open thread – September 16-17, 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 :)

{ 1,300 comments… read them below }

  1. Going to quit my job?*

    I am 99% sure I’m going to quit my new job! I need validation or advice or to be talked out of it.

    Background: I just started a job 2 months ago. It was hugely misrepresented and I’m not doing much of what I was hired to do but am doing one major thing that I was NOT hired to do but is not in my skillset. It’s an ERP implementation and they’ve had me working on it solo and wanted it completed within my first 3 months (in addition to other job related things).

    There was no word of this mentioned until my first day (turns out they only bought the software a few days before my start date). They gave me no support at all – no team to work with, no consultants, no information. I have had to fight for even the smallest amount of support and it has come trickling in with still the unrealistic (in my mind) deadline. I am pressured HARD every day to meet this deadline and interrogated about it when I push back at all. They seem to think it’s just data entry in spite of what I say.

    That’s just the one big thing. They’re also liars about other things, they are sneaky and underhanded. There have been other things that weren’t in my job description (like management!) that I found out they wanted me to take over – not up front, but a day or two before they actually wanted it to happen. Instead of being like “hey we want you to take this over by X date”, it’s like “Hey, you need to take this over by tomorrow because we need to demote the person currently doing it.”

    There are other messed up and toxic things there but the ERP implementation with no team of people / no support is the biggest thing.

    ANYWAY – I don’t like that it’s a short-term job (I have one other that I keep on my resume – 5 months + 4 months of consulting with them afterward, had a lot of accomplishments and my reference there is one of my best.). My other jobs have been 2 years, 7 years, and 2.5 years. But this is literally stealing all my joy from life. I don’t do anything I like anymore, all I do is work, I’m miserable and resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms. I am in a financial situation where I can quit but … do I pull the trigger and just do it? Do I keep letting it affect my mental situation? Am I totally overreacting?

    1. Kai*

      You sound totally justified to quit–okay financially, several long-term jobs on your resume, the job itself is miserable and you’ve only been there two months. Go for it and don’t look back!

    2. fposte*

      Sounds like you have enough job experience to know a stinker when you see one. I’d start the search now rather than just quit, though, unless you’re talking really destructive coping mechanisms.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I’d definitely start the search now, but if trying to get this ERP implementation done is eating all time/energy that could be put toward searching – then at least you’ll need to push back on your hours and just hold your ground. If you can stay employed until you land something else, that would be good, in terms of making it easier to land something else, though. And I think – as a reason for searching after such a short time – “The duties substantially changed between the time I accepted the offer and the time I started the job” is probably one of the better ones in terms of being something you can express in interviews.

          1. Going to quit my job?*

            Enterprise resource planning. It’s software that integrates many businses functions into one system – supply chain, sales, manufacturing, distribution, purchasing, … and more. Because it affects almost every aspect of the organization, it should be a team project.

          2. Bad Candidate*

            Thank you. I means something completely different in the gaming world, and I can never ever remember the business definition.

            1. BenAdminGeek*

              Yeah, the gaming definition would be quite the business implementation! Though I guess you can do that one all by yourself….

        1. Minion*

          I know it generally looks better to have a job while searching, but in this case it will make it very obvious that OP has only been there for 2 months won’t it? Whereas if she quit, she could just leave it off and not have to explain it at all. And, if she decided to leave it off but stay while job searching, how would she explain having to plan interviews around work time? Also, what if they asked outright if she was employed right now?
          Meh, what do I know? Not much of anything. I’d probably quit if I were that miserable. But that’s me.

          1. Going to quit my job?*

            Well, either way I’d have to explain something – why I’m looking after 2 months, or why I left my last job with nothing lined up. But yeah, I’m thisclose to quitting. Probably today.

            1. MommaTRex*

              Expectations that you would implement an ERP with almost no resources in three months sounds like a justifiable reason for leaving. If I heard a candidate say that needed to leave for this reason, I would think that they are very smart.

              This sounds like a project that is doomed to fail and you are powerless to stop it. The only thing within your power is to GET OUT.

              Good luck!!

              1. Going to quit my job?*

                Yeah, I feel like it’s doomed to fail no matter how hard I try. I think I should absolutely be on a TEAM that works on it, but I’m brand new to the company and a supply chain manager. I’ve used ERP systems before and I know how my side of things should work and usually am pretty good about figuring things out … but within my first 3 months at a job? I’m still figuring out normal new job stuff!

      2. Going to quit my job?*

        I’ve never left a job without another lined up first but honestly, this has drained the LIFE out of me. I’ve been applying here and there but I also feel like my mental state is so poor that I want some time to decompress and figure out what it is I want to do. I don’t want to end up in another bad situation. I know it’s harder to find something without being employed but I don’t now if I can take it another day.

        1. fposte*

          As long as you’re prepared to accept the increased difficulty and have the cushion for a longer unemployment, then quitting now is a viable option.

        2. Golden Lioness*

          I vote for get out now. The increase in difficulty is relative to your skills and how long you’ve been out (at least in my experience). I have quit without another job lined up only once because it started to get toxic and I did not want to go to interviews with a bad taste in my mouth. Best thing I ever did. It took a bit shy of 3 months, but I did not regret it.

          Good luck!

        3. Is it Friday Yet?*

          I left my last job because I was miserable. I quit with nothing lined up and didn’t even give 2 weeks notice. I went against everyone’s advice about leaving a job without having another one lined up. Honestly, it was the best thing I’ve ever done. I found another job 2 months later, and I’m much happier. It felt nice to take control of my life and my own happiness.

          1. AnitaJ*

            I did something very similar, and I agree–it was extraordinarily freeing. I understand all of the advice about not burning bridges and being careful, but when something is so terrible that you just can’t bear it, sometimes the very best thing you can do is walk away. I’m so glad you’re happier now as well!

          2. old newbie*

            I am one month into a job search after doing something similar. I’m hoping for the same happy results. Kudos to you!

    3. Future Analyst*

      Been there, done that. Get out!! I know it’s not preferable to have such a short stint, but I promise it won’t get better. In situations like this, more often than not, you end up being blamed for not meeting ridiculous deadlines and/or producing sub-par work, even if you repeatedly highlight that it’s not possible to do this quickly AND well.

      If you have it in you, stay put until you have something else lined up, but be keenly aware of your mental state. If you start to feel like you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, quit. Yes, it’s harder to get a job if you don’t have one, but it can be damn near impossible to apply and interview well when your current job is sucking the life out of you. Good luck!

    4. animaniactoo*

      Based on what you’ve described, I’d say you definitely want out before that 3 month deadline is up. Because, you know, you’ll just be the next person to be demoted as somebody else gets given your duties with one day’s notice.

      Honestly, if you leave now, leaving this off your resume really won’t increase whatever gap you have. However, I would also be very clear on your way out the door – you are not doing anything that you were hired to do, and have been given several responsibilities outside of your skillset. Based on that, you think it’s best that they hire somebody who both can do those things and knows how to do them. (But I’ve got 5 dollars here that says the reason they didn’t go about it that way is that nobody would be willing to accept the salary if they advertised the position for what it really is. Not your problem – your problem is simply handing them a professional reason that you’re leaving.)

      1. Going to quit my job?*

        The salary is actually good and I think they could easily find someone with a better-aligned skillset to work at that salary.

      2. designbot*

        I’d bet that they are just super short-sighted, and don’t know what they need til they need it. Which also probably means that as soon as they’re past this deadline, they’ll need something completely different that they didn’t advertise for.

        1. OhNo*

          Yeah, they just seem really short-sighted. This sounds like the kind of job where everything is last-minute, and major projects get foisted off on whoever is available, rather than who has the skills to do it well. Even if the OP finishes this project on time, I’m willing to bet there’s another one coming up that is also unrelated to what they were hired for.

    5. Damn It Hardison!*

      Sounds awful! There’s no way to get an ERP up and running well in that time frame. From your description it seems likely that you will be blamed for any problem, and probably not given any credit even if you pull this off well. Unless you can see a way that this will end well for you, get out while you can.

      1. the gold digger*

        I know! I was on the SAP conversion team at my old job. We spent over a year just collecting requirements. LW, you are in an impossible situation. I am very sorry and hope you find something better.

        1. Hlyssande*


          We’re looking at a major upgrade for our database that is finally – FINALLY – looking like it’s going to happen. It’s only been pushed back four times in the last five years. I’ve been hearing about this upgrade since like, 2009.


      2. Going to quit my job?*

        Yeah, and part of the struggle is that the company’s existing data is completely useless and trying to just get the correct data has been a huge uphill battle. So first I’ve had to figure out everything that was wrong (and everyday I find something new), figure out how to fix it, fix it, then start working on the implementation again … then find out something ELSE is massively wrong. It’s not SAP level ERP, but ERP nonetheless.

        1. Beezus*

          Yeah, that’s a massive undertaking and definitely not a job for one person, yikes.

          Are they switching ERPs because of issues with their current system? And could those issues be related to the inaccuracy of the data? With any ERP, if you put garbage in, you’re going to get garbage results – changing ERPs won’t fix that.

          1. Going to quit my job?*

            Without saying too much, yes. Basically. Their current system is Quickbooks manufacturing and they couldn’t even maintain that. So a lot of their data is either 3 years outdated, isn’t in there at all, is completely wrong, or is housed somewhere with third party warehouses and manufacturers.

            I’ve been telling them all along that we (and by we, I mean I) need to make sure the data and information going in there is current and correct, otherwise it will be a waste of time. They interpret that as I’m “scared of making a mistake.”

            I get that these things are never perfect, but it seems like a huge waste of time, money and resources if you’re going to rush to get it done, but not even attempt to clean things up beforehand.

            1. Beezus*

              My company is in the middle of a big ERP change too (also in manufacturing). We are a very 80/20 culture, and the implementation team (including me) has a little spiel we trot out where appropriate, about how the 80/20 principle absolutely does not apply in a project like this, and we need people to go against their instincts and really think about the oddball items that they’d normally consider insignificant loose ends, and deal with those in advance, because with an ERP system, the devil is in the details, and overlooking a small requirement can bring us to our knees when we go live.

              I would run far away and fast if I had the lack of support you’re describing!

              1. Going to quit my job?*

                Yeah, the details are super important! No matter what, you end up tweaking things for at least the next 6 months to a year, in my experience but the details can totally derail you. I did a much smaller scale (not quite ERP but close) implementation and it was for a smaller-scope organization (manufacturing and warehousing were all in-house) and it still took around 3-6 months WITH a few people working on it and a consultant as needed.

            2. the gold digger*

              make sure the data and information going in there is current and correct

              For our SAP conversion, I was in charge of JUST DATA QUALITY. I led a team of about five people and it took us over a year to get things sort of in shape. And that was just the data. I was part of a business liaison team of seven. We worked with the entire IT department, the SAP people, and the consultants.

              This is not a one-person job.

        2. MommaTRex*

          It doesn’t have to be SAP level to need more than 3 months and more than 1 human resource. I think I did one GL/AP implementation with less than that but it was for a dentist’s office. With one dentist. Really, it was just one step above an electronic checkbook.

          1. Going to quit my job?*

            I so wish I could share this with them since they don’t believe me and seem to think I’m slacking off all the time.

      3. Adlib*

        Yes to this. I’m in the middle of a CRM implementation now, and that’s not enough time even WITH support and/or additional team members and resources.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      When were your 5-month and 4-month gigs? Were those right before this? If so, I’m not saying you shouldn’t quit, but it won’t look great on your résumé.

      That said, if your short-term gigs were a long time ago, and the several-year-long gigs were the most recent work, definitely quit this toxic job straight away, no hesitation!

      1. Going to quit my job?*

        So my 5 month gig wasn’t my most recent job. It was 5 months, and then I went to a different job, but the 5 month job wanted me to stay on as a consultant for certain things which was another 4 months. So in total, that short-term job was more like 9 months (but only 5 months full time).

        1. MommaTRex*

          And it sounds like your 5 month job liked you and you didn’t abandon them. So that puts a little better spin on it to me.

    7. Bernadette*

      If they misrepresented the position and are offering you NO support, you shouldn’t worry about how this will look to future employers. If you’re good financially, do it.
      I was let go from a job that was kind of misrepresented and not flushed out. No one has held that against me in my job search and when I’ve explained the situation they’ve been understanding.
      Good luck – I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

    8. tamara*

      No job is worth your sanity. I actually think you could leave it off your resume, especially if you find another job quickly. Go forth and prosper!

    9. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I’m a bit leery about quitting without another one lined up, but I vote take some ETO days (if you have them) and decide if you want to come back. That might be give you a little time for determining “soul crushing and destroying” vs “really intolerable and I need to find a new job ASAP”.

      I’d probably take the few days to do some job searching and then come back and put my notice in, though….

      1. Going to quit my job?*

        Unfortunately, the ridiculous deadlines don’t go away if I take days off. So while I CAN, I’d still be working the whole time :(

        1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

          Ah. Tough choices. I might quit, then (depending on funds) so that you don’t get burned out before your job search.

          Speaking as someone who has done it, searching while burned out really sucks.

  2. Thank Goodness It's Friday*

    Got to experience the panic and fear of sending a text to a friend complaining about my boss only to realize I clicked the wrong text chat and accidentally sent it to the boss I was venting about!

    1. Audiophile*


      I did have a situation once, where I sent a text to someone, only for a friend to tell me they also received it. That was a glitch with the phone.

      Did your boss say anything??

    2. Lady Blerd*

      It happens to me regularly although usually not that dramatic and have had numerous near misses when hitting Reply vs foward. But, I did bitch against a coworker years, and that bridge was never mended.

    3. april*

      Been there. I thought I forwarded an email but really clicked reply. I convinced him that I replied to the wrong email and was venting about someone else.

      I didn’t have to try that hard, even. He was a weird, weird guy.

    4. fposte*

      Do you remember the story of commenter C Average who sorted a group of Facebook contacts into a subgroup called “People I Don’t Really Like”–and then found the group name was visible to the members?

      1. JMegan*

        A friend of mine once composed the following text message to her husband:

        *her weight (she had just come out of a Weight Watchers meeting)
        *the balance in their joint bank account
        *her desire to have hot sweaty sex that night

        Then, she sent the message to a friend who has the same first initial as her husband. She just about died. The good news is, now everybody who knows her has a winning example of a text message that was sent to the wrong person!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          A friend of a friend once got a text from his real estate broker that was intended for the broker’s wife. It was, from what I hear, SUPER dirty. The broker was mortified, but everyone who heard the story was kind of tickled by the idea of a couple married for something like 20 years who still exchanged dirty texts.

        2. Mimi*

          Hahaha I once had to get a payment from a teacher and she forgot her credit card. She texted her husband for the card number and told me to take her phone to my office so I could enter it. When I got to my office I looked at the phone and the text just above the credit card number was about having lots of sex that night. I just pretended nothing had happened…

        3. Oh So Anon!*

          I once recced a fanfic story I found online to a friend in the same fandom and attached the story to the email. It was slash (homoerotic and a spicy). I sent it to some poor woman I didn’t know whose email address differed from my friend’s by one numeral. She was very angry , I was groveling-ly apologetic. It’s still embarrassing nearly 20 years later!

        4. GovWorker*

          I once wrote a, um, personal text to Mr. GW. His son is a jr., they were next to each other in my directory, and I accidentally sent it to his son. Never been so mortified. They both tease me about it. I deleted jr. to make sure that never happens again! No pictures, just words thank goodness.

      2. Beezus*

        Um, it is? Uh oh….I have a subgroup called “Random Internet People” that are people I’ve friended on Facebook that I don’t know in real life and want to exclude from seeing certain things.

        1. Awkward Interviewee*

          For what it’s worth, if I found out someone I only knew online put me in a group called random internet people, I would definitely not be offended. I mean, I would be a random Internet person!

        2. Meg Murry*

          There are “Groups” which is something other people can see that they have been added to, and there are “Feeds” or “Lists” which is where you would put people you want to include/exclude – at least, that’s the terminology on the mobile app.

          Its super confusing, sloppy terminology. Log in and look on the left side (or hit the 3 lines on the mobile app). Then scroll down and hit “more” or “see all” next to/under “Friends” (web page) or “Feeds” (mobile app). If you see “Random Internet People” there, and you don’t see it under “Groups” you’re fine.

          If you see it under “Groups”, you made the mistake C Average did.

      3. Golden Lioness*

        That’s mortifying… but once you do something like that at least you don’t have to pretend you like them anymore!

      4. TheLazyB*

        Yeah there’s a biiiiig difference between Facebook groups and Facebook lists. I am ever paranoid about that since hearing that story!!

    5. Jadelyn*

      Oh gods, I did that once. It had been an obscenely stressful time and I was dealing with a lot of BS and so one day at lunch I clocked out and decided to go home for lunch, which I don’t usually do. So I texted my partner (who was at home that day) as I was walking out to my car and said “F*** this place, everyone can eat a bag of d****, I’m coming home, what do you want for lunch?”

      Only I sent it to my manager, who I’d been texting about work-related stuff that morning before work.

      I realized this as I got to my car. I got in, turned it on, and almost started crying. I then actually texted my partner “FML, coming home for lunch” and started to back out of my parking space. But as I started to back out, I saw my manager in the rear-view mirror, coming across the parking lot waving at me. So I pulled back in, turned off the car, got out and honestly kind of figured I was going to get fired on the spot.

      Instead, she came up, gave me a hug, said “I realized as soon as I saw the first word that it was obviously not meant to be sent to me, so I didn’t read it and am going to delete it right now, look – ” and deleted it while showing me her screen so I could see for myself it was gone. Then asked if there was anything I wanted to vent about or talk about, or if there was anything she could do. We had a brief talk, then she told me “go on, go get lunch and don’t even think about work for the next hour!” and went back in.

      I will never, ever forget that compassion and caring. Rather than punishing, her response was to know that I wouldn’t normally say something like that and if I had, it was clearly because I was having a hard time with things and she wanted to find a way to help with that. I don’t think I’ve ever had a boss like that before!

      1. Thank Goodness It's Friday*

        My boss did something similar. He did read the text message (which thankfully had no cursing and no threatening to quit) but he understood that he wasn’t meant to see it, I was just venting my frustrations of the situation. It’s been a few days and he hasn’t been treating me any different, same old office chatter as normal. I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be held against me for the rest of my life.

    6. AshKetchum*

      Omg I’m so sorry that happened!

      If it makes you feel better something similar happened to me except it was an email. I was drafting an email to my grandboss( who was known for being quite difficult), and in my infinite wisdom, I made the subject line of the email”UGH [grandboss’ initials] draft”. I had to collect more information for him so I ended up sending the email the next day and by that time I had completely forgotten to change the subject line. It was the most mortifying moment ever. I have no clue what drove me to choose that email subject header but I am extra careful about sending emails now.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I’m surprised I’ve never done that with file names. Sometimes when Excel is being pissy about forcing me to save a copy of something, I get annoyed and name it stuff like “f*** excel”. So far I’ve not sent anything with a filename like that, but it’s probably just a matter of time, lol.

        1. OhNo*

          I have definitely sent unfortunately named documents to people. No one at work yet (thank god we have standard file naming conventions – the names I would use if left to my own devices would not be work-appropriate), but I did send a couple to my professors in college and grad school before remembering to change the names. I’ll even admit to doing it on purpose once or twice when I was especially sleep-deprived and cranky.

          1. Fire*

            I used to grade/tutor/ta for a compuer science class – basic Excel and Access – and would sometimes get these. It was usually for the ONE LAB that was actually hard. I’d never say a thing.

    7. Mustache Cat*

      The good news is that there’s a simple solution to be found in faking your own death and moving at least two continents away!

    8. Teddy*

      I once sent a text complaining about a co-worker, by name, to another employee by accident. I thought I was texting a sibling. Luckily, I told the receiving employee it was meant for my sibling and they never brought it up or to the co-worker I was complaining about. Lesson learned, never complain about someone using their name in text.

  3. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

    A question for the lawyers:

    As my name indicates, I’m at a large firm in a major city, and I don’t think it’s for me. I’ve done a couple of years in biglaw (litigation), and now that I’ve made a dent in my debt, I’m working on transitioning out. Has anyone made the switch from civil to criminal law, how did you do it / was it difficult without prior relevant experience, how are you finding it now and do you have any advice for someone in my position?

    Other possibly relevant information:
    1. I start a clerkship next summer, so I’ll use that as a transition point.
    2. My main reasons are that I would like to have a stronger feeling than indifference toward my clients (currently mostly financial institutions), I would like to have the opportunity to be in court and I would like to have slightly less crazy hours.
    3. I am genuinely unsure whether I would pursue prosecution or defense. I think I’m better suited to prosecution, but I would have real trouble working on cases involving minor drug offenses.

