open thread – August 19-20, 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 :)

{ 1,221 comments… read them below }

  1. Darth Brooks*

    I started a new job this week as a manager. I haven’t worked in a while as I’d been staying home work my kids for several years. There are a lot of things to remember, and the job gets very hectic, but I think I’m doing a pretty good job so far.

    Some of my peers have been training me, and the training has mostly been shadowing them as they explain what we’re doing and why. I have only worked solo for brief periods, and I’ve been explicitly told by upper management that they don’t want me counseling or coaching my staff yet. The problem comes in with one of my peers, Harriet. Half of the time, she’s great at explaining the job, and the other half it’s like she’s purposely unhelpful. At a particularly hectic time, when I was trying to accomplish some tasks individually, I needed some equipment that had been locked up. I told her I needed it/didn’t have it, and she just shrugged and said, “I don’t have any. You’ll have to get it from someone.”

    So I’ve accepted that some things I’m on my own for, and that’s fine, albiet a bit annoying since I’m still in training and there’s a lot I don’t know yet. Then, after working with another peer, Jenny, I had a briefing with Harriet near the end of my workday about the status of our responsibilities. Everything was on track, except one minor issue which hadn’t been handled (that I planned to take care of before leaving). I was actually pretty proud of how well everything was going.

    Admittedly, I did get sidetracked working with Jenny for the following 45 minutes, and I forgot. Right before leaving, Harriet pulled me aside alone and went off on a list of things I had done wrong, most of which had happened when I was away with Jenny. I admitted to forgetting about the one thing Is planned to do, but I explained that it wasn’t that way when I briefed her, and she got defensive and denied it. I finally just let her finish her (long) list of what she claimed I did wrong, and left to avoid causing a scene.

    So I’m not really sure how to approach working with her now. She’s not my primary trainer, but I can’t avoid working with her forever. And I just started this job, but she’s making me doubt that I even want it.

    Any ideas for how to navigate this situation?

    1. misspiggy*

      Yes – are you reporting to Harriet and Jenny during your training period? In which case, respond to Harriet’s concerns as you would your manager. If not, respond to Harriet as a colleague – don’t apologise, but thank her for identifying the issues, give as much explanation as you feel you need to, and promise her whatever is needed to enable her to get her own work priorities done. If she carries on treating you like an employee and you’re sure that’s incorrect, raise it with your manager.

      1. Darth Brooks*

        Yeah I definitely don’t report to Harriet. We all report to the same manager.

        She was right about what the priorities are, but wrong about a) them being in bad shape when I briefed her — thereby handing the reins to her and b) some things weren’t even done wrong. Some things she said were “bad” weren’t at all, which I verified with Jenny.

        1. 2 Cents*

          It might be good to bring up with your actual manager: “I’ve been getting conflicting advice about how to approach XYZ scenarios (or whatever Harriet claims were done wrong, but weren’t according to Jenny in b^). How would you like me to approach them / complete them?”

          “Thanks for your feedback, Harriet. I’m working with *our mutual boss* to bring me up to speed.”

  2. Nervous Accountant*

    Oh God oh god oh god, I received not 1 but 3 scathing emails from my boss this morning. I am in full anxiety and freaking out mode. Gah.

    1. Mustache Cat*

      Oh my god, why? I’m so sorry to hear that. My personal feeling is that an email from a boss should never be able to be described as “scathing”.

      Keep your chin up! I’m rooting for you!

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I didn’t send an email to 2 clients. I dropped the ball on it. I spent most of my morning drafting my email to her, which made thing sworse.

    2. Darth Brooks*

      We all report to the same person, and Harriet was right that the things that were wrong were priorities for us, but they didn’t go wrong under my watch, and almost everything was right when I briefed her and went to train on something else with Jenny.

    3. Girasol*

      Good managers don’t scathe so perhaps it’s not all about you. Is there a chance there are ten things going wrong for the boss and your error was the handiest for taking out the whole heap of frustration? I had a boss who would get furious about something I did, tear me up verbally, and then not speak to me for weeks. Then all of a sudden, not only were we on friendly terms again, but if I mentioned the steps I’d taken to assure that the awful thing never happened again, he’d completely forgotten and had no idea what I was talking about. Give it time. In a few days or a week other hot issues may take his/her attention and put your matter back in perspective.

  3. PowerBall*

    How do you stay motivated to finish projects that are completely optional? I have zero problem finishing work that is assigned to me or that is necessary for something else or if there’s even a hint of external motivating factors. I have quite a bit of downtime and I try to think up work I can do during that time, but I never finish anything I start. For example, I’ve thought up some research projects but then abandoned them when I realized I didn’t have the right data and I’ve started so many Coursera classes only to lose interest after a few weeks. How do I get better at finishing what I start?

    1. MainlyManaged*

      I mean, two ways I’ve managed to keep up on “optional” projects is by making them not optional, either by tricking myself into some sort of punishment (you don’t get to do x or y unless you finish this) or by making it socially visible (hey everybody, I’m doing this and it will be done by this point in time, keep asking me about it.) The social awkwardness of not finishing has helped me push through some sticky personal projects..

    2. Arcadian*

      Is it that you’re picking the wrong sort of projects? It sounds pretty reasonable to give up on research if you don’t have the right data, but would it be worth discussing the projects with someone ahead of time, someone who can spot if you’re starting something where you won’t have the right data to finish it?

      It might also help to find smaller chunks of work – I’m not sure I could stay motivated for something slow-burning like a multi-week Coursera course, but I usually have an idea of some tasks that can fill in a few slack hours, and it’s much more obvious/motivating that I’ve made things a little bit better afterwards.

    3. justsomeone*

      self bribery.

      If I finish that Coursera class I get to buy myself an eyeshadow. If I finish that research project I get to take myself out for lunch instead of eating the sandwich I brought from home.

    4. C Average*

      At OldJob, I had a side projects accountability partner. We paired up when we were commiserating about both having the same problem you describe, and we realized that these projects felt sort of invisible, as they lacked any sort of external oversight. (And I’ve tried the general-announcement-on-social-media thing–“I’m training for a marathon!” “I’m learning Russian!” “I’m doing Codecademy!” It just doesn’t work for me. I need actual back-and-forth discussion about my progress, not just someone-knows-I’m-working-on-this accountability.)

      Once a week, we took a walk during our lunch break and talked about our projects. How were we progressing? What challenges and obstacles were we facing? Was it time to abandon a certain project?

      Sigh. I wish I still had someone like this!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      MainlyManaged’s punishment suggestion works on me. I bought 13 books (including two by my favorite writer) and didn’t allow myself to read any of them until I finished the novel I was writing. AND IT WORKED. Okay, so I had to pull a twelve-hour session, but I finished!

      I realize that can intimidate, however. So instead of making the completion of something into a mammoth task, break it up into chunks, like “I’ll have an Eggo after I finish four updates in the new Hawkins database.”

    6. themmases*

      It helps me to think of it as problem solving and not identify it as a problem with me.

      I have two big problems: I reflexively do a few routine fun things when I have free time and forget when I’ve started a new project; and the environment I need for my projects often doesn’t match up with when/where I have free time.

      To address these it helps me to keep a boredom list that includes a mix of fun things that might have slipped my mind, and my project. You can also schedule time to work on it. This works especially well if you have a goal for every session, so if you miss one then you must make it up, you’re not skipping it. If my free time is on my commute, then I accept I might need equipment or an app that makes the project feasible on the bus, and devote a session to setting that up.

      I never tell myself I failed at a hobby or project because it’s been too long. Accept that sometimes you are on a break for a good reason, try to figure out when it will be practical to start again, and prepare for that time if possible. If you had goals for your project sessions, reread them so you can picture what you will be doing when you start again. Keep the project on your list so next time you have extra time or feel restless, you remember it’s an option.

    7. AliceBD*

      My mom is a freelancer, which everyone in her position in her business is. They’re all great at external deadlines like working with companies on projects, but less good at internal deadlines like updating their professional bio for conferences or tweaking their websites. She and 5 or 6 or so of her best industry friends have a weekly skype call where everyone who is available comes (and they try to make themselves available), and they serve as accountability partners for those things. So I would definitely recommend finding someone who is also working on something and being each other accountability partners with a regularly-scheduled check-in. Based on my experiences, I think every week would be best, but if not then at least twice a month.

  4. Allons-y*

    A position opened up at my workplace that they are trying to fill immediately. This is the exact position I want to be in someday. The problem is, at this present time, I don’t meet any of the qualifications, nor do I have the experience (except that I have some experience in a related field and have am talented in it. Think art – I have a degree in art, but the position is for graphic design). One of the requirements is extensive knowledge in the related computer software. I could definitely teach myself how to use these programs or take classes, and I learn very quickly. I already understand the general concept.
    My question, then, is do I express my interest in it now, letting them know that I want this job in the future, but know I can’t fill it now, or do I wait and teach myself/learn everything so I am better qualified and hope the position opens up again? If I do express my interest in it now, how do I approach it?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with letting your boss know that that’s the direction you would like to go in. I don’t think it has to be an urgent conversation, and I don’t think that the current job opening even matters that much (since you’re not a fit for it now). But it’s normal to have conversations about where you want to go and the steps you need to take to get there with your manager.

      1. Michele*

        +1. And begin learning this software. The more tools you have in your kit, the better off you are professionally.

      2. RVA Cat*

        It sounds like it’s too much of a stretch for this opening, but is this a unique position or are their multiple people in this role? I would mention it to your boss and work on getting the skills you would need, so that you will be ready for the next opening.

      3. Sualah*

        Yeah, I agree that the current job opening doesn’t matter that much–except it’s a great springboard for the conversation to happen fairly organically. “Hey, boss, I noticed we posted this job–this is exactly where I’m interested in moving someday! What steps can we take so that can happen?”

    2. AnonEMoose*

      I think it depends a lot on your relationship with your boss and how your company handles its employees’ long term aspirations. If your boss is generally supportive and is, in particular, supportive of people having long term career plans, I’d start by talking with your boss.

      Something like “Hey, I see this position opened up. This is the kind of thing I’d like to pursue long term. Right now, the biggest barrier I see is that I don’t know the software. Would there be any opportunity for me to look into some courses or something similar?” If there may be ways you having some knowledge of this could benefit you in your current position, that might be worth mentioning, too.

      1. Vanesa*

        I agree that it depends on the relationship with your boss! My boyfriend just had a similar situation where he applied for an internal position, and luckily his boss was very supportive as she has moved a lot in the company too. But I don’t think I would feel comfortable telling my boss that I want to move to another position especially if it wouldn’t be for a few years or don’t have the skills yet.

        I agree that you should start learning the software. There are plenty of free computer courses online!

    3. Allons-y*

      Thanks all for your insight! This position is in a different department entirely, which is why I’m not sure how to approach it – talk to my boss, talk to the one who would be my boss? This sort moving around in departments happens a lot in my company, so it’s not unheard of here.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Unless you know the person who would be your new boss well and have a really good rapport with them, I’d start with your current boss. After that conversation, depending on how it goes, I think you’d have some room to talk with Prospective New Boss along the lines of “I’d be really interested in moving into this type of role in the future. I’m already pursuing learning X software. Do you have any other suggestions on skills/software I should pick up, or other things I could do to become a good candidate for a role like this?”

        Depending on how things work at your company, maybe a stretch assignment doing something with/for that department, or shadowing one of the people in the role you’re looking at could be options to explore, too.

        1. Allons-y*

          I like this idea. Thank you! It sounds like I may have time, then, to bring all this up, and don’t have to rush or anything (the position closes in a week. Not that it would have mattered.)

          1. MillersSpring*

            Great advice above from Sualah and AnonEMoose. If I was the hiring manager, I would have zero interest in you applying, but I’d love to offer you a chance to shadow the new hire one day or sit in on a staff meeting. You also could ask if the new hire has any qualifications beyond what was stated in the job posting that set them apart as a candidate.

      2. Eddie*

        In my company where moving around is encouraged, it’d be worth talking to the new boss to add your interest and get their views on what you’d need to build for the role. You may find that they are willing to take on someone inexperienced but promising, or that their perceptions of the non negotiable skills are useful to know.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I might take it to HR then. And say, “Are there any suggestions of what resources within the company I could tap?”

        Maybe there’s training; maybe HR will suggest you go have coffee with the other manager, or with a senior level person in that department.

  5. Anonymous for this open thread*

    I was fired a few weeks ago and replaced by an attorney. The whole thing was weird, but I have this fantastic little superior feeling about one thing: among my many hats, I handled all the recruiting/hiring. The attorney handles that role and on her email signature line, just under General Counsel, she has added Hiring Manager.

    I know most people think that means manager over hiring, but a recruiting professional should know their terms better. I felt ridiculously smug when I saw her new signature.

    1. MoinMoin*

      I would feel the same way and, knowing better, would think it was super weird to see that in someone’s signature.

    2. Not a firm lawyer*

      It may be because in the law firm context the person who generally wears that hat is called the “hiring partner,” regardless if they would actually be the partner in charge of the candidate.

  6. Cafe au Lait*

    I’m having a work situation where the clearest, and simplest, solution is the wrong solution for so many reasons. It is so completely frustrating knowing that my choices are: be yelled at if I do, be yelled at if I don’t, be yelled at if I try the solve the problem without the person in question being aware of what I’m doing. (That is, if she finds out. If she does, options #1, and #2 will look like small potatoes).

    At least my bosses know this client is completely unreasonable, and I have the satisfaction that none of her peers trust or even like her.

    1. RVA Cat*

      While it was a different situation entirely, this recent line from Prudie may help:
      “I know this feeling well: the lingering discomfort that comes from Having Been Yelled At. It is the worst feeling in the world, and is entirely distinct from the lingering discomfort that comes from Having Done Something Truly Wrong, and distinct yet again from the lingering discomfort that comes from Knowing a Friend Is Mad at You.”

      1. C Average*

        I loved that bit of insight, too. Overall, I still prefer Old Prudence, but NuPru has some occasional gems. This was one of them.

  7. Audiophile*

    TGIF, it feels like it’s been a long week and I took Monday off.

    Hoping I hear back from the school I interviewed with, they would be looking for a September 1 start date.

    Also was contacted by NYC HHC, strangely for a job I didn’t apply for. I’m guessing my resume was pulled for the one I applied for and they felt this was a better fit?

    Now added to my list of duties is manning the intake line while the office manager is out next week. I was finally told the org is contracted with a consultant IT company but they try not to ask them to come in for cost reasons. All that was done this time was rebooting the server. We’ll see if this fixes anyone’s issues.

    1. Hershele Ostropoler*

      I looked at the NYC government job postings I’m qualified for but I figure even if I were hired I’d be out come 2018 anyway

      1. Audiophile*

        This isn’t anything to do with government directly, it’s with a hospital.

        And I’d be comfortable with a solid year and a half of employment under my belt.

  8. Abbi Abrams*

    Alison, I want to thank you for all your advice. I’ve been job searching for a few months and it has been really, really rough and draining. I spent a ton of time scouring this site, reading the archives, reading your interview guide and your “How to Get a Job” book, and it helped tremendously. I was able to prepare for my interviews and totally revamped my cover letters. I finally got a call yesterday with a job offer!! I know I wouldn’t have been successful without your help. Thank you so much for this site and everything you do. I tell everyone I know about this site!

  9. Blue Anne*

    Last week I posted asking for advice on giving notice to my extremely unethical employer after only three months without another definite job lined up. This week I did it, and it was a horrorshow. Commenters here worried that I’d be asked to leave immediately… I wish!

    My three month review was on Tuesday. I had two bosses, Ludmilla and Adam, who are married. I used the opportunity to say look, this was the end of the probation period we had discussed, and it wasn’t working out for me.

    For the rest of the meeting they tried to convince me that all of my reasons for quitting were bad ones, alternating between condescending and complimentary. They basically said “You only have concerns because you’re young and naïve, but we think you’re excellent anyway and want to put you in charge when we step back” over and over for an hour and a half. Adam actually pointed out a couple of times that I hadn’t really worked in America before and tried to convince me that the lying and general lack of integrity I was pointing out “is just the American way”.

    I didn’t let them convince me to stay, but I did give them almost a month of notice because Ludmilla is pregnant and will be having her baby in a week, leaving pretty much all back of house functions to me. That’s where we left it on Tuesday.

    Then on Wednesday, Adam called me into his office and kept me there for THREE HOURS of emotional blackmail to convince me to stay. Obviously there was a lot of guilt-tripping involving Ludmilla; she’s so close to having this baby, she’s not a young mother, she can’t be dealing with this right now, she thinks so highly of me on both personal and professional levels. And the business is actually morally awesome because 1) others in the industry bribe vendors and they don’t (which makes the other illegal stuff fine?) 2) they sell restaurant equipment for preparing healthy food (instead of guns I guess?) 3) they go out of their way to meet employees where they are in life, at which point Adam told me a LOT about other employees that he really, really shouldn’t have. (Like prison records!) He made it clear again how naïve I am, how unused to America, how I might think I need a less intense position or some time off but he’s never seen anyone actually benefit from less stress long-term (?!?!), but even though I’m so unrealistically idealistic as to not like lying to people, he knows he’ll never find a better person for this position and he UNDERSTANDS me – I’m not a quitter and I won’t settle for a mainstream career!

    By the end of it he had convinced me to give him another two days on the end of my notice, and to try to think of some changes that would make the position work for me, like letting me work from home or not fudging customs forms. While I was in the room with him, I was completely drawn in. I can’t believe he got me talking about some of the stuff I talked about.

    I thought about it in the evening and realized that it was totally unprofessional emotional blackmail bullshit and there’s just no way I could have dealt with another month of it.

    So yesterday I went in at 8 AM, got all my stuff, and left a note on Ludmilla’s desk saying that I was very sorry, but Wednesday was my last day because Adam had really crossed a line. I left my key and my SIM card, because my phone had been on their contract – I had a pay as you go SIM ready to go in case they asked me to leave when I quit. I didn’t leave my new number, but they have my personal email. No word from them so far.

    Then I went home and played computer games.

    I feel so much better. Phew.

    1. Anna*

      I think there are times when it’s okay to just walk away. This sounds like one of those times. THREE HOURS of emotional blackmail? Trying to convince you of the “American way” was lying and cheating? Uh. Yeah. That’s why we have all those ethical reporting hotlines.

      Good luck with you new job search. May you find something where people aren’t gross and unprofessional. What games are you playing? :)

      1. Blue Anne*

        Thanks! The search is already going well – I’d put out some feelers before leaving, and have a phone interview with a marketing firm and a second/final interview with an accounting firm, both next week and both personally recommended by people I trust. I’m actually hoping it takes a while… I’d love to have a month off.

        Right now I’m mostly on Dota, Civ and Cities:Skylines. :D

    2. Caledonia*

      Yeah, because the “American way” reallllly worked out for that swimmer and his friends, Lochte.

      You go, Blue Anne! You’ve had a lousy year, all in all and I hope the next job works out for you. Because this one…OMG.

    3. Hakky Chan*

      I lurk here a lot, so I’ve been following your story for a while.

      I want to give you kudos for being so strong in this situation! I only hope that I could act the same if I was ever in a similar scenario.

    4. Ama*

      I’m glad your post ended the way it did because halfway through I thought my comment was going to be “you should just leave if they are going to treat you like this.”

      It really sounds to me, given the stuff that Adam told you that he shouldn’t about the other employees and your own status as relatively new to the U.S., that they are intentionally hiring employees that they think they can coerce into going along with their activities because they are too desperate or too new to the working world to push back, which is really, really gross.

      1. Blue Anne*

        I think you’re absolutely right. Honestly, when I went home on Wednesday night, I was thinking “I’ll tell them I’m working my notice from home, or I’m not working it at all.” What put me over the edge was realizing that Adam’s meeting with me was EXACTLY the type of manipulative power play my husband used all the time to control me.

        Adam actually got me to mention that I’m recently out of an abusive marriage, something that I hadn’t talked about before – he didn’t even know that I’d been married. The cynical part of me thinks that he must have been pleased to hear I was vulnerable to that type of control.

    5. RVA Cat*

      Blue Anne, congrats on getting out of that madhouse?

      Best of luck to you – also to that baby. I’m guessing their spawn will need a lot of therapy…imagine all the gaslighting they will inflict on that poor kid?

    6. James*

      The “unused to America” thing seems odd. I’ve heard stories from all over the world, and America is practically obsessed with ethics. We have one of if not the highest lawyer-to-citizen ratios on Earth, and will sue at the drop of a hat. If you lie professionally you WILL get caught, and fines/jail time can be levied against you.

      Oddly, a surprising number of people are willing to sue others for any reason they can but think they themselves are immune to it; they’ll look for excuses to sue (or threaten to) clients, subcontractors, venders, etc., but play rather fast and loose with the law themselves. Makes no sense.

      Good job getting out! I know how much of a struggle it can be, but in the long run “I left because of ethical concerns” is a MUCH better thing to have on your work record! Sounds like your boss wasn’t just violating the law, but was actually abusive. It’s classic behavior: the abusive husband will always plead with the wife who threatens divorce, telling her how much he loves her and can’t live without her. Then “she fell down the stairs” next week. (I know that abuse is not limited to one gender, but I think folks can relate more this way around because it’s the narrative we’re used to.) Good job catching it and seeing through it; too many people don’t until too late.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      …the lying and general lack of integrity I was pointing out “is just the American way”.

      OMG I would have peed myself laughing over that one! So glad you’re out of that mess.

    8. Moonsaults*

      I’m so glad you got out of there, what a nightmare.

      They’re so used to people letting them push them around and doing their dirty work that they just simply cannot handle someone saying “Hey guys, I’m not into this.” what a mess.

    9. Lemon Zinger*

      Aww, I am so sorry they did that to you. What a horrible company! You did the right thing. I hope you take good care of yourself in the coming days!

  10. Mustache Cat*

    Now that I’ve moved on from my former workplace, the stories that trickle in to me from friends that still work there are merely funny rather than aggravating. For example, apparently the incompetent intern-turned-incompetent-paid-employee has been telling people now to assign to work to her because “September is coming up and I’m really busy”.

    September is their busiest season.

    Everyone is really busy.

    Her literal job is to be assigned work from others.

    And apparently none of her higher-ups have a problem with her saying this.

    It is…it is just so nice to be in a professional workplace environment now.

    1. Emilia Bedelia*

      I understand that frustration! I hate it when people complain about problems that affect us all and expect me to have more sympathy. Contacted a supplier for something that should have been done months ago- “sorry, we’re under a crunch from preparing for (new industry wide regulations that are affecting everyone, including my company).” Yeah, me too…. That’s why this thing I need you to do is so urgent.

    2. NarrowDoorways*

      Boy do I get that! After I left hate-job after 5 years, I decided to enjoy the stories.

      Apparently the person who replaced me approved a $300k invoice when her boss (my old boss) was on vacation. Previously, when I worked there, if my boss was one vaca, people used be be up my tush checking those invoices even though I’d never had an error and had been there 5 years. But for some reason no one checks hers when her boss was out.

      Yeah, so, those invoices are NEVER more than $16k. She looked at $300k and didn’t even BLINK! So when the boss came back and saw that, flipped out, the boss immediately started trying to reverse the charge–which had been in error. But because none of the other upper management people had said anything and the normal window to contest had closed, they just sort of….pretended it was fine.

      Bahahahahahaha. Wow. Good luck with your next vacation, old boss!

      1. Mustache Cat*

        “… they just sort of….pretended it was fine.”

        Holy crap, that is my old job in a nutshell. They lost five people in three months (in an organization of around 20) and never even questioned it.

    3. Adlib*

      Yes! Stories from old jobs are pretty hilarious. Twice after I’ve left previous jobs it took more than one person to replace me. Fortunately, I’m not in a job like those anymore!

  11. Stella*

    I landed a job that I was very excited about right out of college at a company which has a very high-profile in my industry. I ended up staying there for about six years, in three different positions over that time. The last position I held was a promotion that put me on track for advancement through one of the core parts of the business. I had asked my managers repeatedly for the opportunity to advance in this way, and everyone was super excited when it worked out. The position had never previously existed in my department (though it was very common in others), so in a sense it felt like it was created for me, though others candidates were interviewed. It was also a jump that I saw very few people make from the entry level position where I had started during my time there.

    I was consistently given positive feedback for the two years that I held the position, but I also worried that I wasn’t good enough for the job. I think that it mostly came down to impostor syndrome and bad management; I liked my managers, but they often preferred to do tasks themselves instead of allowing me to them in a learning capacity, which was supposed to be part of the job.

    Unfortunately, in a large round of layoffs, the position was eliminated. It’s been some time, and though I know that layoffs aren’t personal, I’ve never totally gotten over it. I’ve landed another position in a related field, at another high-profile institution, but it’s a step down for me and I’ve felt bored and restless.

    My old company recently posted a position which is almost identical to the one I held when I was laid off (right now it has a variable title- think junior/senior- which will be determined based on the experience of the candidate).

    Should I apply? A layoff is not the same as a firing, but somehow, coupled with the self-doubt about my own abilities I think my meanbrain may have processed it that way. I guess it can’t hurt to reach out to my former managers, who would be managing this position, and ask them what they think. Of course I also have concerns since I already know that their management style isn’t ideal. Things are further complicated by the fact that I have only been in my current role for about a year, and it would burn a bridge with this company if I were to leave soon.

    I’d love to hear if this community thinks there are any compelling reasons for me to apply or not to. (And I’d also appreciate any emotional support for those who have navigated these sorts of situations against waves of self-doubt. I’m alternately positive that the position will be a great fit, and terrified that I will be laughed out of the room if I go in to interview).

    1. Leatherwings*

      You know this already, but the layoff wasn’t personal. If you want the job, I would apply again! There’s nothing to lose by it. Nobody laughs anyone they’ve invited for an interview out of the room (unless they do something crazy, obvs), so don’t worry! Good luck :)

    2. Blue Anne*

      It definitely sounds like it would be worth it to apply and/or reach out to your old managers. It might help you convince yourself that the layoff really wasn’t about your abilities, and it sounds like that would be a really good thing to be able to put your mind at ease about.

    3. Anonsy*

      Apply! If you left in good standing during a layoff then it’s absolutely OK to go back when the situation improves. My old company is that way- there’s a TON of people that are “boomerangs” that were either laid off and came back or that left for whatever reason and then came back.

      The people there would probably be relieved at you applying because you’re a known quantity and hiring you would probably be easier than starting from scratch. Apply!

    4. neverjaunty*

      Do you actually want the new position and to work there again, or would taking this job be a way of emotionally “fixing” the layoff? Don’t apply unless it’s the first one.

      1. Stella*

        Yes, good advice! I do really think that I genuinely want the job: since the layoff I’ve thought a lot about how I would approach it differently if I had another crack at it to try and tackle my impostor syndrome in a more constructive way. It may have been a difficult job, but it was also rewarding and allowed me to use my educational background in a very unique way. I’ve even rehearsed what I would say in an interview situation… so I realize I’ve been slightly obsessive, but I think it comes from a place of genuinely missing that work, though I worry that in some ways I am trying to “fix” it. At the risk of making you a stand-in for my therapist, these are motivations that I am trying to untangle.

        My partner will not want me to go back: he tells me that I have rose-colored glasses when I remember my time at this company. I’m sure he has a point, but I also think that he’s only remembering the difficult times (the things I came home and complained about!).

        1. RVA Cat*

          This. It’s important for you to remember that you do not have to accept if they make you an offer.

          1. Stella*

            …which had actually never even occurred to me amidst the heart palpitations. Thank you for the reminder!

            1. RVA Cat*

              Glad I could help.
              I would definitely weigh the good and the bad here. Thinking about “switching costs” of changing jobs. Factor in your current pay, but also the typical raise at your current company vs. OldJob, compare the benefits package, etc. I’d also research how financially stable the old company is now, compared to your current employer (if they’re publicly traded there should be lots of info on this). I’d be especially wary if they think they can hire you back at the same pay you were making last year…

        2. neverjaunty*

          It may not be so much that he remembers only the difficult times, as he’s reminding you of the difficult times you’re not remembering or are overlooking because you want to go back. Assume what he says is objectively true and you’ll have to live with all that again if you go back; would it still be worth it?

          Of course the answer may be that you would in fact be happier in the old job. But don’t fall into the trap of dreaming about the wedding and not thinking much about the marriage, as it were; are you more invested in getting the job, or in the day to day of actually having the job?

    5. MissGirl*

      “…in a large round of layoffs, the position was eliminated.” This is actually quite concerning to me. They’ve already demonstrated that this position is disposable if things go bad. What changes have happened to ensure there won’t be more layoffs? You’ve lost what seniority you had and coupled with this position may mean you’re ripe to be the first one cut. What’s changed to fix the parts of the job that frustrated you?

      Be careful that you’re not focused on making this a decision between two things: this and your current job. There is a world of possible jobs out there that are neither company you might be a good fit for. Give it careful thought. I do agree with the poster above to be wary that this isn’t you trying to rewrite a bad ending. You’re focused on whether they want you but do you really want them?

      1. Stella*

        Thank you for this (and for all of the helpful thoughts above!). It took some thinking about the opportunity, talking about it with others, and considering the advice that I received here, but I’ve gotten into the mindset of considering whether I want them, rather than worrying so much about whether they want me.

        I had a very emotional, visceral reaction when I saw the posting: that’s MY job. And I realize now that that initial reaction was very much connected to a desire to “fix” the narrative of the layoff that’s in my head.

        I’m still mulling this over, but my feeling now is that it is not, indeed, the right time for me to go back to this job (as you pointed out the large round of layoffs is not yet bygone history, and of course my problematic managers are still running the show), but I do want to use it as an opportunity to reconnect with my contacts there and keep that door open in case another opportunity arises when it is the right time and place for me.

        Thanks again to everyone who considered my situation. The depth of knowledge and compassion in this forum blows me away.

  12. Folklorist*

    This is you weekly(ish) ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!! Get off your butt (figuratively if you’re a desk monkey like me) and do something you’ve been putting off—then come back and tell us about it!

    I’m going to send out an invoice that I’ve been avoiding for…a month? A month and a half? Two months? (Shut up! I know it’s simple, but I’m a word person and accounting/administrative stuff scares me!)

    1. Mustache Cat*


      Put together a rough draft on a blog post about a certain situation in a refugee camp!

    2. Anna*

      Write a press release about a meeting with the governor’s staff that took place earlier this week. And send out the photos I took to the other people there.

    3. burnout*

      Billing reports finished.

      Still suffering the after affects of Wednesday’s migraine. Took me a full 5 minutes to figure out why my senior attorney’s report was over 200 pages long. I had too many timekeepers checked off, DUH.


      1. Happy Lurker*

        oh, I did this this morning…can’t believe it has been a month and how many times I just had to hit “delete”.
        Yippee! Now to get ahead of next week’s work so I can have a long weekend!

      2. Chaordic One*

        Good advice!

        It’s not something that I usually think about because I’m more focused on what is in the “inbox” and getting that taken care of and then deleted.

    4. Liz T*

      Replied to a scheduling email! Don’t know why I was putting that one off, it was basically, “Yes! Yay!”

    5. Adlib*

      I routinely write training documentation. Still putting off doing a rather complex one. It’s not hard, but I just don’t want to do it!

