open thread – August 26-27, 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 :)

{ 1,478 comments… read them below }

  1. TJ*

    I want more management responsibility, but the position I want doesn’t exist yet.

    I work for a small company. I was the first employee to be hired under my manager, about two years ago. Now, we’re taking on some new projects, and our department will grow to 5 people.

    This is going to make things much more complicated. Our projects rely on a lot of close communication, as well as sign-off from our manager. She already has very little time for sign-off, which sometimes means we have to push back deadlines. With these additional projects and new people to manage, that’s only going to get worse.

    Some of our work can be easily separated from the rest, though. I think it would make a lot of sense to do that, and for me to have most of the management responsibilities for those projects. I’m qualified; I’d essentially be doing the work I’m already doing. It’s just that for those projects, I would be the one signing off on things and resolving any issues that come up, rather than my manager. And I already do a fair amount of managing contractors — I’ve just never managed employees.

    So my question is: how do I suggest this to my manager? Will it sound like I’m trying to take away part of her job? Is that totally out of line?

    This is the first time I’ve ever been in this kind of situation, so I’d appreciate any advice.

    1. LSP*

      I’d just make an appointment to sit down with her and let her know that you’ve been thinking about upcoming changes to your department. Let her know you want to be available to help anyway you can. If she’s receptive to that, or asks what you had in mind, you can let her know that you’ve been thinking you could take on X and Y, but of course, you’d be happy to take on different tasks if she thinks that would be more helpful. Make a point to let her know that you think she’s a great manager (if that’s true) and drop in there (if it makes sense) that you’d love the opportunity to grow into more of a management-type role, if that makes sense to her.

      tldr; Just be honest about the upcoming challenges and be forthright that you want to help, and that you think it may mean an overall change to your role.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I would propose it as “I know you’re really busy and don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this, and I was wondering how you felt about me taking things off your plate.” Something along those lines. She might be grateful for the chance to shift some things off her plate.

    3. KathyGeiss*

      What a cool opportunity. Great advice from those above. Another potential tact:

      Ask about what the plans are to manage these changes. E. G. “We’re seeing significant growth right now and that’s really exciting. Do you foresee any changes to our current structure and processes to manage this growth?” …wait… “I’ve been giving it some thought and have some ideas on how we can maintain efficiency. Would you been interested in hearing them?” Or “I wonder if this growth makes room for some new opportunities? I’m ready to take on more responsibility and I’d love to understand if this might be an ideal time to explore that possibility”

    4. NW Mossy*

      If you’re interested in managing (or other growth opportunities), by all means, say so! The more your boss knows about what you’re willing to do and what you’re interested in, the more likely it is that she’ll think of you when opportunities arise.

      I got my current job (and first manager position) this way. I knew that I was interested in it and that the person who held it at the time was close to retiring. I mentioned to the head of my unit that I’d like to be considered when it opened up, which felt weirdly direct to say. I’m so glad I did, though, because my predecessor ended up retiring a year earlier than I thought she would. My having said something made it possible for my unit head to quickly slot me into the open role and get a smooth transition out of the deal, so it worked great on both sides.

      My takeaway lesson? Don’t assume that other people know your objectives and will offer you opportunities on the off chance you might be interested. The more direct you are about what you want, the more likely it is that you can capitalize on sudden changes in the environment that create opportunity.

    5. Moonsaults*

      It’s important to give her the heads up and let her know you are willing and ready to make that jump.

      I am willing to bet that the growth is making her head spin and whereas it may have passed her mind to pass some responsibility to you, she may not know when or how to approach it.

      Part of getting into management is being self motivated and enthusiastic about growing with the company. Voice it. You can easily do that without being pushy or overbearing. Plant the seed. It sounds like you’ve already worked closely together for so long, it makes sense to make you her right-hand assistant manager at least. She can dish out specific times when you can sign off on things and go from there. It gives her more room to get things done as well to be able to shed a few of her hats.

    6. TootsNYC*

      nice ideas from everyone.

      one thought–I’ve just now done this myself: suggest it on a case-by-case basis. Maybe she could start passing a few of them off to you, to see how it works and also to help her when it’s really crammed.

      If she’s kind of touchy, you could start by saying, in the moment, “Is this something I could take off your hands? It doesn’t seem that tricky, and I can come back to you if it turns out to be.” And if she hems, then say, “it would free you up–you’ve trained me how you think, that’s got to work in your favor sometime, right?”

    7. Melissa*

      It sounds like you might be acting as de facto manager anyway, given your experience vs. these new people to come. I agree with others who say you can frame it to your boss as “I am anticipating these issues and I’d like to help.” That shows initiative so you’re not framing it as “I want this, I deserve this” but rather, “the team needs this, I can do it, will you give me the chance?”

    8. migrant worker*

      I am in this exact position. I’ve only been at my job a year and usually people at my level don’t supervise. I’ve got an intern that I’m managing now, so we’ll see how that goes, but we just hired someone at a level below me and she’s support on my project and others, so I’m taking on some de facto management responsibilities. I’m also usually the OIC when my boss is on leave.

      I’m going to be the lead on a major project that will really kick off Q2 next year, and my boss actually did the last iteration of this project (org structure was different at the time though). When she did it, she was actually at the level higher than me. It’s a 2 year project, so I’m thinking about a year from now, I might broach the idea of moving up a level and while I’d still report to her, I’d actually be the same level as her. It would also mean managing people, but that’s up in the air as to whether we can get new people. :)

  2. September Rain*

    How can I put skills on my resume that I’ve been trained to do, but don’t do very often? I’ve recently been trained to be the backup to my coworker for when he is out of the office or swamped with work. Since these skills are very different from my normal duties, I want to add them to my resume to show that I’m a well-rounded employee. I’m just not sure how. Do I need to indicate that these aren’t my primary responsibilities, and if so, how? I don’t want to do anything unethical or dishonest.

    1. LSP*

      I think you can add a bullet under your current position that states: Trained as back-up for X position, whose duties include A, B and C.

      1. Jadelyn*

        That’s what I’ve used for positions where I’ve been a backup for something, seems to work pretty well.

    2. Chickaletta*

      Time also plays a factor, I think. If you were trained so long ago that you don’t remember most of it, or if your coworker’s job has evolved since you were trained, I wouldn’t include it. Ask yourself, if you were thrown into that role tomorrow, could you reasonably do it?

    3. Mr G*

      If you want to add punch: would it be possible for you review your back processes to make sure documentation is up to date, contact lists are current, etc.? And set this as an annual task. Then you could add to your resume something like “established annual review of backup for process X including documentation update and refesher training”. Everyone wins here. Your current employer has a better business continuity plan, you ensure you can actually act as backup, and you also turn a by-the-way entry in your resume into an accomplishment that shows initiative and your abilities.

    4. Moonsaults*

      Yes, indicate that you were not primarily responsible. If you just gloss over that part, you may have people expecting you to be able to master that section at some point.

      I think these things are better suited for a cover letter, as an example that you’re multi dimensional and available to assist others in that kind of capacity as back-up. It shows that you are trainable but at the same time, you aren’t saying you’re a highly skilled professional in that area.

      1. September Rain*

        Thanks all for the great advice. I absolutely don’t want to mislead anyone, but I wasn’t sure what the protocol for something like this is. Appreciate the help!

    5. migrant worker*

      have you used these skills? did they result in anything? i’m not a fan of the skills-based resumes – i like to see results. so if you can speak to that, that would strengthen your position, i think.

      1. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

        Perfect example – are you adding extra cheers or offering a martini? I’m so confused!



          1. Formica Dinette*

            Both the martini and the slam dunk seem appropriate in this case. :D

            Congrats to Key!

    1. TootsNYC*

      Oh, c’mon! “That’s all”? Really?

      Don’t leave us hanging here!

      You have to come back, when you have a little more time, and tell us all about it!
      Is it a lot more money? Did you have to ask for the promotion? What do you think was the strongest thing you had going for you? What will be the biggest challenge?

      OK, seriously, you don’t have to.

      Good for you!

      1. Key to the West*

        Thanks everyone!

        I can’t say too much TootsNYC but it was a natural progression, always on the cards. It’s about at 33% increase in net pay.

  3. Jupe*

    We recently moved our open-space office around and the person I’m sitting next to now seems to do everything loudly. He eats loudly (all day, crunchy food), types loudly, bounces his squeaky chair to his music loudly, and his phone vibrates every 10 minutes with a new text. It’s driving me nuts. I wear headphones when I can, but it’s not always possible. The issue is that it’s not easy to speak to him directly about it because EVERYTHING he does is loud.
    My question is: can I ask to move without seeming petty, or do people have other suggestions?

    1. Paloma Pigeon*

      What about a white noise machine that blocks out low-level noise? It sounds like you are ‘tuned in’ to this person’s frequency and some white noise might block or mask the intensity of it, allowing you to focus.

      1. Jupe*

        No white noise machines allowed since it’s an open office plan :(
        You’re right that I’m particularly tuned into the noise though. I’ll work on ways to block it out.

          1. Jupe*

            Uh, a white noise machine would be something everyone in the room could hear, and noisy coworker makes various personal noises that mostly only I can hear. This doesn’t seem that complicated to me.

        1. Izzy*

          Old job got a pink noise generator for the whole office when we moved into an open plan space. Everyone could hear it, but it faded into the background (only mildly annoying) and masked the sound of others’ conversations. Except if they sat right next to one unfortunately.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      Ug, open offices. The only way I’ve survived certain people is by knowing that my employment is contract based and I’ll almost certainly not be next to them on my next project. If your guy is a nice person, I think you can ask him to stop *some* of this stuff, but not everything (apologies from another loud typer)! I’d give it some time before asking to move, but assuming you can do it discretely (and come up with an excuse if someone asks) I don’t think it’s a big deal to ask. If your employer is anything like mine, though, don’t hold your breath – our facilities manager told me that she’s constantly getting requests to move and only complies if there’s a medical reason.

      1. LSP*

        I think you can ask him to put on headphones when he wants to listen to music, and a white noise machine may help with some of the food crunchiness and typing. As for his squeaky chair, just ninja over to his de4sk with some WD-40 and get to work. :)

        1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          I’ve never hesitated to ask people to turn music down (thankfully I’ve never worked with someone who tried to play music without headphones) or switch their phone to vibrate. The constant text vibrating thing is tough, but I think I’d feel okay bringing that up, too. Crunchy food and loud typing I would just try and deal with.

        2. Newby*

          My coworker did that to my chair. I didn’t really notice the squeakiness but it drove him nuts. Now we are both happy.

    3. afiendishthingy*

      I’d ask to move. Does a specific spot appeal to you/make sense for you to move to? I.e., can you phrase it as “I’d be more productive closer to the printer, plus I know Jane and Loud Guy collaborate a lot– would it be possible for Jane and me to switch desks?”

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think asking to move because you find him distracting sounds less petty than asking him to be quiet. (He sounds awful, but for some reason, allowing noisy people to be noisy seems to be the correct thing to do in many offices.)

    5. Merida May*

      If you added ‘pops gum in the afternoon’ to that list this could easily describe the person I sit next to. Personally, I’ve found these sounds seem to be more amplified when I’m hungry so if there’s something coworker is doing that is driving me up the wall I’ll grab a snack from my desk. Or if I’m really fixating on a particular sound I try to make that the time I make/return phone calls to focus on something else.

      1. Jupe*

        This is really good advice, thanks. I also notice it bothers me close to closing or close to lunch time. Ding Ding Ding!

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I have a gum popping neighbor too! The same one that drags her feet and shuffles.

    6. Anonimity Jane*

      If his phone is sitting directly on his desk, you could ask him to put it on a book or notepad, which is softer, so the vibration isn’t as loud. I know when I left my phone just on my desk, it vibrated quite loudly.

      1. JustaTech*

        I’ve seen a tiny sheepskin-type rug sold as phone rest/silencer. Because it’s fuzzy it means that a phone makes *no* noise when it vibrates. It would only solve one thing, but you could offer it as a gift (taking the sting out of “you are so loud”).

        1. NacSacJack*

          This is good to know because I do have my phone on vibrate and we are moving to a more open office plan.

    7. designbot*

      It sounds like maybe until recently you all had more private spaces? It may be worthwhile to talk to your boss or HR about addressing etiquette in the open office generally. Please don’t use speakerphone, be more aware of noisy fidgeting, remember that everyone can both hear and smell each other’s food more than you used to, keep the communal areas clean etc. I bet you’re not the only one having this problem in one way or another, as it really is an adjustment when you move to an open office plan.

    8. TootsNYC*

      I think you could ask a manager about whether crunchy food can be banned at people’s desks.

  4. conflicted*

    I’ve been looking for a new job for the past couple months. I’m not miserable at my job, but I’m bored and my company doesn’t pay as well as others.

    Two senior positions have opened up in my department and while this position would be the next logical step up for me, I’m wondering if I should take it (it’s a promotion, so I’ve been told if I want one of the positions, it’s mine). My manager really wants me to take the senior position and several team members have told me they think I’d be great in the senior position. It’s not a job I’m super excited about and the pay raise is only about $200/month (after taxes). While that $200 a month would help a lot, the jobs I’m looking for outside my company pay significantly more (it’s be at least a $20K increase).

    On one hand, would I be burning bridges if I take the senior position and then accepted a new job outside the company in a few months? On the other hand, what if I don’t take the senior position and then still can’t find a new job a year from now and regret not taking the promotion/pay raise?

    1. KatieKate*

      Take the promotion. Bird in the hand, and all that. It might be a bridge burner, but you don’t have anything to burn it over yet, and you have no idea how long it will take to get a new job.

      1. conflicted*

        True. I guess I’m just thinking of the best/worst case scenario where, say, I take the promotion and then get a new job a month later. I know my manager and the department head would not be happy about that and I feel like that might ruin any future reference they’d give me later down the road.

        1. Adam V*

          You can always try the “this position fell in my lap and I couldn’t turn it down” wording if it happens that quickly.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      Definitely go for it – my couple of months of job searching turned into a couple of years of job searching. You never know what’s going to happen. And I don’t think it would be a bridge burner necessarily, though that always depends.

      1. conflicted*

        That’s true. I’ve been interviewing and contacted by enough recruiters that I know interest is there (compared to the last time I job searched when it took two years to find my current position), but you’re right that I have no idea what will happen. Just because I’m getting bites doesn’t mean anything will come from it soon.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          Absolutely. I certainly hope your bites turn out more fruitful than my bites, but this is one of those “prepare for the worst” kinds of situations. Good luck!

            1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

              Thanks! I’ve been applying the What Would Dory Do approach: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”

    3. Mona Lisa*

      Definitely take it. You don’t know how long it will take you to get a new position outside the company, and this new position with its associated skills might make you a more attractive candidate elsewhere.

      1. conflicted*

        Yeah, that’s one of the plus sides. I know the job duties will boost my resume and counter the aspects of the position I don’t like so much.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Take the position! Now!

      My coworker was in a similar situation recently. He got promoted and moved to another office, then handed in his two weeks’ notice because he got a much better job office. This is just how business goes.

      1. conflicted*

        Very good point. I think I’m still stuck on the “show loyalty to your employer” mantra that my parents/teachers/professors/etc. drilled into my heads growing up and need to get over my guilt and do what’s best for me. Because you’re totally right. That’s just how business goes, and I need to keep reminding myself of that. Thanks for the reminder!

    5. hbc*

      Take it. A reasonable manager will understand why you’re not sticking around when a five digit salary increase is in play. An unreasonable manager will find some reason to complain if you stay for 10 years.

    6. Observer*

      Take the job. If it’s a reasonable place, you won’t be burning bridges. If it’s not a reasonable place, it doesn’t make a difference what you do.

      It’s not just the extra couple of dollars in your pocket. It’s also your pay and promotion history. Pay history shouldn’t matter, but it does. And, getting a promotion shows that you are good at what you do.

      1. conflicted*

        That’s a good point. I guess now I’m wondering if it’ll come across weird if I list the senior position on my resume and keep applying. I mean, won’t it look strange if I apply to a different company right after I get a promotion? Or am I overthinking this?

        1. designbot*

          You’re overthinking it. If you list it like

          Teapots Unlimited
          2016-present: Senior Designer
          2012-2016: Designer

          Nobody will question the specifics of the timing too hard, and they’ll see upward movement, which is always a good thing.

          1. conflicted*

            Ah, that makes sense. My resume is structured as Month/Year for jobs, so I was thinking of it that way. Thanks for the advice!

      2. coffeepowerred*

        I agree with this point. I went up a couple of steps within a short period of time and I believe this reflects positively on my job history, not so much as job hopping but as accepting more responsibilities and succeeding at them

    7. Ghosted*

      I was in a similar position about a year ago and echo what some others are saying. My boss gave offered me a promotion I was ambivalent about because I was really thinking about career change, not interested in the job/field anymore and thought I’d be able to find another job in a matter of months. A friend convinced me to take the promotion to give me a better title and new duties and responsibilities to add to my resume (also more money) while still looking for a new position. A year later, I am still working on career change, but I am glad I took the promotion. In addition to the additional title and accomplishments I can add to my resume, I’ve been working on taking training and classes for the jobs and industry I want to work in to make me a better total candidate. I’m pretty sure I would have regretted not listening to my friend’s pep talk and not taking the promotion. It’s always great to tell a prospective employer that you were promoted at your current job. As for me, I think I am getting closer to that change I want. I have several interviews scheduled in the next couple weeks. I hope for the same for you, too, and very soon!

      1. conflicted*

        This was super helpful, thank you! This is exactly the position I’m in, so hearing from someone who’s also been there helped put things into perspective for me.

        I hope your interviews go well and you find what you’re looking for!

    8. Moonsaults*

      This is a good time to remember that it’s a business move to accept the promotion. You will move to that position that they’re essentially offering you and do well at it. Then when the time comes, be that in five months or five years, you will move on. They most likely won’t be upset about it.

      If you were gunning for a promotion and someone was pulling strings given your pushing for the jump, disregarding other applicants and such, then it may come back as a “Oh and then you left, wtf.” moment. Still even then, things happen and people get better chances, they need to take and move on to.

      1. conflicted*

        I honestly think the only one who would be “you got promoted and then you left wtf” is my manager, and that’s more because he’s said he thinks I’m one of the stronger people on the team and he’s advocated for me. There’s only one other person eligible for promotion, and they’re probably going to take the second spot, so it’s not really like they’re going out of their way to give it to me. If I don’t take it, it’ll probably go to an external candidate.

        But, with that said, I think you’re right and hopefully even my manager would realize that if a better chance came along, it’d be beneficial for me to take it.

        1. Renee*

          Sure, but isn’t it also beneficial for the company if you take it? You know the company and would require far less training. They’re not losing anything by promoting you and all it really does is put off what they are already prepared to do, which is hire someone from outside. I guess you could argue that they went through the effort of looking for someone and they’d have to do that again (assuming they’ve already advertised the position), but it seems like that’s still less effort than training someone entirely new to do the job.

    9. Melissa*

      Definitely take it, because that’s an (almost) guarantee, it sounds like. You can still keep your eye out. I don’t think it’s a huge bridge-burning move if you give appropriate notice, offer to interview/train a replacement if possible, etc. I mean, some people are petty and get mad whenever someone leaves their company, but that’s just business as usual and they kind of need to get over that.

  5. Nervous Accountant*

    Hey Alison, I emailed you on Monday but I didn’t get a reply. Is it safe to assume I can post on here now?

    1. Bigglesworth*

      If you should her an email asking her is she’s planning on posting your question, she’s usually really good at responding there to let you know.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yes, maybe. She also used to answer my questions via email rather than post them, which was great, but that was a few years back. It has been a long time since I emailed. I’ll wait for the go ahead, if not I can wait til next week

    2. Hallway Feline*

      Same. Last time I emailed she linked me to other similar questions, but I haven’t heard either way this time around. I figured I’ll just wait a bit before following up.

  6. KatieKate*

    As part of my main job I help host a week-long convention. For the past two years, during convention time I did not take overtime (as comp time), even though I occasionally worked 20 hour days. I’m switching roles in the organization and with the new overtime law, I leaned that my replacement will be paid overtime for this convention piece.

    My question: is it worth doing the math to get my comp time that I missed out on, even though the organization is switching off of a com me system? I feel like I got screwed over.

    1. Mona Lisa*

      I feel like the ship has sailed on this one if you didn’t bring it up at the time. If the most recent even has happened in the past couple of months, you might be able to make a case for it (“Now that business has slowed down, I was wondering if it would be possible for me to take a day or two since I worked so much during the convention?”), but otherwise, I would use it as a way to inform your thinking moving forward.

      1. KatieKate*

        That’s what I was thinking too. I’m mostly (and incorrectly) upset that my replacement is going to get some mad overtime cash that I missed out on haha.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Let that “upset” fuel you to be your own best advocate in the future, and to not sign up voluntarily for “being taken advantage of.”

    2. Adam V*

      You could always mention it offhandedly – “oh, I didn’t realize that that role received comp time for those conventions. Is it too late to claim that now before I switch roles?” The worst they could do is say no. :)

    3. LCL*

      It’s worth doing the math, if you can do something with the calculations. Ask for comp time for the time you put in.

  7. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I did a thing!

    I created a survey on emoticons, because this is a very smart group, and I’m curious how many people actually support each position vs. how many comment about it. Have I mentioned that I <3 data?

    I turned on the setting "No IP addresses will be collected", so it is truly anonymous.

    I've also made the results public, so don’t put anything identifying in the “Other” fields if you care about your anonymity!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Oh, and as I’m sure some of you will notice, the choices are randomized, which I hope will reduce bias.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Or, I think it can be: “I love this :).”
          Depending on where you want the emphasis to be.

    2. Adam V*

      For me, if I would use a period, I omit it:

      I hope you’re having a great day :)

      But if I’d use an exclamation mark, I put it at the end of the word:

      I hope you’re having a great day! :)

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Also, a lot would depend on what the sentence was before the emoji.

        Have a great weekend! :)
        That’s awesome news! :)
        I’ll bring by the TPS report when it’s done. :)
        I’ll bring by the TPS report when it’s done :)

        It looks to me like there’s something in the emoji when the period is after :). <– is that drool or a crumb?

    3. super anon*

      I wish there was an option for no 2 that said “there is no other acceptable way to punctuate with an emoji”, because the current “none of the above” answer doesn’t apply to me.

      1. super anon*

        wait – ignore me! it’s pre-coffee and i hadn’t read the second question properly.

        i wish we could delete comments on AAM… so i’d look a bit less foolish right now.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Dorkitude. Yet another new word. I feel educated because I have learned so many new and helpful words.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is fun, thanks for setting this up.
      I see the I don’t cares are winning for question 2. I guess most people primarily are concerned that they understand what is being said. I am happy to see that.

    5. alice*

      I’m surprised “emojis don’t belong in work emails” didn’t get picked more! I feel like a party-pooper.

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      It depends completely on whether it’s in a text or an email–as an article I’ll link to points out, punctuation means significant things in texts (though I think the author goes overboard in extrapolating the trend towards all form of communication).

    7. Lily Evans*

      I’d also be curious to see how many people read an emoticon at the start of the sentence as meaning something slightly different than having it at the end of the sentence. To me the emoticon placement in “:) I hope you’re having a great day.” would mean that whatever you’d sent me made me smile, it’s a separate sentiment with “I hope you’re having a great day” as its own thought. “I hope you’re having a great day :)” the emoticon at the end here would just be me either wanting to soften the message or feeling weird about not using any punctuation. Weirdly, the only punctuation I ever use in conjunction with emoticons are exclamation points, because I just want to emphasize how excited I am! :D

      (Also, trying to explain these subtle nuances in words was really difficult.)

      1. lemonack*

        I 100% read it the way you’ve described! The specific placement of emoji tells me what’s being highlighted or responded to.

    8. Lily Rowan*

      I took the survey, and now realize I lied! I said I would use the emoticon as the punctuation, but I just wrote an email where I definitely didn’t do that, even though the punctuation was a period.

      So you can shift one answer over….

    9. Jasmine*

      Yay, a survey! Almost as good as a Buzzfeed quiz. But does nobody else like their emoticon people to have noses? :-)

        1. a*

          At first that reads to me as a tiny little surprised face with a random paren after it. But it’s cute after my perception adjusts.

    10. Drew*

      My heavy metal loving friends tell me there’s only one appropriate emoticon response:

      \m/. .\m/

  8. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    I’m a finalist for a yearlong mat leave position that’s intended to start the second week in September. I interviewed last Monday, they told me they wanted to have a decision by (last) Friday–which clearly did not happen as they didn’t start trying to get in touch with references until Thursday. My references told me they received a (fairly long) email questionnaire, and they were all returned by (this) Tuesday morning. I’ve been trying to consider that they’re on Employer Time, and have other things to do besides decide this, but I’m really, really, really hoping to hear back soon! Especially considering there’s a more-urgent-than-usual time frame in place, here. It’s everything I can do not to jump out of my skin every time the phone rings.

    1. EmmaLou*

      I so started reading this wrong… I read it as “She’s having to compete to get to take a year’s maternity leave with someone else who is pregnant?! Only one of them gets the year and the other has the 12 weeks… that’s– Oh. That’s not what we’re talking about.” Carry on. I hope you get it.

  9. Venting anonymously*

    I’m reaching BEC mode with one of my coworkers now. I posted a few weeks back (under another nick). Things did get better bc we were out for a few days on separate vacations, and that seemed to have helped; I was less irked etc. And it ramped up this week. Im sure the problem i s with me–I find myself irrationally upset at the smelly food and screen staring and constantly getting cold (I run hot, they run cold).
    There are so many things I’d like to share on here, but I rarely type anymore because I feel like he’ll be watching. I can’t move my screens any further in.
    I’ve stopped online shopping bc the second thre’s a woman o my screen he turns his head to look.

    In other news–creepy coworker (CC) just moved over to our side and no one in our section was happy about it. Majority of the people here find him creepy and weird.

    I sit by teh wall where no one can see my screen; at first it was nice, until I realzied my productivity suffered; I would love to move towards the middle, but we’re moving to a new office in a few monthsso I don’t want to make any waves on that yet.

    I’m feeling apprehensive because of the move, what if I’m stuck with sitting near them again? I was told that we can’t request, they decide on their own; yet both of these cw specifically requested to sit next to me. I think my frustration is due to proximity, sitting next to the same person for months and months is getting to me. I’ve given up on company ever doing anything about CC.

    I hate feeling like this; I’m not always this prickly, but every time I’m moved, they put the CW next to me (also, no one likes CC). He (CW, not CC) is a genuinely nice person and we’ve got along in the past.

    I have no intention of bringing this up to anyone, and I tell myself, “cross that bridge when you get there”. so I guess this is mostly to vent, and see if there’s any ways to cope. I hate being so crabby and I swear I’m not a prickly person. I just want to tough this out.

    1. Violetta*

      Can you get one of those privacy covers for your screen? They make it so people can’t see your screen from an angle, you have to be right in front of it. Not super expensive and it might give you some peace of mind.

    2. Purest Green*

      I don’t think I fully understand the situation here but…

      I’ve stopped online shopping bc the second thre’s a woman o my screen he turns his head to look.

      …WHAT?! That’s bananas. I second the screen filter suggestion.

      1. literateliz*

        I was a little alarmed to read that “creepy coworker” in the next sentence was a completely different person. There’s someone even creepier?!

    3. animaniactoo*

      Actually, I think you’ve got a very valid thing here – why does cw’s desire to sit next to you outweigh YOUR desire not to sit next to them? Why do they get to request and you don’t? I would seriously consider making an issue over this and discussing how it’s affecting your overall morale and work product to be dealing with it and never getting a break from it despite multiple moves where you could sit next to someone else.

      1. Mabel*

        I agree. Even though management has said they’re not taking requests, some people have made them, and it would suck if there was some leeway in the seating arrangements, and they felt like they could grant these requests. It might be a good idea to make sure they know that you DON’T want to sit near these clowns. If I were managing the move, and someone asked NOT to sit next to someone else, I’d take that more seriously than someone just preferring to sit near you.

      2. Myrin*

        Yeah, I don’t really get that, to the point where I feel I must be missing something – OP writes “I was told that we can’t request, they decide on their own” with “they” being the coworkers – who are, in fact, requesting. Are they in a different position from yours which allows them to make these decisions whereas you can just sit there and take it? Or is this just random? Because if so, um, why is this even a thing where some people get to have a choice and others in the very same position don’t?

        1. Myrin*

          Aaah, seems like Mabel cleared up the confusion I was facing – “they” refers to management, not the coworkers. But in any case, I agree with the comments above me.

      3. Venting anonymously*

        The first move was random, and I had no issue with it. We got along fabulously. CW was then moved, and the person he sat next to was very loud so he requested a move. Still had no issue. My irritation began a few weeks ago and it’s gone away, but sometimes it’ resurfaces. Like right now.

        The CW, he moved bc there was a n empty seat here and mgmt had requested that he vacate his seat for a new hire coming in. Originally they were going to put him in a seperate room but he refused.

        1. animaniactoo*

          He refused???? He got to refuse???? Geez.

          I would still seriously request re-assignment just stating that you’re very uncomfortable in CC’s presence. Hey, if CW can request re-assignment because new co-worker was too loud, this is just a valid a reason. As for CW and BEC, did you end up asking him to stop looking over your shoulder?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Wait. I don’t get this. Why is CC and CW allowed to request to sit next to you and yet no one is allowed to request where they sit?

      Coping. Gather up several ideas. If one idea is not working today, then quickly shift to another idea. These are all things I have told myself at one time or another:

      a) CC has a right to earn a living just like me. CC has to eat and have a roof over their head just like me.
      b) Boy CC is sure lucky today, today is his free pass day. I am giving CC a free pass on what ever stupid thing CC comes up with today.
      c) CC does all this stuff, phew, it’s quite a list. I am lucky that I do not have all those problems. Later on in life, it will pay off for me that I do not have problems like that.
      d) CC does not exist in a vacuum. Maybe my real concern is that management does not manage?
      e)All these people complaining to me about CC do not help my attitude. Maybe if I just don’t listen to the complaints today, then today will be a tiny bit easier?
      f) I am not going to let CC wear me down so that I am LESS of an employee. I will continue to be “super employee” no matter what silly thing CC does.
      g)Any place a person works there is at least one person that no one wants to be around and everyone thinks that person is weird. (may or may not be true, but I told myself this anyway.)
      h) Gee, I set goals for myself today. How am I doing on my goals? Have I let CC chew up too much of my time/brain space? Am I falling behind on the goals I set for myself?

      No one thing works that is why you need a number of things. Try not to get too involved in analyzing yourself. I see the comment about not being able working next to the same person for long periods of time. This can be, and usually IS, over thinking a problem. At best it is not productive, it does not help you cope in the moment. At worst it is kind of putting yourself down. I am sure that if you worked with decent people this thought would not have occurred to you. If you must analyze yourself, my suggestion is to insist on analyzing WITH solutions as your goal. If an idea about yourself does not move you toward a solution, then toss the idea away and find the next idea.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        PS: Try to get some extra sleep. When problems start to wear me down I find that some extra shut eye allows me to be a little more patient the next day.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          I have been having issues with sleep lately. I find myself extra drowsy mroe so than usual this month :(

    5. Marisol*

      This might sound too new-agey for you (I live in L.A. where nothing is too new agey) but EFT tapping is like vitamin C for emotional distress. You tap on acupressure points while describing what bothers you. You can find specific instructions by googling “EFT tapping.” If you try it for a few days I can almost guarantee you’ll find him less annoying.

    6. TootsNYC*

      “yet both of these cw specifically requested to sit next to me. I think my frustration is due to proximity, sitting next to the same person for months and months is getting to me”

      Then quietly go and request that they NOT sit next to you, and cite the idea that you would like some variety.

  10. Mona Lisa*

    I’ve been waiting since Wednesday evening for this! Is there any way to politely turn down being a reference for someone after they’ve already given your name to the checker?

    Three years ago I worked in a university department of 4 people. I was the assistant to a coordinator (Jane), an admissions/marketing person (Fergus), and a director (Wilma). Jane and Fergus both offered to be additional professional references for me when I was relocating out of state, and I told them they could reach out to me as well if they ever needed anything. Since then, Fergus has used me as a reference twice. The second time I felt especially unqualified to talk to the manager because they kept asking me about his marketing experience, which I obviously didn’t supervise as a department assistant.

