboration. It just sounds like a never-ending brainstorming session. These are my worst nightmare. My sympathies!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Great point. OP, goggle and see if you can get an idea how a healthy collaborative environment works. Then check to see how well that matches your environment.

        1. Sami*

          Awhile back (~2 months) Alison posted a great article about how Google researched and figured out how teams collaborate most effectively. I think it was from NY Times.

      2. Anxa*


        I had to sit in on a classroom activity, and I almost jumped out of my skin. There was so much breaking into groups to discuss projects, and no time to actually do them! One little kid looked so, so frustrated and red, near tears. I felt bad for them having to learn this way, but then I thought at least maybe they’ll get used to it.

        I’m an adult and I feel like that sometimes.

      3. Chaordic One*

        In a related vein, the “thinking out loud” extroverts and the people who parrot back everything you’ve just said can be annoying. When you have a deadline, the time-consuming nature of such transactions and the apparent lack of urgency on their behalf combine to amp up the stress level.

        It sucks.

        OTOH, not all collaborations are like this.

    3. Camellia*

      I, too, am a lone wolf able to get sh*t done, and I work in a very collaborative environment. I can live with the collaboration because we do get things done. You say yours is all talk, no action. That is probably what is driving you nuts and it probably won’t change.

      One thing that keeps me sane is a manager who takes advantage of my ability to be the lone wolf, etc., and gives me things that I can work on by myself. Is that a possibility for you? That might help keep you sane enough to survive the rest. Otherwise, you probably need to start job hunting.

    4. Tris Prior*

      I’m sort of dealing with this now. Went from a tiny company where if you saw something that needed to be done, you did it, to a huge company with multiple layers of management. My god, people can talk to DEATH the tiniest little detail and still not come up with a resolution! And there are SO many people who have to sign off on every tiny detail before any actual work can be done!

      It is maddening… but at the same time the pace here is a lot slower so it doesn’t seem to be impacting anything. Other than me, because I was the get-sh*t-done person at my previous jobs too.

      I’m at a point in my life/career where I don’t get much of my self-worth through my job and am now a work-to-live person instead of the other way around. So I’m just kind of smiling and nodding and getting used to the fact that this is just how things are here. 5 years ago I was much more ambitious and defined myself through my job, so I’d never been able to deal with it.

      1. Reg poster going anon*

        You and I are so alike. I am at the same phase in my life and I kind of feel like maybe I would be better off just trying to go with the flow. It’s the norm here and like you said, the pace is slower, and it doesn’t seem to impact things at all.

    5. Sarah Nicole*

      I was in a position like this at my last job before changing my career, and they were the ones to notice the mismatch and “laid me off.” Basically I wasn’t getting anything done BECAUSE I COULDN’T and they deemed me non-essential staff when they were making some cut backs due to budget concerns. I may be biased, but if this situation is that much of a mismatch, I’d say look elsewhere now while you probably have lots of time to find the right fit somewhere else. But of course that would be totally dependent on whether you’ve had longer stays at other jobs and other factors that may contribute to whether or not it’s a good time for you to leave a place.

      Or you could talk with your manager about how you’re feeling and maybe there is room for a change for at least your position. Maybe there are some useful projects you could take on that don’t require skills or input from others?

    6. Junipergreen*

      I feel ya. I sit through many meetings where I hear the same old complaints and explanations for why we can’t do this that or the other thing. I’m also relatively new, so have been hesitant to rattle cages since I don’t want to be that impertinent/ignorant newbie, but about a year in I feel like I do have a good sense of our operations (and politics). So in meetings I’ve started to say: “What would it take for us to change that?” or “Who would be a good person for me to have a conversation about this with?” etc.

      The conversations still steer back to an airing of grievances, but occasionally *someone* else in the room picks up what I’m putting down and starts to help solve, rather than just moan. It’s usually someone else new.

    7. Windchime*

      My job has changed from a “get sh*t done” job to one where we are paralyzed by committee. We spend hours each week in pointless meetings that could be a fraction of the length because several members of the team like to have side conversations and laugh and play around. The deadline window gets shortened and we are micromanaged because the customers are complaining that they don’t get their product on time. So we have more meetings about that. Maybe the problem is that we don’t have differently colored papers to mark our tasks on? Maybe we need more meetings? Maybe we should have flags to indicate different things? I know, maybe it’s too much working from home. Maybe the problem is not enough team-building! Let’s have happy hour! (It doesn’t really matter that nobody is happy, if we pretend then maybe it’ll be OK.)

      It’s a mess. I can relate.

    8. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Yeah, after 6 months I’d expect that you know what’s up and can tell if you like it or hate it. I definitely thrive more in environments where I can be fairly autonomous, and I’ve learned that thats OK and there are places that want people like me and places that don’t! :)

    9. Rex*

      Where are you in the hierarchy? My org is very collaboration / consensus based, which was definitely a learning curve at first, but part if it was just learning a new (longer) process. Once I got through that process, I was in a position to say, okay, sounds like we should do X. No one else was willing to stick their neck out and make the call, but I was. And so it got done. But I am pretty senior. You might not have the pull. What does your boss say?

    10. Stranger than fiction*

      Oh boy. No real advice but lots of sympathy. My BF is experiencing the same thing. He’s also very much a “get sh$& done” type and now he’s working somewhere where everyone is paid below market and has become complacent and used to just stalling. They hired him to develop a new product and he did that within the first few months, only to find out the platform had to be completely revamped first. So his project keeps getting delayed while everyone else is trying to figure out what to do. It’s going on two years now but he doesn’t want to leave having not completed the project or it looks really bad on resume and in interviews. Very frustrating! i would try to stay at least a year and then look into other opportunities where the culture is more results driven.

    11. Anymouse*

      A little late to the game, but…

      If it weren’t for the timeline you’ve presented, you could’ve been my former co-worker based on your complaint here – I know he had the same background and attitude. And this pretty much describes our environment, although there was most definitely a culture clash which made him want to leave as well.

      Note: I’m not saying the below is how you are – this is just my experience with my former co-worker.

      I know that the big thing that limited said co-worker was lack of experience -within- the organization. He had a lot of great ideas and some awesome background, but wasn’t willing/able to prove that he understood how the nuts and bolts of the IT stuff worked.

      Where I work, for better or for worse, the servers and homegrown programs are touchy, and they’ve… *ahem* “grown organically” over the course of decades. If you don’t know how the various parts interact, it’s surprisingly easy to break parts of it in quaint and curious (albeit defined and fairly easily fixable) ways.

      Are you seeing that other people DO have the freedom to just get stuff done? If so, this might be what you’re running into (although whether it’s perception or reality is something you’ll have to answer for yourself.) If that’s the case, take the time to understand how the various parts interact, PROVE you know how said parts interact, and I’ll bet you’ll find you gain some freedom.

  10. Savannah*

    My manager is usually a very reasonable person. We have a couple of business partners who we provide service to year round. One of these partners is holding their annual conference in Cancun, Mexico this year. My manager was out of town the last time they did a site visit with us and I stepped in to run the site visit. It went very well and both my manager and I were invited to go to the annual conference and meet with lots of other service providers and listen to the partners annual report and participate in breakout sessions. The conference is a little unusual for us as we mostly to go academic conferences. Because this partner is a for-profit business, they are including all of the costs for each of us and a guest to attend the conference at an all-inclusive hotel in Cancun. My manager is not planning on going and told me that if I has the personal time to attend I could go. He stated that because this was a junket, I would have to take PTO time to attend. I spoke with a co-worker who attended this conference last year and she was taken aback by his request. She said to not let the location of the conference confuse him and that we would be pulling four 8 hour work days (including sat and sun). I also checked in and 8 other co-workers are attending and none of them will be using PTO. How do I convince my manager to let me go and not take PTO?

    1. Sadsack*

      You could go to him and say, “Could we discuss the Mexico trip again? It’s my understanding that I will be doing _______ for so many hours per day, plus weekends. So, this seems like work, not leisure. I have heard from others who are planning to attend that they are not using PTO”. Go from there.

      1. Jess*

        But don’t call it “the Mexico trip”… call it “the [partner] annual conference” so that you’re priming him to think of the business part of it rather than the location.

  11. Good_Intentions*

    Should I work for a campaign?

    Looking for a short-term job to give me time to re-evaluate my professional goals. I am leaning toward working as an organizer for a politician.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I would say tread carefully if you’re talking about a national candidate. Campaigns are really hard work and really long hours. You might not get the time to re-evaluate your professional goals that you want.

      I would lean towards working for a local or state level candidate, or maybe a House race rather than a presidential or Senate candidate.

    2. Show Me The Money*

      If you feel strongly about a particular politician, I would say it’s worth looking into. Probably a good idea to only work for someone who you really like and feel comfortable representing.

    3. Cafe au Lait*

      Yes, especially since you want a future job as a politician wrangler.

      I had a friend who did this. 1st state senator: would not give him a full time job in her office. He left, and worked for state senator #2’s campaign. Still didn’t get a job. Worked on, and is employed full-time by state senator #3.

    4. Amtelope*

      Working for a campaign can be a really good experience and good for your resume, but signing on at this point means you’ll be extremely busy until the election, with long hours and pretty much zero time off. If that’s something you’re interested in doing, do it! Just be aware that especially for a national-level campaign, from now until November you’ll be expected to devote massive amounts of time and energy to the job.

    5. JOTeepe*

      A friend of mine did this for a few years, on various campaigns, in between a temp/intern role at a lobbying firm. She knew she was going to go to grad school in a few years and wanted some real life experience. She also knew that, while she loved campaign work (in fact, she still frequently volunteers), she knew she wouldn’t want to do that kind of thing long term, so it was a good time for her to do it. So, basically, for the reasons you mention it’s a GREAT gig to think about.

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Thanks for sharing your friend’s story.

        I am trying to build up my resume with a different type of experience and have some income while I decide where to start applying for my next position. The idea of a campaign-support position appeals to me because it’s deliberately short-term, very busy, grants opportunities to engage with diverse audiences, and will decrease attention to the slight employment gap in my resume because of a recent firing during probation (serious cultural fit issues).

    6. Reba*

      My brother has recently started working on a gubernatorial campaign. The work is exhausting but it lights him up like nothing else does.

      I also see the appeal of a job with an almost-certain predefined end date for trying out a new direction.

    7. Anon Moose*

      From people I know, campaigns are really good for getting your foot in the door in politics. However, a lot of entry level campaign jobs for national campaigns are strictly volunteer. Stick around long enough, be dedicated enough (sleep on couches/floors, door knock in god knows where) they *may* put you on salary. Stick it out and your candidate wins, you may be in a good place for a job with the administration or others in the party.

      1. zora.dee*

        If you have any transferrable previous work experience, you can probably get a paid job. They definitely need people with communications, outreach and/or fundraising experience. If you are super new to the job market, yes, you might only be able to be volunteer.

        And by paid, it is not much money at all. I guess it’s technically not much more than volunteering. But you are so busy, you never have time to spend any money! I took a huge paycut for my campaign job, but I actually had a lot left in my bank account on Election Day bc I spent almost nothing on food or any other discretionary expenses. Except alcohol.

    8. zora.dee*

      I did it for a Senate campaign in 2008. One caveat: it’s not great for networking unless you plan to go directly into politics. Most of the people I met are career campaign people, or transitioned directly to legislative jobs, so since I don’t actually want to stay in that field in the long term, they aren’t super helpful to me anymore. But when I was working in advocacy, I kept a lot of my contacts from the campaign.

      It is long hours and exhausting and insane, but it’s kind of fun if you like that sort of thing to do it once. And this is actually a good time to sign on. I started in late July, and I just barely made it to Nov without dying, but I made it. But I knew people who started in the spring, and they were seriously hurting by the time we got to Election Day. I think I can do almost anything for 3 months if I have to. ;o)

      Campaigns are definitely hiring up about now, as they hit the home stretch, so there are paid jobs out there. We were hiring through Sept for paid positions. it was crazy but it was kind of a cool adventure, and I have lots of stories!!! ;o)

  12. Leaping Lanny*

    I just started a new job recently that seems to have a lot of perks, like flex-time, summer friday early leave, casual attire, working from home, etc. The only prerequisite is that if you want to take advantage of these things they are at your manager’s discretion. Unfortunately, my manager says no to these things all the time. Basically, he’s opted our team out of all of these perks. Meanwhile, other colleagues get to enjoy these benefits and seem happier because of it. How do I address this inequality? I am new. Maybe, I should just cut my losses before I become disgruntled.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Can you see any reasons why your team needs to function differently than the other teams and why things that are available to them might not be productive or functional for your department? Possible to ask boss this – as an inquiry, not an accusation, looking for info that might help you feel better about this?

    2. Reba*

      If these perks were discussed during the hiring process and were a big part of your decision to join the company, I can see why it would be particularly galling. If so maybe that could be a framing to talk with your boss about how they see the perks– “when I signed on, I thought X, could you help me understand how you see these things working for our team? Would that ever change if [some performance target or something is met]”?

      Also, is it really like everybody except your team gets to enjoy these perks, or are they more rare?

    3. NotASalesperson*

      I am in much this same boat, and all of my work can be done remotely – in fact, we have remote workers and members of the team that don’t report to my boss get to take advantage of these perks as well.

    4. Bend & Snap*

      I think you need to inquire about this with a higher power in your company.

      My old boss denied vacation all the time to the point that people lost time they couldn’t roll over. I eviscerated him in my exit interview and leadership was horrified to learn that he had been denying his employees benefits that the company used to draw good talent.

      I bet HR/upper management isn’t aware that your boss is withholding all offered perks.

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        I’d just like to say that “I eviscerated him in my exit interview” is one of the most satisfying phrases I’ve heard on this site.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          I didn’t trust him to give me a solid reference, even though he promoted me the day I quit (before I quit), so decided to go for it to help the rest of my team.

    5. Anonymity*

      If you’re new, you may want to sit down with your manager and discuss the perks. If these were clearly laid out in your interview/orientation as being 100% across the board available to everybody and at every moment, that does seem disingenuous that your manager can shut all of those things down with no discussion. But if you misheard or misunderstood, it’s at least worth a conversation.

      My employer offers all of those things, but with limitations: Fri early outs are rotational, casual attire is Friday only (or via the AAM-disapproved donational method), flex-time is situational and requires manager approval, WFM is really only available to full time permanent employees with a rare exception made for part-timers who have worked internally and proven themselves. (This applies across the board to exempt and non-exempt; Sales, as usual, is its own thing with its own rules.)

    6. Chaordic One*

      My previous job was like this. It wasn’t all the managers’ fault, though. The several different managers I had during my time there were usually young and all inexperienced. They didn’t have much support from their managers and so they didn’t feel they could stand up to the higher-ranking managers. Higher ranking people didn’t have a clue about what the department did.

      Of course, when there have been so many managers, it’s a sign that things are wrong.

  13. Horse Lover*

    I work in the insurance industry as a rater. My company is very large and has many different departments that specialize in certain areas of the industry. I’m currently in the division insuring mostly non-profits. We do a lot of religious organizations, animal shelters, etc. However, we have another department that I’m interested in learning more about and would possibly enjoy more, Equine Mortality. (I’ve been involved with horses my whole life)

    There’s barely any info about it on our company intranet (other than the marketing stuff) and I don’t know anyone in that department I could talk to. So how would you go about learning about another department and if the job might be for you without causing your own manager/team to have a heart attack?

    My department just lost a few people to another company in our most busy time of the year. So the management team is on edge and freaking out that now everyone is going to leave or be looking. Plus they are really stressed because of this being our peak season and having to train the newbies. I’m not saying I want to jump ship; I really just want info right now to see if I even want to consider changing departments. And if I did, how would the conversation with your manager go? “Hey boss, I’d really like to be in this other department can you help me get there?”

    Any help/advice? Thanks! :)

    1. sparklealways*

      “Hi boss! I really like what I am doing, but I have been thinking about my long term career goals and next steps. I think I ultimately may want to move from our nonprofit clients into the equine sector, but I don’t know much about that department. Can you get me in touch with someone from that department so that I can figure out if that might be something that I am interested in down the road?”

      Follow up with your manager after the conversation and talk about skills and training to move into that department if that’s what you decide. Good managers will support their employees in their goals and recognize that people have interests that change and develop over time. If your manager gives you crap, recognize that he or she is a crummy manager and you are on your own, which will be better for you anyway. A manager can make or break a career…

      1. animaniactoo*

        Might also pay to wait a month or so until some of the current panic has died down, some of the newbies are a little more settled in and it’s starting to look relatively stable again.

        1. sparklealways*

          It sounds like the fear is that people are leaving the company altogether. If someone is proactively talking to their manager about their career goals within the company they probably aren’t a flight risk.

    2. CM*

      In your shoes, I’d basically cold call somebody in the Equine Mortality department. Find a connection, if you have one — you could ask a colleague, “Hey, what’s up with the Equine Morality department? I’m curious about what they do there. Do you know anybody who works there?” But even if you don’t, pick somebody at an appropriate level and knock on their door or send them an email if you’re not nearby. Again, just frame it as being curious about the department and wanting to learn more about what they do, especially since you’re interested in horses. You don’t have to say anything about considering switching jobs, and in fact you don’t even have enough information to know about whether you might want that.

    3. Christopher Tracy*

      I think you might work for my company and if so, your best bet would be to look at the company directory and find someone in a role you’d be interested in with EM and email to ask if they have a few moments to chat or answer some questions via email. I’ve found that people in the company are very open to discussing what they do and would be happy to answer specific questions about the division.

  14. Sally-O*

    What are some written and verbal habits that should be broken to sound more confident in the workplace? I have tendency to soften my communication in various ways, but I am coming to realize that it’s less efficient, may not convey the proper urgency, and may undermine my authority.

    For example: Using the word “just” in emails. I used to do this a lot, but now I know to re-read my emails and remove that word. Instead of writing, “I’m just checking on the status of the report” I’ll write, “I’m checking on the status of the report.” (Next step: “What is the status of the report?”)

    What else should I look out for?

      1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

        I actually laughed out loud at the type with one finger one, but thankfully it sounded like a sneeze. Lol. I shouldn’t even have clicked that at work.

        But the “what do you think about doing X” rather than just telling me to do it. That’s annoying. My male boss does that, heh. He also won’t tell me what the deadline is until I ask when he needs this done by.

    1. F.*

      Not implying that you do this, but a verbal habit that annoys me no end is the tendency for some younger women to end every sentence with an upward inflection along the lines of “valley girl speak” of the ’80s. I even hear this on the radio occasionally. It makes the speaker sound very immature.

      1. Annie Moose*

        It’s called the high rising terminal (or “uptalk”), and it’s hardly a trait exclusive to women. Men also do it, just not as frequently as women do (and older people also do it, but again, just not as much as younger people do).

        This is one of those things where it’s true that some people will interpret it negatively (for no actual reason, other than “it’s associated with how women speak”), but for me personally, I’m not going to change my normal way of speaking because some people don’t like it. If someone is ignoring the intelligent and competent things I’m saying in favor of judging the way I’m saying them, that’s their problem. Using HRT isn’t about not being sure about what you’re saying, even if it is sometimes interpreted that way.

        Of course, all this depends on a person’s situation. I certainly understand that many people are in situations where they do indeed need to change the way they speak or act to avoid negative impacts on themselves. I’m lucky enough to work in an environment that isn’t that way, though.

        1. Tomato Frog*

          I use uptalk when I’m trying to imply something’s in question. I have a coworker who uses it ALL the time in meetings (and only meetings), regardless of the merits of what she’s saying. It really seems to come from a place of expressing uncertainty and self-deprecation (and she makes occasional self-undermining comments, which confirm my impression). So I do think it’s worth considering when/why one is uptalking, if one is concerned with projecting confidence.

          1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

            I use it as the verbal equivalent of putting a question mark at the end of a sentence. “So, before I do that, I should do this?” I realize I could just ask a question, but that would be too easy.

          2. Mephyle*

            That’s not uptalk? Uptalk is when everything you say is like a question? Even if it’s not? This is uptalk?

        2. Jake*

          My brother does it constantly. I don’t think it’s negative connotation has to do with gender so much as the fact that social norms dictate that voice inflection be used in specific situations for specific purposes, i.e. Asking questions, conveying doubt, etc.

          When my brother does it all the time it is hard to discern what he is actually communicating.

          1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

            Way back in middle school, I had a male teacher who did this. A teacher! I thought he was really unsure of himself, until I figured out that’s just how he talks!

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I was watching a training video where the narrator had this to the extreme. Every sentence ended at such a high pitch it was like a splitting, popping squeak. I tried watching it a few times, adjusted my volume, tried playing trance music in the background, and I just had to give up and move onto the next video.

    2. AnonyMeow*

      Interesting question! I’m curious to see what other posters say about this. One thing that pops in my mind: Do you tend to phrase your suggestions as questions?

      I work with someone who does this all the time, and I think that softening habit is hurting her credibility. She’s really smart, and knows what she’s doing, but some people who interact with her less than I don’t notice her intelligence because everything she says is a question. Example: She says “do you think we should try doing X” instead of “I think we should try doing X,” or “would it be at all possible to do Y” rather than “doing Y might help us in Z.”

      I definitely think there is time and place for suggestions-as-questions, and I do use this tactic sometimes myself, but if you feel like you might be doing it too much, that’s one thing to watch out for. My two cents…

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think it depends on the situation. If I feel I have an idea that is solid I am less apt to present it as a question. “Hey, I got an idea. Instead of doing a-b-c, it would be easier to just do d-e.”

        But if I think that others might not be receptive, or I am not sure if I know everything necessary to decide on a solution/idea then I will probably phrase it as a question. “I was thinking about a-b-c. Would it make sense for us to do d-e instead?”

        I think the most important part is to know your audience. I have had times where things were not going well, AT ALL. Cohorts are looking kind of weary and the conversation is lagging. In those instances I will sometimes chose to say, “Okay, look, we need to do something here. We always do a-b-c. This time, let’s do d-e and see if we make out better.” I have even done this with bosses. KNOW your boss, before jumping in. I have had some bosses that “get it”, they understand that because I am saying out loud BEFORE I do the action, that means I am checking in/asking permission or buy in first. It’s their opportunity to say, “NO, do d-f-g instead” or whatever.

        Never be afraid of the power of a well-framed question. I remember one time we had X going on at work. It happened before but because it was random, it was hard to nail down WHY it was happening. Well, after the umpteenth time, we got called in for a meeting. sigh. I looked around and everyone was looking at their shoes, no one knew what to do. Grouchy boss, said “Why does X keep happening???!!!” And he went on to make statements of the obvious similar to the sky is blue and grass is green and we ALL know these things. I said, “Are we sure the sky is blue and grass is green?” My coworkers almost died of embarrassment FOR me, it was such a basic question. However, one coworker softly spoke up, and said, “Well, we really aren’t sure of these things because last Thursday here is what happened to me [fill in with story]. The boss had an ah-ha moment and said, “Wait. This is what is going on? NO! That is not your responsibility, that is MY responsibility. Come get me when ever this happens, *I* will take care of it.” Problem solved and the solution started to roll when I asked a very simplistic question. Questions can be powerful, too, and that is why I’d encourage you not to get too hung up on the question format. In the end, it’s the thinking behind the question that gets noticed.

    3. Sadsack*

      I have also had this issue in the past and I think you are on the right track. Leaving out language like “just checking” is a good start. I would ask, “Can you please give me the status of the report? Thanks.” There’s no need to over-explain or qualify your reason for contacting someone. If it’s the first time you are emailing or calling, that’s different.

    4. Dawn*

      A big one for me is not thanking people every time they do something, that drives me insane! Absolutely thank people if they go way above and beyond with something- acknowledge how they went above and beyond when you thank them- but don’t thank people every time they do an expected, typical task.

      I think it’s fine to respond to their email of “hey I got Thing done” with an “Awesome, thanks!”, but I’m talking about going out of your way to go “Fergus, thank you so much for doing Small Task, I really appreciate it!” I work with someone who does this and it drives me BATTY.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Hahaha! I have a coworker who thanks higher-ups for their efforts in a way that is just so weird! I’m sure she’s mirroring how people talk to her, but that’s just not how that works.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        Oh interesting. I sometimes “overthank” people, but I’ve learned it’s the only thing that works to get a few people here to do anything. There are some lazy butts in my office and they really seem to respond well when I give them effusive thanks for doing something basic. People always ask me what my secret it with these coworkers because they notice I get more out of them than anyone else and that they are actually nice to me. Kissing butt doesn’t make me proud but it certainly helps me get stuff done.

        1. BabyAttorney*

          Totally not related to work. But this is a thing in my relationship, and not because my partner is lazy, but because he thrives on verbal recognition of his efforts. In relationship terms, it’s his “love-language” (which sounds weird.) Acknowledging anything he does, even if it’s something like “separates the laundry” or “does the thing I literally asked him to do five times” or “does his assigned chore when I’m not home,” and it may not require affirmation verbally, if I do it, it makes him so happy.

          Some people just need that sort of verbal reinforcement to feel secure. -shrugs-

          1. Misteroid*

            I think this is a case where something that may work well in a relationship does not play out well in the office. I don’t care if my coworkers feel secure or not; I’m not going to tell them how great they are for doing what they’re paid to do.

    5. cjb1*

      Just shared a link so hopefully that comes through soon, however, I’ve had to do this myself. Here are some phrases that may or may not need to be re-evaluated:
      -sort of, kind of, I guess (I guess we could take a look at that.)
      -actually (I actually have a concern about this.)

      And some things to consider:
      -over-exaggerating statements (That’s really great. That’s very amazing and so professional. etc)
      -undervaluing yourself (I’m not expert, I could be wrong here, etc)
      -clarifying questions that could undermine yourself or condescend others (“Does what I said make sense?” – I usually ask, “What are your thoughts?” instead)
      -apologizing too often and unnecessarily
      -saying thanks too often and unnecessarily (a little trickier, but I’ve noticed sometimes I say thanks at the end of a conversation where I was asked to do something – how does that even happen? Or “Thanks for listening.” could be another one)

      And don’t try to change everything at once. I have been trying to pick just one thing and focus on it for a month or so until I get into better, stronger communication habits. I’m attempting to work on multiple things – not solely gender-specific concerns. So I’m nowhere near done.

      From another perspective, part of me wishes we didn’t have to focus on hardening our language so much as men should also consider softening theirs. Of course, gender variations are not always stereotypical, so I’m not wanting to lump everyone into 2 groups. Effective communication is just difficult.

      1. Sally-O*

        Oooh, I often say, “Does that make sense?” after I make a suggestion. Good call to change that to, “What are your thoughts?”

    6. LadyKelvin*

      Remove sorry from your vocabulary unless you made a mistake. Things like “Sorry to bother you but I have a question.” Should be replaced with “Hey, I have a question.” Its really hard to notice and fix. My husband reminds me often that I apologize for everything so I make an effort to identify when I say sorry a lot and then fix it. Sometimes that requires rehearsing what you are going to say before you say it so that you don’t revert back to habits.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        One I know I need to work on is saying “I think/want/suggest XYZ, but if you disagree/would rather/prefer ABC, we can do that.”

        We assign projects as a group, it it’s often “do you want this project?” and I respond somewhere along those lines. I’m working on just saying “yes” with maybe a “because…” rather than leaving it open to be grabbed by someone else.

        1. CM*

          Yes, this. I think the best non-softening thing you can do is to make your point and then STOP TALKING. It’s not easy, but it’s effective. It stops you from trailing off into “… is that okay?” or “…unless you disagree” or other niceties that weaken your point.

        1. zora.dee*

          omg have you seen the Amy Schumer sketch about women saying sorry?