    6. Lindsay J*

      Enrolled in and listened to the first lecture in the Coursera Data Science specialization.

    7. Hershele Ostropoler*

      Apply for the job I told my parents I was applying for on Tuesday (my father knows one of the executives there, but of course I don’t want more out of that connection than a foot in the door). And finish my going-back-to-college application, which is ultimately job-hunt related.

  13. Liz T*

    Has anyone here used Predictive Index, on either end? I just had to fill one out and it’s…weird.

    1. The Alias Gloria Is Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

      I’ve filled them out a few times. I have no idea what they are supposed to tell someone about me. I must come up as a psychopath or something because usually once I take them the entire process stops.

    2. Rory Gilmore's Book*

      We used it at my old company. For particular roles, they were very strict about using the results to hire people. For example, we had one account in which the client was…eccentric….and would onlu work well with a particular type of personality. When they tried to hire outside of that type for that role, it never worked out well.

      We also used the tool to put teams together at times. It was helpful but it wasnt our only consideration in hiring.

    3. Risa*

      I’ve taken the Predictive Index, and when I took it I thought the questions was a weird experience – basically 2 questions and your done….

      However, I felt the results were a fairly accurate representation of my work style. The things it identified to my manager would be that I require some independence in expressing ideas and freedom to deal with problems and challenges. I don’t do as well with repetitive work and is stimulated by having a variety of activities to work on. That I tend to more authoritative than persuasive. That I’m a fast-learner and work faster than average. And that I have high standards and tend to put a lot of pressure on myself.

      There was way more detail in the report that came out of it, but it was very interesting experience. For those who put stock in those types of test, I thought it was one of the least invasive, while still providing a pretty good roadmap for what type of employee I am.

      1. Liz T*

        Yeah I don’t know if I took it seriously enough–I didn’t realize it would only be two questions! I thought I’d be able to go back and check things over.

  14. bassclefchick*

    I’ve taken a lot of time this week to reflect on being fired from a job I thought was going well. I realized that this was the 3rd time in 10 years I’ve been let go. Which is certainly a reflection on me. I just wish I knew where I was going wrong. I’m slowly moving forward from this latest disaster. Like I said last week, no one should have this much bad career mojo. I do take my share of the responsibility, of course. But I really need to learn how to figure out if a job will be a good fit for me. I think part of the problem is I never really figured out what I wanted to do as a career, so I’ve just been taking jobs as they’ve come along, regardless of whether I would be good at it or even like it. If it sounded interesting, I applied for it.

    On the plus side, I had 3 phone interviews this week. Two of which have already turned into in person interviews. The third might still move to an in person, but I haven’t heard back yet. I like all three opportunities, but I talked with a former co-worker who recommended me for one of these positions. I now have serious doubts about it, but I’ll go to the interview and see what it’s like.

    Thanks to everyone last week for helping me see I did my best and encouraged me to keep going. It really is appreciated. Hopefully, next week I’ll have even better news to report!

    1. Caledonia*

      fingers crossed for your interviews!

      I don’t think 3 times in 10 years is that bad, I think maybe you were just unlucky in some respects.

    2. Mimmy*

      I can somewhat relate to what you’re feeling in that I too have a hard time figuring out if a job will be a good fit for me. I know what fields and issues I’m interested in, but have never quite gotten a handle on whether a job would be a fit for my skills and temperament.

      Good luck in your search – I hope the in-person interviews go well!

    3. Gaia*

      Is there any theme in the reasons you are being fired? (missing deadlines, attendance, attitude, unable to complete task X, etc)? That may help you in determining what is a “good fit” for you.

      Congrats on the phone screens. I hope you find your right place.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I think it’s culture. The first one was a small office that was very set in their ways and I just wasn’t part of the clique. The second one, TOTALLY my fault. 100%. I had worked at the company before in a different city and did not agree with their management style. But, I forgot to tell my temp service in new city not to send me there. And I didn’t have a strong enough backbone to say no. I didn’t want to mess up unemployment benefits by “refusing work”.

        This last one? No idea. I thought it was going well. Sure, I had some rough days. I just thought it was the normal growing pains of learning a new job in a totally new field. And up until the day my boss fired me, she had said I was doing a great job. Personally, I think something was going on behind the scenes I wasn’t aware of and nothing I did was going to work. I also think the boss had unrealistic expectations for what one person could accomplish in that role. But I’m treating it as a learning experience.

        1. Biff*

          Uh, if the boss is saying you are doing great, YOU can’t fix behaviors. Because you wouldn’t even know they were problems.

        2. SarahTheEntwife*

          Wow, yeah, that sounds like a string of bad luck and if it’s something on you, it’s more along the lines of maybe getting better at telling whether something has a toxic/misfit environment. If your manager said you were doing well, how were you supposed to know that you weren’t?

    4. Callietwo*

      “I like all three opportunities, but I talked with a former co-worker who recommended me for one of these positions. I now have serious doubts about it, but I’ll go to the interview and see what it’s like.”
      At least having that conversation should help you figure out the questions you need to be asking so you can either rule this one out or allay your fears!
      Good luck!!

      1. TootsNYC*

        you know, talk to that former coworker, and ask her to give you an honest evaluation of your strengths, and then ask her to help you find areas you can improve on.

        Colleagues sometimes have a very valuable perspective.

        And you might get past her reluctance to hurt your feelings if you start w/ the positive, and if you frame any negatives as something you’re looking for an active way to improve on.

        Good luck!!

  15. the_scientist*

    For people who have vacation blackout periods, were you informed of those with the job offer or did you find out after you’d already accepted?

    My partner started a new job about three months ago with a small company. We haven’t been able to take any vacation this summer because of this, so we’re planning some time off in the fall. After partner booked a couple of days off around the (Canadian) Thanksgiving holiday, he was informed that he’d probably have to shift those dates around because October/November are actually blackout times. Also, it appears that to take five days off at once, you have to personally make your case to the owner of the company, which has me rolling my eyes a little bit.

    Maybe it’s my public sector bubble speaking, but to me, vacation blackouts seem like an important thing to mention as part of a job offer! The HR person who did his hiring was pretty unhelpful and got a lot of information wrong, so it’s possible she just….forgot to mention it. I’m just wondering how common it is. For the record, partner was in a similar industry before (much larger company) and this wasn’t an issue.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I think it depends on how long the blackout period is. If it’s a few weeks out of the year, I think it’s NBD to forget mentioning it. But an entire summer? That’s probably something they should mention.

    2. mskyle*

      Unless blackout periods are super-common in the industry, I would expect to at least be told that there are blackout periods when I was being hired. That’s super-annoying. But in combination with the having to justify taking five days off at once, it sounds like this company has some weird ideas about vacation in general :/

    3. anon times infinity*

      Our summers are blacked out. So it’s pretty hard to take vacation from mid-May to mid-September. But that’s common for my industry, so it wasn’t really a surprise.

      I was told after I started, but my boss at the time was incredibly incompetent so in retrospect that doesn’t surprise me. What did annoy me was that she would say it was too busy but then go ahead and take a vacation during the summer. Great for morale.

      Other departments in my company have a 50/50 chance of being told during the interviews. It really depends on who is doing the interview and which HR rep handles all the details.

    4. Anna*

      So the summer is a blackout period AND the time around Thanksgiving AND you have to make a case for taking five or more days off?

      Uh. That’s a little weird.

      1. the_scientist*

        No, sorry. The summer is just because he JUST started the job and didn’t want to take vacation in the first three months, that’s all!

        It’s a bit annoying because I get a LOT of vacation time and I need to use it!

        1. EddieSherbert*

          Do a friends’ trip! Or go with your mother/father/sibling/favorite cousin!

          Just because he can’t get some time off (which does suck) doesn’t mean you can’t either. I think – even if you have to do a shorter vacation, or no vacation, with partner – it sounds like you need a break :)

          1. Happy Lurker*

            Not a suggestion – but my MIL used to take a week in the fall and a week in the spring and clean her house top to bottom. She has a really clean house – I do not!

    5. Anon Always*

      We have unofficial blackout periods (that apply more specifically to newer employees) and those typically don’t get communicated during the hiring process. For example, most employees aren’t permitted to take vacation in October (of more than a day or so), because that is our busiest season. It should be quite clear during the interview process when that is emphasized as the busiest period (it was to me), but we still have some people who are shocked that they can’t take vacation during that time.

      1. anonintheuk*

        Kind of?
        I work in tax. Our filing deadline is 31 January. No manager is going to sign off for you to take annual leave in January, and will probably have lots of questions about you if you even ask for it.
        Another firm in this area had someone take a week off in January, after being refused leave by her manager. She was astonished to be fired when she came back.

      2. Vanesa*

        I agree. We have busy season from Jan – April and although technically no one has ever said those are blackout periods I would never even think of asking for vacation during that time (except my first year when I already had a weekend trip planned).

    6. Vanesa*

      I agree it should definitely be mentioned in the job offer stage/interview if the blackout months are so long and aren’t common in the industry. It also seems so silly to have to make your case to the CEO for a week off. It’s only a week!

      Did they mention why there is blackout during that time?

    7. AnonEMoose*

      I don’t know about anyone else, but the blackout periods plus having to “make a case” to the owner is giving me a whiff of “we’ll say you have this much vacation time, but will make it as difficult as possible for you to actually take it.”

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes. Especially given all the “mistakes” made by the HR person. Essentially this was a bait and switch.

      2. lowercase holly*

        yeah, you either have vacation time or you don’t. blackout periods, fine. having to justify 5 days if you have the 5 days to take? pffft.

    8. SevenSixOne*

      OldJob was a place that was open 24/7, so the application asked something like “Are you able to work outside normal business hours, including weekends, overnight, and/or holidays?” but nothing in the application or interview mentioned blackout days.

      The company’s blackout days were Thanksgiving, Xmas eve/day, New Year’s eve/day, and just about every Friday-Sunday in between. I started in April and didn’t learn about the blackout days until the end of summer!

      Ever since then, I always ask interviewers some combination of does this company/dept/whatever have a busy season? What makes it busier than the rest of the year? When is it and how long does it last? Are there any blackout days?

    9. MPTO*

      Not only was I not told during the pre-hiring stage about blackout periods (4 months out of the year) but I wasn’t told I would be required to work most holidays…now I know to ask! I would still have taken the job (holidays are paid at double time, not a lot of vacation time was offered to begin with), as I really needed a job, but it would have been nice to know ahead of time.

  16. MissMaple*

    I’d love some advice from the AMA community on addressing short stays in my cover letter; they’re not really job hopping (except for maybe this last stay), but are somewhat short none the less:
    -3.75 years, first job out of college, moved on for new opportunities
    -1 year, laid off, new opportunities were overstated :)
    -2.75 years, merger, location closed, was starting grad school didn’t want to move
    -Current job, 1 year, took it to be close to home/school, hoped it would be a good fit, was not

    I’m looking to move out of my current role because it turned out to be way more project management than described in the job description/interview and I really want to do more technical work.

    1. Stressed*

      That isn’t short at all from my perspective. the 3.75 & 2.75 year positions save you. Do not bring it up in your cover letter except maybe to say you are looking for a better fit or something… explaining it comes into play at the interview and you seem to have a solid reason for switching each job.

      1. MissMaple*

        Thanks, I think I’m just used to people in my office who have been here for decades! I need to do a really deep dive into my cover letters and resume this weekend, I haven’t been getting any responses, which is unusual based on my previous job hunts. I was blaming it on the short stays, but maybe it’s something else. I really appreciate this community, by the way, you guys are great :)

      2. Anon Always*

        I agree. And I think it’s very common with younger workers. At least I had 5 jobs in 7 years (with the last two having tenures of less than a year), and it wasn’t an issue. It probably wouldn’t have been if I had continued that way, but it was fine early on. And I’ve hired people with similar backgrounds, most of whom were either late 20’s or early 30’s, who had bounced around a bit.

    2. NaoNao*

      I would say you’re okay with the 3.75 (will look like 4 solid years, leave off the months when you list it, simply put “2012-2016” or something) and the others will be okay. It seems like by this that you’re in the start of your career, so I think with the school in the mix, you’ll be alright. I’d be prepared to talk about your shorter stays, by explaining what you did right/accomplished and gently “punch” the fact it was a layoff/merger/whathaveyou.

      1. JOTeepe*

        I can’t speak for everyone, but whenever I see years without months, unless it’s a REALLY SIGNIFICANT period of time (say, a decade), I tend to think it’s a gimmick trying to do exactly this. For example, when I see that on a resume, I default to “December 2012-January 2016.”

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d agree with others that you’re fine right now, but I also think it’s important to stay at the next job for a solid chunk of time (at least three years) — you don’t want a third one-year stay on there and three years will help balance out the shorter ones.

    4. Elfie*

      That doesn’t sound all that bad to me. I’ve done 1 year, 2 years, 8 years, 2.5 years, 3 years, and this one will probably be 1 year by the time I actually work my notice period. The 8 years probably does save me, but I’ve never had anyone question my loyalty (to my knowledge, anyway!). Although I do work in IT, where I believe this is fairly common.

  17. afiendishthingy*

    I got a resume the other day whose design included a little sidebar with inspirational quotes related to our field. I think there were four or 5 down the left margin. Has anyone else encountered this? Who is teaching people to do this and can they stop? It was like a resume and a collection of cheesy inspirational posters, rolled into one.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I’ve seen a few of those, and if you figure out who we can go shove into a locker to make it stop, let me know! Only slightly less-worse are the ones where the sidebar quotes are “recommendations” from previous managers or whatever. Like the one-line quotes from reviewers on the back of a book.

      Although for weird resume templates, nothing quite tops the one that had clipart scattered all over the footer – like, corporate logos and cartoon characters. None of which had anything to do with their experience, or our job opening. I’ve never figured out what that was about. It was also in, and hand to god I am not kidding at all about this, multicolored comic sans font. Various chunks of text were red, yellow, blue, green – and not by paragraph or anything, sometimes switching mid-sentence!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I did once see a CV with the personal information in a side-bar and then the job history in the main part of the page, which I might try myself as a format.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Personal information like their contact info and stuff? I’ve seen some like that, too. They strike me as the kind of thing that works best for higher-level positions, though I’m not sure why that’s my interpretation of that format. My own resume is in the more classic vertically-arranged sections format.

        2. afiendishthingy*

          Yeah, when I was trying to google the “inspirational quotes sidebar” template I found that format, which I think can actually look nice and neat.

        3. periwinkle*

          How badly would the typical ATS mangle that format, though? It would give Taleo a hissy fit, although TBH anything that annoys Taleo makes me happy…

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Don’t do a sidebar! It means that there’s much less room for the real substance of your resume (your accomplishments and job history); it ends up sacrificing function to form.

          1. Honeybee*

            These folks (at least in my experience) are doing sidebars with like 0.5″ margins all around, and like 10 point font. It looks cluttered.

            Honestly, until I started reviewing resumes really recently at my job I had no idea how bad most resumes are. It gives me a brand new appreciation for your advice – I thought it was mostly just common sense until I saw a bunch of standard ones.

        5. Honeybee*

          I’ve been seeing these pop up a lot recently. I think it’s an attempt to fit everything on one page since we’ve had it hammered into our heads that resumes should be one page.

    2. higheredrefugee*

      I worked in career services for years, and generally, those ideas come from a parent or the candidate themselves. The parents of course think that creativity will help the youngster stand out; the candidate thinks the creativity will help them stand out. Oh, the ideas people come up with when they don’t consider industry (or just cultural) standards!

      FWIW, my favorite was the student who brought me her resume which was on a light pink resume paper with her name and the NYC skyline in a pink gradient across the top. Fortunately, the student was transitioning from graphic design to law, so she completely understood that a major overhaul was needed. She actually uses that as her example when she mentors students as to why they should listen to the career services office!

      1. WellRed*

        I read a article this week about how resumes should have more creative fonts (though they suggested things like verdana, not comic sans). One resume “professional” also said you need a “splash” of color.

        1. Goats*

          I have my titles in a dark blue that contrasts the rest of the black text. It looks pretty great, visually. (Also, if it is scanned or photocopied in black and white it still looks good because the dark blue appears the same as the black.) I personally like my splash of colour… although I think it is fairly conservative as splashes of colour go.

        2. vpc*

          When I print your resume, it will come out black and white, because that’s what kind of printer we have. And I will be printing it, b/c we do interviews in a conference room without a computer, and I need it in front of me. So… that splash of color is wasted.

          1. Honeybee*

            Depends on the field. I review resumes on my computer, as does almost everyone else doing resume review in my office, so I can always see the small splashes. (My resume does use some limited blue on it to highlight titles and my name, but I also use size and bolding so if it printed out black and white it’d be fine.)

      2. Chaordic One*

        Many years ago, fresh from college, I got a job interview at a car magazine in response to an ad in a newspaper. My cover letter and resume featured a row of different cars and trucks in the header. As I recall they came from a font called “Traffic.” I thought I was pretty clever, but although I got an interview, I didn’t get the job. It went to someone with more experience.

    3. EmmaLou*

      In college I took a “Business Practices” class where the instructor told us about a candidate who made his resume on non-standard sized paper so it would stick out around the edges of all of the other resumes received and she thought that was so clever. I thought it was stupid as I’d probably just toss that one to get it out of the way. She insisted that was the kind of thing we needed to do to “get noticed.”

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        I did some assorted office temping when I first moved to this area, and one of my jobs was to scan all the resumes a particular department had received and give them all standard filenames. Sorry, people who sent in resumes on super-fancy paper; you get turned into a pdf with everyone else :-b

    4. Lizabeth*

      Inspirational quotes? Ouch… My side bar contains my schooling, software, hardware and user groups for my industry.

    5. Library Director*

      I recently saw a resume on LinkedIn that is an infographic. There was an About Me pie chart with personal information. Please don’t let this become a trend.

  18. Amy M in HR*

    This is it, today is my last day at my current job. I leave next week to travel across the country (this California girl is finally going back out west!) to my new position with what I consider to be my dream company. I am excited and scared all at once but just want to thank AAM for all the great advice I’ve read here – I firmly believe that following her advice helped me land this position. Hopefully I will check back in a few weeks and update everyone on how it is!

    1. SL #2*

      There’s a joke on Tumblr that you’ll always spot the Californian in the crowd because they can never shut up about being from California. I wholly agree with it. Welcome back to the best coast!

    2. Daisy Steiner*

      Lol, to a non-American it seems so strange that you say you are going ‘out west’ from California! I picture you in the middle of the Pacific Ocean :)

  19. Lily Evans*

    I was late to work for the first time ever this morning thanks to red line delays and my horrible claustrophobia. Fortunately my supervisor was really understanding, but still I’ve been having a bad week and this was the worst way to start my Friday. At least I didn’t cry (which was a close thing, I turn into such an easy crier when my anxiety is bad), so that’s a plus I guess?

    1. afiendishthingy*

      ugh, anxiety and being late are a terrible way to start the day. But everyone is late sometimes, and lots of people have anxiety, so try to be nice to yourself and don’t push yourself too hard today if you can help it.

    2. Mustache Cat*

      Let me guess–Washington DC?

      You have my utmost sympathies. I’m seeing a lot of workplaces are starting to get a lot more flexible because of how unreliable WMATA is these days, which I guess is a very, very tarnished silver lining.

      1. Lily Evans*

        Boston, actually, but the transit here is also known for being pretty unreliable at times (though not as bad as the horror stories I’ve read from DC).

        1. alter_ego*

          based on the complaints I see on my facebook, the red line is the worst for delays (I take the commuter rail/don’t have a set start or end time so “late” isn’t really a concern for me). But I think anyone in the city completely understands that 100% on time is just impossible.

          1. Lily Evans*

            I always give myself cushion time and I’m usually a good twenty minutes early, if not more, so when it’s bad enough to make me actually late, it’s pretty bad.

          1. LadyKelvin*

            The Red line in DC is currently under repairs so there are lots of delays on it too. My first thought was D*&^& safetrack!

        2. Isabel C.*

          I’m pretty sure any manager in Boston is going to understand that the T is fucked and there’s nothing any of us can do about it (other than maybe at the voting booth). Especially if this is your first time being late, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

    3. Dawn*

      Aw, it’s OK! Anxiety is so hard sometimes and it sounds like your commute was just awful!

      At least it’s Friday! MASSIVE HUGSSS!!!

      1. Anony Lurker*

        Ugh, me too! 45 minutes extra, NO ANNOUNCEMENTS. No explanation, no nada.

        I got to work and the first person I saw was my supervisor. Double ugh.

        FWIW, it’s going to happen at least once a year, sometimes more. Luckily, enough people commute on the red line that word trickles out pretty fast — so many people are late for the same reason!

        1. Lily Evans*

          I was actually waiting in the station when the disabled train that caused it all pulled in and they made everyone get off. I noped out of there pretty fast because the platform was jam packed and I can’t do crowds like that.

          1. TL -*

            That was smart because my friend was on that train and she said they just waited for nearly an hour on the next train.

        2. TL -*

          Disabled train at Porter. I had to go to urgent care (Which opened 30 minutes late because they lost their keys) and then get a prescription and then wait for the Red line to start running again and despite planning to get to work at my normal time, I was more than 1.5 hrs late.

          Today has not been a good day.

    4. Anonymoosetracks*

      For what it’s worth, no decent employer out there is going to penalize you for having a bad Metro day right now. I think pretty much everyone understands that, under the current circumstances, you just can’t control when Metro catches on fire/derails/SafeTrack delays take an extra hour more than the hour they already do/whatever. Some days you could build in an extra couple hours to every trip and you still wouldn’t make it to work on time.

      1. Anonymoosetracks*

        Haha, I assumed DC because our red line was unimaginably terrible today…I see that you’re in Boston. Same deal applies, though.

        1. alter_ego*

          haha, luckily so far in Boston, none of our trains are catching on fire like I’ve been hearing about in DC. We just grind to a screeching halt in the snow, which is fine, because it never snows in Boston :-|

          1. Lily Evans*

            I haven’t yet had the pleasure of taking the T in the winter and I can’t say I’m looking forward to it.

            1. alter_ego*

              Last winter wasn’t so bad actually. and the winter before that was very much an anomaly. But if you’re on a mostly underground train like the redline, you’re in a better place than say, the green line that pops above ground enough that it barely qualifies as a subway.

    5. Pearl*

      I think you will be okay. Everybody in Boston knows that the T does these things. I once had to call work to tell them I’d be 10 minutes late because my green line train changed destinations at Kenmore and I couldn’t understand the announcement until we were already headed in the wrong direction (for me). The claustrophobia, I’m guessing, made it feel a lot worse. I’m glad you were able to get off and catch a bus instead though! Everybody is late sometimes, and an accident on the road or a T delay will happen to all of us at some point.

    6. Hermione*

      I feel you, Lily! It usually takes me ~40 minutes in the morning, and today that disabled train at Porter cost me an hour and 25 minute commute. There are many things I love about this city, but the T isn’t one of them.

    7. Lizabeth*

      Traffic happens and is beyond your control…do you have an iPod or something like it with a playlist that can ease the situation when it arises? It helps….

      1. Lily Evans*

        I wish that helped. My anxiety, when it’s claustrophobia based like it was today (out of all of the many things that get me anxious, it’s by far the worst) will not be placated. Trying to distract myself only ever seems to make it worse. It’s something I’ve talked to my therapist about that we haven’t yet found a solution for other than medication, and I still haven’t found the right kind yet.

        1. OneDayAtAtime*

          These things take time unfortunately. As a fellow anxiety sufferer, I urge you to continue trying out new solutions, no matter how silly they seem (for example, messing with Play-doh and other clay like substances seems to help calm me). Sounds like your manager is understanding, which is great. I recently overslept and almost had a panic attack that I would get fired…which of course I didn’t because I’m never late and nothing important was going on.

  20. Anxious Mess*

    I’m in a really bad pickle at work I could use some advice on! It’s a complicated story but i’ll try to make it as short as possible.

    An old friend I lost touch with years ago got in touch with me about a job in her company that sounded amazing, so even though I was super happy at my current office I decided to go in and hear about the job. It sounded wonderful, so when they made me an offer i accepted. Before doing that I asked my friend to tell me if there’s anything she dislikes about working there so I could make my decision with eyes open and she said there really wasn’t anything she could think of. I couldn’t wait to start.

    I’ve been here almost 2 months now and honestly have never been this miserable. The job is different than what I signed on for, but more importantly I find the culture to be really toxic and mean spirited. One example: The boss encouraged everyone to openly mock a fired employee for doing things like taking a long time in the bathroom. It’s just nasty here, and I so regret deciding to leave my wonderful old job — I was’t at all looking to leave before I was recruited for this. I have panic attacks every morning now on my commute.

    I have a really great relationship with my former manager and when I mentioned to her that I’m unhappy, she offered me a new job at my old company that would actually be a step up. I really really wan to accept and work in a healthy environment again, but a few things are making it complicated.

    Is there any way to leave a job gracefully after such a short time like this without hurting the reputation of the friend who referred you? She doesn’t actually work in my department and is beloved here for the great work she does, but like I said it’s a small mean-spirited place. I’ll give 2 weeks notice of course, but I’m still worried about anger being directed towards her.

    Also, my direct supervisor is away on a business trip all week. I’d want to tell her right away – is it appropriate to resign over the phone when your supervisor is out of town on business? The only other person I can resign to in her absence is the head of the company (the lovely fellow who mocks people for their bathroom use) so I’m hoping to avoid it.

    Should I just try to stick it out here? I never thought I’d someone who leaves a job after such a short time period, and I’m worried about just being a shitty person for doing this.

    1. Anon Always*

      Do not stick it out. There is no sense in being miserable when you have another better alternative. Sometimes jobs just don’t work out and aren’t the best fit. And if your friend has a great reputation at her work place then you leaving isn’t going to hurt it much (if at all). Does your friend know how unhappy you are?

      And it happens. I wouldn’t worry about it. Put in your notice when you boss gets back into the office next week, and then start looking forward to starting your new role at your old organization.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Take the job at your old company. Tomorrow. Give your notice to anyone you can, and cc your boss. Don’t look back.

        Good luck.

    2. Michele*

      If your old boss at wonderful ex-job wants you back, take it. But make sure the offer is valid. Get an offer letter and acceptance letter/email in writing. Then tell your friend, just say you’re comfortable in this environment, but thank her for getting you this job.

      1. Sadsack*

        Yes, absolutely make sure the offer is firm, then call your manager to resign. Then worry about telling your friend.

    3. Leatherwings*

      Don’t stick it out – you’re miserable and that’s not worth it. Go back to your old job, it sounds like a great opportunity. Definitely call and give your supervisor a heads up ASAP – this is one of those times it’s appropriate to resign remotely.

      I would also give your friend a heads up. The crappy part of this is it might hurt her reputation a little. Acknowledge that she stuck her neck out for you and apologize for leaving so soon and I think that’s the best you can do. Good luck and congrats!

    4. Sadsack*

      Go back to your old company, call your manager to tell her. I think saying you don’t feel you fit in the culture there is fine to say because it is the truth. Tell your friend the same thing. Congrats on getting the new job offer, you are lucky it worked out that way!

    5. AnonEMoose*

      You have to take care of you. Sometimes jobs just don’t work out, for a variety of reasons. This one is not working for you, and could eventually end up damaging your health.

      So, accept the offer from your old company if you want to, give your notice (under the circumstances, I’d say over the phone or email would be fine), and maybe give your friend a discreet heads-up once that’s done. If she is really a good friend, she may not be happy, but hopefully she will understand.

    6. Anna*

      You have a great opportunity to leave something that is making you so unhappy you’re having panic attacks and return to a company and a boss you like and enjoyed working with. If I believed in the universe intervening on one’s behalf, I’d say this was the universe intervening on your behalf. Whatever it is, take advantage of it and don’t look back.

      But yeah. Get that offer letter first. Good luck!

    7. Anoners*

      I would not stick it out there. It’s only been 2 months and you are miserable. You are not a shitty person for bailing. Both the workplace lied (about the actual job), and your friend lied (about the culture). The place sounds horrendous by all counts (mocking ex-employees for using the bathroom? Good lord..) You owe them nothing, and your mental health is failing. I would honestly be running back, ASAP.

    8. EddieSherbert*

      I second, third, fourth everyone! Go, go, go! Get that firm offer letter and put in your notice. Don’t let ToxicJob cause you any more stress.

    9. Triceratops*

      1. It’s unfortunate that you leaving *might* reflect badly on your friend, but it is absolutely not worth your health and happiness to stick around in a situation that is making you so miserable.

      2. It is DEFINITELY appropriate to resign over the phone while your boss is away. I don’t think you need to take this to the bathroom-mocker.

      3. Daily panic attacks sounds like a dire enough situation that you should be getting out as quickly as possible. And now you have a great opportunity with another offer. I think it would be a mistake to pass up this chance to get out with minimal financial hardship and stress.

    10. Boo*

      Oh my god, go!! Staying in this toxic job will be bad for you, and you don’t owe the company or your friend anything. Be thankful for your good luck, and run like the wind (as soon as you have a formal offer that is!)

      If you feel bad about your friend, give her a heads up beforehand. She’ll understand.

      This sort of thing is more common than you think. We had someone here who left after a couple of months just because she got a better offer – and in fact that’s how you can phrase your sharp exit if you don’t want to get into it over culture. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, and in fact I think it’s better to jump ship earlier than later, since you can leave the entire miserable experience off your resume.

    11. Vanesa*

      I had a job like this that I hated and the environment was just terrible. It was terrible and nothing like I had been told at all. The manager was mean and would do something similar and tease employees who left the job after working a 10-hour day (she wanted us to stay later). She worked every day and wanted employees to work late every day as well. People were afraid to leave and go home and the end of the day and it was kind of like a game of chicken where no one would want to be the first to leave the office. When the company had events (like Christmas parties, Halloween, etc) people from my team were afraid to participate because our manager didn’t participate and we were expected to work through them. During “snow” days other people in our company were allowed to work from home but our team was expected to come.

      I also left the job after being at a company I enjoyed because I was recruited by an old coworker who told me about this position and that it would be a great place for me because it was an international company with a lot of room for growth and I guess that was true, but I was miserable at that job! I only lasted 5 months there before I left and am a lot happier now. Even though I know I messed up my resume because I was at that job for 5 months and the previous job for only 1.5 years.

    12. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Get out!
      Get the offer in writing and call your manager. Ask to meet with friend for lunch and tell her you are going back to old company and that while you appreciate her confidence in your abilities the fit simply isn’t there (I would be vague since she obviously likes it there).

    13. neverjaunty*

      No. Your friend was either clueless about the company culture, is part of it (in which case, no loss!) or lied to you because she thought you working there would make things more tolerable for her.

      Run and don’t look back. You are not obligated to stay in a horrible job as a favor to a friend. This is your life, not hers.

    14. higheredrefugee*

      One other thing to consider for your friend – she may have a great manager that blocks/deflects the owner’s truly horrible stuff, so she may not experience it as badly as you do. In my most toxic work environment, we were happy in our team bubble, but that was because my boss was all but getting ulcers over deflecting the BS from above.

      And really, you don’t have to make it about the toxic environment you are leaving. Your old workplace reached out when a new opportunity opened up, which is a promotion from either of your old positions, and you are taking it. With time, when you use years on each job (rather than month and year), you’ll be able to leave this whole mess off your resume.