    Wednesday evening I got an e-mail from Fergus to let me know that he was applying for a new job and wanted me to serve as a reference, particularly addressing his skills and accomplishments with X, Y, and Z. I have no experience working with him on any of those initiatives beyond knowing that they did happen and him subsequently teaching me how to use a new system. However, I can’t speak to the success those and how they affected our applications/enrollment. I was planning to e-mail him back and suggest that he use Wilma or one of his supervisors from another job, but I received an e-mail from the reference checker not 2 hours later asking to set up a time with me.

    I feel incredibly rude for not responding within a business day, but I have no idea what I will say to this woman on the phone call. Should I go through with it and just be honest? Should I ghost (not my preferred option)? Should I tell them I’m too busy right now? And– finally –should I let Fergus know that I don’t think I’m the best contact for this in the future? I get the sense that he and Wilma might not have parted on the best of terms, but I feel like my reference is not helpful since I can’t do anything other than verify that he did the things he said.

    1. Sadsack*

      Yes, tell Fergus you don’t feel you can give a proper reference for him. Maybe should then ask how he would like you should handle the reference call you received. In the future, he probably should alert you about the need for reference and the details if the job before offering you as a reference. Don’t feel bad about it. If he wants a good and accurate reference, he’ll understand.

    2. BackintheSunshine*

      I’ve faced this situation and told the reference checker I wasn’t the right person to ask about skills/accomplishments as I didn’t supervise Fergus. I then asked Fergus to not use me as a supervisor reference.

      IF applicable, I would offer to be a peer reference .

      Good Luck!

    3. Jadelyn*

      I’d respond to the reference person to say “I don’t think I’m in a position to give a solid reference for Fergus, as we didn’t really work together much, so there’s not much I could tell you.” And then let Fergus know that you declined to be a reference, and to please not use you as a reference in the future.

    4. animaniactoo*

      I would reach out to Fergus and let him know that you can only be a “personality” or “general work product” reference for him, not a specific skills as you don’t have enough info to evaluate that situation.

      I would answer the reference checker back and let them know that you are available to answer general personality and work product questions, and just leave it there. If they start to ask more detailed questions, simply answer “I’m sorry, but I wasn’t in a position to be aware of that. I can only tell you that the company seemed to be happy with his work at the time.”

      1. Mona Lisa*

        So I should send two e-mails it sounds like? One to Fergus that looks like:

        “I would be happy to talk to Company X for you. Given the nature of our work together at Super Academic U, I don’t think that I could directly speak to all of the skills you mentioned. I could confirm that you participated in those projects and serve as a personal reference, but I don’t feel like I was in a position to discuss all of your achievements.”

        And one to the company that says:

        “I would be happy to talk with you about Fergus at X time. However, since I was not in a supervisor role over Fergus, I would only be able to confirm that he participated in certain projects and offer a character reference. Please let me know if you would like to schedule a call for the aforemetioned date.”

        Would those be acceptable?

        1. animaniactoo*

          Those sound generally good, although on the 2nd I would phrase that to say that you were not his supervisor and did not work with him closely enough on many things to be able to do more than confirm that he participated in….

          The reason for that is that frequently co-workers or assistants really do have in-depth knowledge of stuff, so here the issue is that you just didn’t work closely enough to evaluate the work itself.

    5. TootsNYC*

      do your original plans: Give Fergus your decline first, and then tell the reference checker the truth: that you can’t speak to Fergus’ skills or experience with that.
      You CAN speak to what it was like to work FOR Fergus, and how he was regarded by others in the department. Give that reference honestly. It has value.

      And if the reference checker thinks it was weird of Fergus to give your name as a reference for something you have no knowledge of–well, it was. And the truth is always useful.

    6. stevenz*

      You should go through it and say what you said here – that you’re not qualified to speak about his qualifications for those kinds of jobs and let them take it from there. It may not be so awkward to talk to Fergus about the areas you can’t speak to, maybe in the sense that you can be very positive about A, B, and C, but he’s best finding someone else to speak to X,Y, and Z. It’s softened that way.

  11. Jane Lane*

    Question about applying to an ad agency….

    Several years ago, I started my career at an ad/PR agency. I worked as an Accoount Manager in the PR department. I stayed for several years before moving on to a more lucrative/corporate job. I left on great terms.

    Ive been at the corporation now for several years in a variety of communication roles. Recently, my old agency posted a position (Senior Account Manager), which I applied for earlier this week. Its in the Client Services area, not PR.

    Im thinking of reaching out to my former boss in the PR dept, letting her know that ive applied and would like to learn more about the clients this position would be serving. Should i do it?

  12. Mimmy*

    Keeping old employment records – yes or no?

    I’m in the process of purging old files, and came across a lot of old employment-related items, such as raise/bonus info from one employer, employment and internship performance evaluations, and miscellaneous letters. I was just wondering if it’s normal to keep old employment documents. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia or just wanting to compare current performance with past performance.

    I will admit that seeing my internship evaluations is bittersweet since I had dead set on being a social worker at the time.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I can’t imagine that you would ever need them, but if they don’t take up much space why not stick them in a folder for awhile? I also like going back to read stuff like that.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I used to do this–I had a box of all sorts fo keepsakes from when I was a kid, and in college. Every now and then, I’d get on a big decluttering binge and go through it.
        If I’d forgotten what it was from, or if I decided the memory wasn’t that powerful or necessary to me, I’d toss it. But I’d always keep most of it, and it was a really nice way to stay connected to the younger “me.”

        Right now, I’m feeling really adrift, cut off from who I was when I was 22, and 16, and 35, etc. I could really use one of those sorts of “memory vaults.”

        I liked that it was disorganized and just all piled in one box.

    2. OwnedByTheCat*

      If you want to keep them for every reason, consider scanning them and storing them digitally? I can’t think of needing them, but you never know.

      1. squids*

        Eh. It saves on space for now, but you’re more likely to need these a long time from now (any retirement or pension eligibility questions) rather than in the near future, and the longer they’re kept digitally the less likely you’ll be able to read them.
        Scanning’s great for manuals, warranties, etc, but if they’ve got any long term value they’re worth keeping on paper. It’s much more reliable.
        I would keep all start/end dates and rates of pay; performance evaluations only if you want to look back on them happily.

        1. Ife*

          Yes, plus, hard drives fail. And even if you back up the files, you still need to remember (a) to run the backups, and (b) that you actually have a backup of that file in the first place, and (c) where the backup is (external hard drive? my laptop? cloud service? And wherever it is, which folder, and what was the file name?). For a business where it’s somebody’s job to do these things, it makes sense. For managing personal records at home, paper makes more sense (most of the time, for most people). And I say this as a programmer.

    3. Sadsack*

      You might want to check out the federal guidelines for records retention, if you are in the U.S.

    4. Jadelyn*

      Depends on what they are – there’s a lot of legal requirements around which kinds of documents have to be kept and for how long. We play it safe at my org – employee files over 3 years old go to our deep storage vendor and are set for a 10-year destruction date. Anything relating to any legal cases, workers comp, anything like that is kept indefinitely, but after a few years is also sent to deep storage.

      I would hold on to the raise/bonus stuff since that’s payroll history info, unless you’re completely purging those people’s files, but the performance evals and letters I’d probably go ahead and dispose of appropriately.

      1. Ife*

        It sounds like these are Mimmy’s own personal files, not a company’s records. Do those laws still apply in that case? Either way, I would think that she wouldn’t need to keep the bonus/raise information, since that should already be included with her taxes she filed that year.

        I have tried to keep a few performance reviews so that I remember what my managers thought my strengths were, and because they sometimes reference interesting projects I did. But, despite trying to keep them, I think they are all lost now. I also held onto a lot of the benefits paperwork from Old Job, at first because I wasn’t sure if I would need it for contact info or something, and now because I am lazy.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Oh, I misunderstood – I’ve been doing EE file purging at work so that’s where my brain is at, lol. If those are personal records, no – it’s the employer that’s legally required to hold on to certain things.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, I need to do this. My goal is to have my entire file system organized by the end of the year.

      I once organized 32 five-drawer file cabinets full of environmental testing documents for an old employer. I can do this!

      1. Ife*

        I love filing, I would help you! :) When we moved in together, my fiance gave me his Unorganized Box of Old Bills, and let me add them to my filing cabinet. It was glorious. So much organizing. So much filing.

        1. Elle*

          My sister is a professional organizer! She gets paid to go into people’s homes and organize rooms, closets, files, etc. I keep begging her to come to my house, but she lives four hours away.

    6. Library Director*

      We’re in the process of cleaning out Mesozoic Era records. The info that I’ve found is from the EEOC that says employers should keep all employment records for at least one year from the employee’s date of termination. The federal age-bias law requires that you retain payroll records for three years. Employment applications should be kept for one year. There is language, however, that indicates if you are aware the applicant is over age 40, you should retain it for as long as two years.

      Here’s a nice breakdown that I’ve found helpful:

    7. Not So NewReader*

      If you think you might need to refer to the papers for a job interview or application, then keep them. Oddly, it might work out that you ditch some papers from a job and keep other papers from a job. It depends on what the paper is.

      I feel pretty safe throwing out anything from 15 years ago. There are a few things from 10 years ago, that can go also. For the most part I keep the stuff that pertains to the last ten years of my life.
      This is funny- I have no record of jobs from 30 years ago when I started working. I’d really be hard pressed to figure it out if I had to. You might want to collect dates and names on one sheet of paper and put that in your fire safe or other safe place.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I second the paper with names and dates. I had to do this for an intern application with a law enforcement agency–boy, did I have a time running around trying to locate all my address information! Now it’s on one sheet that lives in my computer jobs folder, just in case (and gets backed up frequently).

    8. Marisol*

      Most people keep things they don’t really need to keep. If you ask yourself, “in what context would I *need* to use this document?” and can’t think of a reason, then pitch it. For example, while you might want to document your salary to prove to your next employer that you really did make what you said you made, a raise/bonus letter wouldn’t be necessary to do this, because you have your tax records. The bittersweet stuff doesn’t sound bittersweet to me. It sounds like it makes you sad, and should therefore be jettisoned. If you really want to keep various letters for sentimental reasons, then scrapbook the nicer/prettier docs, or file it in clear document covers in a binder and keep it with your photo albums. Anything with personal info should be shredded. If you have a big bag of stuff to shred and don’t want to do it yourself, office supply stores will often shred for you for a small fee. Karen Kingston wrote an excellent book called “clear your clutter with feng shui” that provides good motivation to clear stuff out; and there’s a new book called…something like, “the life-changing magic of cleaning up” that gets a lot of good press.

    9. TootsNYC*

      do you have a way to keep the dates? In case you ever apply for a job w/ stringent requirements for dates (like, a security clearance, or something)?

      I’m going to be totally screwed if I ever need that.

    10. Lizabeth*

      The only thing I hang onto is the application for a security clearance way back when just in case since they require precise dates etc…

    11. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I would keep them but condense as much as possible. I find that it’s helpful to go through my old records when I’m job hunting; especially when I’m changing careers or industries. My memory isn’t great so my old resumes and status reports help me remember what I’ve done. Plus, going back to work after 10 years as a SAHM it was nice to be reminded of all that I am capable of doing.

    12. Mimmy*

      Thanks everyone for the input! And yes, these are for my personal files at home. Sorry it wasn’t clear.

  13. Vanesa*

    How do I draw the line when my boss asks me to come in on my day off? I work at an office with M-F 8 to 5ish schedule. Our busy time is Jan – Apr (I bet you can guess what I do haha), and during those times we are on mandatory 55 hour weeks with Sundays off. I’ve been asked to come in a few times on Sundays to meet some deadlines and I have always agreed. I have something due Monday and my manager asked me to come in tomorrow to review it as he is out on business meetings today and we close the office on noon on Fridays. I agreed to come in tomorrow morning and I don’t have a problem with it.

    The problem is my coworkers tell me that I need to say that I can’t come in sometimes otherwise they will take advantage of me and I will never be able to say no. So, I’m not really sure what to do as every time they’ve asked me to come in I was okay with it as I had nothing going on, but I do expect that sometimes I will have something going on. It isn’t very common and this weekend is only the 4th time and each of those times has only been for about 2-3 hours.

    1. Dawn*

      Honestly, if you are OK with this and absolutely feel empowered to say “No, sorry, I have unbreakable plans” if you need to… keep doing it. And obviously only if you feel like you’re fairly compensated for doing so!

      I think the rub is when employers *expect* everyone to be available or take advantage of employees. In this case, seems like you’re not being taken advantage of at all and you feel like you could say no if you wanted/needed to.

      1. Vanesa*

        I’ve been okay with it every time and it’s only been 4 times this year that I’ve been asked to come in on my days off. I don’t know how they would react if I say no especially if there is a deadline that has to get done. I feel like it’s my job and responsibility to get it done.

    2. Nervous Accountant*

      hey fellow busy season person (that time period that shall not be named) :)

      I’m sure others will have better advice, but I would draw the line if it becomes too frequent or is disrupting your life. Are you allowed to be flexible with the time? Or maybe review things via email/phone rather than come in?

      1. Vanesa*

        This has been the only time he asked me to come in to review something and only because the deadline is Monday. He wanted to go over it together since it was my first time doing it. Most of the time I don’t need to be here for review.

        Luckily his 9am meeting was cancelled and we finished it so I won’t have to come in tomorrow after all

        1. AthenaC*

          For me, it goes a long way if the person asking me to do something like this is themselves willing to put in necessary time and effort when they need to. If we’re all working hard and coming in this Saturday is my piece of working hard this time, so be it. But I’ve (mostly) been fortunate to see the people above me working just as hard and for just as many hours (if not more), so I’ve never felt taken advantage of.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It’s totally up to you whether you want to work those hours. If you really don’t care, then just keep saying yes! If you want to hedge your bets, I’d say maybe say something along the lines of “Let me check my calendar and get back to you in 5 minutes/an hour/tomorrow”, depending on the nature and timeliness of the request.

      1. Vanesa*

        Thank you! It’s just I’ve never had a problem with it and all times it’s been my deadline for one the clients I work on so I feel like it’s my responsibility. Not to mention, I know they are very flexible and you can leave early another day if you come in your day off.

        1. TootsNYC*

          see, that right there would have me saying “Sure!” without a second thought.

          I’m w/ you. If my boss and employer are going to be flexible and “real” with me, then I’m going to be flexible and “real” right back at them.

          It’s only 4x a year, and there’s a really clear reason (not just “oh, I couldn’t get it done in time” or some other idiotic thing).

          You’re earning big points, I think.

          Trust your own instincts; they seem really sound.

          1. AthenaC*

            “I’m w/ you. If my boss and employer are going to be flexible and “real” with me, then I’m going to be flexible and “real” right back at them.”


    4. Collie*

      Agreeing with Dawn, but also want to add that when you said “I bet you can guess what I do,” my first thought was working with Girl Scouts, because that’s cookie season! I guess I’m optimistic. I quickly realized it was probably more to do with taxes. Dun-dun-dunnnnnn. Girl Scout cookies > Taxes.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        As someone who has worked with that organization, I can assure you that Girl Scout cookie time is incredibly stressful and not much fun! (The bonus is cookies.)

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        PS, say yes enough times and they’ll always come to you first because they know it means not having to ask anyone else!

        1. Lemon Zinger*

          Ugh, this is so true.

          When I started my role, I said yes to EVERYTHING but that’s because all the requests my boss was making were perfectly reasonable (attend X event to learn more, meet with X person to talk about his career, etc.). I enjoyed those things and really benefited from them.

          But then I got accepted into a night program for grad school. When I told my boss that I’d be unavailable ONE night per week, she flipped out! That, combined with her tendency to email/text at all hours, has made me withdraw a lot. I no longer answer emails or texts when I’m “off the clock” and I don’t say yes to everything.

          Sometimes you have to train or re-train them. It’s annoying!

          1. Drew*

            Your story proves that the boss was doubly stupid in her reaction: for not recognizing that it’s to her benefit to have an employee who is doing something that could easily end up being to the office’s benefit down the road, and for not recognizing that flipping out the first time the employee set a boundary was going to lead to lots more boundaries in a hurry.

            I have occasionally had to explain to bosses that my willingness to put in Saturdays in the spring and summer doesn’t mean I lose my right to say “no” in the fall, because college football is one of the things I’m passionate about: it’s bonding time with my parents, it’s a pretty significant financial outlay, and I can give a precise schedule months ahead of time if it’s necessary. Became a big deal last fall when they set up a major event without consulting me on the date, so that I had to tell them I wasn’t free that day — and it was an event where I was expected to have a major role. Fortunately, we got the date shifted, and I had a couple of serious conversations with management about not scheduling critical employees for off-day events without consulting them FIRST. Just because you think something I’m doing in my own time is trivial doesn’t mean I have to honor your opinion or your priorities.

        2. animaniactoo*

          this and this

          It’s good to be on the alert for it, BUT if your co-workers are advising you to look out for it, it might be worth pushing back on one of the next requests you get to see what reaction you get.

          People react much harder the first time boundaries are drawn if they are disrupting a long-established pattern. Sometimes with long-term consequences in a way that just wouldn’t exist if the pattern was not allowed to establish in the first place.

        3. Vanesa*

          Well, it’s a little different in that we each have our own workload so they only ask me to come in to meet a deadline for a client I am working on. If there is a deadline for a client I’m not working on then they ask whoever is working on to come in. But it really isn’t very often (well I don’t think 4 times since January is too often) and only about 2-3 hours each time so I don’t see it as a big deal. Well, I kind of try to keep those days open to come in to work because I know of the deadline. I just see it as part of the job.

          What would be a good way to say no I can’t come in. I just feel like if there is a deadline for a client I’m working on it’s my responsibility to get it done. Not to mention, they are pretty flexible here and no one really watches your hours. For example, say I was busy tomorrow what would I say?

          P.S. My boss’s 9am meeting was cancelled so I don’t have to come in tomorrow after all.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            “Gee, Boss, I really can’t make it Saturday at 9. I am willing to come in Friday or Sunday, would you be able to consider another day?”

            Just offer another time slot or show openness to picking another day.

            I think the issue here is that your coworkers see this as a bfd and you don’t. So for you to push back is not making sense to you and leaves you feeling a bit uncomfortable.

            I think take the bull by the horns: “Boss, you know, I have been very lucky to be able to come in on these odd days. But it could be that some day I have a car appointment or other unavoidable activity. How would you like me to handle it if I genuinely cannot come in during off hours?”

            1. Vanesa*

              Yes, that makes perfect sense! I was just thinking that if I either have to come in when they tell me or not come in on the weekend at all. I think suggesting another time makes perfect sense.

              I think taking the bull by the horn would make sense if the requests were more frequent, but this is the first time they’ve asked since April and during April they asked 3 times and all were times when the deadline was coming up. I guess I will see how this time goes and see if they become more frequent. Because we are busy until October 17 and then busy season starts again January to April.

          2. TootsNYC*

            “For example, say I was busy tomorrow what would I say?”

            “Oh, shoot, I can’t–how else can you get what you need?”
            Never be specific.
            Express regret and sympathy, then go straight from the “can’t” to some other topic, like “how else will YOU…” (bonus points i fyou put it back on them)
            Or, if you can, offer something else that IS reasonable: “I could stay a little later…” or “You can email me tonight, but I won’t be available at all on Sunday”

            And then end the conversation as soon as possible. “I’m sure you’ll work something out.”

            You might try having one Sunday that you DO make plans–if only because that’s valuable recharge/restock time. It’s not just doing your laundry–it’s finding some small pieces of joy and contentment.

        4. Vanesa*

          Oh I forgot to mention that this time was kind of my fault because I finished on 8/16 for initial review and then I don’t know why I had it in my head that was due on 8/31 so I didn’t follow up until yesterday around 530 after my boss had already left for the day.

          1. animaniactoo*

            On a time when it’s not something that you have to correct because of your own missteps, you would just say “Unfortunately I don’t have the time free tomorrow (morning).” and maybe offer an hour earlier start on Monday.

            Honestly though, from what you’ve described, I would say that it sounds like they’re being pretty reasonable about how often they ask – and the one thing I would be careful of is looking to see if deadlines are tight because they’re overpromising. I worked for a company like that – the clients had unbreakable deadlines and I always felt a responsibility to the clients to get them what they needed by their deadline. If you see your company moving in that kind of direction *at all*, you might need to evaluate whether the only way to say no to your employer without guilt is to say no to the entire job and move on. It doesn’t sound like you’re in that space, so this is just really saying – watch out for it.

            Also, even though it’s your client – is it really true that somebody else couldn’t come in, look at it, and complete the final steps needed? Evaluate that. Just because it’s your client, doesn’t necessarily mean that the responsibility for meeting the deadline has to be yours first to last. What would the company do if you weren’t available to come in? If you were on vacation and couldn’t be reached?

            1. Vanesa*

              Yeah….I think you’re right that offering other times makes sense. I guess I’m just seeing from what my coworkers are telling me that I shouldn’t have to come on my days off at all but I see it more as it’s responsibility. I will take into consideration and keep in mind if they are over-promising, but for the most part I don’t think they are.

              Although, we do have some crunches at times because the clients will bring the information a few days before the deadline and we might have to stay a little later to get things done. That does bother me a bit because I feel the bosses should set deadlines with clients and not make promises to get things done if they bring the information a few days before it’s due, but I feel like it’s the nature of the job.

              This is my first year in this industry too by the way.

              1. TootsNYC*

                “This is my first year in this industry too by the way.”

                I think you are so smart to be willing to question both your own assumptions (“this is reasonable”; “this is part of the industry”; “it’s my responsibility”) AND your colleagues’ assumptions.

                That’s a nice set of open eyes.
                You’ll be in a position to see where the balance should be. Just be sure to factor in the idea that rejuvenation is powerful (take that Sunday break!), that extra effort should be rewarded and compensated for (do you get return flexilbility and consideration), and that badly organized things shouldn’t be excused (that idea of “make the clients bring things earlier; don’t make promises to late clients that aren’t fair for the workers who have to meet them”).

              2. AthenaC*

                If I could chime in, based on my 8.5 years in public accounting, there are several things that drive when you have to work off hours:

                – your own work ethic. In my opinion, it is good to be willing to do what it takes to get the job done on time. It’s just what we do from time to time. The fact that your coworkers apparently won’t ever do it is a poor reflection on them, in my opinion. (Again, my opinion is public-accounting specific.) A good manager, upon being told no, will do it themselves, because overflow has nowhere to go but up. I would bet that your managers / partners think more highly of you than your coworkers simply because they know they can rely on you. Now, it’s possible your coworkers are right about you being taken advantage of, but from what you say I don’t think that’s the case.
                – your clients. You’re right that some clients don’t give you what you need until a few days before the deadline. Some clients can be managed, some can’t. That’s just how it is.
                – your managers / partners. Sometimes they get busy and don’t review your work until way later than they should. Some managers / partners can be managed out of this, some can’t.

                Overall, it sounds like you are doing what is normally expected of us from time to time; unless I’m missing something, it’s your coworkers who are probably not doing what they should be doing.

                1. Vanesa*

                  Thanks so much for your help Athena and everyone else.

                  I definitely agree and think some of it is just the nature of the job. I don’t think they are taking advantage of me.

    5. my two cents*

      It sorta sounds like your coworkers may be nervous that they’ll also start getting more weekend requests, since you’ve been so available and able to work ’em.

      The next time it comes up and you have something within the next month, you could mention it to signal that you won’t ALWAYS be able to do this. “Oh sure, this weekend is no problem at all. I do have a (wedding, trip, whatever) on (weekend in the future), but I can pop in tomorrow to finish this – no problem.”

      1. Vanesa*

        Well the thing is we each have our own clients and assignments so if it’s one of my assignments they ask me otherwise they will ask my coworker.

        I like the idea of saying if I have things coming up in a few months, but the thing that it has only happened 4 times this year so I just don’t see it as a big issue. Not to mention each time has been true deadline.

    6. Coolb*

      Wait, you are generally okay with it given the nature of the business but your co-workers are telling you to set limits so you don’t get taken advantage of? Um, no. Sounds like they don’t want you to show them up as more reliable in a pinch or something. If you truly have other plans, just say so politely and suggest the next best alternative for getting the work done timely. Otherwise, ignore know it all co-workers.

      1. Vanesa*

        What would be a good alternative? I just feel like if I was busy tomorrow I would still suggest coming in Sunday or maybe early on Monday since this particular assignment still had to be sent to the client and then sent to the state by Monday!

        1. misspiggy*

          Doing it from home, using Skype etc if necessary. And making sure you get time off in lieu or other compensation.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think it is fine to suggest an alternative date and time.

          But, don’t push back just for the sake of pushing back or proving something to your coworkers.

          While you are asking about what to say to your boss, maybe the real question is what to say to your coworkers. I think I would go with, “Thanks. I will keep that in mind as I go along”, then change the subject when they mention management taking advantage of you.

          1. Vanesa*

            Thank you! Yes, that is what I try to tell my coworkers and just change the subject. Like you said, I don’t see it as a big deal but I guess they do.

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      Depending on state I believe there are laws how many days in a row a person can work.

  14. orchidsandtea*

    When do you start leaving awards and accomplishments off your resume?

    For instance, I was a National Merit Finalist (top 1% in state) and on the Dean’s List in college, but that no longer feels terribly relevant — I’m 26. But I can’t decide whether to include or leave off the national writing contest I won that same year. On the one hand, national writing contest. On the other hand, high school, and fiction.

    How do you decide?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Unless the job you were applying for had something to do with writing, I’d leave it all off. You are closing in on a decade post high school. Drop it.

    2. Leatherwings*

      Take all the stuff from HS off, I think. You’re also at the point where stuff like Deans List in college should start coming off, but that depends a little more on how much employment history you have.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Unless you’re a writer, I would take that stuff off. Even then it’s iffy.

      I was extremely proud of my headline-writing awards. But the last one was in 2008. And it’s not relevant to the work I do now, nor all that impressive anymore. They’re gone.

    4. Mona Lisa*

      If the writing competition is particularly relevant to the position for which you’re applying, I can maaaaaybe see leaving it on, but otherwise, I think it’s time to let the high school and college awards go. I recently revamped my resume and realized that I have many more professional accomplishments that would probably be better to highlight than what I did in college.

    5. Thyme Lady*

      I keep dean’s list, college awards, and college extracurriculars that pertain to my field listed on my LinkedIn profile. I’m 28.

      I think once you have worked somewhere after graduating college, it is safe to take all of that information off your resume and not include it with application materials unless requested.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I like that – LinkedIn is a good compromise, that way it’s available if a prospective employer does a search for you, but you’re not highlighting it and using up resume real estate to do so.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      National Merit became irrelevant once you went to college. Dean’s List became irrelevant once you graduated from college. The writing contest, unless it’s directly related to your field, isn’t relevant either.

    7. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      This is contrary to what AAM recommends, but I always list that I was a graduate of the high school I attended.
      First of all – it was one of the better high schools in Massachusetts – and still is. It shows I didn’t go to Bozo High.

      Second, you NEVER know of a personal connection that may come up during the interview process. 22 years later, an interviewer in Georgia noted my high school. Turned out I was very good friends with her brother-in-law.

      But one has to be careful – if you are out of high school ten years and talk about the awards you won there – it MIGHT wreak “peaked in high school”.

    8. Preux*

      I think of it this way: if I’m putting something on my resume, I’m making the statement ‘I don’t have anything more relevant that could have taken this space’. So that’s what I judge based on. I’m 25 and my resume doesn’t have my high school or college accomplishments on it any more, just my degree; and I was super embarrassed when I interviewed for an internal transfer and the interviewing manager pulled out my resume from back when I first started with the company, with all of that old info on it, and started asking me about it! (I did get the position BTW, this wasn’t a disaster or anything, but I do feel like we wasted some interview time discussing school activities that weren’t really relevant to what I would be doing at all, which would have been avoided if he had been going off of my current resume.)

    9. Chickaletta*

      Take it all off. Leaving it on draws attention to your high school and college years, so unless you want to be known as a college student or someone who reached their peak five years ago (even if that’s the case, you want to appear like you’ve moved onwards and upwards), so it should come off. Draw attention to the accomplishments you made as an employed adult instead.

        1. Justme*

          So then I have a question. I work full time. I have a kid. I’m a part time student. Obviously the kid stays off the resume. But do I put that I have a whatever gpa while working full time? Or just list my post-secondary education as its own thing?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            You don’t typically include your GPA anyway unless it’s very high (3.7 or higher), and even then you don’t need to. I don’t think you need to note that you were also working full-time; I’d just put education in its own section and leave it at that.

    10. Honeybee*

      I’m about 8 years from college and I don’t have any of my college accomplishments on my resume – just years of graduation. I only have one honor from graduate school, even, and that’s simply because it’s a pretty prestigious national award that most PhDs across fields would have heard of. I’ve seen PhDs with 20 years of experience keep it on.

      I’d leave off the writing contest.

    11. Caro*

      In this vein- should you also take stuff off like phi beta kappa or graduating cum laude after a certain amount of time?

      1. Khal E. Eessi*

        I’m wondering the same about cum laude! I have put “B.S. in Blabbity Blobbing, Blah Blah College, Class of 2009 with cum laude honors” and then mention my study abroad because I have gotten a job based on the fact the interviewer did the same study abroad program.

        But maybe at this point I am too far in to leave that in?

      2. Clever Name*

        I’m 37 and you can take my cum laude from my cold dead hands. ;) I graduated with a BS in a hard science, and I feel like that was a pretty big accomplishment. That said, I just have it listed next to my degree and I do t really call it out. I started to put it on my LinkedIn profile but it just looked, I don’t know, stupid? on there, so I removed it immediately.

    12. Grimmerlemming*

      The only award i keep on my resume is my Fulbright fellowship due to how prestigious they are. It also helps that I list accomplishments during my tenur as a Fulbright scholar as a separate job.

      All other college rewards came off at 26. Including grad first in my class of 12000 at a world renown school for my subject.

    13. Chaordic One*

      I left the highschool awards on my resume when I got out of college and was looking for my first “real” job, but after that they came off. I kept the college awards on for about 5 years or so, when it became clear that I was moving from entry-level work to mid-level work and the college education was becoming eclipsed by my professional experience and I would kind of recommend the same for most people.

      Of course, I’m sure there might well be an exception where you feel you need to do it differently.

  15. Fabulous*

    Why does it always take so long to push an employment offer through HR? Been working as a temp at this company since May covering for a maternity leave. She returned beginning of August and they kept me on and created a new position specially for me because they liked me so much (yay!) but it’s been taking forever to actually bring me on despite all the “work” that’s gone into creating this new position. I’ve known I was to become permanent since about halfway through the maternity leave, so about 2 months they’ve had to get things in order already. Now it’s coming down to the point where the transition NEEDS to happen for various reasons (contract is coming to an end soon, financing for buying a house, etc.) but they’re still dragging their feet it seems like. It’s so annoying!!

    1. Dawn*

      There’s a lot of reasons… I don’t know what they are, but they are there. At my old company HR took FOR. EV. ER. to do anything. Hiring, promotions, raises… FOR. EV. ER.

      They sure as shit could whip up termination papers on a moment’s notice tho.

      1. Jadelyn*

        A lot of it comes down to needing approvals from on high – I started here as an agency temp in January 2014, by July I was told they were working on converting the position, I didn’t get converted until the end of November! And it was still technically a “temp” position, just internal rather than via an agency. I didn’t lose the temp designation until just a few months ago!

        And trust me, I know it’s frustrating, but if I’m trying to chase down an SVP or the COO for approvals for specific offer terms, it can take awhile to drag answers out of them. Especially for a temp-to-regular position conversion, that probably means increasing the department’s FTE, which usually gets a lot of pushback unless you can seriously JUSTIFY why you NEED the position long-term, and those discussions can take for-freaking-EVER.

        1. Anonyby*

          Needing approvals from on high can really take forever. I’m currently stuck in that limbo (though Boss is trying to transition me from PT weekends-and-floating to FT-with-some-availability-to-float rather than true temping). It’s aggravating and stressful.