    Thank you!

    1. Temperance*

      I work in large firm pro bono. I made this pivot after realizing in law school that criminal defense really was not for me.

      1.) Public defenders often deal with really difficult, unpleasant clients. Awful ones, actually. I am a huge Innocence Project advocate, but the vast majority of your clients would be people who have done really terrible things, or illegal things and have ridiculous expectations (no, Jim, it’s not reasonable for you to think that you’re going to get out of prison after selling fentanyl to an undercover cop, just because they thought it was heroin and charged you thusly).

      2.) How do you feel about working in civil legal services rather than criminal law, or seeking a job at a nonprofit legal services org? Your hours would be better, and the clients are by and large much more pleasant to work with, depending on the org’s mission.

      3.) Prosecutors have a lot of discretion in which cases they pursue. Maybe not brand new ones, but you’d be surprised.

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        Thanks! I would think about civil legal services–I’m thinking about probably too many things at this point, since all I know is biglaw–but since I know more about that than I do about crim, I’m trying to keep my info-gathering at least a little bit focused for now.

        That’s a good point about discretion. It makes me feel better.

        1. Temperance*

          That’s absolutely fair. What I will say is that I think you will find the public defense clients to be pretty terrible and it might make you miss your corporate clients. The people I know who are the most successful public defenders are able to detach from the horror of what their clients have done.

        2. Jaydee*

          Most civil legal services programs are thrilled to have private attorneys volunteer, and that can be a good way to get a feel for the type of work that is done and to get some interaction with clients. You can take pro bono cases from them, help with new client intake, help with “self-help” clinics (where you help clients fill out forms to represent themselves in a small claims case or family law matter or something), help them update practice resources, etc.

          Personally, I figured out in law school that criminal law wasn’t for me and went the civil legal services route instead. I have no regrets about this choice a decade later. I think in any practice area where you represent individuals or small businesses/organizations, you will definitely feel something other than indifference for your clients, but it won’t always be warm fuzzy feelings of doing good. You will also feel frustrated, exhausted, sad, scared, manipulated, righteously indignant, angry, bemused, surprised, proud, happy, conflicted, etc. This is true whether you’re working in civil or criminal law, with affluent clients or clients in poverty.

          It sounds like you are still just a few years out of law school and have a wonderful opportunity ahead of you with your clerkship. As much as you can, attend hearings with your judge. Talk to your judge about different types of cases – odds are he practiced more than one type of law or worked for more than one type of firm before becoming a judge, and odds are also good that he has not heard only criminal cases in his time on the bench. Let him know you are really trying to explore your options and see if he will let you attend other types of hearings with other judges a few times during your clerkship.

          Also, talk to your law school classmates who are doing different things and find out what their jobs are like. Meet other lawyers through your local bar organizations and talk to them about their jobs and experiences. You’ll get a good sense that way of what all the options are out there and what will best fit what you are looking for in your career.

          Also, sit down and figure out what things you are looking for in a job. Do you prefer working a very set schedule, or are you fine with early mornings, long nights, and busy weekends? Do you like having other coworkers to collaborate with, or would you rather work by yourself and focus on what you need to get done? Do you like being able to set your to-do list for the week and know that most of the time you’ll be able to get through it, or would you rather walk into the office in the morning with a general idea of what you’ll be doing but the potential for that all to change in a minute? Odds are that you can find multiple areas of the law intellectually interesting and professionally fulfilling. And you can find firms, government agencies, and organizations that practice pretty much any type of law and skew to either end of the spectrum on those other workplace things.

          1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

            Thanks for this thoughtful response! I do a fair amount of pro bono work through the firm (which is the only capacity through which I can do it), but most of the cases we get are immigration cases, and I don’t think that’s the direction I want to go in. I went to a law school where roughly 80% of the graduating class ends up at firms, but I can do a better job than I have of networking with them and with local bar organizations.

            I appreciate the very helpful framing questions in your last paragraph. It’s hard to think big about career plans while immersed in the biglaw grind, but as you alluded to, I think the clerkship will be a great time to see different types of cases and really engage with those questions.

              1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

                We get some choice. We have a coordinator who emails around the options and get to choose from within that.

    2. Joy*

      I’m in BigLaw (also litigation) in a secondary market, and it’s not uncommon for lawyers here to jump to the AG’s office or to become AUSAs. People I know who’ve transitioned started out contacting former classmates and friends who already worked where they wanted to move and started getting drinks with them every so often.

      Positions with city and county attorneys’ officers are definitely on the table for you too, and those get you into court a lot, and quickly! The more willing you are to move to a rural area, the better your odds of getting a job, but if you’re coming off BigLaw/clerking, you might not need to worry about that.

      Good luck!

    3. Lucky*

      Also a lawyer and though I never worked in criminal law, I did make a big switch from litigation to transactional/IP (took about five years to leave litigation completely) and from private practice to in-house (two years ago and I couldn’t be happier). Assuming you’re starting a judicial clerkship, those are highly valued by both sides of the criminal law coin.

      You may want to reach out to both prosecutors and defense attorneys in your city – start with fellow alumni of your law school or look for lawyers with connections to your LinkedIn or Bar connections or even your big law partners – and ask if you can buy them coffee and pick their brains. Then, seriously pick their brains: ask about their experiences, what they love, like, and hate about their jobs, whether and where they think your big law litigation experience would be valued, and what skills you could build now that would help you in a criminal case.

      I worked in mid-sized firms during my life as a litigator, and one complaint/revelation I heard from big law colleagues was that they didn’t get near as much courtroom experience as I did. If that’s the case for you, you may want to angle for smaller cases that allow you to build your courtroom experience, even if less prestigious/no glory cases.

      Good luck! Finding where you fit in law is a great feeling.

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        Thank you! Your point about courtroom experience is one of the biggest reasons that I’d like to transition out. At least where I am, we don’t have a ton of those smaller cases that would help. I don’t care about the glory so much as I care about the experience.

    4. neverjaunty*

      It sounds less that you’re interested in criminal law practice per se than in the benefits you think it will bring. If that’s the case, I really caution you against making this jump unless you’re very sure you have a good sense of what the practice will be like. There are lots of other areas of civil law where you can spend more time in court and have clients who matter to you; it’s not limited to representing corporate BigLaw clients. If you’d have moral qualms about prosecuting people for things you believe should be legal, or defending people who are very very guilty of doing terrible things, this is not the practice for you.

      Criminal-law practice will get you buckets of time in court. It won’t get you a reasonable work/life balance, and it rarely pays well, particularly since you almost have to start your career as a DA or PD (rather than private practice). You won’t have the resources you’re used to and you won’t get to pick your clients. What the PD folks tell me is that their jobs would be about 1000 times easier except that their clients have a pretty consistent tendency to do extremely stupid things like ignoring Miranda warnings or announcing that in fact they have heroin in the trunk but it’s their cousin’s.

      TL;DR – if you’re just dissatisfied with BigLaw, do some hard looking around at all of your options. If you really feel a pull toward criminal law, maybe look into an internship or part-time gig with the office you’re interested in.

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        Thanks! I appreciate the words of caution. Your point about the moral qualms is the thing that worries me most, and I am definitely not going to make such a big jump without getting a handle on my thinking about it. I plan to seek out more information from people who actually do criminal work, and while the judge I’m going to clerk for handles most criminal matters himself, I’m hopeful that he will let me get involved or at least sit in so that I can develop more of a sense for the work firsthand as well.

      2. Temperance*

        Yes. That’s actually the reason that I pivoted from my original PD career path. I lost a relative to a drunk driver, and realized that, as a PD, I would have to be the one doing immoral, frankly terrible things to defend awful people.

        1. Drew*

          I’m very sorry for your loss.

          My sib was a prosecutor for a while and told me that the vast majority of defense attorneys they faced were good people doing a hard job ethically and responsibly, people they’d be proud to sit and have a drink with after a case. And then there were the others.

          1. Temperance*

            One of my law school classmates is famous for her opinion that victims are responsible for their own crimes. Let’s just say I wasn’t too shocked when I saw her in family court defending a man who beat up his girlfriend while her child watched.

            Most of the other defense attorneys I know are extremely idealistic about the system and providing good representation to make sure the system is working. Which is fine, and it’s their ethical duty to uphold. Unfortunately, doing your ethical duty as a lawyer often means doing things that you personally find to be immoral. (One instance in my own career involved helping someone to apply for SSI who was insisting he qualified for widow’s pension …. but his wife wasn’t dead. We didn’t want to TELL him that she was alive, in case he was abusive to her (we knew he was a drug addicted who abandoned his family at some point), so we didn’t disclose that information and instead asked him to find more concrete proof of her death.)

            1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

              I’m sorry for your loss, and appreciate the parts of your story that you’ve been posting here. I have a few good friends who are very passionate about their criminal defense work (they are mostly, as you say, extremely idealistic), so it’s helpful to hear another perspective.

    5. Minnesota*

      Consider your state AG–at least here in MN it is fairly common to move there after 2-4 years in private practice.

    6. Em*

      Not a lawyer, but I worked at a law firm! You might want to look into working as a pool attorney for your state’s public defender office. I think it could give you invaluable insight into what working for the state would look before making a major leap into prosecution. Sadly, most of the cases are drug offenses. Almost all of your clients live in poverty, and many of them are addicts. It can be disheartening, really makes you think about the state of our country’s healthcare, economic, and criminal justice systems. But incredibly, incredibly valuable experience for anyone considering criminal work.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In reference to your earlier concern about dealing with minor drug charges, you might be surprised at the patterns you see. Here, people usually get a conditional discharge and community service. No one is anxious to put anyone in jail, they just want people to move on with their lives. Additionally, there is no way to keep track of the minor charges in all the various courts. Soooo, a person facing a 3-4- 5 charges should be facing a heavier sentence, does not get a heavier sentence because there is no way to find out about the previous charges.
        Honestly, once you are in the system, you will probably rethink this and decide that the minor drug charge question is not what worries you. You will find other worrisome things.
        Just by way of an example, a friend when to her attorney. Long story short, they ended up talking about medical litigation. The attorney comment that he does not allow scripts or OTCs in his house. What ever arena one becomes immersed in becomes the very thing that can keep one up nights. I think it is more to the point to figure out what your will do when you hit these moral/ethical dilemmas or gain way too much insight into what is going on out there.

    7. YetAnotherLawyer*

      Public interest attorney here (I had an internship in criminal law and a family member who is in the field). I think you’re already doing a good thing with your clerkship, especially if your judge does criminal law.

      A couple things I would note: if you’really planning to go into prosecution or public defender, be aware that some offices can be somewhat territorial and have trouble accepting people from the other “side”. I don’t agree with this mentality personally, as my experience is that good PDs have friendly relationships with prosecutors because ultimately it benefits their clients. But having an internship or experience with the other “side” could hurt your chances.

      Also, be prepared to take a big pay cut. State offices are extremely underpaid and underfunded. My relative used to joke that she was paid so little she actually qualified for representation by the public defender were she to need it. But it was true. You may earn less than your clerkship will pay.

      There are also certain areas that you will just be more likely to be hired in. Mostly big cities like New York, Miami, LA, or Chicago. If your bar license is for a state that doesn’t have a big city, you may want to consider looking in to taking the bar or seeing if you qualify for a waiver.

      Third, be prepared to start at the bottom. My relative started off doing basic traffic prosecutions and didn’t get serious cases for years. Calendar can be tedious and utterly exhausting, so be prepared to be on your feet all the time.

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        Thanks, this is helpful! A few things–

        1. I’ve heard that about picking sides. That’s part of why I’m hoping I can get some experience through my clerkship, since that’ll help me make an informed decision without closing doors. I think it’s unfortunate. I’ve done some thinking about whether I would be morally all right with prosecution, and one of the things that helps is that I think it’s better for everyone involved if prosecutors are people with some awareness / concern regarding the injustices that exist–I wish that the legal community encouraged empathy between “sides,” rather than making it so adversarial.

        2. I’m in a big city, so no worries there!

        3. I’m prepared for the pay cut and starting at the bottom. It won’t be fun, but that’s part of why I decided to go to biglaw for a while, so that by the time I switch I will be almost completely out of debt.

        1. nerfmobile*

          My mother went to law school when I was in junior high and then worked the rest of her career for the county prosecutor’s office. She had to do her tours of duty in juvie hall, traffic violations, and so forth, but she did get some interesting cases (a case of illegal dumping that intersected with some environmental issues is one I remember). And she spent the last 15 years or so of her career working with mental health issues and involuntary commitments, which let her do a lot of work with county medical health professionals to teach them about legal considerations when they were evaluating patients. There are all sorts of interesting little niche areas like that, it’s not all just burglaries and assault cases.

        2. neverjaunty*

          It sounds like you have a really good plan as far as your financial situation!

          I may be missing this, but in your comments you are focusing a lot on what you can live with about criminal law practice, or how it’s different from what you’re doing now – but there isn’t much about what you would like about it, or why you feel pulled toward that practice of law.

          If you have strong moral qualms and don’t like a strong adversarial system (the latter being the driving engine behind all that court time!), you really might want to look into other areas that fit what you want, but don’t require you to grit your teeth, morally speaking. For example, working as a children’s advocate, or in restorative justice, or as an attorney in programs like veteran’s or drug-dependency court (which are more focused on getting lower level offenders help straightening their lives out).

          1. Temperance*

            Sort of OT, but I once interviewed for a job in a child advocacy program, assuming that I would be representing children, but the job was actually to represent their abusive and neglectful parents. So glad I didn’t get the job.

            1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

              Oh yeah, I definitely couldn’t do that! Everyone deserves a lawyer, but I wouldn’t want to be the lawyer in those situations.

            2. neverjaunty*

              Yike. I understand there are people who can thrive in jobs like that, with the perspective that everyone deserves a defense and that the machinery of the law is often careless and destructive to people in it, but…. I’m not one of those people.

          2. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

            Thanks! To be clear, I don’t have strong moral qualms about the vast majority of it–it’s mostly the minor drug charges aspect. And I actually love the idea of being in a strong adversarial system–that’s why I’m a litigator at my firm now, and wanting to use those skills more directly is a lot of why I want to leave. As far as crim in particular, I am drawn to it because I would like my cases to involve people, not companies; my favorite part of a case is engaging with the facts; and as cheesy as it sounds, I do believe in the bones of our justice system (despite its many inequities) and I think it could be deeply fulfilling to spend part of my career in its service. I know that’s not the only field in which I could find those things, but I think it’s worth thinking about. My comments here have been more equivocal because I know I need a lot more information before I go down this path.

            Also, I ended up in biglaw because of the financial considerations, the desire for training and the fact that it was something of a default at my school, not because of passion. Thinking about my next move with the potential for passion as a major consideration is daunting because I’ve never gone about it that way before and I’m not used to it, and I think that’s part of what you’re picking up on. I really do appreciate the advice.

    8. Auto Ins Worker*

      Not a lawyer, but I got to interact with lawyers at the car insurance company I used to work for.

      I don’t know how well it is paid, but insurance fraud and claims xan be very interesting!

      1. Emmie*

        My secret dream is to be an attorney for a classic car insurer, and dig deep into those car insurance claims. :) What interesting work!

      2. Christopher Tracy*

        Yeah, insurance defense or personal injury/workers compensation counsel jobs could get Biglaw Stormtrooper the court experience she’s looking for. Those jobs can also eventually lead to in-house counsel positions that pay very well and have a much better work/life balance than BigLaw or even criminal defense.

    9. YouHaveBeenWarned*

      Fellow biglaw lawyer here: Congrats on leaving! It’s a really great decision you’re making, and you’re doing it at a wonderful time in your career.

      My neighbor is a federal prosecutor and I have never seen a person more in love with his job. He was in biglaw and then just started applying through usajobs and landed his current position. It’s a huge paycut, especially after our recent raises, but he’s like puppy-with-a-toy level happy.

      None of my close friends from law school are still in biglaw. There are so many career paths out there – some are general counsel at start-ups, some went in house, some are with the government, and some don’t even do law at all anymore. Best of luck!

      1. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

        Thank you very much! Yes, I suspect a lot of my law school classmates will be making moves relatively soon. We’re about to start our third year of practice, and since a ton of the attrition happens from around year 3 – year 5, I’m incredibly curious to see where we all end up.

    10. Renee*

      I did criminal for a brief period with a firm that also did juvenile work. Have you considered that? I found juvenile work really fulfilling as it is directed toward rehabilitation. There was a lot of advocacy still involved — arguing for a suspended petition, or that a juvenile case wasn’t suitable for the adult system (for situations where there was discretion to move it). Almost any minor juvenile drug case in my state is going to be a good candidate for a suspended petition, which involves community service and some other stuff, with no lasting record or significant consequences.

      I didn’t mind the criminal defense work because it was a private firm so there was some discretion on the cases being handled. We had one case that started off as a DV case and ended up a murder case. The secretary and I both said we really didn’t want to work on the murder defense and the managing attorney deferred to us and declined representation.

      Criminal work was really interesting, but I don’t really enjoy going to Court, so it wasn’t for me. If you like litigating, I think you would enjoy it. I got the job by answering an ad by a criminal defense firm. I already had a lot of associate-level civil litigation experience, and it was pretty easy to transition. You could start off doing defense for a private firm and then apply for prosecution jobs when you have some experience and know that you actually enjoy the work.

    11. phedre*

      I’m not a lawyer but my ex is a public defender on the West Coast so I can share some of his experiences. One big thing is that public defender caseloads are crazy high. He said his were double what would be considered an appropriate caseload for effective assistance of counsel. He’s an excellent attorney, but he literally doesn’t have time to do beyond the bare minimum for some of his clients.

      He had some clients he felt he made a difference for (yay!) but he also had MANY clients who did terrible things and were just awful people. He got a promotion from defending misdemeanors to defending felonies and it was exhausting and emotionally draining. He finally had to take some time off because he routinely heard/saw some terrible things and had to defend rapists, murderers, etc. He truly believes in the importance of a robust public defense system, but it’s not an easy job.

  4. Government lackey*

    I work for the government. At least in my office the stereotype about no one ever getting fired is true. I’ve worked here for 9 years and have co-workers that have been here for much longer and none of us having seen anyone get fired. People will get written up (which means nothing) or get offered early retirement or get reassigned to a different office, but not fired.

    Today someone is getting fired. He worked in a supervisory position. He’s getting fired because he interrupted someone’s wedding to ask her a work question (seriously, he actually interrupted the vows) and then tried to retaliate against her here at work in various ways because she called the police and had him arrested for trespassing (the wedding was on private property). She raised hell until he got fired. It’s all going down today. I know it’s bad, but I’m enjoying the entertainment.

    1. Lefty*

      :O Wow.

      Federal or state government? Federal here, 8+ years- I’ve seen only one person get fired. Actually, we never saw him get fired… he’d been missing work for nearly 2 years at the point where they were going to fire him. I did see his supervisor visit his completely empty cube everyday for 3 months leading up to the firing.

      1. IT_Guy*

        I’ve done several years at the government trough as a contractor, and I’ve only seen one time a federal employee got fired. They were running a prostitution ring across several states while they were supposed to be working as federal employee. And the reason the were let go was they were using government equipment to commit a felony!

        This still makes me laugh every time I think of it.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      That’s great that, even if it’s somewhat dysfunctional, the management has drawn a clear, bright line with that problem employee. Sometimes apathy causes people to let things slide, but once they decide to start being emotionally invested again, it becomes harder to let things slide again. I hope this is a turning point for your office!

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Maybe it’s like that other anecdote someone told about the manager going to a funeral because they didn’t believe the request was legit.

        Bad enough to call or text, but to show up? In a way, that would be funny in a sitcom…

        “If anyone can show just cause why this couple cannot lawfully be joined together in matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace…”
        “Yes, I need to know where the bride has filed the TPS reports. And I also need her to fill in her time card before she leaves.”

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          That’s like a script that would get rejected for The Office because “Yeah, Michael Scott might actually be that dumb, but we don’t want the audience to lose all sympathy for him.”

          1. Emilia Bedelia*

            I mean, that’s shockingly close to what Michael actually did at Phyllis’ wedding… “I’m her boss. So I pay her. So basically, I paid the wedding”

    3. Damn It Hardison!*

      I really wish the person whose wedding was interrupted had written in with the story so that it could be an entry in worst boss of 2016. Holy lack of boundaries, Batman!

          1. Camellia*

            Wish it could have continued on with Hardison, Parker, and Eliot, and then maybe added new people later or had rotating guest stars. [sigh]

    4. animaniactoo*

      Are you passing popcorn on the sly?

      As much as we should never enjoy somebody being fired, sorry, that guy has no sympathy from me.