          It’s pretty NSFW but it’s freaking hilarious. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard.

    7. Beezus*

      I try to watch speculative language. (“I think”, “probably”, “I’m pretty sure”, “maybe”, etc.) I have a tendency to use speculative terms when I am not truly speculating, or to layer them unnecessarily, especially in writing.

      -I edit them out entirely if I am not speculating.
      -If I am speculating, I try to reword into something I am certain about (instead of “I think the supplies are in the closet”, I’ll say “I put the supplies in the closet on Monday” if giving the exact current location of the supplies is not my responsibility).
      -I don’t speculate weakly. If I reread and my speculation is beside the point, or doesn’t add value to what I’m trying to say, I delete it entirely. Also, if I honestly have no idea, or another person is better suited to provide an answer, I don’t hesitate to say “I don’t know” and “I’d rather not guess on that, but Jelly Teapots are Jane’s area of expertise and I bet she’ll have an answer for you.”
      -If I’m speculating because I have valuable experience in something or my opinion strongly matters, I try to emphasize that position of strength instead of a tiny bit of uncertainty. “In my experience…” sounds so much surer than “I think…”, and “I recommend that we…” is stronger than “We should maybe consider…”
      -If I am speculating and need to call it out in my language, I call it out once and avoid using multiple indicators that I’m not positive. “If I remember correctly, X usually takes 5 minutes” not “If I remember correctly, I think X usually takes maybe about 5 minutes.”

    8. dear liza dear liza*

      In meetings, ending a comment with “so…” and trailing off.

      Chair: “Should we have the event Monday or Tuesday?”
      Reply: “We already have other thing Monday, so…”

      OMG, finish your thought.

    9. writelhd*

      I used to go to people and say “do you have a minute” which, with some people and some situations I still do because I think it is polite. But I try harder to just come to people and say “hello, I have a question” or “hello, we have a situation,” etc, when it is appropriate, especially with certain people who respond better to directness.

      If I am soliciting another department head’s opinion on a matter, I used to ask their opinion first, which sometimes led to them just thinking I was asking them what to do. But I generally wasn’t, I just wanted input, so now I start with what my idea is or what I think we should do about a situation and then ask if they have any input the want to add to it.

      In situations where tasks are being delegated, I noticed that I would sometime say “maybe you could do this” (to the poor intern I managed for a summer) or “maybe Fergus handles that and Sally handles this” (in a group meeting situation when we’re discussing what we could do. Although in my defense usually in group meetings like that I’m not the one in charge of the meeting, I’m just bringing something up.) Now I’ve tried saying “Before we drop this, can we decide who will be responsible for xxx?” if it’s a group where I’m not in charge but am just contributing, or if I *am* in charge, then I would say “Fergus do this part, Sally do that part,” etc.

      I will say though, before I became a manager, the head of my department was a male manager who would on occasion use a lot of the same softening language people have brought up here, (“do you think you could do this by x?” “Does this make sense?” “I’d like your thoughts on this…”, etc) because he also has a very collaborative style to management. (He used to be a middle school teacher, that explains a lot right there.) I don’t think he overused it, I think he actually had a good balance between softening language and directness when it was just he and I working together. However he moved up to CEO and I became my department head, and I have noticed that now that he is managing everyone instead of just me, his language has changed to more direct more of the time. And gets more direct still with certain people in particular who respond better to it, but remains rather collaborative with me, probably because he knows that’s my preferred style. Honestly I do maintain that trying to collaborate with people rather than telling them what to do when possible, that not pretending you know everything when you don’t, that not assuming you’re right all the time, are valuable things that indicate someone who is open to improvement and cares about others vs just someone who thinks he or she is all that. But I’m always learning subtle ways that you can be those things while still being direct, I think it’s just a case of developing a sense for when to tone that up or down depending on the people you work with and what they respond best to.

    10. Darth Brooks*

      I’m trying to stop using “I feel like…” in place of “I think…”

      It’s a really hard habit to break (and I’ve read it’s a millennial thing but who knows) but I’m starting to notice when I say it so I can stop. I don’t want to allude to feelings when I’m really referring to thoughts or opinions based on fact.

      Also, after I’ve done that I’ll likely focus on phasing out “I think” because as an English teacher once taught me, the reader already knows that’s what you think because you wrote it.

      1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

        Yeah, I don’t get the feelings thing. My boss (an older man, not a millennial) always says “here are my feelings about this” “I feel like” and otherwise alludes to his feelings when he is actually stating an opinion based on fact as you say. It used to irritate me, but now I realize that’s just how he talks. I still don’t get why he phrases it as “personal feelings” though, he isn’t talking about emotions in that sense at all, but this seems to be a common phrasing.

        1. Jaguar*

          I use “my feeling is” for that reason as well. If I want to present an idea just for consideration that other people should feel free to disregard or disagree with, I’ll couch it in a question or “I feel like” or whatever.

          Say a sign is going up somewhere and I think it’s not visible. If it’s a notice about an upcoming work event, I’ll use “I feel like people might miss it there” or “are people going to see it if we place it there?” If it’s a notice about something dangerous in the area, I’ll go straight to, “nobody is going to see it there – we need to find a more visible location.”

          1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

            Interesting, gotcha. So it’s not about a literal feeling (as in, emotion), but an idea/something to consider. I’d probably say “That’s not terribly visible” — apparently that’s my version of hedging!

            1. Jaguar*

              Well, it is. I think (or should I say “I feel”?) “feeling” is a broad word and encompasses opinions in colloquial speech, probably because there’s significant overlap between one’s opinions/ideas and one’s feelings, where being critical of someone’s opinions or ideas can hurt their feelings. So if I present something as “I feel like,” I really am talking about my feelings, however low level they might be. But I’m doing the same if I leave that language out of it. “Nobody is going to see the sign if we put it there” are still my thoughts or feelings on the matter, I’ve just phrased it more urgently. People can still disagree and their disagreement could still hypothetically trigger an angry (or whatever) emotional response in me.

              In truth, I don’t think I use “I feel” that often unless I’m being sarcastic (“I feel like we should consider throwing out this expired milk”). I usually hedge with questions, as in my second example: “are people going to see it if we place it there?” That way it’s more clear I’m inviting discussion and thoughts on the matter.

        2. Polka Dot Bird*

          It’s not an emotional feelings thing, necessarily. It can be a sense thing: “I hear”, “I see”, “I feel”. You can be “feeling” your way through uncertainty.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        That is a tough one because we see feel used when think is meant, everywhere and all the time. Growing up the adults around me would say, “You feel with your fingers and think with your brain.”

        The only time I heard my father say feel instead of think was when it was a very serious situation and he was thinking with heart and mind. “I feel it’s important to go to the funeral.”

    11. Jaguar*

      I don’t really think it’s a problem? (Or, not an image problem – it’s an English/style problem)

      We put qualifications and superfluous transitional phrases into language because we want to convey tone and because it’s how we talk. There are people that I would consider confident that would write something like “Just checking the status of the report” and people who lack confidence and would write “I need the status of the report.” To me, the difference is a matter of urgency, not confidence.

      If you want to change behaviour, I question how helpful it is to start with intentionally changing outcomes. You want to be someone that doesn’t soften language, but the impulse that made you to do it to begin with is still there. It’s similar to someone who wants to be rich so they start buying expensive clothes and driving expensive cars. They haven’t gotten closer to being wealthy and, if anything, have moved away from it.

    12. I'm Not Phyllis*

      I say “like” an unnatural amount and I’m really concentrating on cutting that the heck out. I cringe every time the word leaves my lips but I just can’t help it!

    13. Anxa*

      Look out for underlying issues.

      I used to speak and write much more assertively (although always a bit softly, as I’m a little verbose) when I was in a position with some autonomy and authority.

      I’m not a rank-and-file worker, although fairly senior and pretty well-regarded. I’m at the point where I know I’m an asset. However, whenever I have an idea about what we as a team could be doing, I feel shaky. It’s not my job to take initiative or expand programs or fix anything outside of becoming better at my core responsibilities, so I tend to slip into this more qualitative language.

      Sometimes I need to actively counter that feeling of ‘what am I even doing?’ before I say something.

    14. Fenchurch*

      Using words/phrases along the lines of “I think” or “I feel” when stating your opinion. Don’t hedge it with any fluffy words, throw it out there.

      Therefore “I think it might be a good idea to start doing x…” becomes “We need to start doing x because of y.” Or “I feel like we should focus more on this…” becomes “Let’s focus on x.”

      Cut to the point, be polite, but don’t apologize or hem and haw about what you’re saying.

  15. OP 2 from Wednesday*

    Update on the office chair situation, since I’d like to hear people’s take who have been through something similar. I have no idea what’s typical here.

    The HR person I’ve been talking to wants 3 things:

    1) a letter from my physical therapist saying that it is necessary for me to have an ergonomic chair, in general

    2) A list of “several chairs” that would be suitable for me, “so the company can have options”

    3) A second letter from the physical therapist saying that each of the listed chairs would be suitable

    Does this seem normal?

    1) makes sense.

    2) seems weird and frankly I’m guessing they are just going to pick the cheapest chair from the list. Is there any other reason they’d do this?

    3) seems impractical since the chair company is not affiliated with the physical therapy clinic, although the clinic did recommend them.

    How would the PT even evaluate which specific chairs would be appropriate? They’re located on the opposite side of town.

    There’s also the logistics of me taking the chair for a weeklong test run which is something the chair company has offered. But I don’t want to do that for multiple chairs unless the first one isn’t a good fit.

    I’m just confused what the purpose is of the multiple chairs and the multiple doctor notes. Any advice on how to navigate it?

    1. Sadsack*

      This sounds weird to me. Do they have the chair options onsite? I’d ask to test them out and find the most comfortable. What good is an ergonomic chair if it isn’t right for you? I guess I can see why they want a note recommending one, but not why the note needs to reference the specific chair. Actually, I really don’t even understand the need for the note.

      1. Sadsack*

        Sorry. I completely missed the part where the chairs were offered for a test. Can you ask to go to the place where the chairs are just to sit in each to get a feel for which one to start with? I’d ask to-do that, then borrow the chair to use at your desk (probably not for a week, just a day or two), then get the note from your PT once you have decided, if they insist the note must list specific chair.

    2. Dawn*

      1- this is a CYA kinda thing, this way if anyone in accounting sees the bill and goes “Why the hell did you buy OP a $500 chair???” they can pull it out and go “here’s why!”
      2- They want this cause they probably have specific facilities contracts and might not be able to get you one super specific chair, but can probably get at least one chair off of the list. Depending on how they do their billing it’s not always as easy as ordering stuff from Amazon.
      3- This is another CYA, so when accounting goes “Why the hell did you buy OP a $700 chair when I know damn well there are good ergonomic chairs out there for $300???” they can go “this exact chair was recommended by OP’s doctor shutupandpaythebill”. Also to make absolutely sure that the exact chair they’re buying will, in fact, be helpful for your specific situation- more CYA.

    3. Lillian McGee*

      2 sounds to me like they want you to do the initial vetting, which makes sense because you’re in the best position to pick out what you need. They want multiple options probably so they can compare prices. When you hand over your list, I recommend listing them in order of preference and saying so to HR… “Here are 3 options, listed in the order I would prefer them.”

    4. Longtime Manager*

      This is pretty standard but doesn’t need to be 3 separate steps. Your PT is probably used to it as one single letter packet of information. I would:
      1. Ask your PT about what chair brands fit your needs and what size/type you need
      2. Do the research on cost/price/company on the brands the PT gives.
      3. Give the research paperwork to your PT to include as enclosures to their letter to your HR.

    5. HR Awesomist*

      They’re likely documenting it as an ADA accommodation. What you’ve described is essentially the interactive process. Some companies insist on documentation of medical necessity for these kinds of requests so that they don’t have all employees making similar requests just because they want a new chair (whereas you NEED one).

    6. Newby*

      The second requirement does make sense if they need to order from specific vendors. It gives them more flexibility. Also, sometimes they need to demonstrate that they did look at several options to justify the cost.

    7. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Mostly normal. They want to make sure you really do need the chair (hence note from doctor/PT) and that the chair they buy specially for you is one that will work for you specific condition. Most likely there are a bunch of people that can claim they need a better chair and if there is some work involved only those who really do need it are going to do the leg work.
      Also – DO THE TEST RUN!!!!!

    8. AnonMarketer*

      I have a hearing issue that, when I worked government, required a specialized phone with T-coil (granted, this phone took MONTHS to get, and when they finally said, “Okay, time to order!”, I was already making a move to leave my job, but that’s another issue entirely).

      1) Yup, that’s normal. They want to make sure you have the issue you mentioned. Doctors, PT’s, etc. are used to writing these things.

      2) I had to do this for the phone, meaning I needed to do all the backend research (what worked with my hearing aids, what worked with the current IT setup, etc.). It was a real pain, but I think the disabilities office wasn’t used to my request.

      3) ??? I can’t imagine why they’d want this other than it’s an extra step of security to make sure you’re really asking for something you need. PIA for the doctor, too. :/

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Regarding #3, yep, I bet you’re right. They don’t want to hear, “whoops, wrong chair.” They are going to say, “we got you exactly what you asked for”.

    9. LCL*

      It sounds like you are dealing with an HR person that isn’t used to people needing furniture other than the standard. It is new to her, so she is making it overcomplicated because she is overthinking it. “oh my. ADA compliance and workers’ comp and FMLA and accessability and we need a policy and procedure and records!”

      I work for the government. One thing we are good at is getting furniture that fits people, if it is available. We don’t go through HR for this it all, it is a function of facilities, the group that provides equipment and maintenance. Just ask your HR person if you can talk to facilities and order a freakin’ chair.

      If your company is small and it really is an HR job, ask her to set up a visit to the furniture warehouse where you can try different chairs and pick the best fit. Take the HR person with you, so she can see how simple this really is.

    10. AMT 2*

      This is normal – a coworker had a similar problem recently and HR wanted a doctors note including specific recommendations of what she needed – it saves the company from having someone order something that they *think* is what you need but is misinterpreted, and ensures that they are getting the thing that you actually need. The PT shouldn’t have a problem with this, it seems like normal procedure from what I’ve seen.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I have a friend who works in government and her solution was to buy the chair herself. The office put her allotted chair away so she could bring hers in. When she leaves the job then the chair goes with her because she owns it.

    12. Riley*

      Chairs are super expensive. In fact, most chairs start at $550 and ergonomic chairs can run upwards of $1k since they need to be highly adjustable. Most chairs are not labeled as ergonomic so the company may not know what you need. One the chair is ordered it can take 4-6 weeks to arrive. If the employee rejects the chair, you are back to buying another $1k chair that you hope works for them. Try going to a furniture showroom or furniture company to test some out, and do some research. Highly adjustable is key. If I were the company, I would want documentation as well. It proves that they’re listening to your needs and it shows that someone has looked at your issue. I can tell you that if an employee gets a chair, that’s different than all the rest, people will want it. You may also need to lock the chair up while on vacation because people will borrow it without permission. I would buy my own ergonomic chair and take it from job to job and everyone is happy. Can’t afford it? Try a standing desk, most offices can accommodate a standing desk a lot easier but can be just as costly. I bought a stand that sits on top of my desk which converts it to a standing desk (amazon $140) because I want to take it with me.

    13. Belle diVedremo*

      This makes sense to me, if cumbersome.

      I’d want my PT or an ergonomics expert to look at me in multiple chairs and provide feedback. Combine that with my comfort level in each chair. (If your PT can’t do that with you, get a description of what s/he’d look for, and use your phone to have photos taken of you in each that you try. Then send the PT those photos, and make your own notes as to relative comfort.)

      Then, yes, you want to test it over time. Something comfortable for 5 minutes may not be comfortable any longer at 2-3 days. You want to test chairs in your usual sitting position/s. Rather like trying on clothes and *not* holding your X in, then finding the clothes aren’t as comfortable when you’re no longer holding in X.
      Chair companies are doing right by you to offer a week trial. You should definitely take them up on it. Do not let sticker shock influence your choices. Company hired you to be productive, not less-productive-because-of-crappy-for-you-chair.

  16. Mimmy*

    *Posted this super-late last week, so I’m re-posting to get more input (thank you to the two people who already replied!)*

    Should I keep my social work license?

    Every two years I have to renew my LSW, which involves maintain a certain number of CE units. The current license cycle ends in a month, and I only have about half of the credits I need (unless I can figure out whether any of my advanced certificate courses will count; they are not social work-specific, but some of the content could have some relevance).

    I face this dilemma every two years because I don’t feel like I’ve done *true* social work, but am hesitant to walk away from the field. It’s a wonderful field and I’ve met some awesome people. However, I just don’t know if there is a place for me in social work anymore, at least in a capacity where a license is required.

    On the one hand, I see people with all levels of social work degrees in a whole gamut of roles, from individual therapy to policymaker. So it does seem to be a versatile field. However, I don’t feel there have been adequate efforts to promote this versatility, especially in continuing education contexts. So many of the CE courses I see target clinical social workers. There are some nonprofit and public management programs, but I don’t want to go into management either.

    I remember someone saying years ago that, even if you were to lose your license, you will never lose your academic credential, in my case, the MSW. So that part is reassuring. I’m just not sure if there’s any point in maintaining a license if I end up in a role or roles where it’s not needed or a role that requires a different license/credential.

    What say you, AAM hive mind? :)

    1. Dangerfield*

      Do you know how easy it would be to regain your license if you wanted it? In my field, that can be a pain in the ass – on the other hand, getting the CPD units done is also a pain in the ass, so you need to weigh up a definite PITA vs a possible one.

    2. Ordinary Worker*

      Keep it until you’re SURE you don’t want it anymore… it’s much easier to do CE courses than to get a new license!

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Is it, though?

        In MN, if your license has lapsed for less than a year, you just pay the fee and you’re good. More than a year, you complete the application form and pay the fee, and *maybe* retake the licensure exam if you originally took it more than 8 years prior. The other requirements for licensure are a degree or accreditation program, which doesn’t expire, and X clinical supervision hours which also don’t expire.

        Continually paying for CE credits and license renewal fees are not an insignificant expense for a credential the OP isn’t using.

      2. Sarah Nicole*

        I agree with Ordinary Worker. Until you’re positive you won’t want to take a new job that requires the license, I’d say do everything you can to keep it. Hypothetically, let’s say you saw a job positing for a job you’d really love to do, and it has all the perks you want, and it’s in the area you want…but they require the license. Wouldn’t you be kicking your own booty about letting that license lapse? Just a thought, you may already know for sure this wouldn’t happen, but I’m a fan of leaving all options open. Good luck!

      3. anotherMSW*

        And might cost extra money since you might have to pay to retake the licensing exam. If you are an NASW member they offer free online CEUs in a range of areas- not sure if you’ve gotten enough in-person CEUs or not. But I’m trying to transition away from direct work but will probably maintain my license as long as it doesn’t become financially difficult because it leaves more opportunities open, and its an accomplishment I’m proud of!

    3. SophieChotek*

      I agree – how hard is it to renew. Do you have to take lots of expensive classes to renew each year? Or just if you let it lapse and want to renew it?

      In this economy, if it’s not too great an expensive and too great a time commitment, I would tend to err on the side of keeping it, to keep as many job opportunities open. But if the type of work you want would never require it, then maybe not.

      I’m really early in my career and still trying to find my way, so that affects my perspective.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      Do you have an option to go inactive? I have a different professional license and I can notify the board that I will not be practicing this year and they will freeze the license for up to two years. Once I’m ready to return, I do some paperwork, get my CEs up to date and I can be put back into active status.

    5. Happy Lurker*

      Can you easily afford the licensing renewal fee? If it is a real burden on your budget to pay the renewal, then skip it. If you can afford it fairly easily, keep it.
      I have had a professional license active for over 20 years and I have no intention of going back to that field; but I am not giving up that license. I worked too hard for it and it is not a burden for me to renew it now.

    6. Lurky McLurkerson*

      Would it be possible to put your license under inactive status instead of letting it lapse? In Florida I know for med tech’s (which I know is a totally different job) we are able to put our licenses under inactive status rather than letting them expire because its a lot harder and more expensive to go back to getting it active one you let it expire, in case you ever changed your mind. And if you ever do change your mind you can just complete your CEUs pay a smaller fee and re-activate it.

      It would be worth looking into! Good luck!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I vote for hanging on to as much as you can until you determine you do not need it. A friend has a law degree. She let her license slide because she would have needed many, many credit hours of CE to keep it active. At that point, she was not in good health. As you say here, she still has the degree, that does not go away just because she gave up the license.

      I know in the financial arena you can let some licenses slide and you have five years or so to get it back without redoing the test.

      Why not find out if your courses can be applied to the license this time? Be an opportunist and buy yourself some time in figuring out what you should do.

  17. Callietwo*

    I’m in a weird place at work right now- my supervisor has been let go for reasons unbeknownst to the staff and completely out of the blue… to me she was a fantastic supervisor, firm but fair. But they’re not replacing her, instead promoting a few of us to senior roles which will not include supervisory responsibilities and we’ll all report to the director of the company for the time being.
    I’ve applied and been told they should be interviewing in the next few weeks. I’ve been studying the How to Interview guide, going over the new job description line by line and feel I have a handle on that but I have a question that is probably a silly thing to worry about but does one do handshakes with people you’re interviewing with when it’s an internal position, and in a smallish company? (maybe 100 totally throughout all locations)
    It would feel weird to handshake, the employees are more likely to hug each other when we see someone (though never the director or HR person) so I’m at a loss as to how to approach this and then feel silly worrying about something as trivial. How would you greet an interviewer(s) in this situation?

    1. Anony*

      I would still go with a handshake. Internal interviews have a somewhat different professionalism standard than day-to-day workplace norms and a hug could be seen as unprofessional and could also just be awkward.

    2. Leatherwings*

      You’re overthinking it :)

      If they offer a handshake, make it a firm and professional one. It might also just be appropriate to greet them verbally and head into the interview room. Definitely no hugging though. Just follow their lead and know that something like this isn’t going to make or break you.

      1. Callietwo*

        Oh no! I didn’t mean I planned to hug them, I never considered that! I was just trying to make clear the culture is not one that tends towards handshakes in general! I’ve never once hugged or considered hugging the director or HR ! eek! They are very nice people but yeah, that wouldn’t be professional at all!

        Not knowing the reasons behind the dismissal of my former supervisor has me worrying about everything and the handshake is something I can in some ways, control I guess.

        1. zora.dee*

          You probably don’t need to do handshakes at all then. They are usually for meeting someone for the first time. Since you know everyone, you can all just say “hi, nice to see you.”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I agree. A handshake might seem weird in this setting. Follow their lead as another poster advised. Focus on being warm and excited about the job. Let your words show how you feel.

  18. F.*

    I have written many times about the dysfunctional company for which I work, but it has finally come down to possibly not getting paid on schedule. We are to be paid today, and instead of direct deposit, we will all get live checks. Whoever gets to the bank first gets paid, as there is not enough money in the account to cover everyone. I will be driving across town to the nearest branch of the bank on which the check is written (not my bank) and getting CASH to deposit in my bank account. The job search has begun, but after hours online last night, I have realized that there are precious few jobs in my area for which I am qualified. Getting hired in my mid-50s with over 16 years of post-child-raising admin/office mgr/HR experience will make it that much more difficult. I’m too damn old to start over at $12/hr!! (and that’s assuming anyone will even look at me for being “over-qualified”)

      1. F.*

        Oh, they’re not telling everyone there is not enough money, but I do not want to be on the receiving end of a bounced payroll check.

        1. Lalaland*

          How exactly do you know this?

          I once had this happen at work, the boss made a comment to someone who owe’d money to the company that we couldn’t make payroll if they didn’t pay up. Well it spread like wildfire… people edeposited their cheques as soon as they hit their desk, tears were shed, lawyers/government was called in whispers – but every cheque cleared.

          Most businesses have sufficient overdrafts/credit to cover payroll when the account is short on cash.

          1. Beezus*

            Can confirm. I worked for a bank, and we had agreements with some of our small business customers to allow a reasonable level of overdraft to cover payroll now and then. They usually worked something out in advance with the loan officer who handled their other small business loans. It could either be a single instance, or a standing agreement. We’d add a note to the account like “OK to overdraft for July 2016 payroll checks, limit -$5,000, per loan officer John Smith”

            1. F.*

              Unfortunately, I work for a company that is at the very end of the rope with the bank. Fortunately, we got enough in checks in today’s mail to cover everyone. I really need to get out of this place for somewhere with more stability.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Uh, no, sorry. Companies don’t always work something out so payroll is covered…. This was a larger company of 300 plus people, also.

              These things happen. For example the person who is embezzling from the company, let’s say the CEO, goes into the hospital and is not there to move funds around to make sure things are covered.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      First, that sucks.

      Second, call the bank first and ask, if you haven’t done this before. 20+ years ago this wouldn’t have been a problem, but banks are getting so fee-hungry that I’ve actually been told that they won’t cash a check for me if I don’t have an account there, even if it’s drawn on that bank! I think they also want the processing time to look for fraud.

      Good luck!

    2. Kelly White*

      I had a job, and this happened all the time. Often paychecks wouldn’t clear. Insurance wasn’t paid (if you went to the doc while the insurance had lapsed, the owner paid your bill out of pocket).

      Keep looking- and get out.

  19. Lalaland*

    Should I get a bachelor degree for the sake of doing it?

    I have a 3 year college diploma in business and my old coordinator informed me that as of next year I will no longer be eligible for the advanced placement university transfer with a reputable university… it gives 2/4 years worth of credits towards a bachelor in business administration and the remainder taken through correspondence.

    I am not 100% sure I want to continue with a business career and may go back to school in a few years for a different area… but then I may also continue and miss opportunities because I do not have a BA. A BA could also give me a better chance when switching careers as well.

    I have enough time in the evenings to take on 1-2 classes per semester and it wouldn’t put me in financial ruin, money would be tighter but I can afford $1500-$3000 per year for the classes.

    I have hesitations with this just because I don’t need it at the moment, not sure if I’ll need it in the future, but don’t want to need it in a few years and then not have it.

    1. Ordinary Worker*

      Many jobs require a BA of any kind so if I’m understanding correctly and you’ve got 3 years of school out of the way, finish it up and get the degree. Don’t lose the work you’ve already put in and it can help out in the future.

      (coming from someone who DIDN’T finish their degree)

    2. LadyKelvin*

      Personally, I would get it. A lot of jobs don’t care what kind of degree you have, as long as you have one. A business degree is what was suggested to us when I was picking a major if we didn’t know what to major in. That’s because it gives a lot of education on a broad topic that is really applicable to a lot of different things. My SIL has an associates degree and is only 2-3 classes from a bachelor’s but doesn’t see the point in finishing since she doesn’t like school. Instead I’ve watched her jump from minimum wage temp job to temp job as she finds that no one wants to hire someone without a bachelor’s degree. Now she has a steady full time job, but she works as a factory line worker and is perpetually exhausted from the manual labor. She’s a hard worker and could do many jobs but she is held back because she doesn’t have the right degree.

      1. Lalaland*

        Problem is I do not have a degree at all. All I have is a college diploma, which sadly isn’t classed as a degree despite 3 years of education.

        1. Reba*

          In that case it sounds like a good idea to pursue The BA. You seem to have thought through a lot of what it would take for you to get it done feasibly! As long as it is financially sustainable I say go for it. I would hate to let that transfer opportunity pass, there is a lot of value in two years of courses.
          I agree with other commenters that the major or what the degree is in isn’t so important. The credential is the door opener. Good luck!

          1. Reba*

            Edit re: major unimportant — except in the sense that it should be something you care about/are interested in enough that it keeps your motivation up when it feels like the rewards (degree and future successes) are a long way off.