      2. Jadelyn*

        The term papers are a lot faster because they generally don’t require as many approvals to fire someone as it does to hire them. And/or there’s a lot going on behind the scenes prior to a term, meetings and discussions and coaching and whatnot, which most people don’t see happening, so it does look sudden when finally things reach a point that concrete action is being taken – but it really isn’t as sudden as it seems, if you’ve been able to watch the full process.

    2. Coolb*

      Don’t blame HR unless you have viability to what goes on behind the scenes. Hiring managers and higher ups love to use HR as a frontman to not have direct conversations about budget or whatever may be a gating item to hiring somebody.

      1. Coolb*

        ugh, visibility not viability.

        BTW, maybe you can tell I’m in HR. can I tell you how many times a manager went off the reservation and made a commitment without the proper authority or approvals, then blamed it on us for being slow when we were running around like maniacs trying to cover his/behind?

    3. anonymouse*

      Ouch! I totally understand though as I’m an HR Manager. I’m the most impatient person in the world. But in order to hire anyone…I have to reaffirm with the hiring manager (days!) that is who they want to hire,approval from plant manager (more days), approval from general manager (more days, begging, and meetings), also sometimes approval from corporate HR instead of just me in plant HR. I was an internal hire/promotion when I took this position after 3.5 years. It took them 3 months to figure out my job title and compensation (they split one job to make mine and another). Lots of Red tape.

    4. Melissa*

      At my company, while we don’t have an HR department, the owners have to do all final interviewing. This makes lots of sense, except that they won’t do it unless they can be TOGETHER (and that goes for all kinds of meetings), and they both travel about 3 weeks out of the month, not together. So like, scheduling a meeting with them is a huge nightmare. We have lots a lot of probably great employees who have to take another job because the interview process takes so long. Why won’t they delegate, or at least let the OTHER one make a decision? The world may never know, but it is endlessly frustrating.

      So, for us, hiring takes forever because the decision-makers are too busy.

  16. TotesMaGoats*

    Can I whine just a little bit? I’ve got a raging ear infection but I’m in my office for a half day because I am literally the only person in the WHOLE school who knows how to admit a graduate student and get them correct in the system so they can get registered. Seriously. And since we’ve only been doing online apps for about 7 months, there is still so much paper that comes in. Classes start Monday so I’m here, working. I can’t really hear out of my ear. I’m exhausted from being sick and not having a day off two months and working my tail off. And let’s add that the Tylenol with codeine that I took last night for the ear pain kept me away almost all night. So that sucked.

    But the second job that I posted about a couple weeks ago that I was just waiting to open up, opened up today. Just some minor tweaks to my cover letter and I can get that out this weekend. But back to just wanting to go home and curl up with my cats and sleep.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Sorry – ear infections (so I hear, oops, no pun intended) can be so distracting and hurt a lot!
      Here’s hoping you can push through the day and then go home and curl up with those cats and sleep!

    2. Jadelyn*

      Ouch, so sorry to hear that. Does your org have any plans to, y’know, train anyone as your backup at some point? Because it’s super not fair to you to have to come in while you feel that awful.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Fellow higher ed employee here! I really hope you feel better soon! And for pete’s sake, they need to train someone else to admit grad students!

    4. Dankar1208*

      Are you at my university? I swear there’s only one person who can do that here, and it’s insane on campus today! I’m working our office for incoming international students and am skipping out on the fun stuff (campus tours, free lunch, etc.) to answer calls and walk ins. So I’m feeling a bit whiny, too.

      I hope you feel better, though! Ear aches are literally the worst.

    5. TootsNYC*


      Do you find yourself getting up and trying to walk away from the pain in your ear? I did.

    6. Candi*

      Getting to this late late late…

      But if you can take them, pseudophedrine helps open the Eustachian tubes, allowing the ear to drain, while ibuprofen is an anti inflammator. Cleaning your ear out with hydrogen peroxide can help as well.

      Sharing my long and painful experience since I was a kid, here. :p

      And they needto train a backup.

      Back to checking out the archives. (And figuring out how to phrase the question I eventually want to ask.)

  17. Getting Overwhelmed*

    One of my teammates is practically impossible to work with.

    He epitomizes the antisocial programmer stereotype. He straight up ignores questions over IM and email if he thinks they’re “obvious,” he won’t update the rest of us on his work through the project management software we use because he doesn’t understand it (he hasn’t made any effort to understand it), and he’s occasionally deleted and redone other people’s work because he dislikes the way we’ve done it (the project were working on requires us to work together in a shared server environment, without any real way to stop this). As well, while a lot of his own work is pretty solid, he makes some really obvious technical errors, and he makes them repeatedly, even after a couple of people tell him “Wayne, you have to do it this way or it won’t work.”

    I feel bad for the guy, because this is his first post college office job and he seems to have some really bad anxiety issues. But he’s making my own job much harder and he doesn’t seem to be making any attempts to improve. It’s at the point where a good chunk of my own workday is devoted to cleaning up after him, and I have to stay late to get my own work done.

    I’m pretty sure the higher ups in our department know about his problems, but it’s becoming unbearable to work with him because of this stuff. I really want to tell our boss that, and say that someone really needs to lay out the behaviors he needs to adopt to work on a team, and make sure he sticks to them, but I’m new here (so is he) and I’m a little worried this’d come off as presumptuous and like I’m telling my boss how he should do his own job. What should I do? I really can’t keep working with this guy unless he does a complete 180 with his teamwork skills.

    1. Leatherwings*

      So I think your instinct to address this is right, but the steps you laid out need some tweaking.
      You aren’t his manager so you can’t make suggestions about how to manage him or say things like “I can’t keep working with him unless…”
      You’re both new, and you probably don’t have the capital to make that claim. If it comes across that way, there’s a chance your employer will say “or what?” and let you go.

      Do you share a manager? If not, go to your manager and lay out what the issues are and what you need from him. Not “I need him to stick to certain behaviors” but “I really need him to answer my IMs.” Then listen to your manager and see what they suggest. Ultimately, they may step up and manage him (he sounds like a pain), or they might decide that these are things they aren’t willing to push him on, and you’re going to have to either deal with it or leave. The only thing you can really do in this situation is let your manager know what the issues are though.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

        I agree – in particular, I would focus on the aspects that are impacting your work most directly. This guy sounds obnoxious, but make it about you needing your manager’s help to get your work done, not how he’s terrible to work with. You should not be staying late or cleaning up after him if that’s not your job, and good boss would want to know about that and fix it.

        1. Jadelyn*

          +100 – frame it as “this behavior of his is impacting my ability to do my own job, how can we make it so that I can spend my time doing my work instead of [other stuff]?” Collaborative tone rather than confrontational, all that jazz.

      2. Getting Overwhelmed*

        Wow, that was really well said. Thank you.

        You made a good point that I need to switch out of my complaining to friends voice when I talk to our boss. We have the same boss.

        What I’m now planning on saying (we are nearing the end of a crunch period right now and I’m not going to voice this until afterwards) is something like “There are a few things which Wakeen does that really impact my productivity, because I either have to chase him down for even a basic acknowledgement that he got the message, or I have to clean up after him. I’m finding that I need to stay late to get my work done most days, because of this. I really like working for you and working for the company, but this is slowly wearing me down. They are X, Y, and Z, and they impact me because A, B, and C. I’m not a manager so I don’t know how to handle it but I think you should know.”

        I think that sounds a lot more professional. I like my boss, but ultimately he’s a boss and the biggest thing to him is my productivity, and he’s already acknowledged that working longer hours than other folks will wear me down and that something should be done about it.

    2. Temperance*

      Honestly, having anxiety is unrelated to his poor performance. I think it’s time to talk to your boss about this. He’s impeding on your ability to have a life outside of work. That’s not acceptable.

      I would also stop cleaning up after him.

      1. Getting Overwhelmed*

        Oh yeah, I understand. I just brought it up because

        a) I’ve got plenty of experience with it: I have a close relative who gets panic attacks, and I’ve been receiving treatment for my own anxiety disorder for a few years (it’s very much under control now) so

        b) I want to be sympathetic, because a sympathetic boss (who also had anxiety disorder) at my first job helped me learn how to manage it in the workplace. I really want to pass that on to my future younger colleagues.

        I definitely, which is why the boss needs to know. I’m definitely not going near the “I think he might possibly have some anxiety issues” when I talk to my boss, with a 10 foot stick though.

    3. Purest Green*

      he won’t update the rest of us on his work through the project management software we use because he doesn’t understand it (he hasn’t made any effort to understand it)

      Sigh. I currently work with someone who won’t update our shared project management site and is bad at all aspects of the job. You definitely have to stop cleaning up his work. If your work relies on his work being cleaned up, then your manager needs to know that fact (present it factually).

      1. Getting Overwhelmed*

        I think if this guy is coached upon what he needs to start doing, and if he actually does it, he could be pretty effective. Problem is that he doesn’t seem to view this type of thing as important. :/

          1. Getting Overwhelmed*

            Oh, that’s not something I’m doing for him. Our PM has very clearly noticed the difference in our communication styles and willingness/ability to learn/use the project management system the team uses. Specifically, that I respond and that I ask plenty of questions about it. Like “hey, we used something different at OldJob. How do you want me to report any delays to you: through this or through email or some totally different way?”

            That’s *a* reason why I think our boss will be sympathetic to me as long as I don’t enter this discussion with him with a bad attitude. There’s been enough emails saying stuff like “Wakeen, you absolutely need to let other people know how your parts of these projects are going” with absolutely no reply from Wakeen he’s been CCed on.

    4. moss*

      I’d like to push back on the idea that programmers have no social skills. Programming is by nature an extremely collaborative job. Very rarely will one programmer be the only one working on a project from start to finish. Being able to answer questions and follow work standards is very important. This guy sounds like a NIGHTMARE to work with and given that it’s his first job you MIGHT be able to train new and better habits into him.

      Whatever you decide, please don’t let it go because programmer=geek=unable to function normally. The best programmers can not only program but communicate with team members and they MUST be able to follow work instructions. Not learning your systems is not acceptable for any reason.

      1. Getting Overwhelmed*

        I’m a programmer too! :) It was meant to be light hearted, but I guess the negative tone of the rest of my post sorta killed that.

        1. Myrin*

          FWIW, I think your intention came across perfectly well, what with the use of “he epitomises this stereotype” which typically means that this isn’t your personal opinion.

        2. moss*

          I just don’t want you or anyone reading this to think that type of behavior can be excused by his job title. Cheers!

      2. Dan*

        Yeah… I’m actually the sole contributor to my code base, but even still, I have bosses and peers and people who use what I write. Getting requirements, making sure we’re doing the right thing, validating the output, making sure people can actually use what you’re developing, and all of that crap? Social skills.

        I work with a guy who is also the sole contributor to his own code base, and whenever I need something from him, it takes FOR E VER. And when you do try to talk to him about making changes, he goes on and on about the rationale for what he did. I mean, it’s one thing to make sure that if you’re changing the spec, that you’re not doing it willy-nilly, but this guy is just impossible… he brings a unique skillset, but it’s so hard to get stuff out of him that if he were managed out or quit, I’d happily take my chances on a replacement. IOW, if I were boss, he’d be on a PIP.

        1. Getting Overwhelmed*

          Sounds familiar. If I were this guy’s boss, I would’ve probably put him on a PIP the first time he said something like “I don’t reply to questions that have an obvious answer.” That’s an awful attitude. Like, I can’t think of a worse attitude in the office than that aside like, punching co-workers.

    5. TootsNYC*

      I think there is room for peer feedback, and maybe even peer anger (righteous, controlled, measured anger).

      He makes your job harder? Say something directly to him. Give him negative responses that might incentivize him to stop doing things.

      “Chuck, you deleted my code–which means you threw out all my work. I don’t care that it wasn’t written the way YOU would write it–it worked, and you tossed it. Don’t do that again.”

      “Chuck, this is the fourth or fifth time one of us has told you that this won’t work. I can’t do my part until this is fixed, and I’m going to have to fix it instead of leaving it to you. Which means I’m staying late. And that’s your fault.”

      And yes, take it to your manager, with an emphasis on:
      -it wastes people time and effort–and the company’s money
      -it causes confusion, which wastes people time and effort–and the company’s money

      1. Getting Overwhelmed*

        This was a good idea, but I tried it Friday afternoon and it backfired.

        We were working on a problem that had one ugly and tedious way of solving it (basically manual copy+paste data entry — I know), that would undoubtedly work. But he kept insisting it wouldn’t. So I asked him, in the calmest and most polite tone I could manage, “Charlie, I don’t understand why you keep saying this wouldn’t work. Yeah, it’s not a nice way of solving it, but I can’t see how it would work. Can you explain why it wouldn’t? If I’m missing something that’s really obvious, I need you to let me know so we don’t waste our time and stay late.”

        Maybe I wasn’t as nice sounding as I thought I was, or I wanted to be, but he just couldn’t handle that. I would like to think I was, but it’s possible my irritation was showing a lot more than I thought. But he absolutely couldn’t take that. He sort of had a mini meltdown where he went off and started shouting at me that I was distracting him, he didn’t have time for me, and that I was stressing him out, and left.

        Boss advised me to take a few minutes after that, so I stepped away, and when I came back boss asked how I was doing. I said something like “I’m doing okay, but are you trying to tell me I should leave?” he said “No,” and I said “well then I’m going to get back to XYZ that you asked me for.”

        I feel like I should be a little worried about my standing here now, but I’m honestly not, because these things have happened before between him and other co-workers. I feel a little mean saying this, but I think he simply isn’t equipped to work here.

      1. Getting Overwhelmed*

        I always follow up. It’d usually prevent me from getting things done if I didn’t. I give him around 10 minutes, then I walk over to his desk and say “hey Wakeen, I sent you an IM a few minutes ago, but I didn’t get a reply. Anyway, I need to know X.”

    6. Student*

      Stop cleaning up after him. Always prioritize your own work first, even if your part won’t work right until he fixes his stuff.

      If you literally cannot move forward on your work until his is finished correctly, then tell that to the project manager – “I can’t get started on this because Dilbert’s part isn’t working yet.”

      The more you clean up after him, the more you enable him at your own expense.

  18. Gaia*

    I’m currently recruiting (to replace Felicia) and for the first time ever I’ve been on the receiving end of applicants trying to stand out in ways that just irritate me. Like the resume video. And the infographic resumes. And the guy who responded to my email requesting we speak (phone screening) by telling me he only meets in person but that he’s like Clark Kent and when we meet, he’ll be sure to turn into Super Applicant.

    1. TeaPotDesigner*

      My local newspaper had been using huge adverts in their own paper to show off their resume video services and claiming it will give applicants the edge. I really hope those poor souls hadn’t pay too much for it.

      1. Chaordic One*

        No! No! No!

        That is SO wrong!

        I know newspaper revenues are down, but this is NOT how to prop up the business.

    2. AFRC*

      Oh my god. Ask Clark/Super Applicant which one of them would show up to work if you offered him the job – and then politely decline. (I’m sure that’s unprofessional, but would be deeply satisfying.)

      I admit that I tried to be clever in cover letters when I was younger. But that was a long time ago, and I think I just eventually realized that I was being obnoxious, and stopped doing it. Hopefully these folks will take the hint.

    3. motherofdragons*

      “…but that he’s like Clark Kent and when we meet, he’ll be sure to turn into Super Applicant.”

      lol wut

    4. Jadelyn*

      Omg WHAT. Specifically re the Clark Kent guy. That’s a new one…

      Do people actually do the infographic resume? I’ve never seen one before, I half-thought those were an urban legend or something. The closest I’ve gotten was this guy whose resume was a solid black background, an abstract design in red and white in the center, and his resume information in white text over all of it. It actually looked super cool…just not for a resume.

      I usually don’t even bother responding to video resumes to request a real resume unless I’m hard up for candidates for the position in question. And then there’s the people who don’t send a resume, but just email and say “I have some questions about the position, can you call me so we can discuss it?” To which my answer is a resounding “Nope!” and a click of the delete button, because that’s a candidate who thinks they’re too special to follow the same process as everyone else and just wants to get me on the phone because they think they can push me into moving them forward in the process so long as we make some kind of voice-to-voice contact.

      1. Gaia*

        I also thought they were just fodder for those clickbait advise columns but I received 3 in two days. SO I fear some people are taking this seriously.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Ugh, I’ve got some people applying right now who read the ad that says what to send and where to send it, and they call me up to ask what they should send and where they should send it. I think either they have no reading comprehension, or else they think making voice contact is the magic spell that will make me hire them. I don’t even do the actual choosing!

    5. Library Director*

      Gah, infographic resumes. I’m thinking that instead of having a How to Interview workshop we need a How Not to Interview workshop. I dislike negative titles, but it might bring out some folks that need to really hear this. I feel so bad for people who get this really bad advice.

  19. Rory Gilmore's Book*

    Praise for this week – I finally had a difficult conversation with my boss this week about a coworker/friend and it went well. In a nutshell, my coworker/friend has dumped a lot of work responsibilities on me in recent months, even though our roles are completely different. I helped her out during her maternity leave but she is back now and still wanting to dump things on me. My boss assured me that it wont happen in the future. Part of the problem is that my boss is remote, and myself and coworker are here, and it “makes sense” for me to pick up the slack because Im here and not my manager.

    Its very frustrating but it felt good to have that conversation nonetheless.

  20. Virginian*

    It’s been a couple of weeks and I still feel anxious at my new job. Ugh! I’d appreciate any stories about your first few days at a new job.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Starting a new job is really, really hard! I found that for at least a month at most of my jobs I was still anxious beforehand and completely exhausted after work–it’s pretty mentally taxing to have to consciously remember and think about every little thing! When things become routine and you don’t need to check yourself every five seconds, it’s easier, but oh my, it’s so wearying at first. And stressful! It will get better!

    2. Dawn*

      When I started at my last job everyone thought I was cold and stuck up (nothing could be further from the truth) because it was the first job I’d ever had in a big office setting so I was trying to be super professional and buttoned up the whole time. I eventually thawed out and made friends with a TON of people, some of whom have turned into best friends even tho that job is two years behind me.

      1. Daisy Dukes*

        As someone that has interacted with you on here, I can’t even imagine you being an ice queen haha I think we would be friends IRL :)

    3. Gaia*

      It took me about 2 months before I stopped thinking I had made a major mistake in taking my current job and about another 6 months before I felt even moderately competent in my role. I still come across things I have to ask about and I’ve been here 2 years. This was a complete and total switch in industry for me and it involves an area that I’m I had no familiarity with. The culture was great though and everyone assured me that my level of discomfort was normal. Now I am happy and content but those first few months were brutal.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      So my boss works at another site, and she wasn’t even present for my first few days! She dumped me on my counterpart, who didn’t know how to train people and basically left me to my own devices… so I sat at my computer reading the website, trying to glean any information I could.

      Actually, it took months for me to feel comfortable, but a big part of that was my cranky counterpart. Now she’s gone and I feel independent and self-taught, which I’m proud of.

    5. Coolb*

      Made a huge mistake in the first few months that required execs to get involved. It was a math error having to do with converting benefits for a company we required. Very visible because they relied on my math in telling the new employees that the contributions were compatible. Because somebody else delivered the message she got blamed so I had to raise my hand and say it was me. I was sure I would get fired. I didn’t, we moved on and I stayed many, many years and had lots of positions. Many years later I used my co-worker as a reference and she relayed the story of how I owned the mistake outright and that was enough for everybody to treat it like what it was, a one-off mistake.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I have always thought it takes at least 6 months to settle into a job, then a full year to start to feel confident.
      It was funny, I was talking to peers and they agreed that the 6 month mark seemed be when they felt better, too. Then it came flooding over them one day that they will never, ever learn the job. At this point I am laughing out loud because I agree. In my arena, you get used to just not knowing all there is to know. And at the 6 month mark you have a greater awareness of how everyone else doesn’t know either.
      In a classic example, we had a training session. The trainer said always do X. I knew that was wrong, but I kept following along. He said always do X about 5 or 6 times. After the last time he said it, a Big Wig called in the middle of the live training and told him to stop saying that. ughhhhh. So it goes.

      Quietly collect up examples of things that get people fired, that way you will know what to avoid. And collect up examples of things that tick the boss off, so you can avoid those things also. Yes, lots of avoidance behavior going on. But I have found it helpful to know where the boundaries are and then I can really dig in and learn the job.

  21. Ruthie*

    I started a new job about four months ago with an odd reporting dynamic. I report to the big boss even though there is a woman above me in my department. I still have to run everything by her so it often feels like I have two bosses. Meanwhile, the woman above me in my department, but who is not my manager, has been making minor slights towards me or my role. Each one on their own can easily be dismissed as her just not being considerate or me overthinking it, but it’s developed into a pattern and I’m not sure if I should say anything about it. Some specific examples include her saying to our team, “Well you remember Ruthie’s position was really an intern but we hired full-time because I got tired of training someone every few months.” I am the third position in this position and each hire has been made at a higher level so I came in with talent and experience and couldn’t help but feel a little insulted that it was implied my position could be handled by an intern. She’s also compared a person an at organization to me because “She’s like Ruthie in that her role doesn’t require any strategy.” I think of myself as very strategic. The last example I’ll give she recently told me that I have a similar style to Rachel’s character in Glee which isn’t in and of itself a problem except that I’m not a adorably quirky teenager, I’m a 30-year-old who wears nothing but business casual Ann Taylor. Again, none of these are particularly egregious on their own, and I think they come out of a place of insecurity in her part and are a way of demonstrating her experience over mine, but I’m frustrated none the less. Any insights or advice?

    1. Jodi*

      I don’t think it would be inappropriate to respond to these in the moment. It seems that since she is not privy to all of your assignments nor all of your communications with your boss, she really doesn’t have a complete idea of your role. “I actually work on a lot of projects that [boss] assigns me that are very strategic!” “It’s my understanding that they wanted someone more experienced in this role, and that’s why they decided to turn it into a full-time position.” “I hope you’re not comparing me to the interns that used to work here. I have way more experience than they did.”

      1. Sadsack*

        I like these suggestions, I hope Ruthie can try these next time. I bet they’ll shut the coworker right up.

    2. Development Professional*

      I kinda feel like you’re overthinking this. I mean, she’s clearly letting her insecurities show by constantly making sure that you and everyone around knows that YOU ARE VERY JUNIOR AND I AM VERY SENIOR, RUTHIE. But I think if you try to call her out on this, you’ll be the one who looks petty. The best way to try to combat this is to actually do and say things that are strategically valuable for your department, not to insist, “actually, I think I’m very strategic.” Use actions, not words, and you will get your point across to those around you just fine, including your actual boss.

      1. Friday*

        I hate passive aggressive co-workers. If you call them out, they fall back on “I didn’t mean that” or “you are being too sensitive”. I agree that actions, not words are the best offense but I would later in a few light comments like “Ouch, did you really mean to suggest that I come off like a quirky teenager?” or “I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but that comment could be taken as marginalizing my role and talents”.

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      I resemble the remark about Rachel (kindergartner and grandma at the same time), which is fine with me, but I don’t think most people would offer it as a compliment. Hmph!

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      When she’s talking about you not to you just raise an eyebrow and get back on subject. As in, “Okay…now can we talk about X project?”
      When she’s saying something truly bizarre like a comment on your personal style to you ask, “Why do you say that?” Or just give her a Wow or Okay and walk away.

    5. Marisol*

      How about, when she says that, ask her, “what do you mean?” and see what she says. How she actually responds to the question is less important than the fact that she will see you are going to hold her accountable, albeit subtly, for what she says. And if she pushes back in a way that forces you to escalate a bit, it can go something like this:

      her: you look just like the girl from glee.
      you: what do you mean?
      her: what do I mean? you look like her! it’s obvious what I mean
      you: well, you’re talking about a teenager, and I’m a grown woman.
      her: oh, don’t be so easily offended! Take it as a compliment!
      you: I don’t feel complimented. I actually feel belittled. Please don’t say things like that to me in the future.

      Something like, “what do you mean” is a stock question you can use anytime she says something like this. I think it’s easier to memorize a single response, because when someone insults you, it can be easy to get flustered and not know what to say. It’s possible she will be too cowardly to let the conversation go very far after you ask that question, viz:

      you: what do you mean?
      her: oh, nevermind…
      [and then she never tries that crap again]

      Good luck!

      1. Marisol*

        I forgot to say, a lot of times bullies count on their victims to complete the transaction and turn their ambiguous statements into actual bullying. So if someone only *insinuates* something, they’re tossing you a ball; if you refuse to take their meaning, ignoring the ball and letting it fall to the ground, you are refusing to be complicit with their bullying. So the bully has to do all the work, which they don’t want to do because they are too cowardly to be direct.

        To offer another metaphor: it’s like someone saying, “come over here so I can punch you in the face,” knowing that there are some people who will actually be willing to comply, who will walk over to the bully and receive abuse. But others will just stay where they are. If you ask the woman to explain her comment, you are refusing to be complicit in your own bullying.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This is definitely awkward.

      It seems to me that both of you are not clear on how your relationship with each other is supposed to work. She is not your boss, yet you have to run things by her. I hope that is because what you are doing impacts her work in some manner and then she is supposed to respond with some type of update? This murkiness alone lays the groundwork for awkward conversations. You might want to go back to your own boss and get a clearer picture of what she hopes to gain by having you clear stuff with this non-boss lady.

      I could be misunderstanding your setting but it sounds like you are saying the lower level workers were under her watch. Now that they have hired you, a higher level worker, they have removed the position from her watch. She could feel that this is a slap in the face, a vote of no confidence.
      Maybe she deserves their lack of confidence in her. Or maybe her confidence is shot because she has been jerked around. It’s hard to tell.

      I think I would point to changes in the position and how the requirements of the job have changed. “Yes, I see where they had an intern. I was told that they found out they needed someone who has x, y and z (state specific quals or experience here) which is what I have.”
      Honestly, it sounds like no one went over your job duties/responsibilities with her.
      Yes, she is handling it like a five year old. But you don’t have to respond in kind, of course.

      If you can find out from your big boss what caused the change in hiring strategy (or maybe you already know) that might help give you some info to explain to this woman. “When the other people were here, Big Boss realized that we actually needed A, B and C, and we could not get that from an intern.”

      This may or may not help: I would keep a straight face and in all sincerity explain, explain, explain every time she makes one of the remarks. I would treat it like confusion and ignore the idea that she is making a cheap shot or making a bad joke. If you appear not to “get” that she is trying to insult you, she may get bored and give up. Meanwhile, you look calm, cool and professional.

  22. AshKetchum*

    In our check-in meeting yesterday, my manager said that the culture within our institution is to look down on new employees (I’m a new employee) and then he emphasized that he thought this was a good thing because new employees think they know everything when they don’t. He also threw in a jab about Millenials and made a point to say that he was including me in that group before he went on to make his negative assessment. This just confirmed the completely cold and unwelcoming vibe I’ve been getting from everyone so at least I know I’m not crazy anymore.

    I really need to get out of here, but my search is going so slow this go ’round! I’ve been searching for about a month and typically in the past, I would’ve been contacted for at least one phone interview by now. I think I might have to add this job on my resume even though I’ve only been here for three months so far. I feel like people are thinking I was fired from my last job.

    1. Kaitlyn*

      What a horribly toxic-sounding environment you’re in right now. I hope your job search proves fruitful before too long! Best of luck!

    2. Purest Green*

      Wow. OK, my jaw is back in place. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this manager, and it sounds like he needs to be reported to somebody. Do you have an HR?

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Oh my goodness, what horrible comments. It’s confirmed… your boss is a jerk. Sending you good wishes for a fruitful job search!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If he brings it up again, I’d be tempted to ask what the employee turn over rate is.

      Good luck on your search, I hope something comes up quick.

    5. Drew*

      Best of luck on your search. Your manager is not a good person and it sounds like either he’s reflecting the workplace or your team is reflecting his view.

  23. BBBizAnalyst*

    Does anyone have advice on how to work with a project manager who is disorganized? We’re going through a huge application transition at work and we have had a weekly meeting where we rehash the same topics that were supposed to be resolved months ago. Naturally, the rollout of this new application has been delayed. We are not in the same dept but my team has to meet with the project manager to discuss deliverables and program needs. It doesn’t seem like she actually writes or logs any of this stuff and it’s become a huge waste of our time because nothing is progressing.

    1. Jodi*

      Project managers are supposed to be the most organized of the bunch? Can you kindly suggest organization tools like Basecamp or Trello or Asana? Maybe phrase it as “We’d love to have a little more transparency in the progress of projects and assignment of deliverables. What do you think about managing projects through an organization tool? I’ve heard that they make project management way easier/less stressful/time efficient.”

    2. NW Mossy*

      I’m dealing with a related issue right now – I have a project manager who told me that my project (which we’ve sunk many hours into already this year) got bumped to 2018 because “we weren’t far enough along for IT to size the project for next year, so we missed the budgeting window and can’t get IT resources.” Never mind that he never communicated any deadlines or deliverables to the team, despite our repeated requests for them!

      I pulled in my boss on it, and other participants pulled in their bosses also, so this thing is getting hot fast as there are now several higher-ups who are very displeased to find that a critical project is in jeopardy. My boss talked to his and found out that his boss didn’t even know that the project was bumped! My boss is meeting with the head of the PM group on Monday, and it’s looking like the results of that meeting are unlikely to be good for this PM. I like him very much as a person, but he totally dropped the ball and the full wrath of several crabby managers and directors is rolling towards him full speed, whether he realizes it or not.

      So, yeah, if you trust your boss, put your hand up and tell him/her exactly what you told us – delayed implementation, lack of progress, missing notes, rehashing decided issues, etc. are jeopardizing the project and negatively impacting X, Y, and Z.

  24. zora.dee*

    Any advice or recommendations whether to take a permanent offer that I think is terrible?

    -Temp to Perm position through my temp agency: posted as Executive Assistant, $30-37/hour
    – They offered me $31, wouldn’t negotiate up. Then the day I started informed me “we actually use Administrative Assistant here.”
    – Company acquired by a larger company
    – 3months later new company offers me the permanent position: Administrative assistant at $26/hour.
    – Asked to negotiate, their counter is $27/hour

    At the moment, I feel like I have to accept it because I have a health issue I’m dealing with, and I need income right now, I can’t afford to be unemployed. However, I’m planning to be done with that in 2-3 weeks.

    I feel like this has been a total bait-and-switch, and this was not the job I applied for, and they are not offering me anything worth staying for. Should I feel bad if I accept the permanent job and then immediately start job hunting, and hopefully leave within a few months?

    I suppose another option is just to tell the staffing agency I don’t want to take this offer, and to find me another placement, but I don’t know how quickly I’ll be able to get more work.

    Is there something else I’m missing? I’m mostly just really frustrated, I’ve been job hunting for 2 years now and just keep getting terrible offers or total runarounds and I’m tired of being so underpaid.

    1. Mona Lisa*

      This is similar to the commentor above who asked if he should accept a promotion while job hunting. I think you should accept the offer you have (so you don’t end up unemployed) and keep searching in the meantime. You never know how long a job search will take, and it’s easier and less stressful to find something new when you still have an income.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Not just that – you now have a higher salary base to negotiate from.

        Not just that – since you just were promoted, it’s unlikely that you’re going to hit the top of the layoff list if one is taken up.

        Not just that! The fact that you were just promoted looks good on your resume – there is a psychological aspect to hiring someone who is on the rise – people tend to like to do that.

        1. Mona Lisa*

          Was this comment meant for conflicted (above)? I don’t think that going from Executive Assistant to Admin Assistant would be seen as a promotion.

    2. AFRC*

      You have every right to be upset – that’s an over $8000 pay cut! I’m sorry I don’t have any great advice for you, just best wishes with your health issue and job hunt. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to look for something else with such a significant pay cut (and use that in interviews when asked why you want to leave your job).

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      No, I don’t think it’s wrong to accept the offer and start job hunting. You’d be considered a job hopper if you applied for the position, took it, and left shortly after, but you’ve been working in the position, although under different circumstances, for a while already. And now your compensation is being changed, so I think you have a perfect explanation for a hiring manager even if you had previously only been in the temp-to-perm situation for a couple of months.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        It wouldn’t be too hard to combine the temp + perm positions together on a resume to show a continuous position for the full span of your time at this company.