      1. the gold digger*

        We can enjoy it when abusive bosses are fired. :) I have been doing the happy dance all week because the board just fired the awful CEO at my previous job. (NotSergio from NotArgentina)

        If you are mean to the people who work for you – if you humiliate them in public, if you send them nasty emails, if you make racist comments to the US African American employees, if you are casual and dismissive about their concerns, if you spend tens of thousands of dollars renovating the US office to open plan, which nobody wanted and for which of course there would still be an office for the CEO ONLY TO SHUT IT DOWN SIX MONTHS LATER – then yes, we can enjoy your being fired.

        1. Jadelyn*

          A little schadenfreude never hurt anyone. Especially when it’s so richly deserved. My favorite was the general contractor I temped at, who let me go in favor of keeping a complete idiot who I had tried without much success to train at my job because she was cheaper, and then let the office manager go a couple months later because some consultant said she was unnecessary overhead (and between the office manager and I we were what kept the office running day to day!)…and then closed six months after that. Well, gosh, I guess that’s what happens when you decide you don’t need competent administrative support.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Bullyboss. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Bullyboss getting fired (not laid off; FIRED). I also know sort of what he’s doing now, so no chance of ending up working with him again if I get laid off. (I ran into him at the vet’s office during the Psycho Kitty thing–he didn’t recognize me at first because I totally changed my hair color.)

    5. Joseph*

      “he interrupted someone’s wedding to ask her a work question (seriously, he actually interrupted the vows) ”
      I’m frankly surprised he survived long enough for the police to arrive before someone tackled him/smacked him upside the head/physically threw him outside.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Probably everybody was too stunned to immediately react. “Wait, is this a prank? This guy is serious?”

    6. The Other Dawn*

      OMG I so wish I was there to be a fly on the wall! I know, that’s bad. But I just can’t help myself. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who interrupt people’s time off (and weddings??!!) with work-related stuff when there’s no need.

    7. DragoCucina*

      Okay, after cleaning the iced tea off my monitor screen, I’m sitting here amazed and appalled. I’ve known bosses with no sense of boundaries, but this is horrifyingly funny. Your office wins.

    8. jack of all trades*

      Unless he is at will he can probably appeal and he could be back. This happened with my husband’s supervisor, although he was given a different job as his original position had been filled.

    9. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      My mouth is agape. What in the actual hell? Who goes to someone’s wedding to ask a work question???

    10. Cat steals keyboard*

      I didn’t think I could ever read anything worse than the manager who interrupted an employee’s chemo sessions. Wow. Just wow. (Sorry if I’ve double posted, patchy mobile reception.)

  5. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I hope this isn’t too off-topic, but it’s kinda work-related, in that I am very grateful for a supervisor and coworkers who told me don’t worry about work and go take care of my dad’s apartment and estate. I’ve been a wreck the last day or so, and I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me because he was a bit of a hoarder. The support from my family and friends has been overwhelming and uplifting, but I got even more support than I expected from my coworkers and I already knew that they were great people as well as great coworkers.

    1. fposte*

      I’m glad to hear that, and I’ve been away for a bit and missed that he’d passed. My condolences–this is a taxing time, so take care of yourself.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I only found out the night before last. Hence the wreck. He was divorced and I’m an only child, so it’s all on me; the only advantage is that I don’t have to get buy-in from anyone.

    2. Rebecca*

      I’m sorry for your loss, and it’s great to hear your workplace is supportive. Life is hard, and during a difficult time like this, it’s nice to know work is covered so you can focus on closure.

    3. Drew*

      I’m very sorry for your loss. How wonderful that your coworkers have their priorities in order and are giving you the support you need right now.

      Don’t be afraid to go into work now and again if you just need a bit of a normality break. “I cannot LOOK at more estate paperwork right now, so tell me what I’ve been missing.”

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Thanks everyone. I kind of shoehorned this in here because I need all the support I can get right now, but I am fortunate. When my mother passed, my company sent flowers.

      1. OhBehave*

        So sorry to hear about his passing. So glad you have a supportive workplace.
        As you deal with the aftermath and everything that goes with settling an estate, please remember to accept help. It’s so helpful to have someone with you while clearing a house, etc. Even if it’s just an hour or so, every bit helps.

  6. ThatGirl*

    My husband is a mental health therapist who works at a small private university. They’ve been having a lot of budget woes lately (partly due to lousy decisions on the board/president’s part). Last year everyone’s pay got cut across the board.

    Now the new FLSA rules are coming and he’s both exempt and well below the new threshold, and since they have to be on call every week, paying overtime isn’t cost-effective. So he’ll be getting a raise to the new minimum. EXCEPT that they decided to weasel around this by making it a 10-month position, so really his raise comes out to just a hair over what he was making before the pay cut. Granted, he also gets 2 months off now, but … that’s weasely, right?

    1. neverjaunty*

      Yeah, it is. He might want to talk to a lawyer. I don’t know what the laws are in your state, but I wonder if legally this really is a “ten-month position” for purposes of the law or whether it’s more like two months of unpaid leave that don’t count.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I don’t really see a point – academia is full of 10-month positions, it’s not that uncommon. That hasn’t been a thing in his department, but I’ve seen it elsewhere. And he’s hoping to find a new job soon anyway, while the pay bump is nice, the atmosphere is still bad enough he wants to leave.

        We’re in Illinois, though, if anyone wants to correct me.

        1. Cordelia Naismith*

          Oh, wait — I missed the part about this being a university job. Yes, 10 month positions are common in academia.

        2. Natalie*

          Federally I don’t think he has legal recourse here – the exempt threshold is based on your weekly salary, not annual. There’s nothing I’ve seen that would make it a violation to employee someone for part of the year as long as their weekly pay meets the threshold.

    2. Ama*

      I don’t think it’s illegal, unfortunately, but it’s super sketchy.

      If he ends up having to stay to his first furlough, he should keep a firm boundary of not working in the two months he has off. And any requests for him to do work in that time should be documented. I could totally see the university putting him on a 10-month schedule but his direct supervisors trying to pressure him to do 12 months’ of work.

    3. SittingDuck*

      While it does sound perhaps a bit weasley – I wouldn’t complain. Not only is he getting a pay raise – but he’s also getting 2 months off? I realize those 2 months ‘aren’t paid’ but he’s already getting a raise – so it seems like a win/win to me – more money than he makes now, and more ‘vacation’ time (I realize its not much more than he was making before, but its more than he is making now.)

      I’d be thrilled if my company gave me a pay raise and an extra 2 months off to do with as I wish!

      1. Callietwo*

        This is how I see it, too.

        Now, if the employer is so difficult to work for that even having a raise and two solid months off a year still is not attractive, he’ll at last have 2 solid months for job searching without having to be surreptitious about leaving for interviews, or scheduling around other meetings, appointments and job duties. What a lucky break there, I would think!

        1. ThatGirl*

          It’s not 2 months in a row, it’s Dec and July. I get the point and he’ll try to use the time well, but he’d rather have the pay. His PTO is already generous.

          1. Awkward Interviewee*

            Are there other therapists who work in December? If not, it doesn’t seem very student friendly to not have therapists available in December? A lot of crises can happen in December – students preparing for finals, everyone is stressed so there could be more interpersonal issues, the prospect of going home to unsupportive parents, family drama, etc. (I work in higher ed, so this is the lens I’m viewing this through!)

          2. Callietwo*

            I guess I’m not understanding this pay vs time off issue.? *How I understand it is… He’ll be bringing more home annually than he did prior to this change, while at the same time getting two months (Dec & July) off? And the issue he has is that if he worked Dec/July would be that there would be even more $$ behind it to bring him up to the “No need to pay OT” level?

            If I have this correct, I’m failing how to see this as a negative in any way, especially if it means he’ll have time he can dedicate to the job search without the inherent hurdles to jump that are typically in the way when you’re working and job searching at the same time.

            *if this isn’t how it is, then I’m totally not following the 12 mo/10 mo job vs pay issue is working at all.

      2. Ife*

        Yeah, I would take a pay *cut* to get two months off a year! But, I realize not everyone prioritizes the way I do and that’s a legitimate thing to be upset about, especially when you have no say in it.

  7. Maura*

    Hi AAM Readers,
    I’m looking for a new job, but terrified that I will accept a job in another toxic work environment, like the one I currently have. Are there any good questions I can ask in a second interview that will help me discover what the work culture is really like? I’d love to find out if the management is responsive, if people are held to account for bullying behavior, and if they care about their employees or just burn them out.
    Thanks for your ideas!

    1. Going to quit my job?*

      You can ask directly what the culture there is like. Ask people what they like and don’t like about working there. You could ask about the turnover. It’s scary leaving a toxic job because it’s hard to have hope that it will be better somewhere else.

      1. Not Me*

        Asking directly what the culture is like is probably not going to get you an honest answer, though. When we are conducting interviews with a candidate, my manager is in the room with me so I am not going to say, “Manager is a bully who doesn’t know what he is doing and we are all afraid of him.”

    2. Spooky*

      I like to ask how long the previous people in the position have stayed, and what they moved on to. If they are still in the company but have moved or been promoted, that’s a good sign. But it’s nice to know if the position has had a lot of short stays, or if the last person was fired and you’ll be walking into a cluster trying to fix it.

      1. Spooky*

        I should point out that I also look at the hiring manager’s LinkedIn page, go to their contacts, and search for the name of the company. Some hiring managers might cover up the nature of the company, but if you can find other employees, you can get a more accurate sense of how long people actually stay.

      2. Maura*

        It’s a newly created position at the place I’m interviewing at, so I know that will have upsides and downsides. Thanks for the LinkedIn suggestion, I will look there!

    3. voluptuousfire*

      I ask what the expected hours are. The actual hours vs. expected can vary greatly. I learned that from a job I had where the business hours were 9-6 but the expected hours are essentially 9-9 and weekend work. No thanks!

    4. Kyrielle*

      I’d also ask what sort of person will thrive in that office and position. Evaluate the answer with an ear to whether (a) it matches your personality / style sufficiently, and (b) it has any phrasing or hesitations that give you pause. It may not yield anything, but – listen to your instincts there.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      When I interview candidates, I always give them a chance to talk directly with my team with no managers present. That would be the ideal time to get those questions answered. Ask your potential coworkers about times they had suggestions or ideas. Did management listen and implement those ideas. Another good question for coworkers is how often their priorities are changed by management and how those changes are handled.

      1. Not Me*

        This is such a great idea. I’m interviewing in the next few days and I would love to have the opportunity to ask these types of questions.

    6. Fabulous*

      I always ask people’s favorite thing about working there, and least favorite thing. Also, ask about management styles. I don’t like asking about culture, because it’s going to be different to different people. I’d prefer “What does a typical (or crazy) day look like for you?”

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        These are the questions I ask, too. I ask some of Alison’s suggested questions to get at culture (plus some of my own twists):

        – “What type of person would thrive here? What type of person would not be successful?”
        – “What is your favorite thing about working here? What would you change?”
        – “What do you think is missing in your department/on your team? What do you want more of?”

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        This is a great question to ask, and if they say there’s no least favorite, because everything’s awesome and they’re all a “family” (re: cult), run for the hills!

        1. Future Analyst*

          Yes, so true. Either they’re lying, or they’re not paying enough attention to what’s not working in their workplace.

    7. Anon today*

      I going to suggest that you look at Glassdoor reviews, and not because they are necessarily true. If there is any theme at all that you pick up from them and want to explore, the way the interviewing team responds to that will be very telling. Smart introspective cultures take the feedback as feedback, they don’t automatically dismiss it as some looney who got fired (although it may be). Where there is smoke there is often fire so if they are abrupt and dismissive of what ex-employees are saying that may be a clue.

    8. MacGirl*

      A friend from college contacted me out of the blue last week to see if I was interested in freelancing! I haven’t heard anything yet, but I am really excited and also kind of flattered. I am also waiting to hear back about a few applications and the next step in an interview process next week. Is it crazy that I am considering maybe working three jobs?

    9. DevAssist*

      The other comments are excellent suggestions- I would also try to figure out how the company as a whole is perceived by the public. If it is on Yelp or GlassDoor, what are the reviews like?

      I’d also advise you to take a good look at WHY you chose to apply- I have the same fear of leaving one toxic workplace for another. Make sure that you didn’t apply out of desperation, but because their was something about the role/company that really interests you.

      Also, maybe ask in your interview what a typical day or week might look like for the person in the position.

      Best of luck!

    10. JLK in the ATX*

      I have this fear, too. I’ve also fashioned questions to inquire about the things I want to avoid. Interestingly enough, it backfired. Using questions similar to those suggested by other responses here, I tried to glean about the Board of Directors. However, the ‘you weren’t selected’ phone call prompted me to ask a bit further about why. Turns out, my questions were too intrusive, too pointed and they didn’t like being grilled. I know I avoided something very bad.

      I hope you find your happy place. I’m still looking.

      1. Cryptic Critter*

        You will find your happy place!
        Same thing happened to me, in fact last two jobs were a misery.

        This last one however I was “semi” my normal self while just working and trying to get the lay of the land, my new Boss called me over for a chat as soon as I walked in the door yesterday and had decided I fit in a different roll!!( I assumed he was going to fire me) He gave me my pick of two different jobs and expressed his appreciation for my trouble shooting questions that also outlined different processes. Not meaning to be cryptic, but in asking why something was done, I mentioned other businesses had trained me in a different way, so familiar, but wanting to be clear?

        New Boss said I have leadership qualities based on conversations with him, I will be starting in my new roll Monday. This new job appreciates my “independent streak” like crazy as I have been praised for jumping in and they want to see more of it.
        Color me stunned!

    11. Schmitt (in Germany)*

      I was in the same position a couple months ago and here are the questions I prepared beforehand:

      * How long have you been with the company and what made you decide to work here?
      * What is your take on “fun to work with”? (that was a quote from their job ad)
      * You’ve been around for four years now, would you still describe it as a start-up culture or has it changed as you’ve grown? (This one got me a really good answer)
      * How would you handle an unmotivated employee? (Also a good answer – covered checking for personal life problems, evaluating how challenging their workload was, and gave an example of an employee who moved departments)
      * Do you know the Pomodoro Process, and what do you think of it? (They said that something like that would work fine, sounded pretty relaxed about it – and indeed, nobody polices my frequent small breaks and I’m so much happier)

      And definitely the question about what a standard day looks like for someone in the position you’re interviewing.

      1. JLK in the ATX*

        Great questions. A few were asked of me and discussed in my recent interview.

        You asked about start-up culture. The organization I recently interviewed with has been around since 1979, but the new Ex. Director is approaching it as a start-up – because she’s new and wants to pur her stamp on things. I disagree due to the entrenched culture, mission, and Board members.

        I once asked a Board of Directors (who were interviewing me) what they considered to be their strengths, as a Board. Their answer ‘Our passion for kids, of course.” I’d be laughed at, should I answer that my strength is passion for kids.

  8. The Expendable Redshirt*

    Recently, I found a work form using Comic Sans font. We have been using Comic Sans on this agreement document for the last fourteen years. Once I realised what the font Actually Was, I promptly changed it to Arial.

    Purging Comic Sans from the working world one file at a time!

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      I actually received an email from a recruiter using Comic Sans this week. It was definitely a bit surprised by that.

        1. Manders*

          I’ve read that people who have dyslexia can have an easier time reading Comic Sans and other sans-serif fonts that look like handwriting, although now I think there are some more formal-looking typefaces designed for them. It never even occurred to me that fonts with serifs would throw off people who have trouble distinguishing the shapes of letters.

        1. Karo*

          I’ve got one better: I have a co-worker who actually took the time to sign a blank piece of paper, scan it to himself, and use photoshop to create an image that he can include in ALL of his emails. And it’s huge.

          1. all aboard the anon train*

            I’ve seen that multiple times. It’s always a bit weird.

            When I was an editorial assistant, I once had an author who wanted to sign her contract using one of those images and it was a fight to tell her that our legal department required her actual signature on the actual contract and that I couldn’t just copy/paste her email signature jpg.

            1. Karo*

              oh my god, this is a thing?! That’s insane. This guy has a number of other weird work behaviors (insisting on sitting on the floor in an informal meeting when we don’t have enough chairs rather than roll over his own chair from next door, being incredibly rude and confrontational, refusing to learn how to use the excel forms that would make it easier for other people to have insight into what he’s doing on a project, etc) so I thought this was an extension of that.

              1. all aboard the anon train*

                No, I’ve definitely seen it from maybe a dozen other people. I also have an uncle who has a signature like that because he says it makes him look more professional (he owns his own carpentry business, so it’s different than office norms).

                It’s always really weird when I come across it because I can’t understand why people would go through all that effort.

                1. Chaordic One*

                  Yeah, the PDF thing for an email signature is weird. I belong to a professional group with a daily list-serve that scrubs all PDFs and attachments and I swear about half of the people who post have PDFs that end up being scrubbed.

                  Of course, they’re not all signatures. Some are logos from where they work and little pictures of various related things. I guess if you have your email set up that way it’s too much trouble to get rid of them.

                2. Desdemona*

                  I used to do that for mail merges, so I didn’t have to sign a thousand letters. Never used it for email, though.

          2. Emmie*

            Which is strangest: the photoshop image of an actual signature, or to use the cursive font in the email? I’ve seen the later one, and it’s unique.

      1. Karo*

        aw, I actually like Verdana. It’s not my absolute favorite, but I switched all of my standards to it from Calibri.

        1. Talvi*

          Verdana is one of the very, very few sans serif fonts I can stand to read. (Arial, on the other hand, is a terrible font and I would only be too happy to never see it…)

        2. Elizabeth West*

          The headings look like they were written with a Magic Marker. I find that annoying.

          Anyway, it’s not corporate standard here, so out it went. Our old department kind of did things their own way, and one of my big projects when I was hired was to update our documentation. I didn’t stick strictly to corp standards (they use too much emphasis–if everything is bold, then nothing stands out, IMO, and our division template cover page had an ugly picture that AwesomeOldBoss and I didn’t like). But the reports looked a hell of a lot better once I got through with them.

          Off work, I typically use Times New Roman because it’s a standard for manuscripts.

      2. Drew*


        The owner of my small company has VERY particular font/formatting preferences (not Verdana). I had to counsel a younger colleague who didn’t understand why I was so strongly suggesting that he reformat his document to the owner’s preferences before sending it to him (“because why put a hurdle in front of yourself that you don’t have to?”). In the end, he decided it was a waste of time.

        He got his file back, reformatted the way the owner prefers, with a REALLY snarky note at the top saying “Here is how I expect documents to be formatted,” and redlining EVERYDAMNWHERE. He looked a little shell-shocked, and all I could do was tell him I tried to warn him.

    2. neverjaunty*

      For one terrible moment, I misread your comment and thought you had found work using a form in Comic Sans. Whew!

    3. LCL*

      I use comic sans on the first draft of technical instructions, so it is very clear that they are a draft and need some attention and revision is encouraged. It definitely gets people’s attention!

    4. Critter*

      I made a sticker chart for my kids in Word recently and it pained me to use Comic Sans. But I needed the whimsy.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        Also, it has the lowercase “a” that’s like the one I (and most other teachers I know) print by hand, so I actually use it a lot for phonics stuff. My lowest readers do practice recognizing different types of the same letters, but when it’s time to actually decode I want to reduce distractions and barriers as much as I can!

    5. Jadelyn*

      I got a resume once that was all in Comic Sans. Multicolored Comic Sans, even! We did not move that person forward for a variety of reasons, but the resume sure as hell didn’t help.

    6. Amber T*

      I work with a lot of legal documents that get sent to us from outside prospective clients or partners (my job is to receive the forms, edit them to my company’s liking, and return). 97% of them are Times New Roman, which is great. A handful get sent to us in Calabri, which I can’t stand but given it’s the default for the newer versions of Word, I let it slide. Every once in a while, we’ll get ones in weird fonts, including Comic Sans (my colleague and I still laugh over that one), which I. Don’t. Understand. Why???

    7. Callietwo*

      I have gone though several blogs this morning to find out why comic sans is so hated and I still don’t get the big deal! But I don’t use it personally because I do know it’s hated almost universally.

      One of the blogs I read this morning was the 10 most hated fonts, and I like more than half of them, so my tastes clearly are not the norm on this one.

      So, what are some of the more well liked fonts? I know Times New Roman will be one which I personally find boring (which makes it perfect for most work purposes, I suppose)

      (and this: ” A current coworker has that fancy cursive like font as her signature. And it is HUGE.” :

      is it the cursive that is offensive or the fact that it’s huge?)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        It’s definitely too informal for a business document. Also, I think it went through an overuse period and has an association with students and inexperienced page designers.