            1. Lalaland*

              I had never really thought about it like that… I was getting a bit hung up in my head with a business degree mainly opening business related doors rather than getting the credential of just having a BA.

              I feel like this at least makes sense. Even though I am not head over heels in love with business, it is what I have already studies and actually worked in… so that’ll at least help me push through the classes.

    3. Lolly Scramble*

      Any BA will give you more options and if you don’t do it you may regret it. It sounds like you feel it’s a good idea you just want second opinions in which case I say go for it.

    4. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Since you are pretty close and it wouldn’t be a financial or time hardship I would do it. If you can specialize within your BA (i.e. accounting, finance, marketing, etc…vs general business) that might take a bit more time but be more beneficial in the long run. Plus if you do decide to go back later for a different degree having the full BA can get you past a lot of general courses which will save you time.

      1. Lalaland*

        I guess it really is a bonus that if I do go back and do a different degree for a new career that I’ll probably be able to knock out all of the general courses from my timetable. I hadn’t really thought of that as an additional benefit to doing this.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I’d do it. Even if you don’t finish the BA immediately, if your credits are accepted now, they will at least be transferred successfully.
      I got a bachelors just because all jobs in my field require it, and if anything were to happen, I wanted to be ready. And now that I have the degree, I realized that I can easily move to another job if something special pops up.
      I finished an online program at WGU and it worked perfectly for me. Not to push it, but if you’ve already carved out the time needed for classes, then you could probably finish out your degree in a semester or two at WGU.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      I work in higher ed. Please, do it for the sake of your future career. Your undergraduate degree has no bearing on what you do professionally– for example, I was a history major! But these days, you’ll be blackballed from many jobs if you don’t have a degree. It would be in your career’s best interests.

    7. BabyAttorney*

      I’d do it, especially if it’s a reputable university. Doubly so if you can do it without going into debt for it. Most people end up in careers different from their bachelor’s anyway–my father is an attorney and his bachelor’s was in something like far east and Russian political history. A lot of places look at a BA as a perfunctory affirmation that you can keep at something relatively difficult for a set period of time, not necessarily that it better “prepares” you for most anything. (This is a little different when talking about medical or hard sciences, but just about everything else out there.)

      Look at it this way: there are many things in life that can be taken away from you with little control on your part. A job, an apartment, chattel, whatever. Nobody can ever take your degree away from you once you’ve earned that, and it’ll follow you everywhere.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      If you don’t need it now, then now is the time to finish it. A year’s worth of work is nothing you are going to pull out of thin air if you suddenly decide you need a degree.

      Having a degree will give you more options if your setting suddenly changes.

      A business degree is not all bad, you will be able to use in it in a variety of ways. It may help you make level-headed, well thought out decisions that may even improve your personal circumstances also.

      Once you have it, no one can take it away from you. It’s always yours.

  20. Cassidy*

    I feel like if I’m not busy 100% of the day that people will feel like I’m slacking. My boss is happy with my performance, I get great reviews & feedback and all of my work is done on time. I feel like I have been less busy this year than ever before and occasionally I have days when I have nothing to do, other than check emails or answer the phone. I would put in for vacation, but I had to burn a 75% of that earlier this year when my sister had cancer surgery and needed someone to stay at the hospital with her and then I ended up sick the next week!

    How do you feel if your coworkers are less than busy than you? Do you feel like they are slacking off or not pulling their weight? If it matters, I am an admin to the director but I think office manager is a better description of what I do.

    1. AnonMarketer*

      I work as a designer, so I either have a whirlwind of projects or slack time. There seems to be no in-between, just one or the other. Who controls your workflow? Honestly, I’d reach out to them and go “Hey, I’ve got X amount of time to help with various projects this week. What needs action that someone hasn’t picked up on or needs help with?” OR, just reach out to your team directly and ask to lend a hand with your extra time. Usually SOMEONE needs help on a crunch project and will rope you in.

      If not, you can “help improve processes”, organize your inbox, etc. etc.

    2. HRwannabe*

      Can you come up with a new project to work on? One that isn’t urgent or time sensitive, but you can work on it during your down time? Or can you ask your boss if there are any projects that he could use help with?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It doesn’t really matter what others think, it matters what you think because you have to live with your own thinking.

      Remember when you “feel” like you are slacking if you are not 100% busy all day long, that is ALL that is, A Feeling. It could be some rule a rigid person once told you OR it could be tied to your sense of self-worth. Reality is that very, very, very few people work 100% of their work day.

      What to do.
      Keep a running list of things that need work during busy times. During slow times, pull out the list and start at the top.

      Counter-intuitively, when you are busy, stop. Pause. Even if it is for three minutes. Just to show yourself that the earth will keep revolving if you are not working 100% of the time.

      For the moment, either take an online course or do some research into ideas or products you think might be good for work. Clean/organize your desk, files, work space. Update your password list, contact list and other lists. Write a manual for the next person doing your job. One person I know who worked in government had enough time to write a history booklet of her municipality during work hours. The booklet got printed and the proceeds went to a local NPO that serves the community.

      It’s easy to get use to having our time planned for us- our day fills up with demands from those around us. When that goes away for whatever reason, it can be a bit of a jolt. Build a plan. Because of the way I process, I usually build my overall plan at home during my off hours. I can’t be in the space to see the big picture, I physically have to leave the place. Then I review what is annoying to work with; what slows me down; what do I constantly lose; and what do I need and for some reason it is never, ever handy. I get a vision of how to rearrange so that things flow a little easier. When I return to work, I start arranging to match the vision I have found.

  21. Scheduling Question*

    How long do you “hold” time slots provided to a prospective employer?
    Mid-last week Company A asked me for availability for an onsite interview this week. I provided several times scattered throughout the week. By Monday, I hadn’t heard back from them, but Companies B and C were also asking for times I would be available to interview. How long should I have held the times that I had given Company A before providing them as options for Companies B and C?
    I was able to work around it, and Company A never got back to me so it’s a bit of a moot point, but I’m hoping for some insight from all of you for future reference. Thanks!

    1. BuildMeUp*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t hold time slots at all.

      If Company B or C wants to interview you and you haven’t heard back from Company A, I would proceed as if Company A is no longer a possibility. As you found out, you might not even hear back from Company A – what if you had held a time for them and missed out on an interview with another company as a result?

      If you do schedule another interview during a time slot they gave you, I would email or call them and let them know you’re no longer available during that time.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        Seconded. If you schedule another interview during the time(s) you told the first company, just email them to let them know, and provide more times if appropriate. That also gives you a courteous way to attempt contact again during a time when you might not ordinarily get the chance.

  22. Rory Gilmore's Book*

    Asking this for my husband…

    He manages a retail store and has a problem employee, his assistant manager. In a nutshell, the AM is lazy, rude to other staff and customers and doesnt follow rules. My husband and his manager are trying to figure out how they can let him go.

    The AM also complains about his paycheck every week, saying its not enough to live on. My husband cant do anything about his pay. The AM doesn’t handle money well at all.

    Today, the AM called my husband and threatened to commit suicide over his money issues. My husband offered up EAP and the AM refused, saying he just needs money. My husband doesn’t know what to do.

    1. Artemesia*

      The company should have procedures for hiring and firing. This guy needs to be fired; he is not only lazy and rude, he is manipulative. Your husband as manager should know the company procedure for hiring and firing. Since he doesn’t he needs to find out. The first step is to contact his superior and say something like ‘AM is not working out — he is rude to customers and staff and doesn’t follow through on his responsibilities, I need to have him on progressive discipline with a view to terminating his employment. How should I proceed?’ At that point he will get a clue about whether immediate termination is possible or what the steps are or if the company is unable to manage these type issues. He also needs to be sensitive to security issues. A person who has threatened violence is someone who is a risk to other employees; he will want to have security in place when the guy is fired and also security procedures afterwards.

      1. Rory Gilmore's Book*

        My husband and his manager have been in contact with HR for several months about AM’s behavior. The AM is in his early 50’s and the company is worried about the AM suing for age discrimination. My husband and his manager have been documenting everything and trying for months to build a case to fire him.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If they’ve been documenting, then they have proof of his poor performance and issues. You can absolutely fire someone in a protected class for performance issues. You just can’t do it because of the reason they’re in it, in this case his age. If I were your husband and/or his manager, I’d be sure to point out that they have legitimate reasons and that those are on record.

    2. Cafe au Lait*

      He calls the police, and reports a possible suicide. The police will manage it from there.

      1. Lemon Zinger*


        If the guy is serious, he needs help. If he’s not, he needs to know the consequences of saying things like that.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, this.

        This is called emotional blackmail. Tell your husband to decide not to play. Not playing means that he assumes people are adults and he takes them at their word. This person is threatening suicide, he needs to report it. Adults are responsible for the words coming out of their mouths.

        When you say your husband and his manager, I assume his manager is a district manager? Then the DM should be able to find some resources with the home/district office or the HR department. Barring that, the DM should call corporate and see what they say.

    3. TCO*

      I think your husband also needs to make sure that his manager and HR are informed about the suicide threat. That’s serious stuff.

    4. cjb1*

      We literally just had this happen last week at our small company. The employee actually sought help willingly, however, was only trying to get in to see a Dr. When EAP was contacted and his Dr could not see him for 2 weeks, the EAP spoke with HR immediately and the employee was taken to the ER and involuntarily committed for a few days. He came out with a diagnosis, meds and a path for success. He is happy with what happened just a week later.

      What I would probably consider doing (even if it is uncomfortable for me to feel like I might be “meddling” too much, because I’d rather feel uncomfortable than risk someone actually going through something like this).
      -If there appears to be immediate danger, call 911. Involuntary treatment may be needed until they get through the crisis.
      -Consult at once with HR, security, risk management or the appropriate resource within your
      -Consider calling the employee’s emergency contact person to alert them of the concerns
      so they can be sure the person is not left alone until the crisis passes. If the employee works offsite or is not at work on the day you learn of the suicide risk, don’t wait until their next day of work.

      Lastly, I’m not a Dr, but with all of these personality traits and the threat, this is very likely a much larger condition and the AM should seek help from a counselor, psychologist or something. I feel like these traits are symptoms of a personality disorder, mental condition and/or depression or anxiety.

      I hope both the AM and your husband can get help to deal with this situation.

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I’m guessing (could be totally wrong but this is my take) that he isn’t suicidal but trying to guilt your husband into giving him a raise or bonus or something. Fire him for attempted extortion.

      1. Artemesia*

        This and by reporting him for commitment suddenly you have an ADA issue and are stuck with a manipulative, lazy, rude AM.

      2. Rory Gilmore's Book*

        Bingo. The reallt outrageous part is that AM is one of the highest paid AM’s in the region…he makes almost as much as my husband, though AM doesnt know that.

        AM has guilted my husband into loaning him money before (this was before we were married). Once my husband saw how terribly the AM managed his money (i.e. eating out every meal, buying a $700 cell phone, not paying his child support, etc), he has never loaned him a dime.

        1. mander*

          Ah. So this complaining seems to me to be just an attempt to get your husband to give the AM money. I’d take the suicide threat seriously but it also raises the possibility that it is nothing more than a manipulation technique.

    6. Leatherwings*

      In this case, you need to contact HR at the retail location. This guy NEEDS to be let go, but because of the suicide call, it needs to be handled by someone who can navigate the situation and any liability involved.

      In the future, I think this is something that needed to be handled much earlier – this behavior is egregious.

    7. BRR*

      If he is dragging their feet or resisting my suggestion always is “AM is doing a,b and c. I’ve told him what he needs to work on and he has made no progress. What do I need to do to let him go?”

    8. Belle diVedremo*

      Would your husband benefit from talking with someone at the EAP himself?
      EAP is generally focused on the immediate client, but your husband could ask:
      – How to manage someone trying to use emotional blackmail; that is, how to stay on track without letting the AM upend the conversations/store/customers?
      – How to learn where the legal/formal requirements are (corp or otherwise)? Eg, on receiving the threat, should he call 911 as a suicide threat?
      – How to find the line between protecting other staff and self, and not cutting AM off entirely?
      – How to keep a practical eye on his workplace without letting AM’s emotional drama interfere?

  23. Not a Real Giraffe*

    We’re interviewing for a junior level position on our team. I am only a part of the final round process – basically, if my boss and the senior person on our team like a candidate, I get brought in for a quick 10-minute chat to assess team fit. I’m fine with this format, but am finding that my boss, the senior staffer, and I are all on totally different pages about what we’re looking for in a candidate. Ultimately, my boss gets to make the final call, but how do we better align what we’re looking for in a hire?

    1. CMT*

      Talk about it? Have conversations about what your priorities are for a new hire and why.

  24. Daffy Buttinsky*

    Hi everyone! I’m in an open cube area and sit next to a team member who outranks me but is not my boss. We both started six months ago. She is 20 years older than me (30 years in the workforce to my 10) and keeps trying to take me under her wing, despite her not understanding my work or career interests/trajectory. She’s dismissive of everyone generally, but with me specifically keeps trying to teach me things I don’t need to be taught. I handle this feedback by gently reminding her of my expertise, saying no politely to offers to “work on things together” and engaging with her as the professional I am. My boss is not willing to engage in interpersonal matters and is in denial that my coworker is annoying everyone else, so I am careful to only bring up issues directly related to my projects as necessary and to continue to hold my ground on my own.

    My question is: she’s annoying the ever-loving you-know-what out of me, and I don’t know how to stop being annoyed. It’s a face-time environment and we can’t work from home. I have resorted to letting off steam with similarly annoyed coworkers (she’s dismissive to everyone and doesn’t listen when you talk) but I’m worried it’s spiraling into gossiping that is too negative for my overall attitude toward this job. Any advice?

    1. Purple Jello*

      Can you ask your manager if she’s been tasked to mentor or assist you? If she says no, then can you gently ask your team member if there is a problem with your work that she’s been asked to assist you with? With a slightly puzzled look when you ask the question. You could also mention that your boss is okay with your projects.

      1. Daffy Buttinsky*

        I know coworker has not been tasked to mentor me, and I have thought about telling my manager about my unwanted “mentorship” problem, but she’s not responsive generally when I bring up smaller versions of this in our one-on-ones (e.g., “coworker asked me to do [thing she clearly should not be asking], how do you want me to handle it”). Manager will say “that’s not your responsibility” but not be willing to address larger patterns of coworker asking/telling me these things in the first place.

        So I’m just annoyed. It’s the only piece of all the absurd office-ness of this place that’s really getting to me.

        1. Sarah Nicole*

          Is there a chance your boss still doesn’t really see the pattern? I’d bring that up to her in the way you’ve described here, as a pattern that is causing you a lot of grief during the day and distracting you from doing good work. That might help perk up your boss’s ears and she might do something about it if she is made aware that it’s not just a couple of small situations, but an ongoing big problem.

          1. Daffy Buttinsky*

            It’s more that this is one of the ways my manager is lacking as a manager, so it’s less that I haven’t told her it’s a problem as it is that given everything else I know about her management style it’s just going to make her feel uncomfortable and insecure, and she’s going to continue to be in denial about it being a problem. She’s very hands off, which is great in terms of deadlines for projects, and trusting I’ll get my work done, but doesn’t want to deal with any of the team-building or personality-management pieces of being a manager. My working relationship with this coworker is one of the better ones in the office, too.

            1. Sarah Nicole*

              I see. Well perhaps you can just have a sit down with Coworker? Tell her that when she does these things, it really distracts you and upsets you, and that you need her to focus on her own work and not yours. I’d also let her know that you already have a mentor (even if you don’t), because that might surprise her and make her feel awkward enough to leave you alone. If she’s dismissive, I’d honestly ask your manager if you can speak with Coworker’s boss about the problem as it isn’t getting any better and just see what your manager says. Unless your manager is also her boss??

              1. Daffy Buttinsky*

                Also her boss. Also this coworker doesn’t understand social cues, and we sit in an open office in a chatty department. It really does amount to me figuring out how not to feel annoyed at the constant boundary enforcement. Thank you, though!

                1. Sarah Nicole*

                  I feel for you, sometimes situations come with no real good ways to solve them. I suppose I’d try to be a little clearer with your coworker if you can, and maybe even make her feel awkward about bring this up. Like saying, “Are you really suggesting I need your help with this project?” Or, “I’ve been clear about not needing your help many times before. What can I say to convince you I have my work under control?” Other than that, I hope it resolves itself somehow or you find peace in the situation!

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I’d bring it up with your manager, once, so that in the future you can truthfully say “Jane, I already know how to do this, and according to Cersei you’re not training me, so I’m going to handle it on my own, thanks.”

          But if there’s a way to stop being annoyed, I’d love to hear it. I don’t think that’s something we’re in charge of. We can decide how we react to emotions, but not emotions themselves.

        3. Sadsack*

          Next time she offers assistance with something, nicely ask her, “Why do you ask?” Or, “What gives you the impression that I need help with that?”. Then just let her respond and make sure she is paying close attention when you remind her why you don’t need the help.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I like this a lot.
            “I am working on X why would I need to know about Y?”
            “That does not apply to what I do, but thanks anyway.”
            “I am sure that if the boss wants me to do A then he will tell me. Right now I am assigned to work on just B.”

            “I get my instructions for the boss [other person assigned to you], so I am good here.”

        4. Mustache Cat*

          It’s possible that Boss doesn’t actually get what you’re asking. It kinda sounds, from the way you phrased it, that you’re treating Coworker’s suggestion as valid and something to consult Boss about on it’s own merit, when the real question you’re asking is “I don’t want her asking/telling me about this. How do I get her to stop?” I’d be more straightforward about addressing the overall pattern.

          1. Mustache Cat*

            Although now having said that, this is a conversation I would have with Coworker first rather than Boss.

            1. Daffy Buttinsky*

              Thanks Mustache Cat and everyone!

              So I’m realizing I’m coming off as a shrinking violet here, whereas what I’m dealing with is more someone who doesn’t understand social cues and sits next to me. I don’t have any trouble enforcing my boundaries, but Boss has been told “Coworker is dismissive of others and it’s affecting working relationships” by people for whom this is a legitimate work productivity problem and not just being annoyed at sitting next to her, and has refused to address it by anything other than acknowledging it’s been said.

              I brought up the work-related issue for the few projects that we have crossover for, because that’s the only part where I think I have an in for addressing it in any concrete way, but really, she’s annoying in a “doesn’t understand the culture of the office” way, and doesn’t listen to people and I often have to wait her out until she processes what I’ve said and she realizes I’m right. It’s the waiting, and constant boundary enforcement, that is annoying. But letting this type of personnel issue fester is a problem with this office generally, so I know that I have to figure out a way to deal with it for the time I’m here. Hence, how do I not feel annoyed?

              1. Artemesia*

                Can you have a big picture discussion with her where you very clearly describe the pattern and that it gets in the way of your productivity and identify what precisely you need her to stop doing. Then when she does it, you can literally say ‘this is what I was talking about, please stop doing this.’ followed by ‘there you go again.’ followed by a hand held up in a stop gesture as you ignore her?

                As I always say ” it is ALWAYS bad management when problems endure in a workplace.’

                1. Daffy Buttinsky*

                  Unfortunately, that would involve her listening to me when I describe the pattern, which, I don’t think she’ll do based on how she doesn’t listen to me at first pass for projects we both have to work on together.

                  For example, I’ll give her my part of the project and say, I did X because of Y, I trust you have it from here. She’ll brush it off or tell me it was wrong and then look at it and come back with, “Oh, you did X because of Y! Thank you! [something vaguely but not concretely patronizing].” If we’re talking about behavior it’ll be harder to get her to focus on what I’m telling her rather than whatever she’s making up in her head that I’m telling her. At least with projects they’re on paper and I can point to them.

                  Thank you, though–and I’m with you on the management issue. Everything else about this job is working well for me now, alas.

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      It sounds like your strategies with her are appropriate, but might need to be delivered with a little extra edge or in a more direct way. Maybe instead of politely saying no, telling her that you’ve been asked to complete (task) and intend to do it the way your experience dictates.

      Good luck- she sounds annoying. I don’t have any advice about the venting turning into gossip thing- I’m kind of a venter myself so I can’t comment on that.

      1. Daffy Buttinsky*

        Actually, this gets into another aspect of this, that maybe better illustrates my problem: she wanted to talk about an article in a trade-type publication she read, and “isn’t it interesting because [baldly attempting to be instructive.]” I said something along the lines of yes, based on my experience in high-level position at LastJob, I am surprised at X thing mentioned in the article. It’s actually this behavior that is the most annoying for me, but I can’t run to Boss and say, tell coworker to stop mentoring me under the guise of friendliness!

        1. Reba*

          Maybe in cases like that, don’t try to show her what you know, since you know she won’t get it. You don’t have to prove anything to this person! Perhaps non-responses to end the discussion instead of treating her like a normal conversation partner.


          1. Daffy Buttinsky*

            This does work with her, because she doesn’t know what to follow up with when the conversation veers from [thing I was planning to teach you], and she goes back to whatever she’s doing. It’s the initial contact that’s annoying.

            Also since it’s an open cube area people are just coming up to us and talking, so I was at my desk and she wanted to chat about this article and yelled over from her desk (common). If I enforced “don’t talk to me” with her only it would be pretty obvious and not really help my annoyance problem. This is a chatty bunch (which is a problem for another time).

            1. Reba*

              That does sound annoying! The yelling across from her desk would drive me bananas.

              Are headphones an option? Even if you don’t listen to anything they give you license to ignore. A colleague of mine just does white noise in her headphones.

              But yeah, ugh.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              “You know you are always trying to teach me something, even if it is not relevant to my work. Just so you are aware, while it does not bother me that much it can be offensive to other people. When I need help I will ask and this is how I roll. Going forward, when you try to automatically teach me something, I am going to say, ‘There you go, again.” as a reminder of our conversation right now.”

              And this is the route to go, I think. Identify a pattern and state what you are going to do going forward.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      The phrase you need to use is, “No Thanks, I’m good.”
      Do you want to watch me do X? No Thanks, I’m good.
      Let me teach you x. “No Thanks, I’m good.”
      Let’s work together on X. “No thanks, I’m good.”

      Say it politely, even cheerfully, and quit explaining. You don’t her an explanation, and it doesn’t seem to work anyway.

    4. Me2*

      There’s a good column on this somewhere on this website. I’ll see if I can find it and link it.

          1. Daffy Buttinsky*

            These are both great, thank you! Though fortunately/unfortunately, coworker is not doing anything objectively crossing a line, and another piece of this is she’s trying to “instruct” me on projects we’re working on together instead of what would be for a less-annoying coworker just regular feedback to a colleague. When she does cross lines, I push back and address it with my boss by forcing her hand to deal with it (which is why I phrase it as “how would you like me to handle it” because otherwise she’d just say “keep doing what you’re doing” instead of engaging with the problem). But the lines are so few and my boss so in denial that I think this is how it’s going to be for the rest of the time here, so how do I make the best of not being annoyed all day when coworker says hi or wants to talk about articles. Which, maybe, there is nothing to do but gossip.

            1. zora.dee*

              I totally get what you’re saying. I think it was last Friday we talked about how to deal when you are at BEC mode with people in your office. It had a lot of good tips about how to reframe things in your head to be less annoyed. Or pivot to other things mentally so that you don’t fester. I’ve been trying some of those tips and I’m much less frustrated with my coworkers this week.

              I think that’s where you need to concentrate now, is on helping yourself get over the annoyance so that you can just ignore this person and she doesn’t take up so much of your energy. Gossiping is probably just reinforcing the negativity and making it worse. :o(

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Am grinning you have asked a couple times how to stop getting annoyed.

              Try to understand that gossip is nothing more than adding another log on the fire, or in some cases, adding gasoline on the fire. It does not release the tension but rather gossip INCREASES the tension. And the flames burn hotter.

              See, being stuck is exhausting. It’s human nature to want to solve problems and rise above the situation. Gossiping is the same as being stuck.

              Redirect everyone who is trying to gossip with you. Tell them, “You need to tell HER not me. I am done talking about it.” Make the gossipers, confront the coworker with her own issues. It is not up to you to be the UN Peace Keeper, nor is it your job to help gossipers wallow in their own discontent. If this is not persuasive then please consider that the gossipers might want you to be as unhappy as they are and they are using this issue to get you there.

              Next. Let’s say Jane insists on teaching you about X. You never do X. Let the boss know that you are telling Jane to stop teaching you X. Then say, “I am telling you now, so if you hear complaints from Jane then you already know what I am doing and why.”

              With plans in place, you have freed up energy wasted on gossiping, explaining things to a deaf boss and so on. Look at all the wasted energy there. You now have energy to deal with Jane directly. “Jane, we will not be discussing Xs. Remember I told you I do not do Xs.”

              In an ideal world, you would work yourself into a place where you can say, “Jane it is rude to tell people things they already know.”

              Remember the rule of three. You see something three times you have a pattern and you can respond to that pattern. The longer you put it off the harder and harder it gets to change the pattern.
              Let’s say we are walking down a hallway together, you and I.
              I bump into you once. That’s an accident. I apologize, you forgive me. Life goes on.
              I bump into you a second time in the same walk down the hallway. That is carelessness/thoughtlessness on my part. I apologize and you say, “oh okay.”
              I bump into a third time, because it’s a long hallway and a long walk. That is when you say, “You need to stop.” And you are justified in saying so. I should have developed a plan where I would not bump you after the FIRST time I bumped you.

              Sometimes people space a behavior out so it is months between instances. The rule of three still applies. “Jane, you tried to show me about X awhile ago, remember what we said then? I don’t do X and you agreed not to try to teach me about it any more.”

              I hope this helps some. The longer things are allowed to ride the harder it is to change them. It could be that making some changes in what you are doing could be enough to cause her to change, sometimes that works. Start by not gossiping and by telling others they should go talk to her. When you talk about it less, you will probably find your agitation levels will go down some.

              1. Christopher Tracy*

                I like and agree with your advice about the gossiping. Gossiping doesn’t relieve stress, it just makes the situation worse.

  25. wet gremlin*

    Any early birds have advice on dealing with a 9 to 5? This is fully two hours behind my most productive window. I work out and try to do other things in the morning before work, but i feel like the day is just gone when I get home from work, the afternoon slump is murder (eating lunch at 1 instead of by my lifelong hangry prevention deadline of 11 doesn’t help), and I generally feel like I’m only working, performing life essentials, and sleeping…there is zero personal enrichment occurring. I can’t change my schedule at work.

    1. Birdie*

      I’m the same way! I try to reward myself with Starbucks for getting up earlier than 8:00 AM everyday. It’s a good motivator for me personally.

      1. Birdie*

        I am so sorry.. I read your question completely wrong. Did not get my coffee this morning ;)

    2. Lalaland*

      I feel the same. My mornings/evenings seem lost when I work 9-5, M-F.. and weekends just don’t rejuvenate me anymore.

      For me it is helping to squeeze special events into my days. Like today (first time ever) I didn’t cook my eggs but instead ran to a coffee shop to eat a bagel and donut before work. Last week I sprinted out of the office at 5 to get a piercing I wanted. A couple weeks back I left ‘sick’ after lunch and caught a matinee.

      Sometimes at lunch I rush to get a cone of ice cream, order a personal pizza to be delivered at work, or I hit the downtown shops right at 5.

      I am considering night classes to work towards a degree or even just personal development classes.

    3. Dawn*

      I re-frame my thought process around how my day “should” go- so typically when I’d leave work at 3 or whatever (when I could work 7-3) I’d do chores, cook, relax, etc. However, if I’m working 9-5, I “front-load” my day- so I wake up early and use my productive morning hours to do chores, do all the prep work for dinner, run errands, go to the gym, etc. That way when I leave work at 5 there’s nothing left to “do” with the rest of my day and I can focus on resting and enjoying my evening.