    15. Faith*

      Go back to your old job. It’s great that you have the opportunity to do so, and you should definitely take advantage of it. You do not owe it to your friend to suck it up and continue being miserable. Your first and foremost priority should be your own well-being and your mental health. My answer would have been different if you were considering leaving a new job after 2 months because something else with more money or better title came along. But you absolutely should not feel like you have to stay in a place that gives you panic attacks.

    16. stelmselms*

      I wish I could get my old job back. I’ve been in my position for eight months and I have known since the first week it was not a fit. I knew the person whom I replaced and asked her about her boss, the position, etc. She raved about it all, said he was the best boss ever, etc. I can’t tell you how badly I want my old job back, or at least to work with my previous manager. Previous manager is not the type to hold a grudge so I let him know a few months ago if anything ever opened up in his department again, please let me know. He assured me he would. So run, run back to your old company and soon these two months will just be a little blip you can forget about. Your health and peace of mind are soooooo worth it!

    17. LO*

      You are absolutely not a shitty person for wanting to leave! In no way shape or form.
      The longer you stay around this miserable place, the more miserable you eventually become.
      You have a trap door, pull the lever and leave ASAP. You can’t worry about anybody else but yourself
      because if your work performance suffers, they will surely be on your ass about it. Do what’s best for you
      and don’t put it on your resume. Good luck!

    18. OhBehave*

      Go, go go! You owe this job nothing. There are no regrets because you did your due diligence in finding out any possible negatives at this company. Your ‘friend’ either doesn’t encounter the toxic behavior or has her head in the sand.
      Your former boss is amazing. How awesome is it to go back to a company you like and a promotion too. If you are worried about how to explain your return, just say that the job was not what you were told it was going to be.

    19. TootsNYC*

      I’m not sure how badly it would reflect on your old friend for you to leave.

      How strong was her recommendation, or was it more that she went on active recruitment for her company?

  21. Stressed*

    I don’t know how to handle this problem at work – I seem mismatched for the amount of dedication needed. While I work with a professional financial firm, this is not my desired career path. For now it is ‘just a job’ that keeps the bills paid while I take evening classes with hopes of going to veterinary school in a few years.

    I’ve been here 6 months and the workload is getting greater and greater – I’m not letting is stress me out and taking the perspective of things get done when they do since the more stress I get the less that gets done. It isn’t that bad though since it is a typical 9-5 job where I can disconnect as soon as I leave at 5pm.

    My boss has different ideas though… he keeps increasing services even though we are a staff of 3 with our plates overflowing and clients slipping through the cracks. The idea was raised to hire a new employee but his thoughts are that we just need to work harder/faster/better.

    This mortifies me because it isn’t going to be ‘just a job’ anymore. He already has the more senior team member bringing a laptop home at night to work on clients and I know he is looking at getting another laptop. I also heard him discussing the idea of having us all go from 40 hours/week to 50 hours/week (we are hourly), that is not okay with me.

    Stress wise I cannot handle either bringing work home or working an extra 2 hours per day (he wants both). I also have no time to spare… my classes already are slightly neglected because I don’t have enough time before/after work when you factor in travel time and my shred of a personal life!

    I’m scared of him bullying me into committing more time than I agreed to, I had wanted to work here for the next few years but I am wondering if I should start looking.

    1. misspiggy*

      You should start looking – your boss wants 40 hours a week more from his team but isn’t willing to make that into a new post. Clearly he has terrible judgement and it is definitely time to move on.

      1. Ama*

        Yes, start looking now. In my experience, if one person has final say over staffing and can not be reasoned with to see the staff is overloaded it will not get fixed. In the meantime, if he continues pushing to 50 hours, remind him of whatever overtime laws you have in your area and how much that will cost. (You could also point out that if all three of you increase to 50 hours a week cost-wise you’d already be most of the way to another full time employee, but some people can’t think through staffing that way.)

      2. TootsNYC*

        yeah, 3 people x 10 hours = 30 hours.

        3 people x (10 hours x 1.5 for overtime) = 45 hours

        OK, OK, benefits, etc….

        but…think of the productivity gained, because (productivity of 10 overtime hours) =/= (productivity of 10 regular hours)

    2. fposte*

      It sounds like you should start looking. He wants a commitment level from you that doesn’t work for you, and you’re not going to talk him into dialing back client services.

    3. Temperance*

      Start looking. I don’t know what you’re doing now, but is it related in any way to your ultimate goal? Is it helping you get there in any way?

    4. OhBehave*

      Yes, he wants a commitment level that doesn’t work for you, but it shouldn’t be OK for anyone!

      He will end up shooting himself in the foot when he has to replace people all the time.

    5. Chaordic One*

      Yes, you should certainly start looking.

      It is good that, so far, you’ve been able to not let it stress you out. However, given your boss’s plans, it doesn’t sound like it is going to get any easier or better in the future. Sometimes there really isn’t a way to work smarter and better.

      Not to be all Debbie Downer, but if something doesn’t turn up after a couple of months or so, consider calling it quits. You’re better off to leave with your wits and a sense of self-respect, than to leave all burnt out. I’m not saying you have to leave, but if it gets really bad, think about it.

  22. Michele*

    I have an interview on Monday with a company that has 10 negative reviews on Glassdoor. It’s also a low paying gig ($29,000) but since I’ve been out of FT work since November 2010 (yet freelancing since then), I thought it would be best to go and see for myself. If I’m offered the job, I’m wondering if I should take it. It stinks because I have close to 15+ years of editorial experience, but no one wants to hire me as staff. :(

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Definitely do the interview, if anything for practice! If you get an offer, you should definitely consider it, but you don’t have to take it. Weigh it compared to where you’re at: if you really like it and want it, how much you need it. All that.

      Hang in there!

    2. neverjaunty*

      Go with the expectation you won’t take it. There is likely a reason for all those negative reviews, and if they pay that little it’s not because they have any interest in retaining good talent.

    3. higheredrefugee*

      I second treating it like a practice interview and hear the full package offered. I can’t imagine being without health insurance plus the extras of dental and vision insurance, so this could be an opportunity to gain a couple of those things back for awhile. If your life allows it and if you’re not prohibited by your work arrangement, you can continue to do some freelancing to make some more cash. And maybe one year of this is how you convince the next employer that you really are ready to leave freelancing behind and have readjusted to a structured workplace again. I know there’s far too many hiring managers that hesitate out of fear when someone has freelanced for so long. Silly in many ways, since just moving from one work culture to another may be a much more disruptive experience for a person, but that is a weird fear/prejudice I’ve heard. Good luck!

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        And maybe one year of this is how you convince the next employer that you really are ready to leave freelancing behind and have readjusted to a structured workplace again.

        It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a year. I was out of work for a year six or seven years ago, and then took a shitty, low paying job to get post-grad work experience. I ended up being laid off after four months, but it didn’t matter – from there, I was able to get a better paying job and then an even better one after. It was a snowball effect. All employers needed to see was that I was employable before I began to have options.

  23. themmases*

    I work in public health and lately there have been some changes to the scope of my project that I think are really exciting. The center that funds us is advocating for us at the city and state level, we have some specific politicians interested in our work, and a potential data agreement is in the works that could make our work a lot easier in the future. They have been really demanding as a result, but we are in contact with some actual epidemiologists there who can moderate expectations so on balance it seems like great news to me!

    However I am getting a strong sense that my advisor and boss (and the actual PI of the study) is less thrilled. I can’t tell if he’s just trying to keep the non-scientists at arm’s length and control the message about what is a reasonable workload for us to accomplish, or if there is some personality conflict, or something else I am just totally unaware of. Another analyst on the project agrees with me that something seems off.

    Would you just ask? And how? I’d love to just brush it off but at this point I’m even dreaming about it.

    1. fposte*

      Unless your PI is really temperamental I think you could ask. “I’m curious, Jane; it seems like you have some reservations about the recent changes, and I think I might be missing implications since I lack your experience. Can you fill me in on why you think this could be a problem?”

      1. themmases*

        Thanks, I think I probably could ask too and am just stewing until our next meeting. The other analyst actually brought it up to me, which I think made it feel like an even bigger deal!

        Multiple people in our last meeting made oblique references to the “personalities” involved in the problem we were originally trying to solve, so I’m getting the sense the answer will be a gossipy one. I’m worried I’ll essentially be asking “Hey, so do you really dislike the research center director and our contact there?”

        1. fposte*

          I think usually people have reasons for dislike, though, and that background politics are fair game for inquiry. If she wants to turn it into “Bob is the worst, the absolute worst! Did you see those horrible socks?” that’s on her.

          1. themmases*

            Ha! I would love the dirt actually, just up until now I’ve mostly happened to be in a meeting where people decided something was fine for me to hear rather than having to ask what is going on.

            Logically I know that people can work together basically successfully despite not all really liking each other or sharing the exact same goals. Personally my last experience was that I naively thought everyone was getting along great until a situation got too toxic and hostile to me personally to rationalize anymore, and I left. I think I really dread learning about even mild discord on some level.

            The more I think about it, the more I probably do know. This other team has ideas a mile a minute they want us to complete, each of which is probably a new paper’s worth of analysis in itself, and has been throwing us potential collaborators with similar lofty requests. Some of the ideas shouldn’t ever be done for methodological or privacy reasons. There is just a general intrusiveness, for example they will email our whole group about something that only concerns my boss– even stuff my boss is late giving to them. At our meeting the other day, I think our contact with this group might have offered me a job! Awkward.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      If you have a reasonable relationship with your boss, I think you can just ask. I feel like you can basically say what you said here: It seems like great news, but you’re sensing some reserve from him.

      As a manager, I would really hope my staff would come to me in a situation like that!

      1. themmases*

        Thanks, that helps to hear. My boss is a great mentor and I think he would get why I need to know, both to navigate this situation and as a general learning opportunity.

  24. Anon for This One*

    The CEO at my company called a “meeting” that consisted of everyone in my department sitting in silence for 30 minutes as some sort of punishment for something a few people in the department had apparently done to anger him. (Not going into more details on exactly how this worked for privacy reasons.) It was very strange and upsetting to me.

    I know I don’t want to be at this place long term if the guy I’m working for is like this, but for financial reasons and because it would be good for my resume I will try to stay a couple years and just stay out of his way. But I’m very unsettled and I couldn’t sleep all night after this happened. I cannot stand the idea that it is acceptable for adults to punish each other instead of communicating clearly with the people responsible for the problem. It reminds me too much of my abusive ex.

    1. louise*

      That’s really messed up. I have a similar event in my past (though wasn’t at work) and honestly, I’ve tried to bury the memory. It was a mindfuck in the moment, and recalling it doesn’t help me process it–I just get the same yucky feelings all over again. For me, that would be a flashing, neon billboard telling me to look for something else. You and your co-workers don’t deserve that treatment.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      This is outrageous and not at all normal. There’s a reason it reminds you of abuse, because it’s manipulative and vindictive.

      If you’re trying to decide whether to stay or leave, I’d think about: How much of your day-to-day work affected by this CEO? Does your manager take their managerial cues from him, or try to shield you from him?

      1. Anon for This One*

        My actual boss is great. She’s both emotionally supportive and helpful when I don’t understand something. She reports directly to the CEO and has not expressed any opinion on what he did.

        I’m kind of torn between asking for tips to stay sane in this environment, and realizing it’s really sad and messed up that I should even have to ask.

        1. Anon for This One*

          And to actually answer your question, the CEO says hi to me in the hallways but I don’t report to him. He’s not really involved in assigning or evaluating my work. I think my boss has done a lot to push back on his unreasonable expectations. My department feels like a little oasis of sanity, except when this sort of thing happens.

    3. mskyle*

      That is really really bad. I don’t know that staying for years is a good idea. At least start looking!

      1. Anon for This One*

        Maybe a year. I know turnover is frequent enough in my industry that staying for a year may not be considered job hopping–I’ll see if I can get more advice on this.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Might as well start looking now. Looking doesn’t mean leaving, and you’ll be reaching out for future opportunities; you never know when somebody down the line will say they had an opening and thought of you.

    4. Manders*

      That is so weird. Does your CEO believe his staff are all kindergartners?

      I think your gut feeling about this guy is right: this is abusive behavior by someone who either enjoys this sort of power play or genuinely believes this is the way adults should behave.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I second this. At a previous job, we had a CEO who liked to call meetings and threaten us if numbers didn’t go up. It wasn’t just the sales folk–he would imply we were all just extraneous and could be dumped at any time.

        This same CEO announced the layoff of one of my coworkers in the all-company meeting–AND NO ONE TOLD HER BEFOREHAND. I thought she was going to pass out–and every single one of us froze. I’m sure that was his intent, to intimidate us. Horrible nasty tactic.

    5. Observer*

      I’m going to approach this from a bit of a different angle. So far, all the comment I see reflect on what kind of person the boss is and whether you “deserve” this kind of treatment (NO!) All this is true, but there is another issue as well.

      Most bullies do so because it works for them, or they think it does. And, it’s easy to see why someone might think that screaming, threats and even name calling might keep people doing good work. (It doesn’t work, but that’s not the point – certain people THINK it works.) But who thinks that wasting a half an hours of a full department’s time sitting in silence is going to accomplish anything?! In other words, besides being a bully, he’s an idiot. And that does come back to haunt you.

      So, that’s another reason to start looking sooner rather than later. You’d like to watch him get his come-uppance, but from a distance.

    6. Lizabeth*

      Start looking selectively and focus on a good fit. This reminds me of my 5th grade teacher Miss Puffenberger who kept everybody after the end of the day for talking “except” the people who didn’t talk. Only two people had the nerve to get up and leave. The bus kids missed their buses including me, I walked the bus route home and found my dad at home and mom in an uproar about it. Needless to say the school heard about it…but that doesn’t happen much in the real world. Karma will happen, it always does.

  25. Mental Health Day*


    A bit of a dilemma here and I’m wondering if anyone has any previous experience or advice. At Previous Job, I always received excellent performance evaluations while working under a very difficult manager. After 3 years, I had pretty much had enough, and sought out another job. Got job offer and once I had an official offer letter on the table, I gave this difficult manager 3 full weeks of notice (completely within the norm for my industry). Needless to say, my resignation did not go over well. She became absolutely enraged, berated me, called me a liar, etc. I reported the whole thing to HR before I left. This manager now refuses to speak to me and so I know I cannot ask her for a good reference despite 3 years of excellent work. I don’t have any reason to believe that HR informed her about my report. The silent treatment began well before my HR report and she actually refused to attend my going away party. However, before my last day, I downloaded and saved all of the excellent performance evaluations that she had written.
    Now, I have no intention of bringing up this situation with future employers unless they specifically ask to speak with this manager, in which case I’ll just be honest about what happened. But, I kind of feel like I need to use these performance evals to “prove” that I did excellent work for that company. Is this appropriate at all? How would you approach the situation in the interview process?
    I’ve never even heard of this being done, but I kind of feel like this may be my only recourse in this situation.

    1. Jadelyn*

      So…I’m confused. Are you talking about bringing those with you to an interview and proactively sharing them? Or just having them as backup in case a hiring manager wants to speak to toxic-ex-boss, so you can explain the situation without sounding like you’re making excuses?

      Because absolutely no to the first, but the second…eh. I would keep the performance evals to myself unless specifically asked, but also be honest that your old manager did not take your decision to leave well despite several years of strong performance evaluations, and let the hiring manager decide if they want to see the “evidence”, so to speak.

      1. Mental Health Day*

        Yes, the latter. And, yes, that’s kind of what I was thinking too. Thanks for the feedback!

    2. Leatherwings*

      It’s appropriate to mention them in a cover letter or interview, but I wouldn’t send them to a hiring manager. When they check references, you can give them a heads up that you got great feedback at the job up until you resigned, at which point they went ballistic. That’s totally unreasonable and a hiring manager will know that.

    3. College Career Counselor*

      Don’t take your performance evals to your future interviews. This will come across as odd, and sort of preemptively defensive at best. Instead, you should try to use a former supervisor or peer colleague or client as a reference from your previous job. Or, don’t have a reference from that job at all going forward (sometimes this is possible).

      1. Mental Health Day*

        Yes, I think you are right. I can get plenty of great references from previous supervisors and peers at this job. Just wondering about a situation where they specifically ask to contact that manager. Thanks!

    4. Sibley*

      Can you contact HR, explain the situation, and say you’d concerned about what type of reference this manager would give you? HR should really rein in that manager – it’s not good for the company.

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I would keep them and mention them if asked about the situation. I always get a signed copy of my evals and have them in a folder at home. I have actually been asked about them at interview because I was looking while still employed so a positive review was accepted in place of a reference from current manager. Do not send them without a direct request from the interviewer/hiring manager.

  26. BadPlanning*

    For those sitting in an open workspace — how much dedicated personal space do you have?

    We’re supposed to be moving into a newly built space (from cubes) and when they started, they promised us lockers to store our jackets, winter wear, etc.

    Now the dedicated lockers are out and we’ll just have a coat area. Our only personal space will be a table type desk and one of those cube furniture rolling seats/file cabinet.

    Where are people supposed to keep stuff they might need at work, but don’t want to pull out in full view of their coworkers sitting right next to them? Ugh.

      1. Former Invoice Girl*

        I have a desk, too, plus a chest of drawers under said desk (not part of the desk). We also have a stading coat hanger in one of the corners of the room (not sure if that’s the proper name – sorry) so there is place for all the coats and bags.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I have always worked in open office spaces, so this is pretty normal to me. Our setup is pretty much exactly what you’ve describe here. I keep a cheap tote bag next to my desk to put an extra pair of shoes and socks for rainy days, lady products, lunch etc.

      1. Crylo Ren*

        I’m in my first open office setup. Everyone has a couple of rolling under-desk drawers so we do have a bit of storage space, but honestly I try not to keep a lot of stuff at work in general. I do use a large tote handbag every day so I carry pretty much everything I need in there, but it does get kind of heavy!

    2. Irish Em*

      Oh, gods, that seems like a recipe for disaster waiting to happen! Mind you, I came from an environment where theft of personal property happened whether we were under our surveillance cameras or not (the lockers were moved out of the changing rooms in order to “improve” security without compromising the laws regarding privacy and stuff still regularly got nicked from locked lockers!) I have no advice, this comment is just basically me giving one long *shudder* at the no privacy-no security double whammy of being without a locker D:

    3. Pearl*

      That’s really frustrating. I don’t have any personal space except underneath my desk, but when I know that no one will be in the office for a long time, I can at least lock my purse in my boss’s office.

      I can’t see this working for coats, but as far as things like purses, medication, etc., would it be possible to buy yourself a small locker to stick under your desk? I feel like I’ve seen ads for cheap ones geared towards students living in dorms.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      I just have my desk and one lockable drawer. We do have some lockers on our main floor, but they’re reserved for people who work in the lab and don’t have their own desk and drawers.

      I got really, really lucky and managed to get in on a shared locker in our ground floor shower room, though. This is a very small space with only a few lockers, and it’s shared with the other company that has offices in our building. It’s first-come-first-served, and I was hired just as someone in my team who’d managed to snag a locker went on mat leave. She gave me the combination for her lock, and now that she’s back we share it. I bike to work and shower when I get here, and it’s so nice to have that extra little space for my shampoo and stuff.

    5. alter_ego*

      That seems pretty normal to me. I guess I’m not sure what stuff you need at work but don’t want to pull out in front of your coworkers is. We have a coat closet that’s rarely used (I just hang mine on the back of my chair) and a filing cabinet. I leave a lot of stuff on my desk (head phones, photos, candy jar, pens etc), my purse sits on the floor under my desk, and my filing cabinet is 50% work folders, 50% personal stuff (spare makeup, sweater, snacks).

      The only think I can think of being concerned about my coworkers seeing is a tampon, and I usually just keep them in my purse, and grab one and hold it in my hand on the way to the restroom.

      1. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)*

        Remember the poster whose boss had a fit about her pads on her shelf in the open office space?

    6. General Ginger*

      We have some cubes (and I am one of the lucky ones still in a cube), but most people here are in the open workspace. We did start out with lockers in a common area, but then that space was needed, so the lockers got moved into the bathrooms. The bathrooms are single-stall (a single stall inside a room with a sink), so potentially, you may be trying to use the bathroom while someone is digging in their locker waiting for you to be done. It’s definitely a little awkward.

    7. matcha123*

      I have my desk, which has some drawers and a locker.
      I’ve really only worked in open office-type areas so the set up doesn’t really bother me.

      Keep stuff means…pads?
      I keep those in a little Coach bag. I also have a few in my locker. My lunch is either in the fridge or my locker. I also keep face wipes and body spray in my locker.

    8. Murphy*

      That sounds similar to what I have. I have two large file drawers that largely are not full of work stuff. One of them locks, and that’s where I keep my purse, etc. The previous resident of this cube attached a command hook to the outside and that’s where I leave my coat. It works well for me, though I will say that the cube next to me is empty, so that helps.

    9. Catz*

      We have open space work areas with large L shaped desks, a small cabinet on the cube wall (think book case sized with sliding doors) and a rolling 2 drawer cabinet (1 small drawer for like pencils and notebooks, 1 filing drawer). This was decided based on the amount of storage people said they needed – they said they didn’t need a lot for paper/supplies, and wanted shelves for a small number of binders + personal objects.

      This will be our first winter – we might get a coat rack, or people may just put coats over the backs of their chairs (mild winters). Purses and back packs usually go under the secondary part of the L desk.

    10. Karin*

      I have a desk and chair. I hang my jacket on the back of the chair, and I put my purse in my (lockable) desk.

  27. Really Anon*

    How do you handle a supervisor who is completely hands off and/or puts you in a bad position with vendors and clients because he won’t respond in any sort of timely manner?

    For example, I need this supervisor’s input on a particular project. I cannot move forward without their input, and it’s now impacting a relationship with a major vendor. The supervisor has basically said that they’ll have to wait until he is ready (which will be weeks). Any suggestions on how to handle this?

      1. Really Anon*

        I’d love to do that, unfortunately, the sueprvisor’s manager is the CEO and believes that the supervisor can do no wrong.

    1. TootsNYC*

      tell the vendor, “I’m sorry–I’ve asked my supervisor, and he hasn’t responded yet. My hands are tied; I really can’t force him to answer”?

    2. NicoleK*

      A supervisor is supposed to remove obstacles from your path, not add obstacles to your path. If this is a pattern, you’ll need to decide if this job is worth it.

  28. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    I’m very, very tired at the end of this week and therefore extra emotional. I just heard back from a job I was incredibly interested in, asking if I was still interested. The reason they were checking in is that the job was not advertised as a term position, but that’s what it is. And I keep getting rejection letters saying “thanks but we’ve chosen someone with more experience” so I feel like I should move forward and say that I’m still interested because the position would see an increase in responsibility (and place me in my preferred geographic area) but I don’t want to leave a full-time job for term work… except I’m not sure I can get anything other than that at my current responsibility level.

    Right now, I’m moving forward and saying I’m interested because if things continue I can get more information about the position (like the potential to extend beyond 9 months) and saying “yes I’m still interested” doesn’t mean “yes I will take this job” but it is frustrating that the first positive (ish) response I’ve gotten in a year of searching comes with the this kind of catch (they did apologize profusely for the mistake in the job listing that didn’t clarify, but ugh).

    1. Overeducated*

      That’s rough. They should advertise term positions as such.

      If it makes you feel any better, I did take a similar gamble, accepting a term position for 2 years over a permanent position in the hopes it will lead to a better permanent job in the future. Good luck with your applications and decisions.

  29. Lilian*

    Hi Long Time Reader,New Commenter Here.
    So, I am new grad and my primary job is analytics. However, I lack industry knowledge of the main business line. This knowledge would be really helpful when I do data analysis or interpretation or when I meat with client. How do I ask the director if i can help around the people in my team who deal with the business line?

    1. Rat Racer*

      I think that your desire for a deeper understanding of your industry will be seen as admirable and a positive. But maybe rather than asking to take on additional work (when your boss might have other priorities in mind) ask if there are high level strategy meetings that you can sit in on as a fly on the wall. Also, are there trade journals for your industry that you can subscribe to? Might be worthwhile to set up one of those auto google searches that emails you when new articles about your industry are published, or subscribe to one of those trade-specific news aggregators.

    2. fposte*

      It’s definitely okay to ask. I wouldn’t focus too hard on the idea of working with somebody else, since your boss may want your time spent on other things, but include a general query. “Jane, I think it would be really helpful for me to learn more about the industry. I’d love to work with Bob for a few hours a week if you think that would work for both of us, but I’m open to any suggestions you might have that would help me get up to speed.”

    3. EddieSherbert*

      Just ask! Explain like you did here, and as long as you and the team members you want to shadow have the time,I think they would be onboard. Or even say, “hey, I’d like to learn more about this, would it be okay if I asked Bob or Sue if I could shadow them for a couple hours?”

    4. Janelle*

      “Hey, I’m interested in learning more about making teapots, and I think it could help inform my analyses going forward. Is there anyone I can talk to, or a project I can join to get familiar with the industry?”

      It needn’t be a fraught conversation. I’m not even sure it needs to be a conversation with the director. In your shoes, I would probably latch onto the first person who makes eye contact. You get a lot of leeway when you’re new, especially when you’re young. Take advantage of it!

    5. periwinkle*

      Absorb, absorb, absorb. Read the company’s intranet if it has one. Is there training offered to entry-level people in the functions you’ll support? Ask to attend those classes.

      After years of working in health care/bioscience environments I took a position at Huge Manufacturing Company supporting a function about which I knew almost nothing (procurement and supply chain). So I kept my ears open, asked a lot of questions, took some classes meant for new hires, and poked around the intranet sites for the function’s teams. Hey, they have a corporate membership for the big professional association and employees can sign up for free access and webinars – so I did. We have corporate memberships with the big industry research firms like Corporate Executive Board, so I check out their research on issues and trends in this field. After 2.5 years, nope, I still couldn’t perform as an employee in this function (and wouldn’t want to!) but you betcha I know what is important to them. This enables me to discuss how my group can support their goals/initiatives/daily concerns using credible statements and the terminology used in their field and by their leaders.

      They take me seriously because I take them seriously. It’s a win for everyone, really.

  30. AnotherAnon*

    Thoughts on Help a Reporter out (as an expert contributor, not a reporter), in terms of boosting your professional image? Has anyone contributed before?

    1. Development Professional*

      I have! I think it’s great, when it’s the right fit. Once the articles come out, there’s no particular evidence that this is how the reporter found you. Just be aware that occasionally the “reporters” are writing on spec and/or are on fishing expeditions to see if they can put something together. So don’t give up time you don’t have, because there’s always a chance that the article won’t come out, or that your quotes won’t be used.

    2. Library Director*

      I have been a contributor as well. One article was about the last Harry Potter book and was picked up by several papers. It gave credibility among those who assumed that I couldn’t know what I was talking about because I live in small area.

  31. T3k*

    So I came across this very odd (to me) application form, and wanted your opinions on it.
    First, unlike most job application sites, this one was more, gimmicky? Best way to describe it is they were trying to be hip and instead of regular text fields with some marked required, they instead used big check mark symbols on square images (like one says resume, another school, etc.) for you to click on and upload or fill in some fields. Then, in another section, it was almost like they were trying to conduct a mini interview without calling to do one, as some of the questions were like “describe the best boss you had and why they were great” and “name a time you ran into a failure at your job and what you did to correct it”. The weirdest thing to me though was that in the “optional” questions (marked with star symbols) some would only let you answer via a video. Yes, like record and upload a video of yourself answering the question. As someone who hates recording myself and my voice, I decided not to answer those, but one of the required questions (think it was something like “Why should we hire you?”) I ended up answering it with a gif from a Disney movie instead. And to be clear, this was not a company/industry/job where your appearance or voice matters. So, thoughts?

    1. Leatherwings*

      Terrible. Application systems like that take up way too much time and do almost nothing except to piss candidates off. Hate hate hate.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Thoughts are that they only hire people just like them and their friends because “culture fit” based on those videos. Avoid.

  32. A Bug's Life*

    I have ants all over my f?$&ing desk!!!! I have never had this issue before. I don’t keep food at my desk either.

    I don’t want to off them, so I’ve been blowing them away with an air can and or scooping them up and moving them.

    I swear they are attracted to my movement because they are never there when I first get into my office but show up as soon as I start rustling my folders. They occasionally crawl on my hands.

    I get the brunt of it because I am closest to the window, but my cubemate rarely gets them and our desks touch. Grrrr!!!

    My supervisor and maintenance have Kanye Shrugged over this. I’m thinking I should try Borax balls?

    1. MissMaple*

      Yikes! Sorry to hear that. I’ve heard good things about sprinkling a line of flour around an area being invaded by ants. Apparently they won’t cross it.

      On a related note, at least it’s not wasps! A former supervisor’s office was once invaded by wasps during a rain storm.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      If you can figure out where they are coming in, sprinkle cinnamon in that area. Ants communicate and tell each other where to go via scent trails, and supposedly, the cinnamon will help deter them. You could also try washing the areas where they go frequently with a diluted bleach solution (no guarantees, but it might help).

      Personally, I’d just buy some ant baits, but since you said you didn’t want to off them, the above might help.

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        Yes, I have also found that cinnamon and whole cloves work to keep ants away. You have to be fairly generous with it, it does NOT work instantly (took several days), and if you leave food out it does nothing so you have to be super clean, but it’s a good alternative to use if you don’t like chemicals or killing them.

        Also, make sure you clean up any dead ants. As gross as it sounds, leaving the dead ones counts as leaving food out for them and will attract them just like crumbs will. Yuck.

      2. Pearl*

        +1 Cinnamon is great if you know where they’re coming from. I was told to use it because they don’t like to walk on it, it burns their legs. (Unsure if that’s true, but it’s always worked for me.) I’ve also used ground coffee but that tends to melt and get really annoying to clean up.

      3. Emac*

        Cinnamon sticks really work! I’ve always had ants in my kitchen in the summer, but put out cinnamon sticks this year in the places I most often saw them. I’ve only seen two this summer!

    3. Anti-ant*

      You can wash away ant pheromone trails with vinegar. Ants also hate cucumber peels, so you could lay a barrier of peels outside the window and deter them from coming in.

      1. A Bug's Life*

        Coincidentally, I have half a cucumber in the work fridge right now!

        I’m going to do it all! Flour, cinnamon, vinegar, cucumber. These ants need to go!

    4. Lillian McGee*

      I occasionally get monstrous cockroaches (old building) so my solution was cotton balls soaked in cedarwood oil in every corner and drawer. Haven’t seen a cucaracha in about a year! A cursory googling says ants also hate peppermint oil.

    5. SL #2*

      Speaking from personal experience in an apartment with roommates who didn’t care that we had ants crawling in through the floorboards… Borax doesn’t work with ants unless you actively draw them out with vanilla extract. But if you don’t mind attracting a giant swarm of ants to your vanilla-flavored Borax for a few weeks, and are dedicated enough to the cause to replace said Borax every few days, oh boy does it get the job done. After three weeks of it, I didn’t see a single ant, and I didn’t see one again before I moved out two months later.