    4. Collie*

      Eek. I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to at a minimum expect to be paid what you were before. Frankly, I’d be at least annoyed if there wasn’t a bump in pay, but at the very minimum, you should not be getting a cut, IMO. Asking for another placement might not be terrible, but it’s possible/likely you’ll still get a pay cut in that direction, too. This situation sucks all around. I’m not sure if you’re still searching beyond your staffing agency, but that might be worth a go if you feel like you can swing it.

      1. zora.dee*

        Wow, thanks everyone, I was worried that I was being overly picky, so it really helps to have validation that this is a crappy move on their part.

        In response to Collie: I do want to look outside the staffing agency, but because of this health thing, I can’t right now, and probably for a few more weeks. That’s why I felt bad because the timing sucks, I wanted to start looking earlier anyway, but I’ll be at like 1 month with the new company when I start looking.

        So, yeah, you are all validating what I was thinking so far, just take it and deal with the health issue, and then start looking as soon as I can, feeling no guilt about it. Thanks all, I love this place!!

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          Just want to point out that you shouldn’t tell the staffing agency that you might quit soon after shifting to a permanent role. Staffing agencies are usually paid a fee when someone transitions from temp to perm, and they often need to pay this fee back if the employee doesn’t stay a certain length of time (e.g., six months). If quitting is a possibility, your staffing agency might not want to support your transition to perm.

          1. Marisol*

            Really good point. Depending on how important the relationship with the agency is, she might even want to stick with the crummy job for the six months in order to not burn the bridge. I know my recruiter could care less if I turn around and quit after she gets her commission–it just means more money for her since she can staff the position again. And this recruiter is someone who has done very well by me, so my relationship with her is important. Some agencies aren’t great though, which would mean the relationship wouldn’t be a factor worth considering once you are hired as a permanent employee.

            1. I Heart Oregon*

              Recruiter here-yes we care when people quit-it damages our reputation of being able to find a good long-term fit like we promised we would do. It makes our clients very unhappy when they pay a large fee and then have to pay it again for a replacement. We understand when things come up obviously-like if the job turns out to be totally different than was promised. But your viewpoint is a little concerning.

              1. Marisol*

                You care, and *my* recruiter doesn’t care. Everyone is different. In the OP’s case, they *didn’t* get a good long-term fit because the company is jerking her around. So she plans to take the job, then turn around and leave regardless. It’s better for the recruiter to get the commission though, and if they do, there may be less chance for the OP to burn a bridge. My viewpoint is that everyone has to look out for their own interest–that’s business.

          2. zora.dee*

            This is a good point, and definitely depends on the agency, and any one working with an agency should be careful.

            I did feel my recruiter out today, with careful questions but without being explicit, and they did basically say that they had my back if I decide to try it out, but then decide in a few months that it’s not working out. That I could let them anytime and they’d start putting feelers out for me again. So, that is good to hear, because that is something I was worried about.

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      Wow. To stay afloat, you should probably take it, but start job-hunting immediately. That’s unbelievably poor taste of them, and now you know that you need to get out!

    6. Formica Dinette*

      They’re totally jerking you around, but it does sound like the best thing is to take the job and return to looking when your health issue is no longer an issue. Since the company that insisted upon calling you an AA has been acquired, is there any chance you can get back the EA title? Or are there any other non-salary benefits you can negotiate for, like extra vacation time (that you can use to go on job interviews)?

      1. zora.dee*

        No, they are being weird about the title already since the new company apparently doesn’t even use the AA title. They definitely don’t have any EAs. I can’t get any more vacation time, and I can’t think of anything else to ask for that I would actually want.

        As a bonus, the health care also royally sucks, so there’s that….

    7. Not So NewReader*

      A couple things:

      Take a hard look around, be absolutely sure that this is the only way you can stay afloat for the next few weeks. It seems like cruel punishment to start this job and possibly be stuck at it, when you know your immediate concern is for just a few weeks.

      No one can tell you how you should feel. Your feelings are just that, your feelings. If you feel bad about leaving suddenly, that is one thing. The REAL problem is if you feel bad so you STAY just on the basis of feeling bad. Try to avoid making decisions on the basis of just your emotions. When it comes time to leave, then make your regrets known and leave.

      One thing I might be tempted to try, is to say to the staffing agency, “If I don’t accept this permanent job, do you have something else in the pipeline that I can do?” Notice you are saying “IF”. See what they say.

      1. zora.dee*

        Yeah, I agree it’s cruel punishment, but I need the health insurance, plus I now have some medical bills from being hospitalized a couple of weeks ago (yay, high deductible) and I just don’t think I could deal with my health if I had literally no income right now. I’d also have to apply for an ACA plan again, and switch my health insurance which just feels like another thing I can’t deal with at the moment.

        So, by taking it now and knowing I’ll start looking when my medical thing is done, it’s just about giving myself only one thing to deal with at a time. Because trying to think about all of them at the same time is giving me major anxiety.

        I did talk to the agency today and kind of felt them out about exactly what you said, there are definitely jobs out there, but I doubt I’d be able to start work on Monday, it would probably take a few days to a couple of weeks to actually start a new assignment. But they did say that they are okay with me giving it a try, even if I decide to leave in a few months, they will be fine with placing me again in the future. So, that’s good, I don’t have to worry I’ll burn the bridge with the agency. Even though I’m pretty sure it will burn the bridge with the company I work for. :o\

        But thank you for the reminder not to make decisions based on my emotions. Getting all the supportive comments here has made me more certain that this is crappy on their part, to cut my pay so much, so I’m not going to feel bad anymore. I was pretty clear that I wanted my current salary, and if they wanted to keep me they could have at least made a good faith effort at getting closer to it.

        Thank you for the support. If I didn’t have this stupid medical thing, I would totally be out the door already. I think I need to focus on getting better right now (in fact I’m going to go to bed super early tonight) and start job hunting hardcore as soon as I can. Fingers Crossed!!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Although it’s a lot of hoops to jump through it sounds like your situation is salvageable and you will be able to string some solutions together. I am glad. I hope you heal quickly and I hope the agency finds you a nice new shiny job that you love.

  25. Mazzy*

    First world problem but just want to vent. One of my guys makes everything so much more complicated than it needs to be. He makes complicated flow charts for processes with extra loops that don’t need to happen. He writes long emails outlining every possible situation or outcome of something, and even if he is right, I keep telling him that people at our company aren’t going to read a long essay. Or certain people will and others won’t. Some people only want the high level “this thing is happening” message and don’t want all of the contingencies. He also gets hung up on all of the small one time contingencies and it hampers him from actually having results.
    I’m working through this with him but I don’t get why he doesn’t get my message. Maybe because colleges teach that more is better and reward people for focusing on niche things and not the big picture? I don’t know.

    1. Dawn*

      As someone who was in his shoes once upon a time- set a good example, give him concrete goals to work towards, and manage the hell out of him until he changes. Also teach him the value of bullet point emails and MAKE him send you emails in bullet point until he gets the picture.

      I used to be super verbose, and I was anxious about my position and eager to prove myself while at the same time not having the confidence to say “THIS and THIS and THIS OTHER THING.” instead of “well I looked at this and then read all this other stuff and initially thought this but then there’s this other contingency and also it’s predicted to rain more in Malaysia next year so we could probably definitely maybe do this thing but only if you think it’s a good idea.”

      It just takes some time and some training, but you should be able to get him to change.

    2. Temperance*

      Are you his supervisor? That sounds really exhausting, and like he’s wasting time on things that aren’t important.

    3. Kyrielle*

      I tend to be overly verbose (to put it mildly), though I don’t think I overcomplicate other stuff as much as it sounds like he does.

      “Main point up front / summary” seems to help. I have often had to add details back later – so I want to include them – but I know that’s overdoing it.

      So I put the main point/summary above, and then add “Details:” and the rest of it below.

      And then I make myself save the details off in a file and clear them out of the email, if I think they’re most likely not needed.

    4. Ife*

      Some people just think that way naturally (focus on all the little details), and need to be trained how to summarize and spot what is important and what is reaaallly not worth spending time worrying about (me, yes, that is me). Are you giving him specific examples and guidelines? Instead of “write a short email to update people on the X project,” can you say, “Send a four-sentence update on the X project”? Maybe work through some of those flow charts with him and explain why you don’t care about that scenario that is never going to happen.

    5. Daisy Steiner*

      It sounds like he would make a great tester! My husband said the best tester he’s had could be a bit taxing because he always worked in specifics instead of generalities – but that that was exactly what he wanted from a tester (maybe not all of them, but at least one in a team) because he’ll think of all sorts of odd one-off scenarios and find bugs that no one else does.

      1. Mazzy*

        I like everyone’s comments. Yes to this, however, we are more in a position to spot the bugs and hand them off. If the bug is embedded in two paragraphs though, a busy programmer with twenty tickets open may not see it. That is where our problem lies.

    6. Grimmerlemming*

      I am very detail oriented and struggle with this. I am much better than two years ago but still have to re draft an email before sending. The number of times I write a couple of paragraphs and then rewrite it to one sentence!

      This will take time. Tell him to limit emails to no more than three sentences. It will help him focus and start to learn what is call and what is email appropriate.

      1. Grimmerlemming*

        Another thing is to tell him it’s ok to leave out parts. If someone needs it they will ask him. I struggle with that becaus I would need to know the details but others don’t.

    7. Student*

      Do you ever talk to him in person?

      I tend to resort to being verbose in emails when people won’t meet with me in other formats to discuss things that require detailed explanations, and won’t just delegate the responsibility to me.

      Alternatively, if you can’t be bothered with all the details, can you trust him enough to just say, “I trust you to handle this, do whatever you decide needs to happen,” and then back him up when he makes calls?

    8. Rocky*

      I have to coach almost everyone I hire on this (we’re collaborative, detail-oriented people working in a big hierarchy, 2-3 levels under the executives). It’s something that I’ve specifically told a report to work on if she wanted to advance. I joke about “executive-level reading comprehension” and tell staff that many people at that level have an assistant who reads all their emails and compiles all their meeting materials, and some don’t do more than glance at the subject line before deciding to read or delete. I’ve said, “Imagine all the emails you get, then multiply it by 10.” I specify that everything that goes upward should be no more than 3-4 sentences and preferably 1-2, and should have a very specific “ask” (in other words, please do not send the VP two paragraphs followed by “Looking forward to your thoughts on this.”) I also say that they’ve hired us because they trust us to take of the details and be the experts in our area, and that if they have questions they will definitely ask.

      I think communicating upward is a learned skill and can be counter-intuitive. Often junior people will see contact with senior folks as a way to shine, demonstrate how knowledgeable and thoughtful they are, and get noticed. Not necessarily a bad thing, but over-explaining and taking up someone’s time and attention is not the way to do that.

      1. Mazzy*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one. Yes there was one of those “like to hear your thoughts ones” recently I forgot about until I just read your comment. I need to go back to that one because you can’t just dump a bunch of info on someone and expect them to come up with a bunch of opinions when it’s not their core job. We’re supposed to make the conclusions for them and then ask yey or ne…

        1. Rocky*

          Yeah, I think reinforcing “they trust us to do our jobs because we’re the experts,” helps a bit. I’ve said, “VP actually has a background in rice sculpting, not teapot design, so she wouldn’t understand the details even if she had time to read everything. She trusts us to be the teapot experts so she doesn’t have to worry about it.”

    9. Not So NewReader*

      If you have spoken to him several times and there is no change then you may need to get a bit firmer.

      “Bob, this job requires you to be brief in your messages and your flow charts cannot show every imaginable scenario. This is what the job is, Bob. Are you able to do this?”

      If he mumbles something, let him know that he must start being brief as of today. You have given him numerous chances and now it is no longer optional, he is on notice that it is part of his job to be brief.

    10. The Devil's Advocate*

      I’m having trouble understanding the context of his communications. If he needs to just respond and say that something is being done to resolve a specific problem, then he probably doesn’t need to go into exact detail about how it is being handled.

      OTOH, if it involves him having to provide instructions to other people about how to do things, it is probably a good thing that he outlines how to deal with every contingency and shows this level of attention to detail.

      As to why he doesn’t get the message? It may be that he feels he isn’t getting any recognition for his work and so he’s trying to show off a little and get some attention. (I don’t really know how to deal with that.) OTOH, if he ends up having to go back to people for additional information because the task at hand turns out to be a non-standard one, that gets pretty frustrating and he’s probably thinks he is being pro-active and anticipating something before it becomes a problem.

    11. stevenz*

      Sometimes people think more is better in the sense that it makes them look like they are working harder than anyone else, or are showing off. In fact, they are usually unable to focus their thoughts or even understand the basic message they are trying to get across. It’s not something that works well in the work place, but some work cultures are more prone to that than others. I, for one, don’t like that approach and think it’s intellectually sloppy and makes everyone else down the line from him less productive.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      I work in higher ed (specifically, in financial aid outreach) and I am THRILLED about this. I work with students from tough situations, and many of them consider for-profit schools as alternatives to mine. ITT is a big one. I’m so glad the Department of Education is finally sticking it to them!

      1. kjf0613*

        Any advice for a 26 year old going back to school- she works a full time job that apparently is too much for grants, but not enough to get through school without loans? Thanks!

  26. Lissa*

    I posted here a couple of weeks ago about being nervous about renegotiating for more money (I’m a semester by semester contract worker at a post secondary institute.) Well, my schedule for the fall semester just came in, and I was thinking I would talk to my supervisor about my rate when I went in to firm things up next week…then an hour later she sent me an email saying she’d been approved to offer me the amount I was going to ask for!

  27. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    How do I stay awake at work on little sleep? My wife had a surgery recently and can’t walk, so she wakes me up to get her things at night, and I have to feed the cats at 5:30 am which is usually her job. That’s an hour and a half before I normally wake up.

    Due to interruptions and having to do all chores, I’m not getting more than 5 hours of sleep a night. But I have to work- she gets disability but it is NOT enough to let me also take time off, and I have no PTO.


    1. SophieChotek*

      Can you get up and move around at work a little?

      Are you allowed to listen to music? Really upbeat music or something like that?

      Sorry to hear this — I sympathize — it is so hard to work when one is just exhausted.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Can you make sure commonly-needed items are within reach of her to minimize wake-ups?

      Do the cats REALLY need to eat at 5:30? Surely they won’t starve if you wait another hour?

      I sympathize and admire your desire to help her, but surely there are some compromises. You can’t be a good caregiver if you’re not getting enough sleep.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Thanks, but a lot of the time I get woken up, it’s to get an icepack; you can’t let those sit, and single use packs are too expensive.

        As for the cats, they cry and attack each other and the bedroom door if the food is late; being in a small apartment, I just feed them because I would get woken up either way, earplugs or not.

          1. meg*

            Automatic feeder! Saved me a lot of sleep with my dear departed cat, and came in handy for weekend trips when I didn’t want to pay the petsitter. Plus, the cat starts to think of teaching as its feeder, not you, which can be very handy if you have cats that bug annoyingly before feeding time.

          2. YaH*

            YES. Pleeeeeease get an automatic cat feeder- I have two of the 5-dish feeders from Amazon, and the batteries last a year or more before needing to change them. You can set the timer to dispense food as frequently or infrequently as you wish, and the cats learn very quickly that the Human does not make the food, the Thing That Whirrs makes the food. So my morning time with kitties is quality snuggle time, when they come in to cuddle up with me after they’re happy and full and sleepy again.

          1. blackcat*


            You can also make homemade icepacks that are soft and stay cold a long time by putting a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water (1:2 ratio alcohol:water) in double-layered ziplock bags. It would do fine in a small cooler.

        1. LCL*

          Cooler by the bed, with some ice packs in it.
          Or, when you get up in the middle of the night, feed the cats too. Of course then you will be training them to expect food in the middle of the night…
          When you get home from work, once you have tended to your wife, take a nap.

          1. Natalie*

            Maybe start feeding them at night before you go to bed? That’s sustainable in the long run, and you can always adjust it back to the morning when your wife is recovered.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I would agree with possibly a cooler nearby. And the automatic feeder idea. I really think you have to get creative to get enough sleep.

          As for dealing with exhaustion I know people who swear by 5 hour energy, I’ve never tried it. Getting enough protein can help, too.

        3. Jaydee*

          Move the cat food and food bowls next to the bed so that one of you can easily reach it without having to actually leave the bed. Then at 5:30 just scoop the food into the bowl, roll over, and fall back asleep.

          Cooler full of icepacks near the bed would also be helpful for the night wakings for icepacks. Even if that doesn’t last the whole night, it might buy you longer spells between her requests for things. Like if one ice pack lasts an hour and you can keep two extras in the cooler, you could get three hours of sleep at a time instead of one.

          Go to bed much earlier. If you go to bed at 8:00 or 9:00, even if your wife wakes you up 2 or 3 times in the night and you’re up for half an hour each time, you have the potential to get 6-8 total hours of sleep per night. Then just get up at 5:30 when the cats wake you up and do a few of the chores you would have done late at night the night before. You’ll probably do them faster and more efficiently than you would have done them late at night when you’re tired and just want to go to bed.

          Who is helping your wife during the day? If you have friends or family who are helping out during the day, could they stay overnight (or at least stay late or arrive early) one or two nights a week so you get at least one or two nights of good sleep per week?

        4. TL -*

          They have cold packs that work by chemical reaction – basically it’s like a glow stick. They come room temp and then you bend and smash them and they get cold. You should look into those.

        5. JessaB*

          Ice pack suggestion – get a cooler, a bag of ice and stick the ice packs in it, and put it on a chair near your wife’s bed. You can get a fairly decent but cheap blown foam cooler. You can also keep a closed bottle of water/pop or whatever she likes to drink in it. Right by her hand. A bag of ice is CHEAP.

    3. Temperance*

      Can you set up a table by her side of the bed with anything she might want or need? I had a health issue earlier this year that involved taking pills every 6 hours, and I definitely didn’t wake up my husband for my 3:30 a.m. dose.

    4. Collie*

      Drink lots of cold water. Not only will the cold water help you stay awake, but it’ll get you up and to the bathroom a little more (yay, walking around, yay, cold water on your face with each trip after washing your hands) and it’s good for you. You could also consider a desk fan. Cold temperatures are good at keeping you awake and somewhat alert. Just don’t dress extra warmly to compensate!

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I honestly think it being warm makes me sleepier here. The office is in a former mill building in my city’s warehouse district and so the HVAC doesn’t keep up so well.

        1. animaniactoo*

          In that case you might want to try some cooling bands to help combat that. If you hit up Amazon, they have a variety of neck and wrist ones. We got some for my always-overheated godmother when she was traveling to Morocco for 6 weeks, and she said they made a huge difference for her.

        2. Myrin*

          I have found that when I’m sluggishly tired, putting cold water on my face helps immensely. You might be able to do that in the bathroom from time to time?

    5. orchidsandtea*

      You may be able to find a minifridge on Craigslist for free or $50. Check Freecycle as well, and make a “wanted” post — sometimes people have one hanging out unused in a basement that they’ll happily give you if they hear it’s needed for surgery recovery.

    6. LizB*

      Can you get to bed earlier at all? It may mean some chores have to go un-done, but there may be things that can be done less frequently (alternate days instead of every day?) or put on the back burner entirely until your wife recovers.

      At work, drink lots of cold water, and see if you can work standing up some of the time. If not, go for little walks around the office every once in a while.

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation – working when exhausted is terrible!

    7. Molly Smith*

      It might be easier to try to push off whatever chores you can to help give you more of a break– some basics are just having really basic/easy meals and eating off paper plates and plastic knives (and obviously ordering out is even easier, but can become kind of expensive). If there are chores that you would normally do, I’d question if they could slide for a few weeks (like dusting). This isn’t going to last forever, and you may be better off just postponing stuff and trying to get a bit of extra sleep.

    8. Preux*

      A lot of other people have given good advice on getting more sleep, and ultimately that would be the ideal solution. Here’s some ways I use to stay awake when I don’t get enough sleep, though:

      -sparing use of caffeine. Besides having health problems that force me to limit caffeine intake, it just isn’t as effective if your body acclimated to it. I limit myself to one can of coke a day, with a snack, to mitigate the ‘crash’ after.
      -figure out what work tasks put you to sleep and which ones wake you up. Try and alternate them if you can, even if it’s usually more efficient to stack them up. You won’t be saving time by doing all the super boring reports in the afternoon if you fall asleep at your desk doing them, or make mistakes because you start drifting off.
      -when you get really drowsy, time for a quick break to do a little wake up routine. For me, it looks like this: quick walk to the restroom, then to the break room to grab a drink. Back to my desk for a short granola bar and drink snack break. The food and movement will snap you out of the drowsiness, and establishing a routine will send the message to your brain that it’s time to come back online and re-focus on work.

      I use these techniques when I get only 2-4 hours of sleep the night before (again, health issues that flare up) and they work pretty well for me. Naps after work can also help to some extent. Napping on your lunch break could be an option if you’re the kind of person who will be able to fully wake up after a short nap and not feel cranky and even more tired.

    9. Marisol*

      Can a friend watch the kitties for a couple days a week? Or would that stress them out too much? Also can whoever helps your wife during the day do some chores for you?

      Try to increase the quality of your sleep if you can’t increase the quantity. No blue devices after 8 pm (or ideally, after the sun goes down.) No regular electric lightbulbs either–only orange or red light. You can get an orange bulb and keep it in a dedicated lamp. You can also buy a special lightbulb that looks white but actually lacks the blue part of the light spectrum, although it is expensive at about 70 bucks. It lasts five years though. I have one but I can’t remember the maker–if you google around you will find it. It was developed by nasa. If 70 bucks is too expensive, get a cheap orange bulb. Your wife will sleep better to, and heal better as a result. The reason blue light keeps people awake because it signals to the pineal gland that it is daytime (because the sky is blue).

      Taking raw potato starch is anecdotally said to improve sleep quality and I have experienced this myself. You have to start slow and work up to a few tablespoons. Info about this is easily found on a google search.

      Do get extra sleep when you can, for example on the weekends, because contrary to popular belief, you can in fact make up a sleep deficit that has accrued, at least to a certain extent.

      Lastly, this is is really grey hat, but bodybuilders often take stimulants such as nootropics to give them energy for their workouts. Nootropics are cognitive enhancers, called “smart drugs.” You might even find a doctor who would give you a prescription-strength one for you since you have a legitimate reason for it.

      I know about this weird stuff because I have a diagnosed sleep disorder. I know how miserable it is to go without sleep!! I feel for you!!

      1. Marisol*

        oh yeah and regarding the light, they have daytime light bulbs and blue light devices that help with alertness. I have one device on my computer monitor that I use for two hours a day, called “syrcadian blue” and it was about $75.

    10. TootsNYC*

      Find ways to minimize the waking?

      Cats: Never mind, I see you can’t shut them in the garage. That’s too bad. Can you farm them out for a week?
      Also, can you set out all you need to feed them, so you can get up, feed them, and go RIGHT back to bed, as fast as possible? I’ve read stuff that says that you can return to sleep easily if you keep it short, don’t change your body temperature, and don’t turn on a light. So make the feeding of them as smooth as possible.

      Wife: Can you strategize w/ her about what she will really need at night? And how you can put it somewhere she can reach it? Honestly, there’s no way I’d want to torture my husband for anything short of “I’m going to throw up.” I would probably even wear a diaper if that’s what he needed in order to be able to function at work, so that he doesn’t GET FIRED or GET REPRIMANDED because he’s so tired.

      I see the ice pack situation. Can you try out whether you can keep them cold enough in a cooler by the bed, if you pack it solid full of ice packs (and ice)? And maybe it’s worth it to get some chemical ones that are only to be used at 3am, for a couple of days.

      Otherwise, see if you can find a way to nap at lunch. Even just resting.

      Automate as much as possible at work.

    11. Natalie*

      Chores: What can you give up, in any way?

      Hiring stuff out: Obviously this might not be in your budget, but check around. A large landscaping company might be pricy, but there may be someone in your neighborhood who does mowing for cheap. Is your wife alert enough to do some research into this?

      Asking for free help: Friends, relatives, neighbors. People are usually really happy to help in these kinds of situations. Accept help even for things that you don’t mind doing – it will free up time/money for other chores.

      Dropping stuff: Really think about what you do and don’t need to accomplish, chores-wise. Can you use disposables so you don’t have to do dishes every day? Can you live without vacuuming that often?

      1. Marisol*

        +1 on the disposable dishes. I don’t use plastic silverware for environmental reasons, but once I finally realized I could use paper plates, since I don’t have a dishwasher, instead of my normal dishes, I saved SO MUCH TIME. They’re cheap, they’re biodegradable, what’s not to love.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Is there a friend or family member near by that will help? I am picturing even one day a week, strategically mid-week when it is just too hard.

      When my husband was sick, I lined things up that he would need so he did not have to wake me up for every single thing. Can you borrow a bed tray so stuff is handy for her? I ended up sleeping in the chair or guest room because it was just easier on both of us. So a bed tray would have made sense for how we were handling things.

      Tips for staying awake while driving: Cold air in the face, that can mean AC in the summer or open window in the winter. And take your right shoe off, it will help you to feel the gas pedal better and help keep you aware of what you are doing. Of course, some states frown on this but it does work.

      Enlist your wife to help streamline things so that everything is a bit less work. Explain to her that you need her help with helping her. Most of us have a tendency to not get the sick person involved in the day-to-day stuff. Understand that this is a normal pitfall, and work to avoid it. Be fair, consider her limitations and adapt things to those limitations.

      My husband had 8 broken vertebrae. We found he could most of his self-care, write checks, talk on the speaker phone, and participate in decision-making. Yeah, he was pooped after that, but those were things he was able to do. I insisted that he had to participate in household stuff, to my amazement he was the easiest person I have ever taken care of. I attribute that in part to my openness about the changes we needed to make. I even used to joke, “Let’s not kill NSNR [meaning ME!]. I don’t mind running three towns over for aspirin at 10 pm. But let’s use planning so I don’t have to run at 10 pm.” It got the point across.

    13. Observer*

      Get some help in the house. The disability should help make that possible. Get home, take a nap and then go do all the things you need to do in the evening, that can’t be done by household help.

    14. zora.dee*

      In addition to taking short walks, can you set up a temporary standing desk for a bit? I find I get less tired when I’m standing. And I’ve thrown together a half-assed standing desk with some boxes and reams of paper stacked on top of my desk.

      Other than that, I second the revisiting all of the chores and seeing if you can get someone to take care of the cats for a bit, so you can get to sleep earlier at night.

    15. Chaordic One*

      Yes, stay hydrated yourself. If you have a job where you sit, get a small desk fan. Make a things easier for yourself by picking up some takeout food to take home so you don’t have to cook when you get home. (Do it at least a couple of times a week.) Take a nap when you get home and try to get to sleep earlier than usual.

    16. Girasol*

      If your schedule allows for breaks, hunt down an unattended corner for a very brief nap or go nap in the car.

  28. SophieChotek*

    AAM Community – how I wished it was Friday this past Tuesday.
    Long story, short.
    I applied for a new job 3 weeks ago, suddenly Tuesday morning I got a call from HR and they asked me to come in Thursday (yesterday) to interview (round 1, sort HR pre-screening).
    I was freaking out – but fortunately I had purchaed AAM’s book, so I read the interviewing section several times.
    And practiced the questions.
    The interview itself — eh.
    I don’t think I bombed it, but I don’t think I wowed it either.

    Need to write “follow-up” email today. I’ve heard that if you feel you answered a question poorly, you could address that in your follow-up note. Do you agree?

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      It depends on how badly you answered the question. If you totally drew a blank and said something outrageously bad, then it’s fine to address it in the follow-up. But if it wasn’t egregious, I would just focus on reiterating your interest in the role.

      Good luck!

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Sure, if you have a specific thing to add that you forgot to say or something, it’s worth adding to the thank-you note. If nothing else, that gives you something to say beyond “thanks for the time”!

  29. Lucie in the Sky*

    I work at a company that has a couple different parent companies in one division. My boss is fine with me coming in late / leaving early on slow weeks cause some weeks we work 60-70 hours or travel a lot. He and I have no problems and he is talking about bringing in someone for me to manage because between the two of us right now our work loads are off the charts.

    Today, when I came in about 20 minutes late — one of the other guys who is a manager at the same level as my boss – high level manager — they have the same functions but for different sister companies, stood up from his managers cube (we have an open office plan where only the mangers have tall cube walls) and said “OH look! Lucie is finally here! Hey there Lucie! Good morning Lucie! I bet when you were out last night you thought you would just be able to power through today but hahah!!” – this is the second or third time he has done this in the last 6 months.

    I am so frustrated an annoyed. This is also the guy who made comments yesterday that people who were attacked at the American University in Kabul deserved to die cause they were stupid enough to go there… and made a big to do about trans bathroom stuff previous to that. He also is so proud that he lives a state away and commutes 90+ and is still in the office every day by 7:30. I don’t know how to get him to stop, so I mostly just ignore him, but it’s driving me NUTS. (I currently sit in a desk area with his team, cause the one next that where my team is is full right now, and he is hard to avoid)

    1. Dawn*

      Uh… do you have an HR department? Cause that Kabul statement plus the trans bathroom stuff absolutely needs to come to HR’s attention. Holy crap.

      Otherwise, throw it back in his face. “Kevin, what do you mean by that? I don’t understand what you’re saying- I wasn’t out late last night?” Make him explain the joke. Put him on the spot. Egg him on, document everything. Give him the rope to hang himself- he’s doing nothing with this stuff other than making himself look bad, so keep giving him fuel to make himself look bad. Also tell your manager.

      1. Lucie in the Sky*

        Oh he makes those statements to HR. HR and him are always going back and fourth but HR doesn’t really do anything, and our Recruiter who works in the office who hired me basically said that no one ever gets fired here… ever.

        That said, HR is overly obsessed with “desk time” to an insane amount that it drives me crazy, even though we have no official company policy on it. We’ve gotten office wide emails about people spending too long by the water cooler, or smoke breaks, or when people come back from a meeting / something that went through lunch “eating lunch in the lunch room outside of the hours of 12-1” — it’s a new HR person for >1 year and old HR was never like this.

    2. orchidsandtea*

      Speak to your manager about the comments about your timeliness, and to HIS manager about the trans and Kabul comments.

      And just to make sure he can’t play dumb say something like, “Friedrich, you may not be aware that Karl and I communicate regularly about my schedule. In order to meet the needs of our team, sometimes I arrive and leave at nonstandard times. I need you to stop making comments like that.”

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m a big fan of the confused stare and “Wow. What an odd thing for you to say to me.”

    4. animaniactoo*

      “Wow, Fergus. I’m amazed you have so much free time that you’re able to monitor the comings and goings of *other departments*!” (um, no. not really. However, I would talk to your manager and raise this as shaming that you would really appreciate being shut down, because you just don’t need to deal with that. Your manager has more room to do something about this as he is a) your manager and b) on this guy’s level.)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “Try not to let it bother you, my boss is fine with the amount of time I put in.”

      “I can be exactly on time every day and make sure I leave exactly on time at night. Then we can watch what happens next. Would that work for you?”

      I had a boss who threatened to put in time clocks because people were one or two minutes late. I said, “Go ahead. Then you will find out what you ACTUALLY owe us in pay each week.” When they said, but you can’t be working off the clock, I said, “Then I guess you will find out how long it actually takes to get stuff done.” Conversation was over.

      Some people just enjoy a good fight/argument. You might be able to say, “Keep stirring things, Bob”, and not break stride, just walk right past him. I have worked with a few people that seem to have to argue or say things to incite people each day. Your way out of this one might be to point this out, “gotta say something to get people upset, don’t ya?” or “There you go again, thinking of more ways to upset people…”

  30. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone have suggestions for interview questions that would help me determine if someone would be good at analyzing suspicious banking activity? I’m hiring for a junior position, which means no experience in this area, but typically experience in banking. I’ve asked questions about how they cope with “gray” areas, many hours spent in front of a computer analyzing data, etc., but I’m not sure how to determine if they would be good at identifying suspicious activity. It can mostly be taught by showing them what to look for in general, but I find that they need to be someone who will go one step further and not just look at the surface. Any suggestions?