      1. Anomanom*

        +1 yes, this. I had to adapt around a couple co workers for about a year. They came in at 9 everyday, then stayed until 6 or 7, I was coming in at 7 and yet still working until after 6 with them. It was easier to adapt to their schedule then to get them onto mine. I found that if I just continued getting up at the same time, but going to the gym and starting laundry, loading the dishwasher, vacuuming, etc it made the fact that I would get home so much later much easier to deal with.

        1. Anomanom*

          Oh, also I used to fit in “personal enrichment” in the AM. I did 90% of the work for my grad program in the morning during that time before I ever went to work. My brain was at peak processing and no one could interrupt me. It was great. Now I am studying for a professional certification and am using the same approach.

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      Are you me?
      Try going for a walk in the morning. Do something productive for yourself before heading into work. Also have snacks in your desk for the 11 am hangry episodes.

    5. Marillenbaum*

      To the extent that I have the ability to schedule my work within my day, I aim to put the most detail-oriented work into my prime hours of office time, and move the less-pressing things to the hours when I know I’m not at my best. To mitigate the times when I’m riding the Struggle Bus, I insert awards: can I grab a cup of my favorite coffee? Go for a quick walk? Hide in a bathroom stall listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on my phone? And sometimes, I just acknowledge that it sucks, that I’m doing my best, and power through where I can.

    6. CMT*

      I have some flexibility with my schedule, so I start at 8 instead of 9. On days when I’m up at 5:30 and not working out, I make lunch/dinner in the morning and do dishes. It’s so nice to have dishes done before I get home in the afternoon. Oh, and sometimes I read in the mornings. It feels so luxurious! And I get more reading in because when I try to do it before bed I just fall asleep.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Have you tried resetting your internal clock? Some folks can do this. I tried resetting so I could work second shift and that was a nightmare. I ended up with feelings of loneliness and depression that I do not ordinarily have. I think that some people cannot make huge resets of their internal time clock like that. Just a theory. But a couple hours might be doable, if you focus on what you are doing to help your clock reset.

      Stay up a little later, sleep in a little more. This also involves shifting the times you eat.
      I would be well out of food by 1 pm, so I would definitely need a snack around 11:30 or so.
      Try to eat breakfast a little closer to when you leave the house. I know when I get up at 4 and eat breakfast at 5 then I am ready for lunch at 10. You can also consider foods that stay with you better such as proteins or protein drinks.

      Reframe what your day looks like when you get home from work. And also consider how much is actually realistic, do you think you should work 4o hours a week and totally remodel your house at night [or other big project]? If I had to guess, most people are working, doing the mere basics and sleeping. That is it.

  26. New-ish Reader*

    Recently my team made some changes. I was promoted (yay!!) and so was one of my peers. My peer “Jane” is now in charge of me. Jane and I used to go and have lunch together when we were peers. Is it now inappropriate for us to go out to have lunch together?
    I don’t see it as a problem, but I know with my old boss I would have never asked him to lunch… nor would he have asked me.

    1. Anony*

      Unless it’s a team lunch, it would potentially be seen as favoritism and probably too familiar for a manager/subordinate relationship. It’s not the most terrible thing to do, but I would not encourage it.

    2. Leatherwings*

      Well Jane does need to be careful of the optics of that. If Jane is in charge of multiple people, she needs to make sure she’s not creating an illusion (or a reality) of preferential treatment based on friendship.

      If it’s just you and Jane on a team, though then I don’t think it’s an issue.

      1. New-ish Reader*

        Right now she manages me and another team member. However that coworker is leaving our team and will not be replaced.

        I think I will only go out if it is a group lunch from now on. Thank you for input.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Unfortunately, Jane is now your supervisor. It would not look good to have non-working lunches with her.

    4. Show Me The Money*

      How big is your team? My boss frequently goes to lunch with a co-worker in my department (who my boss also manages) and it doesn’t bother me. They worked together long before I came along and are also friends outside of work. However, our team is small – there are only 4 of us – so this may make a difference.

  27. kraken*

    Last week I was offered a job in my field to my great relief, pending a background check. The background check has me worried, but I’m hoping it’s just silly anxiety on my part; I have nothing to hide. The reason I’m anxious is part of the background check is employment verification for my past jobs. The very first place I worked was a tiny start-up, and my manager (the owner) has a tendency to randomly disappear into the woods for months on end. He is the only person who still works there as the company down-sized due to lack of profits a few years ago. In case you were wondering, yes, the down-sizing/making no money and the boss abandoning the company for months at a time are very much connected.

    So of course the background-checker was unable to contact him, and neither was I. They asked me to confirm his contact info and send a W2 or a pay stub, which I did. I’m hoping that will be sufficient and I don’t get my offer rescinded. My old boss is a nice guy and I’m sure when he decides to rejoin civilization in two months he will be happy to verify everything, though by then it won’t matter. I’d just be so upset if my wannabe mountain man boss cost me a shot at really starting my career.

    1. Dawn*

      W2 should be fine. You said you worked there, you have proof that you did, and it’s not a huge deal that they can’t get in touch with the guy (I mean, it shouldn’t be a huge deal, some companies have a serious bug up their ass about employment verification). Even in the company I used to work at where they absolutely fine tooth combed everyone during their background check if you could produce W2’s proving you worked somewhere that was enough for them.

    2. jm*

      My husband’s new company used a 3rd party company to do an extensive background check. When the 3rd party had questions, they called/emailed my husband. The funny part was, they wanted to verify that my husband was self-employed for 10 years. I sent them business licenses and a few other documents, but they gave us a really hard time. In the end, he still got the job. The 3rd party company sent his new employer and us a copy of the background check, and they just put “unverified” by the period of time that he was self-employed.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If they use your SSN, they can see on the report that you worked there.

      You can’t be the first person to have a boss go MIA. They must be used to not being able to find a boss. I am sure you will be okay. Hang tough.

  28. Working to live, not living to work.*

    So I’m being recruited for a company, and they sent a summary of their benefits package ahead of the interview. This company, that praises their work-life balance, offers two weeks PTO. Three after one year, four weeks at six years. I get four weeks at my company now and in half a year that will be five. How in the world can they say they have work-life balance with two weeks pto?

    1. Leatherwings*

      Two weeks of total PTO, or two weeks of vacation + sick days and holidays?

      The latter isn’t so bad since it increases after the first year, but if it’s the former, then yeah work/life balance clearly isn’t something that they /actually/ value.

    2. Mel*

      Maybe they do other things like flexible schedules or telecommuting or not require you to use leave all the time.

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Work-life balance doesn’t strictly mean more PTO. It could mean they encourage flex-time, working from home, or discourage after hours work or weekend work. Maybe they don’t care if you put in a full 40 hours if you can get it done well in 35. Life isn’t a vacation. Work-life balance can mean you can tell your boss you have a dentist apt and not have to take PTO for it.
      My work has great work-life balance. I work approximately 8-5 but can flex that if needed for appointments and whatnot. They do not want me working when I am at home so no laptop and they discourage company email on a non-company phone. I get 2 weeks vacation plus another 6 days of sick/personal for a total of 3 weeks and a day per year that I can roll over if I don’t use it all. I don’t get contacted by anyone outside of work hours except for “hey wanna grab a drink” texts.
      Its not about being away from work – its about being able to leave work at work and not get snippy at real life interruptions.

    4. Ife*

      Yeah, that is not much PTO. Some companies are bone-headed about this and think that really is great, some say it’s great because that’s what they’re supposed to say, and some compensate by allowing you to work from home, use flex time, never call you on vacation, etc.

      If you are otherwise interested in the job, you could ask at the offer stage if you can get an extra week of PTO. Say that you already have four weeks at your current job, and vacation time is important to you. Could they come closer to the amount you currently have? (Of course you probably won’t be able to negotiate on salary too if you do this)

    5. writelhd*

      In my industry and area of the country, two weeks in the first year is pretty standard. Sometimes even above average. That’s basically what I got, except that I got four weeks after five years instead of six. Trying to negotiate for extra vacation instead of a higher salary may be an option in some cases.

    6. Working to live, not living to work.*

      Thanks all for the replies. It would be two weeks full PTO including sick time. They also don’t offer WFH or flextime, and the job is 40-50 hours a week and it wouldn’t be much of a bump in pay (most likely less than 10% up for me, probably somewhere around 5%). At my job right now I can get it done in a solid 40 hours a week, with very rare weekend work, and I’m almost at the magical five weeks PTO.

      This is sounding less and less like the right move for me, even if the position is more in line with the direction I want my career to go.

    7. Anonyby*

      That sounds like the policy at my company, which was imposed on us by our new parent company when we were purchased. I have no idea if it’s better or worse than what we had before as I was and still am too much of a part-timer to qualify for PTO. I do remember coworkers being unimpressed by it during the mandatory meeting to introduce the new policies to us. (They were also very unimpressed by what the other benefits were changed to, like medical.)

      My manager is very reasonable about using what PTO we have, but it’s still not much (unless you’re the type to never get sick and have been with the company for years). What sucks for me is that non-eligible years don’t count towards seniority when determining what you qualify for–which means if/when I get made FT, I’ll be starting at the bottom (despite all the years I’ve put into this place).

  29. The Mighty Thor*

    I work in the credit department of a Japanese-owned manufacturer. I’ve been here two years, and it’s my first “real” job out of college (I’m in my late twenties).

    Our department manager allows us to wear costumes to work on Halloween, and it’s a lot of fun.

    This past Halloween, I thought it would be fun to dress up as a ninja or samurai as it would look cool and there were some good, affordable costumes on Amazon.

    I then realized that as a Japanese-owned company with a number of on-site Japanese nationals working there (including the director of the entire Americas region), these costumes may come off as culturally insensitive. Especially considering I like to throw myself into the roll of my costume (mainly just talking like whoever I’m dressed as).

    Deciding it would be better to err on the side of caution, I wound up going as Batman instead.

    My question to you my fellow AAM readers (and Alison if you read this): Do you think I overreacted? Or was this a prudent decision that saved me from appearing unprofessional?

    1. KatieKate*

      I think you kept yourself from ending up as a article that gets shared around facebook. Stick to non-cultural/stereotypical costumes from here on out and you’ll be safe.

    2. Artemesia*

      Sounds prudent to me especially if you were going to face make up and speak as stereotyped asian ninja.

      1. Ife*

        Yes, I think it is a good idea to avoid mimicking accents in general. Unless you are using it for a role in a theatrical production or something similar, it is way too easy to accidentally cross a line from “good fun” and “being silly” to “hurtful stereotype” or “making fun of accent-havers.”

        1. The Mighty Thor*

          I did a stereotypical pirate accent the prior year when I went dressed as a pirate captain, which was well received and amusing to my co-workers

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            That is not the same as possibly making light of or enforcing racial/ethnic stereotypes.

    3. A. D. Kay*

      That was a wise choice on your part, even if you WEREN’T working for a Japanese-owned company.

    4. Dawn*

      A good rule of thumb is “A culture is NOT a costume”. And I think you were absolutely prudent in deciding to go with Batman!

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I’ll be honest, I really don’t see a downside to going as Batman! I’m not sure how likely anyone in your workplace is to take offense to a samurai or ninja costume (at least it’s not a geisha…) but going with the one that is definitely inoffensive over one that is probably inoffensive seems like a good life choice to me.

    6. Annie Moose*

      I think you made the right call. Maybe (probably) it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but it doesn’t hurt to be thoughtful.

      Some people will probably say, well, you can’t avoid offending everyone, and that’s true, but I think we should at least make an effort to avoid really obvious things that could offend people. (like wearing something that possibly could be interpreted as insulting about a given culture, while at a party full of people from that culture!) And this way, the only negative side effect was that you picked a different costume–whereas if you had gone as a ninja or samurai, and someone had been uncomfortable or offended, that could have a lot more serious negative ramifications. Especially if the person in question was the regional director!!

    7. Ad Astra*

      I am so glad you had the foresight to change your costume. There was a potential to do lots of harm to your professional reputation and to co-workers’ feelings (and your relationships with them), and instead no harm will be done at all. Plus, you can still walk around talking like Batman!

      1. Leatherwings*

        +1. Generally historical “characters” of the non-white variety aren’t going to be received well. Going as a geisha or an eskimo or an egyptian etc. just isn’t a good idea. Batman was a much better and less offensive choice.

        1. Newby*

          I would agree about going as an egyptian or eskimo in general, but if it is specific is is usually ok because it isn’t a stereotype. For example, Cleopatra or Aida is a costume.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            Ding ding ding! This is the key difference, I think. It’s one thing to dress up as a specific person. It’s another to dress up as a generic type, especially when that type is a person of another culture. Also, if your costume “requires” you to adopt elements of a certain group’s physical type (blackface, for instance), just don’t. If it doesn’t come across without you doing it, then your costume is no good and you should either improve the quality or find something you can portray more effectively.

            1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

              Huh, that seems quite reasonable. That’s a good distinction. If it’s a good costume representing a character, the character should come across regardless.

              I try to stick to nonhuman costumes myself, e.g. wearing cat ears and a tail, but then I like cats ^_^

            2. Leatherwings*

              I really really disagree that dressing as Cleopatra is cool. But that’s a convo for another day :)

    8. Lemon Zinger*

      My dad works for a large Japanese company. Dressing up like a ninja or samurai would be a HUGE faux pas, and possibly result in disciplinary action. Don’t do it! Ever!

    9. The Mighty Thor*

      Thank you all for the comments, I especially appreciate the “it’s a culture, not a costume” advice.

      I’ve already started thinking about my costume this year, and would like to go as Kylo Ren. It’ll be fun, is unlikely to offend anyone, and is right up my alley (I’m a big Star Wars nerd, and drink my coffee out of a Darth Vader mug).

        1. The Mighty Thor*

          I have not, bit I’ll check it out. Maybe I can incorporate some of the tweets into my persona

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I find the Bill Lumbergh is an excellent costume for Halloween. Especially at work.

        1. The Mighty Thor*

          “Yeah… If you could not wear culturally insensitive costumes for Halloween, that’d be great…”

    10. Nanani*

      What others have said re: stereotypes.
      If you want to be a ninja or samurai, go full-on cosplay of a SPECIFIC ninja or samurai from fiction (e.g., Naruto). That would probably get a good reaction, especially if your colleagues/their kids are fans of whatever you pick.

      In Japan, Halloween is more about cosplay and concerts than kids in cheap costumes getting candy anyway.
      (Source: living there for nearly a decade)

    11. Jennifer*

      If you have any slight doubt of anything you’re doing might be racist, assume it’s 100% racist and don’t do it.

  30. NowHiring*

    My direct report is leaving and I will be hiring a replacement person at one step up from the departing person’s role. Think Teapot Coordinator to Teapot Specialist. I’m looking for 5 years of experience. This is my first hire at this organization and I need someone who can be independent day to day as I travel a fair amount, and when I am in the office I’m often pulled into overall strategy discussions and other meetings. I set the goals and outline specific projects, but I need this specialist to make sure the teapots get made. I’m always available on phone, messenger and email to answer questions and provide feedback.

    2 questions for all of you:

    Is it fair to expect that someone with 5 years industry experience can act somewhat independently? I don’t want to set someone up to be in a bad position so I’m trying to calibrate my expectations.

    Do you have any suggested questions that might elicit telling responses from candidates during the hiring process? I’m looking for ways to assess how independent they are comfortable being. (Of course I will address it directly too, but I think situational questions could be helpful here.)

    1. Leatherwings*

      1) For most roles, absolutely. Obviously it depends on the job and projects, but I would imagine that someone who has 5 years of industry experience and maybe a few years of other work experience + good references and success at other jobs

      For 2) This is going to depend on the job description. You need to dig in on their work experience compared to the kind of skills you need. Asking for them to tell you about a time they worked independently on X project will be a good start. Also, use scenarios to find out how they’d troubleshoot common issues that come up while they’d be working alone.

      1. Dawn*

        And when you call references dig pretty deep into asking them about how the candidate is about working independently. References will tell you a LOT about the day to day of working with someone!

    2. AnonyMeow*

      Do you mind sharing what industry you work in and what the function of this role is? I think those are relevant.

      If it’s marketing for small firms (where I am), 5 years is more than enough to work independently, especially since you are available via phone/email, etc. After 5 years, I think the person should be able to plan and execute a campaign with proper targeting, metrics, etc. I’m sure it depends on the size and complexity of the work, as well as the industry, too.

      In the interview, I’d give the person an idea for a marketing campaign (sticking to my field here), and ask him/her how they would go about implementing the campaign, step by step. It’s not quite a test, but close.

      1. Rocky*

        Agree – in my field, “specialist” or “coordinator” roles are for people coming in with 2-3 years of experience. After 5 years, I’d expect someone to be even more independent than the OP laid out. They should be able to run an entire program or work unit independently, taking initiative to escalate issues to me when they arise, which shouldn’t be too often! I like AnonyMeow’s suggestion of giving them a broad idea for a project, and ask them to describe step by step how to implement.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      5 years seems like a long time. I worked independently after my first year on the job.
      We have been job searching for my husband (specialized mechanic) and many, many job descriptions are asking for 5 years experience and he doesn’t bother applying. He has 2 years experience, works entirely independently, and has been exposed to so many educational situations that he has more knowledge than many people with 10 years experience. Years don’t always equal knowledge or skill, or even experience.
      I’d suggest just placing the specific skills you are looking for and you should be able to find the independent workers by reading their resumes. These employees will have projects listed on their resume, not just everyday job duties.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I should explain a little more…when I see a job add asking for “5 years experience” then I’m expecting the recruiter to add up the job history on my resume. If my experience adds up to 4 years, then it gets thrown out. If I have 3 years direct experience plus 2 years relative experience, then it gets thrown out.
        I know that everyone isn’t that strict, but I’ve had enough experiences with this that I don’t even bother if the timeframe doesn’t exactly match.

        1. Misteroid*

          I might be off-track on this, but I think you’re a little off-base. From what I understand, that’s generally not how recruiters or hiring managers look at experience; “5 years experience” is a way of saying what level they expect the candidate to be at. Certainly, if you have 4 years experience, or if you have the 3 years direct experience and 2 years relative experience, you should still apply, and make a good case for yourself in your cover letter.

          Good luck!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      There’s a difference between knowing the job and being oriented to a work place. Be sure to put the time in orienting your new hire to your place. A good worker who cannot find what they need will appear to be a very poor performer.

      I would ask them to tell about their experiences working in a setting with a boss that was not around much.

    5. AliceBD*

      1.) Definitely. I have 5 years experience and I’m starting to job search. I’ve worked for a micromanager in the past and I love working for someone where I just inform her of what I’ve done, or if an email goes to her for a thing (because an outside contact is more likely to know her name than my name) she’ll just forward it to me and I’ll handle all of the stuff to actually get it done. Being allowed to just go do the things that need doing is something I’m definitely looking for. (Job searching because of reasons entirely unrelated to my boss; wish I could continue working for her because it’s great.)
      2.) Not sure of situational questions, but I definitely think asking directly would be helpful.

    6. CM*

      Yes, it seems fair to me that someone with 5 years of experience could work independently, as long as you’re around to answer questions and spend the first few months being available to regularly review their work.

      I’ve been asked something like, “When you’re working on a teapot-making project, what is your role? How do you work with your manager and other members of your team to get things done?” If they start giving you a vague answer about how they work well on a team, you can ask followup questions about what specific tasks they would do and which ones would be done by others on the team.

      You could also ask about how they would deal with a problem they ran into while doing a task, which will give you an idea of how much they try to do on their own before going to a manager. Or what they do if they’re asked to do something they have never done before.

  31. Totes anons*

    (Warning: tl;dr ahead)

    I do corrections and quality checking on data entry. Some of the data is entered by another department at my company; some of it is quality control for our clients. My boss just sent out an email stating that we need to correct and submit X number of, say, teapot orders per day. I’ve usually been doing around X minus 5. We’ve gotten a lot of emphasis recently on quality, because last busy season there were lots of teapot orders riddled with errors that were submitted as correct, and our work is randomly spot-checked for accuracy to a strict standard. I once got an “unacceptable” review of my work that terrified me, and ever since then I’ve been extra careful, which has slowed me down.

    My boss also stated in this email that if, by 5:30, we haven’t finished X many teapot orders, we need to stay until we’ve done X. When I received the e-mail, it was already quite late in the day and I was nowhere near my quota, so I e-mailed him back asking whether we should clock out when we’re done working, or clock out at 5:30 and keep working. He replied that we should clock out at 5:30 and keep working, and that it shouldn’t be a big deal because sometimes during the slow season the company has let us go home early (usually an hour or two early on Fridays).

    I struggle to correct X teapot orders accurately every day. Some orders are very quick and straightforward, but others are so full of complicated errors that they need an hour or more (and X is a lot more than 8). Some orders are incorrect in ways that require that we send them back to whoever created them – they’re lacking required documents, for example. Sending back incorrect orders – which often make up about a third of my total – doesn’t count toward the daily quota. So at 5:30 yesterday, I clocked out and stayed until I’d corrected X teapot orders – and finished a little after 8:00. No one else stayed late, but I overheard a coworker asking one of the senior teapot order correctors if he could come in early because he didn’t think he could do X of them by 5:30. The senior person said yes, as long as he doesn’t clock in until 9 (our usual start of day).

    I’m hourly, and I doubt my duties – which are pretty much just these corrections – meet the nonexempt standard. I make above the current overtime threshold, but way below the one that’s coming in at the end of the year. I’m pretty sure this is illegal – and, fortunately, my boss was dumb enough to put the instruction to work off the clock in writing.

    But I’m still not at all comfortable pushing back. I’m afraid I’m the only one who can’t finish the quota every day. I tend to do things slowly in general, especially when I’m nervous about making mistakes. If I went to the state labor board, the company would know it was me because I was the one who asked about clocking out. And I’m pretty close to the bottom of the ladder at the company; I’m a temp employee with no benefits, I’ve only been there about a year, and my performance record is uneven. And honestly, I don’t want to be a low performer; if it takes me longer than everyone else, maybe it makes sense for me to do this. Honestly, maybe I deserve it for sucking. But I do have a long commute and a couple of side gigs, and I’m worried. I had to stay two and a half hours late off the clock, not 5 minutes, and I don’t expect that will be a one-time thing.

    Furthermore, my work history other places is pretty dismal – I’m in my mid-thirties and still working entry-level positions, most of my jobs have been temp, and I haven’t done very well in a lot of them. I know I’m bad at most jobs I try, partly because of some past mental health issues (dealt with) and some learning disabilities. I’ve also had some awful jobs and abusive bosses – and I’d rather work off the clock than work for someone who makes me cry every day. Everyone at my current company is nice, and the work is something I don’t hate and I’m not hopeless at, even if I’m not good enough. But I’m not at all a “good person with options.” I have two useless degrees, a pathetic resume, and no highly valued skills. I’m mediocre, and I know it. I also know that there are far worse situations than the one I’m in; I dread job searching and live in fear of ending up in another place like the worst places I’ve worked (or the many awful jobs I’ve read about on AAM). I really, honestly don’t think I have any better prospects, and I am willing to try to do anything this job requires in order to keep it, and I know that pushing back would mark me as a troublemaker.

    I suppose my questions would be:

    1. Could *I* get in legal trouble for complying with this directive? (I don’t manage anyone.)
    2. How common/normal is this? Here at my company, it seems to be treated as normal. Some of the senior teapot order checkers have mandatory overtime where they have a quota beyond the usual one, but I’m not sure if they’re paid extra for that; I think they are. One of the senior checkers comes in around 5 or 6 every morning and sometimes stays until 9 at night; I don’t know if he clocks those extra hours. Another came in during his vacation; I don’t know if the company still counted the time he was working as vacation, but they have specifically praised both of these guys during company meetings.
    3. How can I get faster while staying accurate? I’m afraid of messing up and afraid of being too slow.

    1. Lolly Scramble*

      I’m afraid I don’t have any advice as to the specific issue but although I don’t know you I was sad to see you say you have “two useless degrees, a pathetic resume and no highly valued skill”s. You sound very conscientious about your work and I’m sure you worked hard on your degrees and to overcome the past mental health issues you describe. You may not have a lot of options but I hope you won’t beat yourself up about your current situation too much.

    2. Always Anon*

      First, while it’s great that you are realistic about the issues you have had in your working career, I also suspect that you are being far too hard on yourself.

      Do you feel that you could talk to you boss about what strategies that you can use to speed up? Is there a co-worker who is a fast an accurate that you could ask about their strategies? And, are you sure that you aren’t moving at a normal pace and the quota isn’t reasonable?

      If it were me, I would be saving those emails, and then asking HR for assistance. Because while I suspect you wouldn’t get into trouble (although I don’t know for sure), your employer could get into serious trouble. This situation isn’t normal.

      1. Anomanom*

        You cannot get in trouble for working additional hours, unless the company has specifically told you NOT to work overtime and you still do. In that case, the company can treat that as a disciplinary issue. Even in that case though, they are REQUIRED to pay you for that time. Even if it wasn’t authorized. If you worked it, on or off “the clock”, they are required to pay you for it.

        If you truly don’t want to rock the boat at this point, my recommendation is this.
        – Print the email from your boss or email it to a personal email address. Have a copy outside of work.
        – Follow the directions from your boss, but document the time you spend working outside of the time the manager says you should be “clocked in”. Again, maintain copies outside of work.
        – in general, document all of it. If things go badly, this is what you will need to take to the labor board to get a case opened to deal with the unpaid time.

        As far as working quicker – I’m a big fan of checklists. I feel like this keeps me from dwelling on every tiny detail for too long. Checked this? Yes? On to the next item.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Theoretically, the company can treat it as a disciplinary issue even if they haven’t specifically told her not to do it. I mean, it would be a weird thing for them to do, but there’s nothing prohibiting it (no law that requires them to warn her first). But yeah, they have to pay her for the time regardless. And the OP isn’t going to get into legal trouble for it; that’s on the company, not her.

          1. Totes anons*

            …so I could get fired either for obeying this instruction or not obeying it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But thanks, Alison and Anomanon!

    3. Maria*

      3. To improve your time, consider studying speed-reading and editing. You don’t need to take a class; there are many good books you can buy or borrow from a library. Your learning disability will make this harder, but there are shortcuts that can help with that.

      For example, one trick I learned (in college, after being diagnosed with a reading disability) was to hold up a piece of colored paper to help your eyes move more quickly from line to line. Start by doing it with a book, then practice doing it on a monitor, perhaps with an Excel file. Over time your eyes will more confidently move the same amount at each line break.

    4. Ife*

      In addition to talking with your boss and coworkers about what habits/strategies help them work faster, here are a couple things that helped me when I was filling orders that required a lot of information gathering/correcting before I could deliver:

      1. Make a form email for requesting information that you need to complete the order. Example: People forget to include the X document, your form email says, “Thank you for your order, please complete the attached document by [date] so we can begin processing.” You can save this in as an email signature, so all you have to do is, 1. apply the signature, 2. fill in the blanks, and 3. attach the document. You can make a signature for each document/scenario. The key is to make it quick to request information you need, so you don’t have to think about wording.
      2. Can you identify which orders are easy and which are complicated before you start them? If yes, and if your workflow allows it, try to get a bunch of easy ones done right away (or save a bunch of them for the end of the day when you need to get Y more orders to meet your quota).
      3. Since you said that partial orders don’t count towards the quota: If you notice an order is missing some required information, request that info right away and move to the next order; don’t “get started” or “get as far as you can” without all the information. That way you can spend more time on orders that will count towards today’s quota.
      4. If you don’t have them already: check lists. Even if it doesn’t cover every scenario, you should be able to come up with a list that covers MOST orders. That should help with accuracy.