    6. JJ*

      Dawn dish soap also works to deter ants! I don’t know how it works, but when we had ants coming into our kitchen, I put a little bit of dawn dish soap on a paper towel and wiped around the area they were coming in and it stopped them. Also, ants tend to follow scent trails so if you see what path they’re taking, it can help to clean that up with dawn dish soap or vinegar or other methods to destroy their “trails” as well

      1. Lauren*

        Yes, Dawn works perfectly. It kills them instantly, however. But that’s what I wanted. I just spread it on the floor and it worked by killing them and wiping out their scent trails.

        You can also use vinegar but that doesn’t kill them; it merely wipes out their scent trails. I have no compunction about killing them the couple of times they have gotten in my house.

        Another thing to check is the possibility that there is food smells you can’t smell. Has a co-worker used your desk and brought coffee? Are there any unseen crumbs in back drawers? I would take an hour, a gallon jug of vinegar, and a lot of paper towels and clean out your entire desk and wipe it, and the computer/keyboard, down completely. All of it, front and back. You may have to do this several times, but eventually they should stop coming. (Also, dump the paper towels with Dawn and/or vinegar into a plastic bag and tie it up and put it outside. Do not leave it to be dumped by the cleaning staff.) And never, never bring any food or drink anywhere near your desk again. It’s a hassle but worth it.

    7. Temperance*

      My husband’s office is infested, and they’re a cube farm … so everyone has them. Apparently one of his gross coworkers has a box full of half-open candy and loose M&Ms under his desk. What’s even weirder is that the dude denied being the problem, so fed up, my husband went in early and sprayed with the stuff we keep at home. He then had a frank discussion about how the unwrapped candy is why they have an ENTIRE ANT COLONY in the office.

      I personally think you need to tell maintenance and let them kill the little SOBs. I have no patience for ants. I use Raid Ant Gel in a red tube at home.

      1. vpc*

        I only just found Ant Gel for the first time and it Changed My Life. Well, the ant-filled parts of it, anyway. My apartment building has – I can only assume – a massive colony in the roof (I’m on the top floor; they come in thru the ceiling, showerhead, and tops of doors/windows) and I don’t want to put too much poisonous stuff down on the floor because of pets. But the gel sticks to walls alongside window casings etc. I’ve typically had huge problems in the late summer as they come in to build up their winter larders from my cat food stash, so I’m hoping that this year will be the first year I can keep them outside where they belong!

        As far as ants at work, we were vigilant about no-food-in-the-cubes, cleaning, and squashing every one of the little things we saw. It took about eight months before we stopped seeing them, after a single exposure (someone left a pie out on a desk over a weekend, and come Monday morning, it was nothing but ants).

    8. Sadsack*

      You are a good person. I never would have thought to try to relocate ants. I would have whipped out a spray bottle of any kind of cleaner I could find and blasted them all.

      1. A Bug's Life*

        LOL, I have no idea why but as of recently (maybe the last 2-3 years or so) I just feel bad killing bugs. My apartment is a role poly haven and it looks like I’m playing hopscotch every morning trying to avoid stepping on them. I hate hate hate spiders, but I even spare those guys most times and move them outside.

        Mosquitos can suck it though. Die, disease carriers, die!!!

        1. Jasmine*

          No you DON’T want mosquitos to suck it! (it being your blood).

          I second the vinegar solution. I put it in a spray bottle and squirted it around the legs of all the chairs and tables. 2 days later: no more ants!

    9. knitcrazybooknut*

      Diatomaceous earth. It’s basically shredded sea shells, so non-toxic, and you can sprinkle it everywhere on the floor. It slices the ants’ bodies and they go home and don’t come back.

    10. NotMyRealName*

      You realize that the Borax will kill them, right? I really think the only way is to do some chemical control. Ant baits will work, but will probably take a few days. An ant or wasp spray applied to the windowsill should clear the problem up more quickly and will probably only eliminate the foragers that come to the windowsill as opposed to the whole nest (which is what the baits and the Borax will do)

  33. JJ*

    At the risk of maybe sounding like a naive millennial, I was hoping to get the groups advice on something? How did/do you guys know when you’ve found a job that “plays to your strengths”? I’m at my first professional job and I’m worried it’s all wrong for me. It’s a public relations type job in a government office where some of my duties are essentially to find answers and coordinate responses to questions/complaints from citizens. I’ve been at this job for almost a year now, but I still feel like I’m constantly trying to catch up and figure out how things are done, and while I haven’t made any major errors I know that I’m not doing the greatest job with the public relations aspect. Its to the point where I’m dreading going into work Monday by Saturday afternoon. Is this a sign that maybe I’m just not clicking with this kind of job? I’m not sure what my “strengths” are at all, which makes the idea of looking for a different job even more stressful :/ should I just try to tough it out and see if it gets better?

    1. Tea*

      I think that figuring out your career oriented strengths can take some time/some effort if you’re relatively new to the workforce and relatively new to your job– you’re still juggling learning and retaining everything you have to do and it’s too early to tell if you’re good at or enjoying what’s involved. Here’s a couple of questions I wish I’d asked myself when I was first starting out (and hating) my current job:

      – What tasks do you enjoy doing at your job?
      – What tasks do you feel like you do really well at your job?
      – What do you like about your workplace? (Culture, food, location, coworkers, etc.)
      – If you stuck with this job for a while longer, are there new tasks or roles that you could take on that you feel you would enjoy doing/do really well?

      If the answer to all of the above questions is a big fat NOTHING, combined with your dread of work, then I would say that’s a good sign that you might want to look for a different job. If a big chunk of it is that you feel like you’re still stuck on the sharp end of the learning curve, then maybe stick with it.

      I have been at my job for 4 years now– it was my first job after graduation, and I was absolutely miserable for the first 1-2 years. Part of it was adjusting to working 40+ hours a week, a long commute, part of it was the lack of training and just plain not knowing how to do anything, so I felt stupid and lacking all the time. But there was stuff I felt like I did well, and truth be told, I was too chicken to rev up the job search engine, so I stuck with it. Now, I’m much happier– and I have a much stronger sense of what I’m good at, what I’m bad at, and how I can contribute to the workplace. But I didn’t figure any of that out until year 3 or 4, after I was experienced at my job duties and could start thinking about improving the system we already had.

      1. Rat Racer*

        Yes – I think this is spot on. I would add that in my own brain, I categorize jobs in terms of tasks (i.e. what I’m doing every day) vs. content/mission (what my company does). Ideally, you find a job doing something you love for an organization you believe in (or think produces something cool/innovative) but there are often trade-offs between the two, and your priorities may change over time.

        FWIW, your first professional job sounds a heck of a lot more interesting than mine was! I started out as a paralegal at a large, white-collar criminal defense firm in DC. The work was absolute tedium, and I was bad at it, and our clients were total scumbags. But you can still learn a lot from a bad first job – even if it’s just knowing that for future reference, you’d rather not do X. (for me, this was bate-stamping – which involved printing thousands of labels and attaching them to documents; a skill that probably no longer exists in the modern world)

      2. EddieSherbert*


        I’m a couple jobs out of school, I’ve been at my current one for almost a year and I still run into things I didn’t know. Also, in my experience so far, in a marketing or PR-type job, it’s pretty common to keep running into new things well past your training period is over!

        I think Tea has some really good things for you to run through; and if you get through them and think “okay, I do like it, I just feel unprepared sometimes,” then you are in a very normal place :)

      3. But First, Coffee*

        This actually helped reinforce that I am in the right job a the moment, based on I had answers for every question. Thanks. I am also in my first job out of college, and sometimes it is overwhelming to understand what “fit” means.

    2. Anon Always*

      For me it was after I got my first promotion, and my boss started putting me on key projects. What is it specifically that stresses you out about the job? I would try and identify those things. Is it the actual work? Specific duties? Or is it the environment?

    3. A*

      Are you me, 12 years ago? I was a PIO for my state legislature right after college and felt just like you did. The public relations part took me longer to learn than anything else. I’m talking years. It was scary and felt really unnatural until I had a LOT of practice under my belt. If you keep working at it, your talking points will become second nature. You won’t be starting from scratch with each question. You will figure out where and from whom to get answers, and that alone will make things easier.

      So, what can you do in the meantime? Know that it does get better. Try to tap into a network of other government PIOs, if you can. Work on forming good relationships with superiors and the people in your organization who have the answers. They are the people who can give you the “inside baseball” knowledge that you need to do your job competently and confidently. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid of looking stupid. Seriously.

      The learning curve with these jobs can be really steep and long. This was bearable for me because the PR part wasn’t my entire job. I was also doing a bunch of other things I knew I was good at, which gave me confidence while I figured it out. If it had been my entire job, I think I would’ve been saying, “I’m no good at this and this doesn’t play to my strengths.”

      1. JJ*

        Thanks! Thankfully, it’s not the only part of my job either and I like/don’t mind the other aspects. I’m taking what you said about not being afraid to look stupid to heart especially, because there are definitely times when I feel like I’ve come across sounding completely clueless!

    4. themmases*


      I really recommend taking some time to write out what you think you are looking for in a job role and in a work environment, and see if it looks familiar. You could also think about what you like and don’t like about specific tasks– if you organize your thoughts, you may see there are things in your work that you enjoy because you feel mastery over them, or at least somewhere in the fun range of challenge where you know you can eventually succeed. Things you don’t like can be informative in the same way– are there things you’re just not good at? Things you want to like but something specific about your current environment is getting in the way?

      Once you have a better idea of what you do and don’t like, and what skills you want to gain, stop volunteering for anything that doesn’t fit. Before you share a previously unused skill, ask yourself if you would be OK being known as the person who can do that now. If there are miscellaneous tasks or certain types of jobs or clients that you don’t like and don’t advance your goals, start looking for ways to hand them off responsibly. Don’t put them on your resume unless they are a permanent part of your desired role– and in that case, only demonstrate competence in them, don’t treat them as a highlight.

      You may eventually have to leave the places you held entry-level jobs to move away from people who see you as young and new, and who know you know how to do X random task. If you’re job searching while employed, don’t compromise your list without strong evidence that it’s necessary. Only apply for things you believe could be the same or better than what you have now.

    5. NaoNao*

      Well, your first step is: what are your strengths?
      One way to figure out is to take a look at your success stories in this and other jobs. What things got you kudos, awards, raises, etc. What subjects in school were fun and easy? What types of things do you naturally gravitate towards and “do for free” (ie, I read minimalism blogs and am consistently re-do-ing my wardrobe for greater and greater efficiency and “make happy”; it ties to my strength of systems analysis and problem solving)
      It sounds like this job calls on diplomacy, deep industry knowledge, strong ties within the org, research skills, patience, and customer service. Some of those, like industry knowledge and knowing who to call and how to phrase things, will take time.
      When a job plays to your strengths, there’s no hard and fast numbers but:
      –you get consistent positive feedback from clients/customers and co-workers/bosses
      –you feel comfortable and confident 80% of the time. Sometimes you’re scrambling or have to un-do mistakes, but not, say 50% of the time
      –there seems to be a clear “career” path you can see yourself on. For example, from PR writer to PR editor to senior editor to VP of social content and so on.

      Best of luck!

    6. Raia*

      I have been Alison’s 2007 post of ‘what can’t you NOT do,’ or what work do you do at work that no one ever tells you do. I have found that I am big into documenting things and paranoid about not having evidence to back up my recorded stats as an employee. Also think about what work situations make you upset, stressed, or feeling stupid, and obviously avoid places that would cultivate that environment.

  34. Comments keep being eaten*

    I’m trying to comment and everything I post is eaten – am I in moderation for some reason? Is there some site glitch? Thanks!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They’re out now. They all went to moderation – I don’t know why. Sometimes the spam filter just does weird things; it’s rarely anything to worry about.

  35. Anonsy*

    So an interesting opportunity has come up at work- I work at a small IT company (40 people), currently I’m titled as a Business Analyst but the work I do is closer to Operations Manger and that’s the direction I think I want to take my career in (if you read this site you’ll know who I am even tho my name is different). The chance has come up for me to potentially take over the personnel management of our call center/helpdesk (7 people). I would just be in charge of personnel stuff (schedules, hiring, disputes, discipline), not in charge of any of the actual call center work.

    I think this could be a great thing for my resume/career as it’s actual hands on people management. However, I wouldn’t want anyone to look at the line on my resume and go “Oh, you were a manager of a call center, so you’re only qualified to manage a call center.” I don’t want to be pigeonholed, even though I have oodles of experience in Business Analysis and Operations Management. Can y’all give me some perspective about if it’d be a good thing on a resume (actual management experience) vs a bad thing (having it read as working in a call center instead of being a manager).

    1. NW Mossy*

      At least at my org, managing the contact center wouldn’t pigeon-hole you at all! We’ve both hired in operational experts to manage contact center teams and hired former contact center managers to manage a different type of team. If you’re organizing your resume the way Alison suggests with a focus on your specific accomplishments in past roles, you’ll be able to make it clear that you have both technical chops (from your individual contributor roles) and management experience (from the contact center job, assuming you take it).

      However, don’t assume that you need to be a technical expert in whatever a team does to manage the team effectively. It can help in terms of understanding your team’s needs and issues, but it can actually be a problem if you’ve got the capability to do your team’s work and don’t exercise the discipline to avoid doing it for them. Not being able to do what your team members do can be a blessing in disguise because it forces you to delegate.

      Managing a contact center can be great management experience because it gives you a lot of experience in how to handle common manager tasks – hiring and firing, coaching/development, and giving feedback all come to mind as things you’d tackle often in managing entry-level employees in a role that tends to have high turnover. If you think you want to manage people long-term, this role sounds like a good way to get started and learn useful skills that’ll help you for years to come.

  36. Totes anons returns*

    Update from the person whose job required her to stay off the clock until the day’s quota was done:

    I’m getting faster; most days I am able to go home on time now. Pacing myself helps; I know I have to process more than half my teapot orders before lunch to stay on track, etc. This week I was out sick on Monday and stayed late Tuesday and Wednesday for approved overtime with an extra quota; my state mandates paid sick days, but I’m not sure my employer pays attention to that.

    Now I’m frustrated over my total lack of PTO. I’ve been there over a year but still am considered a temp, with no idea when I’ll be hired perm if ever. Lots of other people in the company, and people I know otherwise, have been taking vacation in the summer, but not me and the other newer people in my department.

    I also have a second job one day a week that I hang on to because it’s in the field I went to school for, and a freelance gig I’ve been neglecting badly because I was burned out and having trouble doing anything creative.

    The advice for dealing with burnout is always to take a vacation, but how do you deal with it when that’s not an option, as it is for me and many others whose jobs don’t include such things? I feel like I am staring down endless six-day weeks, including long commutes, and I probably won’t have any time off for years – and looking ahead to this is making me anxious and frustrated. I’m worried that my creative career is over and starting to resent social invitations I’m not super excited about for cutting into my free time.

      1. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

        Sadly, TAR has previously explained that they don’t have other options right now so can’t afford to file a complaint.

  37. Mimmy*

    Anyone ever done AmeriCorps, particularly the VISTA program? What’s the experience like?

    A few years ago, a career counselor at my university had been trying to get me to apply for a VISTA position. My issue with it then, and even now as I still look from time to time, is that they are usually not close enough for me to get to via public transportation, and we are not in a position where we could move, even if it’s within the same state.

    Based on what I’ve read, it seems like AmeriCorps VISTA is similar to an internship, even though that isn’t the stated mission of the program. Is it even appropriate for an almost-middle-aged woman (43 in October) who hasn’t worked in awhile to use this as a potential re-entry avenue?

    1. Ardeo*

      I didn’t do VISTA, but did another program similar to it. They pay a stipend, not a salary so it’s really tough to live on. I wouldn’t have done it any other time except my first year out of school. It’s definitely internship-like. I wouldn’t say it’s inappropriate for a middle-aged person to do it, but it would be out of the norm and you might not like it. If you see something that fits, though it can’t hurt to apply.

      1. Mimmy*

        Yeah I know a stipend is involved – this doesn’t concern me though because my husband is paid well at his job. Would they frown on someone having a good income through their spouse?

        1. College Career Counselor*

          In my opinion, AmeriCorps VISTA wouldn’t care (or likely ask) about your family income. They will want to know why you are interested in a VISTA position, especially since you’re outside the typical age range. They’ll want to know why you want to do something that is traditionally for someone doing a gap year or who is right out of undergrad. Also, some of these positions have fairly grueling schedules, so they’ll probably ask about your energy and dedication and ability to commit (VISTA may not be the greatest thing for someone with significant childcare or other family commitments). Hope this is helpful!

        2. Rob Lowe can't read*

          I’m not sure about what the organizations’ perspectives are, but I know quite a few people who did AmeriCorps after college, and most (if not all) of them were not relying solely on their stipend to get by. A few were married (to working spouses), a few lived with family for free or nominal rent, some worked second jobs on the weekends. Especially in higher COL areas I’d think having a second, non-stipend income in the household would be at least somewhat common.

    2. Development Professional*

      I currently work with a VISTA member who is a bit older than you, and from what I understand it’s not that unusual. She’s using it as a second-act career starter to work on something she believes in.

    3. Grits McGee*

      Former VISTA here! Whether or not VISTA makes sense for you is really going to depend on the positions themselves. It’s somewhat similar to an internship in that you are there to work on a project with a specified end-date, but (at least in my experience) unlike an internship, I was treated as an established professional working among equals rather than someone who was there to learn how to be a working adult. Though VISTA does skew young, I met a lot of people in their 30s-60s who were doing VISTA projects. I had a really great experience because it was in my chosen field (museums) and I was given a lot of autonomy over how I wanted to manage my projects. The VISTA program also offered a lot of career guidance while I was in the program and you will qualify for a $5,500 student loan award at the end of your year. You can also qualify for non-competitive federal hiring for up to two years after you finish the program.

      There’s two things to look out for- in Alabama my $900 a month stipend covered my expenses quite comfortably, but I know a lot of people in even slightly more expensive areas can have a really difficult time making ends meet on the money VISTA gives you (which, to be fair, is kind of the point). I also would have had a difficult time working in my rural project area without a car, so be on the watch for that as well. The next VISTA after me didn’t have a car and I know that it was a major concern for everyone, to the point that they were going to rent her a beater pick-up for the year just so that she could go to the grocery store.

    4. NatlServiceWhoopWhoop*

      VISTA is a great program. My fiance works for the CNCS and I myself am an AmeriCorps Alum.
      VISTA is open to all ages. The typical age group that applies is the right out of college group, but shouldn’t deter you from applying. You do get a small stipend when you work with VISTA. Just recently they have allowed VISTA members to have part time jobs outside of their full-time VISTA assignment (as long as it in no way interferes with the VISTA project). If this is something you want to do make sure you are committed to serving the full year. The nonprofits that host VISTA’s put a lot of time and funds into getting VISTA positions. It can be very devastating for them to lose their VISTA’s before the project ends. You can gain many skills and network like crazy while your a VISTA. It really is what you make of it.
      Have you looked into other AmeriCorps/AmeriCorps type programs? Public Allies, CityYear, Teach for America, AmeriCorps State and National.
      There could be some of those closer to your location. And keep checking for VISTA projects. New ones pop up consistently.

    5. VistaNation*

      I did a VISTA term at the nonprofit where I’m currently employed. What you get out of it will depend largely on your goals, your site, your supervisor, and your team if you’re part of one. My 2 cents on it:

      –Get clear on why you want to do a Vista term. If you don’t have a good reason, don’t do it. 20% of Vistas who start their assignments don’t finish out their year.

      Example: I took a VISTA assignment because 1) I had always wanted to do national service but didn’t want that service to be in the military, and 2) I was in a dead-end job that didn’t pay much more than the VISTA stipend, and I wanted to change careers. Vista was a way to get experience in my target field while avoiding the ‘you need experience to get experience’ paradox of most entry-level job hunts.

      –Get clear on your emotional and political relationship to poverty (both personal and structural), and how you view the ethics of semi-paid internships.

      –Get clear on your plan for how you will support yourself financially during your service year.

      –Vet your host site and your supervisor before you sign on. If they don’t seem clear on your work plan, don’t have a plan to support your professional development, or don’t seem to understand how you are different from a regular staff member, be wary.

      –Vista has a wider age range of service members than other Americorps programs. A majority of people are in their early-mid 20s but not all of us by any means. I am in my 30s, and several retirees and middle-aged people were a part of my pre-service orientation (they send you to a region-wide training with a few hundred people before you start service).

      –Don’t relocate for a Vista assignment. The stipend is sub-poverty level by design (something I vehemently disagree with) and although they lifted the restriction against outside jobs last year, juggling those things in a new area while simultaneously navigating an unfamiliar social services system is not something you want to put yourself through.

        1. VistaNation*

          They will give a few different reasons.

          “It’s service, not a job” (despite the fact that you work a 40 hour week and until a year ago were not allowed to earn any other income).

          “It makes Vistas more empathetic and understanding of the impoverished communities they serve” (they assume only rich kids do Vista, and that Vista-induced low income is in any way comparable to long term low socioeconomic status or generational poverty).

          “If we paid more, you wouldn’t be eligible for public benefits (foodshare, medicaid, etc)” (actual thing people working for CNCS have said).

          Functionally, a large share of nonprofit professionals start as Vistas, and around 3/4 are women, so it ends up contributing both to gendered pay inequity and the artificially depressed wages of the nonprofit sector, as well as encouraging a subtle us/them tenor in the sector’s understanding of who serves vs. who is served and who can be a resource to an organization and community.

          1. Seuuze*

            As a former AmeriCorps program ED, and former Commission program officer, the VISTA’s are low paid so that an organization that doesn’t have a lot of money, but has a good idea and can use a VISTA “volunteer”, can get one to help implement their mission and goals and specific projects without hiring a full time regular employee. And the VISTA is sometimes hired full time if the budget permits, providing there is grant writing and fundraising to pay for it. But a VISTA also gets mentored and integrated into working with the community. And there is the benefit of the education award at the end.

    6. Gina the Conqueror*

      I’ve worked with a lot of VISTAs, and my sister was one. Doing AmeriCorps is a great way to get back into the workforce, especially if you want to change industries. You’ll receive the mentorship of an internship, but have more autonomy like a typical worker and be treated as more of an equal, especially since VISTAs are required to work 40 hours/week for a full year. It’s a great way to network, and a lot of the VISTAs in my industry end up with permanent positions.

      I’ve also managed VISTAs (and some people from a different AmeriCorps program), and HATED it. As a manager, there are a whole bunch of VISTA obligations that just take up time–meetings, reports, conferences, etc.–that you don’t have to deal with for a regular employee. And when a VISTA at my organization had performance issues (some very serious offenses in the first three months!), there was little we could do, as you can’t just fire a VISTA but instead have to go through a long process with AmeriCorps. It took months and months of handholding and check-ins to (mostly) resolve the issues, which wasted a lot of time that we just didn’t have.

      For individuals that can afford to live off a VISTA stipend, I say do it! For agencies considering using an AmeriCorps program, I know the cheap labor is tempting, but I don’t think the hassle is worth it.

    7. Mimmy*

      Oh my gosh, so many great responses already…thank you!!!

      Just a couple of clarifications:
      1. Mentioned this in one of the replies, but I am not concerned with the stipend as my husband is well-paid.

      2. From some of the comments, it seems that having a car is recommended. This is my sticking point – I do not drive (my vision precludes me from having a license). So….yeah, that might make VISTA a no-go since community engagement seems to be a key focus. Someone mentioned several other National Service programs, so I may look at those too.

      Sigh. That whole driving thing always gets me :/

      1. VistaNation*

        There are assignments where you won’t need a car, it really depends on what kind of work you want to do as a Vista. An outreach Vista might need to travel far and wide via car, while someone working on materials or infrastructure development might only work at the host site.

  38. Isben Takes Tea*

    I have what feels like a basic question, but not one I’ve seen addressed in detail. How do you actually quit? What are the scripts you’ve used?

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      The last job I quit required notice in writing, so I just typed up a dated letter that said, roughly, “While I’ve enjoyed my time at [Company]*, my last day will be [little over required 2 weeks notice period]. Thank you very much.” I didn’t include any reasons in the letter, just informed them of when I needed to be out of there.
      *this was a lie

      The other times I’ve “quit” jobs was to return to school so it was always a matter of “when” not “if” and I just gave my managers the date as soon as I knew it.

    2. Dawn*


      Writing to let you know that [Date] will be my final day at [Company]. I have [enjoyed my time here, learned so much, whatever]. I plan on [doing the following things to make the transition as easy as possible].



      Or some variation on the above language if you have an in person conversation.

    3. annoyed*

      I’ve been trying to quit my second job for a week now, they kind of wont let me. I feel your pain

      1. neverjaunty*

        How are they not letting you?

        1) “my last day will be X”
        2) do not go to work again the day after X

        Note that #1 is a complete sentence. You are not required to give them a “good enough” reason, or entertain counterarguments.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          Can’t speak for annoyed but I had to give notice via email/voice mail once, because my supervisor wouldn’t see or speak to me. He then canceled the meeting I’d set up with his assistant to discuss the transition. Then a couple of days later he joked to my (freaked out) colleague about my resigning without having acknowledged any of it to me yet.

          So anyway, if you have to just send an email.. do that and don’t stress about it because I spent WAY too much emotional energy during that week.

    4. Jubilance*

      Everytime I’ve resigned, I’ve met with my manager and said some version of “I wanted to let you know that I’ve accepted a new position and my last day will be X. Thanks so much for the opportunity here, blah blah blah”. A few places have required that I write it out for HR, and then I basically write the same thing.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        In my experience on both sides, as soon as the employee looks really nervous and says, “Do you have a minute?” the manager knows what’s coming and it’s pretty painless.

    5. T3k*

      I just said it was time for me to move on and gave them a month’s notice (all verbal, as they were a very tiny business). Unfortunately, being a tiny business, they were going to bug for a reason so I knew I couldn’t just say “I’m quitting, [date] will be my last day.”

    6. Temperance*

      Run to your boss’s office, stick your head in, and then yell “BYE FELICIA!”

      * don’t do this tho

      1. Margali*

        What is this “Bye Felicia!” thing I keep seeing? I’m guessing it’s one of those popular jokes/memes making the rounds, but I’m not familiar with this one.

            1. Sparkly Librarian*

              I have 4 teens sitting in the library watching Straight Outta Compton and eating cupcakes RIGHT NOW. :) (When I mentioned the film to my colleagues in this morning’s meeting, there was an audible intake of breath. But my boss is cool with it, so.)

    7. James*

      I quite one job by walking up to my manager and saying “I’m starting a job that’s actually in my field next week. I know the schedule’s up and I’ll stay for the duration of the schedule, but where do I turn in my uniform when I’m done?” Low-paying college-student type job; they were just happy I stayed through the schedule period, and had the courtesy to return the uniform!

      I quite a project once by telling the manager (with some pretty senior back-up behind me) “Here is a list of things that need to change in how you handle my side of the project, or I’m out.” At that point we’d already informed the manager of legal ramifications of what they were doing, and the manager ignored us. Things like making major edits o reports I wrote, which legally they were not qualified to do. I’ll be honest, it burned that bridge–but the person left the company a few months later, so it wasn’t a huge loss. This may not seem equivalent to leaving a company, but the company I work for treats certain projects as if they were solo companies, in terms of the lower-tier employees. What I mean is, I had to submit a resume, do an interview, go through background checks, and all that other stuff that’s common when you’re hired.

    8. Pwyll*

      Not me, but my old boss told me a story that the person I replaced resigned to her by sending her a shockwave animation video of fireworks going off with the words “I QUIT” flashing. This was a 25-year veteran of the company who had finally reached the end of his wits, and his boss knew (and supported) his job searching. I still laugh about it when I think of it.

      Almost every time I have quit I’ve brought in a letter that said “Please accept this letter as my resignation from the x position, with my last day to be DATE. Thank you for the opportunity and best wishes.” And I’ve asked to meet privately and said, “I’ve been offered and accepted a position at x.” (or, I’ve decided to go back to school, etc.)

    9. Former Border's Refugee*

      Well, last time I quit a seriously (like, SERIOUSLY) dysfunctional job, it took three times telling him before the owner understood that I wasn’t just “taking some time” but that I was done. At least, I think he understands. I’m not sure.

  39. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I think I just need some encouragement. I’m two weeks into being unemployed, and it’s exhausting me. I’ve had a bunch of networking meetings and so many people have offered to make connections (and they’ve done it), but not a single true interview. I know this stuff takes time, but every once in a while (like right now), I start to get very discouraged and panicky. Part of it is that the jobs for which I’m really qualified aren’t in this city, and while I would love to try something new, I find it so hard to convince myself that I can actually do it. I’m also running into a problem of being really experienced but not specifically experienced for the companies I’m looking at.

    Today I have a phone call with a recruiter and a meeting/tour at a local agency. On Tuesday I have a call with a guy who runs another agency nearby. I’m supposed to have a call with someone about contract work, which would be GREAT right now, but she’s crazy busy and hasn’t gotten back to me to set it up. Someone else I know connected me with a guy who needs some consulting/contract work, but he wants to wait until after Labor Day to discuss it.

    On a more positive note, today is my dog’s birthday and I wrote a poem for him. I am inordinately proud of this poem. Maybe someone will hire me to write personalized nursery rhymes, right? Sigh.

    1. Abbi Abrams*

      You’re only two weeks into unemployment and you’re doing so, so well! Be proud of yourself for being so productive and taking steps towards finding a new job. When I was unemployed, I spent the first two weeks in a Netflix coma.

      Happy birthday doggie!

    2. Same Boat*

      My husband was laid off 2 months ago and it’s hard! He’s had multiple interviews and phone calls and now it seems like everything has just stalled and we’re waiting to hear back from multiple places (hopefully it will pick up again after Labor Day!). It sounds like you’re doing great 2 weeks in, but try to be patient and enjoy your down time as well. It will end sooner or later. :)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Because I am just so damn proud of this one, which I wrote in about 10 minutes, I shall oblige… :)

        “Today I am six!” he said on his walk;
        To all whom he passed, even though he can’t talk;
        “I’ll sniff and I’ll pee, maybe step in some goop,
        While Mama will follow and pick up my poop;
        And then I’ll go home and we will have cuddles,
        And it’s gonna rain so I won’t play in puddles,
        And later I’ll get an awesome new treat,
        A chewy or breath bone or something with meat;
        Then I’ll have doggy dreams where my legs give out kicks,
        It’ll be the best day– it’s so great to be six!”
        Just so we’re clear, just so it’s not muddy,
        Happy 6th Birthday to our bestest buddy!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Thank you all! You definitely made me feel better. I also just got a really nice email from a networking contact telling me to keep up the good work.

      I do need some downtime. Real downtime. If I weren’t such a money hoarder right now, it would be, “get the hell out of Dodge” downtime– so maybe this is the time to take my mom up on her constant offers to pay for my flight to visit, or I should drive up with the doggy to see my grandparents (they miss him). It would be really nice to have something in place first, but.. feh.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Im two weeks in too and the first week was just as crazy 0 got to the final, final rounds of a potential job that would have been a step up and had all the testing, presentation and interview prep, etc to do. I have a contract thing on the trot right now that is kinda messy I need to sort out. Have a potential other contract with old company also on the burner. But… its August. And everyone who can make a decision or move things forward is Out of the Office. I have even refrained from even starting for looking for new contracts/jobs because what is the point?