    1. moss*

      no but that’s my alternate-life dream job. Did you read the New Yorker article about Deutsche Bank? Loved it.

    2. Mirve*

      Is there any way you can do a sample skills test. A short example of what they would be doing so you can see whether they try to go that step further? Maybe only using one of the types of things they would need to look for so it does not require full training.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, yes, this. There’s no interview question in the world that will ferret this out as well as actually seeing them doing the work will. Create a simulation, give them some brief guidance on what they’re looking for, and see how they do.

      2. Your Weird Uncle*

        Yeah, I would say the same thing….I do similar things in my role and I have to spot discrepancies in large, large sets of data fairly regularly. Maybe set up a moderately-large spreadsheet with a few discrepancies and give them twenty minutes to suss out what’s going on? If they have some good skills, even if they don’t give you a result you might at least see their thought-process (i.e., quick pivot tables, data sorts, filters, etc. are all tools that I use to spot patterns and errors, and I’d hope that an applicant would utilize at least one of those tools to try to get a grasp of what’s going on with the data).

        Good luck!

    3. animaniactoo*

      Note that I know *nothing* about banking, but as a person with a strong math background, I would ask how they look for patterns in their work, and what they do when they find them. I suspect that the person you’re looking for would automatically say “I look to see if I can figure out what is causing that pattern.” vs someone who might say “I note that it’s there so I can predict what’s coming next, or see if something looks unusual against the established pattern.”

      1. Ife*

        Maybe try the question out on some of your current analysts too, and see what kind of answers you get from the really good analysts.

    4. College Career Counselor*

      Sounds like you want someone who has both a grasp of the big picture/gestalt of what something should look like AND the ability to dig deeper to ferret out discrepancies, outliers, or other weirdness. (The same way a good genealogist wouldn’t just accept one source as gospel, but would independently verify/cross-check information to see that it is accurate.)

      How about “Can you tell me your experience with data or other information and verifying its authenticity/accuracy? What did you look for and what were the steps you took?” I’d follow that up with “how much of this kind of work have you done and what is your comfort level with it?”

    5. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I had an interview once for a hiring position that would require reviewing background checks for potential candidates (We work with kids, they are necessary). They sent me some (fake) background check information and asked how I would proceed with each of the 4 candidates. Maybe you could make some mock banking info and try something similar?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “This job requires constant vigilance for suspicious activity. Tell me about a time when you had to figure out that some thing was wrong with some numbers that you had in front of you. What caused you to believe there was a problem in the first place?”

  31. Amy*

    I used an old professor for a reference for a new job about a year ago. He specifically requested that I follow up with him if I got the job, and I just… didn’t. There were extenuating life circumstances at first but now it’s been way too long for that to be a plausible reason. I got into that cycle where it had been so long that I was embarrassed so I put it off, which just meant delaying it further. I am starting to job search again (1 year is normal in my field) and would like to use him as a reference (this is only my 2nd professional job and the class I took from him is relevant), but every time I try to write an e-mail I’m not sure what to say. If I apologize for not following up, I feel like it won’t seem sincere since I’m now just asking for something new. Should I just write off using him as a reference?

    1. fposte*

      I wouldn’t worry too much about it; there’s a high flake rate on those notifications in general. If he doesn’t want to do it, he won’t do it.

    2. Purest Green*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. People often request updates on things like that just to be friendly.

    3. Yup*

      Second the not worrying about it – just directly address not following up and apologize (not too much!), and I’m sure it’ll be just fine!

      1. bibliovore*

        It’s never to late to send an update. Just say you were swamped getting up to speed and tell the professor a little about your responsibilities.

  32. Nervous Accountant*

    Last week I wrote about getting a scathing email from my boss. Our new team leader (who previously was a peer) had a talk with me, and it felt weird, but I got over it. I did spend the weekend in super anxiety mode because I thought I’d be fired on Monday (glory be to God, that didn’t happen, and infact I got my shit together this week).

    Anyway, so Im writing because this is not the 1st time I’ve gotten a harsh email from my boss. I’m apprehensive about posting their exact email on here but here goes—-

    1. You are one of the few people in the company who get a lot of complaints because of unresponsiveness and not fulfilling the work and I am honestly getting tired of waiting for you to improve your performance.

    2. What is wrong with you???? You’ve had at least two feedback on unresponsiveness and you don’t even have a lot of appts. Explain why you keep dropping the ball on your clients and what you plan to do to improve your performance.

    They both came after a client cancelled because I didn’t respond to their email in time.

    If it matters–they came 15 months apart. I was written up after the 1st one, nothing after this one. I’ve been here 1.5 years which is a long time for this company (very high turnover). I have gotten really good feedback on my performance in between these two emails, and did very well during our tax season and received a good raise and performance eval.

    I’m not sure if this also matters, but she’s actually very pleasant and soft spoken in person (but definitely firm and authoritative) when speaking and We sit in an open office.

    These are my questions–
    1. Are those emails harsh or am I being oversensitive?
    2. If they are harsh, what’s a good professional way to respond? Can I remind her of the good feedback? I always own up to my mistakes (like this or minor ones) and shes even acknowledged that as a good thing.
    Is it in my best interest to stand up for myself in that way?
    3. Are 2 mistakes like this in 15 months unreasonable?

    1. Leatherwings*

      They’re harsh. I wouldn’t ever speak to an employee like that, and especially not in email. They’re not constructive, and they sound like she dashed them off in frustration rather than sitting down with you and having a thoughtful conversation about improving your performance.

      In terms of responding, I would request to meet in person, don’t reply via email. Try something like “I got your emails, and I understand that I recently dropped the ball on X, and that I did the same thing about a year and a half ago, but I was surprised since I’ve also had positive feedback on Y and Z. Can we discuss how I can improve my performance?”

      For your third question, I think this depends on your field and the nature of your mistake. Losing big clients twice in a year and a half doesn’t sound great to me, for example. But missing two emails in a year and a half, one of which happened to not have good consequences seems like it might warrant a quick conversation and that’s it.

      I’m so sorry, this sounds stressful. I think addressing it head on and in person is your best bet.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      This is not the kind of conversation that should be happening in an email at all!

      She should have given you the negative feedback in person, and if there’s an email, it’s to document what you talked about. But email shouldn’t be the way you find out that your boss has an issue with your performance!

    3. Potate*

      IMO, those are unwarrantedly harsh emails, especially since these events happened well more than a year apart. That said, can I ask about the clients who cancelled on you? How long was the delay before your response? I’m asking because whether it’s a reasonable length of time (5 minutes vs 5 days) determines whether you should address this with your boss while justifying your choices (5 minutes) or talking solutions to the delay (5 days).

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        We’re told that we should respond within 24 hours, 48 the latest. With the 1st one, we were in touch over a period of a few months, but things weren’t getting done fast enough
        With teh second email, it was 2 clients who had waited 2 days before making the complaint.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        Btw, I forgot to say but I love your username. I had a blog named “Potatoes gonna potate” :)

    4. fposte*

      They are harsh; I don’t think their tone is useful. However, that doesn’t have anything to do with the legitimacy of the criticism, which we’re really not in a position to assess without being at your job ourselves; however, it looks like unresponsiveness is something there’s ongoing concern about with you (it sounds like it’s two emails but more than one complaint apiece), so it’s not unreasonable for her to pay attention to your performance in that area. She’s also explicitly requested you assess how these balls got dropped and how you plan to improve, so that’s a clear description of the kind of response you’d be advised to make.

      If the problem is that you don’t know what the desired response time is, ask for a metric. If the problem is that you know it but aren’t meeting it, that’s more a workflow thing; in general, it’s better to email within the desired window saying that the question was received and a fuller response will be forthcoming by the end of the week than to wait too long for the full response.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yeah, I’m not questioning the legitimacy. It’s not that I’m unresponsive, but yeah, there are times when I don’t respond to a client right away. I’d say 98% of the time, I do respond within time.

        I also fully 100% admit that after tax season ended, I burned out. I did the absolute bare minimum for a while and I had no idea how to break out of it, so maybe this was a mixed blessing, bc I’ve been on top of it this week.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          So, in many contexts 98% sounds like a good rate — in school, it would be an A! — but in the world of work, if you’re not responding in a timely manner to two clients out of every 100, that would actually be a problem. It sounds a little like you see it as a reasonable option if it only happens sometimes, but your boss isn’t going to see it that way — and that’s probably what’s happened here. I think you have to see it as truly not optional — you can’t be even a little cavalier about it. And to see it as not optional, you probably have to really internalize whatever your business’s reasons are for requiring that you get back to people more quickly.

        2. AnonAcademic*

          ” I did the absolute bare minimum for a while and I had no idea how to break out of it”

          I think this is the bigger issue. If you have periods of low productivity/slow turnaround that your boss has reprimanded you for before, I think it’s particularly important to be mindful of the optics of these situations and to know how to break yourself out of it before it becomes a problem. For example it’s generally much better to take time off to deal with burnout, then be in the office but not producing when there are watchful eyes about. When my motivation is flagging (like it is now) I use a modification of the pomodoro technique; my main sign of low motivation is procrastination so that method helps with the “getting started” hard part. I’m not producing at rock star levels but I’m doing solidly above the minimum which for me is a good outcome in this context.

    5. AFRC*

      I have a question – am I understanding correctly that the team leader and your boss are two different people?

      It sounds like there are two things happening here:
      1. You are making mistakes – 2 missed meetings in 15 months may be a huge thing to her and your company (they would be for me because it shows a little bit of a pattern of missed important communication). I’m not sure what the other mistakes are, it sounds like unresponsiveness is a big one, and making many mistakes is an issue. The cause might be lack of training, confusion about tasks, maybe you’re overwhelmed, I’m not sure. But you should make steps to correct those issues. Talk to the team leader (and possibly the boss), ask for help, etc. If they are bringing things to your attention, mentioning good feedback, while it may be true, sounds like you’re making an excuse for your behavior, instead of actually changing the behavior. Acknowledging that you messed up, but then not making behavior change, is not useful. But good managers should be able to help you change by giving you extra training, providing suggestions for how to improve, etc.

      2. Her language is totally unprofessional. “What is wrong with you” with 4 question marks is obnoxious. Are you saying that she just sends these messages in emails and then is polite to you in person? That’s a pretty terrible way to manage and interact with people in general, especially if you’re not getting feedback on specific examples and how to fix them. But you should ask for help (including specifics) if you’re struggling. The tone of her email is tough to deal with when you have specific performance issues, but the way you’re being told about them is so rude. The best way to respond would be in a professional tone – asking for a time to meet in person with the boss and the team lead to review your performance and ways to improve. Others may have suggestions about addressing the tone.

      Mostly, focus on what you can do to improve your work. No excuses – just take an active role in doing a better job. That will show that you really care about your future with the company. Good luck.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Yes, they are two different people. We also have a manager, but he’s on leave right now. So there’s team lead, manager, and my boss (the one who sent the email).

        They do coach a lot here and are helpful, to their credit.

        In person, she is very pleasant. The 1st time, it was my day off and I wasn’t in the office, but I don’t think she knew. The most recent email, we didn’t speak aside from a Good morning and I stayed out of her way.

        1. AFRC*

          Oh that is very interesting about the day off. Did you have an out of office message that would have alerted the client that you weren’t there? That’s a very relevant detail – thanks for clarifying!

    6. HR Expat*

      Taken just as they are, they do sound a bit harsh. I’m wondering if your boss has received other complaints about your response time, maybe from internal peers, that she hasn’t specifically addressed. I would go back to her and ask her about this. “Jane, I’m concerned about the email you sent me. I know we’ve discussed these two incidents, and I’d like to make sure I’m resolving these issues. I’m working on X, Y, and Z to improve. Are there other examples that you’ve received that wouldn’t be covered by X, Y, and Z?”

    7. Jaguar*

      The e-mails are harsh and reflect badly on your team leader. A good leader should be there to help people work through their problems and what those messages are doing is offloading the problems onto you – think the difference between, “We need to talk and see if there’s a way we can avoid this happening again” versus “You need to stop losing clients.” The very “waiting for you to improve” part really underscores it – your leader should be involved with you in your improvement.

      The absolute best way to respond – and I’m sure some people will disagree with me – is to try and not let it bother you. I’m not suggesting internalising or burying your emotional reaction to it. I’m suggesting trying to get to a place where it will roll off your back and you can just focus on the idea your leader is trying to communicate as opposed to the way they are communicating it. Much easier said than done, of course, but if you can be a person that just ignores other people’s shittiness and who it doesn’t affect, you’ll be much happier. But, again, be sure that you’re not burying an emotional response or internalising a message of worthlessness. Try to be someone who’s confidence isn’t rattled by other people’s behaviour.

      I can’t really speak to how unreasonable it is because there aren’t enough details to fairly comment.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Well, the emails came from my boss; my team leader who spoke to me last week was just recently promoted to that position and I don’t have any issues w him (super good so far) and it was a productive talk with him I think. The “waiting for you to improve” really stunned me at the time, I was seasonal for a few months and was then hired on FT/perm and I had gotten nothing but encouraging feedback at the time so I was pretty shocked.

        “But, again, be sure that you’re not burying an emotional response or internalising a message of worthlessness.”— I think this is it, I do internalize it. I spent all weekend depressed and stressed out over this email.

        1. Jaguar*

          If it helps, best case scenario is your boss is a good person and just doesn’t deal with their frustrations well. Talking to you like that is their way of dealing with their frustration. It’s not how they think of you, it’s how they think of you when all they’re thinking about is one of the problems you caused. They aren’t talking about you only as it relates to that one issue because it’s all they can think of.

          Again, this is best case scenario and even in that case, your boss is handling things very, very poorly. But it’s important that you put it in its proper context: your boss is venting about the one problem they just saw, not giving you a comprehensive, holistic review of how you’re doing. It’s a reflection of your boss and not a reflection of you.

          I used to work under a guy that would constantly badmouth all his other reports to me. So, obviously, my immediate (unspoken) question is, “I wonder how he talks about me when I’m not around?” Sure enough, he thought I was out of earshot, so he started calling me an idiot to someone else. However, when I gave my notice, he started offering me raises and begging me to extend my notice period. I also got a call a couple months after I left from him to accept a higher position in the company (I declined). It wasn’t a reflection of my work, it was him being a lousy human being. There is a coping mechanism for that. It’s a strange thing to recommend, and you’re better equipped to know how to handle it, but when people act awfully and you can’t rely on their criticism, the mechanism to not let it bother you is to stop respecting them. Your boss is unfairly trying to take your self-worth and is doing it in a deplorable way. They are not acting in a way that earns respect. Someone you don’t respect can’t affect your self-image.

    8. animaniactoo*

      It sounds like even though you’ve gotten good feedback, there is a larger issue that may not be being addressed with you. Possibly through a thought process that offering encouragement/positive feedback is a better way to reinforce the work they want to see. But then only giving the bad feedback when there is a concrete result.

      So was this unprofessional? Harsh? If what I’m theorizing is correct, then absolutely. But primarily because this is completely out of the blue *as far as you are aware*.

      2 mistakes in 15 months is not unreasonable, depending on A) the level of mistake (how big a deal is it if a client cancels in your company? Only you can evaluate that), and B) whether or not they are really only 2 mistakes vs a series of minor mistakes that only had big implications twice.

      Professionally, I would respond to this by saying “It sounds like you’re getting more complaints about me and my work than I am aware of, as I am only aware of good feedback about my work? Can we meet to discuss the complaints you’re getting? I would really like to be aware of the areas that I need to improve on and discuss what things I might be able to do towards that.” At this point, a week later, you would have to say something along the lines of “I’ve given this a lot of thought this week, and it seems to me that…” as a preface for why you haven’t responded sooner.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is good stuff here. And do it in person, email does not work well with this type of stuff.

    9. copy run start*

      Those emails are way over the line. So far over I can’t even see the line from here. Honestly I’d want an apology for the tone, but asking wouldn’t be the best move.

      I don’t think two mistakes in 15 months really means much of anything. Sometimes people blame one easy thing for ending a relationship when there’s really an underlying issue they don’t want to voice. Perhaps they’re blaming your unresponsiveness to one email when really they can’t afford your companies services.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        That’s a good point but I wish there was a way to bring that up! For one of the people that cancelled, he was already really irate and upset by the time I got to him, due to something the salesperson messed up (and he DID mess it up!) I tried to explain that he was already unhappy and I did my best to recover, but I didn’t perform well on that meeting due to the salespersons mistake etc.

        1. copy run start*

          Unfortunately the last point of contact often ends up being the scapegoat for everyone else’s failings. I don’t know how you would salvage that situation–I’d have probably just asked him when he would like to terminate services–but know that it was not something you could fix. Sometimes the world is crazy unfair.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            Oh nooooo, that’s the easiest way to get fired!!!! As much as we all would love to say that to some really jerk clients, no one would ever say that unless they were looking to get fired.

            1. copy run start*

              I know :) I’m in tech support so I sometimes end up in situations where there is nothing broken or wrong with the service provided and, therefore, literally nothing I can do to resolve the customers problem. Or things just break and it’s beyond anyone’s control–it’s inevitable–and it doesn’t get fixed as fast as someone with 0 technical knowledge thinks it should. Sometimes what the customer really needs is a different service provider or service than we can offer them.

              What’s nice is when they cancel and come back because we’re better than the competition.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The tone and wording is over-the-line harsh. I can’t imagine talking to someone that way. (For what it’s worth, you tend to see this kind of overly harsh tone/nice-in-person style from managers who don’t really know how to manage — so they swing too far in both directions. I’d bet that she’s had concerns about this for a while and just hasn’t given you feedback about it until now, because that’s also typical of this style of manager — they don’t do their job re: feedback and then when it finally comes out, it comes out too harshly.)

      As far as practical advice for you, I’d focus on the issues she’s raising. Two mistakes in 15 months might be nothing, or it could be a very big deal, depending on what those mistakes are. (For example, I’d be hugely concerned about someone who snapped at a client twice in 15 months, or who no-showed on a client meeting, or so forth.) She’s telling you it’s a big deal to her (and I’d argue that not meeting timeliness standards for responding to clients is a big deal), so that’s where I’d focus your response — on what you’re doing to ensure it doesn’t continue.

      I don’t think you have great standing here to address the harshness; it’s going to look like you’re focused on the wrong thing. Focus on the performance concern.

      1. fposte*

        It also sounds like it’s two emails about more than one incidence of unresponsiveness each, so I think the boss isn’t thinking of it as two mistakes but several for the first email and two for the second. I’m betting the boss is one of those people who lets her annoyance simmer over a single incident but doesn’t say anything, so by the time you hear about the errors there are many of them and she’s super mad.

    11. AshKetchum*

      Ugh. Your manager really should’ve had this conversation with you in person – NOT via email – so, you are not being oversensitive.

      I would not remind her of your good feedback because that might sound defensive and like you’re not really processing the feedback that you’re currently getting. If I were you I would develop a plan to fix this problem and then relay that to your manager. Ask her if she has any suggestions on how to better manage your time so you can respond to clients more promptly. Be proactive about finding a solution and then really commit to making a change. I think that’s what you should be focusing on instead of reminding her about your good feedback.

      Honestly, being unresponsive is kind of big deal and it’s having consequences because now clients are cancelling. I think being able to respond to clients, coworkers,etc within a reasonable time frame is an expectation that many managers have and it’s now becoming a pattern that you can’t do that. I wouldn’t have reacted as strongly as your manager but I would be really concerned about this.

    12. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

      Good lord. I would NEVER speak to someone that way, Nervous Accountant! It probably makes you Nervouser Accountant. Aww.

      That’s harsh. Like, way harsh. Like, super unprofessional has-this-woman-had-any-training harsh. I would be beside myself if I got an email like that.

      I think your response should acknowledge that you messed up, address what you plan to fix it, and maybe talk about re-earning her trust. Like:

      Dear Harshboss,

      You’re right, I dropped the ball on those. I’ve been trying to figure out what happened because I’m generally so on top of things, and it’s unlike me to make so many mistakes. I suspect I was a little burnt out after tax season this year and maybe should have taken a little break from work to get my head back in my game. I’m also using an alert system in my email now to let me know when an email from a client has gone more than 12 hours unanswered so I can prioritize responding. I hope those changes will fix that.

      On a separate note, I’m concerned that you seem really angry about this, and I would hope that my record of great feedback from several of our top clients won’t be overshadowed by these mistakes.”

      1. a*

        I don’t know if it’s a good idea to tell the boss “You seem really angry about this.” Yes, the boss’ tone is harsh, but I think telling someone that they seem very angry is just going to make them more angry. It might be better to focus the response on just the content in your first paragraph, which is a great response.

        The harshness of the boss’ emails seems like something that would be better to talk about in person – maybe after a bit of time has passed, so that the boss can tell that Nervous Accountant is taking her concerns seriously.

    13. Jenny*

      One thing that I emphasize to my staff who have customer service rolls is that we need to have 100% good customer service behaviour from the staff. There will be mistakes made in other processes – type-os when inputting, letters that get lost in the mail, customers who misunderstand something etc – so the actual person to person customer contact needs to be impeccable. It’s the only option. It’s not like school when you can decide which things you care about, how much you care, and when you care. Instead, it’s a business (or public service org in my case) where the leaders have already made that decision and the decision is that you have to care about the customer contact part of service 100% of the time.

      1. Jenny*

        So, that’s to say – that I’m looking for my staff to notice and care if they make a mistake with customer contact and then not ever repeat that mistake. If a staff person doesn’t seem to care about that, then I also start looking at their work ethic in general to see if there is a pattern, and then after a chance to improve I remove them from the roll.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Good professional response and a story:

      My husband was a week late returning to a customer with service. He came home so upset he was absolutely beside himself, he said “my boss is going to write me”. My husband had never been written up for anything in his life, this was new turf to him and he was UPSET.

      So we sat down and we chatted.
      I said, “Did you do this? Did you forget?”
      He said, “yes.”
      I said, “Half your problem is solved.”

      See, the first thing bosses want to know is “Do you acknowledge that you made a mistake?” Now they may put it on a par with Murder I and you may think of it as on a par with gossiping or being two minutes late for work. But it does not matter what you think. If they think it’s a big deal, then you have a big deal on your hands.
      So acknowledge the mistake so you don’t have to get beat up even more.

      Next step. In my husband’s story he could salvage the relationship with the customer. He could go and apologize to the manager and then do the service call. So he told the boss what he was going to do for the customer. This does not apply to your situation because that ship has sailed, but for general knowledge, if you can do this step, then it should be done.

      Third step. He apologized to the boss for causing issues. You may or may not wish to apologize depending on all the particulars of your setting. However, part b here still applies to you. Part B: Develop a workable plan so that this will never happen again. So, let’s say you decide your plan will be that an hour before the COB each day you will check all your emails to make sure you have answered each one. Share your plan with your boss and conclude with “I see this is a problem so I have built a solution that I will work with to avoid having this problem again. Here is my plan [fill in with plan].

      As an aside: Some day I hope to see you change your name to “Confident Accountant”. Confidence is something that is built over time. Part of where confidence comes from is preparedness. Hitting problems at work is fairly normal so just build a plan for each problem that you face. Yes, at first this is exhausting, I always have to get extra rest at night when I am doing this. But the effect is culmulative and as the problems subside, you will be less exhausted and less nervous.

      While you should not mention to your boss about your apathy due to exhaustion, you should privately build a personal plan for how you will deal with the exhaustion and how you will deal with the apathy that can set in. It’s pretty normal for tired/drained people to become detached from what they are doing and that sounds like what happened to you.

      When I feel myself starting to become detached I have several different approaches that I use to change my mindset. One is bribery. “If I pay attention and do a good job today I can get a coffee for the ride home.” Another is punishment: “I don’t think I gave my best yesterday so today I have knuckle down and really do a bang up job. Not a choice, I must do this.” And yet other times the only thing that works is for me to scare the crap out of me, “I must do the job fully and correctly or I will be standing in the unemployment line.”

      As far as the fatigue is concerned, look at how much rest you are getting. Make sure you are hydrating and eating real meals with salads and such. You may like to consider protein drinks during your busy season.

      I think the emails are harsh but I also think that many bosses speak this way. I try to separate the tone of voice from the message. Think about the actual issue and address the issue. Ignore the tone of voice. You can be insulted/upset/ etc. No one can tell you what you should be feeling. However, all those emotions are not going to solve your problem. Action plans solve problems, the quicker you go to an action plan the sooner the situation will calm down and you will feel better.

      I think that these are more than mistakes, these are two lost customers in 1.5 years. Yeah, losing customers is a big deal in most places. I will say that I am not really impressed with how your boss treats you. Usually with poor treatment comes heavy-handed supervision as we see here; it’s raining in your life over these two customers. In your situation, I would ask the boss if she can speak with you in person rather than emailing you when this level of concern comes up. Tell her that you want to know, so you can fix this things asap.

      Bottom line, I am sorry you are going through this. I can see why there is a high turn over in help at your place.

  33. GravyBoat*

    How do I explain why I’m leaving this job? I’m at a job that sweeps things like sexism, sexual harassment, and animal abuse under the rug, but I know it also looks bad when you up and quit a job. Also, I know you aren’t supposed to bad mouth past employers. But I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here!

    1. Temperance*

      1. It doesn’t “look bad” to quit a job, so long as you have something lined up or a good reason.

      2. Talk about why you’re looking for new work, and what you hope to do in the future. Not about the company.

      2a. If it’s that bad, you can file a complaint with OSHA and/or the EEOC, depending on the facts.

      1. GravyBoat*

        Thank you. I’ve wanted to file a complaint, but I’m not certain if there’s anything to be done, considering it’s not documented. But, for example, my manager says she doesn’t want to hire women, and she forces female employees out of the store, but does it by finding things that are technically against our policiws and getting them in trouble for that. However, the male employees are held to no standards at all.

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

          Ha, one would think she’d see the irony.

          My theory regarding misogynistic women, beyond just internalized sexism, is that they generally want to be the only woman in a workplace/other milieu because it makes them *special* – “no other women are good enough for this, but I am!” Yuck.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Oh, you must be working for my old boss. I had a boss that did this. Is there an 800 number you can call to report this type of thing?

          (I don’t really think you have my old boss. There are plenty of women and men out there who do not want people of their own gender working for them.)

      2. Marisol*

        I don’t think it looks bad to leave a job as long as you give two weeks’ notice (or as much notice as is customary in your industry). I don’t think you owe anyone a reason for your departure, such as having another job lined up or anything else. You could just say you are pursuing other opportunities if you want to give a vague answer.

    2. TeaPotDesigner*

      I’d say just use the old cliche of “searching for a new career path” when they ask about this. Make it about the new company instead of the old one, like telling ChocolateTeaPotWarehouse managers, oh I always wanted to work with Chocolate tea pot distribution, but my old company only ever made Ganache Sofas, which after three years I am really tired of.

    3. Hermione*

      It probably depends how long you’ve worked there.

      *If 2+ years, you’re just looking for your next opportunity.
      *If less, but you have significant experience in the field and are applying for next level or managerial positions where you weren’t in one previously, say that you’re very interested in x position because (it will allow you to manage people/expand your skills in x, its focus on y, etc.).
      *If you’ve only been there a few weeks or months, either leave it off of your resume completely (but then, longer gap between employment to explain) or say that culturally, it wasn’t a great fit for you, though you appreciated xyz about the job’s functions and are looking forward to continuing to do those functions in this new position.

    4. Rache*

      I think honesty might be the best policy on this one. Depending on who you’re talking to (current employer on why you’re leaving): I cannot continue to stand by while things like sexism, sexual harassment and animal abuse are swept under the rug. For my own sanity and peace of mind, I need to move on. (prospective employer on why you left): There were many factors, but outright abuse and harassment were what caused me to move on, and unfortunately it made giving notice impossible.

      Best of luck to you… this sounds horrid.

    5. DoDah*

      Retail, right? Eh, short-term stays are normal. ToxicJob “isn’t a good fit for your skills.”

      Bonne chance with new opportunities!

  34. NASA*

    How do you see job norms changing in the next 20-40 years?

    You know how parents can give well-meaning, but outdated advice (especially when applying to jobs)? I wonder what things will change when my future children apply to their first job.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      Oh, that’s a fun question. For an obvious one, I think a lot of the ‘following up’ will become completely digital. Calls & handwritten notes -> emails and whatever new tech becomes standard. I think remote work and Skype meetings and webinars will become incredibly ordinary, helping out people who live in rural areas or who have highly specific skillsets.

      I suspect freelancing and overlapping part-time jobs will stay common.

      I suspect that parents will start counseling their kids about their online footprint. Don’t blog under your real name, don’t sign up for any “acting” databases with embarrassing 17yo-acne photos, snap up your name’s URL early, etc.

      I hope that there’s a renewed interest in hands-on skills, ie artisan guilds and advanced craftsmanship apprenticeships. I know the pendulum always swings between the generalist / jack-of-all trades and the specialist / master in a given field, but I hope we can preserve some of the advanced skills in the trades.

    2. Manders*

      Oooh, interesting question.

      1) I think the whole idea of “loyalty” to employers will die out as fewer people stay in one job for their whole careers. I’m sure there will always be some managers who don’t grasp the concept, but I think most will be used to the idea that people move around over the course of their careers.
      2) I suspect that a big regulatory crackdown is coming on “gig economy”-type jobs, and companies that depend on that kind of labor will be forced to treat the people who work for them like employees.
      3) Either telecommuting will become far more widespread, or jobs will clump up in massive cities with few job opportunities in rural areas between them.
      4) Brand new technologies like 3d printing are a wild card: they may kill off a whole lot of manufacturing jobs, but they may also create a whole new set of job opportunities.

      1. NASA*

        Aw, super relaxed dress codes make me kinda sad and I don’t even dress nicely for work 95% of the time! My current role allows me to be more casual than business, but I’ll dress up a bit when I’m at headquarters.

        Other than start-ups (corduroy and hoodies anyone?), I can’t imagine my government more-casual-than-business job getting even more casual :)

    3. the cake is a pie*

      1. This is really fun! My first thought was similar to Manders’s point about the decline of loyalty. I think job hopping will become much more common possibly with ~5 years at each job.
      2. Taking that further, I wonder if we’ll see any kind of decline in permanent workforces and instead have companies bringing in people with certain skillsets for just the length of a project.
      3. I think self-driving cars will have a big effect on work norms. People can live even further away because they can do more work (or sleep or watch movies) on the drive in. And we’ll have questions like, “can my boss require me to set up a car office?”
      4. I bet we see office dress codes becoming more across-the-board casual, especially in all roles that aren’t client-facing.
      5. I wonder if more companies will ever go to “blind” resumes, meaning all names and identifying information will be stripped out to help lessen unintentional bias in hiring (as studies like that NBER one about “racial” names affecting hiring choices).
      6. “Mom! Dad! Your advice about interviewing is sooooo outdated now that we have VR interviews.”

      1. NASA*

        Self Driving cars!!! Yes! I though about how much safer it could potentially be and how I could have slept in my car rather than on a train, but I didn’t actually think about the distance. True story.

        I used to have a 2 hour commute each way and now its 10-15 minutes. I often see LWs or commenters say how they would never do a commute more than X minutes, so that could be a game changer for sure.

    4. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

      I think you’ll see a lot more women in the leadership positions, and maybe they’ll even get the same level of respect as the men. Seriously – I think it just won’t be a thing that you notice anymore, like people of my generation don’t bat at eye at openly gay people.

      I think it won’t be abnormal to do more interviews by teleconference than in-person because companies will have more scattered workforces.

      1. NASA*

        YES. TO. THIS!!!

        (Hopefully one of those leaders will be me!)

        And we’ll be on a 12G network in 20 years…haha.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Our laws and regs are growing at an exponential rate. I fully expect to see small municipalities and small orgs absolutely crushed by the laws/regs. These smaller places will shut down as they lack the people and the money to pay for all the mandated requirements. We will see libraries, courts and local governments just close. It’s already starting to happen.

      The gap between services in rural communities and populous areas will widen. I am mostly talking about cells and internet but other services such as municpal water, electricity and landline phones will have issues as very little money is put into existing infrastructure.