      1. Christine*

        If they are having to revise / correct that many orders something needs to be done at the front end with the original submission. Maybe they need a check sheet for their own reference, and eliminate the number corrections required

      2. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

        As a following to Ife, first thing on the checklist should be to check if the most commonly missing things are there. If, not, send it back and move on to the next.

        You may also need to work on your Machiavellian side. If you can pick your orders, look for ones that will be quick. If you realize one will be time consuming, put it back in the pile, if you can. Sadly, your company has put you and your coworkers in this position where you are competing rather than collaborating.

        1. Totes anons*

          We can’t pick our orders – they come from a queue that loads one at a time for each person and you can’t pick a new one until you’ve finished the the first. Also, most of the teapot orders (they actually aren’t orders, but I don’t want to risk doxing myself) come from our clients, so we can’t really fix the problem at their end.

          1. Intrepid*

            Wait, so if you have one you need to send back for more information, you can’t start another one until you get the information and complete the first order? That sounds terribly inefficient, and like something you could suggest to the powers that be as an area for process improvemet.

    5. Totes anons*

      Update: today I finished X+1 teapot orders at 5:30, but I was lucky; I only had to send back a few. We’ll see if I can replicate this success every day. I’m particularly worried about days when we have meetings or training, but fortunately those aren’t often. One of the people next to me hit her quota around 4:30 and she’s been there a few months less, which really made me feel bad about myself. There was a brief time a few months ago, before this directive, when we were emailed everyone’s numbers each day, and the guy who comes in at 5 am was usually getting almost twice the quota.

      Another part of the problem is that the software we use is slow-loading, buggy, and often goes down entirely, which of course interferes with our speed.

    6. tink*

      I can’t give you advice, but I am in your boat re: not really being able to climb out of entry-level positions (and I haven’t even finished my degree because of the expense, so a lot of places won’t even look at me). I offer tea and cookies instead.

      As for speed and accuracy–There may be some speed reading options out there, and there are lots of resources online that can gauge typing/data entry speed and accuracy. I’d consider google searching and seeing if you find anything of use.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Your company sounds horrid, but saying that is not much consolation.

      Not everyone can work in a quota environment. Personally, I hate them.
      I did supervise in a place that did light manufacturing. I learned a lot.

      1) Watch your self-talk. The people who spoke negatively to themselves were slower most of the time. If you catch yourself saying “I am afraid of messing up” immediately, correct yourself and say, “I will watch and I will fix my own mistakes.” If you start going down the road of former jobs and empty degrees, again, correct yourself. “Yes, these things happened. They are in the past. I will focus on today and doing a good job today.”

      2) Use positive imagery. Picture yourself at work and smoothly going from one transaction to another.

      3) Learn to pace yourself. If you need to do 100 orders each day, then that means at the four hour mark you should be around 50. I had a wrinkle on that one. I liked to get more done before lunch so the afternoon was not a pressure cooker also. This meant that I pumped work before lunch and after lunch was an easier pace. But the gist here is, pace yourself out.
      Side note: I don’t know if you start process the order or if you check it for errors first. You might save time by checking for errors first. You find one, you know you have to send it back. So you can just look for more errors, make your list and ship it out.
      Another side note:I assume you are working on a computer and not printed material. Learn keyboard short cuts, if you have not already. I have a dear friend who REFUSES to learn shortcuts and she loses a lot of time and energy navigating her screen.

      4) Decide that you are a collector. You collect up tips for working faster or more accurately. Decide that you are not proud ;) and you can learn tips from anyone at any time. Your six year old niece has the potential to show you a cool computer trick you can use at work- let this become your new way of thinking about work. You are going to make yourself into an expert on efficiency and accuracy by eternally seeking tips for your collection of tips. This one takes a little time, but it can turn into being fun at some point.

      In my experience watching people’s productivity levels, once they hit that good number they usually hit it on a regular basis. It seems to be a matter of figuring out what it takes to get there initially.

      Which leads me to point number 5. When you are at home and calmer, think about the way you handle your work. Are there little things you can do to speed up small repetitive tasks? Can you rearrange the order of something so that it is quicker to get at and use?
      This one is a thinker. You might figure out how to shave a few minutes off a task this month and then three months from now figure out how to shave a few minutes off another task. Keep looking for ways to streamline things, don’t stop. It’s culmulative, over time you will be doing things faster.

      1. Totes anons*

        Thank you so much, NotSoNewReader! And thank you also to everyone else who replied.

  32. Intrepid*

    I had a fellowship, which ended. I trained my replacement, Smeagol, and then I moved to wrapping up several mostly-done projects while he worked on new ones– but he apparently didn’t quite grasp this, and thought I didn’t do much.

    He called me stupid and slow multiple times to my face.

    I was visibly out-performing Smeagol, so I shrugged it off.

    I’m still with the same organization in a temporary role, and my former manager (Thorin) is helping me look for more permanent work. I was in Thorin’s office yesterday, updating him on my job search, when Smeagol came in. Thorin is great, and usually pretty sensitive about any kind of review/hiring/personnel stuff, but I always kept relations with Smeagol professional, and Smeagol never treated me like that when Thorin was around. When Thorin mentioned that my current position was temporary too, Smeagol’s eyes lit up and I just felt really uncomfortable.

    What’s some good, diplomatic wording to ask Thorin not to discuss this when Smeagol is in the room, given that he’s already doing me a favor, and this is only coming up now becasue I didn’t raise this while I still worked for him (which is when Smeagol called me stupid). Is there a good way to raise this, or should I just accept this as something that’s going to happen until I’m no longer looking for work?

    I swear to God I am not Samwise Gamgee.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I don’t think you can. Smeagol is a rude jerk, but going to his manager over this isn’t going to reflect well on you.

      If this doesn’t affect your actual work, take the higher road and ignore Smeagol.

      1. Intrepid*

        Yeah, that’s what I suspected the answer should be. I know that Thorin would be horrified if he knew what Smeagol’d been saying, but I also don’t want to look that petty.

    2. Mustache Cat*

      Ugh, sorry about that. Reminds me of a terrible coworker I’ve had, so I know it sucks.

      That said, I wouldn’t say anything to him. The cat is already out of the bag, so to speak. However, if Smeagol begins treating you differently/worse because he now knows you’re temporary, I’d definitely bring it up.

    3. Tex*

      If you and Thorin are on good terms, go out to lunch or coffee (off-site) and bring it up in a factual way. It should be easier now than before because you and Thorin are on more equal footing whereas before it might have felt like tattling. You can even couch your discussion by saying that while Smeagol never crossed a line, you had an uncomfortable feeling/interaction when x or y happened with Smeagol.

      People like Smeagol are bad for workplaces and teams, and most of the time these people remain invisible as the source of problems in an organization until something really bad happens. Your manager can be alert to see if his crappy behavior extends to other situations which may put the company in jeopardy. Your opinion will be valued because you have nothing to gain or lose by Smeagol’s employment.

      Take it from me, I’ve been there twice and thought I was being professional by keeping my mouth shut. In hindsight, I should have said something earlier to head off problems coming down the pipeline. But this all hinges on how much Thorin will respect your opinion.

      But you asked about working…..”Can I ask a favor? Can you please refrain from mentioning my employment status/plans confidential from Smeagol?” If Thorin starts probing, then tell him.

  33. Lizz*

    Is anyone familiar with a Master of Professional Studies Degree? I’m looking at a few different grad programs, all of which have the same program title, but one of which has a degree title I’ve never heard of, M.P.S (Master of Professional Studies). I’ve done some googling, and there are many mixed reviews. Some say the focus is more on practical learning as opposed to theory which sounds good, but some say it’s looked down on and seen as a subpar degree compared to a traditional degree title such as an M.A. or M.S. which sounds very bad.
    The degree is offered from a well know school with a great reputation, but I am concerned it sounds a like a flashy buzzword and wont be worth anything to potential employers. Is this program worth considering, or should I focus elsewhere?

    1. Artemesia*

      Never get a degree you have to explain unless the program is so well known and fabulous that it carries its own cachet. Explaining a weird degree always sounds defensive.

      1. Always Anon*


        Plus graduate degrees, by their very nature, are intended to be a focused/specialized study of a particular topic. A master’s in professional studies implies to me that it’s a wide variety of topics with no real concentration. Mind you I’ve always thought a good graduate program isn’t necessarily teaching you skills or stuff it’s about enhancing your critical thinking and strategic thinking skills, which I believe is challenging to do if there is no real concentration.

    2. LadyKelvin*

      The program that I am getting my PhD from has one in my field. It is a 1-2 year program where they take a bunch of coursework and do an internship then give a presentation on their internship. The program is essentially another year or two of college and the degrees are practically worthless. Because I’m in a science field, and their degree program doesn’t do any science (no thesis, no research) the type of jobs they qualify for are non-profit entry level jobs that pay $30-40k a year. After they spent $40-60k getting their MPS. Our MPS program has a really terrible reputation among people who are in our field and it is bringing down the value of our PhD and MS (our school is top rated for our graduate programs so this is bad, really bad). The school loves it because they bring in ~200 new MPS students a year and they are paying a lot for their educations while all the PhD students are being paid to get their degrees. Other MPS programs in my field also have the same reputation, so I’d strongly suggest not doing it. If you want a graduate degree in a specific field, get an MS or MA. It’ll cost you the same and be much more valuable in the long term.

      1. LibbyG*

        All of this. And because MPS degrees don’t require a thesis, students in them often don’t get real individual mentorship. So, yeah, don’t do it. It’s just a money-maker for the university.

        1. Artemesia*

          So this. Masters programs are often cash cows and sometimes they are created just for this purpose. They often require no new resources and they generally offer little or no financial aid. Doctoral programs are expensive to deliver and good ones provide full tuition to the select few admitted; masters programs are cheap to deliver and generally provide no aid. Be VERY sure the program you select has a spectacular record of placement; most of these and almost certainly anything called a Master of Professional Studies is going to be largely worthless for job seeking. (If you already have a job and they reward masters degrees it might be useful there)

    3. higheredrefugee*

      Most graduate “Professional Studies” programs (even at elite schools like the one in Hyde Park in Chicago) are of the design-it-yourself variety. These programs are great if you are looking at universities large enough to allow you to study in various departments to create a degree that reflects your own interests and goals. That said, if that’s what you are looking for, the reason it is an MPS and not an MA or MS, is that it won’t have the easily identifiable structures or expectations of those other programs. The MS usually means there was more math, science, or at least stats.

      With design-it-yourself, you’ll definitely have to convince employers and recruiters the value of your own designed degree. If most recruiters spend 30 seconds (or less) on a resume, it is much easier to say ‘yes’ to something traditional where they don’t need to look at your LinkedIn profile or a cover letter to try to begin to understand. Also, quite frankly, you’ll need to be really independent within your university. These programs are offered for the person who is really motivated, and okay with finding their own advisors, and willing to get to know individual professors across the university to make sure that the courses you are selecting actually meet the plan you created for your degree and meet your interests. That’s the kind of running around that can make it difficult to do job searching, especially since most professors supervising others’ thesis/dissertation/capstone projects will have loyalty to their own department’s student’s work over someone who is essentially “unaffiliated.” So not only are you trying to convince employers that your degree is worthwhile, you may be losing precious job search and networking time just working on your degree.

      All that said, it really depends on your goals and self-motivation. But be prepared for pushback from employers who think you think you’re so special to have to create your own program, and likely too entitled for their orgs. Likely an unfair assessment since it takes additional creativity and will to complete such a degree, but when you have 30 seconds or less to make an assessment, hopefully you can appreciate the cynicism a bit.

    4. EmilyG*

      My employer offers something like this, and the only people I know who have taken it are employees doing it on the staff tuition plan and using the open-endedness of our particular program to take a potpourri of intriguing classes and count it as credit towards a degree for tax/benefit reasons. I wouldn’t *pay* to do that program.

      I think you should focus on the professional field you’re aiming towards and try to get feedback from current practitioners about which program is best and well regarded.

    5. Nanani*

      If they are paying you a stipend to take it, then maybe.
      If you have to pay for it yourself (loan or otherwise) – run away.
      You should never pay for grad school* beyond cost of living where the school is.

      *Not counting indirects like the opportunity cost of being in school instead of working full time

  34. Anon and enraged*

    I have a question about sexual harassment and whether or not this employee should be fired.

    Last month my company held a dinner for one of our largest teams (~200 people on the team). There was a lot of drinking going on and many employees got very drunk. Late into the evening, one of the male VPs on the team was very drunk when he approached a junior female employee. He pulled on the neckline of her shirt, looked down her shirt, and said “When are you gonna show us those things?” There were many people around who witnessed this harassment.

    The female employee reported it to HR first thing the next morning. HR launched an investigation and talked to the witnesses as well as the VP. After a week HR decided that they wouldn’t take any action against the VP. They said he was drunk and his judgment was impaired and he is also a large asset to the team that we can’t afford to lose. They do not believe any sort of punishment is justified.

    The female victim is now looking for another job. She feels uncomfortable having to see this VP on a daily basis, walking by his office to get to the conference room, and seeing him in the kitchen and hallway. She is also an asset to the team, a rising star who has received praise from across the organization.

    I believe the VP should be fired, and so do many of my colleagues. We want to approach HR about it but we aren’t sure if we have any standing. Are they breaking the law by allowing the VP to work here unpunished?

      1. legalchef*

        Yeah, seriously. Your company should be less concerned with losing him as an asset than what assets they lose when she sues for lots of $ and wins.

    1. Dawn*


      YES HE SHOULD BE FIRED!!!! How in the hell does a company think that he can get off scott free “because he was drunk”?? It was a company dinner! On the company dime! Oh my god!!!!

      Oh my god I need to go look at some pictures of kittens or something, and you need to tell your co-worker to lawyer up.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They won’t take any action against him? None? It’s not uncommon for a company to not fire someone for a first sexual harassment offense, but they’d normally be taking some sort of disciplinary action. The fact that they’re not is outrageous. She should talk to a lawyer. This is horrifying.

      1. Anon and enraged*

        The only “action” HR took was to say don’t do it again when they questioned him about the incident. Apparently since he’s never committed any sexual harassment during work hours while sober they don’t see it as that big of a deal (heard this from a junior member of the HR team that I’m friends with).

        1. anotherMSW*

          He’s never committed any sexual harassment/assault that has been reported or substantiated. Who knows how many times he’s done it before. I hope she gets a lawyer and sues VP and the company so she doesn’t have to work there again.

        2. anotherMSW*

          He has never been reported before, who knows if he has committed sexual harassment/assault before. I hope the employee sues the VP and the company so she doesn’t have to work there anymore.

        3. Stranger than fiction*

          Do you know for sure the witnesses told the truth and didn’t back down due to some misguided fear or sense of loyalty?

      2. Busytrap*

        But this goes so beyond “sexual harassment” — this is assault, darnit! This isn’t like, oh, Joe Jerkface told a stupid joke, give him a warning. He freaking TOUCHED her. So angry…. so annnngry. That poor woman.

          1. Artemesia*

            A demotion or other clear consequence at the very least should have occurred. I hope she sues and wins lots and lots. So sick of people always privileging predatory men over junior women.

      3. Chaordic One*

        In my admittedly limited experience in HR, for that level of employee, it’s the kind of thing that should result in a temporary suspension without pay.

        If it were a lower-level employee it would probably result in demotion or even dismissal. Sounds to me like she has grounds for a lawsuit.

        1. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

          Executives and managers should be held to a higher standard for crap like this, not a lower one – they should know better, they’re in positions of authority, and they make the big bucks.

          Also, the victim’s performance shouldn’t matter. In this case she’s a rising star – but if she were a low performer, that wouldn’t mean she deserves to put up with this and doesn’t mean the VP shouldn’t be punished. You shouldn’t have to be great at your job to have a right to be treated decently.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Holy $%^*& how was he not fired??? Do you secretly work for Donald Trump?

    4. afiendishthingy*

      I am far from the most knowledgeable person here on the topic, but it sounds like HR is setting itself up for a lawsuit. Not giving this dickwad any sort of punishment sounds like it’s at least on the road to hostile work environment. This isn’t just the one victim who’s suffering; surely the witnesses must feel a bit violated as well.

      There is some serious dysfunction going on at your company, and it sounds like a pretty unsafe space for women, so I suspect there is some law-breaking going on. Hope some better informed AAM-ers will weigh in.

      1. kbeersosu*

        I would agree. The threshold is generally whether a “reasonable person” would view what happened as a violation. Given how everyone here is responding, and that I think you all are probably pretty reasonable people, I think this definitely meets that threshold. And you’re right on with the concern about hostile work environment- regardless of how the victim feels, if others witnessed this and are now uncomfortable with the VP there, they’ve also set themselves up for charges to that end.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The law says it has to be “severe or pervasive.” I would think this qualifies as severe, but there’s a lawyer downthread who I think is doubting that it would. (It’s worth noting that courts often define this differently than we might here.)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I see people talking about a civil case. What about a criminal case? Can she press charges with the police?

      2. Newby*

        I am not litigious usually but in this case there should be a lawsuit. That behavior is so far out of line that I can’t believe that they did nothing! Being drunk is no excuse.

    5. Catalyst*

      That is appalling! I would have slapped him if I were her. Drunk or not, his behavior was WAY out of line. Although, I can not see him being fired over one incident, he should most certainly be punished. The company is basically saying that they condone this type of behavior by doing nothing at all.

      As for others approaching HR, this is not something I know anything about, it could be a bad idea. Hopefully someone else can weigh in on that.

      1. The Butcher of Luverne*

        I can just imagine the punishment that the junior staffer would get for slapping an executive, regardless of the heinous circumstance…

    6. Busytrap*

      Not sure about breaking the law (I’m an attorney but not an employment one), but holy hell is this a walking liability! YES YES YES this guy should have been fired. The next morning!

      And agree with Lillian, she should be talking to an attorney. Goodness.

      I’m also enraged for this victim. Good on you and your colleagues for wanting to do something about it.

    7. Mel*

      If you haven’t figured it out, there are frequently different rules for Executives. Sometimes they get a finger wagging from HR or the CEO and that will be the company’s version of discipline when they have to defend against a sexual harassment claim. She could have a claim seeing as it’s so egregious.

    8. Expected to pay more than my fair share*

      i don’t really have any insight but at the very least your company should make sure that there is limited drinking (if any at all) at company functions. This should be the standard every where.

    9. Ad Astra*

      “His judgment is impaired” is a horrible defense for pulling on someone’s neckline and talking about their breasts. My jaw dropped when I read that. Even worse, this was a VP doing it to someone junior to him, so the power differential is significant. And in front of so many people! I feel horrible for this woman and angry at this HR department.

      To me, this is a clear-cut, absolutely fireable offense. If you can’t drink without sexually harassing and humiliating your employees, don’t drink.

      1. mazzy*

        Following this logic DUI is ok because you’re not coherent enough to know driving is bad.

        1. BRR*

          This is exactly what I was thinking. Since when is being drunk a get out of jail free card? If I was this person I would keep fighting. I would imagine she has at least a little safety in speaking up although this company sounds like they might not care about firing someone for complaining about sexual harassment/assault.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I would like to see the person who thinks drinking makes this behavior excusable, fired also. And she was sober when she said this… what is her excuse for talking like this?

        I don’t see drinking/drugs as a “solid” reason to explain away bad behavior.

    10. WorkerBee 23*

      This is horrifying. They’ve pretty much given this guy (& others of his clout) carte blanche to do whatever they want under the guise of “Welllll he was just drunk!” What if he had run someone over in his car on the way out? What if he had raped someone in the bathroom? What if he had robbed the joint? What a precedent to set. I hope she sues she sh*t out of the company.

    11. JHS*

      Unfortunately, one incident like that is not legally cognizable sexual harassment. If it were my client, I would tell them to get the guy into sexual harassment prevention training immediately (and in fact, make everyone go through it just to deal with any systemic sexual harassment issues) and consider never having a dinner like that again with that much alcohol. I think this is a “do it again and you’re fired” situation.

    12. JHS*

      Unfortunately, one incident like this does not constitute legally cognizable sexual harassment. If this were my client, I would advise sexual harassment prevention training for all (to combat any systemic sexual harassment), stopping having dinners where people are getting wasted, and one-on-one training for the VP. This falls under the “do it again and you’re fired” category.

      1. DoDah*

        Not a lawyer–but formerly on an “investigation committee” for a similar situation. No disciplinary action for valuable VP of sales. The CEO and other VPs very much “circled the wagons.” However, junior staffer was put on PIP for trivial incidents and eventually let go. I know that some sort of letter was received from junior employee’s lawyer. I left the company at this point–so I don’t know what happened at the end.

    13. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Even if they don’t fire him there should be some disciplinary action. HR basically just gave every valuable person in the company free reign to sexually harass anyone they please as long as they had a few drinks first.
      Since they won’t, do everything you can to help the victim – walk with her and make sure she is never alone in a conference room that he could enter. I doubt he’ll try to pull anything with her (even though HR just gave him a free pass) but she should not have to feel uncomfortable for his heinous act. And offer to be a reference and maybe look for a new position yourself. That’s not a place I would want to work.

    14. Sadsack*

      I hope HR is prepared for the lawsuit that surely is coming. How the VP was not fired completely baffles me. Being drunk is no excuse for such behavior. Your work place sucks.

    15. AF*

      I’d love to hear the sob story he gave HR about “impaired judgment.” I’ve heard that one before, and the person asks for forgiveness and pity, like they’re the victim. This is egregious enough to fire him immediately, even for a first offense. HR is absolutely ridiculous. If you’re able, please keep us posted!

    16. Tex*

      If you can get a number of individuals in senior management on your side, you can have them advocate for, at the very least, a demotion or docking of bonus. (Obviously, HR is just going to try and protect the company. The victim could have a potential lawsuit, but more realistically a quiet settlement would be the likely outcome.)

      Another thing you can demand of HR is a detailed and documented explanation of the sexual harassment policy with examples and specific punishments. Make them define what is a fireable offense, who does it apply to (is senior management included?), what about borderline violations that repeatedly occur, etc. At the very least, if such a policy is public knowledge, it would prevent special treatment if another event occurs.

      But really, WTF.

    17. tink*

      Holy crickets, I would probably have been fired for slapping him in the face for touching me inappropriately like that, even if he was completely plastered. She should talk to a lawyer and possibly consider filing a police report as well–this wasn’t just a joke in poor taste, it’s physical harassment!

    18. Academia Escapee*

      The thing that kills me is that you know if the OP had stood up for herself (pushed him away, screamed at him, etc.) then SHE would have been disciplined and/or fired in a second. It’s OK for an executive to commit an offense, but egregious for a team member to defend herself.

  35. Anon Anon Anon*

    How do you deal with a co-worker who seems to have just checked out?

    I have a co-worker (Jane) who I’ve worked with for the last five years. Jane and I work very closely together, while I am more senior than Jane, I am not her supervisor. In the last six months, a major job duty has been transferred to another employee. This job duty easily took up 50% of Jane’s time (the job duty wasn’t transferred because of performance, it was for other reasons). However, since this job duty has been transferred no other work has been picked up by Jane, and she is now off loading other work onto others (including myself at times), and is refusing to take on additional work. I have talked to my boss about the situation, but nothing has changed. And while I like my boss he’s not a particularly good manager (he’s very hands off, which works well if you are self-motivated, but less so if you are not).

    I’m getting increasingly more frustrated. Jane seems to be doing very little during the day, and her workload has been cut so significantly that she now only has 4 notable responsibilities, where most people have at least 10-15 (myself included). Any suggestions for how to deal with my frustration?

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        I can, and I will going forward. But, the bigger issue is that Jane refuses to take on additional work. So what ends up happening is that Jane refuses and then my boss or our CEO comes and asks me, and if I don’t say yes, then the work doesn’t get done at all (which causes me significantly more problems as our work is so dependent upon each other).

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Who is asking Jane to do additional work? And why is she allowed to say no to them? When the boss/CEO ask you, can you say “I can add X to my schedule but that means I’ll have to drop either Y or Z. Have you talked to Jane? Since A was moved to Fergus, and Jane has stopped doing B and C, it sounds like this is something she’d be able to do without dropping any other tasks.”

        2. higheredrefugee*

          If Jane is allowed to refuse, so are you. With your own boss, you need to refuse too. This is stickier with the CEO, but I’d pretend you didn’t know that Jane has refused, and apologize all over yourself, but suggest that perhaps she has time since you’ve already taken on whatever 3-4 projects (have those ready to discuss in the moment) over the past two weeks or so.

          All that said, if everyone’s management style and the company culture is hands off like your manager’s, then it is time to start looking for another position either within the company or outside, depending on various factors you are best set up to gauge. Good luck!

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Maybe you need to allow that to happen. Let the work not get done at all and let the chips land where they may.

    1. Biff*

      Similar stuff happens on my team, and it’s very often an illusion that someone has less to do, or it’s temporary. That is, I have less to do at a given moment because something big is in the pipeline, and I have to catch it the MINUTE it falls out. I can’t be given anything that might interfere, so I’m in “Hurry up and Wait” until my big project comes through. Then I’m busier than most!

      While you are senior, I think you need to accept that it’s your managers job to determine workloads and duties.

    2. Soupspoon McGee*

      Consider that Jane may have reasons for lightening her workload that her supervisors are aware of but can’t share. Regardless of whether she’s battling an illness and needs accommodation, gearing up for a big project, or slacking off, your response should focus on your own work and what you can can reasonably do. It’s frustrating when you know you’re doing more than a coworker, but keep your focus on your work to avoid driving yourself crazy (or feeling like a big jerk if something is wrong with her).

  36. Christine*

    I’m writing to inquire if there was an update from the OP (April 27) regarding “our boss will fire us if we don’t sign up to be a liver donor for his brother.” What did the OP finally do? What actually took place?

  37. Purple Jello*

    I’ve been working for forever, and for the first time, I have a direct report. He worked at his last company for a looooong time. I’ve been learning his strengths, and as this is a new, temporary position, we can make it what we want as long as there is benefit to the company seen.

    Any advice for an ‘old’ new manager? How do I quantify what he’s getting done so I can justify continuing the position to management?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Can it be described in numbers? Does it have to be described in numbers? I do a lot of work that keeps us in compliance with the regs. In a situation like that you could list off all the things Bob does to help you remain in compliance with the ever growing mountain of regs.

      Or you may end up describing it by showing how much more work you have turned out since Bob is there to prep it for you or whatever.

      Bob would probably be happy to help you develop a list of talking points for making his job permanent. My boss needed ideas to advocate to get me a raise. I wrote a page and a half of reasons, she picked the cream of the crop and added her own.

      1. Purple Jello*

        We’ll pretty much have to to quantify something, whether it’s how much money he’s saving us, or how much more (other) work I’m getting done, or quicker response times. We have been tasked to be “more efficient”, which does NOT mean adding a position. My boss will need to justify it all the way up to the top.

        Thanks for helping clarify which direction I can go in. I’ve had some vague thoughts, but haven’t had to do anything like this before.

  38. bb-great*

    Kicking myself because I waited to submit a job app until it was juuuuust perfect, and then the ad got taken down before I could submit. It was a really great fit for me too. Grrr.

    1. Fourth Month*

      I did that recently too. I kicked myself too. Solidarity, friend! The next time you’ll get it.

      1. bb-great*

        Thanks! I know perfect is the enemy of good, etc but it’s so hard to just let go and send that app into the void!