      2. JustaTech*

        It’s a perfectly good font for informal things.
        It is a terrible font to use in a scientific presentation that your boss is giving to Bill Gates about how you spent the grant money he gave you. (The boss chose that font himself and would not be swayed.)

      3. Not So NewReader*

        It reminds me of the print used in comics. So all the old characters come flooding back to me, Ophan Annie, Dagwood and Blondie, etc, I revert to making up voices for the text as if I was still 10 and reading the Sunday funnies. I don’t hate Comic Sans, I just lose time laughing.

    8. Your Weird Uncle*

      I am also in the Purge Comic Sans camp! When I started this job I was SHOCKED to find that it is still alive and well in this department, so I’ve been redesigning all of the templates as I find them.

      I made a flow chart for the amusement of my current colleagues which reads: Is this good design? –> Is it in Comic Sans? –> yes! –> START OVER

    9. phedre*

      I almost didn’t take my current job because the entire website was in Comic Sans. Thankfully the job is awesome and they let me change the font :-)

    10. Chaordic One*

      Way back in the dark ages, I took classes in graphic design and typography. We were taught that the seraphs in seraph fonts (the little “hats” and “feet” found on the tops and bottoms of letters) helped to direct the eye to the next letter. For this reason, we were taught that we should use seraph fonts for larger groups of texts, like when their was enough for a paragraph.

      OTOH, san-seraph (without seraph) fonts are supposedly better at getting people’s attention and fine to use when you needed to make a single word sign, or a single sentence or a heading.

      I like Times Roman, but I keep reading that it is BORING. I’m not sure what to use instead that would still look sort of formal and classy, but less boring.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That’s what I learned, too. but I find that the little hats and feet look like clutter to me.
        I will type in whatever font they want but if I get to pick, it’s san-seraph. It just looks cleaner to me and less distracting. But I can stop and stare at a work done in calligraphy for awhile, just admiring how the letters are formed.

  9. all aboard the anon train*

    I’ve always worked in creative or casual corporate offices. I applied to a creative position at a Fortune 100 insurance company. I have an interview set up for next week. I was also contacted by a recruiter to interview for a job I didn’t apply for in the digital department at the same company.

    I have a few questions about this since it’s a completely different industry and environment:

    1. I’ve never worn a full suit to an interview because I’ve only been companies that have a casual dress code. I have a nice Theory suit dress and blazer, but I didn’t know if a suit dress was too informal for such a company? I was wondering if because I’m interviewing for the creative and digital departments, maybe I could get away with a suit dress + blazer? Or do you all think I should play it safe and find a pencil skirt or pants to wear with the blazer instead? I’m more comfortable in the dress than I would be in a skirt or pants.

    2. The interviews are in two different departments on different days a week apart, so is it okay if I wear the same outfit?

    3. How do I handle interviewing for two different positions/departments in the same company? I’m more interested in the creative job, but I’d take the digital job if I didn’t get the creative job. (The creative job pays significantly more). If someone brings it up in the interview, how should I answer? If one makes me an offer, should I wait to hear from the other?

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      1 and 2. A dress suit (sheath dress and blazer made of the same material?) is great. If it were me, and since this is the creative department, I’d play it up a little bit with some bolder (but not wacky) accessories, if that’s your thing, like a statement necklace or pop-of-color shoe. I would also have no qualms about wearing the same basic outfit twice.

      Sorry, I’m no help on #3.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Yeah, it’s a sheath dress with a slight a-line cut and a blazer from the same material. I’m not a jewelry person, and statement pieces always make me feel like I’m a kid playing dress up, but I think I might tie a bold color scarf to my purse or something. Thanks!

      2. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 2st Century*

        You could also wear a formal jacket and skirt/pants, but have a very colorful shirt under, which will add some lovely and unique contrast, but still look perfectly OK for a formal look.

    2. Spunky Brewster*

      I work in the insurance industry and it’s fairly conservative in terms of dress code. Recommend full suit for both interviews.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        This isn’t true across the board – the insurance company I work for is business casual with some divisions leaning more towards the casual end of things. I interviewed in dresses.

        All aboard, the dress and blazer sound fine. Since you don’t know how casual the company is yet, stick to minimal jewelry and makeup if you decide to wear such things.

    3. Anon today*

      My opinion, having worked in every version of casual to stuffy work environment –
      If you are more comfortable in the dress and blazer, go with that. That combo is perfectly acceptable in a business environment and your comfort add to the overall presentation you make.
      It’s hard to say if you will be dealing with the same recruiter or HR staff who might notice outfit duplication. If it’s conservative in color and nothing that stands out, it’s unlikely anybody would notice and even if they did, so what. I’d say that most people would get it that we generally have one interview outfit.
      To answer the which job question – they both sound interesting and one of the reasons I am here is to hear more about the opportunities and hone in on where I might be the best fit. That’s for the general audience and what to say if anybody asks why you are interviewing for two. Obviously each hiring manager wants a person to be passionate about their position, so for each position be sure to insert how interesting it sounds and how excited you are to learn more about it. It’s honestly super weird to have them run you through for both at the same time, the last thing any company wants is an internal bidding war. you might ask for advice from the recruiter on whether they would independently offer their own position or the company will agree internally on the best fit and proceed with that one.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        The dress + blazer are both black, and I’d definitely feel more comfortable than a skirt or pants. The dress is definitely on the more conservative side in terms in length, and the blazer hides the lack of sleeves. I think I worry about having to wear pants because coming from a different industry, I always hear that the formal industries want more conservative clothing.

        Thanks for the wording. I thought it was strange I was interviewing for both at the same time, too. The digital dept recruiter did say she wanted to get me in before the creative interview since she approached me. I hadn’t even thought about the internal bidding war, so thanks for bringing that up. It would suck if they decided which position would make an offer instead of letting me choose.

        1. Golden Lioness*

          That outfit sounds great . I wore a black shift dress (with very thin white pinstripes) and a solid black jacket for my last interview and got lots of compliments.

    4. kbeersosu*

      I interviewed for two positions at the same university (and now hold one of those). The jobs interact with the same people, so I saw some of the same people both times. I was just sure to be clear about what interested in my about each position (during that interview). If you’re asked about the other job during the interview (i.e. you’re in the creative interview and they know you just had your digital interview) I don’t think there is any harm in answering honestly. It’s not like the two are so very different that it would be weird for someone to apply for both. Especially if you can point to skills/responsibilities that both roles include.

    5. InsuranceGal*

      I currently work for Fortune 100 insurance company and your outfit of a dress and blazer sounds completely fine. Dress is business casual here and they even recently added jeans to their list of acceptable business casual wear, so even in this type of environment, it may not be as conservative as you think! That said, it’s still good to play it safe for interviews. If you don’t want to wear the same thing twice (even though that would also probably be fine), you could wear the same blazer over something else, or even the dress with a cardigan and probably be fine. Black work dresses are already very business professional. The only exception would be if this company is business formal or something, in which case I would stick with the blazer.

    6. Fenchurch*

      1. I work for a similar company and think the dress/blazer would work fine. The important part is that you’re comfortable and confident. Nobody looks professional squirming in uncomfortable clothing.

      2. If you do wear the same dress/suit for two different interviews maybe switch out accessories? A statement necklace or really awesome shoes will definitely draw attention away from your clothing. For all they know you have two similar dresses.

      3. No need to bring up the fact that you’re interviewing for 2 different positions. Focus on each interview in itself. The fact that they are for the same company is merely coincidence. In a larger company, culture can widely vary between departments anyway. And there’s no shame in asking for time to deliberate if you’re waiting to hear back from another position. You might not phrase it as such, but simply say “I’d like some time to think about this before making a decision.”

      Good luck on your interviews!

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I don’t really wear accessories and statement necklaces are a complete 180 from my style and would make me super uncomfortable to wear. Usually my clothes are my statement piece, which is what always trips me up in interviews when I’m trying not to be too fashion conscious.

        Thanks for the luck, and the advice about interviewing for two different positions! I’ve been so focused on the company that I completely forgot about the department culture, so thanks for bringing that up!

  10. Lillie Lane*

    On the post about the guy that never checked his email account, commenter BadPlanning suggested an open thread about the craziest ways people have faked doing their jobs. Can we have one? Or collect some stories here? There must be some amazing gems out there….

    1. anon for this one*

      Oooof. This is maybe sort of related? I only heard this story second hand but someone in HR at my work a few years ago took a day off work and a company car to a city about five hours away to see a concert (totally against company policy. And there was no other reason for him to be in this city). The gas/mileage in these cars are monitored very closely, so he completely invented a fake conference that he attended and wrote up a fake agenda/materials to turn into fiscal to justify the trip. Of course, a simple google search showed that the organization putting on the conference was completely fabricated. He didn’t last long after that

    2. ThatGirl*

      We had a contractor a few years ago who claimed he needed to work from home regularly (this was before we had a regular WFH policy, but it was still allowed by manager approval) and then he would never reply to emails and if called would say he was just away from his desk for a few minutes…. turned out he was trying to run a coffeeshop at the same time.

      1. Seldomsawn*

        I have his jold job- he’s retired and now runs his restaurant full time. And every year at review time I silently thank him, because I’m always given the highest ratings because compared to him, my boss thinks I’m am supernaturally good at my job!

    3. Anon for this*

      Only sort of related, but I was at a company that beefed up staffing to handle impacts from “the Y2K issues” which turned out to be easily handled and not as many issues as anticipated. They kept the staffing for a while and used it to push products forward, but realized they were over-staffed on engineering and other areas – and had a round of layoffs.

      During the round of layoffs, one person in our office was affected. The senior manager who came to do it (and handled several other employees at another location first), and who then had the meeting where it was explained to all of us what had happened, we felt bad for – he clearly felt bad doing it (in a professional way), and the person he laid off *wasn’t* in his report chain (the VP who would have normally handled it was not available, for good reasons and bad timing). And that was expressed to him. He thanked the person who expressed it, and admitted it was hard. And then added, “Well, except for one person.”

      Everyone stares at this very nice guy like he’s developed two heads (because he is nice, he was awesome to work with), and he catches the looks and quirks a half-smile. “I walked up to tell him and he said, ‘I was wondering when that would happen. I haven’t had anything to do but play solitaire for *months*.'”

      …the thing is? That guy was working on a product where he absolutely could have been *doing work* all those months. There were no products with a shortage of work to be done, and in a variety of areas. Apparently he just sat there playing solitaire, waiting for his manager to ask him to do something, and not telling him he had nothing to do.

      I’m not sure whether that counts as a crazy way of faking doing a job, but it did make me wonder whether his manager had been managing him…then again, for all I know, his manager may have been in the layoff also.

    4. Oryx*

      At my old job, instructors were supposed to go do site visits for their students out on externships and they’d get paid for the mileage and time and all of that.

      So, this one instructor hadn’t been going to these visits for MONTHS but kept turning in the paperwork claiming that she had. She was found out when someone from our facility called the site because they needed to get a hold of her and knew she was supposed to be there and the person at the site said not only was she not there but she hadn’t visited them in months. She was fired.

      1. Ange*

        Someone who used to work at my first healthcare job (left before I started) apparently would offer to do the mobile x-rays (where you go to the ward rather than the patient coming to the department) and then take over an hour to do it because he was going to the ward via the betting shop next to the hospital.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        Someone at one of my old jobs worked as a handyman and had to hand in job packs for his hours, mileage and materials. He had been doing his own jobs on the side and would change the dates on the job packs after the client signed them off. Once he dated something 31st February 2011!

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I had a jerkhole of a boss who managed to be on “business trips” for 70% of the year. One time I did his expense reports and took a deeper look and noticed that he wasn’t in the town that the conference was in. As in, he had a 5 day conference in Denver, but all his receipts were from Vail. The only Denver receipts were from the airport.

    6. Anon today*

      I worked with a gal who’s husband got fired. For awhile he pretended to go to work. Then he said he’d been given a very special project to work on from home. Since she left to go to work every day she didn’t realize he wasn’t working until their bank account ran dry.

      1. Windchime*

        I had a friend who had this happen to her. Unbeknownst to her, he was fired from the evening shift but he kept packing a lunch and leaving at the normal time. Turns out he was just driving a few streets over and sleeping in his car until it was time to “come home from work”.

    7. Anon today*

      Second one from me – Had a guy with a remote manager. He was some kind of software engineer, worked alone and got all his work done timely and with good quality. Fast forward to new manager who now works in the same building and notices the guy disappears for long periods in the middle of the day. Talks to him about it, there’s some bs story about doctor appts but it keeps happening. Manager keeps eyes on and realizes the guy is walking across the street every day to a company where he used to work. I’m in HR, pull the resume and sure enough the guy was working there previously. I call their HR department and the guy is still working there. He never quit after we hired him (they were sponsoring his green card so it’s unclear why he was even applying to us when he did) and somehow he’s holding down two jobs and keeping up with the work. We end up firing him for lying to us and the conflict of interest (you were supposed to disclose similar work). So does the other company. I found out later when they cleaned out his desk that they realized his spouse, who did not have a U.S. work visa, was doing a lot of the work which explained how he was holding down two jobs.

    8. Ama*

      Oh I have a good one. I had a boss for awhile who had an exemplary track record when she was hired into that position (as administrative director for a new graduate program). She took over her new role from a person who had been way in over their head and seemed to be doing a great job getting things into shape, and was seemingly thriving in a role that was really widely varied — everything from maintaining budgets and ordering supplies and equipment to helping the faculty with various admin issues. The faculty in particular adored her for making their lives very easy.

      Just before a regular audit of the books, my boss had a fairly spectacular meltdown — no-showed, then claimed a car accident that turned out to be fake, then quit in a rage via email when her boss tried to find out what hospital she was supposedly in out of concern, for “violating her privacy.” Turned out she had been lying about all kinds of things — projects she claimed to be doing herself had been contracted out to freelancers (at about twice the cost budgeted), and she had been booking all kinds of personal expenses to operating costs (like Fresh Direct orders to her apartment and regular car service home). She knew the audit would have turned up all these expenses so she initiated the meltdown, and bought herself enough time to destroy paper files and attempt to wipe her computer (the IT people managed to restore it)– and it half worked, as she negotiated a fairly favorable departure while everyone still thought the main issue was a breakdown over stress.

      The worst part was the only part of the job she had done correctly was do all kinds of things for the faculty that they should have been taking care of themselves. One professor in particular was still throwing fits three years later that “[Boss] always did this for me” and didn’t want to listen to “well, she was actually breaking policy by doing so.” Because of the destroyed paper files, it also took years for all the contractors she solicited work from without permission to be paid for work they had done that hadn’t been paid for when she left, because we literally didn’t know they existed until they contacted us to ask about an unpaid invoice.

    9. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Does anyone remember the story of the executive who outsourced his work to a company in India? He paid them pennies on the dollar of what he was making. He sat in his office playing FB games all day while other people did his work for him.

      1. Karo*

        That’s where I thought Anon Today’s second story was going! I didn’t think it was an exec though, I thought it was a programmer or something.

    10. Anomanom*

      I used to work for a customer service based call center esque job. We thought we were having issues with the fax machine for months, because clients would swear they had faxed something over, but the data wasn’t entered into the system.

      Turns out one of the reps handled her inbox this way: whatever was in her inbox that she could get through that day, she would. Then at the end of of the day, anything left unprocessed went into her desk drawer, NEVER TO BE TOUCHED AGAIN.

      We found this out when she took a week off and needed to find something in her desk. The only time in years anyone saw our seriously calm boss get angry. She was fired the day she came back from vacation.

      1. Mazzy*

        Wow this one is really bad too! When I was a CSR I remember people hogging orders so they could do the data entry and not have to answer calls, so it is so counter-intuitive to do this

    11. Beezus*

      I had an acquaintance who worked at two sites, and frequently told people at each site that he was going to work at the other place, and then went home and played video games instead. He did this multiple times a week, sometimes for entire workdays. He was eventually caught and fired.

    12. Anon7*

      Not something I witnessed myself, but I keep hearing stories about the person who had my job before I did. I work as a clerk in a law firm – my major job function (which is at least 50% of my time there) is filing all the new releases in the various print publications, reporters, etc. It’s pretty easy.

      Apparently, the person who used to have that responsibility just… didn’t do it. She hid packets of releases in drawers around the office, tucked whole packets into the back of publications or at the end of the shelves where they are kept, and once recycled half of a shipment of pocket parts because she either didn’t know that attorneys had personal copies that needed updating, or just didn’t want to go around and do the work.

      Somehow she still lasted about a year and a half. She only got caught when an paralegal went searching for a reference and discovered that she hadn’t been updating it. The attorneys were apparently… not pleased.

    13. Tilly W*

      Not avoiding work but fronting for other work: I worked for a gas utility that had some operations in very rural areas. We were piloting new technology for company trucks to help estimate emergency response times, service call estimates and a new GPS dispatching tool. They added the technology to 10 trucks at random across the company without notifying the drivers, not to be big brother really but to get honest time calculations. Anyway, from the new technology they discovered one of the guys was spending a lot of time at the local bowling alley, bars, movie theatres etc. even though there wasn’t a call to that location. Upon further investigation, it turned out he was running a vending machine company out of his company vehicle! He was fired immediately so I hope the side business is still going strong.

    14. New Bee*

      I have one! When the head of our team gave notice, it came out that he’d been lying about what he was working on for the past 6 months. Apparently, he was copying meetings, trainings,etc. off my calendar and claiming them as separate events on his calendar. He also was in charge of a large event and hiring and just…didn’t do it. The project had weekly status meetings, so I can’t imagine the energy he put into creating all of these fake documents and deadlines. It was a hot mess, especially because he had a reputation in our workaholic-heavy org for being an extreme workaholic (he told me once he worked 70+ hour weeks, would send emails at all hours of the night/weekend, bragged about a “good night” being 4 hours of sleep). Even more bizarre is that he left to transfer to a different branch of our office (in another city, why they took him I don’t know) and occasionally sends messages to the team as if we’re one big happy family. I think he may have had a nervous breakdown…

  11. Callietwo*

    I got the promotion!!

    I interviewed last week and was told I knocked it out of the park! BUT.. those that applied and didn’t get it have not all been told (vacation/PTO) so no one knows, and I cannot say a word to anyone and I’m going to bust a gullet waiting to have it be public knowledge!

    Thanks to Alison & everyone where that helped me prepare in advance for this interview! One of the things I did was sit down down the night before and hand-write answers to as many potential questions I could think might be asked. I started to feel a cramp in my hand and somehow I had knocked out 22 pages of notes! No wonder, right?

    I’m really looking forward to this next step in my career with my company!

      1. Callietwo*

        I know, right? I had NO idea, I was just “in the zone”.

        So, some of the training I’ll be provided is supervisory training as this will be my first foray into that type of role… But I’d also be interested in reading blogs, books, etc that might be helpful.

        I’ve recently picked up the book the 7 habits of Highly Effective People for a refresher, as I’ve read it before and I saw the book “Crucial Conversations” recommended (here, maybe?) and picked that one up used from Amazon – and in perfect condition! Any recommendations for someone new to a leadership role?

        1. Formica Dinette*


          I like Alison’s book, “Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results.” Even though it’s for nonprofit managers, I think a lot of the content is useful for all managers.

    1. Callietwo*

      Thanks everyone.. I really mean it when I say I owe a lot to the commenters here as well as Alison for helping me feel confident when I went in to meet the committee.

    2. Ama*

      Congrats! Just wanted to add that I know it probably is hard not to say anything yet, but I really admire your company for having you wait until they’ve told all the other applicants.

      1. Callietwo*

        Thank you! And yes, I would think it the only way to go on that one. If I weren’t chosen, I would be extremely upset to find out through the grapevine.

  12. Daisy Dukes*

    I’m attending a destination wedding in 6 months. Is this too far out to mention if I get an offer? I’d probably need 2-3 vacation days off.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’d mention it but I wouldn’t expect it to be any sort of problem. By 6 months you should have/be able to take some PTO.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Agreed. Mention it in the offer so it’s not awkward when you’re three months into your job and have to request vacation three months out, and so that you know if there are blackout dates upfront. But it shouldn’t be a big deal.

      2. Joseph*

        Mention it in the offer stage, not before then. Some companies have policies where you can’t use PTO for 3 or 6 months, but 2-3 days is such a small amount that they won’t care.

  13. Tiffany*

    Anyone familiar with the legality of unpaid internships? I’m only familiar with it in the non-profit world, which is different.

    I recently formed a single member LLC for a music festival I’m planning. I have a couple people on the planning team, but none of us are making any money. Is completely volunteer run. Can I bring on unpaid interns to help (I think we could offer a lot of really valuable experience for them, especially where we live, and we have 2 major universities – so there’s a large # of students looking for internships…but there’s no way I can afford to pay them, everything we raise is going to the fest)? I don’t want to get into any legal trouble though.