        Its hard to think your aren’t moving the ball forward, but you are. Slowly and surely :) You are further along today than you were two weeks ago, even if decision makers are out of the office. And yeah, the days get boring, but I have decided to use the time to get back into shape and focus on other projects too. Kinda like your ode to your pooch :) Ive also tried being thankful for this time.

        Also – totally get out of town. I’m money hoarding too even though my partners salary at least covers the bills because the last time it took months to get a new job. Even so, and despite much fretting at the cost of a last minute overseas flight, it seemed like the best time to go home and see the parents rather than stay here and try and force people to make decisions through the power of my mind :P I’m trying to trust that by taking care of myself everything else will slot into place. And its probably the best time to go as its still summer and everyone is away. Trying to get time when you have a job in, say, November won’t be quite as nice, no? :)

      2. The Butcher of Luverne*

        Go see your mom. That’s an order ;)

        Seriously, wouldn’t it be nice to have a change of scenery and maybe get a bit of perspective on things?

  40. Former Invoice Girl*

    Anyone else working in logistics? Do you like you jobs?
    I ended up working in logistics without having a business degree or any kind of certification, and while I like my current job I don’t know if I should stay within the industry while job searching in the future.

    1. ElCee*

      OOh I have always thought logistics looks so cool. But I figured my lack of a business degree or any certification would be a hindrance. I’ve heard it’s a growing industry, but then, I’m not in it.

      1. Former Invoice Girl*

        I’ve been hearing the same thing about it being a growing field – I hope it’s true, then! I wouldn’t say that the lack of certification is a hinderance (not in my role, at least), but things get confusing without it at times.

  41. KC*

    Any tips on what to do when you are the last candidate scheduled for an interviewer, and it’s clearly been a long day for him/her?

    Had a bad experience recently, where the interviewer is clearly not paying attention, and not even engaged in the small talks. It’s a shame, because often it’s the candidate is the one who suffer the consequences :(

    1. Adam*

      I know how that feels. I once had a panel interview where of the three people interviewing me two of them were very content to just sit and stare out the window.

      Unfortunately I don’t know of any really professional way to grab their attention if they just can’t be bothered to care. I generally follow the idea of making the interviewer’s job easy for them by being as engaged as possible, but if they can’t reciprocate do your best to remember that is on them and not you. I know everyone has their off days and just really want to get home, but if they can’t at least attempt to engage with you after you’ve spent so much time preparing and coming to meet with them my guess is you may find more issues later even if you did get the job.

    2. Pwyll*

      Obviously still do the best you can in the interview, but I’d try to make the followup thank you letter/e-mail especially relevant. Something like, “Thank you again for the opportunity to meet yesterday. Reflecting on our conversation of x, I am very excited at the prospect of bringing my experience in y to z. Especially given [relevant industry news, if there is anything that ties to your conversation].

    3. Eddie*

      For me as an interviewer, it becomes even more important for your answers to be clear and concise. My ability to pay attention to a long, rambling answer that may or may not circle back to the question has been mostly used up. If you can make it really easy to see how your answer links to the question, that’ll help me refocus. If people are so obviously checked out though, you might not have much option!

  42. Anon for today*

    General advice: how do you keep your motivation up for a job search when it feels like you have had so little success? I’ve been searching off and on for the past couple years and have had precisely one in-person interview in that entire time span. Part of it I will fully acknowledge is I’ve often not devoted as much time to it as I should overall, but part of that stems from the many times I’ve tried to go all in and come up with nothing. Plus I get tired of feeling like I’m always in job search mode.

    I am employed currently (for six straight years at this organization in fact) and it is sufficient, but it’s also unsatisfying by nearly every measure. Where I seem to get tripped up is feeling like if I worked like mad and eventually got lucky I could get a similar job somewhere else, but my prospects for getting a better job seem very slim.

    How do you combat this sort of mindset when it’s holding you back? What do you do to motivate yourself past these slumps? Thank you in advance.

    1. Mirilla*

      I’m in the same boat. I’ve been here 6 years and have been looking for 9 months. I’ve had a few interviews and one offer but the guy apparently changed his mind because he cancelled our last meeting to go over details, benefits, etc. Good thing I didn’t quit current job. I feel your pain! Keep trying. I’m not giving up. My current job is one of the worst I have ever had. I too am discouraged but it just means we haven’t found the right one yet.

    2. Kaitlyn*

      What you’ve described is very similar to how I’m feeling. I was hired right out of university to a company that offered me little room to grow, so after 3.5 years I started applying for new jobs. After few bites, I went back to school, while still working here PT. Fast-forward to now, I’m still working here FT again, I’ve spend my summer scouring job postings, and still only a few calls back with no real prospects. It’s discouraging, exhausting, and it’s really got me down. One of the things that I have been doing, though, that has been helping me feel like I’m moving past the roadblocks is to use some free time here and there to really work on some personal growth-type projects. I’m trying to get better at coding and web design, so that’s what I like to do. Investigate free online courses that pique your interest. Despite how low I feel, keeping my mind occupied with things I enjoy or find interesting, while actually honing some of my employable skills keeps my mind focused on the long-term, rather than the dread that is in front of me.

      Best of luck to you, and keep your head up.

    3. Hakky Chan*

      You’re almost me – only I’ve been with my org for 9 years and have been searching for about 10 months. In those 10 months I’ve had one in-person interview, one phone interview with about 50 applications.

      What helps me to keep motivated is that I have a few friends that truly believe I can be in a better position, despite having things that hold me back (like no degree). So when I feel frustrated, they’re there to listen to me rant and help me get back on track emotionally and mentally.

  43. Legalchef*

    Cleaning out my office and it feels so gooooood. But my husband is going to kill me when I start bringing everything home to store until I can bring it to my new job.

    1. LawCat*

      Haha! I just did this last week. Can’t wait to get the stuff out of the living room and into office at the new job.

  44. Snek*

    I’ve been waiting for this! This one’s a bit long, so thank yous in advance to anyone who actually slogs through it.

    I have a friend who temped at my office for almost a year. She was the person who originally introduced me to this job (she was an intern almost 6 years ago), and came back to fill in for someone on temporary leave.

    My friend had a very hard time in the temp job, and toward the end had sort of checked out and was having anxiety attacks every week. She’s not very assertive and not one to take the initiative on things. She also tends to have a very hard time being flexible and rolling with the punches (changes in schedule, surprise client requests, orders from the boss, etc.) She is methodical and thorough, likes guidance and step-by-step support, and very structured environments. A lot of things about the office and my boss frustrated her and the role was not a good fit. Eventually, she quit (with three weeks notice and nothing lined up) and departed as scheduled. We’re filling in the gaps as best as we can right now, and things are going okay.

    Now, I’m hearing comments from my boss that he isn’t very happy with my friend’s performance during her time here—that she took a long time to get things completed and left a lot of loose ends with her departure, that she didn’t leave a good impression on clients due to her lack of confidence, that she didn’t take the initiative to learn what she didn’t know or set up time with my boss to get the information she needed. Knowing her personally, I’m sure she worked very hard and did her best, but I don’t feel that my boss’s criticism is inaccurate either. I’m a little concerned about her reference (my boss isn’t one to badmouth, but he is honest), but I don’t know if I want to tell her out of fear of exacerbating her anxiety or making her feel helpless (“I tried so hard and did my best, but I can’t make anyone happy.”)

    I am also VERY concerned about my friend because the career she has chosen is very competitive and notorious for rapid change, demanding schedules, needing a go-get-em-and-take-charge attitude and lots of initiative. She is, in fact, currently looking for employment in some of the most demanding and hypercompetitive companies for people in her line of work.

    I don’t know what kind of feedback I can give my friend besides “change literally everything about your personality and your attitude about work.” She’s not a bad person, she’s not a huge slacker, she’s just a square peg who has herself wholly jammed in a round hole career to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars of postgrad education. Should I keep my boss’s comments to myself or let her know that there were issues? I feel like part of me is speaking out of true concern for her, and another part is just annoyed that she doesn’t seem to realize that taking initiative and projecting confidence is a requirement of the career she’s chosen, not a difficult and unreasonable request from a job she couldn’t do.

    1. Leatherwings*

      Noooo don’t tell her about your bosses’ comments. If anything, you can offer advice about what jobs to apply for based on what you’ve seen but even that might too overbearing.
      You can say something like “Can I be frank with you? I’ve noticed you’re really good at X, but you tend to get easily stressed in demanding and competitive environments. It might be best to search for jobs that are more laid back and less competitive.”

      Ulimately, this might just be a lesson she needs to learn on her own.

      1. Snek*

        Do you think the impact it may (or may not) have on her reference changes anything? This might be a moot fear– maybe my boss will only sing her praises, but I just don’t know. I’d also hate for her to go job hunting, and only find out 3 interviews down the line that my boss has been describing her as “lacking in confidence and slow to pick things up.”

        The thing is that a vast majority of the jobs in her career are demanding and competitive to some degree. It’d be like…. uh, if you’d gone through med school to be a doctor, but couldn’t handle working long hours and interacting with people, or being a programmer but making modifications to your code stresses you out and causes anxiety. I don’t know where I could even start recommending jobs that don’t fall into those categories.

        1. Leatherwings*

          This just seems like a MYOB situation then. It’s not your job to monitor her references or her career. I think you can either give her gentle advice ONCE or nothing.

          1. Tea*

            You’re right, I may be enmeshing myself too much in what’s her business. It’s harder than I expected to pull back after so many months of working alongside her and having her work directly impact my work (and vice versa.) I just don’t know what to say when she complains to me or asks me for advice, so maybe that’s the best sign of all that I should stay quiet and supportive.

        2. neverjaunty*

          I suspect I know what field she’s in, but often there are jobs in those fields where you can find a less-stressful niche – like a doctor working part-time at a clinic or taking a research-only position. If your friend talks about career stuff with you, maybe gently steer her toward researching jobs in her field that better fit her personality and skills. They may not be as glamorous or well-paying, but she’ll be happier and less likely to get fired.

          1. Snek*

            There’s a good chance you do, since it’s not an unpopular field. I’m not on the same career path (I’m in more of a support role), so I don’t really know all the options out there other than what I’ve seen in the line of work. Suggesting playing to her strengths is a good thought though, and maybe gently nudging her to think about whether the hypercompetitive high stress work environment she’s trying to position herself toward is really going to be the best fit.

    2. Marzipan*

      I don’t think you should tell her about your boss’s comments – they were made to you, not to her; and like you said, she probably won’t react to it in a way that will be helpful to her.

      I would consider carefully whether you really need to give her any feedback at all – I can see why you want to, but it’s ultimately her situation and it may be best to leave it to her. If you do anything, I’d suggest making it a very open, coaching sort of conversation – asking what kinds of things she likes and doesn’t like in a job, what she feels her strengths are, what it is about her chosen field that attracts her, what kinds of attributes she thinks a person would need for that job – so, not steering her towards the idea that maybe her preferred field isn’t actually something she’d enjoy or be well suited to, but creating the opportunity for her to have a lightbulb moment in relation to it, if that makes sense.

      1. Snek*

        With some friends, I would definitely pass on this kind of criticism (in as constructive and compassionate a way as I could manage) because I think they would want to know and find it useful. With others, like her, I really hesitate, and maybe that’s all I need to know. That does make a lot of sense.

    3. C Average*

      I’ve had to hear things like this about myself from people I regarded as friends, and I’m not going to lie: It hurt like hell, and some of those relationships didn’t survive those honest conversations. Not because I was angry at the messenger, but because there’s something so very ego-destroying about finding out that you’re objectively average or maybe not even average when you’d heard a different story all your life. The shame of having misjudged yourself, and of suspecting that everyone else around you knew it, runs so deep that you just want to escape from any witnesses to your awakening.

      (Around the same time one of these conversations occurred, I found myself watching a rerun of “ER” in which Luca and Abby got in a fight and he said to her, “You’re not that pretty and you’re not that special!” and I literally wept, because I felt like the whole world was thinking that about me.)

      Anyway. I think if you value the friendship more than you value her having an honest awareness of her abilities and limitations, you should keep your mouth shut. But if you truly believe you could present this information to her in a way that’s motivated by kindness, and if you would be okay with the friendship either ending or going on hiatus for a time while she processes this information, it would be helpful to say something.

      1. Snek*

        Thank you for your answer, and sharing from your own experiences, since that really put things into perspective. I value this friendship and I want the best for my friend in her life and her career, but I don’t need to be “right” about her strengths or weaknesses or her career choices to support her the best I can.

        1. C Average*

          I’d add that in retrospect, I really do view those honest conversations as a gift. I think in work environments, it’s almost impossible to get truthful feedback about very broad character-based weaknesses, because managers (usually rightly) want to keep their feedback constructive, and it feels unconstructive to tell someone about a flaw they probably can’t address. So you kind of fumble along, wondering why other people get promotions and accolades and you don’t, even though you work really hard and want success really badly. I think that unless you’re working regularly with a good therapist or a particularly forthright mentor, it’s unusual to get truthful information about the weaknesses and flaws that truly hold you back.

          I recall once expressing to a colleague that I would love to work in a particular department. She became uncharacteristically quiet, so I asked her to tell me her thoughts. It turned out that she’d had a very candid conversation with a director in that department about me, with the upshot being that I didn’t have the skills or personality to work there. She forwarded me the email chain, and it was absolutely eviscerating. I had to continue working with both of them, and it was one of the toughest professional challenges of my life.

          But despite the clumsiness of the whole thing, I’m grateful that it happened. I no longer pursued roles in that department, or in similar departments in other workplaces. I had no objective way of learning “you’re not good at that” other than to have someone say to me, “You’re not good at that.” Which is a lot better than submitting endless carefully prepared applications and wondering why I never managed to even get a bite.

          All that said, I am of course immensely grateful for all the friends I have who DON’T tell me what they really think about me. :)

      2. NaoNao*

        OMG “You’re not that pretty, you’re not that special” tore a hole in my heart that remains to this day! It was a huge jerk move on the part of that character BUT he also had a point to a degree. I’ve always had that in my “nuclear option” bag of tricks along with “You’re a virgin…who can’t drive” for when I need a super-zinger that levels the battlefield to “scorched earth”.

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        because there’s something so very ego-destroying about finding out that you’re objectively average or maybe not even average when you’d heard a different story all your life.

        Funnily enough, it’s ego-destroying when you haven’t heard that you’re average or maybe not even average. I wish I had a reservoir of memories to pull up where I was told that I had done a good job or that X was proud of me. Where I was encouraged to attempt something and actually helped or supported to do it, then celebrated when I accomplished it. A lot of the things that I’ve been thinking about this year have been around why I’m not further ahead and it all boils down to self-esteem. I stop myself because of all the negative feedback I’ve ever been given and there just isn’t an equal amount of positive feedback to balance the scales. People talk about pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps but beyond the “what if you have no boots, let alone bootstraps?” there’s also the “I think I’ve pulled myself up so many times, I’ve either pulled those things off or I’m too tired to reach up and try again.”

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      Have you ever asked her if she likes this career? I mean, there are some people who are round pegs in square holes because of the specific company they work at. Then there are others who really should have turned right instead of left that one time.

      Because a job or career that regularly drives you to anxiety attacks, where you have to leave because your fears are crippling you, no one could fail to see how unhappy she is. But maybe she thinks she’s better than she is at hiding it.

      Whatever her training is, there is probably another industry that has similar requirements or transferable skills. She may not have considered other options that way.

    5. Robin Sparkles*

      There is a way for you to help without giving negative or hurtful feedback. For one, you don’t really know that she could quickly adapt and maybe that field ends up being right for her later on even if it isn’t right now. And secondly, negative feedback oftentimes does the opposite of what it is intending to do. I recommend using positive questions that get to what you ultimately want for your friend. You want her to succeed in her career right? So that’s what you should focus on if you want to help her. Ask her questions that build her self esteem and focus on her strengths. Ask her what she feels she excels at. Make her think about a time where she accomplished something and ask her why. Leave your boss completely out of it. The goal here is to focus on what she is good at and not on the things she isn’t. It’s not something that will happen overnight and I am not saying you will (or should)”change her personality” but you will give her the ability to think about what she is passionate about and what she feels she contributes.

  45. Flex-time question*

    Advice for getting my manager on board with working from home once in a while, or being allowed a more flexible schedule, especially when the rest of my co-workers are resistant to the idea?

    I started a new job in the spring. It’s in the branch of a company that keeps records of the sales and financial transactions from the company. We also provide customer service to co-workers (not outside people) if they have questions about a record. This is done over email from a database where the questions are queued, and not in real time. Including me there are 24 record clerks and one manager.

    The office hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 3:00, with a 30 minute break from 11:00 to 11:30. Otherwise unless we are using the washroom we are expected to be present and at our desks. There is no flex-time or changing the hours and we aren’t allowed to take a half day off or come in an hour late or whatever and make up the time later, for something like a medical appointment. All time off is a full day only. The only person in the office that has a phone on their desk is the manager. No one else gets work calls so we don’t have work phones. We don’t have access to our email when we are not at work and there is no overtime or working from home ever.

    It would be feasible for us to be allowed to work from home with access to the database and our email (personal and finanicial information beyond a name and phone number are not stored in the database so there is no security risk). Also because we don’t deal with clients face to face or in real time a flexible schedule would be possible. But management won’t allow it and even my co-workers are resistant. Some of them like being done at 3:00 and having lots of time after work. Others like that work stays at work and when they are off they are truly away and not teathered to an email. I’m not asking that everyone be forced to change their schedule, only that they have the option to. I asked my manager and he wasn’t receptive.

    (Also the dress code is formal, suit pants or a skirt, close toed dress shoes, long sleeved collared shirts and ties for men. We can wear jeans or denim skirts on Fridays but still must wear collared shirts, closed toed dress shoes and ties. Wearing a jacket is optional and people only do it when they are cold. I don’t want to get into the dress code after the fiasco with the interns that I read about on this blog, even though it feels like a bit much for a non client facing job where no one sees us besides the people who work here)

    1. AshKetchum*

      It doesn’t sound like you can from what you’ve written here. This schedule seems to be deeply ingrained in the culture. However, if you still want to give it a shot, I would frame it in a way that highlights how a flex-schedule or working from home would benefit the business (i.e. increased productivity from you). I would also mention how the new arrangement wouldn’t disrupt day-to-day operations or pose any sort of risk to company information by including everything you’ve included here.
      Honestly, I don’t think this will work . You’re fairly new and arguing for this change will require a lot of political capital that you might not have yet.

    2. KR*

      It doesn’t sound like you’re going to have much luck getting your boss to agree to work from home. I agree that the dress code is a bit unreasonable.
      As far as the security risks, even if the information is only there for a moment, you do run a risk if you’re accessing work information from a personal computer. Depending on what type of transactions your company is dealing with, your IT department might not be willing to take that risk.

    3. Temperance*

      FWIW, I agree with you on the dress code being unreasonable, and see that as totally different to interns wanting special treatment.

      I don’t see a lot of room for flexibility if the office runs on a limited schedule. There is actually quite a lot of cost and work relating to setting up a VPN that would give you database access at home.

    4. Bex*

      From everything you’ve spelled out, it sounds like a losing proposition. Your boss already shut it down, no one else wants it, and the company seems extremely rigid and formal. Any of those would normally be a significant obstacle, so with all three it probably isn’t worth pursuing any further. Pushing on this will make you look a bit clueless or like you’re a poor fit for the company culture, particularly since you are so new.

  46. Anononono*

    I work in a technical field where most jobs are either in consulting, where our clients are municipalities, or working directly for a municipality. I have been working for a consulting company for about 6 years, have gotten great experience and am valued by my company. However we are a smaller company and can’t really compete on the really exciting projects for larger municipalities. I have a job interview with a municipality next week where I would be on the client end of the exact type of projects I wish we got more opportunity to do at my current company. I think long term I see a stronger future in consulting, but feel that 5-10 years working for the clients would really strengthen my skills and value. Does anyone have experience working on both ends and have thoughts?

    1. Government Worker*

      I haven’t done both sides, but when I came out of grad school recently in a field with the characteristics you described I ended up choosing between a government position and a consulting firm one and chose the government. I think there can be a lot of benefit to being on the government side for at least a while – you understand a lot more of the workflow and how things get implemented (and why they don’t, or why they take forever). I also talked to someone when I was making my job decision who told me that if you want to be where things actually get decided, you have to work on the government side – consultants get to do cool work, but in the end they can often only make recommendations and not make things happen. That’s felt very true to my experience, where I’m in the thick of the day-to-day and everything is very immediate. Consultants get to really dive deep on our biggest and most interesting projects, but I get to have my hand in a lot of cool smaller stuff.

      But on the other hand… you have to deal with the day-to-day aspects of working in government, and local government in particular. Government jobs tend to be a very different culture than consulting firms – there’s a form for everything, I work with a handful of awesome people and a whole lot of mediocre people who’ve been here forever and will never leave, there’s a fundamental resistance to change (some due to regulation that keeps the public from getting screwed – it’s not all just laziness), our facilities and workspace are all terrible (shared ancient cubical style instead of private office at the consulting firm,) and things in many agencies are kind of generally dysfunctional. But I get great benefits and vacation time and leave at the end of the day without ever taking work home with me, so there’s that, too.

      I’d say that if you think you could be satisfied in the government job for a while, then it’s likely to make you a better consultant in the long run. However, if the negative aspects and difference in culture that come with working in local government will make you miserable, don’t do it.

    2. Jersey's Mom*

      I also work in a technical field, and have had a job in state regulatory and now in a private corporation. However, in both positions, I work extensively with both municipalities and consultants.

      Personally, I think working for a municipality will give you a much broader experience in your career. In consulting, your job is fairly specific (to complete x by y date with z budget), even if the task is very complex. The muni job will have you working with the other half of the equation – trying to get a budget, working with an elected board, responding to public needs/wants, selecting consultants and managing consultants. You’ll also have the opportunity to work with/network with other munis directly (as one of them). You’ll have the opportunity to learn how a muni works, because your department must coordinate with all other departments and the board to prioritize tasks, sometimes to work directly with other departments. And, of course, you’ll have the fun (no not really) chance to go to monthly board meetings/planning mtgs/zoning mtgs etc.

      While I don’t know anything about either job, all things being fairly equal, getting a few years at a muni will help you get a much more broad background and abilities. It’ll also open the door for a greater variety of jobs in the future – both in consulting, muni jobs, and potentially private or gov’t jobs.

  47. Mirilla*

    I literally am working with the most conceited person I have ever met and she is our manager. Today she said out loud that she is important. She also said out loud that she is smart. This is after I have spent 2 days cleaning up a costly mistake she made with no apology from her about her error. God I can’t get out of this place fast enough.

    1. Anna*

      Maybe she’s doing an odd sort of public affirmation. She’s good enough, she’s smart enough, and doggonit people like her.

      1. Mirilla*

        Not that, although I get what you are saying. She just thinks she’s that awesome. Apparently she’s been fired from jobs before likely due to her abrasive attitude, among other things. She just does not see it in herself. Most people here don’t want to interact with her at all, mainly because she is so defensive & hard to talk to. Everyone sees it but the head boss because he basically ignores all of us anyway so we are stuck coping with this. I need a new job.

  48. Coffee and Mountains*

    I’ve been a department head for five years and held supervisory positions for close to 15 years. I always get good reviews, particularly when it comes to managing people and also generally get good verbal/informal feedback. However, I know I could do better and this bothers me. I think my biggest weakness as a manager is that I have a very passive personality, which can get me walked over. It’s something that is so ingrained in me I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I’ll look back later and think, “I shouldn’t have given them their way/ I shouldn’t have said that/done that”. Has anyone else overcome this? How did you do it?

    1. Jadelyn*

      Buy yourself time. Get into the habit of never giving a hard answer on something right away. Stuff like “Let me see what we can work out” or “I’ll look over this and get back to you” buys you breathing space in which to plan your responses. I’m also pretty conflict-averse so if I’m pushed into an on-the-spot answer for something, I will almost always stand down and let other people have their way. But, if I can delay them a little bit, even just long enough to script a more assertive response in my head, I tend to come out of those conversations ahead or at least even rather than being steamrolled.

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        This is a great suggestion. Depending on the situation, I use a similar line – that I need more context/information/etc. to make a decision. Usually, this is actually true, but I lean on my rational nature when people try to force me into decisions I don’t feel comfortable with.

        A colleague told me about the “broken record” reply: When someone makes unreasonable requests or begins to get too emotional, she keeps repeating policy/her decision/etc. I’ve started doing that, too. It really works, because you’re not exhausting mental or emotional energy trying to address the same demands or behaviors in different ways.

  49. TXHR*

    I need some career advice. I am currently at a toxic job that isn’t going to get better. I’ve only been here for 1.5 years. I took this position while unemployed last year. My resume currently looks like this: 5.5 years (retail working through college but relevant experience), moved towns for a company stayed 1 year, and then my last job that I was laid off from 2.5 years.

    In my current position it’s looking more and more viable that I might be fired (which I’m so miserable at this point I would be okay with). My husband is also looking for another job but not in our current area. We are hoping to move within the next few months or year, hopefully.

    I’m not sure what my exit strategy should be. Should I stay and be fired or find a new job with another short stint on my resume. I guess my question is this one of those times that it’s better to be fired than resign?

    1. Jadelyn*

      A year and a half isn’t that short of a stay tbh. You’ve got two solid long stays on your resume already, so I would say a 1.5-yr that you resigned from is better than a 1.75-yr that you got fired from.

      1. Tea*

        ^ This. I’d say keep your options open and start looking now. It might very well be easier to land a job while you still have a job, and worst comes to worst, if you’re fired before you find a new job, at least you’ve already gotten the job-hunt started and might have some leads.

        1. TXHR*

          Thank you for the advice! I’m ready to move on I just don’t know how to do it so it doesn’t impact my career going forward. I’m worried that if I resign find another job in same town than move to a different town that’s a lot of shorter stints in a row. I know in my next job I’m going to need to put in some time and hopefully because I like it as well!

    2. Nancie*

      Is the problem that if you start searching now, you figure you’ll only end up working for a few months at a new place before you need to relocate? If so, then yeah — that doesn’t sound ideal.

      On the other hand, it’s not super likely that you and your husband would both land new jobs in your new location at the same time. Did you have any ideas on how you were going to handle that? Like, are the locations (if he’s even set on a particular new location) close enough that one of you could have a long commute for a short while, or does one of your jobs allow for telecommuting, or something like that?

      If there’s already a destination in mind, you might want to just start your job search for that area. Otherwise, maybe you could look into temp work, or something that would allow telecommuting after a few months?

      1. TXHR*

        That’s exactly what I’m up against. I was hoping this job would last me through till we moved but it doesn’t look that will happen.

        We will be moving to a large metro area from where we are now and we won’t be able to commute but I was planning on finding work once we move there.

        I’m miserable in my current situation and I wasn’t sure that a new job now would be best or wait a few months/weeks till they let me go.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Could you start looking for a new job in the new area, and both of you relocate if you find a job there before he does?

  50. ThisIsShe*

    We finally brought the project manager in to talk about the problems that mostly stem from one non-contractor on staff. Manager proceeded to make excuses, pretend to be shocked, and talk in circles so that he appeared to deny some of our claims while he actually was kind of saying that we were right. But not in a promising way.

    We’re pretty confident things are not going to improve.

  51. Christopher Tracy*

    Ok, so I just need validation today that I made the right decision here.

    Recently I was approached by my division SVP and one of the AVPs about “applying” to another position within the division with slightly more complex cases and is more in line with what they both know I’d like to be doing. (I put “applying” in quotes because the job most likely would have been mine since no one else internally wanted it and they really didn’t want to have to post it and interview externally.) However, it would mean moving to work under a new manager, one I don’t know and haven’t heard great things about. Plus, the guy just gives me a strange vibe every time I see him. He’s perfectly nice, but there’s just this gut feeling I get around him that makes me slightly uncomfortable, so after thinking about that, I declined to take the gig.

    The SVP and AVP were both surprised by this, and kept telling me they thought I’d be really good at this job – and I don’t disagree. It’s just that I’m only 7 months into my new job, and I’ve already had two managers/supervisors this year (our reporting structure changed because of an influx of new hires). I know the two people I ultimately report to, I know I can work with them, and I’m content with where I am. I’d love to be doing this other job, but after the nightmare couple of months I had last year where I was working for a lunatic, I’m hesitant to agree to move under someone I’ve heard less than stellar things about. Not to mention, when I asked the SVP whether I’d be able to move back to my current role if I didn’t like the new one, he said yes, but gave the caveat that it wouldn’t be right away.

    But then the SVP told me there would be more money involved with the new position, and lord knows I need more money (my student loans are not a joke and my rent just went up again), so then I start questioning whether or not I made the right call. On one hand – more money. On the other – no guarantee of a promotion/title bump. And possible bad manager. My thought is, if I’m going to take the risk of working for someone that could turn out to be awful, I need a higher title to go along with it. The higher title would give me a much larger increase then the small bump I’d get for a lateral move. But maybe there’s some other angle I’m not considering.

    Just tell me I did the right thing, intelligent people of AAM!

    1. Leatherwings*

      You totally did the right thing. 7 months with two bosses is a lot, and you have to trust your gut about the other boss – nothing makes work quite as miserable as a bad boss.

      The pay is tempting, but if it makes you miserable everyday it’s not worth it. I bet there will be other opportunities.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        I bet there will be other opportunities.

        I hope so, and I think that’s part of what’s causing me to angst over this. In the back of my mind I’m like, “What if that was it? What if they don’t ask me to do anything else ever again because I said no and now they think I’m not ready for greater responsibility?” I’ll talk to my supervisor about it at our next check-in (she doesn’t know about the offer) and let her know that I am looking for greater opportunity – just on our team.

        1. NW Mossy*

          Leatherwings is right – other opportunities are likely to come up. If you work for an organization that’s big enough to go through a re-org, it’s likely that these types of changes happen with some regularity and that tends to be a big source of new opportunities. Sometimes the timing just stinks on a particular role, but that doesn’t mean something bigger and better won’t come along at the right time.

          In my own career, I’ve missed chances to apply for promotions because the timing was bad (i.e., while I was on maternity leave) and gotten turned down for promotions that I wanted at the time but in retrospect would have had me reporting to someone that wouldn’t have been a good boss for me. About three years ago an opportunity opened up in a role that hadn’t had a competitive opening in 10 years, and I ended up getting it and starting a whole new track that’s been very fruitful.

          Bottom line, if you’re good at what you do and keep the conversation flowing about what you want to do in the future, the opportunities will come. They may be dressed differently from what you would have expected, but they’ll come.

    2. YesYesYes*

      What is your relationship like with the SVP/AVP? Can you be honest with them about your reservations about the manager? If no one else internally wants the job, they have to wonder if part of the reason is the manager.

      Could you say something like “My hesitation is around work environment. I’m not sure my work style meshes well with Rupert’s management style, and I’ve heard anecdotes that he can be difficult in those situations. I haven’t worked directly with him yet, but in my limited interactions so far, I haven’t felt comfortable around him. Can you talk to me more about the nature of the role and its interactions with Rupert?”

      If you don’t feel like you can have that frank of a conversation with them, then you made the right call. Managing up can be exhausting, and it sounds like you’d have to do a fair bit of it, if there are no other internal candidates willing to work for him (at least, at the offered title/pay).