    2. Penny for Your Thoughts*

      I hate that. I saw an ad for a university position a few weeks ago that matched my skills and experience and started the application process immediately. I was halfway through drafting the cover letter when it was taken down–a full week before the posted closing date. Grr.

  39. HeyNonnyNonny*

    A PSA vent: If you are not trained as a writer/editor, please stop editing the writer/editor’s work. Trust me, I know the rules for our style guide much better than you do. I don’t come into your office and correct your lawyering/engineering.

    1. Maria*

      What do editors and drummers have in common?

      Every Joe Average thinks he can do their jobs.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Ugh. I’d like to think that I’m a grammar nerd, but I learned an obscure style so I have no business correcting anyone on anything.
      …except when someone tried to tell me that “about” was a verb.

      1. Ismis*

        WHAT!? How did they use it in a sentence?

        I had someone try to convince me that “meeded” was a word. It was “needed” from a song lyric, as in “I needed you so” and she would not believe me that it wasn’t “meeded”. We were only 10 years old but I still remember the shock of it!

    3. Liane*

      i have the opposite problem–the writers either don’t bother to read over their work or wouldn’t recognize a grammatical error if it punched them, so I get submissions that read like very rough drafts, as far as grammar, spelling, and mechanics.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve had to actually write reports from notes–a couple of SMEs just give me the bare bones. As long as I can understand what they’re trying to say, I’m good. I did say in an admin meeting the other day that I’m happy to help with editing and proofreading, but beware–I’m ruthless. “Because I want YOU to look good!” ;) And also because I can’t stand to let a document escape into the wild that looks like craaaaaaap (though I didn’t say that part, ha ha).

    4. Nanani*

      Double this if you are not a native speaker of the language in question.
      The translator knows what they’re doing – do not apply your half-remembered middle school lessons to miscorrect a professional’s work.

    5. Christopher Tracy*

      I have this same problem with my supervisor calling herself rewording some of my letters, and she introduces a bunch of spelling, grammar, and syntactic errors that I end up having to fix. *sigh* Just make sure the policy and contract language is correct and leave everything else alone – I really wish I could say that sometimes.

  40. Cool Beans*

    Any advice for staying positive during my boyfriend’s frustrating job search?

    Some background: We’re both job hunting. I hate my job, but that’s another story. He graduated about a year ago and has only been able to find customer service jobs. He has some specific career goals and every time he tries to apply for entry level/ internships, they say they want more experience. He got laid off about a month ago and it’s really affected his mood. Since he hasn’t been able to get into the field he wants (that he has a degree in), he sometimes feels like he’s failed. He tries to stay positive but I know he gets frustrated (perfectly natural!)

    Back to my question: How do I not let it affect me so much? I send him articles and some recruiter contacts and it seems to lead nowhere (some recruiters just don’t answer). Is it patience? Is it going out and distracting him?

    1. Artemesia*

      He is a grown man who can manage his own search. Sending him articles and contacts on a regular basis is taking too much responsibility for his career and must drive him nuts. (like he can’t look up useful information for himself) Obviously if a particular lead falls in your lap, you pass it on, but you should not be out managing job search leads for him. This is tremendously corrosive for your relationship. My husband and I have each been the person out of work and having a tough time and my daughter and her husband have also taken turns at this. The person searching doesn’t need advice or someone to be Mommy and manage their search. Don’t offer advice unless they want to use you as a sounding board. This is not your role. It is tough all around; don’t make it tougher with the continually implied criticism that they are not capable of managing their own professional life.

      1. Cool Beans*

        What a great point that my stress is also having an impact on his. Thank you for that reminder!

        1. Artemesia*

          It is nightmarish to be in your position — I was there for a year — but it just makes stuff worse to push. When all is said and done you don’t want this to wreck the relationship. Hope things move along so you are out of this sinkhole of despair.

      2. Anonymoose*

        Speaking as a husband that just went through a year long job search Artemesia’s advice is spot on.

        The first time my wife sent me job postings it was ok but after that it felt more like she was nagging me. In her mind she was trying to be helpful but I came to resent it. Unsolicited advice is very corrosive to a marriage.

        What I needed was a partner to listen and be supportive during the roller coaster ride that is the job search.

    2. Dawn*

      Ask him what he needs from you- does he need your help with leads? Does he just want to not think about it when you’re together? Does he need a shoulder to cry on? Does he need a cheerleader?

      1. Leatherwings*

        +1 You need to ask him what he needs. When my SO was job hunting he was paralyzed by cover letters, so I edited his boilerplate language so he was more confident in it.

        He absolutely did NOT want me to send him job posts because he found that overwhelming. When by brother was job hunting, he really appreciated that though. It depends on the person.

      2. AnonyMeow*

        This is a great suggestion. Ask him what he wants. If it was me and my hubby, I wouldn’t do anything related to his job search, but you should find out what your guy wants from you.

        It’s a tough situation for both of you. Best of luck!

      3. Cool Beans*

        The simplest solution is always best, right? :) Thank you for reminding me of that!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      My husband has been looking for work for a year and I just now found zen in the situation. The more frustrated I would get, the worse he would feel. We are living adequately on one income, but I would fret about $$. I would get upset that I had to go to work and he got to be at home. It caused tensions and there wasn’t anything I could magically do to change the situation.
      I’ve learned to accept this as our temporary situation. He lets me know when he finds something good to apply for and I let him do his own thing…as long as the house is clean when I get home.
      When I backed off and stopped worrying, he got more confidence and felt more secure in his role in our home.

      1. Cool Beans*

        That sounds similar to our situation! I haven’t thought of the fact that when I stress about it, it causes more stress on him.

        Thank you for sharing :)

        1. AndersonDarling*

          Also…he found a hobby to occupy him during the day. He has been remodeling an unused room in the basement. I really think it has been helping his attitude because he can see that he is doing something and shaping the world around him…even without a job. :)

    4. writelhd*

      I was in pretty much this exact situation last year, I very much feel your pain. *hugs.* Eventually he got a job–it was by no means his dream job in the field he’s been trying to get back into, it was actually kind of a “bait and switch” where they promised experience in his chosen field and have not at all delivered on that, so the saga is very much not over, but emotionally he and thus I are both in a much better place just for having somewhere for him to go every day to do some work. But I totally understand how much a partner’s low mood can affect yours, how easy it is to want to feel so responsible for this person, (and yes, you must try to combat this) how easy it is to get angry at all those stupid people who have no idea what they’re missing out on by not hiring this amazing person! What idiots! (Ahem.)

      I agree with others who point out what you should and should not take responsibility for to help in his actual job search, I will speak to the emotional support piece because that is what I found the most difficult when I was in that situation. I definitely noticed that Mondays were the worst. Over the weekend his spirits would lift a little from having taken some time off from job search, but Monday would roll around and it would be back to the depression of rejection for him, and me working my stressful job while also worrying about him being depressed, and about our finances, and that strained our relationship. Once he lost his job we had to completely cut going out to eat, buying alcohol, going or doing anything fun, etc, to make the finances work on just my income, and honestly they still didn’t. Bu we told ourselves that once we got through 10 Mondays of this, no matter where we were financially, we would do one small thing to reward ourselves for having slogged through that hard time for 10 weeks. Go out to eat again, go to a movie, get a beer somewhere, etc. And then after the next 10 weeks, the same. (His unemployment did not end up lasting that long, thankfully.) Just knowing that little emotional break was coming up made it seem like no so large an abyss was in front of us. Also still try to carve out some small amount of time for yourself for the same reason. Twenty minutes a day to read a book to escape, time together to just watch a TV show and try to take your mind off it, etc, so that the constant weight of worrying about it all the time has finite break points.

    5. writelhd*

      I was in pretty much this exact situation last year, I very much feel your pain. *hugs.* Eventually he got a job–it was by no means his dream job in the field he’s been trying to get back into, it was actually kind of a “bait and switch” where they promised experience in his chosen field and have not at all delivered on that, so the saga is very much not over, but emotionally he and thus I are both in a much better place just for having somewhere for him to go every day to do some work. But I totally understand how much a partner’s low mood can affect yours, how easy it is to want to feel so responsible for this person, (and yes, you must try to combat this) how easy it is to get angry at all those stupid people who have no idea what they’re missing out on by not hiring this amazing person! What idiots! (Ahem.)

      I agree with others who point out what you should and should not take responsibility for to help in his actual job search, I will speak to the emotional support piece because that is what I found the most difficult when I was in that situation. I definitely noticed that Mondays were the worst. Over the weekend his spirits would lift a little from having taken some time off from job search, but Monday would roll around and it would be back to the depression of rejection for him, and me working my stressful job while also worrying about him being depressed, and about our finances, and that strained our relationship. Once he lost his job we had to completely cut going out to eat, buying alcohol, going or doing anything fun, etc, to make the finances work on just my income, and honestly they still didn’t. Bu we told ourselves that once we got through 10 Mondays of this, no matter where we were financially, we would do one small thing to reward ourselves for having slogged through that hard time for 10 weeks. Go out to eat again, go to a movie, get a beer somewhere, etc. And then after the next 10 weeks, the same. (His unemployment did not end up lasting that long, thankfully.) Just knowing that little emotional break was coming up made it seem like no so large an abyss was in front of us. Also still try to carve out some small amount of time for yourself for the same reason. Twenty minutes a day to read a book to escape, time together to just watch a TV show and try to take your mind off it, etc, so that the constant weight of worrying about it all the time has finite break points.

      Moderator note: I am not sure what happened with my browser but I think somehow I might have posted this comment somewhere else completely out of the right thread. If so I am so sorry and I will try to find it and reply to that to say so.

      1. writelhd*

        So actually I guess it was a double post and not in another thread. Sorry! I was having browser issues.

  41. K130*

    I gave my two weeks’ notice yesterday. Part of the reason is returning to school and family responsibilities. But things here have gotten bad in the last few months and the plans for the next few months are even worse. Combined with the lack of growth opportunity, I just can’t do it anymore. I literally cried about coming in to work on Wednesday and went home early. Today I didn’t dread coming in. :)

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Congratulations! It’s terrible that you’ve had such an awful time at this job, and I’m glad to hear that you don’t have to deal with it anymore. On to bigger and better things!

  42. Ife*

    Oh man. Outlook troubles.

    We upgraded to Office 2016 and now every time I open Outlook or try to switch between email/calendar views, I have to lock my computer and log back in in order for it to work. And Outlook is randomly freezing and requiring a force-quit. It has been 3 weeks.

    IT looked at it, tried reinstalling it, still no help. Now they are ignoring me, lol! I seem to be the only victim of this particular hiccup at the company. On the plus, side, I am getting REALLLLLY good at typing my password!

    1. Show Me The Money*

      Can you try contacting Microsoft directly? Is it possible for you to download and use an older version of Outlook? Do you know if all the suggestions on this page have been tested?:

      I feel your pain, I’m the liaison between my organization and our IT company and I have to contact them on almost a daily basis and they like to ignore me from time to time. Persistence usually pays off, though!

  43. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m hoping to get people’s opinion on something. It used to be that if you searched a page here for “OP,” you would find any comments that the OP had left using that name, and it was an easy way to see if the OP had commented. A year or so ago, that stopped working and now it gets you every instance of “op” on the page, including in words like “open,” “slope,” or “stop,” which is very annoying and renders the search pretty much useless.

    I’m trying to figure out a way around this. One possibility is to set the site to automatically add a character, like a tilde, after commenter names. This way, you could search for “OP~” and you’d find the OP’s comments and not all the other stuff. Here’s a screenshot of what this would look like. (It’s a very pale grey tilde right after the commenter name.)

    I can’t decide if it clutters up the page though. So the other option would be to make that character invisible. If you knew to search for “OP~” it would work, but since it’s invisible, it would be sort of like an Easter egg for regular readers and it wouldn’t be immediately apparent to others. (I could explain it on the “how to comment” page, but not everyone would notice it.) I suspect it’s only regular readers who go through the trouble to search for “OP” anyway though.

    So, do you have strong opinions either way on this? Option A (visible pale grey tilde after every commenting name) or Option B (invisible tilde)? Or nothing at all? Please make this decision for me.

    1. Jack the Treacle Eater*

      Assume you’ve sussed out why the change and established that there’s nothing you can revert or change to make the search work as expected? Having to work around like that seems a bit clumsy, but if it’s all you can do…

    2. KatieKate*

      Can you ask OPs to comment in a certain way? That way we can stick to OP #1 or OP #2 for groups of 5, and not “the OP from Vulcan” or whatever version they come up with. For single letters, I think the tilde would work. Maybe a double tilde ~OP~ (it looks like they’re floating! )

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Asking people to comment a certain way would solve it but it feels too in-the-weeds to me — like loading them down with more instructions than I want.

        1. Pwyll*

          What if you included a checkbox under the comments that said something like “I am one of the original posters”? Granted, I suppose you’d need to police if people were not the OP and were checking that box.

        2. Pwyll*

          Can you manually edit someone’s comment name as an administrator? That’s still annoying, but perhaps you only do it to the first instance?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I could, but realistically don’t have time (and it would have to be all their comments to serve the purpose of people being able to find it).

    3. animaniactoo*

      Link brought me to a “page not found”. From a practicality standpoint, if you went with the invisible version, could you make it a repeating top comment post/link on “Searching for a commenter by name”?

      Also, from practicality standpoint, would it be better to have the tilde in front of the name so that it would catch “OP” and “OP3” and “OP#2″ if you don’t remember how the OP styled themselves in the comments or are just searching for any OP’s comments?”

        1. animaniactoo*

          I’d say make it visible and put it in front of the name. From an aesthetics standpoint it will work better that way (think bullet points) and from a practicality standpoint it should also work better that way.

              1. animaniactoo*

                Huh, I totally thought it would work too. Is there another symbol that might work instead? An asterisk? Dash? Or is it the location?

      1. Karo*

        But then you also have people who call themselves #2OP, so it could be an issue either way.

    4. Elkay*

      That won’t fix the problem on multi-question posts. I think KatieKate is right, it should go at the beginning.

    5. Forrest Rhodes*

      Could the search be case-sensitive? So it would find “OP” but not “op”? (You probably already thought of this, right?)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s not case sensitive, which isn’t something I can control since people are using the Find function in their browser. It used to be that you could put a space after “OP” when searching and that would take care of it, but the site code no longer recognizes a space there (it changed when we changed the WordPress theme a while back).

    6. That Perl Developer*

      You should be able to do a case-sensitive search — so ‘OP’ would match, but not ‘Open’, ‘Stop’, or any words with ‘op’.

        1. Aurion*

          What I usually do is run a search for “OP” but make the search “match case” (in Firefox; can’t remember if this works in Chrome). That helps a lot, but then there’s all the comments talking about/to “OP” that this picks up as well, so it doesn’t limit it to just posts from the OP.

          As for your options (which would limit it to posts from the OP), I prefer the pale tilde.

      1. SophieChotek*

        On this actual page (not searching old posts) but in Safari, for instance, I can (edit>find) and search for (space)OP(space) and then get all instances of “OP” on this page only, but nothing with the letters “op” like “open” or “stop”. But obviously that would not help me if I was actually trying to search through older posts.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, it just won’t find the user name (the thing in bold above the comment) since there aren’t actually spaces on either side. So that will find references to the OP, but not the OP’s own comments.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        No, the site search uses Google. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to force Google to do a case-sensitive search.

    7. The IT Manager*

      With IE which I am using I can just do an advanced search and search for “whole word only.”

      Bizarre pet peeve, except on the Open Threads these people are the letter writers (LWs) and not original posters OPs). They didn’t post their question in a thread anywhere, their letter was answered by the blogger.

        1. The IT Manager*

          I am also offered “Match Case” which would work too. It’s really too bad those other browsers don’t have those options.

    8. blackcat*

      A few ideas:

      -instead of the tilde, you can add “says” so all comments would appear as “So and so says.” Then we could search for “OP says”

      -force a space before and after every name. So a search for ” OP ” would work. Right now, that works for me to find all references to OP in this thread. But it rules out people who do “OP#” and variants thereof.

      1. Windchime*

        “OP says” would also eliminate people who name themselves “OP#1”.

        I don’t mind the tilde after OP, but that also seems like it would rule out people who call themselves “OP#1”. Maybe we need to use something other than OP as an indication that someone is the Original Poster?

    9. Christine*

      I’ve tried the search as “OP” thinking it would eliminate the words with OP in them, didn’t work. Some search engines you can do that to narrow it down to that particular phrasing. I would like something that would show around the “OP” so that it’s more noticeable if doing an eye search .

    10. AF*

      I agree that regular readers would likely be the ones searching for the OP, so maybe instructions in “how to comment” and then a separate update post about it would be sufficient to notify us of the change. I don’t have a strong opinion about how you do it, but I absolutely LOVE that you’re doing this!! Thank you!

      1. AF*

        And also, some people use LW for letter-writer, so there’s no way to make everyone happy. LW is a less common letter combination, though, unless you use the word “always.” Just try the way that makes it easiest for the greatest number of people.

    11. Zahra*

      What I used to do before some layout changes “broke” this:

      Search “OP June” (for a posting in June). Since the date was right after the commenter name, it would pull up only posts for which the commenter’s name ended by “OP”. Is there any way to bring that functionality back?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ah, that’s because the timestamp used to be next to the commenter name rather than underneath. I’ll have to check back to figure out why we changed that, because that would solve it too.

    12. Astor*

      I’d definitely prefer it to be a blank space (like an &nbsp;) than a pale grey tilde. I think that’s more accessibility friendly. And I used to do the same thing as Zahra where I’d search for “OP [month]” to narrow it down to comments.

      It should be a simple task to get the new template to work like the old one did by putting that space back in.

    13. Clever Name*

      What about a hashtag? If the OPs can get on board using #OP, then that should work, right?

      1. Random Citizen*

        I like that option! Also on Firefox, and usually use “Match Case” with “OP” to find it, but obviously that is on the user’s end and not something Alison can automatically.

    14. Ultraviolet*

      If it were me in your place, I’d say the tilde method is more trouble than it’s worth. Regardless of whether the tilde or other marker is visible, it won’t catch all variations an OP might use, like OP#1, OP1, OP here, etc (not to mention all the OP’s who don’t use “OP” in their name at all, which seems like the bigger issue). So you’ll get a lot of complaints from commenters that the searching method is broken when the OP uses an incompatible name. You might also get people “correcting” the OP that they should have used a different name, which is arguably worse than if you had suggested the name “OP” to them to begin with. And I don’t really love the impression it gives to be suggesting such an unreliable, nonrobust method for using the site.

      The thing I’d recommend looking into is trying to come up with some wording that would let the OP know that if they want to participate in the comment section, they will get more responses if they use name XXX or type XXX into the Email field. I think you could convey it as entirely optional, and emphasize that they don’t need to do it that way. Some people might even appreciate knowing how best to make themselves known in the comments. I understand your objections to loading the OP down with instructions, and it totally makes sense, but it just seems like there might be a way of expressing it that would seem helpful to them rather than onerous.

      (Also, can you link them to a version of the page with some dummy email or username pre-filled in? Is there any way to make a particular email address highlighted for just one post, but not others?)

    15. Belle diVedremo*

      Would it be easier to notice if it preceded the name? ~Belle rather than Belle~?
      If it’s visible in the “name” box, either way, I’d find that helpful too.

    16. CM*

      Nothing at all would be my vote. Most of the usernames are unique enough to be able to do a regular CTRL-F search. OPs typically don’t comment under the username “OP,” they use some other username and say “I am the OP for letter #5” in their comment. And a lot of other people use “OP” in their comments, like “I think OP#5 should…” So I don’t think you can create a web fix for this. I agree with KatieKate that you should ask people to identify themselves in a certain way — for example, they could put “(OP)” in their username and that would be a unique thing to search for. I don’t think it’s too in the weeds at all. It seems pretty simple and if they don’t follow the instructions, no big deal, it just makes their comments a little harder to find.

      I think the ideal solution would be to have a color highlight for OP’s comments, the way yours show up in a blue box. But I don’t think you can do this without creating actual accounts for people (unless you’re willing to comb through the responses and do it manually).

  44. Owl*

    Called out today for my first mental health day since college. I’m in a bad spot right now — they’re changing my job in a way that I agree needs to be changed, but it’s taking me away from a workplace that I love quite dearly. My commute is doubling, I’m going from a disability/neurodiversity accepting workplace to one where people made horrible jokes about suicide and complain about kids not being able to sit still during storytimes (I was one of those kids growing up). So I’m dreading it, especially as the first day we get to do “team building”. Oh, and we’re going to have 8 people share 3 computers and a telephone — no actual office space (because we’re meant to be out and about doing outreach).

    One of the hardest parts about all of this is that the impression most people get is that this is a promotion, but it’s not. It’s basically correcting a fundamental flaw in the position and was brought on by the fact that some of the team (which was spread out but is now being centralized) is not working well together (no kidding)… and that nobody is following the guidelines put in place for us, and that there are some unreal expectations for certain regions that we cover (the farms don’t have events and groups like the city does, but it’s expected that they do). My coworkers understand the true nature of the position change and don’t like it (ditto).

    I just need a break from the people saying “we’re going to miss you, but your new job is going to be awesome” and “we’re going to miss you, why are they making such a strange decision?”.

    Anyone have any advice for how to manage that on Monday when I go in to my current workplace for my final week?

    1. amysee*

      “Oh, thank you, but goodbyes are too depressing! Let’s talk about something else. How’s the teapot project coming?/Are you ready for your vacation in Chai City?/What did your sister think of the gift you got her?”

      I have seen others leaving a job tear up and make similar protestations when well-meaning colleagues want to bring up the departure, and it’s been pretty effective at redirecting the conversation. Good luck!

    2. Chaordic One*

      It’s normal to have conflicted feelings when you are leaving under such odd circumstances. Be genial to everyone and be sure to thank the people you had good relationships with. (You might need their support as references if you start looking for a different job in the near future, and it sounds like you might.)

      If there were lower-level people who made your job a little easier, (admins, receptionists, mail clerks) thank them, too. It’s surprising how meaningful that can be to them and how much they would appreciate it. (I’m just saying.)

      Down the road…

      I generally abhor “team building” exercises and if there were “truth in language” laws governing usage they would be usually called “time wasting” exercises.

      However, you are in a very unique situation and, if you are up to it, you have a hell of a lot to teach these people who made horrible jokes about suicide and complain about kids not being able to sit still during storytimes. You don’t have to reveal all the secrets of your life, but I think it could be very helpful (maybe even shocking) to your new coworkers if you gave them the opportunity to get to know you and some the things that shaped you as you grew up and that motivate you in your work now. I bet many of them are not the same things that motivate your coworkers.

    3. CM*

      I wonder if you could be open, at least with some people, about how you wish you weren’t leaving? If that’s not appropriate, you could try just mentally reframing their comments as “I care about you, and have enjoyed working with you” rather than being about the new job. Like the way when coworkers ask you about your weekend, they’re not actually saying, “I want to know what you did this weekend,” but instead are just expressing interest in you as a person.

  45. Annieomonus*

    Okay- so I’m working on my application for a job, for my favorite sports team’s back office. It’s a little stressful (I was out of full time work for almost 18 months- I {still} bartend part time) and I’ve been in my position for over a year (first six months temping), I haven’t had to do the a real cover letter in almost 2 years(my agency just asked me to write a generic one) – so I will probably be spending most of my weekend getting my application packet together.
    My question is what is the best way to write out the full cycle awards I deal with? I do all the administrative stuff from application to awarding- including travel, ordering the award, hotel arrangements- both in the US and internationally – dealing with awardees from all over the world. I don’t know how to word this without it turning into full paragraphs or making it seem very inside. I do this for 2 awards and up to 7 awardees so it’s a pretty big component of my job. Any help would be greatly appreciated- thanks!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’m assuming this is specifically relevant to the role at the sports team? If so, I’d devote one line to the work itself, like “As the lead on the Very Cool Awards Program, I oversaw the full awards cycle from application review, recipient selection, and all logistics for the awards ceremony.” (or whatever succinctly describes what you do). And then spend another two or three sentences talking about why you enjoyed that work, or why you were successful at that work, or how you made the awards process more efficient or successful, or how you increased the number of applicants as a direct result of marketing the awards program, or whatever applies. Don’t get too in the weeds about the process; focus on what you enjoyed about the work and why you were good at it.

  46. Mx*

    I mentioned this in the question about moving to South Korea this week, and have been itching to provide the details (such as they are…) all week!!

    I quit my job and will be moving to Australia on a working holiday visa in September!! I haven’t exactly figured out where exactly I am going! (That’s what airbnb is for!) A recruiter I connected with awhile back is in Sydney now, so she’s my first point of contact, and then I have a thing I need to finish in the next 4 hours (?!! not a fan of such a short turn around time) for a part-time fully remote tutor gig at a beloved by me website!!

    Not to be a complete cliche (she says, while acting out a quarter life crisis, quitting a well paid job/etc), I also hope to work on my side projects and a novel, which is why the part-time stuff really appeals to me.

    Now I just have to get rid of all my stuff!

    1. Anon Anon Anon*

      Congrats! My step-sister did that a few years ago during her gap year.

      It’s something I wish I had done in my 20’s. I’m too old now to qualify for things like working holidays, so I’m always envious of those people who are embracing a new adventure.

      1. Mx*


        Yeah, I just turned 27, so I am starting to approach the upper limit for the visa. It’s also a bit hard in some ways and easier in others because I’ve been working full time in my industry for about 5 years now, so am not the most traditional working holiday visa type!

        1. zora.dee*

          I looked up those visas after you posted about it, and I am way too old now, so i am SO JEALOUS! I would have loved to do that, so go out there and ENJOY IT! That is so awesome, take full advantage, I’m sure it will be amazing.

          Good luck!!!

  47. NGL*

    I’ve been at my job for 10 months this week. My boss pulled me aside yesterday and gave me the AMAZING news that they’re going to promote me! It won’t be official for a few months due to HR procedures (they’re caught up in annual review stuff), but he wanted me to know that was coming down the pike.

    I was shocked and excited! I’ve been promoted about once a year for awhile now, mostly because I moved companies. I’m very happy where I’m at now, so I wasn’t even going to think of asking for a promotion until I’d been here 2 or 3 years.

    So pumped!

  48. Jdubs*

    I’m not sure how to proceed with this situation. An organization that I volunteered at in 2014/2015, and have started trying to get involved with again, may or may not have a job opening available. Their volunteer coordinator sent out an email to all the volunteers letting us know she’s leaving to finish graduate school. I would love her job. I have experience both through internships and jobs plus volunteer experience with this organization that I feel makes me a great candidate. The problem is I don’t know if they’ve already filled this position or not. How can I express my interest if there’s no job posting? If nothing else I’d really like to send them my resume so they have my information on file for future positions. It’s entirely possible they’ve already filled the position, which is fine, I just want them to know I’m interested in it and in any relevant future positions. If on the off chance that they’re still looking well I would love to apply. Thank you for your help!

    1. Anon Anon Anon*

      Could you email the coordinator and just ask if they have someone already lined up to replace her or if they will be conducting a search for her replacement? If she comes back and says they will be conducting a search you could then ask for details.

      1. Jdubs*

        Would that seem too rude or pushy? I don’t want to offend them by acting too aggressive or forward or like I’m trying to steal her job. Although I guess I can’t really steal something that she is willingly leaving lol

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          I don’t think so. I think it’s natural even as a volunteer to be curious about who you might be working with going forward.

        2. zora.dee*

          Not at all! She has already announced she’s leaving ,it’s not pushy. Most nonprofits I’ve worked for are always hoping to find candidates who already have connections to the organization, it’s not at all pushy to send Congratulations, and mention you would be very interested if they are still looking to fill the position, and here’s my resume.