    1. OG OM*

      As long as you work directly with the school’s career services office, you should be fine. Working directly with the school is a good way to make sure you’re complying with the law without having to trust an 19 year old to understand the paperwork that separates a legal unpaid internship from working under the table for free.

    2. Pwyll*

      You should really talk to a lawyer briefly about this, as it can impact a great number of issues under state law, and usually festivals are organized as some kind of non-profit. That said, if you’re a for-profit, you’ll run into the DOL 6-part test:

      1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
      2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
      3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
      4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
      5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
      6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

      If ALL of these are correct, the unpaid internship MIGHT be legal.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes, this so much. TALK TO A LAWYER. It’s not that expensive, honest – your county or state bar association can give you a referral for a free or inexpensive short consultation, and there are often programs offered for new and small businesses to help them get affordable legal advice.

        The specifics of your situation, where your LLC is formed, where the activities of the LLC are, and what duties you have the interns doing are all going to affect the answer to your question. Asking us here (even though some of us are lawyers) is not going to keep you out of legal trouble.

          1. neverjaunty*

            That is, again, a question that a lawyer who regularly handles this kind of thing in Tiffany’s jurisdiction should answer :)

      2. Tiffany*

        The plan is to eventually form as a non-profit….when we started planning the fest, we didn’t anticipate it was going to be as big as it is going to be and had no plans to form as anything…but then we announced and it’s much bigger now, so I formed the LLC so that we can actually sell tickets vs. running on “suggested donations”, so that it’s easier to get sponsorships, so that we can do some fundraisers, and most importantly so none of any of that had to go through a personal checking account or be tied to my personal credit. I needed all that set up quickly and for as cheaply as possible (because it’s coming out of my pocket), so I formed a SM-LLC for the time being. After we get through this first fest, I’m hoping there’s enough money left from fundraising and sponsorships that I can form as a nonprofit…either that or I will have saved up enough money from the day-job to be able to fund that myself.

        To be clear, this is a house show benefit festival – we have a really big house show scene in my town so all of the bands will be playing at various houses and ticket/merch sales are being donated to charity. No one is getting paid – there is no staff, I’m not even getting paid, the festival itself isn’t the LLC, I set up the LLC under a different name (not by choice, though) and have a DBA for the festival. I handle all of the administrative stuff, since I own the company, and ultimately I make all the decisions – but I have people on the team to help with booking, band/venue liaison, marketing, graphic, etc. I work full-time for a nonprofit, so of course we use interns, but I’ve had a couple students talk to me specifically about interning for the festival (this town is a huge music town, so it’s not surprising) because they need internship credit but also want to help with the festival. Normally I’d just say volunteer with us – but it’s hard for them to commit to volunteering with us when they also need to be doing an internship and school and sometimes work. I don’t have the capacity of taking someone on, training them, supervising them, etc (in a volunteer role) if they can’t commit to us.

    3. SirTechSpec*

      You’d need to talk to a lawyer for legal advice, but in general unpaid internships are supposed to be primarily for the benefit of the intern; they’re not supposed to be employees doing regular work for you, according to the law. Now, many places have illegally unpaid interns anyway, but 1) you don’t have the resources that big companies do to allow them to ignore the law like that, and 2) wouldn’t you rather do the right thing and pay the people who are working for you?

      By the way, being “volunteer run” might be dodgy as well. I would look at this whole situation very carefully. Here’s the first page I found on Google, which seems like a pretty good overview:

  14. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’m now 6 (or is it 7?) weeks into unemployment. I had a really good stretch of being optimistic, enjoying the down time, getting excited about new opportunities… and now I’ve hit a terrible slump. I had a great set of meetings last week with a local agency, and early this week the CEO sent me an email saying that while I would be a fantastic fit for them, culture-wise, they don’t have a position for me right now (they’re growing and expanding their offerings). It was a nice email and I responded in kind. Then I had a great meeting with another local agency, and while it went well and I really enjoyed talking to the guy, I don’t know if they have anything that might be a good fit for me– and if they do, I’m not sure if I can actually do it. I’ve never worked in the digital marketing space before, and while I have plenty of experience and lots of skills that are probably transferable– plus enthusiasm for days– it’s totally outside of my comfort zone and, well, I’m scared.

    I’m starting to wonder if it’s best to just throw in the towel and go back to New York. I spent most of my career working for a media company, and that type of work is exactly what I know. It’s safe. But I have tried to play it safe for so long that I worry this is just job-searching anxiety rearing its ugly head. It hasn’t even been two months yet, I know I have to keep pushing, but I am getting very antsy and uncomfortable again.

    I think I just need a pep talk.

    1. K-VonSchmidt*

      Hang in there! You now have the freedom to give any new opportunity a shot. You have nothing to lose, so go outside your comfort zone!

    2. Bluesboy*

      It sounds to me like you’re having good meetings, good interviews, and getting close to getting what you want. Unless you’ve completely exhausted all your possibilities (like if you’ve moved to a small town with only one big company) I think it might be a little early to be throwing in the towel?

      I mean, I I don’t know you, I don’t know how obtainable what your looking for is, or what your financial situation is, so maybe this is just wrong, but you seem so close! And if you make it, believe me, you won’t be sorry. I managed to completely change career path and am much happier now. And what’s more, some of those transferable skills that you mention were ones that people don’t pick up in my new industry, but which are really useful, which is now making me stand out despite having far less experience than anyone else!

      One word of advice? Don’t ‘just’ job search. Find something else productive to do, so that even if the job isn’t coming you feel like you’re not just wasting time. For example, when I was job searching I enrolled in some free courses with Udemy or Coursera. Because they were professional courses I didn’t feel I was wasting time, but at the same time it was productive (sending CVs and applications can feel really unproductive if you aren’t actually getting a job).

      It really helped me to feel more positive about the whole experience, because I knew that all those new things I was learning (for example I finally got the hang of Powerpoint…) would help me to do well when I actually got something.

      You’re getting interviews, and you’re obviously acing them. You’ll get there!

      Good luck!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thank you! These are things I just needed to hear– or read, I suppose. I am definitely trying to keep busy with other things, including a couple of courses, volunteer gigs, etc. I went up to see family over the weekend. I’m re-watching Mad Men.

        In my meeting on Wednesday, the director I was talking to mentioned that his team is young, needs some mentorship, needs to feel more comfortable speaking up, and it was all I could do not to say, “You need me. Me. I’m good at that. I love mentoring. Bring me on.” I almost mentioned that in my follow-up email, but I decided to go in a different direction, focusing instead on one of the job functions he wants and how I definitely agree with his philosophy and would be up to that task.

        I have been operating under the mindset that I need a job, but I think I need to shift it– I’m talented, experienced, interesting, and AVAILABLE. Like, you need someone awesome? Well, you can get me, because I’m on the market now! And you better act fast. I ought to sew that on a sampler and hang it on the wall.

    3. Manders*

      I admit I’m biased because I work in digital marketing, but my experience was that the first few months of my first full-time marketing job were like drinking from a firehose. There was just so much I didn’t even know I didn’t know, and just having a chat about a basic concept involves loads of acronyms, and some of your well thought out and totally logical experiments will be flops, and the game can change really fast if Google puts out a new tool or tweaks its algorithm just a little bit.

      Do you have any idea of what you want to do in the digital marketing space? I might be able to point you towards some resources to get you started.

      1. Manders*

        Erm, I totally left out the important bit of that first sentence: “I admit I’m biased because I work in digital marketing, but I think you should stick with it a while longer.”

        Time for more coffee, clearly.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Ha, thanks!

          My background is in media research and insights. I worked mainly in television, but I love content in all forms– why people consume, what keeps them consuming, what works best for a particular demo, etc. (Demographic insights are my real jam.) My most recent gig was in brand strategy on the vendor side, doing qualitative and quantitative audience research. I want to get into strategic planning– my ideal job would be the bridge between accounts and strategy, parsing research and strategic findings into actionable insights for clients, and conversely, translating clients’ needs into strategic plans for their marketing and advertising efforts. I used to support ad sales for a division of a very large media company, presenting insights to their clients and doing the whole, “This is why this is important for your business and why you should partner with us.” I miss that a ton. I’m a great presenter, if I do say so myself, and I have writing and presentation skills that I’ve discovered are hard to find in a researcher.

          I think digital marketing is really interesting and exciting, but damn, it would be a whole new world.

          1. Manders*

            Ooooh, yeah, you are a GREAT fit for a digital marketing agency. I literally just had a chat with some awesome people at a conference about the importance of knowing your demographic before starting a campaign. This is a hot topic right now!

            How do you like doing research? Do you design surveys? Pull data from Google Analytics? Do you just want to focus on brand recognition, or are you interested in a customer’s entire journey through a client’s site to a conversion? Do you want to work closely with the people doing the web design, social media, PR, etc. or do you want to present your data and let them choose where to go from there?

            Unfortunately, I’m currently in an industry where demographic research is a bit muddy because anyone in the state could end up needing our service, so this isn’t an area I know off the top of my head. But this is a VERY hot topic and your skills are definitely going to be transferable.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Can you come here and be my coach and guru? :) My approach to research is a multi-methodology one– I’ve done everything from using syndicated products to conducting focus groups. I’ve designed my own quant projects (written the questionnaire, programmed the survey, analyzed the results), done online and in-person concept testing, creative development research… runs the gamut. I haven’t personally conducted ethnographies, but I’ve worked with and analyzed the results. I do want to work closely with creative, but more in the “here’s what we know, here’s what we recommend”, and it’s less brand recognition and definitely more customer journey. I love learning what works and what doesn’t and why, especially since that can change pretty rapidly.

              It’s very, very heartening to know that this is a widely recognized industry need and not just something these agencies are telling me now, you know? I live in an area where there are a lot of big companies and digital stuff is super hot, and I would certainly like to think they need me!

              1. Manders*

                You’re actually a much more experienced marketer than me, I’m the one who should be asking for coaching. :)

                How much have you worked with Google Analytics? In the digital space, doing the kind of work you want to do with customer journeys, you’re going to have a massive amount of data to work with and you’ll be a huge asset if you can pull signals out of that noise. Knowing your way around click maps and heat maps in addition to surveys might also be useful.

                You might also be able to find a niche in something like conversion rate optimization, which is very data-driven and requires people who know their way around setting up and running an experiment. You’ll be working closely with copywriters and designers in that field.

                If you’re interested in demographics like, say, mobile v. desktop users and device type segmentation, that’s a field where many people are panicking and scrambling to catch up to new design trends at the moment.

                There may be a different niche within digital marketing that deals more specifically with things like ethnographic data, but I’m not as familiar with that field. The exciting thing about digital marketing is that you often have a tremendous amount of data that Google, Facebook, etc. have already collected for you on your visitors’ likely demographics and their behavior on your site, and you can pull actionable insights out of that data if you know where to look for it.

    4. Alice*

      I’ve noticed that Alison often talks about making the measure of success something that you can control — not “my pissy colleague is happy with me” but “I dealt with my pissy colleague professionally.” In a job search, you obviously can’t control the outcome. But it sounds like all the ways to measure progress, as opposed to success, are positive — the good meetings, the good email from the CEO, etc.
      Maybe you can make a plan — if and when you go X weeks without productive networking/without scheduling interviews/whatever the proxy metric might be, then you’ll move back. As long as you’re making progress, keep at it. Just making a plan will help you relax, I think — you don’t have to constantly think “does the current situation mean I should go back to NY?” because you’ll already have defined the circumstances that will cause you to go back.
      You’re doing great, and I’m sure you’ll find the right position in digital marketing soon.
      Good luck!

    5. Golden Lioness*

      Hang in there! 6 or 7 weeks is not too long. With all that positive feedback, you should be getting closer to landing something soon!

  15. Charlotte Collins*

    I’m getting very discouraged. There were major changes to my position last year that made it clear that I needed to be more aggressive in my job search – especially since all signs point to my department being laid off once a major project is completed this year. I’ve sent out resumes and had a few interviews but haven’t gotten anything. Just this week, I had a phone interview for a position that I was pretty excited about, and it was cancelled at the last minute. (I can’t blame them – the position was just accepted by an internal candidate, and the company emphasizes internal promotion.)

    I’m starting to feel very unwanted and depressed.

    1. Nynaeve*

      I believe in you! It sounds like time to really ramp up your job search. Take the practical and borderline mercenary approach of your namesake and do what you need to do to take care of your financial future. At the same time, don’t sell yourself short…Charlotte Lucas would have way more options now and she could totally rock them. You can, too.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Thanks! I feel like I’ve ramped it up as much as possible. I live in a city that’s considered a desirable location and where there’s a very educated job force, so part of the problem might be the amount of competition….

  16. Daisy Dukes*

    Another question!

    How much negotiation is too much for an offer? I already know I want to ask for $5k more for salary (the salary is already a boost but I want to get a bit more) but I see that the company has a vacation policy that’s a week less than what I get now (this is combining sick and vacation whereas now I get those separate).

    Can I negotiate for both increases or is that too much?

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      If both are in line with norms for your location and industry, you can definitely negotiate both. If they counter with “We can pay you +$5k, but everyone gets the same vacation policy” or “We can give you the days, but not the raise”, you should probably decide which you want more and redirect to your preferred choice. Decide in advance what your victory condition is.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think it’s wildly out of line to ask for both, but they also have the right to give you only one (and you have the right to not take the offer).

    3. tinktink10*

      I just received a job offer and was in the exact same situation. I asked for $5k higher salary and an extra week of PTO. The countered with $3K higher and gave me the week of PTO. So based on my experience I don’t think there is a problem asking for both at all. Good luck!

  17. bassclefchick*

    Well, it’s 2 weeks into my new job and I think it’s going well. A bit of a meltdown last week when I got feedback. I’m so traumatized from the last job that I overreacted. All is well this week and I’m almost sure I’ll make it through the probationary period.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oh, how I feel for you. It is so hard to reset from a toxic work environment. I wish you lots of luck and breathing, and keep coming here and telling us that it’s going well, which will remind you that you’re in a different (hopefully much better!) place now.

    2. NotASalesperson*

      Coming back from a toxic environment is tough – I pretty much had to channel AAM until I developed enough relationships with coworkers that I wouldn’t freak out at every tiny thing.

      The good news is that it’s possible to come back from a toxic environment. I’m rooting for you!

    3. Callietwo*

      Glad that things are on track for you after that first little bobble. I really struggled with employment after my toxic job six years ago and had to learn how to not over-react or read into things that weren’t there and it will take time. One thing I’ve really had to do is to not react in the moment. If it feels appropriate at the time, you can even just ask for a moment before you respond so you can compose yourself.

  18. Edith*

    My employer has a bit of a quirk to its parental leave policy that doesn’t affect me, but I thought it would be interesting to see what you guys think of it.

    An employee who has a newborn or newly adopted child is permitted 60 days parental leave unless both the child’s parents work here. If both parents work here they are entitled to 60 days total, effectively halving the leave each of them is entitled to. This strikes me as, I don’t know, a bit petty I guess? What do you think?

    1. thehighercommonsense*

      It’s the same at my workplace as well. I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable, though maybe a little paltry. I figured the intent is that the parents would tag team, and minimize the loss to the company from having two employees gone.

      1. Matilda*

        I can kind of understand the wanting to minimize the impact of two employees gone, but I think the better way to go would be giving them each the full 60 days, but only allowing, say 15 or so, to be used together (which would actually work great for putting off daycare expenses).

        1. Ife*

          Yeah, my giant employer has the same policy, and I have to tilt my head and squint to see how it would affect the company in any meaningful way for two people to get 60 days paid time off each, when they almost certainly do not work in the same department and when there are hundreds if not thousands of employees out on leave at a given time anyway. For a small or medium-sized employer, I can see how this type of policy makes sense. But not for an employer whose workforce is larger than the population of many small cities.

    2. Rincat*

      Mine does that too, and we are a state university, so subject to state institution laws. I just figured it was a state thing.

    3. Kai*

      Yeah, that seems silly. Also, do a lot of couples work there? Because otherwise it seems like an odd thing to be so specific about.

      1. Edith*

        We do have a lot of couples– about 40 employees, and in the nine years I’ve been here there have been at least seven pairs of spouses– but they’ve been more grandparent age than childbearing age. We’re in higher ed, but not a state-run school.

    4. fposte*

      That’s FMLA, not your employer. Obviously they *could* offer more if they chose to, but FMLA permits exactly this reduction when both parents work for the employer (though FMLA allows the parents to divvy it up as they see fit between them rather than requiring them to split it equally). I can see that it feels petty, but I doubt it would have passed otherwise.

    5. Kyrielle*

      Yeah, bog-standard FMLA. Really unfortunate for parents who both work at the same place, but done to reduce the impact on a business of having two employees go out for almost three months each. :|

      1. Edith*

        Interesting! The handbook definitely makes the leave sound like it’s out of the goodness of the employer’s heart. That’s very sneaky of them.

        1. Kyrielle*

          If it’s paid, or if you get it even if you haven’t been there 12 months yet, or if they’re small enough that FMLA doesn’t apply, or if part-time workers below the FMLA threshold get it, or you get it even if you’ve also taken FMLA time for other reasons (illness, usually) in the past year, then they’ve extended it out of the goodness of their hearts beyond what FMLA requires – but they’re still using FMLA’s approach to it.

    6. Matilda*

      As someone who came back semi-recently from maternity/parental/fmla leave (and has a partner who had to take sick/vacation time to get any time off with our new kid), I think it’s great that your company has an actual parental leave policy, but think it’s ridiculous that spouses (or partners) essentially get penalized for working at the same company. Also, since it specifies parents and not necessarily spouses, what if the child happens to result from a one night stand/short affair and they’re parenting separately (granted that’s unlikely, but not impossible)?

      And maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I also think it kind of says something about who the company thinks should be taking the parental leave, even though it is technically offered to both men and women. If both parents work for the company and have a biological child, the mother is most likely going to need to take more time off to heal. Therefore the partner/spouse policy really short changes the new dads.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OR they don’t care if the mothers come back or not. I wonder how many couples look at that and start pondering where to go next.

    7. WT*

      My old company had that rule as well. I feel fortunate that my current very large organization does not have that rule since I do work for the same company as my husband. I always found it a bit crummy at my old firm.

    8. Snow*

      For what it’s worth this is how it works in the UK (on a larger scale) regardless of whether you work for the same company or not. It used to be paternity leave was 2 weeks and maternity leave up to a year and now there is shared parental leave that can be split between the parents with the exception the mother must take some of it for the purposes of healing. Not all of the leave is paid – I think you get 90% of your wage for 6 weeks and then a statutory amount for 33 weeks and then the remainder unpaid (many companies pay more than this though.)

    9. asteramella*

      My employer offers 6 weeks paid parental leave… But to the “primary caregiver.” If you want the 6 weeks paid parental leave you have to submit paperwork from your spouse’s employer certifying that they’re going back to work!

      It’s a head-scratcher to me. If I were to have a kid while working here, I’d be the one giving birth but my spouse (self-employed) would be scaling back on work and doing the bulk of the childcare, so theoretically I wouldn’t get paid parental leave after giving birth! I think the execs who thought up this policy were only thinking of super gender-normative heterosexual relationships/parenting…

      1. Overeducated*

        My previous employer did that and it made me so mad! Way to make egalitarian parenting structurally impossible!

      2. The Billable Hour*

        Yeah, this basically says “for moms only”, but dresses that up to avoid being seen as discriminatory.

    10. Beezus*

      It’s standard FMLA, as others have noted. It kind of stinks for couples who work together, but there are so, so many reasons to avoid working for the same employer anyway!

  19. strawman*

    Any strategies for dealing with a coworker who is hard to keep on topic due to “paralysis through analysis”?

    We work in international development and deal with many interconnected issues (poverty, gender discrimination, education access, etc.) and she is always reminding everyone of the importance of “more contextual analysis,” to the point where it is difficult to make any meaningful progress forward. No amount of “Great point Priscilla, but let’s return to deciding on the geographic region we’ll work in” can seem to dissuade her. It doesn’t help that she has the “moral high ground” in such a scenario because international development best practice is all about sensitivity to context. Work has to actually get done at some point though, right?!?

    My other issue with her is that she likes to build up strawmen in order to dismantle them (and therefore look smart in front of others). For example, I’ll say: “we could look into using tablets with enumerators in order to do more effective monitoring” and she’ll launch into an impassioned 5 minute rant about how “technology is not a silver bullet” and we can’t just think that the sexy new technology will solve all our problems for us, citing evidence and studies about how international development firms have wasted money by just buying computers for disadvantaged communities. Problem being, of course, that I never suggested that technology was a silver bullet, or that we should just give away free computers! Sighhhh.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, yeah, that’s a PITA. Face to face, can you just ask what action she recommends, or greet the contribution as volunteering to create a recommendation? If this turns into homework rather than a soapbox opportunity it might sharpen her focus. But if it genuinely makes forward progress difficult, I might loop in a manager at this point for suggestions.