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        My relationship with the SVP is new and friendly. Every once in a while he’ll ask if I want to go to lunch or go to Happy Hour, but we don’t really interact all that much. He has reviewed my work a few times and had nothing but great things to say about it, so I think he trusts my judgement. Still, I don’t feel comfortable talking to him about much of anything since I don’t know him that well. He’s nice, but I still don’t have a really good read on him. The AVP used to be the manager of this team I would have been moving to, and he and I worked together investigating cases when I was going through this division two years ago as apart of a training program. So he knew I was really interested in his former team’s work and that I’m good at it. I told both of them that I think I should stick it out where I am for a while since I really wasn’t in my last division/role (which is totally different from this one) that long (only a little over a year), and I’m not sure if they believed me. They kind of side-eyed that and asked if I was really, really sure, and then when I said yes, they said they understood, but they thought I’d be good at this other job. I think they may have a bit of an inkling that the problem may be with who’s running the team now, but I doubt anything will come of that.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      Have you spoken about your concerns working for Potential Lunatic Manager Whom You’ve Heard Bad Things About?

      I say trust your gut. If this isn’t a HELL, YES!!! Then there’s probably a good reason why it’s an “Uh… thanks but no thanks.:

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        People don’t think this other manager’s a lunatic – they do think he’s inappropriate with some of things he says, and they get annoyed at his lack of responsiveness to written questions/inquiries (which, in our deadline driven environment is certainly a problem). But no, I haven’t said anything about my reservations about his leadership to anyone because he’s been here a long time, and upper management can be really funny about who they consider to be their “friends” (he’s one of them). I don’t think I’ve been here long enough, or performed well enough yet, to have built up enough political capital to point these things out to the higher-ups.

        1. General Ginger*

          Could you frame it as more of a “I’m not sure my work style lines up with Bob’s management style; could you maybe give me some insight on what he’s like to work for” kind of question?

    4. T3k*

      As others said, trust your gut on this one. Also, if you can, talk to the SVP/AVP about your reservations, but don’t let them try to get you to accept the position if they try to minimize your concerns. Too often people ignore their gut feelings on something, even when it’s letting off air sirens.

    5. neverjaunty*

      You did the right thing! Notice they only brought up more money AFTER you declined the position. And this is a position nobody else wants, despite it supposedly being better. I’ll bet the manager is a huge factor in that.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        They actually brought up the money thing after I hemmed and hawed about taking the job, but your point stands, lol. If I had been enthusiastic about it, I don’t know whether a salary discussion would have taken place at all, though I would like to think otherwise.

    6. AshKetchum*

      I don’t think I would’ve turned down the job without first learning more about the new manager. I would’ve tried to at least talk with him to get to know him better or asked around.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Yeah – that wasn’t going to happen (the me talking to him). He really gives me the creeps, so I try to limit our contact as much as possible.

        And that sentence pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? I couldn’t possible apply to work under someone I don’t even really like being around. What were we going to do – have one on ones via IM? Only communicate via email? Yeah, there was no way this was going to work if I did get the job.

  52. Christina*

    This was my first week at my new job! I left my old, awful, soul-sucking job that I’d been at for 7 years at the beginning of July, and new gig started Monday. It’s been totally different from any job I’ve had before (and, frankly, different from most jobs)–it’s a 5-staff-person non-profit, I mostly work from home except when I’m managing the program that I run (a cooking school). It’s been a busy week of all kinds of different things–shopping trips to stock the kitchen, team meetings, partner organization meetings, project meetings, cooking classes, tours. I’m taking today to review and organize all my notes so far, which will be really helpful for next week.

    The interesting thing is, while I’ve had longer days at this job, and even though I’m tired at the end of the day, it’s not the braid-dead exhaustion that I had when I got home at the end of the day from my last job, which is kind of amazing.

  53. Sadie Doyle*

    Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who gave me feedback last week on my temp issue — I did end up letting him go. His replacement is starting on Monday. Fingers crossed!

    I had a second temp start this week (which is another reason why I wanted to resolve it that day), and it’s going well so far. I think one of my coworkers blabbed to her that I fired the first one after a short period and today she worriedly asked me if she was doing okay. I reassured her that she’s doing fine (she is!) and that I will tell her if I have any concerns about her performance.

  54. AshKetchum*

    Thank you everyone last week for your advice about sticking it out in a new job where it’s clearly not a good fit. I particularly want to thank Cosmic Avenger who told me to own my decisions. I actually decided to start job searching! I highly doubt I’ll find a new job soon but it does feel good to take actions so I can get out of here!

  55. Maria*

    Has anyone ever dealt with undermining that was so subtle, it was basically gaslighting?

    My significant other has a coworker (peer, not supervisor) who has repeatedly bad-mouthed him a casual way that is often so obscure that it takes significant time and effort to figure out, and always turns out to be “a misunderstanding”. The most recent example is that she mentioned in front of several coworkers that SO was reading comics during the workday. After several days of confusion, SO finally determined that she had walked past his cubicle while he was opening Adobe Illustrator, which currently has a splash page of robotic-looking art.

    The problem is that it’s hard to deny her claims outright when SO isn’t even sure how she comes up with her nonsense, so damage is done in the time it takes him to track down the issue.

    1. Boo*

      The only thing I can think of is to ask her outright what she means when she says it. “That’s funny, I don’t recall ever reading comics at my desk. Why would you say that Cersei?”

      If she’s doing it out of earshot then that’s trickier. It might be an idea to start keeping a log of all the weird stuff she comes up with and then go to the boss “Cersei has several times now misunderstood things I’ve been doing such as thinking I’m reading comics when I’ve been working on Adobe, and I’m concerned about the impact this might have on my reputation with colleagues”.

      Or if he’s not worried about reputational impact with colleagues/managers, just laugh her off. “Oh that Cersei, she comes out with the funniest things. So how about the game”.

    2. LCL*

      If she is doing it to his face, he should call her on it every time. “I was looking at comics? When? What did you see? Why were you looking over my shoulder? Why did you thank that was a comic? What was your purpose behind telling everyone else?” The best way to deal with these weird accusations if they are made in person is to keep drilling down and make them explain themselves. People who use this tactic don’t like it, and if confronted will often just keep repeating the accusation, louder. A certain candidate for US president does this a lot…

      If she’s doing it behind his back, he needs to find out if this is her personality and she is this way to everyone, or if she is out to get him. And if she has any credibility with management. People who do this are often weirdly charismatic and their tricks work, for a while. Until everyone else figures out what they are doing. His tactics will be different depending on what’s going on.

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

        Yes! And people like that are often deliberately indirect for plausible deniability – directly calling them on their bullshit by explicitly stating whatever they implied cuts through this strategy. (Also true of a certain presidential candidate, whom I thought of before I saw that you did too.)

  56. Cath in Canada*

    I wrote a book, you guys!

    I’ve been itching to tell people about this for ages, but it took a while for the cover, publisher’s page, and publication dates to be finalized. That all finally happened last week, so now I’m telling everyone! (It’s also good timing in that I’m going to be away for most of the next five weeks on vacation and then at two conferences – I really didn’t want this to cause any kind of a distraction at work, so telling everyone a few days before I leave seemed like a good way to have it all blow over quickly!)

    I was commissioned to write the text of a graphic novel-style introduction to the field of epigenetics, which is the focus of the two big projects I work on. The illustrator is currently developing the artwork, and I should be seeing the first page proofs very soon. I’m ever so slightly excited about this!

  57. anon times infinity*

    My manager keeps talking about wanting me to apply for a senior position when they open up, but I don’t know how to react other than smile and nod because I don’t want the senior position and I’ve been looking to leave the company.

    I’m so miserable, to the point that I’m stressed outside of work and have been so stressed I’ve started eating poorly and gained 10 pounds over the last month. I have no motivation to do anything in my personal life because all my energy is spent not breaking down at work. I know when a job is giving me issues outside of work, it’s time to move on.

    The problem is that I can’t tell my manager I don’t want the senior position because he’ll get really passive aggressive, and I can’t tell him I’m not happy and am looking elsewhere because he’ll get angry. I’m lucky enough that my manager really likes me, but he’s awful to other people on our team (he reprimands them in our open office space so everyone can hear, our one-on-ones are spent with him complaining about them, etc). It’s not a situation I want to be in and I’m really hoping I find a new job before I’m forced into applying for a senior position I don’t want.

    1. neverjaunty*

      You don’t have to tell him anything – the position isn’t open yet and you haven’t applied.

      1. Christopher Tracy*


        And I’m sorry you’re going through this, anon. You sound exactly like how I sounded last year with my prior manager. She was nice to me, but terrible to almost everyone else on my team, and I had to get out because her negativity was dragging down the morale of the entire group.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      I assume that the senior position would have you working under the same manager, or having to spend as much time dealing with him as you do now?

  58. Newby*

    I have a general office lunch etiquette question. I enjoy cooking with fish to add flavor (anchovies or herring). I want to bring leftovers in for lunch but I don’t want to disgust anyone. I wouldn’t microwave it. Do you generally find that even cold fish smells to strongly? (It doesn’t smell strong to me, but the fact that I like anchovies may be affecting my perception of the smell).

    1. Leatherwings*

      If it’s cold, I think it’s cool. Microwaving fish is generally not. Maybe get a friend to do a sniff test for you one day?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I like to add mackerel and sardines to salads, which, of course, I always eat cold. Is it stinky? It can be. I use a lot of lemon juice. I don’t think it’s too strong or pervasive, though, not the way microwaved fish gets. Someone else who does not love these little oceanic delights might think differently! :)

      I do think anchovies in food are a bit different, since they basically dissolve. I used to add anchovies to my pasta sauce and it was so, so delicious (I don’t cook with meat or fish anymore).

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I sometimes eat Salade Nicoise for lunch but the anchovy content is quite small and does not smell too much.

    3. anon times infinity*

      I bring cold salmon in my salads or smoked salmon sandwiches and no one’s ever had a problem. Sometimes I’ll run out and get sushi for lunch and no one’s ever said it smells strongly. I can’t remember anyone every complaining about tuna sandwiches. Our cafeteria serves fish once a week and no one seems to have a problem with those smells.

      But I generally get annoyed at people policing what others are allowed to heat up in the microwave just because they don’t like the smell. The smell of pickles makes me gag, but I’m not going to tell people to stop bringing pickles with their lunches or to not get them from the cafeteria. I’ve seen people tell my coworkers not to heat up their curries and had someone tell me not to heat up my cabbage dishes anymore and it’s kind of annoying to be told what you can/can’t eat in the workplace.

      1. SL #2*

        And from what I’ve seen, the food that tends to get policed the most is usually some sort of… I hate to say ethnic food because the term makes me cringe, but that’s exactly what it is. I’ve gotten flak before for steamed dumplings and the amount of cold rage I felt at that comment was astounding even to me. I can’t stand the smell of microwaved barbecue sauce, but I would never say anything to the person microwaving it, because if that’s the food that makes them happy, I’ll respect that just like I expect them to respect my steamed dumplings or someone else’s fish.

        1. the_scientist*

          Yeah, I mean, microwaved fish is a really pungent, pervasive odour so I think it’s sort of a class of it’s own but IMO the microwave wars almost always come down to someone not liking the smell of “ethnic” food.

          My office has……several fish microwavers, so it’s a daily occurrence here, which is unfortunate. That being said, I once had a boss put sliced turkey, hummus, and rice in the microwave and it was a solid couple of days before I could even go into the kitchen without gagging.

        2. anon times infinity*

          Yes. My hackles always raise when people say you shouldn’t microwave certain fragrant foods because “ethnic” foods are always on the list. Someone shouldn’t have to go out of their way to change their diet because a coworker doesn’t like the smell of their curry or cabbage or dumplings.

          Really, I think the issue would be solved just having a separate kitchen area that’s not near anyone’s desk, but I know that’s unlikely for most offices.

      2. T3k*

        Agreed on people trying to police what you’re allowed to eat in the workplace. I absolutely love the smell of fish and have no qualms with it, but as soon as someone opens a bag of ranch doritos, I gag, but don’t say anything.

      3. Temperance*

        I used to sit near the reception desk at my last job, and there was a person who made some sort of noxious fish dish in the microwave every morning. It was absolutely nauseating, and her manager had to tell her to stop. It was awkward, but it was so disgusting and so many of our guests would comment on it that we had to take action.

      4. Emilia Bedelia*

        Meh. As someone who sits within nose distance of the microwave…. I really wish people would be considerate when they microwave very strongly smelling food in an area where people sit all day. Smelling fish or whatever all afternoon is pretty gross, and it’s not like I can move to escape it. We have more microwaves, in a kitchen area far from anyone’s desk- I’ve never said anything, but I really wish people would use the ones that aren’t in the cubicle area when heating particularly fragrant food.

      5. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yes, but the thing is, heating food in the microwave causes a stronger odor that spreads a greater distance. I can’t smell my neighbor eating cold cabbage, but if she heated it up, you’d smell it through the entire building, for a good long time.

      6. Library Director*

        @ anon times infinity–You’re right. Many “safe” foods trigger a negative reaction in others. For me it’s deli turkey. Yuck.

        One reason I was glad to leave the school I worked at was the snide comments about my lunches. I would bring left overs which were 90% of the time an Italian dish. I was repeatedly asked how I could eat pasta with Gorgonzola or gnocchi with pesto. Flat out told my prosciutto on flatbread looked disgusting. Let’s not talk about the blood oranges.

        Of course these were people who complained to the principal that I used words that were too long. Words such as fortuitous.

    4. Manders*

      I don’t think it smells, but I also loooooove fishy flavors. My partner, who has a strong aversion to those flavors, says he can smell them on my breath but he doesn’t seem bothered by someone eating fish in the same room as him. So I think you’re fine unless your job involves getting unusually close to your coworkers’ faces for some reason.

    5. Sadsack*

      Someone once brought in sardines and it was awful. He never brought it in agan. The smell was revolting and I told him so. I hope I was nice about it, bur I don’t remember exactly what I said. The smell hit me in the face from several cubicles away.

      1. Sadsack*

        Since you mentioned cold fish, I guess I’ll add that I think the sardines were not heated. I generally don’t mind when people heat up salmon or other fish in the microwave, but for some reason those sardines were so pungent. I couldn’t get over them.

    6. General Ginger*

      I’ve brought in pickled herring and smoked salmon before, on more than one occasion, and I haven’t heard anything from my coworkers. However, another coworker of mine brought in sardines once, and apparently they made the kitchen smell for hours, and people definitely did not hesitate to let him know. Another coworker regularly makes tuna sandwiches from cans he opens right there in the kitchen, and I know at least one person has brought up to him that the smell bugs her. So I don’t know if my fish is actually less smelly, or if for some reason people are less inclined to let me know about it.

      Caveat: fish smells do not bother me at all; I grew up eating all sorts of cooked/canned/pickled/smoked/salted fish, and I LOVE sardines. So I have to go by coworkers’ reaction here. If you are concerned, I’d play it safe with the smoked/salted stuff, and stay away from the canned/regularly cooked stuff, even if cold. Otherwise, maybe try it out cautiously and see how it goes.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I’m an unapologetic fish microwaver, but I try not to blast it–just warm it up. The longer you nuke it, the stronger the smell will be. The worst offenders here are those who burn popcorn. Nine times out of ten, it’s because they turn their back on it or walk away after putting it in the microwave. Grrr.

    8. higheredrefugee*

      I don’t heat up fish in the microwave because I think (like curry and BBQ sauce), it is one of those smells that just lingers in the microwave and affects the next couple of people who have to use it. I don’t think the issue is whether it smells while you are eating it (unless it is from several rooms away). Does it linger? Does it linger in the microwave itself?

    9. Aurion*

      I wouldn’t worry about cold fish, but I don’t even mind warm fish so I may be biased.

      Frankly, so many foods smell strongly when heated, not just the “obvious” culprits like fish and popcorn (curry, cabbage, bacon, steak, pasta, other foods I can’t identify…). And most of those smells linger. A kitchen/lunchroom is meant to have food smells, so I’ve stopped worrying about it. If it really bothers me (it never does), I wipe down the microwave.

    10. WellRed*

      We have a coworker who likes to snack on sardines. The smell is godawful and she got so many comments last time she did it, she agreed not to do it again.

    1. MsMaryMary*

      I literally said, “ooo, ooo, I know!” out loud (to myself, while driving) when I heard the question.

  59. SJPufendork*

    This is really a vent.

    One of my employees has a habit of crying/shutting doors heavily when I have to give critical feedback and/or ask hard questions. We’ve spoke about the issue before and it’ll get better for a while (a few months) and then they revert. They had done really well but then this week I had to talk to them about two missed internal deadlines (one was a Q2 PTO report that was due at the beginning of August for another dept; the other was a task they shouldn’t have taken on, but did without telling me and then missed the deadline by about a month). For the first deadline miss, they sort of snuffled and then locked themselves in their office for the rest of the day. For the second one, which I only became aware about this morning, we had full on tears and justifications on why it wasn’t done that consisted of “I know I should have finished it, but no-one reminded me!”

    Sigh. I know this means I need to have a more overarching discussion reminding them to loop me in on work requests (which is the protocol that my remaining reports consistently follow). I’m not sure if I should address the tears at the same time or see if they trail off since I know the employee is having a difficult home situation right this second which could explain their slightly edgy state. It’s times like this (when I feel like I’m going to kick someone when they’re down) that I hate being a manager.

    1. Anoners*

      Yikes. The “no one reminded me” thing is pretty troubling… If only I had someone to remind me of every deadline I need to meet. But yeah, maybe tackle them separately? Doesn’t sound like they can handle a double whammy talk. Good luck!

      1. SJPufendork*

        As I mentioned below, that is my inclination.

        The workflow issue is the most troubling aspect of his performance. It’s the thing that has to be resolved or else I’m looking at a PIP/possibly having to let them go.

        1. Observer*

          Well, then have that conversation separately. You do NOT want to take any chance that the severity of the consequences gets overshadowed.

    2. Caledonia*

      When my brother was in his teens he used the “but nobody told me” line a lot. Like, we’d ask him to put on the washing machine and then when we got back it’d be still wet in the machine…it’s just kind of logical to think “ok, the machine cycle has finished I’ll put them in the drier.” But nope.

      So I agree, this is troubling.

    3. neverjaunty*

      You’re not kicking somebody when they’re down. You’re managing a poor performer.

      Have you put this person on any kind of a PIP? Because if you’re just reminding them “don’t do that again” every time they screw up, they have no incentive to change. There are no real consequences.

      1. SJPufendork*

        We had this employee on a PIP back when I first took over the dept ~ 2-3 years ago. He successfully completed it by creating checklists and reminders and following through.

        He’s done well (except for the occasional crying thing) until now. Deadlines met. We had one scuffed deadline around 6 weeks ago. And now these two that were completely hosed (and I wasn’t looped in on one of them, so got blindsinded). You’re right: I need to nip this hard and take the performance relapse more seriously.

    4. Chickaletta*

      Not a manager, but if I was I would just ignore the tears. Maybe they can’t help it and they shut their door because they’re embarrassed. Unless the shut door is causing other problems, I’d just leave it, everyone copes in their own way.

      1. Observer*

        Maybe they can’t help the tears, but the door shutting? Sorry, that’s childish. And, when combined with “no one reminded me” as a justification, it actually points to a troubling pattern.

    5. T3k*

      The “but no one reminded me” is extremely… childish? Can’t really think of the best word to use there. Assuming she’s not high school age, she needs to learn to manage her time so she meets the deadlines, even if that means getting a little paper calendar and jotting it down, adding a reminder in her smartphone, putting sticky notes on her desk, etc. She’s an adult and needs to manage her time like one.

      As for tackling the two issues, should probably do that separately. Might be overkill otherwise and she could lose focus on anything that was said and turn into a puddle.

      1. SJPufendork*

        I’m inclined to deal with the two issues separately, mainly because I need to focus on the workflow issue. Ultimately, that’s the thing that needs to be worked out and will be the reason the I end up letting him go if it comes to that.

    6. NW Mossy*

      In the moment, you could try something like “Fergus, I can see you’re upset about this. Would you like to take a few minutes before we resume the discussion?” This framework says that you notice the crying and you’re giving an opportunity for Fergus to get it together, but also being clear that his tears won’t stop you from delivering the feedback he needs to hear.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Hmmm. You might try, “There’s no need for tears. You just have to keep track of your deadlines, that is all. This is nothing earth-shattering, it’s just part of the job.”

      If you can work into your conversation,”there is no need for tears” that can work with some people.

  60. Felix*

    To all the generalists out there, do you ever wish you were an expert?

    I’m in a department of about 100 staff and an in one of just a few generalist roles. I’m literally a jack of all trades doing everything from research, to reports, to web/comms work, events, hiring, creating manuals, etc.

    Most days I like the diversity of my work, but I hate the learning curve with new projects and wonder if becoming an expert is a better career move?

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      It can be, provided your specialisation/expertise is something that is sought after. If there is one part of your job you like the best/are better at/enjoy doing than the others, try focusing on that and see. There is a general push I’ve seen overall in the past few years to nicheing and specialisation, especially in consulting fields.

    2. General Ginger*

      I’m in a pretty similar situation (albeit in a smaller office), and I have days where I really want to focus on one thing. There are definitely some tasks/projects I like a lot more than others. I try to combat it by scheduling specific times for myself to concentrate on a project I really enjoy — as well as projects I really don’t enjoy. That I always have something to look forward to, and something I can tell myself “I’ll bang out at 10AM on Wednesday, and then don’t have to worry about for X amount of time”. However, I agree with Dynamic Beige — it may be worth it to identify what you enjoy most/are best at (and if those things mesh) and try to focus on those skills. Because I do so many varied things, it’s hard to really nail down specific accomplishments when compared to employees who can really say “I improved X department performance”.

    3. Lizabeth*

      I’d rather be a generalist doing a bunch of everything, learning new stuff along the way… Being a specialist means you better be content doing what you’re doing over and over. For myself that would drive me nuts…

    4. Clever Name*

      Or you could do what I’ve done is be an expert in 2 or 3 things. That way you’re never bored!

  61. Annie*

    I’ll be heading out in the next week or so on maternity leave for a year (I’m in Canada). I’m hoping to get opinions on the appropriateness of mentioning the reason for my leave in an out-of-office message – obviously it will direct emailers to the person they should contact in my absence, but should it mention I’m on maternity leave, due back in August 2017 (to explain my lengthy absence) or is it unprofessional/too personal to mention the maternity part?

    1. Anon Always*

      I think it’s fine. I work in the US, but I often get out of office messages that indicate that a person is on maternity leave, with a redirect of who to contact. I find it helpful, because I know the person is still with the organization, and I know that their leave is extended.

    2. BookCocoon*

      I don’t know if the norms are different in Canada (besides that your maternity leave is a year… so jealous…) but at my workplace in the U.S. it’s normal to say in your Out of Office message that you’re on parental leave and the date you plan to be back. If people take leave for other reasons, their return date is always a bit more uncertain, which is good to know for planning purposes.

    3. oh.canada*

      At our company people just say “on leave”, so it’s the same term for someone taking a leave of absence, or off for maternity leave. If you have personal clients you could inform them directly that you will be off on mat leave, but for general response, I would say something generic is probably best.

    4. Stranger than fiction*

      I don’t think it is, but everyone is different. I have an expectant coworker right now and she has such rapport with her clients that they all know and have been very congratulatory and a couple have even sent in gifts. (I assume you meant people outside your org and that your coworkers already know)

    5. Abbi Abrams*

      Also in Canada and everyone I know has mentioned the mat leave in their autoresponse or voicemail. There’s nothing unprofessional about having a baby!

    6. the_scientist*

      I work at a large company that is pretty young and pretty female heavy (I’d say close to 60% female at the manager level and below?) so it’s basically a revolving door of mat leaves here. Everyone ‘s OOO message says some variation of “please note that I am currently on maternity leave, returning X date, please contact so-and-so in the meantime”. We also have a lot of new fathers who take parental leave and they also always note this in their OOO messages. I really think it’s NBD…..and I’m somewhat bothered by the notion that a reference to maternity leave would be unprofessional.

      1. JaneB*

        totally normal in the UK too! Hope everything goes great, and you get a baby that likes to sleep (sleep deprivation sounds total torture…)

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        Yes, I have seen both a specific “Out on maternity leave” and general “Will be back on X date” messages.

    7. JMegan*

      I’m in Canada, and it’s pretty normal to do it this way from what I’ve seen. You don’t *have* to explain it – you could just say you’re out of the office until August 2017 – but I’ve seen lots of people include the part about maternity leave as well. Totally fine either way.

      Congratulations on your upcoming new addition!

    8. Ama*

      In my field I always appreciate either a “maternity leave” or even just a “on leave” note in the out of office message because many of the people I email will respond to emails when their out of office is on, they just might be slower about it — a leave note tells me instantly that I shouldn’t expect a response.

      1. SouthernLadybug*

        We use “extended leave” in our messages and give the contact info of who the person should follow-up with. Covers a lot, but also lets them know they won’t be hearing from you any time soon.

    9. NW Mossy*

      I just got back from maternity leave this week and my out-of-office just said “I will return to the office on XX/XX,” followed by a brief list of contact points for specific topics I’m the primary on. The date you’ll be back and who can help in your absence gives people the info they need to keep moving forward in your absence, so don’t feel a need to say more if you don’t want to.

      My company’s culture is to not include the leave reason in out-of-office messages. It’s part of our business to help employers manage medical leaves for employees, and a key part of that is maintaining confidentiality about medical issues out of respect for people’s privacy. While the reason you’ll be out is a happy one, including a reason as standard practice can make some people feel pressured to give out more information than is comfortable for them.

    10. Annie*

      Thanks so much, everyone! I appreciate the responses. I only mention Canada to explain the extended leave – we’re very lucky in that sense!

  62. weasel007*

    Our office had a bit of jarring tragic news this week and we’re all trying to figure out how to deal with it. A rather young co worker’s spouse was killed in a horrible accident coming home from work. Everyone is just reeling from this news. Knowing that this is not the first time has happened and probably won’t be the last, how do we help this co worker? Obviously they are are not at work right now. Our company and team is 1000% behind this worker and helping them through. How do you deal with this when/if the worker comes back to the office? What should we expect?

    1. Maria*

      “Knowing that this is not the first time has happened and probably won’t be the last”

      Do you mean that this person has already lost a spouse in the same way? Or that it’s common in your area to die from horrible accidents?

      1. weasel007*

        No, meaning that people die, sometimes tragically, and their spouses come back to work. Sorry, that sounded awful. I just want to find the best way to support someone going through this.

        1. Observer*

          Well, for starters, don’t approach it that way. To her it’s a totally singular event, not “something that happens.”

          If you work with her at all, acknowledge this when she comes back, BRIEFLY. Offer whatever assistance you can that is appropriate for your level of interaction. Cut her some slack as she adjusts to her new reality.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      I’d say be as supportive as you can, send flowers, etc and ask the employee how they feel about people talking about it. We had an coworker lose a spouse and we had gotten a nicely worded email shortly before they came back to work that said something along the lines of “Fergus has said they appreciate everyone’s condolences but they’d rather not talk about it upon returning” or something like that. Then we all knew we didn’t have to awkwardly tell him were sorry or whatever. He just wanted to move past it at that point and presumably not break down at work.

    3. Dawn*

      Everyone handles grief differently. I think a sympathy card sent to the employee’s home and signed by everyone at work would go a long way towards lifting their spirits. When they come back to work I would have their manager speak with them about how they’re doing and go from there- they might say that they’re ready to jump back into work and move on, or they might say they’re having a tough time and need space.

      This isn’t anything I had ever thought about before my dad died, and when I came back to work after that I got a dead fish slap in the face finding out that half the office knew why I was out and was offering me deep, sorrowful sympathy when I didn’t need it or want it and the other half had no idea why I was out and was saying stuff like “Haven’t seen you in a while, did you go somewhere nice for your vacation?”

      1. Boo*

        And if you’re doing a card, check that people realise what it’s for and write something appropriate. And just signing *name* (as someone did on my card from work when my dad passed away) is not good enough.

      2. Ponytail*

        Oh god, NO to the communal card ! The thought of everyone in the office I worked in having to think up something to say in a condolence card (when I know some people found it hard to think of a new way of saying ‘happy birthday’ in cards) made me cringe and I’m really glad the office manager didn’t do this when my mum died.
        But yes to the all-office email, explaining what’s happened. Having been on the other side now, it’s really awkward not knowing ‘properly’ what actually happened (was it her mother or her aunt ?) so getting an email from the boss with the bare details – and in the last case, what the bereaved colleague wanted on her return to work – was really helpful.

    4. Isben Takes Tea*

      Something similar happened in my office, and the office sent a gift card/voucher for a meal delivery service in the area, and the family said that it was really really helpful. That sort of thing may not be available where you are, but maybe a grocery store gift card, so they can buy prepared food and not have to worry about cooking?

      1. Bex*

        2nd this… my sister’s a nurse, and her pregnant coworker ended up having a crash c-section/miscarriage at work. Absolutely traumatic for basically everyone. They all chipped in and got a month’s work of meals delivered to the coworker while she was recovering, and she said it was the only reason she ate regularly those first couple weeks

    5. Temperance*

      A friend of mine lost her husband and child in a terrible accident. I met her years after, but it’s still something that’s obviously very sad for her, and people can be awkward about it.

      My advice is that you should let her know how sorry you are, mean it, but don’t cry/get upset/etc. in front of her. It’s her trauma. It’s also great if you could be safe people to talk about Larry to – it’s always weird to my friend when people pretend that Fergus and Jane never existed.

    6. Red*

      Similar situation – one of my favorite coworkers and their spouse had a baby last weekend, and baby had a procedure this morning to potentially diagnose a fatal (like, short-term fatal, like if this is the case baby won’t ever be leaving the hospital) condition. They (the parents) are very very young and this was their first baby, and the pregnancy and birth were textbook easy, so the unexpected whammy is doing a number. My coworker had several weeks of PTO that they were planning to use for parental leave, so I assume that they won’t be back for quite a while regardless of the outcome, but…. I’m kind of a Vulcan, very logical and mostly clueless on complicated emotional interactions, so I have no idea what’s appropriate response. (They do not live close enough to me for any sort of practical offers of help – we’re a fully remote team and they’re in a different state from mine.)

      1. SouthernLadybug*

        You don’t have to do anything, but if they live in an area with food delivery services an electronic gift card can be nice. My city has an umbrella service that delivers food from a wide variety of restaurants. I’ve done this when I just could cook and deliver something.

      2. Jules the First*

        I had coworkers (now friends) who went through this a number of years ago. I sent a quick ‘I’m so sorry for your loss; please let me know if I can ever do anything to help” message, and then organised for our team to make a donation in the baby’s name to the hospital where he was treated. Usually you can arrange for the hospital to let the parents know about the donation when they feel the time is right. I’m also a bit Vulcan and so when she came back from leave, I just left it at ‘It’s good to have you back.’

    7. Ama*

      Oof. We went through this this past spring with a coworker’s spouse — it was illness, not an accident, but it was unexpected and sudden (he had been improving for months and then just collapsed one day). The office obviously sent flowers and many of the staff attended the funeral (as it happened I was running a week-long event across the country so I just sent a brief condolence email).