          Good luck!

          1. zora.dee*

            and, just to explain further, it would be pushy if you then started emailing every single other staff member asking the same thing, or started following up every few days asking if they have filled the position yet.

            But one polite inquiry and informing them that you are interested is not pushy. Just be prepared to take no for an answer if they tell you it has already been filled.

  49. Blue Anne*

    I’ve posted here about the terrible, unethical, potentially illegal practices at my new job… been here just over two months.

    I’ve started to get some applications in to other things, and also to do some networking. Networking landed me an interview at a small but prestigious accounting firm here this morning. I went in not sure what to expect, and walked out having been told to expect an offer in the next few weeks, once all the partners are back from vacation and they can put it together. Medical, 2 weeks vacation, 401k, salary to be discussed. They’d help me become a CPA (even though I likely need to take some more classes before I can sit the exams, as my UK qualifications don’t transfer too well) and once I got chartered I’d be on track for partner in 3-4 years.

    What the crap just happened?

    I’m not sure whether I want it or not, but it sure is flattering, and I haven’t seen any red flags from them yet.

      1. Blue Anne*

        A lot of reasons, mostly lifestyle-related. I just got out of KPMG in order to get my life back. Do I really want to be a partner-track CPA, even if it’s at a much smaller firm? I’m just not sure. It seems like a good place to work, but I would definitely be expected to be the energetic, ambitious millennial woman. They definitely respect my skills and think I’d fit in well, but I think they also want to be able to have Dynamic Young Professional Woman as one of the pictures on their Partners page.

        And I might want to go back to the UK in a few years.

        1. higheredrefugee*

          You’ve been around the block enough to know that rarely is a job perfect. Being DYPW isn’t all bad – some of it is showing others how to be fantastic mentors and helping your mentees find other mentors to help them build other skills. As long as you think they actually want the DYPW for more than window dressing, and will continue to value your skills, experience, and input, then I would assume they want you yes, to be DYPW, but also for the reasons that help expand their leadership thinking, including how to retain more millennials. It sounds like the smaller shop experience might help you develop more options if and when you return to the UK. Plus you’ll sleep better and serve your clients better once you get out of the unethical shop! By not expecting an offer for a few weeks yet, your dating period is extended, and you can also make some discreet inquiries to make sure this shop is all you are hoping they appear to be!

          1. Blue Anne*

            These are all really good, reassuring points, thank you!

            I do think they have genuine respect for my skills. And I was referred to them personally by someone I trust, which goes a long way. It sounds like they want to aim for bringing on a junior partner who is more of a generalist so the senior partners can concentrate on their specialist clients and bringing in new business, which makes sense… but there was definitely also an air of “we’re not sure how to deal with millennials and want one we can relate to so she can bridge the gap”. Which also makes sense I guess.

            Okay. I’m feeling a little more confident about this. Time to make some quiet calls.

    1. Cristina in England*

      I remember you posting about your unethical bosses and I am really happy to know you’re applying around and getting some great responses. Congrats!

      1. Blue Anne*


        I was starting to think I should stick it out for six months, but then the other day I had a conversation with my boss that ended in me saying “I’m not doing that, it’s illegal” and the boss saying “Ehhhhh, it depends… but okay I’ll give it to your colleague”.

        No compunction at all about leaving now!

    2. Blue Anne*

      JFC. Just found out that I’m the only employee with any paid time off, too. I got an ever so generous five days. Because I’m a pushy negotiator.

      None of the other guys get any at all. No time off.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Am grinning. I think you should find out more about this new job. You will be better able to decide with more information.

  50. NYC anon*

    I wonder about the appropriateness of checking in on the timing of a hiring process for a freelance consulting position. I’m currently working in a full-time 9-5 and want to quit soon to be a freelancer (like, next week) but I want to be sure I have at least one reliable gig lined up. I’ve been talking to some people at a reputable org in my field who appear set on wanting to hire me for a project. We discussed a project start date, and they asked for references earlier this week, but I haven’t gotten confirmation from them and one of my references said that as of last night she hadn’t heard from them. This isn’t an outrageous delay of course, and since my start date is far off, they may think it’s not urgent for me, but it is. I have an upcoming vacation I still plan to take before I finish my job, and I also think it will take my org a while to replace me (I’ve been here a long time), so I wanted to give 4 weeks notice and I wanted to give it early next week, ideally.

    I can’t really nag them to give me an answer, can I? The hiring for this project has been fairly informal–I haven’t even met them in person, but I’m qualified to do the project for them and they seemed very excited about my expertise in their subject area, so they basically told me I was on board. But with a far-off start date (I need the 4 weeks, plus some time before my kids start school) and references pending, plus paperwork they told me I’d need to complete, I don’t think I can consider this a done deal.

    I guess I just wondered if given how informal it’s all been, I could ask them when it’ll be wrapped up? Or should I treat it like any other hiring process and wait for them to complete their stuff on their end? I’m just so impatient, but I don’t want to do anything rash.

    1. Tex*

      Give them at least two weeks for the reference check. Do you have a personal contact you can use to see where they are in the process? Also, what is their speed on moving on other decisions (have they been fairly prompt about interviewing, getting back to you, etc.)?

      If you are fairly confident you have it :
      “Hi X, I just wanted to touch base about the potential start of the project. I am working on my fall schedule and wanted to make sure to block off the appropriate time in order to meet your company’s deadlines. I’m really excited to work on this project. Yadda, yadda.”

      Otherwise use the time before you quit to network like crazy, build a website, get your tax filing number in order, business banking accounts opened, billing and invoicing system set up, etc. All easy steps, but time consuming to research if you want the best value for money.

    2. CM*

      Did you tell them about your timeframe? If not, it’s not nagging to give them the reasons you gave in your first paragraph (upcoming vacation, need a lot of time to transition out of current job) and say “… so I’d appreciate it if you could confirm within the next week, would that be possible?”

  51. Sarah*

    I’ve been working at my company for two years and a month ago moved to a new team. I’m happy about the move and really enjoying the work.

    The team is split into 3 sections with separate team leads and managers, all reporting into 1 director. There have been rumours for a while that the manager of section 1 has been having an affair with a non-management coworker in section 2. The rumours have turned into them being caught several times making out in the stairwell.

    I didn’t care about any of this when I joined the team in section 2, however, since joining both the team lead and manager of section 2 have left and the company has decided the manager of section 1 will manage both teams.

    My coworker who is involved in the affair consistently arrives late and leaves early. She has turned down additional projects and helping to train me because she is too “busy”, but spends most of her day away from her desk going for walks or on her phone standing in the bathroom.

    I had every intention of ignoring the knowledge I have of the affair, but I can’t help but feel like she’s getting special treatment while I’ve been put on an accelerated training program and heaped with work to make up for us being short staffed.

    Others have tried to broach this subject with our director who has said she doesn’t see a problem with Manager managing coworkers team. I am 2 years into working for the company, but only 1 month into working for this team, should I take this to HR or suck it up and deal with the heavier workload?

  52. Amanda*

    The woman I sit next to does not ever stop making noises, and I’m thisclose to BEC mode with her. We are not allowed to wear headphones or earbuds in the office so that’s not an option. Also, she does a multitude of different things so I can’t simply ask her to stop humming. Instead, she hums, constantly clears her throat, talks to herself, makes mouth noises, and sometimes even makes little “do doo doo” songs to herself. I’m probably overreacting but my work requires a lot of focus and I just can’t think well–it doesn’t help that we moved and I went from a private office to a fairly open cubicle area, so it’s not all her fault!

    1. Leatherwings*

      I hate hate hate repetitive noise, so I really sympathize.
      Can you focus on the things that are easier for her to control? Mouth noises and clearing her throat are harder for people to stop doing, but it’s pretty reasonable to ask her to stop singing and humming.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      What about a white noise machine? I think they have some pretty cheap ones. Check eBay and consignment stores, because a lot of people get them for nurseries and never use them or get rid of them after infancy. (At least, that’s what we did!)

      1. oldfashionedlovesong*

        Seconded, or a tiny desk fan. I have one that I got for about $20 at Target and in addition to being super useful during summer, it nicely smooths out (without fully covering up) the noises of my cubemates.

        1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

          Desk fan would be perfect I think. It’s college season, so Target usually has little ones for under $10 coming into stock now or soonish. The one I bought a few years ago has a USB plug or AC adapter in the box so it’s very versatile and a surprisingly good fan if needed.

    3. STX*

      Can you get a desk fan (a secret white noise machine)? Maybe you are feeling a bit overheated this summer and like the fresh breeze on your face…

    4. Sabrina the Teenage Witch*

      Try doing what she does for a few days and see if it bothers her. If she mentions it, say something like “Oh, I noticed that you make noises like this and I wanted to see if it helps me stay focused on my tasks.”

      1. cjb1*

        Unless she just joins in by creating a chorus everytime you hum something. *eye twitch*

      2. TL -*

        Oh, that’s so passive aggressive. It is unlikely to help. A simple ask for her to be quieter would be much better.

    5. Amanda*

      Thanks all! I’ll look into a fan. We’re just really limited to what personal items we can have on our desks–for example, no photos, no personal mugs or glassware, no knickknacks, etc. I think I can get a fan through as a semi-medical thing because I do run pretty hot!

    6. Lia*

      Can you run a fan or white noise machine? That might muffle it a bit.

      I sympathize. I share an office with someone who is on the phone on personal calls probably half of every day and it is killing my productivity.

    7. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Oh, this is late, but if you don’t want to get a separate white noise machine, I’ve played white noise from websites (simplynoise or asoftmurmur were recommended to me here!) just through my computer speakers. It’s subtle enough that no one really notices that you’re secretly running a program.

  53. Marzipan*

    We spent a big chunk of the last few days dealing with the impacts of a large local emergency situation on a group of our clients – one of those really satisfying things where you get to roll up your sleeves and help make things better. All good, all sorted, everyone safe and looked after, and things are now getting back to normal (though I was seven hours late leaving work on the day it was all happening, so I’m planning on making the most of this weekend). We got a really nice thank-you message from one of the clients today, as well, which made it all worthwhile.

    On the other hand, I can hear my boss’ boss requesting changes to a major piece of work *now* that I asked for feedback on by the beginning of this week, and which was supposed to go live at the beginning of next week, so that bit’s slightly less cheery…

  54. Coral*

    Guys, I need your help with how to deal with an annoying coworker.

    I work at a school in a non-teaching role (yay, summer off!), but I am dreading going back to work this year. I am miserable at the thought of dealing with one coworker in particular. One of the educational assistants at the school will come to my office to chat with me usually 10-20 minutes before school ends. And it’s getting EXHAUSTING. She comes to me and just COMPLAINS about eeeeeeeeeeeeeverything that’s happened that day. I definitely need her to STOP doing this next year. Her complaining doesn’t really “interrupt” what I’m doing, especially at that time of day, but nonetheless it’s annoying as hell. I would listen to her complain last year, but this year I’m not interested in hearing it at all. I can already tell there are sooo many things she’s going to complain about this upcoming school year (she hates the new principal, etc.).

    Like, I feel so stupid for this, but I just don’t KNOW what to do about this to avoid it. I have an office, but I also work in a larger area (I’m the school librarian), so I could close my door around the time she comes, but I don’t want to. Often I’ll be doing work in the library around that time. Like, if I say I’m “busy” working I can just see her staying there and visiting. When I don’t talk to her she seems to think I’m mad at her and asks me if I’m upset with her (uhh, no… I just don’t want to talk to you??). She seems to be overly sensitive too. Last year we were working together on a celebration for the school volunteers and I moved these coffee mugs she put on the table to a different spot, when she saw that I moved the mugs she stormed away and didn’t speak to me for over a week!! The break from her was nice, but yeah… she’s like that. I almost feel trapped by this. Any advice?

    1. Rincat*

      I have a coworker who is similarly sensitive, chatty, and won’t seem to leave me alone. If I ask him to stop talking to me (as in, “Hey I’m super busy, need to get back to this..” I will get an angry lecture from him about how I need to stop being so obsessed with work). Anyway, my strategy right now is the avoidant slow-fade…as in, make myself as boring and unavailable as possible so eventually he will lose interest in interacting with me. If she can pin you down long enough to vent at you (keep on the move!) then barely listening to her, working on other things, responding in short one-word answers should bore her and not give her the attention she wants. And she probably will get upset, but if she handles disappointment by giving you the silent treatment, then that’s just fine. If/when she asks if you are mad at her, just cheerfully say “Nope!” and go about your day.

      Tl;dnr: Give her absolutely nothing! Be a boring piece of toast!!

    2. Dawn*

      Stop being nice. Close your door, minimize contact with her. You’re basically asking “How do I stop talking to this person without having her be mad at me?” and that’s impossible- she’s gonna sulk. She’s demonstrated that she has zero idea how to interact with others in a professional setting and that she likes to whine like a teenager if someone gives her the chance, so don’t give her the chance! Accept that she’s gonna pout!

      I promise if you don’t give her an inch of breathing room she’ll sulk for a couple days and then go find someone else to monopolize!

      1. Marillenbaum*

        THIS. There’s no magic way to say it that keeps her from getting upset; instead, focus on getting the result you want, and treating her with consideration, respect, and honesty (as much as you can, anyway).

    3. animaniactoo*

      Yes, don’t let her being overly sensitive put you off being straight with her. Her response is on her. Yours is only in framing it as clearly and politely as you can.

      “Jane, I have to stop being available for these kinds of conversations with you. This is very draining for me and it leaves me exhausted. I understand that you need to vent, but I need you to find somebody else please.”

      and then when she comes and does it anyway you politely say “Jane, I don’t want to talk or hear about this. Please stop.”

      If she gets upset by it, she gets upset. You remain calm, do not get exasperated, and simply refuse to talk about this stuff anymore. Allow her to be upset that her go-to ear is no longer available to her.

      1. Christine*

        I was that person. I had a coworker tell me that hearing me constantly complain would stress her out and she didn’t want to hear it. It upset me and hurt the relationship. But I realized what I a bore I was and stopped complaining about the boss to everyone.

        Her constantly complaining also feeds her unhappiness. You could play being a therapist …. tell her you would like to have one week where she doesn’t have a complaint. If she’s going stop by in the mornings, that you do not want to hear negative things before you start the day. If she cannot be positive, please go elsewhere to vent. That you do not want to see her unless she can say only good things in the a.m.

        You’ll be doing her a favor. She may get mad and not talk to you again. Hopefully, she’ll realize how much a bore she’s been and not victimize anyone else with her negativity.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      I have gotten into these kinds of situations often, too. One thing that has been helpful for me is not making the complaining any fun for the person. Make them feel uncomfortable about constantly complaining.

      “That hasn’t been my experience.”
      “You’ve really complained about this a lot.”
      “It doesn’t sound like you’re doing anything about this.”
      “How are you planning to address that?”
      “That’s a very negative attitude to take.”

      This + knit eyebrows and a mild frown + letting them sit in awkward silence helps to send the message that they won’t get sympathetic noises from pointlessly complaining.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “I am sorry to hear you are having more difficulties.’
        “Gee, I hope things get straightened out and go better soon.”
        “You always have something going on. I hope things get easier [next week, soon, shortly].”
        “Have you thought about if you are happy working here?”

        Say something like this each time every time.

  55. legalchef*

    Just a vent about an annoying co-worker. There are three of us that have offices on a little hallway. We are all fairly loud folks, but I am aware of my loudness so I take steps to limit the intrusion on everyone else. The other two don’t seem to try/care. One of the people in our little section, who is newer to my office, will talk on her phone on speakerphone with her door open, which is one of my pet peeves. I find it really obnoxious and inconsiderate, particularly since most of the people who sit around us are in open cubes. So yesterday I asked her if she could close her door when she is on speaker, figuring that she would say something like “yes, of course – sorry that it’s been bothering people!”

    Nope. She said she doesn’t think she can do that, because she gets so many calls that she would keep having to get up to close her door. I said that when I get calls and my door is open, I just, ya know, use the phone like a regular phone.


    However, I had a really great interview on Tuesday and they already contacted my references!!! So maybe I will be getting out of here soon anyway.

    1. Blue Anne*

      Maybe suggest that she gets a headset so she can have her hands free on calls without being obnoxious?

      That would annoy me so much.

      1. Sadsack*

        This is a good idea. I can’t believe that someone who uses the phone so much hasn’t already started using a headset.

        1. legalchef*

          I mean, I use the phone as much as she does – I just am more willing to use the regular phone more, I guess. Or if I know I am going to have an extra phone-heavy day, I will just keep my door closed for the day so I can use speaker.

    2. BuildMeUp*

      Honestly, when she starts getting loud, I would just politely get up and go close her door.

        1. E*

          But she’ll get up to open the door after the call is done… And if you just quietly go close her door a few times, she’ll hopefully get the hint and start closing it herself for calls.

      1. Sadsack*

        Me, too. If she comes out and complains, ask her if she thinks that her having to get up to close her door is more disruptive than your not being able to concentrate all day as she has phone calls. Be nice, but do not apologize.

        1. legalchef*

          Yeah, I guess. I just don’t want it to be that she just figures she will never have to close it because I will do it. It’s not just for my sake – there are a lot of very junior people in cubicles right outside her office who I am sure are disrupted by it, but don’t say anything.

          1. Sadsack*

            I understand, so maybe you should start be making that case to her. If it is disrupting you, it is probably disrupting others who are afraid to speak up. Honestly, you are probably in a losing position because she sounds like an unreasonable person.

  56. Dave*

    Sigh. No real progress at all on the job hunt to speak of.

    I had a great conversation the other day with a company that’s interested in me on a freelance basis. The company sounds really, really cool and they were very interested in me but it’s not a full-time gig. I’m starting to get beat down–just so much silence coming back from the other way.

    I attended a networking thing at a company that I was interested in. I have some decent contacts there if anything does open up, but there’s nothing there now. I did catch up with somebody who left the company I got laid off from, and that was fun (she was NOT happy when she left). I’ve also been able to indulge in some schadenfreude–learned about two more people in my department quitting. Now there’s nobody who was on the team I worked most closely with left. They’ve all quit. I can’t say I feel bad for the organization.

    I’m really starting to question my strategy now and worrying I bit myself in the foot by not having a better approach when cold-contacting a lot of the employers I did.

    1. zora.dee*

      Joining you in Schadenfreude land! I just heard that more people are quitting my last job, and that is going to be really hard for them, and I just don’t feel bad for them at all. It’s nice to feel a little bit vindicated, huh???

    2. Mazzy*

      Hang in there. This is what my last search was like. I learned that alot of the ads up are “fake,” they were up the entire time I was looking and constantly being reposted, and I know some are still up (I saw them when on Indeed posting an ad, and I took a little detour). So don’t feel bad about the silence.

      If it helps, from a hiring perspective, in addition to everything else out there, I found in my last searches on the employer end that many candidates made themselves look good but not a right fit for the roles because they had too much experience with too many things. 30 computer programs is impressive, but I only need you to focus on a few. You need to tailor your materials for specific jobs. If you’re good for too many things, unless they are industry specific, I find it hard to place you in a specific role.

      Less is more in many circumstances. I’m not going to read every word of a 2 page resume (if you’re not very senior), so if you want me to see something, delete the less important information. Also, tailor the cover letter. Include all of your contact information; I’ve seen errors on Indeed where the candidate must have thought I’d somehow get their contact information, but if its not on the actual resume, I’m not getting sent it separately.

    3. Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude*

      Coming to this very late, but I wouldn’t discount the freelancing. I wouldn’t let yourself get locked into one of those Faustian “you’re an independent contractor but you only work for us and you work the hours we tell you and the place we tell you and you get paid the same as the real employees but don’t get health insurance” arrangements, obviously, but if your field is one where actual freelancing makes sense, it can be a good thing.

      I freelance by choice–sort of; I picked a career path where that’s what most do–but others I know in my field have gotten a leg up by doing a little work at place A, a little at place B, getting to know people, etc. It’s basically like networking, except instead of standing around awkwardly in an a poorly-lit hotel conference room trying to figure out a debonair way to balance your plastic glass of wine you know came from a bottle just labeled “Red” like it’s trying to be a Krzysztof Kieślowski film, and the off-brand cookie that’s crumbling in the napkin before you’ve even taken a bite, dribbling away onto a carpet meant to absorb stains of many colors; as you fumble your business card from the elegant leather carrying case you bought for it in a more hopeful time and hand it to a man in a polyester suit who glances at it, takes a sip from his own glass of “Blanc” and mumbles a half-coherent thank-you to your breasts before ambling away toward the sandwich table, which is already vibrant with salmonella, you suspect, even though you’ve only been here 15 minutes.

      Anyway, instead of that it’s like meeting people by working with them, and they get to know you and how awesome your work is. If you take several short-term contracts, you get to make an impression in several places without job-hopping, and you build up a bunch of people who will all say, “Dave? He’s awesome, I’ve worked with him.”

      Of course, there are freelance equivalents of the scenario above, but the wine is usually better.

  57. KatieKate*

    I mostly HAVE A NEW JOB

    A manager in another department subtly approached me about a job he knew I was interested in. He basically said he wasn’t interested in anyone else, so I have it as long as the guy leaving the job gets his own promotion. This all happened within the last week.


  58. JC Denton*

    My favorite day of the week. Two bites, if I may:

    1) What is my manager *actually* saying? They tell me I do great work, I’m amazing at it, and they want me to keep doing it. Then in the same sentence, they tell me that the work is too low level and I’ll never progress in my career with it. I ask for different work that’ll help with career progression and they tell me there’s none available, keep doing what you’re doing – we love the work you do. Huh? Rinse ‘n’ repeat this convo every few months. My assumption is I can keep doing what I’m doing and never get promoted or go elsewhere because they’re not apt to help me get where I’m going.

    2) Our management chain recently went through a shuffle. Some of the folks on our team have had disciplinary encounters in the distant past. What do the folks on here think of the outgoing manager or HR rep sharing those records with the new folks, despite them having no prior background with anyone involved. My gut tells me this is wrong, because it blemishes folks who made a mistake in the past and aren’t likely to repeat it.

    Have a great weekend, everyone!

    1. Biff*

      I’m in a lousy mood so take these translations with a grain of salt:

      1. You do great work. And they will never promote you because it would take them too long to find another person willing to do this low-level work for as long as and as well as you have.

      2. I don’t think HR should share unless it’s a SERIOUS screw up. Why? Because one Manager’s major problem is another manager’s workhorse.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        I agree on both points, especially the second one. HR should not be sharing disciplinary actions taken against employees in the past with parties not involved in said actions. That’s highly inappropriate.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Oops, I read number two wrong (and the OP’s post) – I agree with Ex Resume Reviewer down below on this one.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        1) Tell them you will train the new person, so the new person has a shorter learning curve and knows all the ways you have streamlined the work. Basically, if they will not change their plans for you, you have reached a stalemate and it is time for a new job.

        2) I see no problem here. This is what personnel files are for. If it is in writing in the file then anyone (w/authorization) for years to come can read it.
        If it is a conversation, I still don’t see a huge problem. Someone tells me something along the lines of “Mary went through a spell three years ago, where she just did not bother coming to work on time. So you want to watch Mary on punctuality.”
        Personally, I am going to bring my brain to the table. First, Mary is no longer doing this. Second, maybe Mary had at toxic boss, a sick family member or her car broke down. Can’t tell based on this info. Third, I am kind of looking at the person telling me with my eyes squinted and the word “REALLY?!” running through my head. This person thinks Mary’s tardiness three years ago is the end of the world. However, I don’t. I have seen much larger problems with employees so I see no issue here. In my out loud voice, I would say,”Thank you for letting me know.” In my brain, though, I have almost forgotten what was just said.

        The key here is that you do not know what the recipient of this news will do with this information. It’s best to assume they will be adult-like and professional, until you have proof that they won’t be.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      1. My manager says that stuff too. She’s not a good manager, and we all know that we can’t change people unless THEY want to change. I’m staying in my role for the requisite two years or so, then I’ll start looking for other jobs.

      2. That seems pretty unnecessary, unless the discipline was for huge, egregious mistakes that are directly relevant to your work. But it could all be in the name of transparency.

    3. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      1) The company has no intention of ever promoting you, but they are trying to keep you from feeling demoralized by this fact by telling you how great you are. Why they won’t promote you, I can’t speculate, but… they’re basically saying you can sit there in that job forever if you’re happy, or leave.

      2) I think it should be shared with the new management team, actually. If there’s a problem with Fergus again, they shouldn’t be totally blind to the fact that it’s happened before. A good manager will wait until they see how the employees are in person before making judgments, but they still need to be informed of past problems in case they reoccur.

    4. Rocky*

      1. I’ve had that job. It was a junior role and I was great at it. My manager, who was and is a wonderful mentor to me, made it very very clear that I was great, and she wanted me there as long as possible – BUT – she made it very clear that I had potential to do a lot more, but would not get support I needed to grow (limits on upward mobility, financial constraints, some political stuff). So in my situation it was a gentle way of saying no matter how great I was, I was not going to get promoted, or put on a path to promotion, because of stuff that had nothing to do with me.

  59. anonderella*

    I work as a receptionist, & my first annual review is coming up. (It’s only actually been about 4/5 months since my 90-day review)
    My boss, the office manager, wants to schedule my review during my lunch break – my initial email response was “I was under the impression that these were taking place during normal working hours – is that not the case?” Her response was that she was going to treat me to lunch & discuss the review then, but would be happy to move it if that was a problem (bc of her standard attitude, I have reason to believe this was said somewhat snarkily – she also later clarified that she meant move the day, & made it clear that she wanted to keep it as a lunch meeting). I responded by explaining that I normally use my lunch break to step away from the phones/office in order to maintain energy & focus throughout the day; also, she scheduled the review for the day after I return from a 9 hour drive to see a family member in the ICU. I explained that I was mentioning the trip bc I was worried that those events would be fresher on my mind than my review, & that I just wanted to be prepared. I went on to say that if she thought i was overthinking the gravity of the review, that i would be happy to accept her lunch offer – I said this bc she is my boss & I did not feel like I could push back much here, but I also want to convey that I’m someone who is willing to ‘put in’.
    Because her schedule is so busy, I don’t want to put her out by asking to rearrange, but the bottom line is that I’m not comfortable with her asking me to use my lunch hour like this. I count on that lunch break – my a/c in my car is busted & I will still drive around in the middle of the summer’s day just to be alone & think my own thoughts for a few minutes.
    Should I let this go?
    Should I let this go for now & bring it up next time she asks me to do something off the clock, like dropping stuff off at the post office or running other errands – these aren’t super common, but I don’t think she should be asking at all.
    Are performance reviews not that big of a deal, so it’s totally ok to do them informally over lunch?
    She basically is our HR Dept – should I go to our CFO who handles payroll & say Im not comfortable doing work off the clock?

    1. Leatherwings*

      To be honest, given the back and forth you’ve already had on the lunch stuff I think this is not the hill to die on. It’s already become A Thing and even though it’s annoying it’s probably going to be easier in the long run to just do it.

      Don’t bring it up the next time she asks you to do something off the clock, but definitely make sure you’re getting paid for those things, or address those individually (as in, don’t say “I’m not going to the post office and remember that time I had to use my lunch break?” address just the post office thing by itself).

      For handling off-the-clock work, I would recommend that you don’t go straight to the CFO. Address it with your boss first (assuming you’re non-exempt here). Say “I know that the law requires people to be paid for all the time they spend working, and I’m worried we could run into trouble if I run errands like this off the clock. How should I track that time?”
      If she insists, then consider going to the payroll dept.