    2. neverjaunty*

      She’s derailing you. Don’t let her. I promise that when you stop chasing the rabbits she’s letting loose and force her to stick to your original point, it will be you who looks smarter in front of others. Bonus points if you can make it seem as though she’s actually supplementing what you just said rather than disagreeing with you.

      YOU: We could look into using tables with enumerators in order to do more effective monitoring.
      HER: Blah blah strawman silver bullet condescending lecture!
      YOU: Thanks, Priscilla, those are good things to keep in mind going forward. On the issue of more effective monitoring, we could look into using tablets with enumerators, which would solve that problem while still taking Priscilla’s concerns into account. Bob, what are your thoughts?

      Now you’re back to restating your point; you’ve co-opted Priscilla in a way that makes you look reasonable and open to input; if she keeps arguing she’s going to bore everyone else and look contrary (didn’t you just agree with her, after all?) and you’re reiterating your own point.

    3. animaniactoo*

      On the latter, acknowledge and counter to deflate:

      “I agree that technology is not a silver bullet, however it sometimes IS a solution when implemented correctly and all I have suggested here is that we explore whether it would be in this situation. So let’s discuss whether it is a possibility now please.”

      possibly even tacking on something along the lines of “It seems just as shortsighted to me to refuse to even explore a technological solution as it is to only look at technological solutions.”

    4. LCL*

      Before any meetings with her, prepare a list of written questions that you will be asking her. Bring this to your meeting and refer to it frequently to keep yourself on track. An email sent to yourself works well for this, I suppose you could do a formal and fancy outline in Word.

    5. misspiggy*

      If you’re in international development, wouldn’t you be using a theory of change approach to define and tackle a problem? In which case it should be clear which types of evidence and strategies are relevant within the theory of change framework, which is set up in relation to the particular problem you’re trying to address. Doesn’t stop people from faffing if they’re really determined to, but it can be a focus to encourage people to prioritise.

      If your coworker just isn’t up for a disciplined approach to strategising, politely disengage with her to the greatest extent possible. If it’s more that she does come up with constructive ideas, but always has an objection or a concern about other people’s ideas, that may be easier to deal with. You might ask, ‘So Priscilla, what in your experience is a good way to strengthen monitoring?’, and use her knowledge to inform your thinking (whether or not you act on it).

      Is your boss allowing her to derail team effectiveness? In which case it might be worth digging out Alison’s advice in various places here on how to get the boss to shut that stuff down when it’s blocking progress. The boss should decide whether or not an issue Priscilla raises is relevant. If it is, your boss should be asking Priscilla and the rest of the team for constructive ways forward. You could try to model this if it would work in your team.

    6. E*

      Can you ask her to write up her thoughts and send them out after the meeting so that everyone can get through the main points without spending too much meeting time on the topics? Then she’ll feel validated, and folks can read over her suggestions on their own time if they need to.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Set boundaries for discussion. Ugh. I wish I could remember what I read on this. She has problem with scope creep because with her the topic creeps out farther and farther.

      For the tech example: “Priscilla, we do understand what you are saying, but we are limiting the discussion to the idea of using tablets to enumerate. We are very much aware of the larger problems. But we are focusing on this smaller issue of whether or not to use tablets in our work day.”

      The other thing you can do is limit the time for commentary. “Thank you Priscilla, unfortunately that was the three minute mark and now we must let someone else speak. Joe, what are your thoughts? ”

      You could announce that discussion will be limited to the question at hand, any one speaking to a larger issue will be redirected to the current question before the group.

      Basically she is undermining the group’s ability to function by chronically moving the target. What does your/her boss say about this?

  20. EA*

    Hello all!

    I have my annual reviewing coming up, I have been here for one year. I support a VP, but my official manager is an operations supervisor, who manages all admin staff. Because my manger is doing the review and not the VP, the VP wants to have a separate meeting with me. He asked me to bring a list of what is going well in this job, what isn’t, and to think of future career goals. I took this job because I desire to transition to Project Management, and they said they could get me on some projects.

    The major issues in this job is that I have significant downtime. I have gotten some PM work, but really want more. So I am going to being that up as a downside. The other negative is that the VP is incredibly picky (think nitpicking wording on emails that don’t matter) and a huge pain in the ass. My manager knows that, and said he has done this with everyone, it isn’t appropriate, and she will remove that feedback from my review. It really is just his personality, but she has talked to him about picking his battles for years. I obviously can’t say this as a negative to the job. The issue is I don’t know what to write, I know he will want me to have a few concrete things, and I feel like the downtime/wanting to expand my jobs sort of bleeds into the career development section. Does everyone think I should just make stuff up? Or just go with the one thing I have as a negative? I don’t want him to view me as unprepared.

    1. Fabulous*

      I had a manager like this before. It sucks, but can be manageable once you get a feel for what he nit picks most – then you can spend a few extra seconds fixing it before having him review.

      In regards to this particular negative, I would mention that it’s been difficult to anticipate what he wants you to focus on, and ask what he would prefer you do in this situation to reduce his frustrations.

      You can also mention that you feel you have significant downtime (that’s definitely another negative!) and would like to use this time to work on some projects.

    2. Lefty*

      If you want to have more than one negative on the list, could you reframe the nit-pickiness as something a little different? Maybe “rigidity” or “lack of flexibility”… if you could provide examples of how things currently MUST be done against having options to do them differently, it could be a more positive spin on the issue you are having. “The lack of flexibility in completing the teapot organization by size only has lead me to only viewing it this way and not thinking of ways we could optimize it. I’ve recently seen other teapot collections in the building that were by shape/décor style/age and it gives a new view of the product. I’d really enjoy having some more flexibility in some of the processes, where that is possible.”

    3. Not So NewReader*

      “Boss, I know you appreciate a well-worded email and I want to do that for you. But I am concerned because we spend a lot of time picking out words for emails and other things. Is there some way that you can help me get a better handle on what you would like so we do not have to keep going back and forth correcting emails?”

      No do not make something up. You have two topics that, if discussed in a productive manner, will take up some time to talk through. If he has two topics then the two of you could be talking for over an hour. Don’t worry about looking unprepared, stay focused on the review itself. Listen to what he says and give a thinking person’s response. You will be fine.

  21. Folklorist*

    Grumble, grumble. I’m having a terrible morning—ripped off half a toenail, gave myself an allergy attack with a seemingly innocent apple, spilled coffee all over my lap, and for some reason, the receptionist thinks that I’m her assistant today and should pitch in with organizing the catering for the big meeting that’s going on (I’m not; I’m an editor whose desk happens to be the closest to the door where people are coming in. But I have two big articles due today, dangit!)

    This is a big rant to say that I still won’t let it get me down, because this is our ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!! No matter how rough your day, don’t let it get to you—keep trucking on and get something done, then come back and brag about it.

    I’m going to plow through these articles and keep a positive attitude. Somehow. (Grumble.)

    1. Hlyssande*

      Wow, that is HELLA frustrating! I hate when a day starts off like a comedy of errors. Those are the worst days.

      I hope you can get the receptionist to back off because ugh, so frustrating!

    2. Alice*

      Ouch! That makes my morning (getting stood up by a student who begged for a last-minute early-morning appointment) seem much more pleasant. So, you gave me a positive attitude at least :)

    3. LCL*

      Thank you for posting about your allergy attack! I am so tired of people looking at me and saying “how can anyone be allergic to apples?”
      Sorry about your toe, that hurts.
      I’m cleaning up my desk and working on payroll.

      1. Folklorist*

        I looked it up this morning! It’s called Oral Allergy Syndrome. Basically, if you’re sensitive to certain types of pollen, some of those foods that contain that pollen will affect you more often during allergy season. And since I forgot to take my allergy pill last night, the apple that I eat every single day to no ill effect gave me hay fever this morning! But it’s not the same as a food allergy! So weird… (posting link in the reply)

        1. Damn It Hardison!*

          It’s real! I once ended up in the ER because of a pear. March – July all I can eat are citrus fruits and melons.

        2. Misc*

          Yeah, I get it with raw onion (including onion powder), my brother gets it with peaches… (I get a burning mouth, he gets hives).

        3. Mephyle*

          Yes indeed. I spent the first four decades of my life not thinking about allergies in relation to myself at all – it was something that happened to other people, not me. And then – oral allergy syndrome. Goodbye apples and cherries. Fortunately it’s not too severe, and I can have the occasional bite of apple. It seems to come and go, and if I don’t eat a food for a long time, then I can have a little bit of it again. Also, it’s only raw fruits, so apple pie and applesauce are no problem.

  22. Jax*

    Here’s an annoying situation that happened at work this week. I work in a university library. I hold two part time positions, but the university treats it as full time for benefits which is awesome. Because I work two positions, I work in two different offices, on two different floors, with two different workstations. I work on one floor in the morning, then head to a different floor in the afternoon after lunch.

    The library’s HR is upgrading our chairs. I was told to come to HR and pick out a chair. I chose one and asked if it would be at both my work stations. This confused HR that I would need a chair at both my workstations. First, they asked me if I could just move my chair between work stations. I am not taking a chair 3 flights away twice a day. That is unreasonable. Then they told me that they would only give me one chair and I can choose the better of the two chairs I currently have for my other desk.

    Am I wrong to be annoyed by this? If there were two of us in these positions each person would get a new chair. This isn’t a mountain I’m willing to die on but can anyone suggest how I can approach HR about this? Or should I just let it go?

    1. fposte*

      Do you know if other part-time employees are getting chairs? If so, I would raise it gently again with HR. “I know I’m counted as one person in some situations, but these are two jobs at two different locations that just happen to be held by the same person. Could Archives Jax and Budget Office Jax both get new chairs, please?”

    2. Seal*

      That’s asinine. You have separate jobs with separate offices and separate workstations. Do they expect you to move your desk or your workstation between offices? It’s the same priniciple.

      1. Edith*

        Asinine is right. I mean, what are they going to tell one of the two people who replace her when she leaves? “Ooh, sorry your chair sucks. We replaced every chair in the building except this one because the lady you replaced only worked here four hours a day.”
        “But this is a part time job. We all only work here four hours a day.”
        “Look, if you wanted a good chair so badly you should have applied for her other job.”

        1. Camellia*

          “Look, if you wanted a good chair so badly you should have applied for her other job.”

          OMG you win the interwebs today! This is hysterical!

    3. Ama*

      If it’s anything like the HR at the university I used to work at, the problem is you are a special case — employee with two part time appointments — and they made the plan for purchasing these chairs around the standard, one appointment employee without bothering to think through that someone might have different needs. (I worked in a grad school 20 minutes from main campus — we got in fights with HR all the time over policies designed around main campus employees who were no more than five minutes’ walk from every university office.)

      Did you actually say to HR that you have two appointments, each of which have a desk on a different floor, or did you just say you have two workstations? Because it’s entirely possible that whoever is doing the admin on the project just has a list with your name on it and just thinks you have two workstations for the same job. (Even if they know you personally, if they’re dealing with a bunch of questions on this project they may have forgotten your circumstances.)

      Now, if they still balk, I’d mention to your boss(es) that they’re not letting you have a chair for each workstation and see if that helps. When I worked at the distant grad school, there were times that my boss and I could argue ourselves blue in the face with HR with no result, but get our director’s attention (which we only did when it was really egregious) and it would get resolved in a day.

      1. Jax*

        I definitely am a special case. No one else in my department holds two appointments, and I am not sure how many other people library wide do. But I would think (and obviously I am wrong) that they would order chairs based on positions (Assistant to X Collection, Assistant to Y Collection) verses staff member.

        The other problem is the woman who is the lead on this project is out on vacation all week. I am going to contact her next week and clarify that I hold two appointments for two collections and my desks aren’t near each other, and see what kind of response I get from her. Then I might go to the department head.

    4. JustAnotherLibrarian*

      I think it depends on how they budgeted the chairs. For example, if your library is like my library, you have some work stations that aren’t occupied by employees full time and are mostly used for students assistants. Last time we got new chairs, the student work stations were not upgraded.

      I don’t work two jobs, but I work at two workstations. I spend most of my time at a public service desk, but also have a private desk as well. When I got a new chair, I was asked which station I wanted the chair at. I was not given two chairs for two work stations. I decided to put it at the public station since that was where I technically sit the most.

      I think I would let it go, unless your old chair is so bad that it is causing back problems or something like that. You might ask gently if you know someone in HR about how the chairs were budgeted. I know when we bought new chairs, they were purchased based on number of staff rather than number of work stations. And you might count as one “staff” even though you’re doing two jobs.

      Having said all that, I would be annoyed if I was you. At least my work stations are close to each other. :)

      1. Jax*

        I get not giving student assistants upgrades-the budget is limited. But I am an appointed employee.

        I am not going to push it too far. My chairs are perfectly acceptable, but the new chairs are really nice. Like I said above, I am going to clarify with the woman who is the lead for the chairs and tell her about my separate appointments so she doesn’t think I am trying to hoard chairs. And if her answer is the same then I guess it’s the same. I enjoy my job, but this isn’t going to be my forever home.

        1. Cat steals keyboard*

          I’m amused by the idea that you’d hoard chairs. Like, one to sit on and one to keep a cat on maybe.

          1. Jax*

            I do keep asking my cat if he wants to come to work with me, so it would be great to have a place to put him. I was thinking more along the lines of “I can only sit on a chair when it is cold so I need to be able to alternate and give one chair time to cool down while I warm the other one up.”

    5. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      A similar thing happened to an employee a few years ago. She worked 20 hours in circulation and 20 hours in cataloging. The branch manager (well the branch’s administrative assistance on the managers behalf) went around asking what cubicle supplies one wanted for their workspace. Employee who had two independent part-time jobs could only pick three accessories, the same cap someone with one cubicle had. Her jobs, and the needs for each job, were different that three total was not going to work. We are relatively small branch (25 people of which there were only two or three are part time positions at this time), so this was not a case of forgetting. The circulation manager felt this employee should not get any ideas about needing “special” treatment, so she tried to keep employee’s cap at three. The cataloging staff was far more reasonable. Three employees “gave” the part timer one of their accessories, so she would have the ability to do her job. It just wasn’t feasible to pick accessories that kinda worked for both jobs and carry them from the first floor to the third floor every day. And people wonder why a number of us rejoiced when the circulation manager retired.

      The point is that people are weird about situations where someone does two different jobs. People push back for various reasons. It could be that they think it will appear that you are getting special treatment, when the situation would have been approached differently if two different people filled your roles. Or they are big into following policy to the T. Either way, get clarification when the woman in charge of this project is back. Be prepared to explain that these are two separate positions that one person happens to do. Whether you let it go or not depends on how reasonable she is in general and her explanation on why one get one char.

  23. Adam*

    Becoming a Technical Writer

    I’ve decided I’d like to pursue becoming a technical writer as my next career step and am looking for advice to prepare myself to be qualified for the role.

    My background is many years of customer service and coordination, primarily in an office setting. I have a B.S. in Psychology and almost minored in English. Much of my job involves explaining our technical digital products to our customers, both over the phone and email, and I also have written FAQs and department policies that people use regarding our systems that they find very helpful. I have no background in coding or hard tech or anything like that though.

    What other sort of things can I do to make myself eligible for an entry level role in this field? Classes to take, books to read, websites to follow, etc.? My alma mater (the University of Washington) offers a certificate in Technical Writing that you can complete in eight months. I was accepted into the program on the wait-list as it was already full when I applied. I can delay enrollment until the next time the program is offered it seems, but what other things can I do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

    1. Adam*

      Also, I’m dealing with a sprain in my hands right now so my typing is a little limited. So apologies if my follow-up on this question is limited. :P

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Ooh, I’m a technical writer!

      What kind of technical writer do you want to be? You mention knowing coding, but that’s not really necessary for all tech writer jobs. Are you looking to write manuals and more technical content? Or do you want to work in a technical field? Software? Science? I think there are a lot of directions you can go.

      Learn about different style guides (AP, GPO, MLA, Chicago). At the very least, know that they exist and be somewhat aware of some major differences. Learn about Plain Language. Even if you don’t go into government writing, the general rules they lay out are pretty universal.

      There are so many Internet content marketplaces today that you can easily get some writing experience and build up a resume list of clients (or, if those are confidential, types of writing). It doesn’t pay well, but it’s good practice in just writing, writing, writing.

      1. Adam*

        Thanks! I don’t have a specific direction in mind just yet. I live in Seattle so obviously tech is big around here. I like experimenting with things and can figure most anything out given some time and guidance. I could see myself writing manuals and the like for general public consumption. In my circle of friends I’m the designated person who has to figure out new board games and then explain to everyone else how to play, which I realized recently is something I actually enjoy. I like watching people have the “I got it!” moments.

        1. Headachey*

          You might look into the Technical Writing certificate program at Bellevue College – far more accessible and affordable than the UW program. I completed the program in its previous incarnation, and most of my classmates were transitioning or hoping to transition into the field.

          1. Adam*

            Thank you. That one came up during my search. It looks like currently the cost is right about the same as UW and would take longer. So it’s an option.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        Not a technical writer, but I know a few, and though coding isn’t necessary for the job, I’ve heard of a couple of interviews that basically want you to interpret code. And being familiar with APIs and how they work may help, too.

      3. apopculturalist*

        Question for you: I’m an editor at a trade mag. Could you tell me a bit more about what a technical writer does? I see positions with that title around here, and should I wish to leave my current job, it might be something I’d be interested in (they seem to pay well!), but I don’t know much about the field. What’s your day to day like?

        1. Adam*

          I’d like to know this too! I’ve been doing research online, but haven’t gotten the chance to talk to a real live person yet.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          I’m hoping HeyNonnyNonny will chime in with some actual first-hand experience, but what I’ve heard second-hand, it seems to be writing technical documentation for developers, though there may also be technical writers who write reference material for end users, but the ones I know write for developers.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny*

            Ah shoot, well better late than never, so in case anyone circles back on this:

            My job as a technical writer is actually opposite from what many people think of; I interpret technical and scientific materials for the public instead of for a technical audience. So I’m given a report and have to either edit it so that it’s readable to the public, or I have to write a report/web site/ letter/ etc to communicate technical content. Day to day is really fluid. I’m given projects as they come up so I’m always working with new content and new formats.

            Sorry I missed the chance to chime in on Friday!

    3. Product Person*

      I’m not a technical writer but work in product management and always have one in my team. If working in tech, here’s what to expect:

      – When we are getting closer to a new software release, the technical writer starts to meet with the product managers and developers to understand what’s changing in the release.

      – He or she then writes Release Notes that will be sent via email to customers to notify them of what’s coming next (e.g., “With the launch of release 2.0, you will be able to organize your labels in categories”), in many case translating technical jargon into language that non-techy users can understand.

      – He/she has also to update user guides / online help / and other documentation. Example:

      From: “Labels can be used to tag individual items. You can later search or filter existing items based on the labels applied to them.”

      To: “Labels can be used to tag individual items. You can later search or filter existing items based on the labels applied to them. In version 2.0, you can also organize your labels into categories (e.g., ‘Project 1’, or ‘Marketing’). When you need to tag new items with an existing label, you can browse label categories to find the right label to apply.”

    4. Petri Dish*

      I do freelance technical writing in science. Specifically I edit dissertation abstracts, grant proposals, research proposals, and lately papers that will *hopefully* get published in a fairly high profile journal. Now here’s the twist: I do it for ESOL clients overseas who want to publish in English. I’m not formally trained and have a regular science day job. I took a lot of writing courses and worked as a tutor for many years. I have a couple of minor published science-articles and I do a lot of technical writing as duties for my current and past jobs. I just kind of fell into the current freelance stuff. Not sure how helpful this is.

    5. One of the Annes*

      Hi, Adam. I’ve worked as a technical writer and editor for two state agencies for the last nine years and was a writer for a private company before that. I strongly second HeyNonny’s recommendations to familiarize yourself with the major style guides and to learn about plain language ( is a great resource). Also, make sure you keep copies of the FAQs and other documents you’ve created or worked on to provide as writing samples.

      If you’re interested in working for a government agency, keep in mind that tech writing and editing jobs aren’t always named as such. They sometimes have a title of “agency policy specialist” or “communications such and such.”

      Good luck!

  24. Audiophile*

    Yesterday, I experienced something I’ve never experienced before. I was in a meeting and a brochure was presented for discussion, the floor was open for comments. Big Boss, a female, told another female employee that they were being aggressive in discussing this matter. She said it in front of everyone, in a way that seemed to try to dismiss the other person’s points. It really struck me and made me think, it was also done as an example to everyone else to not cross Big Boss.