      One thing our CEO did when she emailed the staff to let us know what the funeral arrangements were and the procedures if you wanted to go was to pass on that our coworker wanted to thank us for all the individual messages/cards/etc. that had been sent but understandably was not able to respond personally to all of them. I thought that was a nice way to lessen some of the burden of social niceties that fall on the bereaved (that particular coworker was a big thank you note person so I know she felt she had to thank us in some way).

    8. Rusty Shackelford*

      We had a coworker lose a family member, and since she had a large house, several out-of-state family members stayed with for a few days. So in addition to food, we supplied paper plates, toilet paper, etc., and she it was unbelievably helpful.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t expect them to be able to concentrate.
      They will probably want something meaningful to work on but it would probably be wise not to give them anything with tight deadlines.

      Understand that handling the estate paperwork is a full time job by itself. And it can be mind-bending.

      Offer to bring in soup for lunch if you know the person does not have a lot of diet limitations. Or bring in “extra cookies” for coworker to take home.

      Random acts, small gestures here and there can go farther than doing or saying something profound. For example you see that coworker’s car does not start, drive over and offer a jump.

      Also remember that these random gestures can be very supportive even months or a year later. I felt the second year on my own was worse than the first year. Whatever you chose to do, keep it simple so you can do something different later on, don’t make it taxing on yourself.

    10. OhBehave*

      I really think this co workers’ manager should speak with him and find out what he needs from their co workers. If it’s ok’d by the co worker, send an email specifying what the he wants/needs from everyone. He may be concerned that returning is going to be awkward for him.

      Grieving is a fickle beast. Some people want to get back to work and dive right in as a good distraction. Others may want to talk about it all the time.
      Being familiar with the steps of grief will help you all deal with the day to day workings. One moment he will be fine and quite productive. While other moments may find him staring out into space trying to function. There may be moments of anger and sometimes having a real person to be angry with is a reality (i.e. he can speak angrily with you but realize that he’s angry at the situation and the fact that ‘I told her never to take that route, etc.’).

      Grace and understanding will go a long way here. Walking on tiptoes will make him uncomfortable, so unless you know otherwise, treat him as you always do. A good manager will keep an eye on him in the coming months. If things don’t improve (anger, distraction, sleep, etc.), he may need to seek counseling.

  63. Adam*

    Wanted to drop in and spread the best little piece of job hunting advice I’ve gotten so far this week. I’m sure this is something I’m sure most of us are cognizant of, but for me things really hit home when you can name them, because I’m a dork like that.

    The One Mile rule: this is basically an extension of the notion that during an interview you are always being evaluated; even those moments where you’re not sitting down talking with the hiring manager. We know the drill: don’t be rude to the receptionist, don’t slouch in the waiting room, don’t cut people off in the parking lot, etc.

    The career coach in the video I’ll post below calls this The One Mile Rule because she says that once your actual interview is done you should remain in “interview mode” with your professional demeanor on until you’ve traveled at least one mile away from wherever you interviewed. In fact you should probably switch on your interview mode as soon as you get within one mile of the your interview location as well.

    1. Spooky*

      Yes! This is such a good rule! When I worked at a production company, the lead actor in one of our shows (who is currently starring as a certain wizard in a certain popular ABC fairytale show) was really horrible to our receptionist, thinking he was above her. Little did he know that the receptionists were almost always eventually promoted into the production ranks, and certainly had the ear of all the higher ups. He already had a contract to finish out that show, but guess who never got hired by the production company again? Jerk.

    2. General Ginger*

      That really is a good rule. And I agree; having names for things makes them stickier!

  64. Anxa*

    My long-term partner accepted a two-year postdoc about 5 hours away, starting around October. He will be allowed short-term housing on-site while he looks for apartments.

    I’m not sure I want to move this time, as the last time I moved I had a very hard time finding a job. I have no great ambitions, but I would like to piece together some sort of a career, and at 30 I haven’t even found my first full-time, permanent position, let alone one that seems like it could lead somewhere. I almost feel as though if we have any shot of making in long-term, we may have to switch to long-distance again, temporarily, to get myself more established career-wise.

    If I had a job lined up before the move, I wouldn’t hesitate to go. I don’t think I’d be very happy to stay behind (even if I did somehow find a full-time job here and found a car I could afford), but it seems like it’s what I should do. Also, while I don’t think I’d be as happy day-to-day, I might feel more satisfied with my decision.

    So the reason I’m posting on Friday instead of Saturday is, knowing that 99% of my hesitation not to move with my boyfriend stems from a lack of confidence in finding a job once I get there (or finding one right before we have to move again), do you think it makes sense to assume we’ll move together during the job search?

    For example, how weird would it look for him to ask his new employer about whether his girlfriend can stay with him in the temporary housing? How weird would it be for me to use that housing address for my job search in that state? Even before he moves in there? I would just make a note in my cover letter about moving, but I don’t want to be screened out automatically before anyone has a chance to read it based on my address.

    I feel a bit fraudulent presenting ourselves as a domestic partnership knowing I have a few doubts about our future. I’m also worried that if I don’t find something and stay behind or if we break up that it will reflect poorly on him somehow that he looped me into conversations with his employer and we didn’t work out.

    As an aside, I am also getting a little irritated with friends and family assuming that of course I’d go with him. He’s invested a lot more into his education than I have, but I’ve been working pretty hard, too, and the idea that I should just find a job–any job–and not think twice about this is really disheartening.

    1. Spooky*

      I wouldn’t go – at least, not yet. From the sound of it, you seem pretty resentful of the idea, and I think if you go, you’ll end up resenting him.

      My rule for these situations is to pick the choice that’s easier to undo. For example, if you stay where you are, you can always change your mind in a few months if you find a job in the new city or find you’re missing him. But if you go with him now, you can’t return to your current position – if you quit your job and move, odds are you won’t be able to get that job back if you change your mind, and you’ll still have to job hunt.

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t go without having a serious talk with him about this, whatever you end up deciding. Like Spooky says, you may end up resentful of him and that’s poison to any kind of relationship.

        Also, I wouldn’t worry about how it will look to have partner talking to his job as though you two are a done deal when you might not be together forever. Relationships end all the time; if things do go south for you I don’t think his employer will think much about it at all.

      2. Anxa*

        I am actually pretty confident my job would take me back. I work in a job with high turnover, and it’s only part-time. Also, there’s only a few of us that have been there for a while, and one of my coworkers just got a job and will be reducing hours, and another may be starting graduate school in January. A lot of my coworkers are work-study students. Those that have been there the longest have working spouses that are primary breadwinners.

        So using this logic, it would actually make more sense to go. If I don’t go soon, there’s not a very good chance of getting anything close to 2 years under my belt before the next move (or having something worth staying behind for). If I don’t go, I could probably always move back in with my mother or move back here (only I’d have to apply for the second part-time job out of state, and I suck at those personality tests). I also would need to take out a car loan to stay here and find a second job.

        As far as the resentment angle, it’s not coming from him at all. I have a bit of guilt because if I could just find the most basic entry level job I wouldn’t be in this situation, and my lack of success is severely impacting my personal life. So that aids in my resentment that family seems to think it’s crazy for me to stay behind trying to find a part-time retail position in a city I don’t really like, when the new area in theory would have a lot more access to jobs (it’s in the DC – Baltimore area). But there will also be a ton of competition and everyone seems to think that of course something will work out. But it’s been 8 years of applying and I’m just not that confident.

      3. Maria*

        “My rule for these situations is to pick the choice that’s easier to undo.”

        This is really smart, and I’m stealing it. Thank you!

    2. SRB*

      That’s rough. I know a whole bunch of grad students who have had that problem… long term relationship or married and one graduates before the other and has to move away for a job. Not to say everyone can do a long term relationship but… you’re not alone in having this problem. :S

      At 5 hours away… you may still be able to make trips every weekend (make sure you’re actually trading off weekends in a way that seems fair, not one always coming to the other!), so you don’t necessarily have only discrete options of long-term, move, or break up. I know some couples that did this for 2-3 years… it is burdensome, but can be worth it. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it in your situation though.

      As to whether to move… for 5 hours away, I personally wouldn’t unless I (1) liked the area in its own right, not just because I liked one person there and (2) had a reasonable job lined up. If you’ve got 1, it doesn’t hurt to job search, and it’s probably fine to list your SOs address during the application. But I personally don’t mind driving long distances so… just my 2 cents.

      1. Anxa*

        On the plus side, we’ve done long distance before. In fact we started long-distance, did that for 3 years, then lived together for 5.

    3. Manders*

      There’s this weird catch-22 with dating untenured academics: your partner needs to move a lot for work, but isn’t paid enough to support a two-person household alone, so you have to bring in a steady income without having a steady work history. And some of the best opportunities in academia are in job markets that are downright lousy for everyone else.

      I almost ended up in exactly your situation, but in the end I talked it over with my partner and he decided on a less prestigious career path that will keep him in one place for longer. I know other couples who made it work by deciding to prioritize the academic’s career path at the expense of the trailing partner. I also know quite a few couples who had to lean very heavily on their families to get by financially. And yes, I knew some couples who broke up because their careers just weren’t going to take them in the same direction.

      What I’d recommend is taking this opportunity to have some involved talks with your partner about what the future looks like. Does he think that he’ll continue having to move like this for the next 5-10 years, or is this the last big move? Does he have a good shot at tenure? Does he want kids, and if he does, when does he want to have them? If you got the most awesome job opportunity ever on the other side of the country, would he move for you? Is the career you want something you can build in small college towns, or are you tied to big cities? What would happen if one of you had a medical emergency and couldn’t work? Are you planning to support your parents in retirement? Do you want to own a house? Do you want to start a business? Do you want to go back to school someday? Would it bother you if your partner did get a great long-term offer in an area of the country you wouldn’t otherwise choose to live in? Would you move to another country for him, and if you would, could you find work there? Really dig into every possible scenario, not necessarily all at once, but over the course of the next few weeks or months.

    4. Overeducated*

      I think it sounds like it would be best for you to move if you can get a new job there, and to stay if not. You know yourself and if you think starting over in a new place unemployed would be a hardship for you, trust that. Don’t let anyone talk you out of what you know. (As the wife of an academic who has made career compromises for his postdoc, and hates the universal assumption that I will do so again for his next job, I feel you! Academic jobs are hard to get…but so are all kinds of other jobs!)

      That said, yes absolutely do everything you can to maximize your happiness by giving yourself the best shot at moving. Have him ask about you staying in the temporary housing. Even see if he can help you make contact with relevant departments or hr for couples at his new school. See if you can line up your shifts to get long “weekends” including at least one weekday so you can travel down for interviews. Use the address on your resume. See if you can go to an alumni event for your college in new city Axtell people you meet you’re relocating there and job searching. Etc etc.

      Good luck!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If that happens again, please send me a screenshot so I can figure out what’s happening. Thanks!

      (Y’all seem to like to post here and ask each other this stuff, but it’s so much more helpful to me if you tell me and send me any back-up info like that! I don’t always see it if it’s in the comments. You can email me or use the reporting form right above the comment block. Thank you.)

  65. Stranger than fiction*

    Attn Coworkers: Please pick up your feet when walking. Thank you for your cooperation.

    (How I only wish I could post that. It’s especially bad on Friday when people have their athletic shoes on. Ugh)

    1. The Other Dawn*

      At my old job there was a woman we called “Scuffles.” When she walked it was with a heavy foot and she wouldn’t fully pick up her feet when walking, Drove us crazy.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I think the floor by my cube is; when people walk heavily by me, my monitor shakes. Folks who are heavier in general tend to set it off, but a few stompers do also. It’s really annoying. I don’t say anything, because it’s not really their fault. It’s the floor.

    2. Nanc*

      I have to laugh because just as I ready this Thwapla walked by our office. Thwapla is a lovely woman who is about 4′ 10″ tall and probably 90 pounds wringing wet but when she wears flip flops–pretty much all summer long–you can hear the THWAP THWAP THWAP of them from the moment she enters the front door downstairs and all the live long day. In the winter she’s Bootsie because the heels of her boots hitting the floor as she walks sound like a sumo wrestler advancing towards their opponent.

      I’m impressed by the volume she manages to generate with her tiny little self and she is otherwise an absolute delight to be around but yeah, some days the footsteps are annoying. Thank Goodness for doors.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Oh yeah, we have lots of thwaplas as well as scuffles here. It’s a real shame I find headphones so darn uncomfortable.

      2. Anonymous Coward*

        BWAHAHAHA. At my last job, we had a similar phenomenon: tiny woman who always wore high heels — usually of the clacking variety. And she STOMPED. EVERYWHERE.

    3. Chickaletta*

      Oh Lord, this is my husband. When I pointed it out to him he denied and said it was his pants dragging on the ground. However, it still happens when he wears shorts and if we go hiking I can see the skids from his feet in the dirt. Drives me mad because it’s destroying the carpet. If we ever replace it we’re getting hard floors.

    4. AnonEMoose*

      I used to sit near a coworker who’s a larger guy (not overweight, just tall and fairly heavily built), and when he would walk past my cube, he would shake the whole thing. To the point where I could see my computer monitors bouncing. He couldn’t help it, but man, that was annoying. He has since moved cubicles, and I don’t notice it nearly so much with other people walking by.

      1. General Ginger*

        I am definitely that guy (though I’m overweight). Is there anything he could have done or said to make the impact less bothersome to you? Or would him calling attention to his cube-shaking powers have made it even worse?

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Probably the only thing that would have really worked would have been for him to try walking in different spots on the floor to see if there were spots he could step that didn’t create a mini-earthquake. Or maybe re-arranging the seating so that he didn’t need to walk past my cube so often. And that seems like a lot of work for something that, while annoying, wasn’t so annoying that I felt I needed to ask him to do anything differently.

          My understanding is that it just has to do with how the floor is constructed, and neither he nor I can/could do anything about that. He needed to get to meetings/the printer/the bathroom, so I just learned to live with it. I guess I felt like it was the building’s fault, not his.

    5. Jules the First*

      I worked for many years in an office where a major component of the dress code was ‘No footwear that goes thwap’. The NewJob dress code is ‘Nothing you could wear on the beach.’

  66. TotesMaGoats*

    So, no news yet on my job search but my sister had a great counter offer experience I wanted to share.

    She is a clinical nurse educator at a local hospital. Pay and other working conditions weren’t adequate so she was looking. Got an almost immediate interview after applying to a DC hospital (even though we cautioned that the drive would be hellish). Had a great interview. On Monday, got the job offer from DC hospital. Can make her own hours. Pay raise. etc. Yay. Goes to boss. Wait! Don’t leave! We’ll counter. They counter Tuesday with basically nothing. A onetime tiny bonus and no other changes. Sister doesn’t balk and they say “final offer on Wednesday afternoon.” Sister was so upset on Tuesday. In tears because she knew she hated things as they were but also knew that the commute would suck. (Finally admitted that.) So, Wednesday afternoon rolls around and….3K pay raise plus confirmation that she’ll get a 2% raise in October at review time (so a total of almost 6k), parking space in the main hospital lot for ALL the educators and reduction in a specific part of the workload for all the educators. They were playing chicken with her to see if she’s flinch and give in. Being stubborn and willing to walk paid off in a major way for her and her colleagues. They all took her out for drinks last night. So yay for my baby sister.

  67. TK*

    Is it weird to thank someone a couple steps above you when they advocate something you’re in favor of? My boss’s boss is very new to us (been here less than a month) and earlier this week I was in a meeting where she decided we will change how we do a certain process. I’d been in favor of this change for a long time, but didn’t have enough standing in the organization to really do anything about it. She didn’t know this going into the meeting, but I expressed strong agreement with her in front of the group there. My direct supervisor (who wasn’t in the meeting, because she isn’t directly involved with this process) totally agrees with this change as well and supports my approach to the whole process under discussion.

    After the meeting, I stopped by her office and told her I wanted to personally thank her for advocating that change and that I felt it was long overdue. I was just so, so happy with her decision. Overall, even in a brief time she’s provided excellent leadership in our department that was sorely lacking, and this was another sign of that.

    Afterward, though, I thought that gesture might’ve been a little weird, though– I mean, I was just thanking her for doing her job, and not in a way she knew would be in favor of me going in. And she’s a very busy person, and I took some of her time. I’m afraid I came across as a little over-enthusiastic. Which I probably am because my department has had such poor leadership for so long, and she’s such a welcome change. But I’m wondering if I need to think a little more closely before I initiate an interaction like this with someone who isn’t my direct supervisor. Thoughts?

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      I think it’s great. But maybe that’s because I did something similar recently. We hired a long overdue new leader for a certain dept and I made a point to drop in on him and mention a few things I’ve felt needed to change for a very long time. He was in total agreement and thanked me and has already implemented a couple of the changes. Now we’re on high five terms lol.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Nope, not weird. Most managers love hearing things like that. It can be a thankless job and it’s nice to hear someone say “I really appreciated that you did that.”

    3. James*

      I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Even if it’s weird in general (and that depends on corporate culture and office culture in my experience), they’re new to the job and therefore likely nervous. It’s pretty nerve-wracking to make major changes, even when you’re tasked with doing so and have the authority to. Knowing that your staff supports you is good. Even if you were over-enthusiastic, that can be written off as “Well, we were just getting to know each other” if the rest of your interactions show a different personality. It may also make her question how bad things were, to generate spontaneous thanks.

      1. TK*

        Your last sentence made me laugh. Things were…. really bad. Far worse than she ever could’ve realized from interviewing. This situation in particular was not a huge deal (though it did cause me unnecessary stress and wasted time) but in general I think it’s been gradually dawning on her over the month she’s been here just how dysfunctional our department (which she directs) is. Honestly, part of my motivation was to show her a little support and let her know someone appreciates her efforts at change, because one of our major problems is that so many people (at all levels, and for many different reasons) are utterly resistant to change in any form, and there are so many things that desperately need to change!

    4. C Average*

      I think if you were to make a list of all the problems in any workplaces anywhere, “excessive gratitude” wouldn’t crack the top thousand. A sincere and deserved “thank you” is rare and wonderful to hear, no matter what kind of job you have. I wish more people would do the kind of thing you describe!

  68. BookCocoon*

    I have to share two stories from this week of how our director chooses to be controlling at the weirdest times.

    First, an email went out to our remote employees that if they were having problems with their equipment, they should email the office manager with such-and-such detailed information about the problem. A few days later the director follows up with an angry email saying that only 7 of the 20 people replied to the original email and that if the main office sends you an email, you need to make it a priority to reply right away, etc. I checked back on the original email and it definitely says to email IF you are having problems, not to reply regardless to say whether you’re having any problems.

    Then our new employees had training. My supervisor and I were supposed to give an hour-long presentation from 9:50 to 10:50. We show up at 9:45 and the previous presenter doesn’t end until 9:53. Then the director (I don’t even know why he was there—he didn’t need to be) decides to give everyone an unscheduled 5-minute break. So we don’t end up starting until almost 10. We’re both watching the time and staying on track. The director leaves to take a phone call. At 10:51 we’re on our last slide, which is pretty good considering how late we started. The director comes back in the room and makes a throat-slashing motion to tell us to end our presentation. My supervisor says, “Yep, we’re on the last slide here,” and the director says, “You’re over time!” and makes us stop immediately. Note: The next thing on the schedule was a 10-minute snack break.

    This is why I’m thankful I don’t have to work with him directly most of the time…

  69. Anonsydance*

    I GOT A JOB!

    I just wanted to give an update and say thanks to all who helped. I sent this resume in using the Bronx address and they contacted me right away and I got the job and I start on the 12th! I’m wicked excited!

    And I’m going to be a salesperson for furniture and I’m kinda nervous about the commission aspect but after speaking with them and also people who do the same job already, they told me not to worry.

    I’m just happy that I got a job and I can join my boyfriend in the city soon and I won’t have to make more trips out for interviews.

    1. Thelazyb*

      Me: I nested two vlookups in an if formula to check that some data had uploaded properly. I didn’t even find out how to do it from Google!!! I couldn’t find it ;p

      1. Jadelyn*

        Awesome! Mine is Excel-related, too – we’re planning a major employee event involving coordinating travel and hotel for about 75 people, so my grandboss asked me if I could do something that would take the master spreadsheet of all attendees and their travel arrangements and give him distilled lists of who is taking what flights, who is attending which parts of the event, etc. So I made individual tabs for the lists he wants, built some index/match formulas to automatically populate certain employee information into those tabs based on their data in the main sheet, and created a userform to allow him to print any or all of the “summary” tabs in hard copy – and I’m going to work on adding export to PDF functionality to it today.

        Oh and I got my results back this week from the HRCI exam I took in May – I passed! I am now a person who has initials after my name! My email signature now reads “Jadelyn Lastname, aPHR” and I feel silly being so proud of it since it’s the “entry-level” HR cert but still…it’s a start! Maybe in a few years I’ll have a chance to trade up to the full PHR…

        1. Marina*

          Oo, I’ve got an Excel/data related one too, I figured out how to export Salesforce IDs, match them to account names, and upload new data to the proper accounts.

          Also I used a REGEX function in a validation rule. Yow.

    2. Abbi Abrams*

      My contract at my current job ends in one week. I got a job offer for a new job yesterday. :) I’m mostly so relieved I won’t have a gap in my resume.

    3. JustTeaForMeThanks*

      Not exactly “work” achievement, but I have had 4 interviews and one phone interview this week and the last interview I had seems like a perfect match! So I’m excited!

    4. Adam*

      I got my email inbox down to less than 50 messages, all of them no older than a month.

      Been tackling my archive folders to purge and streamline as well. For me this is HUGE.

        1. Adam*

          Since I’ve been at my job six years by my org’s standards that’s nothing. Some people have been here over 20. If I were tasked with cleaning up their emails I’d negotiate a raise first. :P

    5. Total Rando*

      I created a series of Tableau Dashboards to help departments use actual data to identify the root causes for why they are not meeting their performance goals. Ground breaking for our organization and very well received!

    6. James*

      Others are talking about Excel, but mine is Access. I’ve started getting into database management. Going over connections between tables and the like, there was an epiphany moment. Part of my job frequently involves taking List 1 and comparing against List 2–“Let me know if anything is in one but not the other”, that sort of thing. When you have unequal-sized data sets this can be a nightmare. In Access, it takes literally thirty seconds–set up the right connection between the data tables, tell it you want everything in Table A plus everything in Table B not in A (there’s a checkbox for it when you right-click the link in the query form!), and it hands you everything you wanted.

      I kid you not, this would have saved HUNDREDS of hours over the years if me and my coworkers knew about this. Not to mention the aggravation saved! It would have negated some duplication of effort, too!

      I know Access isn’t a “real” database. But for someone who’s used to manipulating data in Excel, when I saw this I heard harps and angels singing!

      1. JustTeaForMeThanks*

        I know what that’s like. You have my sympathy! I hope you find a better place of employment soon. Best of luck!

    7. Susan C.*

      – learned that I made a difficult customer say nice things about me

      – handled the fact that my PM, who’s a nice guy as far as PMs go, suffers from occasional severe flare-ups of foot-in-mouth disease, casual sexism flavor. Sigh. At least I’ve had unexpected bouts of wittiness in response, and my team lead has shown appropriate concern for the situation. (On the downside, Team Lead is located at our HQ, and my day-to-day supervisor-ish person, who’s next to me in the org chart but way senior, seemed more concerned with me knowing that “he’s just joking” when I casually brought it up. But what did I expect from the dude who seemed honest to god astonished that, in defiance of my basest nature, I don’t like babies and small children)

    8. animaniactoo*

      Buyer approved all my designs on the first go round. Now to see if the licensor will as well…

    9. Jules the First*

      One of my coworkers whom I know a little bit but not very well asked me for job hunting advice, and after I’d given it, she confessed that she was nervous about approaching me and so she asked a bunch of her colleagues about me and apparently they all said I was really wise and helpful, which gave me super warm fuzzies because this department is one that seems pretty reluctant to ask for or follow my advice.

    10. Lady Bug*

      Not killing my incompetent coworkers! Seriously, just staying afloat is an accomplishment these days.

    11. Library Director*

      The biggest for us was receiving notice that a grant was approved. It will make a big impact on our book budget.

      We had a bad Facebook review from someone who broke major rules for using the public computers and was called on it. I responded to the review that I’d be happy to discuss the policy and answer any questions. The person answered that she would (hasn’t yet) and liked our page. The public response has been gratifying. People who read the review are going out of their way to thank the staff for all they do.

    12. shorty*

      Kept a colleague on task for 45 minutes straight! Well, 90% of that time. She’s a lot of fun to talk with but boy does she get off topic and waste time at work!

    13. Christopher Tracy*

      Didn’t curse out a customer of one our clients who has been emailing and calling me non-stop for two days after I already told her three times what she needs to do if she wants me to reconsider her claim. She thinks that threatening to tell the client what’s happening is going to make me give her more money – it’s not. And I’ve already told the client exactly what we will and will not pay her for, so her relentless pseudo-intimidation tactics are a gigantic waste of time for everyone.

      This woman is a nut.

    14. Clever Name*

      Uh, did some fieldwork while slightly under the weather (I normally would have rescheduled, but the client wanted it done that day) and managed to not fall in the river.

  70. Spooky*

    My new job has a 401K plan. I come from a family of academics (and started my career at a university), so I’m not at all familiar with 401Ks, just pensions. I tried to delve in and it was all Greek to me, talking about things like Class M companies. I know what a Class M planet is on Star Trek, but I don’t have a clue what Class M companies are.

    Any tips?

    1. fposte*

      Class M is usually a type of share. (BTW, university 403bs are pretty much the same as 401ks.) But don’t worry about that. What you’re looking for is the cheapest possible target date fund or, lacking that, an index total stock fund and a low cost broad bond fund (probably an index too). An index fund will have it in the name. “Inexpensive” means the Expense Ratio, often listed as the ER, is low; while “low” will vary a little by the type of fund (international funds cost more than domestic, for instance), you’re trying to stay under .50. Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index has an ER of .05, for instance, and that’s about the lowest publicly available ER.

      Some 401ks suck–they have an expensive provider and only high cost funds. Some are really good. In general, the rule of thumb of money placement is that you contribute to a 401k up the company match, then contribute to your IRA, then contribute unmatched money to the 401k.

  71. I work at the Dragonfly Inn (not really!)*

    I think I already know the answer to this question, which is ‘butt out, it’s none of your business’ but sometimes you just need to hear it in someone else’s voice for you to get the message.

    The sitch:

    My friend (Bluebell) and her boyfriend (Diego) work together, Diego is one of 3 managers.

    I have another friend (Coco) who worked with Bluebell and Diego and who left the job to go back to school. Coco is friends with former co-workers. Coco met up with a few co-workers who gave her the lowdown and goss on what’s been happening in workplace. Unfortunately, one of these things is about Diego. Coco told me what the issue was after I promised not to pass on the info.

    Annoyingly, I now want to pass on the info to Diego because I care for my friend and I like Diego. But I can’t, can I? :/ not without irritating Coco should the info ever get back to her/the co-workers.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it depends on what the information is. If it’s “your coworker is plotting your murder,” yes, you tell. Most things, though, you stay out of it — this sounds like a lot of drama.

      1. I work at the Dragonfly Inn (not really!)*

        It’s about Diego, the boyfriend’s jaunts to find work related items e.g. for window displays in far away places across the city rather than in the shopping mall they are located it and that people have noticed and it’s causing bad feeling amongst the staff.

        1. Observer*

          Stay out!

          There are a lot of good reasons to NOT say anything and no good reasons to SAY anything. This is not something that is unreasonable to expect Diego to understand on his own. So, aside from burning some bridges – and not just with Coco – you are not likely to get a good reception from Diego or Bluebell.

  72. Sniffles*

    how do I tell my boss (who I am not really on good terms with) that her perfume is killing me? Waaay too strong, 30 secs & I have a splitting headache. I can’t live on Benadyrl forever…. My air purifier can’t cut it in this cubicle farm.
    And no, there is no HR to go to, I have to go to her for any hr crap.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “I seem to be allergic to your perfume — I’m so sorry, it’s lovely, but I sometimes have fragrance allergies and it’s triggering a headache in me.”

    2. Lillian McGee*

      An anonymous note that says “Perfume is meant to be discovered, not broadcast”???

      No… no don’t do that.

  73. Good_Intentions*

    First experience as an independent contractor

    I wrote previously about wanting to work for a political campaign but quickly realized the jobs I could get would be very low-level and involve 20+ hours of cold calling each week. Therefore, I pursued an opportunity to be an independent contractor with an organization focused on registering people to vote.

    The position is full-time through the week of Thanksgiving with the possibility of becoming full-time permanent. I want to make a good impression and work hard, but I am new to being a contractor and would appreciate any guidance you would provide.

    Thanks for your time!

    1. RL*

      Are you in DC by chance? If so, networking culture is on your side. Ask someone from the organization out for lunch to talk about your “career path,” and ask questions about them, especially what got them to where they are now. They’ll have lots of advice on moving forward generally, and may divulge advice on how people get hired. Just don’t make the conversation about “how do I get hired” – that’s a turn off.

      I don’t know how this works in other cities, but this could also be an option in other places that are career focused.

  74. Family on the Mend*

    I had a serious medical event with my family members over a month ago. Currently, I am the only member of the family who is able to drive, so I have been doing crazy random hours to minimize PTO usage for their appointments. The problem is that the appointments aren’t over, my family will still be dealing with medical issues for months. My employer has been extremely gracious in my scheduling changes, but I am worried that because the crazy schedule is continuing and will be for months, that my employer will get frustrated with me. How do I preemptively cut that off while still needing the flexibility?

    1. JustTeaForMeThanks*

      I don’t have any tips on how to preemptively solve it, but I just wanted to say how kind and wonderful of you to do that for your family! I hope everyone will be making a full recovery soon. Best wishes!

    2. fposte*

      You can’t completely control that–if it’s a problem for the workplace, they may get frustrated, and they’re allowed to do that.

      First, the legal stuff: if there’s an affected family member who fits into the immediate family definition under FMLA and you’re eligible at your workplace, file for intermittent FMLA.

      Second, the emotional/management stuff: get in ahead of this. “I really appreciate your flexibility on this. It looks like the medical situation is going to continue through March. What can I do to minimize the burden on the rest of the staff?”

    3. Manders*

      Would it be possible to help your family members find a medical transport service or a volunteer organization that can help out with driving them around? It wouldn’t completely fix the scheduling problem, but it might help to be able to show your boss that you’re trying to come up with other solutions.

    4. Anonsydance*

      I went through something similar in the summer of 2014; one parent in hospice and the other was in ICU and then various rehab/nursing/hospital centers. I tried to keep things scheduled on the same day each week so that I could deal with everything easily. If it is at all possible, try to schedule it so that it’s roughly on the same day each week and that might help with the flexibility. Also, find trusted family member or friend to help out and take care of yourself.

    5. Ony*

      Can anyone else become able to drive? If there is someone who just never learned, now would be a good time to get a few lessons.

    6. MsMaryMary*

      Does your city or county have any transportation resources your family could use? My city provides transportation to doctor’s appointments for the elderly or disabled. My parents’ city does as well, and they also have a licensed social worker on staff to assist with other resources. Your family members’ doctor(s) might be able to help you find transportation too, or help you schedule appointments before or after normal business hours.