      1. anonderella*

        thanks for the reply! – I’ve been refreshing and driving myself crazy.

        I agree with your first bit – this should only happen once a year, so I know I can suck it up for one day.

        For your post office example, she *knows* I’m not going by. I had my car in the shop this Monday, so due to our schedules I was driving my SO’s car; I had to pick him up after work and make it by the mechanic’s before it closed. I talked about it with her casually earlier that day; later, when our regular delivery pick-up didn’t show at the end of the day, I ran by her office to let her know, “in case other arrangements needed to be made.” This couldn’t be done earlier – he comes about 5 minutes before we close. I was hoping she would get the hint, but wasn’t counting on it because I knew I wasn’t saying the words “I can’t go” out loud. I think her actual words were “… and you can just drop it by the dropbox on your way home” – she wasn’t even asking. I said “Well I don’t have my car [silence and stares from her] … I can’t. I have to pick someone up and also pick up my car.” She got all huffy and said she would handle it (I hate to use immature words to describe this situation, but I’m just painting a picture of our everyday interactions).
        Keep in mind that I had to wait at the front desk until the delivery guy did *not* show up, then go tell her, *then* could I start on my regular closing-up duties, which include cleaning dishes in the kitchen and locking various doors around the building – I usually start this after the delivery pickup so I can basically count on no one else walking though the door, and still leave at 5 pm. This day, I didn’t leave until about 5:20, and was late picking up my SO. I didn’t complain to her, but it really irks me that she is so oblivious to the demands of my job, when she is my only overseer. I understand that part of this job is to do a great deal of behind-the-scenes work and to take flac without getting a lot of recognition or gratitude, but I am at a loss as to how to manage-up my boss when she is asking me to work off the clock.

        I will probably be using your script near the end, there. I’m just worried about her giving me some sort of de jure/de facto explanation that I can’t argue (or don’t know how to argue, more accurately).

        1. ASJ*

          It sounds like this is the kind of job where you have to be comfortable occasionally doing things outside/after work. Assuming that the issue of whether you’re paid is covered, are you comfortable with that? If not, this may not be the job for you.

          I definitely think you need to let the lunch thing go. IF it becomes an issue in the future, you could bring it up… but as it is, this one meeting is not a pattern.

          Leatherwings’ script about how to handle time off is excellent. If your boss tries to brush you off, just keep repeating “Yes, but the law requires this and the company could run into trouble. I need to know how to handle this”.

          1. Leatherwings*

            Yep, sounds like the occasional Post Office stuff might just be part of the job. Your prerogative is to make sure you’re getting paid for it.

          2. anonderella*

            thanks for pointing that out – I don’t think I was clear about that. I don’t mind *at all* doing stuff that’s not during the normal working hours, but it seems to be the unsaid expectation that I will not add these “small” errands to my timesheet. I am non-exempt, and my hours are 8-5 every week day, which means any additional work should be putting me in overtime.

            I don’t mind having lunch with my boss, and wouldn’t expect her to pay for my lunch or for me to be compensated *if* this were a standard social outing – but it isn’t, it’s something I’m required to do for work, and that’s where I feel like I should be getting paid but am not sure how to say it professionally.

    2. TCO*

      Does she actually want you to work (aka have your review) off of the clock? Or does she want it to take place during lunch time, but counted as being on the clock? Could you go out to lunch with her on work time and then take a break afterward?

      1. anonderella*

        Someone has to cover the phones and sit at the desk while I’m not here – that’s how all this started was she invited me to a meeting that I noticed was scheduled during the standard lunch hour, and I asked if I should coordinate with that coverage-er to see if she could cover at a different time. My boss said not to do that, and that “the plan for this one is to do it over lunch.”
        it sounds to me that she wants me to do it on my own time. I am absolutely seeing this as a full 9 hours of working that day, following a stressful trip where I am afraid I’ll be scattered anyway. *stressing out*

    3. Pwyll*

      So, I actually don’t think it’s all that strange to have an annual review at lunch. In the past I’ve done this as a thank you to the person who was doing a great job, and so we were able to have a conversation outside of the office and away from the usual distractions. That said, if you’re a non-exempt employee, your review is considered working time, and even at lunch you should be getting paid for this.

      As for the errands, if you’re hourly I would include that time on your timesheet. If they question the additional time, you mention you were assigned to do company work, and are reporting that time appropriately. Your boss certainly can make you do errand-type work, but you need to be getting paid for that (unless you’re exempt, in which case you ARE getting paid for it.)

      1. anonderella*

        Well I hear you on the treat aspect of the lunch, but here’s the thing – I don’t actually eat lunch anymore. I usually run an errand or just drive around and enjoy alone-time (my SO’s schedule & proximity to his office ensures that this one hour is the only time alone I have during the week, as we’re both also pretty much homebodies on the weekend.). I can of course get through picking at a salad, or whatever else will be on the table, but on top of that I don’t know that I want the review to be over lunch anyway – not that I’m getting a choice. I have gotten little direction on how to handle this position, and she brought me in knowing that lack of experience. My 90-day review was mostly average scores, but there were no ‘excels’ and there were a few that were below average (time management, moslty, which I have tried really hard to overcome).
        I think my thing here is that I truly do want to focus on my job for a minute, and have those conversations I think will be necessary – things like what I have improved and what I haven’t.
        I don’t think it’s fair that I can’t have the same consideration most other people are getting, in due focus on their jobs, especially when I so rarely get it and so badly need it.
        I also don’t think it’s fair that I don’t get paid for this experience. It doesn’t have to happen on my terms, but I want to make sure I’m getting paid..

      2. anonderella*

        whap – forgot to add to your comment that I am non-exempt. When I first started, they told me everyone was exempt except my position, but that they treated my position like it was anyway (something along those lines. I agreed because I *desperately* needed a job and some experience on my resume.). This has never meant overtly taking advantage of me, and I don’t mind doing the occasional thing – though it *really* bugs me that she neither phrases it as a question OR proactively tell me that I will be compensated. I guess I want at least one of those things.
        I think there is a lot of expectations, and since she’s my only boss (there are people above her, but they have no part in overseeing me – she was also the person who interviewed and hired me) I really worry about stepping on her toes. Our personalities also seem to naturally clash, though of course I do everything I can to be subservient and low-maintenance, because she responds best that way.
        It sucks, because I have fairly amiable relationships with everyone else in the company – oddly, I think the owner likes me best – but the consensus between me and my office manager seems to be ‘stay out of her way and know when to shut up’. Also sucks that I am super nervous just naturally, and can’t seem to talk to her without getting tongue-tied or stuttering (never been a problem for me before!), so I think she just thinks I’m kind of an idiot/otherwise non-dependable anyway.

      3. zora.dee*

        I think Pwyll is right about just accepting that the review will be over lunch, but then I think you can address the pay issue with “Ok, so how should I be recording the review on my time card?”

        She’s probably going to say something about how it’s your lunch time. And that’s when you can use the script above about “Getting my review is still work, I am concerned the company is going to get into trouble if I don’t get an actual break on that day.”

        I am validating your feelings that this is obnoxious, they are totally trying to get unpaid time out of you, and I think you need to be a bit of a stick in the mud to get them to stop doing this. If they brush off your question, you need to just keep asking it until they give you an answer about how to record the time. Just like you did when you didn’t have a car, and you just stood there and waited for her to respond. And she will get huffy, but that is her problem, not yours. Keep your tone polite and professional. Basically, it’s like playing dumb.

        I’m sorry you are dealing with this, good luck!!!

        1. anonderella*

          So, a venting update:

          I did bring up the issue of how to record on my timesheet, and was told that this meeting would not be reflected in my hours for that week – in no uncertain terms, I was told that I am given various breaks (like small company events in the back of the building, where unlike my coworkers I have to get someone else to cover me so I can go enjoy too – not like that doesn’t have an impact on my relationships with those coworkers) and etc, and that this one hour “all in all was a wash”. I wrote back asking if there was any way I could arrange to still take a break from the office that day, expressing my attachment to spending a few minutes outside every day during my lunchtime, and included an offer to run an errand for the company during that time if it could be arranged. Haven’t heard back.
          So, I am not getting my lunch break that day, and I will have to work 9 straight hours which includes a very uncomfortable lunch/review with my boss. It is pretty clear to me that she does not respect my wishes on how to use my personal time, and I am afraid that I will have to start declining to run errands off-the-clock for the company – which will, I fear, most definitely have an impact on how I am treated by my boss. (I tend to misspeak, so if anyone bothers to read this update, note I am *not* going to be expressing the reasons for my declining to my boss. If she asks, I’ll have a professional-sounding script ready, but I don’t see the good it could do to continue to argue my case.)

          It’s not so much that it’s even happening, as much as how my boss is handling it. I might suffer the outcome on this one, but I hope her crappy management skills are scrutinized and realized for what they are (CRAP!) in the future.
          *goes off to silently rage alone*

  60. Ilovedonuts*

    I’m leaving my job next week for a new job. I want to get my two coworkers a little thank-you gift. Male and female. They’ve been great since I announced I’m leaving, even thought they’ll have to pick up the slack while I’m gone and train my replacement. Any ideas? Don’t want to do a Starbucks gift card…thanks!

    1. Nanc*

      I know you said no Starbucks gift cards, but . . . I would suggest a lovely hand-written note telling them you enjoyed working with them, what you learned, and when they need a treat, please use the Starbucks card to have coffee on you! If you really don’t want to go Starbucks you could do something like a great mouse pad (or am I the only one that still uses those?) or the fancy pens you know co-workers like but have to buy themselves–but still with the personal note.

      Also, if you have time, document, document, document everything you do so they have written references. If your job has SOPS, review them and make sure they’re up to date.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Heartfelt notes of thanks. Seriously, this always means more to anyone than trinkets or gift cards. (Many people, like me, actually hate getting the typical gifts you get in offices — they’re generic, I don’t want them, they feel like clutter, or they’re gift cards I don’t really feel like using and now it’s a burden, etc.)

      If it’s going to be something personal enough not to fall in the category above, it’s not going to be something we can suggest anyway; it would have to be based on your knowledge of them.

      Otherwise, heartfelt note of thanks. Always a hit, always meaningful to people.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      NOTES! Personalized ones, that explain what you’ve enjoyed about working with each person, and your wishes for their future success. Gifts don’t really belong in the workplace, IMHO.

    4. IHB16*

      I’m going to be the lone dissenter and not suggest a note. I’m obviously in the minority and I get the rationale behind them over gifts but I’m not a sentimental person and hate keeping stuff like notes or cards around. I would end up just throwing it away, and then feel a sliver of guilt for doing so. If you don’t want to do gift cards, can you treat them to lunch at like a nice but affordable place? I would even prefer a face-to-face thank you over a note.

    5. Mazzy*

      I would spring for a nice lunch or drinks or dinner. I was going to mention the clutter thing mentioned below, and I have a stack of gift cards at home, and some are expired, and some have so little cash that there is no use in using the balance, and some had fee deductions, and one, I lost then found it again, and now the balance went from $50 to $0! Too much hassle.

    6. CM*

      I guess I’m in the minority here, but I also like to give gifts when I leave, and it’s always been well-received. I typically give baked goods, but have also given flowers and fancy office supplies to people who I know are into those (not something like a $50 pen, but maybe pens that you could only find in an art supply store). So, stuff that’s inexpensive and consumable, and can be easily passed on or re-gifted if the person doesn’t want it. At my last job, there was somebody who was always grabbing a particular type of mint from my candy dish, so I wrapped up a nice box with a ribbon around it, and it was filled with those mints. (When he ran out, he emailed me and told me I had to come back to work!)

  61. Underpaid Accountant*

    So I’m kind of in a bind. I’ve been in accounting for 9 years and have a CPA license. I’ve never made very much money in spite of being at my 3rd job in the field. My area is a small town and for several reasons we are unable to move for the foreseeable future.

    I’ve been job searching for a better paying job for several years and have come up empty handed. At this point I’m ready to change fields but have no idea where to begin. I don’t want to make it about the money but I can’t be making this low of wages forever. I’m in public accounting which pays terrible around here.

    No idea what I’d change into though. I’d always thought accounting paid better but I’m barely breaking 40K at 9 years experience and a CPA license. Ugh

    1. Pwyll*

      Perhaps it’s time to consider going in-house somewhere as a controller or CFO? I seem to see lots of positions looking for a licensed CPA in most of the CFO/COO roles.

      1. Underpaid Accountant*

        That’s what I’m going to consider targeting- positions as an in-house senior accountant or controller of a small company.

    2. Blue Anne*

      I would definitely echo what Pwyll said. Look at going in-house. Always pays better than public (and most people prefer the hours too).

      Also, would remote work be a possibility for you? Maybe you could pick up some clients of your own. I’ve never met my accountant in person, it’s becoming increasingly feasible with software like Xero available.

      1. Underpaid Accountant*

        It’s sort of shocking to me because I’ve always thought it would be the other way around and that public would pay better. I’d definitely love the hours of industry better than public, lol.

        I wouldn’t mind working on a few clients on the side doing some bookkeeping and/or payrolls, maybe a few tax returns. Good idea. Thanks!

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Wow! I’m shocked. I am also an accountant but no CPA and no public experience. Head to the corporate world – I’m making a lot more than you and my company in particular has several positions open that pay almost 2X what you make for a CPA with 3-5 yrs of experience.

      1. Underpaid Accountant*

        Wow. 2 times as much?! Seriously gotta get to the corporate side of things! Wow

    4. Birdie*

      Wow really? I’m doing my undergrad in accounting currently and working for a manufacturing company doing accounting work making just slightly less than that.

  62. Regular poster venting anonymously*

    Posting this from my phone for privacy, please excuse any typos.
    My performance for the last few weeks has been kind of shitty.
    Insomnia the last few weeks, affecting me now. Not sure what’s going on and why it’s happening.
    I cut my vacation short just to not waste PTO and regret that.
    I’ve also reached out to someone regarding getting counseling for what I think is clinical depression, but I’ve yet to have my first appointment or even speak to someone so I don’t know if that matters.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I’ve been there, and clinical depression is a hell of a performance-killer. Getting help for yourself is the best thing you can do!

      In the meantime, until you get an appointment, here’s some stuff you can do for yourself:
      1) Nutrition – depression can really screw with your ability to round out your eating appropriately, but as much as you possibly can, eat square meals on the regular. Anything that helps your body keep performing at an appropriate level will help to keep you afloat mentally.
      2) How’s your sleep hygiene? Do you have a consistent bedtime, a solid pre-bed routine, a bedroom free of electronics or intermittent bright lights? If you use electronics close to bedtime, can you install blue-light dimmers on them? Or better yet — readjust so you’re putting down anything with a backlight about an hour before you start getting ready for bed?
      3) Vitamins & medication – How are you on various vitamin/nutrient levels? If you’re someone who stays inside a lot of the time, are you supplementing with Vitamin D? Have you changed any medication you’re currently taking (stopped, started, adjusted dosage, changed when you take it?) that might affect your sleep and/or mood?

      This is some stuff I worked on when depression really started hammering my job performance. As a stopgap, it all helped until I was able to get actual antidepressants from an actual doctor with an actual diagnosis. And most of them, I’ve kept up with even with the antis to help, just because they keep my life more functional! Good luck to you — this is definitely something you can overcome, but boooooy does it suck when you’re in the middle of it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Magnesium at night can help with rest.
        Avoid eating just before bed. You are asking your body to grind up food AND go to sleep. Your body does not want to do both at the same time.
        Chamomile tea can help a little.
        Make sure your feet are comfy, some people find that if their feet are too hot or too cold it hinders their ability to go to sleep.
        Oddly, check your laundry detergent. You might have a budding allergy to it and not even realize. Find something with no dyes and no scents.
        How’s your pillow doing? If you are like me, it might suddenly dawn on you that you have not replaced it in – oh 10-20 years. Invest in a new one, even if it is not a top of the line pillow.
        Watch your telephone/text/email convos before bed. I would have a upsetting conversation then go to bed and wonder why I could not sleep. Create a no fly zone for upsetting/tense conversations starting a few hours before bed time. This goes for news media, too.
        Watch how you handle not being able to sleep. Things like getting up and snacking can make it worse not better. Watch your self-talk. Trying to mentally balance your check book because you can’t sleep won’t help you sleep better. Tell yourself that you are not going to think about things that you cannot do anything about right now.

        I found that I had to change several things in order to get better rest. Pick the ideas that make the most sense to you and start with those ideas.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      Seeking treatment for depression absolutely matters! I’m so sorry you’re going through this; I had a similar problem at my old job where depression and anxiety were getting their tentacles all up in my ability to function. Here are some things I found helpful:
      -Making sure I took physical care of myself: I had to make a checklist to make sure I actually did things, like eat a nourishing meal, drink water, go for a walk, and go to bed earlier. Taking care of my physical symptoms made it easier to deal with the mental ones.
      -Creating an impression of functioning at work: making sure I came to work with clean, neat clothes and neat hair (brushed, off the face), keeping my desk looking tidy, responding to e-mails in a timely manner. Even if I was working more slowly, I presented as professionally as I could, and kept people’s confidence in my abilities.
      -Being gentle with myself mentally: when you’re not at 100%, it’s easy to start getting down on yourself, like you can shame-talk your way into being productive again. That’s a lie from the JerkBrain. Congratulate yourself when you do something well. If you make a mistake, forgive yourself and keep working.

      Also, know that it may take some time to start feeling better. When I started getting treatment, I had to try more than one medication that worked, and the one that worked took about a week to really kick in. Give yourself grace; you don’t have to be perfect right now.

    3. IKR*

      I feel like I could have written this. I haven’t actually reached out about counseling because the mental state comes and goes over time, but this week has been really hard.

      Crappy situation, but now I feel like I have a teammate out there. Just getting up every day and trying even though it’s hard.

  63. Timssphere*

    I’ve written about my issues with vocational rehabilitation a few times before. I did get a new counselor by filing a complain with my state’s client assistance program. While this new counselor is better than the old one, we still disagree on one aspect of the job hunt: following up on job applications at companies at which I have no inside contact and no interview has been scheduled.

    The VR counselor gives the same tired advice about how this sort of cold followup “gets you noticed”and that when you follow up, the receptionist or HR person will “put your resume on top of the pile.” Never mind that there’s no such thing as a “pile” of resumes in an ATS. Most alarmingly, though, when I told her that I save the followup for after interviews where it’s likely to do some good, she said that not following up before an interview is “lazy” and that it demonstrates lack of effort.

    Lack of effort can get you disqualified from services, so I took it up with her manager, but he defended the idea of cold followup. I also asked one of their job developers about it, and she said that cold followup is REQUIRED to “get ahead in this tough market.” Materials on the state vocational rehabilitation website suggest that the idea that cold followup is important may be ingrained in their culture.

    The normal advice given when well-meaning parents or friends give this sort of advice is to either smile and nod or tell them to stop bothering you, but I can’t exactly do that here, and I’m not sure this issue is serious enough to make another formal complaint. What would be a more measured response to this situation?

    1. Sadsack*

      Can you just ignore them, say your considering doing that next time they ask, then don’t do it?

      1. Sadsack*

        Hmm, you know, I actually take that back. Maybe it would be worse to let them think you agree with something you have already expressed strong feelings about. Just tell them are not doing that, then move on to another topic.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Point to Alison’s blog/advice. Show them the part that says that is antiquated thinking. You’ll have to find exact quotes from the blog.

      ORRRR… this is kind of sneaky, tell them to write to Alison who is an expert in her field and ask her advice, you will abide by whatever answer Alison gives them. Whoops, double check on that, maybe ask them if you write Alison for exact advice, will they be willing to rethink what they are doing.

      I think, too, I would say, “Times have changed. Because everything is so fast paced and people are so loaded with work it is now considered rude to call and check on an application. In some instances a single phone call can move an app to the NO pile. People do not have time to answer phone calls from the 537 applicants who applied for a single job.”

      Conversely, if they place people with the same companies over and over you could ask them if they have checked with those companies to find out what the companies do when an applicant “just calls to check on an application”.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Do they want you to document the follow-ups? Then you might have no choice but to do them, at least to some degree. If not, then I’d stop pushing back and just nod and smile and say, “Thanks, I will.”

      These programs are state programs and are sometimes wildly outdated. Obviously this one is. Trust me; showing them stuff like this blog will not make them change. I pushed back on something in VR once in CA and the job coordinator kicked me out of the program for daring to challenge her. It was actually a question about the types of jobs I was being recommended for–they were pushing pretty hard for me to take these overnight jobs in care homes for developmentally disabled adults, and I felt in no way drawn to that kind of work in any capacity. I had literally no experience and was not comfortable working overnight because I can’t sleep during the day.

      That’s why the next time I went to VR, I chose the school program, not the work one. The work ones literally do not give two sh!ts what you do — their job is to find you employment that you CAN do, not find you something you WANT to do or have any aptitude for. (I had to leave the program because I got a job that put me out of the income limit.)

  64. Morning Glory*

    I’m looking to change CRM platforms, and wanted to see what others are using and their thoughts on them. Currently we’re using a CRM that we setup as part of a customizable project management system. We might be getting rid of that system, so I’m starting to search for a new solution. At this time, we’re going to have no more than 5 people using this, with me doing 95% of the work. Recommendations? Ones to stay away from?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I do non-profit stuff so the functionality of our CRMs is different, but generally my thoughts apply to the system itself, not it’s functionality for nonprofits in particular. I’m using Salesforce now and like it. Have previously used Raisers Edge, ROI and Salsa.

      Stay far far far away from anything Blackbaud, and Salsa is terrible.

    2. Pwyll*

      Salesforce seems to be the elephant in the room, and I had positive experiences with it (so long as it was properly setup by a professional).

    3. Blue Anne*

      My current employer uses podio and I hate it. Do not recommend. The task system is cool, but that’s about it. It’s not a very good way to store information about a client, it doesn’t let you assign the same task to multiple people (it will make copies of the task and assign to people individually if you try), if someone mentions you on something it’s hard to find it again in the future. If you have a lot of tasks for the same client over time, eventually it cuts them off on the main part of the page and you have to look for them in the task pane at the side. And there’s no way to search the tasks for the individual client.

      Salesforce is good but pretty expensive for small teams.

      I used SugarCRM for a few years and liked it a lot. I’m biased – the company I worked for did bespoke instances of it. But I found it very flexible and straightforward. A little clunky at times, but just because they included so much functionality, I think. Kind of like Windows. It’s not super pretty, and you can break it, but that’s because you can do a LOT with it and you actually have control over it yourself. Very customizable.

      1. Pwyll*

        I LOVE Podio (though, I used it years ago, so perhaps it’s changed), but I would never use it for CRM. It’s better as a repository of project files with context, not as a fully featured relational database.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Yeah, my bosses are trying to use it as… pretty much every business system you can think of except Quickbooks.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      I really love Salesforce, as long as it’s managed properly. It’s very user-friendly and seems quite stable.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I’ve used Salesforce too and had a great experience. I’ve been learning the back-end of it as well, which has been surprisingly easy and intuitive. I appreciate that Salesforce is so flexible and easy to turn into the custom solution you need.

        1. DoDah*

          I’ve used SalesForce and MS Dynamics. They both have their pluses and minuses. Dynamics was not great for the users but easy for IT. SalesForce was easier for the users but did not come as part of our enterprise MS package (wasn’t free)–so IT didn’t love it.

          Be sure to ask the vendors what size (or vertical market) implementations they specialize in.

  65. Christian Troy*

    I sent this into Alison earlier this month but I kinda need advice now:

    Basically, I’m having a huge issue with people wanting to contact my references before the phone screen or after the first interview. In the past, I complied with it but I started running into too many situations where I discovered something about the role in later interviews that made it not a great fit. Now if someone wants references up front, I ask if they can forward a salary range for the job so we aren’t wasting each other’s time and every situation I’ve done that since January has ghosted.

    I need a FT, but 99% of these jobs are not local and I need to have an idea of what kind of money I can live on. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s fair for my references to keep being contacted when I’m not even a serious candidate. Is there is a different way I can handle this so I can protect my references and not exhaust my references without people ghosting?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      This seems rather strange. I would never start checking references until getting close to the offer stage, and I’ve never had any of my references checked until my future employer was close to the offer stage. It’s strange because not only does it waste your references’ time, but it also wastes the hiring managers’ time, too! I don’t know why they would be doing that. Perhaps this is the norm for your industry? In which case, maybe your references aren’t that bothered?

    2. Mustache Cat*

      Leave salary out of it. The way you’ve phrased that request in this comment sounds strangely demanding; that’s probably why everyone has ghosted. Just say straightforwardly that you prefer not to provide references until after the first interview (or whenever you prefer).

      1. Christian Troy*

        I don’t literally respond by saying please send me a salary so we aren’t wasting time. I usually respond by asking before I send my references if they can forward me a salary range for the position since they didn’t include one in the posting. Some people claim they have to check references as part of HR policies in the beginning, but I think it’s unfair to keep having my references contacted when I don’t even know if I want the job or what the compensation is.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Thing is—people will just do what they can. If they can “ghost” you and still get good candidates who are willing to jump through their hoops, they will. Likewise, if you can refuse to give your references without a salary range or a first interview, and still get a job… you should keep refusing. But if refusing bars you from getting a job, you should stop refusing.

    4. CM*

      Are you sure they’re actually contacting your references, or do they just want them on file? You could provide them but write on the form that the company should not contact your references without informing you first.

    5. NaoNao*

      This is strange, I haven’t really heard of reputable, “ordinary” companies asking for references before you even get a phone interview, unless you are referring to filling out an ATS line item for “personal references” or “current/past employers”, that’s pretty normal. Annoying, but normal. Perhaps filling it out with the general company line (that rings to the receptionist or security office) will help you fill that box out without annoying or exhausting your references.
      Are companies calling you directly and saying “May we contact Boss Magneto from Previous Job” before they even interview you?!
      This sounds like a slightly scammy, craigslist-job thing for them to be doing. At the very least, it’s highly ineffective.
      So, here’s what I would do:
      Change the way you job search if you can. Use LinkedIn to directly contact the job posters with an InMail. Use your personal/professional network. Post resumes on industry-specific job boards.
      If there is no salary in the posting, when the company calls you or emails you and says “hey can we have your references?” respond and ask for a phone conversation and try to explain in person, on the phone that you need to ensure that the salary range meets your needs “before continuing the process, and then I’ll be happy to provide my references”.

  66. Christopher Tracy*

    No question this week, just wanted to share a nice work story for a change.

    Two days ago, my division’s SVP pulled me into his office and told me that another division’s SVP asked him if it was alright to talk to me about possibly going to work for his division. He has two people leaving with a possible third person who may leave for an internal position, and the other division SVP wanted to know if I would like to fill one of the empty spots. This is a guy who’s division I declined to work for two years ago because another opportunity was presented to me at the time that appeared to be a better fit (I ended up leaving there a year and four months later for my current division). I was always concerned that he held this against me, so I was shocked when my current SVP told me this other SVP requested me personally (along with two more of my coworkers).

    Current SVP told me he’d hate to lose me, but if this other SVP offers me a better deal, he won’t stand in the way of my transfer (I’ve only been with his group six months). I have no intention of leaving where I am, especially since I just had a one-on-one with my supervisor yesterday where she said I’m doing a fantastic job and hinted there may be greater opportunities to come for me where I am, but I still went to coffee with this other SVP to hear his pitch.

    I was happy and very flattered to hear that my current SVP had nothing but wonderful things to say about me to this other SVP, as well as several other people throughout the company he spoke to. His offer wasn’t nearly as good as the one my current division gave me to bring me onboard with them six months ago, but it was reasonable (and a promise of more money), and I think I may be able to convince