    1. Leatherwings*

      Oooh that’s not great. When I run or participate in meetings and run into someone who is derailing, there are better ways to handle it than call someone (a woman, no less – it definitely has more underlying connotations in this case) aggressive in front of everyone. Was she truly being bullish though? If so, Big Boss may have just needed to shut it down quickly. If not, I think your assessment about Big Boss is correct.

      1. Audiophile*

        No, she wasn’t being aggressive from the general consensus of the rest of the staff. This really seemed to be an attempt to shut this person down, who is very knowledgeable in what she was speaking about.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If this is not normal for the big boss, then there must be something running in the background.
          It could be that she told this woman in a private conversation not to start in on this conversation and the woman did anyway.

          It could be that the woman did not finish all she had to say and the boss knew what was coming next, so the boss shut it down before the woman got to that point.

          If a boss said something like that to me, I might say “Yes and here’s why, reason A, B and C.” If I felt the point was pressing and needed to be brought out into the open. OTH, I could go the opposite way and say, “whoops, sorry”, if the circumstances were not urgent.

          1. Audiophile*

            I’m hearing that others also told Big Boss she was wrong regarding this matter, prior to the staff meeting where others weighed in and this exchange took place. I’ve also been told Big Boss won’t correct the information and will do what she wants anyway, so it’s a moot point that she asked what others thought.

  25. Gwensoul*

    In 20 minutes I am talking with a manager over a group that is supposed to be portfolio managing a program I am running. I have felt very under supported and have been left off of meetings and emails and not been able to approve documents that went out to senior leaders. I am not sure what is going on but want to bring it up before I start being a roadblock just to prove a point. I have had project mysteriously added to my program without my consent and had emails ignored for weeks when asking questions. I think it is the employee that is handling my program (among a few others) but I want to frame this not as one employee’s fault so I am going to make sure we are on the same page as to who owns what pieces and what the processes are for involving me. I find it annoying I even have to have this conversation as the persons predecessor was amazing and I miss him…

      1. Katie F*

        I think that’s their point – they don’t WANT to be a roadblock, but their job is being made impossible over time, so being a roadblock may be the only way to stop being ignored.

  26. Hattie McDoogal*

    I work for a small company that works out of the owner’s home. My boss seems to be the type of person who likes to have some kind of background noise. Sometimes he wears headphones and listens to whatever, but sometimes he turns the TV on and just leaves it on all day. Since it’s during the workday it’s often game shows or trashy talk shows — lots of yelling and loud noises and the like — and I’m finding it really hard to tune out. I’m guessing there isn’t really much I can say about this, since it’s not only his business but his home as well, but I just wanted to vent a bit.

    1. Inkly*

      You can always try earplugs or headphones for yourself so you can at least buffer the noise or play white noise.

      It wouldn’t be rude to tell your boss this bothers you. He may think you either like or don’t care if the tv is on… if you tell him he may turn it off and use his headphones or switch it to something like one of those aquarium channels with soft music. There is a difference between demanding he turn it off and letting him know it distracts you from your work. The worst he’ll do is say he doesn’t care, but at least he’ll know it distracts you and may be more understanding if something goes wrong because you were distracted by the tv.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      If it’s just for background noise, maybe you two can come to an agreement about what shows are put on. I find something like The West Wing or Law & Order to be perfect background shows. It doesn’t sound like he cares what’s on the TV, just that something is on.

    3. Mander*

      Ack, that would make me crazy! I don’t know why but I find having the TV on is super distracting. Could you maybe just mention that it’s distracting to you and suggest you put on the radio instead?

    4. an anon*

      You could definitely at least ask that he tune into a different channel. Something like a food or travel channel is great, soothing background noise IMO.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I am amazed by the number of homes I go into and the tv is blaring. Mine is unplugged from the wall and has been for years. It’s foreign to me to have the tv on and no one paying real attention to it. But some people seem to actually need the background noise, just like some people seem to need quiet.
      I supervised people doing repetitive work for years. There are some people who work faster if they are talking the entire time. If they stop talking their productivity dips. This could be a variation of that? People who don’t have background noise, work slower?

  27. Shabu Shabu*

    Can I ask for a raise without sounding like an ahole due to the following:

    I work for a public university that publicly releases salaries. It’s quietly done every year and I just remembered that I haven’t looked for the update in a few weeks.

    Anyway, long story short, my coworker makes waaaaaay more money than I do. When I was hired for this position (internal transfer after 4 years) I was given a salary of XX/hour because “we can’t pay you more than coworker, that would be unfair”. Then I come to find out, it’s not true! 1. You lied to me. 2. I accepted in good faith that what boss said was true. 3. Yes, technically she’s been in the position longer, but I had comparable skills when hired and in less than 6 months have caught up to her “level”.

    We recently hired someone new and now I am irritated wondering “do we get paid the same because it would ‘not be fair to me’ or did they lie to her too?”

    Ultimately I feel like I need to just stick to my skills and emphasize other things when it comes time for me eval at the end of the year, but I still want to hint that I KNOW! Heh.

    1. Leatherwings*

      Definitely ask for a raise, but your instinct to focus on your own skills and accomplishments is the right one. Do not do not do not hint that you know your coworker is getting paid more than you. Honestly, there could be a lot going on there and I think it’s important you keep that in mind so you don’t get bitter. Maybe coworker was getting paid the same as you but they recently got a big raise, or they took a counteroffer or something.

      Basing your pay off of a coworker is a terrible thing to do in the first place, but you don’t know for sure they lied to you. Ask for a raise based on your accomplishments.

      1. Seal*

        Agreed. Having worked for public universities my entire career, one of the unfortunate realities I’ve discovered is that pay is generally based on longevity rather then merit. When I started my current job, I inherited a 30+ year staff member who was making almost 3 times what an entry level staff member doing the same work made, but did very little work of his own. Fortunately we were able to get rid of him, but it took far longer than it should have. I know my other employees were frustrated by the enormous disparity in salary, but there was nothing I could do beyond force this guy out; the salary ranges were set by the university.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t assume malice where it could just be incompetence. Bring it up, but don’t be confrontational or outraged. Just point out the discrepancy, explain your experience of the situation, and ask for a raise.

      1. Shabu Shabu*

        Very true!

        I heart my boss and I agree, no malice intended…I just found out less than 48 hours ago, so I think I’m still being a bit reactionary :)

  28. Good_Intentions*

    Weird dynamic between supervisor and CEO

    Background: I’m an independent contractor working several states away from the headquarters of my employer. I am five weeks into a four-month contract to oversee programs in a key election swing state in this year’s election cycle and build relationships for next year and beyond. My direct supervisor is the field director, who reports to the national director and the CEO.

    Situation: The field director and the CEO each provide me with contradictory information on who to contact, the organization’s relationship with various contacts, and the best means of sharing information.
    Example: Saturday, the CEO and I attended an association meeting to ask for funds to expand our current outreach efforts in this important election state. The field director told me to email the CEO Thursday evening to confirm what information he needed from me, meanwhile, he wanted to schedule three telephone calls and an hour-long meeting prior to the association presentation to discuss the status of the statewide outreach. This threw me for a loop, and I asked the field director about it earlier this week. Her response was to ignore the CEO and just report to her.

    Questions: How do I navigate this without upsetting the applecart? Is there anything I can do from this distance and short timeframe to address the office communication issue?

    Thanks for any input you care to provide!

      1. Good_Intentions*

        Cat Steals Keyboard:

        This week is was confirmed that information shared with me by the CEO and the field director doesn’t align.

        In particular, the discussion of outside partner agencies working toward a similar goal is a sore spot for the CEO because of competition for credit, funding, placement of employees, etc. However, the field director softens her approach to the point of undermining the CEO’s concerns.

        This troubles me because he’s the CEO and founder of the organization but also because he’s 60+ and she’s in her mid-20s.

        Hope that answers your question.

  29. a definite beta guy*

    I finally have a new job!

    The offer came Tuesday at lunch. After a brief chat with Wifey, I called back and accepted. Pending some background checks and we’re good. :)

    This feels….oh god, incredible. Probably 2nd greatest day of my life. And that’s even forfeiting 34 days of PTO(almost 2 full years…out of 4 years of working here!)

    I do Teapot Receivable. 5 months in, our CFO directed a huge new initiative to improve cash flow. After about 2 solid months of 70 hour weeks with another colleague, we finally got this new program up in place. But we had to let another goal fail, by which I mean, we achieved 95% completion of 100% completion.

    At our year-end reviews, we were docked point for only reaching 95% completion on Goal 2 for those 2 months. We received no credit for the CFO’s inititaive: as explained, it wasn’t part of our goals set at the beginning of the year. So we couldn’t receive credit.

    Should have quit on the spot!

    It has only been worse. We were told we need to escalate problems: we were also told we needed to fabricate reports to show movement and that everything was moving swimmingly. We were sat down by team leads and had our comments edited in front of us: during these hour-long tirades, our team leads would edit one of their own comments, and berate us for ever writing something so stupid.

    We were told we needed to ask for help: I had it written in my goals that I was supposed to NOT ask for help.

    We were told we needed to prioritize: our team leads created a priority list where half the items were high priority. Realizing this was stupid, they revisited this list and relabeled some projects SUPER high priority. This year, we were asked to “prioritize the prioritizing of the priorities.”

    We were told we needed to cut down on our time reporting: we were then given 2 more reports to do.

    We were told we needed to support and utilize our offshore, outsourced team: we were then told to take back work because it turned out we needed to actually pay them to do work.

    I know not to think the grass is always greener. But in this case, I think the grass might actually be greener, if only because I stand not so much ongrass, as the charred remains of Chernobyl.

    1. The IT Manager*

      But in this case, I think the grass might actually be greener, if only because I stand not so much on grass, as the charred remains of Chernobyl.


    2. Drew*

      I feel your pain on the “all priorities are top priorities” front. I have had to sit my CEO down and explain that I can work on any one of the items on the list of things that must be done RIGHT NOW, but I can’t work on all of them simultaneously; he has to choose or he has to back off and let me prioritize them myself, and he doesn’t get to second-guess me if that’s the choice he makes.

      It’s a work in progress. CEO has a problem sometimes understanding that we don’t all see the big picture he sees and can’t act on knowledge we don’t have. He also often fails to explain the difference between “this is a problem” and “this is a *systemic* problem.”

      Fortunately, I recently checked several of those top priorities off my list — seriously, it’s been a fantastic couple of months on the Shit-Getting-Done front — so now I’m on some longer-term projects and can handle the immediate needs as they come up.

  30. Anon111*

    I have reached the final stages of an interview process for a job I’m really excited about. During the initial phone screen, the hiring manager asked what my salary expectations were, and, afraid of pricing myself out of consideration, I lowballed myself a little and gave a single salary figure (not a range) of $85,000. After having gone through the process, I get the feeling that the budget probably skewed a bit higher, but specifics of the salary have not been mentioned since then. My question is, if I am lucky enough to get an offer and they offer me exactly what I asked for, would it be appropriate at all to negotiate and ask for, say, $90? The truth is I’d accept it at $85, but the job is a very, very significant increase in responsibility and commute for me, and I don’t want to end up feeling underpaid a year in because I handled the negotiation badly.

    1. Dawn*

      Yeah that’s fine, cause she asked at the beginning when you didn’t know anything about what the job entailed. Now that you have the full picture, you can absolutely go back and say hey, based on what I now know about the job and the responsibility involved, I’d like to see $XX salary.

    2. fposte*

      I think there’s some wiggle room at this point. “Having learned more about the job through the process, I’d like to ask for $90k. Is there room for that?”

  31. Cruciatus*

    There had been signs leading up to this week, but early this week I just hit a wall with how much I don’t like what I’m doing (and it isn’t helped by I don’t like the office management). I’m still doing what I need to but absolutely ready to get out. Has anyone else had that happen where all of a sudden you’re like “THIS SUCKS!” Nothing is too awful in the grand scheme of things, but I’m just over being an administrative assistant. Faculty are un-teachable to new things (ironic), I just can’t get excited about setting up student evaluations for instructors and then transferring that information into spreadsheets later (or any of the other things I do). I’m spread way too thin with more work being added. It’s a mix of just everything and on Monday I was just so over all of it. Thought the feeling would fade after I gave it a few days but no. I’m so ready to get out of this office. I knew the feeling was there but the intensity of my dislike for my job earlier this week surprised me a bit! I’m really hoping this other job I’m applying to on campus will get me out of administrative tasks I no longer want to do and doing something that is more interesting to me. No advice needed about this particular thing (yet)! but just had to express this feeling I had all week. Whew. Maybe the weekend will chill me out a bit.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yep. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

      Changes and more changes.
      No chance of moving up or laterally here because I don’t have any experience in the industry we serve.
      Admins going on mat leave / being out for holidays, leaving less of us to cover the front desk lunch, which means we have to do it more often. No fix there (thanks, management).
      BEC mode with this city.

      Thank God it’s Friday.


    2. EyesWideOpen*

      Been there and done that as well. I am currently trying to decide if I should move on from being an assistant and try and find a position up the food chain.

  32. Journal Entries*

    My husband has been a stay at home dad for the past 5 years and is looking to re-enter the workforce now that our son is in school, but he needs a job where he can still do the bus drop off/pick up and take days off for school holidays and sick days because I can’t. Is there anything out there? Any ideas at all? He has a degree in Philosophy (I know) and previously worked at Borders for 10 years before it closed. Thank you all in advance for any help.

    1. Leatherwings*

      Sounds like he probably needs to start with something part time because that much flexibility is going to be hard to come across in retail or entry-level jobs without a bit more recent work history.

    2. Little Missy*

      What about substitute teaching in his son’s building or school system? He could contact the school administration office about getting credentials (they usually require a transcript and criminal background check, at the minimum and it might be more stuff, depending on which state you live in).

    3. JK*

      Could he apply for a job at the school? The days off should theoretically align then, including summers.

      I work part-time, and have since I had kids. My jobs have always been flexible with allowing me to switch the days I work when there is a school holiday. My career was in non-profits in before I went part-time, but I generally find that it’s a good industry to look for part-time work. Many non-profits are open to part time as a cost-saving measure, and/or offer flexibility as a concession to non-profit salaries.

      The really difficult thing for me has been summer care, which I found to be prohibitively expensive. Just something to keep in mind before he accepts a job, if you haven’t priced camps in your area.

    4. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      There are a fair number of work from home positions he might be a fit for, depending on how long it takes to do drop off/pick up.

    5. Sybil Fawlty*

      How about starting his own business? I’m not sure what skills he has, but it might be workable. I really like the flexibility of it, and I have a spouse with a demanding, inflexible job.

      There are so many options and supports for people who want to start businesses (not grants, usually). You could look up Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and they are great at reviewing business plans, addressing financing, etc.

      1. SeekingBetter*

        Me too. I actually preferred it over Barnes & Noble. As for finding work where there’s a degree of flexibility, I would have to agree with the other readers and see if there’s a nice remote position he can get or a part-time position with a daytime schedule.

  33. WS*

    I posted in last week’s open thread about my paycheck being delayed. Turns out everyone’s paychecks were delayed until Monday due to “technical issues”- which would be a lot more believable if I hadn’t overheard the owners talking about how the timesheets got submitted to the payroll company too late to be processed on time. So it looks like I’m definitely job hunting now. I can’t work somewhere where I’m not guaranteed that my paycheck will come through on time.

    (Also I posted a couple weeks back about being worried that our accountant was going to cause problems with my invoices after my boss started asking me to monitor her work. She’s definitely “losing” my invoices now- luckily I’m supposed to get emailed copies of everything she processes or sends out for me, so it’s easy to track when it’s happening and follow up with her directly. But since she knows I’m going to follow up, that honestly that just makes the whole situation so much pettier. I can’t wait to be out of this place.)

  34. Stephanie*

    Hello! I’ve been posting somewhat sporadically, so I thought I’d check in.

    Grad school has been good so far, but incredibly busy. It’s a bit tough getting used to being a student again, but I find I actually find these more interesting than undergrad. It does seem like they treat you like more of an adult. I was in a C++ class and found it was time-consuming and not that interesting or relevant to what I was doing (I don’t mean that as a ding to the SWEs on here :) ) and my advisor was like “I mean, you can drop a class if you want. It’s not undergrad where you HAVE to be in everything, especially since you’re here to research.”

    Some things have come back from my undergrad engineering classes, some have not. I have completely forgotten how to use CAD, so I had to start relearning that on my own.

    Aaaand recruiting has started. I had sort of forgotten that until a friend texted me saying he was recruiting for his own company and wanted to meet for dinner.

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        If you were around her more you’d have read about those grad school projects. ;)
        Anyway sounds like things are going good for you, I’m happy to hear that.

    1. fposte*

      Stephanie! Good to hear from you. Sounds like it’s going well, with a few expected transition pains :-). I like the sound of recruiting starting up–time for you to get sought after.

      1. Stephanie*

        I am actually leaving my desk now to head to a recruiting lunch. College hire recruiting is way less stressful, ha.

    2. Stephanie*

      An addendum to my post. So I mentioned there are a lot of group projects. I struggle a bit with defaulting to doing more of the “soft” parts (I’m in an engineering graduate program). I’ve always gotten feedback that I’m a good writer and being in industry for a bit before returning to school, I’m definitely used to less technical work and more report writing, etc. Thing is, I do worry that if I always default to “Oh, I can edit the report”, then I leave my (technical) masters program with not much to discuss in terms of headier technical stuff. There’s a high percentage of international students in my department, so sometimes it can be like “Er, I need to work on this just to improve the syntax and grammar. I can’t turn this in like this.” I know as I advance in a role/company, being able to communicate ideas is important, but seems like it would be less so for the entry-level jobs and internships I’m considering at present.

      (This wasn’t really a question, just more something I’ve been pondering the last couple of weeks.)

      1. CheeryO*

        I had the same experience, and I sort of regret not forcing myself deeper in the technical stuff in group projects – it’s partially why I left my first job after grad school (very much a design/hard technical skills job) after six months and ended up in a softer government position. I like my job now, but it’s food for thought if you’d like to end up doing highly technical work.

      2. nerfmobile*

        Communicating ideas is critical at any level. In engineering, you have to talk to QA and project managers and tech writers and so many other people who may not understand the engineering reasons behind decisions but will respond to other conversations about value and intent and performance expectations. I work for a large software development company and for our internship program, we require all the interns to develop a 5 minute presentation of their summer project that they present to their division. (They usually do longer presentations to the teams they worked with). From each division, the top X presentations are selected to present in one meeting to the CEO and senior VPs. You need great communication skills for that!

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          All of this. You just need to make sure this isn’t all your doing (and yes, unfortunately that may mean doing more than the other members of your team if you’re writing/editing and doing tech work) – you’ll be fine. Good luck, Stephanie!

    3. Audiophile*

      Recruiting already??? That’s awesome!

      You’re doing your MA right or is it an MS in Engineering?

      Glad it’s going so well. I hoping you’d post soon, since I remembered you posting about preparing for the drive to PA. How’d that go?

      1. Stephanie*

        MS in mechanical engineering. Yeah, they start soon here, so I feel like I can’t comment on too much that I’m doing, but my friend who recruits here claims that that’s common.

        It was long. And my parents were like “So….try to get a move package if you can next time or hire movers. We’re getting a bit old to move mattress into a third-floor walkup.”

        1. Drew*

          The last time I had friends help me move, I had a big sectional couch that I didn’t have room for in my new place. I offered it to any of my friends who wanted it.


          Finally, one friend said, “Drew, YOU don’t want your couch — why do you think WE want your couch?”

          So we left it by the dumpster. Where it sat until the next trash pickup. Apparently, NO ONE wanted my couch. (I still kinda miss it, though — best sleeping couch I’ve ever had.)

          And now I hire movers who won’t make value judgments about my furniture. ;-)

        2. Audiophile*

          That’s really fast. Now would be be recruitment for after graduation, an internship? That is very fast, you just started the program a few weeks ago.

          I bet it was long. How is the apartment?

    4. BRR*

      It’s great to hear from you. I’m glad to read your update is full of such positive news.

      I’m in such agreement that grad school was more interesting. I really likely being able to focus on subjects that would be used in the career path I was planning.

    5. SeekingBetter*

      Good to hear! Glad to hear you have been keeping busy. If I ever have a chance to become a full-time student again, I’m sure I would have that adjustment period as well.