    7. Family on the mend*

      The company prefers me to use my PTO before taking FMLA, and as I haven’t taken any until now, I have probably over 80 hours left. I will have to check. The company website didn’t mention intermittent FMLA, only short and long terms. I will ask my manager what they think will help on their side.

      The problem is, we don’t know how serious the one family member’s condition will be when they are released from facility, but they have a pre-existing condition so they may qualify for disability. I have no idea when everyone will get back to baseline. The other family member may be medically cleared to drive in a month or more. I’ll look into medical transport, but the fees may be too much for us right now. Taking the same day off may help my managers and coworkers get into a rhythm, so I will implement that idea! Thanks everyone for your input!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If you or your family have been involved in a church, you might want to check there, too. Sometimes church families will bail each other out.
        Ideally, maybe they have a trusted retired neighbor? This person could be reimbursed for gas or use the family car?

        1. OhBehave*

          If same day appointments don’t work, schedule appts for late in the day. Appointments in the middle of the day make it harder to get on with the rest of your work day. That way you will only be gone a few hours. Many doctors are very understanding.

          When leaving the doc, ALWAYS schedule the next appointment then. You have greater control of your schedule. Doing so will allow you to give your manager a schedule that’s firm. I do this with my mom and it’s worked beautifully. I can choose the time that’s best for me. She can’t handle more than one appointment a day so her docs have to be spread out a bit.

          1. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)*

            How is Uber in your area? I know, problematic, but there’s a reason why a lot of hospitals and medical offices like it and are starting to contract with it. It tends to be more reliable than cabs and ADA transit. If the problem is just can’t drive and not needing a wheelchair, it might work.

  75. JustTeaForMeThanks*

    I’m exhausted! Yet pleased, despite te week being one of ups and downs. Downs: I didn’t get the job where I was invited for a 2nd interview. It wasn’t my dream job or anything, but I have been searching for work for a while and am starting to feel a little bit desparate. On to the good news: I have had four interviews and one phone interview this week! Amazing! And Three/four more next week! Two interviews were today and the second one seemed like a great fit, both company wise as well as job wise. Fingers crossed! Now, time for weekend!

      1. JustTeaForMeThanks*

        Thank you! I’m trying to stay positive as I’m a bit of a Negative Nancy – how embarrassing if I didn’t get an offer whith all these interviews and all that. But no, staying positive! Lotsbof opportunities – something will work out soon :D

  76. The Other Dawn*

    How common is it for managers to discourage their staff members from applying to other positions within the company? 

    One of my team members approached me about an open position in a subject matter-adjacent area. I talked with the hiring manager as to what the job entails and asked about certain aspects that seemed like they would be outside of my team member’s wheelhouse–things that she could certainly learn, but would take quite awhile.  After speaking with the manager I determined it would be a step up for her and would be a huge learning opportunity. And I know she can do it:  she’s smart, asks lots of questions, often thinks of things I don’t, and does a fantastic job. I went back to her and gave her my blessing to apply (not that she needed it). I told her it would be a huge opportunity, I was confident she could handle it, and she should jump on it.  So, she applied, got the job and starts on the 29th.

    During the process, several people mentioned to me that it was awesome that I would endorse her and go to bat for her like that and I was a true manager, and that many managers wouldn’t do that. To have just one person say that wouldn’t make me wonder. But to have three different people tell me that most managers wouldn’t go to bat like that makes me wonder, where the heck have these people worked that they’ve seen things like that? Is it really that common? I don’t know, I guess it’s just a foreign concept to me. Why wouldn’t you support your team members and help them further their career? Had I discouraged her, she would still be looking for another opportunity. I don’t want to have a team member that isn’t happy or feels trapped. (Just to clarify, she is actually quite happy in this department, but she wants to learn more and grow; there’s not much room for that in my department.)

      1. higheredrefugee*

        And a lot of people just shouldn’t be managers, even if they aren’t shitty. They’re just not good at it.

    1. Irish Em*

      I consistently asked managers for help and support whenever the Management Accellerator courses came up. I was consistently refused their support, and given half-hearted offers to “shadow” them/requests to do their work for them without any actual compensation. I felt like I was sniped because I was excellent where I was and they wanted to keep me there, and from things some ex-colleagues who are still my friends have said, that is the prevailing attitude in my former place of employment.

      You are one in a million! I wish there were far more managers like your good self out there.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        I felt like I was sniped because I was excellent where I was and they wanted to keep me there

        That happened to me at Evil Law Firm. I was the best individual contributor in my department, and my manager kept blocking all of my transfer requests even though I had outgrown the position fairly quickly. I was allowed to volunteer to help out other departments when they were backlogged, and ultimately, HR figured out what was going on and intervened, sending me to another department with a title bump (though no corresponding salary increase – ugh). I left seven months later.

        Then I had another manager last year at my new company who sabotaged me with the hiring manager for a new position within our division. I ended up leaving the division altogether with a promotion and raise under my belt. My manager was pissed (and serves her spiteful ass right).

    2. edj3*

      I do this as well. My take is that if one of the members of my team gets a promotion or a job that’s more interesting/fulfilling/whatever, that’s great news and means I’m doing my job well.

    3. Brownie Queen*

      Lot’s of managers don’t want to deal with having to hire on a new person and train them when a great team member wants to move internally. I had this happen to me a few times in my career and have seen it happen more times than you can imagine.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        This is currently happening to my mother at her company. She’s the only person trained on her division’s legacy systems so her manager blocks every attempt she makes to transfer out. It’s a mess, but they get away with it because they know she won’t leave.

    4. LCL*

      Managers that won’t help their people are out are unprofessional. The last promotion out of this group totally screwed us, our schedule was at a tipping point and the loss of one more has gutted us. I don’t understand why management’s top choice was someone who screams and loses his temper if things aren’t perfect. I was not on that hiring committee, the hiring manager was completely aware of these issues because he asked me and I told him. If I had been part of the process, he wouldn’t have got the promotion.
      That said, once he got the job I helped him as much as I could where our jobs intersected, because I am a professional.

    5. Shark Lady*

      My manager explicitly encouraged me in our last one-on-one to start looking for promotions, even if they were outside our department. His reasoning is that while he would LOVE to keep me working under him, he would rather keep me as an asset within the company than lose me to another one.

    6. Camellia*

      Not only is it common but sometimes the companies themselves go even further. If you applied for an internal posting at OldJob the first thing HR would do is ask your manager if it was okay with him/her. If not, they wouldn’t even consider you. And they also wouldn’t tell you, either. After not even getting a call when I had applied to two positions, I finally called HR. That’s when they told me that they has asked my manager if they could interview me and he said no, both times. When I asked him about it, he said he would never agree to let me go.

    7. DoDah*

      Very common. Had more than one VP derail a stretch opportunity for me. Luckily the last internal role I applied for outranked the old VP–so I got it. Old VP punished me by making me continue performing old job duties for 6 months post leaving her department. When new VP went to tell her that the cushion period was over–she fake-cried.

      So like Lily Rowan says, “people are shitty.”

    8. Not So NewReader*

      In my entire life I think I have had two or three bosses that I could trust if I wanted to apply for another area of the company. That’s it.

  77. animaniactoo*

    Struggling to get through the day here a bit. The train I was on this morning struck and killed someone. I could tell someone had been hit by the reaction (evacuated us off the train, fire department decoupling the cars and pulling them apart, all power cut to the line), and knew it was likely someone had died, but I didn’t have confirmation until I finally got to work.

    Fortunately it’s work that doesn’t need a lot of brainpower today, but I think I may leave early. I’m having some hyper-reality numbness of doing work and acting as if the world is normal in the face of this.

    1. Sadsack*

      I understand, I was once on a train that hit someone. It is unsettling and upsetting. It is really difficult to go on with your day trying not to think about it, wondering about the person and their circumstance. I wasn’t on my way to work, but I do wonder if I would have made it through the day if I were. Probably not. It would be emotionally and mentally exhausting.

    2. The Alias Gloria Is Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

      I’m sorry. I was on an Amtrak train once that hit a car and killed four teenagers. We didn’t evacuate the train, but we were stuck there for several hours while the investigation went on. It was surreal. I was 13 and traveling alone to another city to visit family. All these years later it still sticks with me.

      1. animaniactoo*

        She seemed pretty shook up when she came through. Capable, still in charge, but pretty shook up. I’m thinking it’s going to take her awhile.

        I can go home in about an hour or so. I’ve been strolling around the web while halfheartedly getting my stuff done. Focusing has been difficult for me, I can’t begin to imagine how it is for her.

    3. motherofdragons*

      How horrid, I’m so sorry you went through that this morning. Sounds like heading out early would be great self-care.

    4. Mimmy*

      That had to have been very traumatic for everyone. I too hope the driver will be okay, as well as you and the other riders.

      This has not been a good day in public transportation. First a fatal bus crash between two buses in my state this morning, then your story, now I see that a woman jumped in front of a subway in Queens (NY) this morning. You just never know what you encounter on your daily commute.

      1. animaniactoo*

        fwiw, my story is the same as your last one there. That’s the train I was on. 8•(

        All the more reserved/less splashy sites are reporting it as “appears” to have jumped, so the jury is still out on exactly what happened.

  78. Unemployment helped needed*

    I was let go this week. :( Things I am trying to understand about unemployment, since I’ve never been fired or laid off before:
    I moved this spring from state A to state B to take this job, and it is in a completely different field than my old job. Also, field of old job often requires state specific license, new job does not require any professional licensing. My intention was and remains to work in new field moving forward, which unfortunately has limited positions that often require relocation.

    1. If I apply for unemployment, can my work search be limited to new field? Or will they expect me to search in old field (even if I’m not licensed!), since that is the source of income in the past 18 months? Also, how broad a geographic scope can/would they expect me to be searching?
    2. All my base earnings are from state A, but I still apply in state B where I live/am resident/was let go, correct? It just delays the payment that gets issued?

    Any other advice?

    1. Marina*

      It depends on the state, so you should probably review state specific documents. In general, though, you’re expected to look for reasonably equivalent jobs. If you’re not licensed for a job you’ve had in the past then you shouldn’t be required to apply for jobs that require that license. That said, you will be required to apply for a certain number of jobs, and if there aren’t that number of openings in your field then you’ll have to put in some applications outside your field.

    2. fposte*

      Unfortunately, unemployment rules are very dependent on the specific state. The one constant is to apply ASAP.

    3. The Alias Gloria Is Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

      I’m not sure about your first question. But with the second one I’d say apply where you current live. They may do an interstate claim and you have to also do something with your old state and re-certify with them and get the checks from them, but it might be different based on where you are. That’s what I had to do after moving to NE from IL. (IL paid UI at a higher rate though, so that was good)

    4. Megs*

      I’d really recommend trying to get some official guidance from your state’s unemployment agency, because this stuff really does vary a lot. Generally speaking, your search does not have to include every single job you’d possibly be qualified for, and you should be expected to apply in whatever your applicable job market is. The requirements often get more specific than that, which is why research is needed, but the point of unemployment broadly is to support people who lost their job through no fault of their own while they get back to the equivalent place they were before they lost that job. Good luck!

    5. bassclefchick*

      Yup, this is totally state dependent. My state requires a waiting week first. You start your claim, but won’t get any benefits the first week. The expectation (I think, but who knows?!) is that your last paycheck should cover the waiting week. Then, you have to do 4 work search activities per week. This includes applying for a job and interviews. I don’t think they limit what types of jobs you can apply for. You’re just supposed to get a job. But, again, the state you’re claiming benefits from will have specific rules to follow. They SHOULD send you a handbook and all the rules once you open your claim.

      On the plus side, everything is done online now in my state, so at least I don’t actually have to go to the unemployment office. Hope this helps!

    6. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      As others mentioned, rules vary state-to-state. But…

      1) You usually put down what you occupation is and what occupation you’re looking for. My state allows you to add a secondary occupation — don’t add your old job if you absolutely won’t look for that work or lack the license now. Geographic scope seems to come into play more in the sense of: if you were offered the job, would you move there and COULD you move there? If the answer is no to either of those, don’t apply. If you refuse an interview or refuse an offer of work for which you are qualified for, you could run into trouble with your claim. I’ve seen people get those types of issues waived in my state, but you really don’t want them to hold your benefits for two months while they adjudicate, even if they rule in your favor. My state also requires you to be willing to accept 75% of the wage you were earning previously after drawing UI for a certain number of weeks, so that’s something to consider as well. If you won’t accept the listed wage, don’t apply!

      2) You file in your current state. They’ll ask if all your earnings for the past 18 – 24 months were in your state. You say no, they will open an interstate claim to get the info they need. It’s a bit more complicated but it works, you might have a bit of a delay. The only time you’d apply for UI in the old state was if you had no earnings in your new state.

      File for benefits first, then call a representative. They can’t help with much if you haven’t given them the data they need. :) Usually they’ll link to the state guidebook online, which will give you a lot of guidance on what exactly you need to do.

    7. Chaordic One*

      When I was unemployed the state employment agency was really quite disappointing. They were really pushy about me getting a job, any job, but they didn’t seem to care about anything else, like pay or benefits, job fit, or working conditions.

      I made sure to apply for more than the required number of job applications every week. I had a couple of job offers for jobs that were less than ideal and so I left them off of the list of jobs that I applied for and that I had to report to the state employment office.

      Not ideal.

  79. Gregory*

    For a long time I’ve had issues with the building cleaning staff moving my stuff around and occasionally knocking over personal items (while presumably dusting my desk, which tbh I would rather just do myself but whatever). It’s annoying and I don’t like the idea of people touching my things, but it’s not a huge deal so I’ve just let it go. But then a couple of weeks ago a personal item went missing from my desk and it was clear that the cleaning staff had been through because my photos were knocked askew so I have to assume they mistakenly threw it out (it was a small and inexpensive item and I really doubt anybody would want to steal it, but you never know I guess) and that was a little harder to ignore. I reached out to the office manager who said she would mention it to the building manager. I guess I don’t know how exactly I thought this would play out but what I didn’t expect is that my office manager would get back to me saying that the building manager brought the members of the cleaning staff who work on my floor into my cubicle and asked them if they remember ever knocking any of my stuff over and telling them to be more careful when they’re cleaning. Is it just me or is this a terrible way to have handled that? The knocking stuff over wasn’t even the main issue and now I’m afraid the cleaning staff hates me. I just don’t want my stuff getting thrown away, ffs!

    1. Megs*

      They probably don’t hate you, but I agree that was an awkward way of handling it. Hopefully the message to be more careful got through either way!

    2. TG*

      That was a pretty bad way to handle it. There should have been a general reminder to be careful of moving people’s things.

      The cleaning person who does my office stopped moving things on my desk after she knocked over my big glass that was still mostly full of water and got it all over some of my papers.

    3. GiantPanda*

      Some of my coworkers have signs “Please don’t clean the desk, I’ll do it myself, thanks.” Cleaning staff doesn’t mind afaik.

  80. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Does AAM have any questions about emergency contact forms?

    I’m a woman, married to a woman. I don’t get on with my parents and have no friends nearby, so my wife is my only contact. I work contract work and often fill out many different forms. Most ask for a contact AND the relationship to you.

    Which for me, means deciding whether or not to out myself each time. I’m in the legal field, in a state with nondiscrimination protections, but I still worry. What should I do? Would it be enough to write her name and then in “relationship” write “this person has the power to make medical decisions for me?”

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I think it’s necessary at least to the extent that you need to show that the person can decide things for you in an emergency; I tried to leave it off and the recruiter explained I couldn’t for that reason.

      2. Jadelyn*

        +1 to leaving it blank – we have a “none” option for relationship in our HRIS, and basically as long as we have a name and a contact phone #, we don’t care what the relationship is.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you can put pretty much anything you want in that field, including your wording here. It’s very unlikely that they’d push back on what you wrote there.

    2. Ife*

      That sounds really frustrating. I have been in a similar situation in terms of “what the hell do I put in this box?!” when filling out contact forms for my fiance’s daughter’s school. Since her dad and I are not married yet, I can’t put “stepmom” or “spouse.” I usually go for “partner” (which doesn’t help you) or “other.” I think that’s probably your best bet without giving more info than you want to.

    3. fposte*

      A friend is my emergency contact, and I don’t think that’s uncommon. You don’t need to identify a relationship that has legal meaning.

      1. fposte*

        Huh, sounds like your recruiter felt different. I think she’s wrong–the person equipped to make medical decisions is quite often not the person who’s readily available if you broke your arm in the stockroom.

    4. Amtelope*

      I think what you wrote is absolutely fine. At the same time, as another lesbian who has to deal with the “do I out myself to clients?” question — I’d encourage you to consider writing down “wife” or “spouse.” You’re legally married and in a state with nondiscrimination protections. If it’s possible for you to be out, if there aren’t personal or professional reasons why you feel like this is too big a risk to take, it can be really useful just to be visible as a woman married to a woman, and normalize “of course a woman’s emergency contact might be her wife.”

      Of course sometimes that’s not a risk people can take, or want to take, and that’s okay. And it sucks that there’s that extra bit of “what do I say?” pressure when you’re just trying to fill in forms. But if you do feel like you’re reasonably safe in identifying yourself as LGBT, it can be a low-effort kind of activism that helps the people you’re working with stop assuming that everyone they work with is straight.

    5. SevenSixOne*

      I think the wording you suggested would end up calling MORE attention to it.

      Any time I don’t want to reveal someone’s gender, I use initials– so “C.J. Cregg” instead of “Cynthia Cregg”. Would you be able to list her that way as your spouse?

      1. Pwyll*

        My concern with this would be that, in an emergency, a terrible employer calling and expecting a man might not be willing to accept that they have reached the actual emergency contact.

    6. Pwyll*

      If you want to get super technical, you could write “Healthcare Proxy” under relationship, assuming you have some sort of living will, and thus the gender and actual relationship remain none of their business, while still sounding all legal and formal.

    7. it happens*

      I always thought that they asked relationship on the form just so they would know how to address the person on the phone if the need ever arose – ‘May I speak to Persephone? This is Jack from BigCo calling about your (friend/partner/roommate/sister/wife) Isabel.”
      I can’t think of any medical decisions that would have to be made at the employer site – they would all happen at a hospital, where, presumably, said contact would have all the documentation necessary.
      I am sorry that people would judge you for what you put on the form, but I don’t think you need to go into specifics on it; in all likelihood it will just sit in a file to be shredded some day…

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, I always assumed the point of an emergency contact was so they could get a hold of someone local who would then be able to notify whoever else needed to be notified, etc.

        My parents are currently the people who would have the legal ability to make decisions about my care, but I always put my boyfriend down as my emergency contact; my parents live 1600 miles away, so if it’s something small like I broke an arm and need a ride home from the hospital then contacting them isn’t going to do much good. They can’t give me that ride and they’ll just be worried sick. My boyfriend can give me that ride, collect my keys and purse or whatever from work, and we can contact my parents and let them know what’s going on once things are under control.

        If it’s something big, he can call them and tell them to get on the next plane down here.

    8. Jules the First*

      I’ve gone with ‘Medical proxy’, but I’ve also gone meta and put ‘Emergency contact’ in the box.

  81. Lucky*

    Venting time. One colleague in my small department is out on maternity leave, so I’ve taken on extra work. No complaints there – totally expected and I am happy to help so that she can stay home without worries that our department will be a hot mess when she comes back.

    But new colleague. She started a few months ago, so has been slowly ramping up to having a full workload. And she claims that she’s soooo busy. But she comes in late – like 30 or even 60 minutes late – and she leaves 15 minutes early nearly every day. I’ve never received an email from her on the weekend and she doesn’t bring her laptop home. Meanwhile I’m coming in early, staying late and bringing work home on weekends. I’m a bit chaffed.

    Here’s my dilemma. I am not her manager, but our boss has been directing me to manage some of her work, asks me to check in with her, etc. I am senior to her in experience and boss and I have previously discussed moving me to a management role. But presently, I have no management authority. So, do I gently remind her that our work hours are 8-5, not 9-4:45? Do I mind my own business, and quietly seethe when I go to ask her a question at 8:30 and she’s not there?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You can start with shooting her an email at 8:30– “Hey, stopped by your desk to go over the plan for the widgets but saw you weren’t there. Come by my desk when you’re back.”

      Might she have an arrangement for flex hours? If your boss wants you to essentially manage her, you can ask your boss about it. The worst thing you can do is sit and seethe without saying anything. But I’d advise treading lightly at first.

    2. misspiggy*

      I think you push back on managing her until you have the title and pay to go with it – don’t do your boss’s management for her.

    3. Mephyle*

      This does seem to fall into the category of “yes, her loose hours are impacting my work, so it is my business” and after, say, a week of documentation go back to discuss it with your boss in those terms. “I needed to check in with her about ______ on occasions [list of times] and she was not there. I had to wait for her x minutes on day a, y minutes on day b, z minutes on day c… before I could get her input and continue with the task.”
      Or something like that – perhaps a more general overview rather than a nitpicking list of minutes and seconds.

      1. Mephyle*

        Or just approach it assuming that she does have flex hours, and discuss with the boss how her hours are holding back your work.

    4. Lucky*

      Thanks for your helpful suggestions. I’ll probably try a combo approach and see how that goes.

  82. Anon Accountant*

    So I had an interview Wednesday. They seem nice but I think I didn’t do well. It’s been months since I’d had an interview so it’s time 2 brush up on interviewing skills. They kept asking why I was looking and I’d used the “seeking new challenges and opportunities” but they asked this question 4 times like they didn’t believe me. Finally 1 asked “are you looking because of your management or a toxic workplace! I kept repeating “oh no, just time for a great change and your place is great…”.

    So I don’t know but keep your fingers crossed because my current job is straight out of the Mean Girls movies starting from management on down. So let’s hope a new job comes along ASAP!

    1. Megs*

      Good luck – I’ve definitely been hired out of interviews I didn’t think went so well, so you really never know!

      1. CMT*

        Seconding this! For my current and prior jobs, I left the interviews thinking I had totally bombed them.

    2. General Ginger*

      Good luck! I definitely always tend to think I did worse in an interview than I actually did, so you never know. And, hey, at least nobody asked you “if you were a tree, what kind of tree you would be, and why” (happened to my friend the last time they interviewed, at what seemed like a reasonable company — prior to the interview, which had some other weird gems).

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Wow. That’s quite a question. I’d have been stumped at that question. Pardon the pun. :)

    3. JustTeaForMeThanks*

      In my experience, you never can tell. Interviews I thought were great amounted to nothing, (including weird feedback) and interviews I thought didn’t go well led to a 2nd interview. Don’t beat yourself up, you’re doing great! It’s always difficult when you havent interviewed in a while. Just take it as a learning experience and write down/come up with an answer to that question now just in case gor when you are being asked it again. Best of luck in your job search!

    4. Chaordic One*

      Well, of course you don’t want to come right out and say that you are looking because of management or because your current workplace is toxic, even if it is true. Sometimes, if a workplace really isn’t they greatest place to work, word gets around and it is possible that your interviewers might have heard something about it. Still, you don’t want to talk down your current employer.

      I had a recent interview where I was caught off guard when the interviewer said she had heard from several different people, that while my former toxic employer made a big deal out of promoting diversity and inclusion, they really didn’t always practice it. I didn’t really know how to respond and said something like, “Well, that may well be.”

      Perhaps this would be the occasion where you might say something like you’ve learned pretty much everything there is to know in your particular niche and/or there isn’t a pathway to promotion and you’d like a bit more responsibility. Or that because of changes that happened over time you don’t get to do enough of the particular aspect of the job you enjoy. Something along those lines.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        My most uncomfortable interview with a recruiter kept going back to “Why are you looking for a new job?” It seemed to be a way of catching me out.

  83. Brett*

    So, I’m four weeks in with managing my new team, and found out that my boss very much has my back.
    I had one employee who was upset that he was not given his own team (he actually did not want to be in a team at all) and had been pushing back heavily on everything I was trying to do. My manager asked me to keep documenting everything and keep him informed.
    I had been working fairly hard to try to keep employee connected and participating, and models for success on our team. He was somewhat following, but still routinely made his distaste for the new structure known.

    Well, last Friday morning our boss’s boss showed up to have a meeting with that employee. By noon, that employee’s office was cleared out and his equipment turned in with a mutually agreed severance. Everything has been dramatically smoother this week now. (Though I have made sure to recognize the strong work of my other team members this week.)

    I also realized that by staying focused on managing the employee rather than the conflict he wanted, he managed himself out and we had minimal disruption. I’m picking up the projects he was handling and the rest of my team still seems pretty confident that we are doing okay. I found myself several times trying to think about advice from here about how to manage employee issues and how to manage out if needed, and it seems to have really helped navigate my issues with this employee.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      And the other employees are certainly grateful you shut down his drama ASAP. Good for you on handling this so fast. He really managed himself out.

  84. HeyNonnyNonny*

    If anyone has some motivational vibes to spare, I could use them.

    I am finishing up a project that has just been…awful. It’s involved a lot of moving parts, including nitpicky grammar lawyers, stubborn controlling engineers, impatient managers, flakey reviewers, and a series of steps to take, forms to fill, and boxes to check that no one told me about. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and powerless for months now, and it’s almost. over. I just am running on empty dealing with this and need to not fall apart for, like, another few weeks…

    1. Tea*

      Good job getting this far– you’re so close to the finish line! Do you have any plans for when you’re happily, gloriously DONE with this project?

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        No, but that’s a good idea…I’ll start daydreaming about some sort of spa day, I think!

    2. JustTeaForMeThanks*

      You are amazing for dealing with this for all this time! Hang in there! I know, easier said than done, but you have almost reached the finish line! Motivational vibes? Well, what works for me is meditating (I really enjoy the 21 day mesitatons of a certain mr. Chopra, (I do not own stock nor am I affiliated with him in any way), however, I also realise that that is not everyone’s cupbof tea. In that case: take some timw for youself eah day to relax. Just you. If only for 10-15 minutes. I recommend the morning, as I usually and too tired to do anything in the evening. Also, it starts the day off with aimwthing positive! Best of luck!

      1. JustTeaForMeThanks*

        Oh, the spelling mistakes! I’m just going to blame my phone. Also, time for bed!

  85. NoNameToday*

    Does anyone have tips on how to stay positive and motivated when hiring for newly created positions that I don’t think will work out in the long term?

    As a background: My company is going through a rough patch, and the upper management decided to bring in some of the currently outsourced functions to in-house, in order to save cost. I don’t fully believe that this is the best decision for a couple of reasons, but I’m the hiring manager for the new positions. I’m having a really hard time staying positive and motivated when screening resumes, phone-screening and interviewing, because of the doubts I have about the probability of success of these positions, and maybe also because of my resistance to change. (I have a good relationship with the current vendor.)

    I’d really appreciate it if anyone can share their thoughts and experiences!

    1. Leatherwings*

      I think the best thing you can do is be as honest with the candidates as you can about the situation. I used to hire for positions with really high turnover and I felt better about it when my candidates knew what they were getting into. I’m sorry, best of luck.

    2. Observer*

      Are you even willing to give the new positions a fair shot? It doesn’t sound like it, to be honest. That’s as de-motivating as anything I can think of. If you are going to try to make it work, despite your reservations, (not just SAY you are going to try to make it work), that alone should be your motivation. I’m going to tell you to lie to people, but that’s not the issue here.

      Let’s face it, this might not be the BEST decision, but that’s a very far cry from “not likely to succeed.” Unless there is something you’ve failed to mention, it sounds like you are making some unwarranted jumps.

    3. OhBehave*

      As the hiring manager, it will be your responsibility to hire the right person for the job as you well know. If you don’t put aside your own opinions (it wasn’t your decision to make) and do the best you can to fill the positions, then the new hires may fail. I really don’t think being bluntly honest with interviewees, (run for the hills, this position is doomed!), is the best way to proceed. This could get back to your managers, which could get you in trouble.

      If you can focus on what the jobs need (attention to detail, organization, communication skills, people skills, etc.), you can do your job and find people to fill these roles. It’s up to their managers to make the new processes work.

      Change is one of the hardest things to manage in life. It’s an expected struggle for many who either don’t agree with the changes or were not consulted. Make the best of this situation.

  86. Anon in PDX*

    I’m having impostor syndrome this week. I had my 90 day review at a great job that I love, and it was overwhelmingly positive. But I felt pretty stressed going into it and even more stressed coming out of it–I’m going to mess up sometime soon, I’ll disappoint everyone, etc. My boss even literally said, “You will make mistakes sometimes and that is completely fine here” and I’m still sure I’m going to randomly get fired some day.

    It doesn’t help that a job I got fired from 1.5 years ago has been on my mind lately. But why does that one experience feel like it’s The Truth About Me and overwhelms all the positive experiences before and since?

    1. Jadelyn*

      Are you me?

      Seriously. I wish I had advice, but all I have is the offer of hugs and/or a stiff drink and the reassurance that in a non-toxic, functional, supportive workplace, people understand mistakes made in good faith and as long as you work on learning from them, you’ll be fine.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I have NEVER been fired, but I find myself worrying about it far too often. And I work in higher ed, where it’s notoriously difficult to fire someone.

  87. Marie*

    I got into grad school and I plan on starting in January 2017. I plan to work full-time while taking my classes in the evening and on the weekend. I don’t think going to school will have a detrimental impact on my job because it’s unrelated and my job is not very stressful (I work as an admin and my grad program is in data analytics), but I’m obviously not going to be in this job forever. I know I should tell my boss about going back to school but I’m on the fence about timing. Sometimes my boss can be pessimistic about things and I’m not sure how she’d react to this, especially since my current job has not much to do with my short/long term career goals. I am not ready to move on from this job yet because I’m not financially ready yet. I’m currently trying to get a job that is more in line with my field of study, but with limited-no experience that hasn’t been easy. I don’t know when will be a right time.

    1. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Do you anticipate school impacting your work schedule in any way? (For example, leaving early on a certain day to get to class on time, being unavailable outside of business hours where you’ve been available in the past, etc.?) If not, I’m not sure there’s a compelling reason to mention it.

      1. Marzipan*

        I would second this. If the timings will work in such a way that it won’t impact on your work, then is it really any different to, say, going to a dance class a couple of times a week, in terms of the need to tell your boss about it? (Mind you, I’m just really secretive – I just finished a whole bachelor’s degree without telling anyone, and have signed up for a master’s. It’ll be a fun surprise when it’s done.)

    2. themmases*

      I agree with the other comments that I wouldn’t bother sharing unless it would impact your schedule in some way. Don’t even bother to guess– wait to get your schedule each semester and talk to your boss only if you know you will need flexibility that term. The only other exception I could think of is if there are tuition reimbursement benefits that you decide you want to take advantage of– but even then, you don’t usually need your immediate supervisor’s permission.

      I had a boss who could be very negative about this stuff when I decided to go back to school. He didn’t think anyone or anything was marketable– he even asked my coworker if he was sure she was making a good decision going to med school! You don’t have to defend the specifics of your decision to anyone, in fact it’s probably a good idea not to try. However if you can anticipate what your boss will likely say, it feels great to have researched it and be able to say “Thanks, I’ve looked into that and am comfortable with it.” I researched the job outcomes and my plan B and C in my field