      I think these future employees will deal with layers of complexity that we cannot imagine. Constant learning will probably become more the norm. Currently, some professionals must take continuing ed courses. In the future I think that most workers will have to take regular courses in something, the idea of “finishing” a degree will fade. If you wish to stay employed you will have to take courses until you retire.

      I think the people that will make out well, will be the ones who adapt to new ideas quickly. I am not saying “learn quickly”, I am focusing on acceptance. The person who is willing to accept/deal with changes will fair better than the reluctant ones. Yes, we have this now but it is going to get to be a bigger and bigger deal.

      A pearl of wisdom my father gave me and I think it is even more valuable now: Children need to learn some basic science, applied science, as in how things around us work. I think that encouraging kids not to back away from things they don’t know or don’t understand will give them a huge leg up in life. They will live in a world where things are constantly new and constantly unfamiliar.

    6. Girasol*

      If the US gig economy grows as it looks like it will, and most employees are temps, then I’d expect to see some sort of nationalization of benefits. My company’s temps were expected to manage their own insurance and be online every day from the start of the contract to the end, even when a two months gig ended up stretching over a year. So I imagine in the future, in the US, reasonably priced portable temp employee insurance, sick leave, and minimum vacation requirements for contract staff.

  35. Potate*

    I work in a law office and the office “officially” closes at 5:30PM. We have some people who head out at 5:30PM on the dot, and some people who choose to stay a little later to wrap up work and such. I’m having a problem with my boss, the owner of the company, treating “after hours” office time as internal meeting time. As in, it’ll be 5:25PM and he’ll walk up to my desk and suggest having a meeting about X or Y topic. These meetings will run anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours and I end up getting home much later than I usually would. He does this about once or twice a week.

    I’m having a hard time finding scripts to turn my boss down, especially since I very rarely say “No” to my boss in any other context. For the record, I do like my boss, and he’s usually a pretty reasonable regarding work, but “Sorry, I’ve got dinner plans” only flies so many times, especially when he’s doing this so often. Any suggestions would be very much welcomed!

    1. Temperance*

      Are you an attorney? If not, are you an hourly employee or an exempt employee?

      If you’re not an attorney, I find this unreasonable. Why can’t you enroll in a class after work (not saying that you actually have to DO this, just SAY it), or have a gym commitment?

      What my boss taught me to do is to say that I’m unavailable at X time, and then offer the next morning. Would that work for you?

      1. Potate*

        I am not an attorney– I’m the office admin/client service person, and I’m exempt.

        After hour classes are a good idea! I might start taking using that as an excuse. My boss is a huge night owl, so I think he thinks of evenings as “work time”, and rarely comes in on time/right before his first meeting of the day, so suggesting a morning meeting would be fine, but I don’t know if it would actually happen.

        1. Sadsack*

          I wonder if it is really a good idea to have such a specific fake activity. What if he becomes interested and starts asking for details? I would just politely ask if you can go see him first thing the next day because you need to be somewhere right after work, without saying where. Not dinner though, just somewhere. See what he says.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      One tactic I like is to never say “no”, but to propose other solutions or ask follow-up questions. It’s mainly a technique to keep customers/clients happy and content, but it can work internally, too. Maybe the next time, instead of saying no, ask something like “Yes, I wanted to meet with you about that! How about 8am tomorrow? I was just wrapping up/about to head out in a few minutes [optional, but recommended if he doesn’t seem to get the point].”

      1. Potate*

        That’s a good script, and I’ll try it next time! That said, any recommendations for if he keeps on insisting (“I’d really like to get it done tonight. It’ll just be a few minutes.”) when you know full well it’ll be another hour+? Would it be better just to go along with it then?

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          If you don’t want to give in, the best way to counter is just say “I’m sorry, I can’t, how about [time] tomorrow?” DO NOT let yourself add “because [reason]”, because pushy people will always find a reason that your reason is less important/unimportant. Do not JADE — that stands for Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain. Those are the things that people can manipulate those of us who have trouble saying no get us to do in order to gain a tactical advantage, and it almost always works, hence the saying “‘No’ is a complete sentence”.

          If you want to start slower or are more worried about angering your boss, you could try “Well, I can only stay until 6:00 [as an example], I suppose I can stay if we have a hard stop at 6. Would that work, or would tomorrow be better?” Of course, there’s a very good chance that he’ll push that boundary, too, so I don’t recommend this, but it’s an alternative if you’re not sure you want to draw that line in the sand just yet.

        2. Jaydee*

          Set a firm time limit on it if he’s really insistent or it truly can’t wait until morning. “Okay, let me send these last few emails before I forget and I will come over to your office in 10 minutes. I really do need to be out of here by 6:00, so I hope that gives us enough time.” [optionally, you could add that if that won’t be enough time to discuss everything he wants to talk about you could just talk about A and then save B and C for the next day] That way you’ve given him a few minutes to prioritize what he wants to talk to you about so it fits into the amount of time you have to talk. Then just stick to the time you have to leave. “Oh, look at the time! It’s 5 minutes to 6:00. Let’s make sure we have covered all the main things for tonight and maybe we can talk again first thing tomorrow. I will be in by 7:45 (or whatever is accurate).

        3. AMT 2*

          Maybe just a polite “a few minutes is fine, but I really have to leave by 5:45 tonight” or whatever time you need, and then keep an eye on the clock and cut him off if you need to: “I really have to get going, I have somewhere to be”. Hopefully he will get the hint after a few times of this.

        4. Beezus*

          “I’m sorry, I have an appointment that I can’t miss, and I really need to head out on time.” (or, if you want to give a little, “OK, but I have a hard stop at 5:15 to make an appointment, so I really need to head out then.”) He doesn’t have to know that your appointment is with Alex Trebek and your couch.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Personally, I don’t think you have to have plans in order to say “I was hoping to get out on time today, could we put this off until tomorrow?”

    4. Valkyrie*

      I’m also a client service/admin person at a law firm. The founding attorney (my boss) and I have scheduled weekly meetings for every Monday morning to go over everything (leads, workflow, marketing, etc.) , I’ve also completely packed my evenings. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I take a class at my gym at 5:30 (we’ve worked it out so I leave 15 minutes early those days so I can make it on time) and Tuesdays I visit my Grandma, so Thursday is my only free evening.

      I am lucky because my boss really values work/life balance, but there are definitely ways to work around this. Do you manage your boss’s calendar? Can you schedule him for networking happy hours or events in the evening? My boss usually does about 2 evening events per week.

      Good luck!

    5. Marisol*

      I was going to suggest just saying, “I have to leave at 5:30. Is this an emergency, or can we meet tomorrow?” But I’m getting the sense you think your boss wouldn’t like something like that. Although, I wonder, are you *sure* it wouldn’t fly, or is it possible that he does this so often because, having never spoken up, he thinks you don’t mind?

    6. Valkyrie*

      I’m also an admin/client service person at a law firm and my boss and I have scheduled a weekly meeting to go over everything (leads, workflow, unresponsive clients, etc). It’s worked out pretty well.

      I’ve also packed my evenings–which gets me out of the office and also helps me avoid traffic on the way home. I’ve worked out my schedule so I leave at 5:15 Monday, Wednesday and Friday to make it to a 5:30 class at my gym, and on Tuesdays I visit my Grandma. So, Thursday is the only evening I don’t have booked which makes it harder to need me later. I’m also lucky that my boss supports all of this, so the buy-in was important.

      Do you manage your boss’s calendar? I schedule mine for frequent evening networking events, somebody is always having a networking happy hour somewhere! (She likes them, I’m not signing her up for weird stuff she doesn’t want to do).

      Good luck!

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      If you decide to stay until a certain time, set a very audible alarm on your phone or watch. Then, instead of clock-watching, you can say “Oh, sorry, it’s 6:00! I’ve got to go.”

  36. KatieKate*

    Non-profit workers: anyone else in this situation?

    My organization is big an everyone helps each other out–especially because we used to get comp time as overtime. I feel like my company culture is really going to change because managers are less likely to share their reports with other departments for events because they’ll have to pay overtime. On the one hand I’m thrilled with the law, on the other this comp time exclusion is seriously going to screw with us.

    1. Abbi Abrams*

      I’m a non-profit worker but in Canada so the law doesn’t apply to me. Oh boy, does this article ever resonate with me though. Working overtime (especially to attend events, fundraisers, etc) isn’t MANDATORY but if you don’t do it, you look bad. Because everyone should be 100% devoted to their cause. Ugh…

    2. Mona Lisa*

      I know my former co-workers at the awful non-profit I left last year are really struggling with this. I ran into one recently during the work day (we were hosting an event at a local establishment) and remarked that I was surprised to see her there. She told me that they’re doing a lot more half-days to get around the overtime so they can still work weekend events. She was definitely a workaholic before (the type who took her company laptop home to work until 7/8 every evening) so I think it’s been a big mental shift for her and many of the other employees to realize that they don’t have to/can’t do that anymore. The co-worker did say that she’s already finding a better work/life balance though so it sounds like it might be a good thing for the non-profit workers in general!

    3. De Minimis*

      At my employer, everyone was already making above the new salary threshold because we’re in a high cost of living area. I think though that many are overworked, and we don’t have any type of comp time—it’s all under the guise of everyone being exempt and as my boss has said, “Time has no meaning if you’re exempt.” I think we are fudging the rules a lot as far as the duties test, though. I feel like it’s debatable whether some of us are truly exercising “discretion and independent judgment.”

      I feel badly for orgs that are having to jump through a lot of hoops to comply with the new rules, but people should be adequately paid for the work they do. It does bother me though if it will compromise program effectiveness.

    4. Lillian McGee*

      Yep. It’s terrible, because exactly 0% of our funders have given us a raise in the last 2 years, yet we are expected to produce higher and higher numbers of people served AND good outcomes?? And give staff raises! It’s unsustainable and it sucks mightily.

      I am pretty sure that I should have been classed non-exempt from day 1, but I never have been because of my various “manager” titles. Also, I have made it a point to end my day at 8 hours unless some event or dire emergency required me to stay. I am one of two people becoming non-exempt on Dec 1 and I warned my boss months ago and again last week. She was like, “What?? Professional duties!” I said yeah, but also salary threshold. She said “We’re doing the budget soon, we’ll talk about it then.” So… not sure what’s gonna happen to me.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        That was how my last non-profit was, too. Everyone was classified as exempt, including the front desk person. There were people who actually were exempt, but about half the staff should probably have been classified as non-exempt because of their duties.

        When I helped create a new position after a database conversion, I told them the title should probably be “Database Administrator” to keep it in line with what most other branches of the national organization were calling that position. Our (awful, ineffective) HR lady threw a fit because, according to her, if “administrator” was in the title, it would be nearly impossible to classify that position as exempt. We ended up going with another more vague title to appease her.

        1. Lillian McGee*

          That’s terrible. Especially because title has nothing to do with status! It’s all in the duties and if there were ever a claim, title wouldn’t even be a factor (except maybe to illustrate that the org was blatantly [and stupidly] attempting to avoid applicability…) But a front desk person!? That’s bad. Our worst was trying to fit paralegals into the ‘learned professional’ exemption. But we changed our ways (a little)…

          Tbh, I like being exempt because of the flexibility. I do not want to have to start keeping track of my lunch breaks and my actual working time. It would be nice to be making more, but I would much rather work only 40 hours.

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      I work at a non-profit university and this article definitely spoke to me. It’s not that my employer CAN’T pay me overtime, they just don’t want to until they have to. I’ll be happy with overtime or a limited-to-40-hours work week… either is good, and treats me with more respect.

      As it stands, I’m expected to be at work at 8:00 a.m. every morning, and be at events until 8:00 p.m. many days each week. It’s ridiculous.

      1. De Minimis*

        We do a ton of events [it’s part of our overall mission] and the people in charge of coordinating those are often on the lower tier of our pay structure–and they generally travel the most and probably put in the most hours when one of these events is taking place [and it’s usually at least once every couple of months, sometimes more often.] I don’t think it’s fair, but I’m in a role where it would probably have a negative impact on my position if I made waves.

        It seems like everyone has at least some duties that might qualify for exempt status, but I think it’s borderline if those tasks aren’t the majority of your job.

  37. StandardSecretary*

    Hi all.

    I have recently given my resignation at my current place of work due to the hugely toxic environment (think members of staff threatening each other with physical violence, formal complaints being made about petty things like not refilling the printer paper tray) and the complete unwillingness of management to handle the situation. I have a new job lined up but it’s with my company’s biggest competitor. The last time someone from my company got a job with this particular competitor and left my current company, the CEO of my current company stormed into the competitors office and was very hostile, demanding to know why they were “stealing his staff”. Things were made very very difficult for that previous employee during their notice period.

    I was advised by my new job’s HR dept not to tell my current company I was leaving to work for them. I told my current company I am leaving for health reasons (not far from the truth, I have been quite ill recently and mentally my anxiety has become unbearable and I believe these have both been caused by the stress from my current job). Here’s my problem – my new job require a reference from my current company. As they are aware of the hostility situation with my CEO they are going to request my reference after I have left employment here. My boss (not the CEO or management) is really really great and I would love for him to provide my reference but I know he’s going to feel really betrayed by me leaving and working for the competitor.

    I’d appreciate any comments on this. Do I just have a guilt complex or am I a seriously horrible person?

    1. Dawn*

      You have an enormous guilt complex and your company is being pretty damned abusive… actually really abusive. The CEO storming into the competitor’s office yelling because someone DARED get a job there? What in the actual hell….

      Yeah, let it go, do what you need to do for your mental health, and enjoy your new job!

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Evil Law Firm where I used to work tried to file suit against my current company claiming they were conspiring to steal their employees. As if any of us needed to be “stolen” from that hellhole.

    2. Temperance*

      Okay it makes no sense that you need to provide a reference from your old company when your new company knows that your CEO is a lunatic. None.

      No advice, but I definitely think you have nothing to feel guilty about. You are so far from a “horrible person” for leaving a toxic workplace.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Guilt complex. There is nothing horrible about leaving such an appalling situation! And I wouldn’t worry too much about your boss feeling betrayed–you’re not responsible for his emotions or how he handles them. Seeing you escape might even give him the incentive to leave himself. I seriously doubt he doesn’t realize how awful it is.

    4. Jaydee*

      It sounds like the solution is to 1) not tell your current employer that you are going to work for competitor during your notice period; 2) a day or two after you leave, contact your boss and let him know what’s going on – you took a job at competitor; after the scene CEO made when Wakeen left new HR suggested that you not disclose where you were going during your notice period; you do need someone to be a reference from toxic employer; boss has always been great, you’ve really appreciated working for him, etc. and know he is not the type to do something as unprofessional as CEO did; and ask if it will be alright to put his name down as a reference; 3) once you have the okay from boss, let your new employer know they can contact him for a reference.

    5. Product Person*

      It does seem weird to ask for references after you started, but if it’s a must have, why not tell your new company to ask for a reference WITHOUT mentioning the name of the company calling?

      They could just say, “hi, I’m hoping to get a better sense of StandardSecretary skills; since you used to be her supervisor, could I ask you a few quick questions about how she approaches her work?”.

      I don’t see the relevance of disclosing for which company is the reference when they call — your former boss should be able to answer any questions without the need for this particular piece of information.

    6. Observer*

      Your CEO’s behavior borders on the illegal. And, it’s HUGELY unethical.

      You are not the bad one here. What I would like to know is why does the new place require a reference? (unless it’s just to verify your employment, in which case a call to HR should do the trick.) After all, they KNOW that the CEO is out of his mind.

    7. Chaordic One*

      It seems kind of silly for your new job to REQUIRE a reference letter from your current company, however, under the circumstances, if I were your boss (not the CEO or a member of management) I certainly wouldn’t have a problem giving you a letter of reference. I doubt your boss will have a problem with giving you one. You have a guilt complex.

  38. TeaPotDesigner*

    Some background: For years my boss would love to tell his entire team that we are one of the highest paid in the industry, and it’s always downhill from here. I can never tell if this is true. I had asked two former male coworkers of mine, and they all have higher salaries than me. I am now trying to searching for a new job, and constantly stumble on the preferred salary question. I am really worried that just asking for the new company to match my current salary is way too high an amount.
    Would reducing my salary requirement (to the point of getting 20% less of what I was paid previously) help me get more responses in my job applications, especially in the current economic climate?

    1. Dawn*

      Can you check on Glassdoor to see if your salary is in line with the industry? Also, don’t be disclosing your current salary or salary requirements on your resume or in your applications- that’s a discussion to have when there’s a potential offer on the table.

      1. TeaPotDesigner*

        Thanks for the resource!
        I really wish I didn’t have to, but a lot of the job recruitment sites I am applying to has it as a fill in in the web form, or even worse, flat out requested in the opening requirements. I was afraid if I leave it out, my application would be tossed for reasons of not being able to follow instructions.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah, try and get some hard data (especially since you have anecdotal evidence that you’re NOT making above market rate). Your boss very well could have been blowing smoke up your behind as a retention strategy.

        My last agency LOVED to do this. We were sitting in a town hall meeting and the head of finance kept saying loudly that every single one of us was being paid above market. Meanwhile it was the last day for one of my then-direct reports, who had quit because TPTB stepped on my requests to get him a raise, and I knew that he was leaving (with my blessing) for an increase of *more than 33%*. I texted him during that meeting “how hard are you laughing right now?”

        1. TeaPotDesigner*

          Thanks AdAgencyChick!
          Ungh, I wish this wasn’t such a popular management strategy. Seriously, it is really demoralising.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      If you were the highest-paid in the industry, I think you’d know it. I think people who work for your competitors would be applying for your jobs on a regular basis. Does that happen?

      1. TeaPotDesigner*

        I am not certain because there seems to be a hiring freeze that had lasted for years. But I do know for a fact that people had been resigning at quite a fast rate, so whatever “highest” salary they were paying was probably not enough to prevent people from leaving.
        So THERE, boss. HAHAHA.

  39. Thyme Lady*

    After job hunting in my field for months, I am feeling pretty burned out, AAM friends. I currently work part time but have been struggling the past few weeks in finding energy to apply for additional work and full-time roles. Any tips for keeping up the momentum? I’ve read a few articles on burnout, but since these are aimed at those who are currently employed, the tips shared aren’t really applicable.

    1. JustaTech*

      Oh for pity’s sake! Am I not supposed to wear my wedding ring either? Or do married women not work in his field?

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Perhaps taking a week off, then a week simply to reexamine resume, cover letters, etc, and then getting back into it the following week with fresh materials?

    3. SophieChotek*

      Yes, perhaps take some time off — really come back and reasses.

      Also — are you applying judicously and carefully? It might still take the same amount of time but feel less like you are doing so much — when I first started looking for jobs I applied to practically everything and anything — now I’ve cut that down by 50% or more and I spend more quality time on each resume/cover letter/really reading the job description — like you, I’m struggling to find energy and time to apply for additional work/new job, but knowing I don’t need to just do everything, but just do a few things has helped me (mentally). Maybe even just cut down to these are the two jobs I really want — not necessarily dream jobs or there may be several that seem like good fits –but decide “okay, I’ll do these two” and “spend X time resting”…instead of “I need to apply to these 10 places that all look like possibilites!”…just a thought — you might be doing this already and still feeling overwhelmed…

      1. Thyme Lady*

        I am careful about what I apply for. I make sure I fit the profile close to 75% and that it is something I am genuinely interested in instead of a job to just get by. Actually, a lot of what you described is pretty much where I am at right now. When I do see positions, I read through them thorough before I make a plan to apply. But sometimes while I am putting things together I start to question whether or not I will like the position or if it is even worth it. I’ve been at entry-level for such a long time that it is really just starting to get to me, and I’m questioning whether or not I should move into another field or a similar one. I have a strong background in writing and am thinking of taking on creative work that involves that up again instead of continuing working in the field that I am in now.

    1. Collie*

      (Disclaimer: Did not read the article.) I’ve seen similar arguments before, so I have to wonder if maybe we shouldn’t be so mad at the people suggesting this, but mad at society for the fact that it’s a legitimate suggestion in the first place. I’m not sure what the answer is to solve the issue, and I don’t know that a man writing on this particular topic is appropriate (though it wouldn’t be much better if a woman did), but there’s that. Hashtag, down-with-the-patriarchy!

      1. Kelly L.*

        I wish he’d written an article called “Don’t Judge Job Candidates for Being Engaged”!

        I think that’s what annoys me about it–instead of telling interviewers to behave better, it’s once again telling women how to compensate for other people’s bad behavior.

        Ew, and then he goes on to “clarify” that engagement rings are just a business transaction for men and that women with big rings are high maintenance.

        1. Collie*

          Agreed! And excuse me while I go wipe the vomit off my mouth in response to your last line there. Glad I didn’t bother wasting my time with the article!

      2. Ife*

        Nope, I think we can be mad at both society and the people who suggest this, at the same time! Every time someone suggests this, they feed into the larger societal notion that it’s acceptable. They perpetuate and spread the attitude that it’s A Thing. Honestly it never would have occurred to me that you would need to remove your engagement ring if you were going to an interview; now it’s something I think about (with disdain, and with no intention of doing it, but other people may have a different takeaway).

        1. Student*

          If you’re a woman looking for a job and you need it badly enough to work every edge you can get – then you appear unmarried because you’re more likely to get hired. It sucks, and it’s wrong, and it’s also a real thing that employers actually make hiring decisions on, backed up by research. Married women (especially with children) get paid less and get hired less. You also probably dress more nicely for the interview, wear more make-up, and don’t mention children (again, wrong; but a measurable, real thing).

          Men, on the other hand, get a career boost out of being married and having children – so it benefits them to mention such things during an interview.

          Pretending the problem doesn’t exist, or getting angry when someone publicizes it exists, serves no one. The women who do or do not wear a ring (either way!) are not to blame for the issue at hand – employers are, and the utter impotency of laws meant to protect against this kind of issue. Employers are not going to change on their own accord; they haven’t for years, they don’t even when research demonstrates quantifiable ($$$) business improvements when people are treated fairly and hiring is diverse. Laws won’t change until people (1) recognize this is a real thing instead of ignoring it or making fun of it because it makes them uncomfortable (2) elect leaders who will do something real about it.

          1. Observer*

            That actually has nothing to do with this guy’s advice though. While it may be true that SOME employers are less likely to hire a woman if she’s married, and many of those will make assumptions based on whether she’s wearing a ring or not, this guy’s reasoning goes way, way beyond that.

      3. Observer*

        No, for all the problems with society, this is not one of them. This is just stupid, stupid advice.

        It’s doesn’t reflect the real world in any real way, and any candidate that pays this guy for help is wasting money (at best).

        The better question to ask is, WHY DO WE TAKE THIS STUPIDITY SO SERIOUSLY?!

    2. Manders*

      I actually bought a fancy ring because I thought I might have to wear something to job interviews; my partner was interviewing at a few places that were willing to consider a spousal hire, but we weren’t married yet. I thought it would look weird to interviewers if I didn’t have one, like our relationship wasn’t serious enough that I would ever actually be his spouse.

      To be honest, I almost ever notice that someone’s wearing a ring unless they have an absolutely massive hunk of rock.

    3. Camellia*

      Why are these things still things?!?!!? Seriously, it is depressing to think that my four year old granddaughter may still have to deal with patriarchal attitudes, disparate salaries, rape-victim blaming, and all the other things that we have been trying to change in what seems like forever. WHEN WILL WE BE DONE??

      [signed] Child of the Fifties

    4. Chaordic One*

      Rings are not things that I would really notice or pay attention to. Aside from the “married” and sexist angles, do you suppose that someone wearing a large engagement ring might be perceived as showing off?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      That would seal the deal for me. I would wear the rock so I could find out what type of employer I was speaking with. If you are an idiot of an employer let me know up front so we do not waste our time.

      I see the articles about how important it is to color your hair once it grays. I don’t do that for the same reason.

  40. Brock*

    About to start jobhunting, and for my CV I can’t figure out how to list my employment taking account both of the sites where I’ve worked and my actual employers – there have been three TUPE processes (UK Transfer of Undertaking – Protection of Employees) since I last officially started a new job. When I explain it in detail, it takes up lines of my CV and prospective employers are confused anyway. Leaving the details out either misrepresents my actual employers or actual experience. It looks like this:

    Job location Employer
    Company 1 Company 1 New hire
    Company 2 Company 2 TUPE
    Company 2 Company 3 TUPE
    Company 2 Company 3 Promotion (significant change in job duties)
    Company 4 Company 3 Transfer to another site
    Company 4 Company 5 TUPE

    Any ideas? Maybe I should footnote it all?

    1. Sibley*

      I’m not sure what the TUPE really is, but it sounds like the company got bought out or something. Same job, different name on the pay stub? If so, I would do this:

      Company 1, Company 2, Company 3 – New hire
      (company bought out twice)
      company 3, 4, 5 – promotion
      (company bought out twice)

      But make it better of course!

  41. Amy*

    I need help figuring out how to show that the skills/experiences in my career-track experience apply to non-career track jobs as well.

    Some background: I am a candidate for ordination in my denomination (UCC), so the majority of my experience is things like hospital chaplain intern, intern minister, intern at an interfaith organization, college chaplain intern, etc. I also have a Master of Divinity degree from a top-10 university. Given my location and the infrequent nature of FT associate minister openings, I’m currently looking for entry-level admin type jobs that I can be at for 18months-2 years while I wait for an opening in church ministry.

    It’s clear to *me* and other people in my field the way that ministry experience requires/teaches skills that are just as valuable in non-ministry roles, but I’m not sure how to explain in a cover letter, for example, that writing/giving monthly sermons with consistently positive feedback demonstrates my strong written/oral communication skills, or how the my term as a hospital chaplain means that I’m really good at handling confidential information and acting diplomatically with clients/patrons, etc…no matter how I phrase it, I feel like it either sounds naive or condescending.

    My second problem is that I have a feeling that my (religious) degree and the (religious) nature of my job experience might be scaring people off. I’m very aware of the fact that many people in our country have negative experiences with religion/Christianity, or have misconceptions that religious degrees either aren’t academically rigorous or imply poor judgement. I’m hoping that the fact that I got my MDiv at an Ivy League university will help somewhat, but I don’t know how to put in a cover letter, ‘yes I’m super Christian but that doesn’t automatically mean super conservative or super evangelical and no I wont try and convert everyone in your office and yes I am smart and competent I promise’

    Lastly, I don’t know if a cover letter is the place to reassure people “Yes its pretty obvious that the position I’m applying for is not in my field, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sincere about my application, because positions in my field wont be opening up for at least 18 months or so, and the application process itself can take anywhere from 3 to 9 months anyway”, or how to phrase it if it is.

    I am at a total loss.

      1. Amy*

        Mostly entry-level admin positions at local non-profits and for-profits, so things like “administrative assistant” or “program assistant” type things, but also a few other less-entry-level positions, mostly in the ‘project associate’ or ‘project coordinator’ vein, that I personally can tell I’m qualified for, but am not sure how to interpret my resumé to show a prospective employer that I am.

        1. orchidsandtea*

          I once received the advice to phrase everything from the new role’s POV. So when I was looking to move from nannying to admin work a few years back, I emphasized how I managed the schedule and coordinated this & that and made xyz things easier, but de-emphasized some of the cuddly kid stuff. Mention volunteer work you do, and it’s totally reasonable to say “My work in chaplaincy taught me a lot about diplomacy, confidentiality, and organization. In fact that’s part of what appeals to me about this role — I get so much satisfaction from (helping things run smoothly, contributing to a team, what-have-you).”

          Unfortunately the “I’m not a bigoted condescending jerk out to convert the world” is probably better shown than said.

        2. Temperance*

          Do you have any non-religious work or volunteer experience? I think it would be really helpful to show that you have a range of interests and skills, and it would combat the whole “is this person just trying to get a foot in the door to proselytize” thing. I also think it might be helpful to leave off anything about sermons unless the job that you’re looking for involves public speaking in some capacity.

          If I had a resume that only included faith-based work and internship experience, I probably would pass on it since it’s not really relevant to my industry (pro bono legal work), and I might assume that you wouldn’t be a good fit in my very secular but historically Jewish org. I’m an ex-evangelical, FWIW, so my perspective is probably a bit extreme.

          Have you looked into any jobs doing intake or the like at religious nonprofits, or secular nonprofits?

          1. Amy*

            My last completely secular experience ended 3 years ago…since then I’ve been an intern college chaplain, an intern at a very well-respected interfaith organization in the UK, a student minister at a local church, and a hospital chaplain…aside from that, all I have is a work-study student assistant job from undergrad (2008-2009) and a 9-month temping job at a mortgage office (2012-2013). Anyone familiar with my denomination knows that we’re a pretty liberal bunch who are really into the whole ‘separation of church and state’ thing and think proselytizing is rude/disrespectful, so I’m not as worried about my applications to social-justice oriented non-profits (my denomination often collaborates with these types of organizations), but I’d hate to think that I was getting dismissed/turned away just because I don’t know how to show that my skills translate pretty well to admin work across disciplines…

            1. Temperance*

              On the flip side, though, if you can’t really show how your ministerial experience translates to secular admin work, you can’t really expect a hiring manager to “get” it, you know? I wouldn’t really see chaplaincy skills as something that could work in my industry at first glance, and unfortunately, in this market, you need to put it out there because it’s easy to get overlooked.

              I think that your mortgage experience and student job could actually be useful in showing this, FWIW.

        3. Overeducated*

          UCC represent! One of my favorite aspects of my UCC church is its focus on doing good and creating change in this world. What if you focused on social service and justice oriented organizations and linked your ministry background with their missions to convince hiring managers you want to be part of what they’re doing? “I am looking for a placeholder job unrelated to my vocation but i have tons of transferrable skills” would be less compelling to me than “I am deeply committed to (x cause/principle), which I became involved with in (y internship/church/etc) and want to make a practical difference using this set of transferrable skills.”

          Another idea: check into fundraising and development jobs, my brother has great people skills and has been doing amazingly in his organizing/fundraising job.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      If you’re applying to entry-level jobs, you need to leave your MDiv off your resume entirely. Most employers will see that and think “Ah, she won’t be here long if we hire her” or “Ah, she’s looking for something easy” and toss your resume in the trash.

      Advanced degrees should always be left off resumes when applying to entry-level jobs, unless they’re specifically necessary for the role.

      1. Amy*

        yeah thats what I was thinking, but I’m worried that without the context of being in a 3 year graduate degree, my resume of internship after internship will look like job-hopping…but maybe not, because some of the internships were year-long?

        1. Jadelyn*

          Employers expect that internships are short-to-mid-term at most, though – if I see a string of internships on a resume, I don’t think “job hopper” I think “recent graduate got lots of real-world XP while in school”.

    2. Yup*

      I’m far too familiar with this problem from my transition from academia to non-ac (professors all do the same thing!). Perhaps this will help:

      First, I think you can very reasonably claim some sort of project management or even program management experience. As chaplain, esp. college chaplain, you presumably put together some kind of programming / regular meetings for students, as well as counseling them one-on-one, right? Think about what you planned and what your responsibilities were, then think of how to describe them. Ex: “Coordinated meetings / delivered sermons to groups of up to 75 students” – or whatever fits.

      Other than that, skills to emphasize might be communication, as you’ve already noted, as well as advising / counseling. I’m sure there are others, these are just those that spring to mind.

      Unlike others, I don’t think the religious aspect is something to worry about, not do I think you should leave off your M.Div. Employers will, I suspect, spend less time thinking about what you were / did than about what you want to do for them. The Master’s shows research ability (assuming it required a thesis) and helps for jobs that require a certain degree-level. As for the religious part, I think – as Overeducated suggested – that your background makes you a very strong contender for mission-driven jobs (non-profits, social sector, etc) and that your intro could simply mention your commitment to working with the public or supporting a progressive cause or such.

      Last thing: I don’t think you’re necessarily entry-level at all! I imagine you already have administrative skills you can claim (did you organize events? conduct outreach? set up relevant email lists? Etc).

      Good luck! And I do hope you don’t feel like you have to hide your background too much. Chaplaincy is a remarkable vocation, and I say this as an atheist. :)

  42. Brock*

    Sorry – that wasn’t very clear. Here it is with hyphens which should improve readability slightly:

    Job location – Employer – Nature of change
    Company 1 – Company 1 – New hire
    Company 2 – Company 2 – TUPE
    Company 2 – Company 3 – TUPE
    Company 2 – Company 3 – Promotion
    Company 4 – Company 3 – Transfer to another site
    Company 4 – Company 5 – TUPE

    1. HR Expat*

      It’s fairly normal to be TUPEd. I’d group your CV by role, and make a note under the role that it was with was TUPEd a couple of times. That way, it’s basing your CV on roles, not companies and doesn’t look like you were job hopping.

      However, I’d wait for a couple other opinions first, since I’m well known at my company for my American impatience with CVs (there’s way too much useless information in them!!!).

      1. Brock*

        When I put little lines under each role it gets complicated – the initial hire was over 15 years ago and the role-change and employer-change almost never happen at the same time. They keep leapfrogging!

  43. TravelSizedAdmin*

    I’m two months into my new job, which is great and I like it a lot! What is not great is people commenting on my age on an almost daily basis. I’m an admin assistant that deals with the public on a daily basis, so it’s usually random people making these comments, and not my co-workers. To be fair, the lady who held the position before is my grandmother’s age, and I am a petite lady with a round face, so I get that it can be a jarring change for people. But it’s getting to be very grating having to shut down the “so how much experience DO you have?” questions from nosy people trying to suss out my age. Bleh.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Ugh, I get those a lot too. I’m tall, but I have a baby face and I *am* actually quite young. I just smile and change the subject when someone makes age-related noises/questions. It’s none of their business how old I am, or how long I’ve worked in the field.

    2. irritable vowel*

      I love the username you chose for your question! As a librarian, I found when I was younger that older patrons would sometimes assume I was a student at the college, ask me what I was studying, etc., so I feel your pain. (Now that I wear reading glasses at the reference desk I’ve found that those questions have magically evaporated…) To respond to the example question you give, I’d probably say something like “Enough to be hired for this job,” or “Do you have a concern about my work?” depending on what kind of mood I was in. If you get the feeling that someone is making an assumption about your age/experience, but isn’t outright asking you a question, I think just let it go and focus on giving them professional service. If these are customers/clients who are used to the older admin, they’re repeat visitors who will eventually get used to you.

    3. Drew*

      “Some days I feel like I’m 12, some days it’s more like 112.” Say it with a smile and an air of “Here’s this little shared experience we have,” and I bet most people will let it go. Especially if you can change the subject soon after.

      I learned my lesson about disclosing ages when I was helping out at a high school program in college, and when I told the students I was 22, one of them said, “My boyfriend is older than that!” I didn’t need to know that detail about her…

  44. Not Karen*

    Poll: What % of your time would/do you allocate to each of the following in order to achieve a good work-life balance?
    a) work
    b) chores, errands, etc.
    c) leisure/self-care

    Side note: Any recommendations for articles or books about work-life balance, especially those that are directed towards people who feel guilty when they are not being 100% productive 100% of the time?

    1. Temperance*

      So this is my ideal:

      a.) 35%
      b.) 35%
      c.) 30%

      That’s my ideal, but my commute from hell, thanks to SEPTA, has sort of made it more like:

      a.) 65%
      b.) 25%
      c.) 10%

        1. Temperance*

          Yep. It’s the worst, isn’t it? We’re paying $150+/month, and they don’t even care about providing reasonable service. I’m spending 3+ hours per day commuting now when it used to be just barely over one hour.

          And now they offer “express bus service” as if that’s a good alternative to trains? No. I’m not spending all this money to ride a bus and the BSL.

          (I will do whatever I can to avoid buses. During the first few weeks of my train having a bus added, I sat on a seat soaked in deodorizer and had to go out and buy a new outfit to continue my workday. HATE BUSES.)

          1. IvyGirl*

            Used to take the R5 from Devon to 30th Street. How many times did we get stuck? A LOT. Man those passes were expensive. During the multiple strikes or if it was too hot/crowded we’d just have a few in Bridgewaters Pub to let things calm down.

            So I moved into the city and then was taking the 5 bus and then the MFL. And then my brain reminded me to be careful what you wish for.

            1. Temperance*

              Ah I’m on the Media/Elwyn. My normally 35-minute express train ride has tripled, and it’s not unheard of to take me over 2 hours to get home now.

              I bought a house in Delco before this whole thing exploded … and we became a 1-car household 2 years ago, because I was riding the train and didn’t need one. Silly me.

              I only had to deal with one strike that thankfully didn’t last, but it sounds awful.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      I don’t have breakdowns or a book, but I struggle with c myself. And b, if we’re being honest, because I don’t have a lot of free time.

      I look at b as necessary to keep my life running and I also hire help–I have a cleaner and am exploring someone to come in and cook meals once a week.

      Starting to view c more like b–necessary to the well being of myself and my family. It’s a commitment to mental, physical and emotional health. I find if I treat it as something non negotiable and that benefits other people than me, I don’t feel guilty.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I’m side-stepping your question, but I don’t stress about having W/L balance day to day. I look at the big picture over the course of a few years. My 2016 focus was on my work and my kid who was graduating high school. I bought a personal training package last December, and have only made it though half the sessions!

      But, the year before, my work wasn’t as demanding, and I trained for a marathon & we took a really nice vacation.

      I think the key is to focus on whatever it is you’ve given priority to at the moment. If I work hard at work all week, I spend Friday night vegging on the couch guilt-free, but if I slacked at work, then I spend Friday vegging and stressed about it.

      1. Project Manager*

        I agree. I have a three-month-old, and my five-year-old had surgery four months ago and is having the second one in a couple weeks (it’s a good thing but still a surgery), so there’s not much me time now. But it will pass. I’ll have time for painting again. But for now, I just grab a hot bath and a good book whenever I can.

    4. Jupe*

      As someone who once worked 80 hour weeks, I don’t stress about the percentage too much. When I was miserable and working a million hours, I would try to think about it like this:
      Work is as many hours as it has to be and that’s just the way it is for now. But I’ll try to take coffee breaks in the morning and call my mom during the dinner break which I liked doing.
      Chores are things I have to do, but I mostly do the bare minimum and fit in some leisure along the way
      Leisure are things I can fit in whenever possible – if I can get ice cream on my way to the grocery store, I’m happy.

      So basically I didn’t categorize them as strictly as you have them here. It was for my own mental health to do it that way and I think I managed a decent “balance” despite the fact that I was mostly just working.

    5. alice*

      As of right now:

      a) 54%
      b) 27%
      c) 19%

      This is working okay for me right now. I’m working 55 hours a week for the next two weeks, and then it’ll go back down to 40-45. The problem is that I don’t really know what to do with my free time. That 27% contains everything from cooking (I like to cook, so it’s not a chore) to surfing the internet when I come home from work. There are a lot of craft-like projects I’d like to do, but I rarely have a solid five-hour chunk of free time to work on them.

    6. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      For me it has always been more of a feeling than based on actual percentages. At ToxicJob it felt like 90 work/10 home life even though it was only a 50 hour week at work – it was just so bad that I was stressed constantly even when not there. At my current job I am super happy, and even though I work a full 40 hours or sometimes more, I feel like the balance is way better. I still feel like I don’t have enough free time to accomplish everything, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was at ToxicJob

    7. Ife*

      I feel like I had a really good balance when I was working 5 hour days, 5 days a week. There was always enough time to do what I wanted to (categories b and c), and I got all my work done (maybe even more than I do now working 8 hours/day).

      It isn’t even the 8 hours at work that are the worst time suck, it is the fact that the time before and after is so crunched (getting ready to leave in the morning, making dinner, cleaning up after dinner, getting the kid to bed — leaves literally an hour or two for categories b and c each day).


      1. Not Karen*

        Exactly! An 8-hour work day isn’t really only 8 hours if you include a lunch break, commuting, and all the things that we do only because we go to work (getting dressed nicely, showering every day, meal prep, etc.).

    8. KatieKate*

      Not an article but: adding a routine to self-care can trick us type A people into bettering ourselves.

      Example: Monday/Wednesday at 9 pm is my “face mask time.” :)

  45. Jessen*

    So I have a new job issue. My training class consists of 6 women (self included). They talk about a lot of sexual stuff, up to passing around dick pics and talking about sleeping with their SO’s and various people who aren’t their SO’s. They’ve very much taken the attitude that sex is great and everyone should be having it.

    Now my issue is that they’re trying to include me. I am part of a faith where sexual activity outside of marriage is not ok (something they’ve talked about as “silly” and “unrealistic”). I do not want to be part of this talk. I don’t want to come across as judging what they do sexually (not my business), but I just want to be left alone. We’re all pretty new to the office environment and I’m not sure how to handle this.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Since you mentioned that you’re all new to working in an office, please know that this is wildly inappropriate (picture a bunch of guys doing this and passing around nude photos of women at work, and that might become clearer), exposes your company to legal liability if someone were to complain, and your employer would want to put a stop to it if they knew about it.

    2. LCL*

      “Did you know people have been fired for talking about sex on the job? I need this job, so leave me out of this.”

    3. Dawn*

      Uh…. OK so this is ABSOLUTELY INAPPROPRIATE IN ANY OFFICE. Your faith has zero to do with the appropriateness of this.

      Step one is to tell them in no uncertain terms to STOP. Every single time that they start up, tell them to stop. Tell them it makes you uncomfortable and please stop. DOCUMENT THIS. If they call you a prude, if they make disparaging comments about what you believe because of your faith, DOCUMENT IT. Times, what was said, who said it, etc.
      Step two is to talk to the person leading the class, make them aware of what’s going on.
      Step three would be to go to HR if they don’t immediately stop.

      This is just so far beyond the pale it’s incredible they’d even think it was an OK thing to do.

      1. Aurion*

        Yeah, this has nothing to do with faith. I’m atheist and pro sex in whatever way people choose to have it…but it is not an appropriate topic at work and I would be equally unhappy in your place. Take it up to management if you have to, but feel 100% justified in shutting this down.

        (Also, your choices re: sex are not “silly” or “unrealistic”.)

        1. Reluctant Chihuahua Mom*

          +1 I’m not religious & this would make me uncomfortable too. They are being unprofessional with the pics & talk and the are being rude to you.

    4. Anon for this*

      “Let’s not talk about this at work.”

      What they’re doing is inappropriate regardless of your faith or personal preferences, so don’t worry about that (unless they know and might try to argue it with you). In any case, they’re being inappropriate. Tell them to stop. Document it. Go to their manager.

      We might not often think of women sexually harassing other women, but it sounds like it’s happening. Be ready to call it what it is.

        1. irritable vowel*

          It’s totally direct harassment! Male-worker-invites-female-coworker-to-view-explicit-image-on-computer is a classic example in sexual harrassment training, and that’s exactly what’s happening here except for the gender of the perpetrator. OP, I would just go straight to your supervisor about this. It has zero to do with your personal boundaries or religious beliefs being different from theirs.

      1. Jessen*

        To be honest, I’m already the odd one out. So I don’t want to be the one to say stop because I think it would backfire on me.

        1. SRB*

          If it helps you feel better to raise it, you can frame it as “helping them to not get into trouble” since it sounds like you’re all new to this.

          “Actually, my understanding is that stuff like this isn’t really appropriate while we’re at work. I wouldn’t want you guys getting in trouble or fired if [boss] or HR found out you were doing/talking about this on the job!”

          Then it has nothing to do about how *you* feel, since you don’t really feel like defending that (and shouldn’t have to), but all about how the employers would feel. And if that doesn’t work, then take it to HR, or your boss. Guaranteed they want to shut that down. Or you could just take it straight there if you don’t feel any allegiance to these ladies. That would be totally justified too.

          I also like the non-committal “huh.” followed by silence just long enough to be awkward…. and then a change of attention elsewhere.

          1. Not So NewReader*


            If they do it again, say, “No thanks, I am good here.” Or, “Thanks but I need this job.”

    5. Pearl*

      I would be so horrified in your position and I am not even religious. I agree, say every time, “Let’s not talk about this at work.” Or if they persist, “I am not going to discuss this at work. I need you to stop.”

      Also, what possesses someone to share another person’s explicit pictures, I will never know.

    6. HRish Dude*

      Tell them to stop. If and when they don’t, tell your HR or your manager.

      Sexual harassment comes in many forms and this is one of them.

      1. Jessen*

        To be honest, I’d rather not be the one to say stop. I’m already the odd one out and it would probably just make things hard for me.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Once you get out of training, Jessen, will you continue to work with these women, or will you be assigned away from them? If you’re going to be with them, you’ll have to shut it down somehow, even if it’s just “Oh, I don’t like to talk about that kind of stuff at work. So what do you think of the new coffeemaker in the break room?”

          1. Jessen*

            I will work around them but not directly with them (different but overlapping shifts.). Anyways, I opted to tell our trainer privately and ask if he could include some training on work-appropriate behavior without specifically involving me.

            1. Observer*

              That’s an excellent move. Please do follow up at some point to let us know how it worked out.

        2. The Butcher of Luverne*

          I feel compelled to say this: part of bringing an end to sexual harassment is empowering yourself to say NO. It’s up to each of us to do this or it will never end.

          What if you were cornered by a coworker in a space you couldn’t leave without pushing past them? You would need to say NO loud and clear.

          1. Jessen*

            If I really have to I can, but I often prefer not to because of the effect on my working environment. Being “that prude who ruined our fun” isn’t much better.

          2. Jadelyn*

            I’m really not okay with how this places the burden of stopping sexual harassment on the victims, rather than on the perpetrators. Would it be ideal if we could all empower ourselves to say NO? Absolutely. But people have a right to make the choices that are best for them and the calculus for “will saying NO make it better or worse?” belongs to each individual person.

    7. Jennifer*

      Wow, this is literally the only time in history I’ve ever heard of WOMEN passing around dick pics.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I worked in a factory decades ago that was mostly female employees. Men are less crass, I swear.

    8. Ife*

      Yikes, that is horrifying. I am so sorry you are experiencing this! I feel like this is something where it would be reasonable to go directly to HR/your manager, rather than trying to talk to these women directly.

    9. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

      My go-to response when I want to tell people they’re crossing a line without directly accusing them is:

      “Whoa!! I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of thing that could get us all slapped with an EEO complaint! Let’s put that away!”

  46. Alton*

    I’ve been asked to complete a self-evaluation, and I’m freaking out about it a little. I feel like I’m a lot more critical of myself than other people are. I’m struggling with 1. being honest without trashing myself, 2. bringing up challenges I’m facing due to organizational issues in my department without blaming other people, and 3. giving myself a fair amount of credit, especially since I’ve been going through a rough patch over the last couple months (I’ve been working to get anxiety and depression under control, and there was some organizational upheaval at work that made me feel less confident than usual).

    1. Damn it Hardison!*

      Start by listing everything you have accomplished to date. That might help put you in a more positive frame of mind so you don’t forget the success you have had. There’s no shame or blame in acknowledging that changes have had a negative impact on your work, but be sure to include how you’ve adjusted. Don’t put in everything you feel you should improve on, just mention a couple of key things and how you hope to address them in the coming year.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Set limits, I am thinking you could pick like 3 things for each category. Try to pick the top 3, things that if they were better you would feel better about your job. If you can’t find 3 biggies then just go with 1 or 2 biggies.
      This would translate into, I think I am doing well with X and Y, but I need to beef up what I am doing with A and B. With organizational issues pick a couple that you think are impacting you the hardest. State how the issue impacts you.

      Decide not to write a comprehensive list. Decide to be practical and keep the list short. Think about the things that would help you the most.

    3. Christopher Tracy*

      I’m terrible at this too for the same reason. I’m so glad my company is doing away with formal, written evaluations.

  47. LawCat*

    Just finishing my first week at my new job! I have a lot to learn, but so far so good. 1-2 times per week, I will need to travel to another city so we need to get that routine down since I take public transit. Part of the journey involves using a subway and there was a lot of coughing and sniffling on board. I’m very good at staying on top of keeping my hands sanitized, but I’m concerned about airborne particles. Does wearing a surgical mask help prevent catching airborne diseases?

    I’m recalling the last time I lived in a place where I took a densely packed subway to commute and I got sick more times that first year than the prior three years combined! I’m trying to avoid that here so any tips for staying healthy on packed public transit are much appreciated!

    1. Unemployed Person*

      Germaphobe here… no idea about the efficacy of masks. I usually carry hand sanitizer with me when I travel on the NYC subway. I try to avoid touching my face (which can be very difficult). Whenever I arrive at my destination after commuting, I try to wash my hands or use hand sanitizer. I also try to wash my hands before I eat. I almost never get sick, with the exception that whenever I live in a new place, I often wind up getting a variety of nasty ailments due to my immune system experiencing new germs. Good luck, and congrats on your new job :)

      1. Unemployed Person*

        Oops, sorry – I missed the part where you wrote that you’re careful about keeping your hands clean…

    2. Nanani*

      Surgical masks are more about stopping YOUR germs from reaching other people, not about stopping germs in the air from reaching you, so don’t bother.

      Clean hands are key, and try to stay conscious of anything touching your face as well as your hands.
      Get a flu shot maybe?

    3. Preux*

      Surgical masks will not do anything to prevent you from getting sick. If you can breath through it, the germs can get through it.

      When I was working on the teller line (handling money every day – you’re exposed to everything under the sun, and some things that have never seen the sun) I kept myself from getting sick too often by washing my hands frequently, not touching my face, and taking vitamin C supplements (one in the morning, one at night). After coming back from vacation, I would increase the vitamin C I took for a few days, because the stress from traveling can make you more susceptible to illness.

      1. Student*

        “If you can breath through it, the germs can get through it.”

        This is completely untrue. Doesn’t mean surgical masks in particular are effective – I have no idea. But your statement is baloney.

        All things like this – surgical masks, air filters of all sorts, etc., have a rating for what size particles can and cannot pass through them.

        Air (nitrogen, oxygen, etc.) is very, very small – it can pass though all sorts of things. Let’s call it about 250 pm (picometers). A single water molecule is also around this size.

        Bacteria are about 1,000x bigger than that, at the small end. Virus are about 100x bigger than that. The water droplets these “germs” are traveling in when someone sneezes or coughs are considerably larger – more around 500,000x larger than air. You can buy material cheaply that will filter out the water droplets quite easily – your average vacuum bag is high-enough grade to do this task. Filtering out the bacteria itself is also doable cheaply. Stuff that is virus-sized is harder, but luckily most viruses that are “airborne” are really just propelled around via sneeze-style water droplets rather than actually able to live as a dry gas.

        Where a surgical mask either works or fails is what particle size it’s rated for, and how well it’s attached to your face – if it’s easy to breath “around” it instead of through it, then it’s not really going to do anything but block very direct splatter.

    4. Anxa*

      The effectiveness of a surgical mask in preventing catching an airborne or droplet transmitted disease depends in part of the material and construction of the mask.

      There are a lot of conflicting studies on just how effective surgical masks (or any mask) are in preventing the transmission of disease. And remember that in healthcare it’s not just about protecting the staff from a patient, but the patient from the staff.

      In general they seem to be more useful for bacterial transmission than viral. If having a facemask prevents you from touching your face, that can be a big help. I tend to fiddle around with them, so I sometimes skip them when they are optional (where I’m not wearing them over health concerns, but rather over concerns about contaminating samples of things) because the last thing I need to be doing is touching my face. Which is just my way of saying you need to consider how you’d actually used them.

    5. Library Director*

      You’ve gotten some good feedback already. A few more ideas that help me be flu free.
      1. Blow your nose. When you get off the train, bus, etc., step aside and blow your nose to help clear it of icky germs.
      2. When you get to work rinse your mouth. Mouthwash is best, but even if it’s just water it will help.
      3. Of course wash your hands. Not just sanitizer, but actively washing at least 30 seconds.
      4. Avoid touching your face. Hard, but one of the best defenses.

      I began doing this when I worked at a school and never get a flu shot. I haven’t had the flu in years. During flu season I’ll up my mouth wash routine.

    6. Observer*

      Gloves during warm weather and a face mask are good ways of drawing the wrong kind of attention. If you “Look” Moslem or are black, that’s likely to mean brushes with police. In any case, if your coworkers or bosses see you doing this, it’s likely to cause some serious blowback.

  48. Awkward Interviewee*

    Question for people who have experience in higher ed:

    I’m currently long distance job searching. I applied for a job that closed in early July, we’ll call it Teapot Studies Program Advisor (staff job, not faculty) at, say, Beverage University. The job seemed like it could possibly be a really good fit for me. I was a bit surprised to not get even a phone interview, for several reasons: I met all the required and preferred qualifications, I have experience in a very similar role, the posting said there were two openings, the app got emailed to teapotstudiesprogram at beverage university dot edu so there wasn’t an online app system to eat my application, and I think my materials are decent – I’m getting a 50% response rate which seems good for long distance.

    Earlier this week the job opening was reposted. It’s word for word the same as the one from 2 months ago. I guess I will apply again. It seems more likely that they’re scrapping the old search and re-doing it, because if they really thought most of the old pool was poor surely they would have interviewed me? I know everyone thinks they’re special and should get an interview, even if they shouldn’t… but I really am a good candidate for this job assuming the job posting was accurate. So the question: Should I just send in my materials again without mention of the previous app, or should I include something about having applied previously in either my cover letter or email? (I attach the cover letter and just send a brief I’m applying for X job type message in the text of the email.)

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      I work in higher ed. If it’s a large university, go ahead and re-apply. The supervisor may have changed. If you really are qualified for the role, go for it! But mention in your email that you applied previously.

      1. Ella*

        Ditto to this. Also, if you don’t get a response, it could be because they have a huge response rate. I work in higher ed, and we get sooo many applications (sometimes 100+) for a lot of our postings. So for us a lot of time we’re picking from the cream of the crop of those, and there are plenty of qualified candidates who don’t even get a phone interview.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Agreed. They may have limited their initial applicant pool to local candidates, only to find they weren’t satisfied and are now reaching out again.

          1. Awkward Interviewee*

            Yeah, I figured one or both of these points was why I didn’t get that initial interview. Now that it’s been reposted, who knows!

      2. SophieChotek*

        I did post those two earlier related discussion but I do agree, you should reapply.
        When I was a grad student, there was a position open in our department (admittedly faculty, not staff) and we had a round of interview; no one was hired. The job position (or something) slightly changed. For reasons I never understood (and I was not alone), the people who applied first time were not asked to reapply (even though all of them were more qualified then the applicants we got for 2nd round) — and te person we hired was not as qualified or as advanced in their field. People who were passed over 1st time have since gone on to become leaders in the field. Eh. In this case I wish those 1st round people had applied again…but may have been unsure…

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      I work at a big state university and all kinds of weird things happen with searches. It’s very possible that this job posting will have a different search committee makeup, and the new members may like your application more. It’s not uncommon for people to reapply, so I wouldn’t feel the need to mention I’d applied earlier. Good luck!

    3. IvyGirl*

      Reapply. But first-

      Double-check everything – EVERY. THING. On your resume. Make sure that nothing is misspelled or repeated. Typically there are hundreds of applications/resumes that have to be reviewed and a misspelling could get you placed in the circular file.

      Make sure you have a cover letter that explains that you are purposefully looking in that geographical area. Explaining the longer distance search in the cover letter/email will also help keep your resume out of the wrong pile. As a higher ed hiring manager for an admin/staff job, unless I can understand why you’re applying to this lower level job from 300 miles away, I’d chalk your application up to desperation or not reading the job posting carefully.

      1. Awkward Interviewee*

        Thanks, this is good advice. I’m trying to relocate to where my fiancee lives, about 600 miles away. I feel weird about talking about my fiancee in a cover letter, so I usually put something like “I’m planning to relocate to the [city] area…” in the first paragraph of my cover letters. I hope this is enough? I’m mostly applying to jobs that would be lateral moves for me, but many (including this one) are looking for at least 3 years of related experience (I have 5.5 full time and 3 part time) and are posted on external sites such as higher ed jobs dot com, so I’m hoping that they’re willing to consider external candidates. I’m sure it depends on the pools of applicants they get, though!

          1. vpc*

            one for boys, two for girls. Because it’s a french word that’s gendered – “fiancé” describes a man, and “fiancée” describes the same relationship but with an extra e to denote that the person it’s describing is a woman.

            Same with “né” and “née”, as in “born with the name of” as used in old-fashioned novels. Like “Mary Smith, née Mary Jones” to describe a woman who has gotten married and changed her name, or maybe even “Mike Smith, né Mary Jones”. Though I’m not sure about that one.

            1. a*

              To clarify, when you say “Mike Smith, né Mary Jones,” are you talking about a trans man? I’ve only heard “né(e)” used in the context of marriage-related name changes, but it would make a lot of sense for trans people too.

            2. migrant worker*

              you can also say fiancé with one e as a gender-neutral term for either. though of course then you’re entering the discussion of why is the female version the inflected version… :)

        1. IvyGirl*

          Yes – just that you’re actively searching in a different area on purpose, not the reasons why. A lot of higher ed jobs are on the lower end of the payscale, so as a hiring manager I’d question why someone from DC applied for a Clerk III position in Maine.

    4. Lia*

      We’re about to repost a job where search #1 totally failed –we didn’t even get to the interview stage. However, although we are re-writing it and some of those prior applicants might be qualified for the new posting, we are forbidden from reaching back out to applicants to encourage them to apply again.

      There are a zillion reasons why it may have been reposted. Management changes, funding changes (I have seen this a lot — the funding stops, so they pull the posting until funding is restored, but if it comes from a different source, the search may be scrapped), other staff leaving, priority changes…

      TL:DR: reapply!

    5. Yup*

      Just a note about the long distance — this is SO common in academia, it’s honestly one of the sectors in which geography is not a factor at all. Moving for a job is absolutely the norm (not just for faculty) so don’t even feel like you need to explain it.

      Also summer is a bad time for searches; like others, I’d reapply without mention of the 1st application.

      1. IvyGirl*

        I’d grant it’s common for faculty and high level administration, but not so much for regular administrative/managerial staff.

  49. Menacia*

    I have decided to start (consciously) not caring as much I usually do about my job. I can see that it’s gotten me nowhere to care so much, and it’s even annoying to some (have no idea why!). So now when I see something that needs doing, I’ll just ignore it, like everyone else does. I’m done.

    1. Leatherwings*

      This can be useful and important! Sometimes stepping back can actually make you more productive, and definitely help your mental health. Sorry for whatever you’re going through, I hope it gets better soon.

    2. MouseCopper*

      I have found there is a happy middle ground. I care about things that my manager says are mine. I note things that I believe related to what manager has said are “mine” but that they have not. If something goes wrong with the “noted” stuff. I just let it go.

      That’s super hard for me! But I find repeating “no one appreciates you trying to help with this” helps a lot.

      Often, not always, but often. I get pulled in on these “noted” items and I wow people with what I can show/prepare. At that point they are willing to listen to a problem I saw from day 1.

      A lot of it boils down to knowing when your audience is receptive. If you push they will never listen no matter how right you are.

  50. Melonie M.*

    Should I tell my boss I’ve decided to go back to school?
    I’ve worked full-time in a small family run title insurance company for the past 13 years. I stared out as a young single mom who was just happy to get a job to take care of myself and my little son. Since then, I got married and had 3 more kids. I’ve been in survival mode for a long time and didn’t have much room for asking myself what I really wanted because I had to think about bringing home 1/2 the income. Back in January, I came to two realizations, 1) my current job is dead-end unless I was related to the right people. i.e. family in management. And 2) just bringing a paycheck home isn’t going to cut it anymore. So with that in mind, I started taking online classes since May so I can obtain my Bleachers in Business. It will be a long road for sure because I can only take one class at a time. The thing is I’m a very privet person and don’t like people knowing my personal life details. To me, the more people know about you, the more they can use agents you, and I’ve seen that happen in my office. I also don’t have interest in perusing a career in Title insurance so my aim is to find another job once I complete my degree. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m doing this to help their company grow in the future. Me doing this is not to benefit them So can I keep it to myself? What are the pros and cons not sharing vs. letting her (my boss) know?

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      No, do not tell them. I only told my boss because I would be unavailable one night per week due to my graduate course. I do regret telling her, though– I wish I’d said that I have a personal training appointment, or a medical thing.

      It can only be used against you, so there’s no real benefit to telling your employer.

    2. Emmie*

      It’s a know your own company thing. It sounds like you don’t want to tell them, so you are not obligated. Good companies will allow you to grow as your knowledge grows. I told a prior employer, and I received promotions as my knowledge grew. Congratulations! I am really proud of you for doing this. The time will pass regardless, so why not improve your skills! Good luck!

    3. Hellanon*

      I know it’s cell phone autocorrect but I am finding the idea of a school offering a Bleachers in Business very entertaining today…

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think you are over thinking this one. You don’t want to tell them so don’t tell them.
      I can’t think of any pro in favor of telling your boss given your givens.
      Enjoy your classes and much luck with your degree!

  51. Aurion*

    Bit of awesomeness that made me smile :)

    My job is purchasing teapots for my company to sell. Couple of days ago one of my sales guys walked past my cube and was like “so those vanilla teapots are selling pretty well, huh?”

    I smiled and replied, “yeah, I didn’t think they would, since y’all axed the vanilla teapot line before I even got here.” (I reactivated the vanilla teapot line again at this person’s request.)

    Sales guy said, “that’s because the person before you was a complete joker. He just had…I dunno, all these crazy impractical ideas on a lark [insert various examples]…you are 1000x better than he was.”

    My predecessor seemed to have more knowledge–in other words, he knew more about fluid mechanics and teapot theory, but I’m better at just shutting up and supporting my sales team. They ask me for something, and I try to make it happen. And apparently it does get noticed!

    :) My typing got a lot more enthusiastic after that.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Yay! Isn’t it wonderful when people recognize you as an improvement?

      People seldom mention the guy who was previously in my role, but when they do, it’s with an air of… discomfort? I get the feeling that while he was good at the role, he wasn’t terribly friendly or helpful. Sometimes I have to remind myself that yes, I AM generally well-liked here!

  52. BRR*

    Any advice on how to handle a meager raise with an internal promotion? I’ve been told at the end of the year I will be receiving a promotion (let’s assume for my question my employer will follow through with no issue). This is a title and pay pump since my responsibilities will be expanding pretty significantly in the next month. Based on what I know about the organization, I think the salary is going to be on the low side (more like a COLA). I’m going to try and negotiate but am I limited because I have only been at this employer for around a year? If they won’t come up on pay I want to ask for more WFH time.

    I also would like to ask for a different title then what they will give me. The organization’s title structure doesn’t align with industry standards and it will be like going from teapot maker to senior teapot maker. Other organizations would call it assistant or associate director of teapot production. If I ask for the title change is it too much? Especially with adding director to the title?

    1. Anon Always*

      I think this may take a little research. Is there anyway to find out if the raise accompanying the promotion is even negotiable? In some organizations, it’s really not negotiable. You get promoted and then told what your raise will be. However, I also think it’s reasonable to look at what the market rate is for the new position and request that your salary be adjusted accordingly.

      In terms of the title change, some of that is going to depend on how rigidly your organization adheres to their title structures, and how changing your title to director make impact others that hold a similar role. It may be worth making a case for, but it may not be. I think it depends on your organization and their norms.

  53. Ye Gads Bunny*

    I’ve been temping at this company and it’s generally been a fantastic experience, I enjoy the work, I’ve contributed above and beyond my stated job and been praised for it, I was encouraged to apply for the open position when it was finally posted (actually before it was posted to external applicants which I am as a temp), I felt I did well in both interviews (with the hiring manager/also my supervisor and the panel) and a few weeks ago my supervisor said in confidence I was her choice for the position.

    But in the middle of the interview process I heard from HR I had been rejected from the position for not being qualified. The HR is widely known to be not great. A question my supervisor swears was supposed to not be mandatory was designated as such so unless I lied about my own experience, I was “not qualified.” (Don’t get me started on the job description HR put out or the qualifications – everything was very removed from the reality of the position.) My supervisor swore she was getting it all worked.

    I toddle along for six week thinking I will be permanent at this job I enjoy until last week when my supervisor calls me into her office to correct me that the field for this position is wide open, and she wanted to tell me as soon as possible. Also, new candidates have surfaced and been interviewed. (So clearly, she did not tell me as soon as possible.) She swears I still have a chance at the position but I don’t believe her for obvious reasons. Oh, she’ll have a decision or something by the end of August with HR straightened out.

    I’m completely unmotivated at work. I’ve started applying to other jobs, of course. But I still want this one which I’m good at. And for which my temp assignment appears to have no end. I literally wrote the manual for the position and helped trained the new permanent person in the other open position. (There are three teapot painters, there were two openings, one new teapot painters has been hired and the there’s the painter who’s been here for years and is wonderful, and me, the increasingly bitter temp.)

    I’ve been here 55 weeks, I’ve been temping 18 months and I’ve yet to have a real day off (I have sick leave, thank you city council in this town), I pay for my own inadequate health insurance (thank you obama!), and I am so tired.

    1. Chaordic One*

      Well, you’re doing all the right things. If the current job comes through, I’d take it. For now. However, if something else comes along, I’d seriously consider taking it if it were at all suitable for you (hours, pay, benefits). Even if your supervisor is supporting you, the HR department is not.

  54. Not Me*

    So my FMLA leave is about to run out. I’ve been out for several weeks due to extreme stress and panic attacks. I’ve been searching for a job, but so far have had nothing except an offer that represented a huge pay cut that I couldn’t afford to take. I’m starting to stress out about having to go back; according to a coworker, nothing has changed and the circumstances that caused me stress have not changed.

    No questions, really, just need some moral support. It makes me feel like throwing up when I think about going back.

    1. Menacia*

      Can you take care of yourself while back at your job? Meaning, taking breaks when needed (off-site if possible), and trying to confront what’s been causing you anxiety? There may be some tips and tricks that people can recommend if we know more about what specifically is causing you to have stress and panic attacks? Do you go to therapy at all, or could you start?

      1. Not Me*

        Thanks for your reply. I’m going to therapy and yes, I can take breaks. I can’t get too specific about what is causing me stress, except to say that I have over a decade of stellar performance reviews and then the current (new) management has given me terrible feedback and put me on a PIP for supposedly doing things that are impossible to do at the same time (such as “refusing to participate in meetings” while simultaneously “shutting down other peoples’ ideas”). There is a lot more but I am afraid of outing myself. I feel like every move I make and every piece of work I do is under intense scrutiny and they are looking for a reason to boot me out.

        My confidence is shot and I think maybe that’s why I’m not having much luck searching. It’s a mess.

        1. Menacia*

          Yup, I understand this completely, and I’m sorry this is happening to you. Hopefully you can focus your energies on getting out of that toxic environment. Hang in there, and use your support system as much as possible.

        2. Natalie*

          Have you discussed medication with your therapist? I know some are reticent to prescribe meds for anxiety particularly, and perhaps you have some concerns yourself, but it sounds like this is an extreme and time-limited situation so it might be worth looking into.

          Hang in there.

          1. Not Me*

            I’m medicated up to my ears, actually. It really has helped; at least I’m not crying around the clock any longer. I’m on anti-depressants and anxiety medications and it’s definitely helped to take the edge off but I still don’t know how I’m going to handle things when I go back.

  55. aspiring painter*

    This is work related in a marketing way. I’m a painter and I don’t have gallery representation. I’ve been doing it as a serious hobby for several years now and I’m pretty good, ya know, like in an amateur way.

    I do art fairs and stuff but often not many people come through and the ones that do are not looking for art. Selling someone a painting for their wall is tough because nobody is really in the market for that.

    I was wondering, I think people set up in the hallways at comic conventions and the like. Am I right about that? I was thinking of getting a day pass to the next con that comes through town and setting up my paintings in the hallway. I think people at a comic con would appreciate my stuff more than someone just out for an evening beer.

    Any ideas on marketing paintings locally? I know about most of the online sites. I’d like to reach a local audience.

    I am in a small Midwestern city and I don’t do manga.

    1. Manders*

      Unfortunately, those people who set up at tables haven’t just paid for a hall pass, they actually have to pay to rent the table, which is way more expensive. It can be lucrative for some artists, but I think prints usually sell best. I recommend getting in touch with whoever is running your local cons to get pricing information.

      Do you have an online presence? A whole lot of artists have found fan bases online, especially if they do science fiction/fantasy/fandom-type work. Once you have your own online portfolio, Tumblr and Reddit have very active communities of art aficionados (but make sure you watermark your work, because theft is rampant).

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ve never been a vendor, but from the cons I’ve been to I’m pretty sure you have to pay to rent a table/booth to sell at most of them. At least the ones I’ve been to. But go ahead and ask! And think of it as an investment, you’d have to pay for a public space anyway, and if you find a convention that has an audience that might also like your style and/or subject matter, you should do better than just renting a booth or kiosk at a mall somewhere. Plus the time frame is easier.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      No, you’ll absolutely have to pay to exhibit. If you did manage to sneak in and set up a ninja display, the people who actually did pay to exhibit there would have you evicted in a heartbeat. Do you do *any* fandom-related art at all? If not, this probably isn’t a good audience for your work anyway.

      1. aspiring painter*

        I was thinking it would be more like art for backgrounds etc. You guys are convincing me I’m on the wrong track, which is fine. Thanks for the responses!

    4. aspiring painter*

      I’ve only ever been to one con but there are vendors inside the space who pay for table space, but aren’t there also people who just informally set up in the hallway outside? I seem to remember walking past people who had art stacked against the walls.

      Hmm this might just be a terrible idea. :\

      1. Aurion*

        Well, let’s say a convention was set up inside the convention hall of a building. You can’t exhibit inside the convention hall without paying the convention organizers for table space. If you managed to set up a display right outside the convention hall entrance, the convention organizers’d still be able to evict you, because you’re in the way, you’re not supposed to be using the entrance/exit spaces as display areas, and you’d be interfering with the convention traffic.

        If you managed to set up a display three hallways down or somewhere far away enough that the convention organizers wouldn’t notice/care, 1) you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the convention traffic, and 2) the security of the convention hall/building will evict you because you likely did not pay to rent out their space.

        I don’t think this idea will work at all, sorry.

    5. TeaPotDesigner*

      The convention crowd is often more fanart based, and from what I can see your art is more original. I don’t think it is totally out of the question for you to sell, but you will definitely need to build up a strong web following first via tumblr and deviantart. I know of several webcomic artists who do original comics and have occasional convention appearances.

      1. Kelly L.*

        In my experience, it does need to be science fiction/fantasy to sell well at cons, but it doesn’t have to be fanart of a specific thing. So if you paint dragons, people will buy them, even if they’re not specifically GoT dragons or Tolkien dragons or whatever.

    6. LisaLee*

      Unless you do fandom-related art, I wouldn’t go to a comicon. It’s a pretty specific market.

      That said, I have seen steampunk or pop art stuff at lots of cons, so if that’s your thing you might have a shot. You might also look for art fairs aimed at a more casual audience (which might be called “craft fairs” or “craftaculars”). You could also try donating some paintings to a local charity auction. My local school district and local library both collect donated crafts for auctions.

    7. alice*

      Can you work with local businesses instead? A friend of mine is a painter, and she got a lot of her work put up in local coffee shops, real estate offices, insurance companies, etc. They didn’t pay her for this, but occasionally she makes a sale to a customer of one of those businesses (she has a little card with a price next to each piece). I honestly don’t know exactly how well this has worked for her, but it’s increased her business at least a little bit.

    8. Tris Prior*

      I’ve sold at cons – jewelry, though, not visual art. If you have fandom-related stuff or art that’s in any way nerdy or fantasy-related, that could do decently. In my experience, though, original paintings are a tough sell due to price point. People are looking for inexpensive art, in my experience. Can you get prints made and sell those? Bonus: making money repeatedly off of the same image that you painted once.

      Some cons also have art shows, where you can hang up your art for sale but don’t need to be at a booth the entire time. And that’s also often a little cheaper; sometimes you pay by the piece, rather than a flat fee for the whole booth.

      And, Manders is correct – you can’t just set up at a con, you have to register as an artist and pay for a table. Fees vary – I’ve paid as little as $25 and as much as $400.

      1. Allon-sy*

        +1 to the prints idea. I talked to an artist who paid off his house just by selling $5-$10 prints!

    9. aspiring painter*

      I really really appreciate everyone’s advice, my takeaway is that this is not a great idea. Thanks so much, I knew I would find plenty of people with the knowledge to answer my question here!

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Perhaps there might be some information/resources for you at this website: springboardforthearts (dot)org?

    10. Allon-sy*

      I don’t have anything to add about comic cons that no one else has said, but I, too, and an aspiring painter, getting ready to start selling and make myself known.

      Have you tried researching your local arts foundation/center for arts? I recently signed up for my local center’s classifieds mailing list. Each week they send me info about opportunities in my local area. Another idea would be First Friday/Art Walks. Usually people go there for Art (or I would hope so!), and hopefully buy stuff. (See, I’m new at this.)
      Do you have business cards you can pass out in case anyone wants to commission you, or later realizes they really want that piece of art they saw but couldn’t buy at the time?

    11. Self employed*

      Hang them in coffee shops/cafes/libraries/etc.? Talk to your friends who work in offices and have them hung there? I’ve seen paintings for sale with a little tag with the painter’s name and price (and maybe a website) so if someone likes it they can purchase it.

    12. Lizabeth*

      Build up an online clientele to support the local? Society Six website gives you a great deal of flexibility on what you put your images on.

  56. Jayne*

    I have been in my position for just over a year, and it’s my first professional level job, so there is a lot that I am still learning. In general, I am a major worrier/over thinker. I over think/worry about everything I do (should I have sent that e-mail? Did I send that call to the right person? Did I use the correct wording?) These are things that shouldn’t be a big deal, and I know I’m blowing out of proportion. I sometimes wonder if others see that I’m worrying too much (or is that in my head, too?). No one has told me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. How do I calm myself down and let some of these petty things go?

    1. Adam V*

      If you’re that worried, pop into the boss’ office when they’ve got a second and say “if you’ve got a few minutes, can we [have / schedule] a one-on-one meeting? I just want to make sure I’m doing everything well and I’m not missing anything important.” One-on-one meetings are good to have regularly, just to keep the two of you on the same page regarding your performance.

    2. Leatherwings*

      So I’m the same way, I panic about every little thing and constantly worry I’m being judged. The thing that has helped me the most is asking for direct feedback from my manager. I sat her down and said “I’m worrying my writing isn’t up to par because people have been editing my documents a lot. Can you give me some feedback on a few documents so I can make it better?”
      She ended up telling me it was all fine, and the editing thing was just an office culture thing. I have felt way better about it ever since.

      1. Jayne*

        Thanks for the advice! This is a really good idea – we don’t do this at all in my department. I like the idea of having regular meetings. If I’m told I’m doing great, that boosts my confidence for a few months and then if fades away again. A meeting every month or so should help me out.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      For me, the big realization came after working for maybe 18 months: done is (usually) better than perfect.

      On my first day at my first career-track job, I spent 4 hours editing a one-page newsletter insert (it should have taken me, like 30 minutes); I spent another 90 minutes crafting an email to someone introducing myself (that should have taken maybe 10 minutes, if I wanted to finesse it).

      Did those extra 210 minutes of editing make the insert that much better? Doubtful. My writing is good enough. I’m sure yours is as well. Just send the email. :)

      1. Jayne*

        I think that’s my problem – I have this idea that I should be perfect with everything I do, but there’s no way I can possibly achieve that!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Please get a drink with electrolytes in it. Worry can be mineral loss and it is vicious cycle because the more we worry the more minerals we lose.

      Step 2. What are you willing to do to calm down? Worry can be any number of things from lack of preparedness to rotten childhood. How well do you prepare for your work day? Do you tidy up and make a list for the next day each night? It’s amazing how much worry that can ease.
      Do you take walks? Worry can mean excessive energy, walks help to expend that energy and give us time to think. It also helps blood flow and organ function which in turn helps our minds to work clearer.

      Step 3. Plan what you will do when you catch yourself worrying. On some of the simpler stuff I can remind myself that “I have done this before and it went fine.” On some of the harder stuff sometimes I can tell myself, “This is like X last year, oh okay, I know how I want to handle it.”

      Step 4. Worry is a habit. It’s reasonable to assume this is how you run your personal life, also. So take the calming methods home with you and use them at home also.

      Some supervisors may be able to figure out that you worry too much. If it’s not hindering your work then they will say nothing. If your worry is slowing down your work process they will tell you to concentrate on the work itself. Overall if people figure out that you worry too much they will feel bad and wish they could help you. But you have to help you first, as you are doing here. Once you start to help yourself more and more people will be able to jump in and help.

      Years ago, I got a job in a new-to-me arena. The way I survived was I decided to take responsibility for mistakes that were mine. I decided, “Whatever it is, if it is my mistake I will just suck down the consequences.” Nothing ever worked into a big deal. It was all okay. I fixed my screw ups and other times I did nothing but good work. Kind of like what everyone else is doing also.

      It is amazing how freeing it is to say, “Well if I shouldn’t have sent that email, I will apologize, I will not make that particular mistake again and life will go on.” OR “If I call the wrong person, I will apologize for bothering them, try to find out the correct person and write that down so I don’t do it again.” OR “If the person understands my message then it must be I used the correct wording.” Tell yourself things like this as often as possible. And do it at home also.

  57. K Dot*

    Happy Friday!! I have a quick question: I had to mail (I know) an application in to a job and it had to be received by today. The posting gave a name & email for inquiries to be sent to. Would it be appropriate for me to email the person and verify that they received my application packet??

    1. Adam V*

      I wouldn’t, unless you have a specific reason not to trust the postal service in your area. I’d assume that it arrived and they’ll be in touch in some way when they’ve gone through all the applications.

      1. K Dot*

        Thank you!! I do live in an area with pretty crappy postal service but you’re right! I just need to trust that what will be will be!

        1. Adam V*

          See, in that case, I might actually consider dropping them an email. “I’ve been having issues with the postal service in my area and I wanted to ensure my application arrived.”

          (I’m still not *certain* I’d send the email, but I’d certainly be considering it a lot more.)

          1. K Dot*

            Thank you! I didn’t end up following up. I’m just going to hope/trust that THIS time, USPS got things right.

        2. Ella*

          I wouldn’t necessarily check, but next time I would recommend doing a delivery confirmation with post office. That way you know whether or not it’s been delivered, and you don’t have to bother them.


    I’ve had such a crap few weeks it’s really wearing me down. The user base I support is a combination of rude, obnoxious, ill-informed and unreasonably demanding and sometimes all four.

    Other support teams that my team rely have completely let us down and caused no end of crap for us and then refused point blank to help us fix the mess they made.

    The dba that supports my system accidentally junked a load of data from my production system and then tried to justify and explain it happened without so much as an apology. (for those that aren’t in tech what he did was same as trying to carry out brain surgery with a machete) he then got pissy with me calling him out on it.

    The team I’m in losing work to external 3rd parties at an alarming rate, and then come to us for all the donkey work as the business sponsors don’t actually know shit about what my team does or the complexity behind it and the most frustrating thing is they don’t have a clue how clueless they are and when they get things wrong it’s always down to the way me of my team have done something, never their fault.

    The team is badly under resourced but no effort is being made to hire anyone its a joke, my co-worker has been on holiday this week and again next week which hasn’t helped anything.

    I’m fed up of the lack of personal responsibility and accountability, but the senior management is a big waste of space and I wouldn’t trust them to keep a rabbit going with lettuce let alone manage the IT function of a Fortune 100 company.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This sucks. I hope you can get some rest and some down time from all this over the weekend.

  59. Dave*

    Had an interview in Monday. I had applied generally but they said they had a couple of positions they thought I might be s good fit for. Afterward I am less sure. They said they wanted somebody who would enjoy staring at numbers all day and that’s definitely not me. The other position would be a step backward in terms of my career. I am debating going back to them and saying “I really liked the company but I don’t know if these positions are a great fit. Please keep me in mind in the future, though!”

    Still feeling pretty disheartened by everything. Guess I just didn’t expect this to take so long. I also missed what might have been a good networking event this week due to other obligations.

  60. Michele*

    I’m at a point in my media career where I feel like a washout. Recently, I had two interviews, in which one of them was an associate editor (entry-level) position where the EIC basically looked at me and said you’re overqualified. In explaining that I’m looking to get my foot back in the door, and that my knowledge would be helpful in not having to be trained, but he didn’t seem convinced. Next year marks my 20th anniversary as a writer, and I feel that even with taking classes and getting new skills, plus having freelanced for 3 and a half years to stay current and pay bills, I’m not sure if I can continue this field anymore. Recently, a major client dropped me because they don’t want to pay business taxes to my home state, yet if I move to another state, they’ll take me back.

    1. Slippy*

      I’m not a tax person, but……..why would they be paying business taxes to your home state when you are essentially a separate business entity and they are presumably out of state? Also how much are they saving? This sounds a bit suspicious.

  61. LizB*

    I know I should probably just let this go, but I found it pretty annoying:

    I have a mandatory staff meeting on my calendar today for 1pm. I scheduled a client visit for 11:40, which would give me plenty of time to get to the meeting. This morning around 8:30, I had the following text exchange with my manager (all spelling preserved):

    Manager: If you don’t have this on ur calendar it might be a mistake on my side but there’s a meeting at 12pm today n it mandatory. Pls come.
    Me: I have the meeting on my calendar at 1pm, and I scheduled a client visit at 11:40 that I’d rather not reschedule if at all possible. Can I come in after I finish the visit?
    Manager: Yes the meeting is 1 to 2 but it’s a reminder so you don’t come late.

    Seriously?! I get giving people internal/”fake” deadlines for assignments, but telling me a meeting starts an hour earlier than it does on the off chance I’m going to be late? I’ve never been late to a staff meeting before, and I’m one of the top performers on my team. Am I wrong to find this really patronizing?

    1. SophieChotek*

      Maybe the first one (the meeting at 12pm) was a typo and the manager meant to write it’s 1-2pm (like in second text)?

      1. Balty*

        Is it really natural to say we’re going to have a meeting AT 1-2 pm? I thought most people would say the meeting is FROM 1-2pm. I hate to be pedantic but for that reason, I think he might have meant to type 12. It’s possible he just got the time messed up and didn’t want to fess up to is.

        1. Ife*

          People are pretty liberal with grammar at my workplace, so that sadly sounds totally natural to me now.

        2. LizB*

          English isn’t his first language, so it’s entirely possible. Or that he got the time messed up. Either way, not feeling so annoyed anymore. :)

  62. Lionheart26*

    My direct report is driving me batty. I consider myself a reasonable manager. I can handle people who make mistakes and need guidance. I can handle people who are highly strung. But by golly gosh it is draining to manage this one woman who is both.
    She often “knows better” and will ignore my direct instructions. But when I ask her to redo things I must use kid gloves or she cries and threatens to quit. Please do understand I am terribly conflict avoidant at the best of times. I am always kind and understanding when dealing with her. She is FAR too sensitive. Others in the team (of which she is the oldest and I am the youngest) are well aware of this and walk on eggshells around her. After I set tasks, she will often tell others to do things a different way. I have told them to ignore her and do as I have asked, but they are terrified of offending her and having to deal with the temper tantrum amd tears…..

    I have tried being nice. I have tried being firm. I have given coaching. I can’t fire her because she is the daughter of a national martyr and has lifetime tenure. My last resort is to whine and moan on aam.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Maybe you can even subtly encourage her to leave? When she threatens to quit you can say “I definitely get the sense that you’re not happy here, so maybe that is the right thing.”

        1. Mike C.*

          Why be subtle about this issue? It’s clearly a huge problem and subtlety isn’t working so far.

          1. Leatherwings*

            Because Lionheart said she isn’t allowed to fire her, I figured that applied to “heavily pressure to quit too” :)

      2. Rubyrose*

        I did this once! I inherited a 30 year employee who had been noticeably toxic for the last 15 years and would do absolutely nothing to either find something else or retrain. She was told when I came on board that I was her last chance.

        We were getting ready for a major system upgrade, for which she was the SME. I could tell she was starting her hardball “you can’t live without me” tactics. I assigned someone to shadow her and be her assistant.

        But the showdown came. After listening to her vent for 20 minutes, she got to the point of saying she should just quit. Everyone else in the past, at this point, had talked her down from that position. I just looked at her and told her she should do what was best for her. Within five minutes I had her email resignation, complete with final date.

        I immediately sent that to my manager, who was young, new to the job, and who talked to me about how I needed to get her back, given the upgrade. We took it to the client (who was the official CIO) who had been there the last 20 years. She backed me up.

        Life was so much easier for our organization after that.

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Let her quit. The next time she says it, then follow through with asking her what her last day will be. I’m assuming you are not in the US given the statement about being unable to fire her. You can’t let her treat the rest of your staff that way.

    2. TeaPotDesigner*

      Threatening to quit? In this economic climate? Man, she has balls of steel I will give her that.

    3. Adam V*

      Totally agreed with everyone – let her quit. Actually, I’d call her out on it – “Suzy, you’ve threatened to quit several times when I’ve asked you to do [X]. I’ve got the necessary forms right here, if you’re serious about quitting, but otherwise, I need you to commit to doing [X] moving forward. Can we agree on that, or would you like to schedule your last day?”

      1. Jennifer*

        Historical example of this: Salmon P. Chase was Lincoln’s secretary of the treasury and he quit FOUR TIMES. Usually when he was in a snit and wanting to make a point, probably not actually wanting to quit. After the FOURTH time, Lincoln finally accepted his resignation already and rolled with it.

    4. Menacia*

      Yes, like everyone has said already, call her out on her threats to quit, don’t back down because she’s just a bully.

    5. Lionheart26*

      Yep you are all right of course. They are empty threats, so I don’t think she would actually do it on her own accord. But perhaps next time I can say “maybe that’s the best thing for you given you seem so unhappy here” and see what happens.

      Correct, I’m not in the US. Actually I am an expat in a former soviet state so labor laws are very tight and Suzy’s position is here for as long as she wants it. I guess I need to convince her she doesn’t want it any more. Wish me luck!

      1. Emmie*

        In addition to her repeated requests to quit, she sounds like a disruptive and insubordinate employee. It’s unacceptable for others to manage her emotions to this extent, and that you have to correct her instructions to other people. I am not sure what is permissible for you to do in your country. In the US, I would address her performance issues, and follow through with termination / performance management options. I know conflict is uncomfortable, but I hope you can push yourself to become comfortable with addressing performance concerns more directly and having those tough conversations.

      2. Gandalf the Nude*

        That’s how my college roommate eventually ended it with her abusive ex. Ex would use “I’m breaking up with you” as a manipulative tactic during every fight they had, and finally roomie said, “Okay. I’ll send you your stuff.” Ex backpedaled, but my girl finally held firm. And I tell you what, we all threw a damn party, it was such a relief.

    6. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

      Oh man, this is a recipe for disaster. A conflict-avoidant boss and an untouchable employee. Oof.

      Agree that you should definitely not argue with her threat to quit. “Oh, yeah it sounds like that’ll be for the best.” The next step is she either leaves, or decides she does want to stay and you reset the terms of your relationship with her. “OK, I’m glad to hear that but I definitely need to see some improvement on some issues. I also need you to lower your hackles and be more open to feedback. Can you do that?”

      You should also work on your conflict avoidance. I hate conflict but it’s an essential part of management.

      1. Lionheart26*

        Weeeell, I wouldn’t necessarily agree I need to work on my conflict avoidance. There’s a place for it of course. And as much as I hate it, I am prepared to have difficult conversations when necessary.

        But I believe in choosing battles. I have to work with this woman every day. It makes far more sense for me to actively keep her calm and try to avoid upsetting her as much as possible. That way everyone can get their work done in a pleasant environment.

        For big problems with serious consequences, sure, I put her in her place and manage the fall-out (oh, the fall out!!) But for day-to-day minor things, I’m far more likely to say “Suzy you have a done a wonderful job with this, and I really appreciate all the effort and detail you have put into painting this teapot handle. Also, I want to remind you that the handle doesn’t actually need to be painted, and if you look at your task list again, you’ll see that actually we need to be mending the big crack in the lid. But the handle does look beautiful, and I appreciate all the effort you’ve spent working on that. Now, can you get the lid fixed by the end of today?”

        It works most of the time, but boy howdy it’s draining.

  63. Anon for today*

    Okay all, brace yourselves for a long one…
    TLDR: My job is making me lose my idealism, and compromising my ethics

    I work for a large for-profit company with a mission to provide essential services to disadvantaged people. My role is to advocate for an even-more-disadvantaged subset of the population we serve. I’ve only been here 6 months.

    I recently found out that the majority of the services I oversee are being cut for financial reasons. This will have a huge negative impact on the population it is my role to advocate for. I’ve made lots of arguments, but I have no power to change decisions at the top. My boss is of the opinion that we should just go to work and collect our paychecks–she’s been through enough at this company and she doesn’t want to make waves.

    It’s a highly regulated industry and my position is mandated by the state. The services being cut are also state mandated. I thought that cutting them might violate our legal responsibilities, but there’s a bit of a loophole so we are complying with the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law. I’ve been told that my ethical arguments (that it’s the wrong thing to do) are moot since a team of lawyers has decided that we won’t technically be violating regulations.

    Since someone is legally required to be in my position, it’s unlikely I’ll get laid off, but I have no idea what I’m going to be doing or will be able to accomplish once these services end, other than handling complaints that the services are no longer available. It’s really hard to do my job and advocate for this group when I’m continually told not to question decisions above my pay grade. I’m not trying to be an upstart, and I get that this is a for-profit company. But I want to do my job and stand up for what’s right. I’m totally disheartened. I feel like my position has been turned into a figurehead that just does lip service to the idea of advocacy and equity, but is entirely ineffective.

    I’ve been okay with some of these cuts to a point, because I get these are business decisions, but at some point the issues start to infringe on my professional reputation and ethical obligations not to be complicit in being a jerk to the people I’m tasked with helping. I get the impression that I misunderstood the assignment and I was hired to be the doctor at the tobacco company who assures everyone that there are no health risks to smoking, when I thought I was going to be able to actually make changes that could help.

    What do I do? Is there a way to get my attitude in line with the company’s decisions that won’t compromise my principles and trample on what’s left of my idealistic spirit? If I leave to keep my ideals intact what do I say to future employers about leaving after 6 months without badmouthing my company? How would I even explain my resignation to others here? Am I abdicating my responsibilities if I start job hunting instead of digging in? Should I try to stick it out at least a year and see what happens? If I stay (by choice or financial necessity), how do I frame my lack of accomplishments if I can’t get any traction on getting actual work done? Help, please.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      I’m really sorry you’re stuck in that situation – it sounds like the kind of thing that would drive me bonkers. I think you should probably try and stick it out to a year, and really focus on doing the best you can under the circumstances. But yeah, that stinks.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know. Wow. I’d probably start looking myself, but in the meantime, can you compile information on alternative services for the clients, and are you allowed to refer them? That’s the first thing I would want to do, when they (rightfully) complain. If it were me and I weren’t allowed to refer and had to just say, “Too bad, so sad,” I’d probably be out the door as fast as possible.

      1. Anon for today*

        Yeah, I can’t refer them to other services because our company is legally required to provide these services for free. They’ve figured out a way to technically provide them, but in such a far inferior way as to be pretty awful. For example, let’s pretend I work in a prison and we are required to provide kosher meals for the Jewish prisoners. Instead of giving regular kosher meals, we decided to switch to kosher Soylent. It technically meets the requirement, but it’s really a crappy thing to do. I can tell the Jewish prisoners just to find food somewhere else though, because we are the agency responsible for feeding them.

    3. Jaydee*

      This is exactly the type of situation that phrases like “I found that the job was just not a very good fit for me and am looking for something that is more [insert qualities you want in a job here]” and “Initially I thought the job was going to be/involve more [good quality] but it turns out there was less of that than I thought. That is why I’m so interested in the position of [job you’re applying for].”

      You don’t have to tell potential employers that your current job is soul-sucking and demoralizing. You can just tell them it’s not a good fit and focus on what you think would be a good fit about the position you’re applying for.

    4. Mike C.*

      I would ask for some time with your state representatives – those in your district and those who serve on the appropriate committees. Outline the issues you’re facing and encourage them to change the laws such that the letter of the law better matches the spirit.

      1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

        This. And on your way out the door call the local newspaper and let them know too as an anonymous source.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The laws are not always ethical. Additionally there are spirit of the law people and literal reading of the law people.
      You are going to find this where ever you go.

      I guess my big question is what do you do for work each day now that your specialty has been removed? Honestly it sounds like you will sit at your desk all day and read AAM.

      Start looking. now. It will probably take you a bit of time to find something because this is the world we have. So start now. If your job turns the corner and becomes better you can always decline a job offer. But if you do not have a job offer and want one, it’s really tough to accept a job offer that is not there.

      Keep your explanations to interviewers very simple. “I was hired to do a particular task, that work was no longer needed and the work for my position floundered. I ended up with a position that was vastly different than the job I applied for.”

      When you show accomplishments, just reference what you did in the first six months.

    6. stk*

      That is an awful, awful situation that sadly, too many people in the support sectors will identify with. I don’t think anyone can make that call for you, but if you do quit, ‘Following some changes in management strategy, I wasn’t able to continue in the role in the way I wanted, so I’m looking for new opportunities’ should cover it.

      It sounds like you’ve already made all the arguments you could, but if you haven’t stressed the PR implications here, that might be one way to go. If your company has an ombudsman or other regulatory body that you could discuss your concerns with, I’d do that too. The lawyers might think that their vision of kosher soylent might fulfill the brief: they might be wrong, if the regulators say that it has to be of comparable standard to what everyone else is eating.

  64. Good_Intentions*

    Working with colleges and universities

    Happy Friday, AAM readers!

    I am a state coordinator for an organization working with colleges and universities to promote voter registration and ballot access leading up to the general election on Nov. 8.

    For the past few weeks, I have tried with limited success to reach out to my campus contacts. I have emailed, called and emailed again with support staff CC’d. I am walking the fine line between pleasantly persistent and annoying. However, I am on a tight deadline to hire student fellows by mid-September to register new voters.

    My extensive reading of the comments on this website lead me to believe many of you work on or with higher education institutions and might be able and/or willing to share some perspective on how best to reach my contacts at this very busy time during the academic year.

    Many thanks for any advice, suggestions and tactics you care to share.

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Well, in most places this is the start of or just before the start of classes, so we are all in a state of mild chaos. I would wait till after Labor Day, if you can. Also, I would try to schedule an in person meet and greet. Take food. We like food.

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Thanks for the thoughtful response.

        For a couple of the schools, I have scheduled post-Labor Day phone conversations.

        Many of the others are more challenging in that I cannot even receive confirmation that I have the correct contact or that the institution still wants to participate in the program.

        Regarding the physical meeting, I have been told that traveling is reserved mostly for student-centered events that focus on voting registration. Starting in late September, I will likely begin driving around the state to various voter registration table events and debate screenings. For now, the emphasis is on email and phone communication.

    2. Ella*

      This is a hugely busy time in hire ed. Calling is many times better than emailing, though I know you’ve done that. When you call, I’d apologetically acknowledge that you know it’s a busy time in the year, and you’re asking for whatever help. As Tote MaGoats said, in person can be good.

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Thanks for the comment. I appreciate the inside scoop.

        I am a bit confused about the how stopping by a busy administrator’s office is better than asking for 10 minutes to discuss a student voter engagement plan. Could you explain? I am seeking out the least obtrusive ways to engage my contacts without taking up too much time for either party.

        Thanks again!

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Because they might just fit you in for 10 minutes if you’re there in front of them, but actually SCHEDULING 10 minutes means shifting existing crap around. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

          1. Good_Intentions*

            College Career Counselor:

            Thank you for your response.

            I would like to point out that driving four hours round trip for the possibility of having a 10-minute meeting is challenging to justify. My supervisor is unlikely to view eight such trips as a great use of my time or the organization’s limited resources.

            Still, I appreciate your insight.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Classes just started. This is one of the busiest times of the year, so your emails are probably getting deleted immediately, or filtered out until things calm down. Can you narrow down your contacts and try to push for an in-person meeting with one or two relevant people?

      A lot of your contacts may think you’re just trying to sell something, so an in-person conversation about your needs and goals would probably work bes