  35. T3k*

    So, this a question about cover letter lengths in the tech industry. I was talking to a friend about it recently and I realized we had very conflicting information on what to do. Some say to keep it short (like a paragraph) while others say a page is fine. Any advice?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I have friends who work in the tech industry who say they don’t submit a cover letter at all and have no problems getting jobs. I work in schools, and I can’t imagine getting a job or even an interview without a cover letter, but I guess it varies by industry (or maybe even by geographic area?).

    2. CAA*

      I have only rarely gotten cover letters from applicants for my software dev positions. If you send one, and it is well written, you will definitely stand out! Anything up to a page is fine.

  36. Cruciatus*

    Relatedly, does anyone have advice for a university student advocate position? I’ve decided to go for it (if you read me in last week’s post). I’m having trouble bringing my Master’s in sociology degree into my cover letter. I feel it’s important, especially since I don’t have specific at-risk student experience (though I have lots of every day general student experience). They say a mix of education and experience is accepted with just a BA needed. Should I leave it out? I can’t make it sound totally natural. I feel like I’m giving more a lesson on sociology and explaining why students could have reasons they are at-risk. Maybe it’s less important I know they whys and explain more on the hows of how I can help? I’m torn because I feel like my degree can actually help me here.

    1. Nynaeve*

      Could you just say something like, “My master’s degree in sociology has given me insight into the complex factors that affect students’ ability to be successful in college”?Then talk about the practical aspects, the how.

      Good luck!

    2. Chaordic One*

      I’m not sure how to verbalize this, but perhaps you could put in something about being an advocate for “diversity and inclusion” and talk about how you could and would advocate for at risk students (I assume you mean things like women in fields of study where they are under-represented, as well as for racial minorities, LGBT students and for physically handicapped students).

      Emphasize your education and what you want to do in the job and how that would help the students and the school. Even if it doesn’t feel natural, sometimes you have to spell it out for your audience and make what should be obvious, even more obvious.

  37. Mimmy*

    Recently I signed up with a vocational rehabilitation program for a brief assessment with the goal of figuring out where my skills are at and to begin to figure out a career plan, at least in the short term. I’m waiting for a start date but I am getting a little nervous because, since it is a government-run program, I am sure that a lot of the advice I’ll hear will be counter to what I’m comfortable with as well as what I’ve learned here at AAM. Why am I doing this, you ask? Because this is the only form of help I’ve been able to successfully secure (I know, I know….).

    Any advice in balancing their advice with what I’m comfortable with? Everyone seems to be very helpful and my case coordinator seems genuinely excited to see me get back to work because of the skills and passion she has seen from me. I think because of some of the discomfort I’ve felt in the past from their strategies, I’ve come across as resistant. Not in a “ungrateful client” kind of way, just hesitant.

    I probably *do* know my potential – which is much higher than I’ve allowed myself to reach – I just need some guidance in coming up with a plan and not shooting myself in the foot.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Are you on the job track or the retraining track? I found the retraining track to be much better for long-term goals; the job track seems to not care WHAT you do as long as you’re employed. For the retraining track, at least in the agency here, they really put most of the burden on you to choose what you want. I still got really absurd suggestions, like over-the-road truck driver training (hahahahaah NO).

      It helps if you kind of know what you want to be doing. If you need more info about particular careers, I found this Bureau of Labor Statistics handbook very helpful.

      1. Mimmy*

        My program is specifically for people with vision impairments, and is through a separate agency in a SEPARATE department, which makes no sense whatsoever, but I digress… So I don’t know if my program has such tracks. Something for me to keep in mind to ask though!

        I have seen that OOH handbook, it does have a lot of good information, even if the information is a bit generic.

        1. Chaordic One*

          My experience and advice is pretty much the same as what Elizabeth has said. The only thing I would add is, if you are on a retraining track, look into whether or not there is a really a market for the skills you would be learning where you live.

          I’ve seen so many people retrain for careers that just don’t seem to exist in very large numbers, they’re unable to get a new job with their new certificates and then they get even more discouraged. Understandably so.

  38. Adlib*

    My supervisor and I are a very small team of two trying to run a pilot program for our marketing and BD departments. We’ve asked for as much input as possible from all parties so that we build buy-in from users and make it the best system we can.

    However, yesterday my supervisor received a nasty email from one of the marketing directors with lots of caps and demands. She copied her entire team. This lady has a habit of being a bully and overreacting when she feels threatened, and she has been a problem for us in the past. She definitely treats people according to their title in a bad way (junior v. senior). (The issue is that the system we are testing is “threatening” to replace the non-system she put in place that none of the users like. They refuse to give her feedback because of her tendency to be petty and vindictive.)

    The global VP of our company has helped my supervisor come up with ways to be diplomatic and work around this lady. However, I feel that this latest email was completely out of line and should be brought to her boss’s (the global VP) attention. My supervisor seems to have handled it okay with sending a diplomatic email about wanting her input and to please not send out any emails like that without talking to her first. I doubt my supervisor will want to take it to the VP, but this is just the latest in a long line of unprofessional, berating talk and/or emails from this director.

    What would you all do? This director has not attended ANY of the sessions where we ask for input even though she is copied on all correspondence and knows when the meetings are. I feel like even though I may tell my supervisor to take this up the chain, she may not.

    1. Good_Intentions*


      Goodness, your workplace is drama-filled!

      I don’t know that escalating the situation to the Global VP is a good idea.

      Although the marketing director sounds difficult and unprofessional, it might be worth it in the long run to continue to include her on the emails but do what you know works best for your program. It’s unfortunate that she’s being so deliberately resistant to positive changes to the existing offerings.

      Please be patient and know it’s Friday!

      Just a few more hours til the weekend!!!

      1. Adlib*

        Thank you, Good_Intentions!

        So far, the meeting we had today where she was involved went well since we didn’t delve into areas that would cover “her” stuff. My supervisor has actually found a constructive way to bring the issue (not necessarily the problematic behavior) to the VP so that we get where we need to be on things. So hopefully we don’t have to have any more unintentional confrontations with her!

  39. Anon222*

    I’m a new HR Manager, graduated in 2015, heading up an HR department for a small-ish company (80 employees). I’m finding that I don’t really have that much work… I only started in April so maybe people just aren’t used to me yet? I feel like I have a great handle on the administration portion, a lot of my time has been spent on boarding and recruiting in large batches so that can take up a lot of my time. But now I’ve finished creating new policies, edited the manual, and organized Health and Safety… is this normal with a new department or should I be concerned? Should I talk to my boss and if so… what do I say? I find myself completely unmotivated, lethargic and just distracting myself… I feel like a fraud!

    1. Leatherwings*

      Definitely talk to your boss. Are there things you think you should be doing, but people in the org aren’t bringing them to you, or is it truly that there are slow periods?

      If it’s the former, reference specific examples if you can and ask for advice on how to deal with situations like that to get more work. If it’s the latter, I would brainstorm a few longer term projects and bring them to your manager to get feedback. They might have other ideas of projects to do, but this will provide a starting point for the conversation.

      I also work in a job where there are slow periods, and I find myself getting really lethargic and lazy and it’s hard to jump back into the work when it does come along. I’ve found that keeping myself busy keeps that at bay pretty well. It’s not that I dislike my work, it’s just that I get out of the swing of things. So find a way to keep yourself in the swing of things, even if it’s a small project. Good luck!

      1. Anon222*

        Thanks for the advice! I spoke to my manager, asking if there were additional jobs, explaining what I’d like to do towards the end of the year, and he didn’t think were any other major jobs he’d want done in that time either…

        However, he did ask if I’d be willing to extend everything I’ve done to our other independently operated branches. We spoke about this when I first started and I said it would take a few years whereas he was hoping for only 1-2. Hopefully it’s a good sign that we both feel I’m ready for this next step earlier than anticipated…

  40. Fabulous*

    Still waiting for my job to come through. It’s been a little over a month since they told me I was for sure going to be hired on. Today would have been the end of my contract, but they’ve extended it through the end of the month while HR continues to slug around on the details. On a good note – they only extended through the end of the month, so they apparently anticipate things will be taken care of by then, so woohoo!!

    What are the chances that they’ll pay me retroactively at my new rate from when they were initially SUPPOSED to process my onboarding before the organizational delay?? LOL

  41. Christina*

    I found out my old boss was just let go/quit rather than take a demotion. I’m torn between feeling like karmic justice was served and feeling bad for her.

    This boss was *awful.* Treated me like crap for 8 years, played favorites (to the point of giving one of our team members–her church/water aerobics buddy–a birthday present in the middle of the office), didn’t manage at all, wouldn’t let me do the parts of my job I was good at (the only thing I managed to excel at despite her, and get my name on, were the things she didn’t understand how to do).

    In the past year, 75% of her team (including me) quit. I (and at least one other team members) had told her new boss about the problems with her, and I think this new boss was in a tough position of not knowing how much to believe, or to know if it was as bad as we said. I was ready to quit with no other job lined up because of her–and did (though I had something nearly finalized when I gave notice, and it’s been great so far).

    In the three exit interviews I did–with her boss, another director, and our VP–they all asked me what she could actually do, and I told them give her a job doing reports and writing plans, and she would be fine. But she can’t handle being in charge of anything, and listed reasons and examples. They all agreed with all of it, and the VP actually apologized to me for letting it go on as long as it had, and indicated that there would be organizational changes coming soon to that effect. They all asked if there was anything they could do to keep me, but at that point it was a bit too little, too late.

    I found out this week that they created a position above her, and she wanted it but they told her no and said her options were either to report to this new position as a regular staff member, or to part ways. She decided to leave.

    Oh well, I’m in a great new job and wish her well.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Being a manager may not have been the best thing for her, but she handled it really badly, so while your sympathy makes you a really nice person, her situation is definitely on her.

  42. TheLazyB*

    My line manager is off on maternity. I wish her maternity cover person could stay instead :(

    It’s 6 months till she’s due back but it really hit me this week that current LM will have to leave (although I hope she finds another post internally) and I’ll have original LM back.

    Also, my depression and anxiety are playing up, and I cannot stop comfort eating, so that sucks.


    1. Kat_Map*

      Oh, I was in a similar situation a few years ago. My manager went on maternity leave, so it was just the assistant manager flying solo for a year. Turns out the assistant manager was able to really excel and create some great improvements in our department. I was dreading the day my manager came back — it had been so nice and productive without her micro-management. She ended up getting let go a few months after she came back.

  43. Snappin and Trappin*

    All week I’ve been daydreaming about either quitting, snapping on my boss or annoying coworker, or just throwing some type of work-related fit. My patience keeps getting tested. Clearly, I’m ready to get out of here but with the way this job search is going, it feels like it’ll be forever. *sigh

  44. Nervous Accountant*

    Tax season is 3/4ths done. Corp deadline was yesterday. Four more weeks and 2015 will finally be over!!!!

    I worked on Saturday and as much as it sucked cz it was 95degrees out and our stupid building doesn’t turn on AC in summers, it was also super awesome because I made a huge dent in my work.
    As a result, I was super extra productive this week.

    On a down note, creepy coworker brushed against me as he was walking to his desk. There was PLENTY of room for him to go thru w/o touching but yet he did. I’m disgusted by him, but Im not even mad because I had a great week otherwise.

  45. OfficeVibe*

    Anyone here have an employer that uses OfficeVibe? Do you think it’s useful? Are the questions relevant? Have you seen positive changes as a result of its use? Is it really anonymous?

    I’m an individual contributor in a company with a dysfunctional culture. We recently started using it as part of a push to ameliorate cultural problems like lack of communication and lack of trust between management and other employees. The trouble is that I completely distrust it. It’s supposedly anonymous but asks really probing questions, like asking you to rate your happiness at work from 1 to 10, or whether you’re happy with your salary. It also asks questions that seem irrelevant like whether you eat breakfast every day. I want my company to have a better culture, but I’m struggling to see if this is a useful tool or a dumb, expensive gimmick. ($4 PEPM = almost $15,000/yr for a company of 300!)

    1. Two-Time College Dropout*

      I worked in a department where the culture was in the toilet thanks to a chain reaction of awful management decisions.

      Leadership tried several “employee engagement” projects like what you’re describing. Most people couldn’t be bothered to take the weekly surveys (or they had so much to do that they didn’t have time to complete them) and nothing seemed to change anyway– the boss would get frustrated that any given engagement effort wasn’t a quick fix, abandon it after a few weeks, move on to the next one, lather, rinse, repeat.

      The surveys did keep everything totally anonymous …but if, say, Sam has a distinct writing style or Alex is the only employee who hates the chocolate quality control process, it might be obvious who had written a particular comment.

      IMO, giving each employee a $50 bonus on their birthday/hire date anniversary/whatever would cost the company about the same and probably do as much or more to improve morale.

      1. OfficeVibe*

        Thanks for your response. My workplace has cycled through several different programs and initiatives in an attempt to improve morale too. Several coworkers have expressed to me that they don’t plan to take the surveys because they don’t think the surveys are anonymous and are afraid to give negative feedback. So this might fall by the wayside just as it did in your company.

        I totally agree with you about the bonus. It seems totally clear to me that morale problems here are largely attributable to our below-market pay and terrible benefits, and seeing the company spend money on surveys instead of providing employees with anything tangible is probably … not helpful.

  46. Pug Lover*

    What do you all consider a good 401K match? My current company matches up to 6 percent, which seems pretty good for our city and region.

    Similarly, we get some other “good” benefits, including 30 days of PTO (sick and vacation are in the same bucket), one day per year off to do volunteer work, and tons of work at home options. Ive been job hunting outside of the company for awhile now and cant seem to find any comparable benefits at the other companies Ive interviewed with. Just trying to benchmark my corporate company against others’ experiences.

    Our health insurance is a HDHP plan and general sucks but that seems to be the norm at least in my area.

    1. Leatherwings*

      In my industry (nonprofit in a big city) 5-6% is considered solid.
      30 days of PTO + wfh seems really good too.

    2. Hibiscus*

      I get 4% match, no waiting period once you sign up for the program. That 4% is on all overtime, bonuses, salary, pay, etc that comes from the hospital.

    3. Not Karen*

      Yeah, your current benefits sound better than average. Mine are slightly better than yours and they are considered super better than average.

      I generally hear of 401k matches of 4-6%.

    4. SL #2*

      I’m at a mid-sized nonprofit in a large city! I get a 3% match and 5% base contribution from the company after 2 years, a flexible 9/80 schedule, and 22 PTO days. My PTO time will bump up to 27 days next year, when I hit my 2-year mark. We also get pretty good HMO insurance, which covers medical, dental and vision.

    5. asteramella*

      I get a 50% match of up to 4% which is pretty low. Your benefits sound great, particularly the amount of PTO. You may have to look at which benefit is least important to you and think about lowering your expectations for that one.

    6. Beezus*

      Mine is 4.5%, but it’s not a match, they deposit it whether you contribute or not. A portion of that (about half) is in company stock. There’s also a profit sharing contribution you start earning at 18 months-2 years that generally works out to another 4-5% – that part is not guaranteed, but never stopped during the recession, so it’s a pretty sure thing. The only downside is that the whole shebang is deposited only once a year, so if you leave, you get nada for the period since the last deposit (that’s why it’s not a match).

      I’d consider a 5% match or better to be “good”.

    7. Two-Time College Dropout*

      My company contributes 1% even if the employee doesn’t contribute anything, then matches 100% of the first 3% and 50% of the next 2%. So if an employee contributes 5%, the company contributes 4%.

    8. Chaordic One*

      My last employer, a mid-sized nonprofit, made a contribution of 3% no matter what.

      But you had to set up a 403B account for the money to be put into and there were a surprisingly large number of employees who didn’t do so even though I begged them to.

  47. Finman*

    After my requisition to add a new employee sat on my bosses desk for 10 days, he finally signed it. The reason he signed it, we were working on a presentation and a pasted picture was coming up blurry (screen shot of a pdf), and he had to manually recreate the data into Excel so it would paste nicer.

  48. To Get a Master's?...*

    People in business intelligence – database/warehouse development – DBAs – Hadoop admins/developers – anything related to big data stuff:

    I work for a state university doing data warehouse admin/development type work. I’m working on learning Hadoop and trying to focus on more data management/system admin type stuff (as opposed to reporting/data analysis, which I’m not very good at nor do I enjoy). Do you think it’s worth it to get a Masters degree focusing on business analytics? My university offers such a degree, and it seems to be sort of a general “analytics” type degree that covers business practices, some statistics, IT management, and the type of work I’m already doing. I would be 100% reimbursed, however I’d have to maintain a B average to do so, which means taking only one course semester (I just can’t handle anything more with a full time job and a toddler). So it would likely be 3-4 years before I’d graduate. Do you think the time invested in this is worth it? Are master’s degrees in this field seen as a help, a hindrance, or just neutral? Thanks for your input!

    1. Dawn*

      If you’re on the developer side, no it’s probably not going to add anything to your career. It can be a good thing for a Business Analyst who wants to move into higher management and make decisions based off of BI or who wants to get into business consulting, but if you’re just a developer… honestly just get better at being a sysadmin.

    2. Alice*

      If you’re working on research data management (as opposed to, I don’t know, the in-house administrative systems?), there’s an excellent webinar series happening this fall on big data in biomedicine. I’ll post the link in a reply. I think NIH is ahead of NSF and other funders in terms of pushing data management, so even if you’re not on the medical side now it could be good to position yourself for a move.

  49. Amy the Rev*

    Anyone have a good script to use when following up after an interview? I had a 3rd round interview about a week ago, and in case I don’t hear from them in another week or so I’d like to follow up, but not sure how to do that without coming across as impatient or naive about timelines. (I did ask in the interview about their timeline for next steps, but their only answer was ‘we’re just about finishing up our search process’)

    1. Leatherwings*

      This might be controversial, but I actually think that’s way too soon to follow up, and I generally think that follow ups are unnecessary.

      Thank you notes after the interviews are always important, and after that if they want to hire you they will. Two weeks is a pretty short timeframe anyways, and the only thing you can do is ask about an updated timeframe. Since they gave you a non-specific one in the interview I think that sort of signals that they don’t have a hard deadline that they’re going to share, and following up after that seems a bit fruitless.

      1. Amy the Rev*

        Thanks, that’s helpful- the only reason I wanted to follow up in the first place is that my mentor suggested that I do if I don’t hear from them in 10 days or so…it’s my first career track (ministry) job, though, so all I have had to go by was the advice of other ministers in my social/professional circles…personally, I’m more inclined to just wait it out

        1. Cat steals keyboard*

          Don’t do it!

          They know you applied, they know you interviewed, they haven’t just, like, forgotten. Following up like this is a bad idea!

  50. Ella*

    I’m in a decent company but working for a very challenging manager. I’ve now been here a year and was hoping to perhaps find another role in another department. Any tips on how to network or connect with others and branch out, to put myself in a position for another role? I’ve never done it in the same company but I have a good reputation and others know my manager is challenging (I’ve been told many times ‘I don’t know how you do your job’ and ‘you could be doing so much more’). Thanks!

    1. Leatherwings*

      Ask people out for coffee! If there’s a specific department or manager you want to get to know, say something like “Hey, I’m really interested in the work you do over in X department. Would you be interested in grabbing coffee next week to tell me a little more about what you do?”

      At this point, you have a good reputation in the company and just need to network more I think. That way, when a job opening comes up you’ll be well positioned to talk to the appropriate people about it, and they’ll already know you’re good at your job and interested!

  51. EfficiencyAppreciated*

    Is it appropriate for me to implement a particular process for people, including my supervisor and the director of the department, to fill out a form or enter into a shared spreadsheet updates to data that I manage? Right now the updates are just emailed to me. That’s a little cumbersome for me because if I’m reading my email when I’m not at my desk or I just don’t have time to process the email right away, then I end up hunting through my email for them and going back and forth between that and the current spreadsheets where the data is tracked. And I usually need to follow up on the updates in some way, so it isn’t just a matter of recording them. I love email filters, but unfortunately, with these there is no common denominator that would let me filter them into a separate folder.

    Right now, the current process isn’t a huge deal, though there have been one or two email updates that I haven’t gotten into the current spreadsheets in a very timely manner because they got buried in my email. However, in the last 5 years, the number of these updates has grown exponentially and will likely continue to do so. I would like to get a system into place now so I’m not getting overwhelmed in the future. Also, I am a very visual person who likes to see everything laid out, so being able to go and see a list of 5 new updates that I need to follow up with and what type of follow up, though I know that I can’t necessarily require people to work with me in a certain way because of my work style.

    Using Google sheets, I could set up a shared spreadsheet that would send me an alert anytime it’s been updated so I could then follow up to find what’s missing. Or, the same thing could be done with a Google form – they fill it out and the response is added to a spreadsheet which alerts me to any new changes.

    Basically, I would be asking them to type it in a different place, instead of typing it in an email. They’re going to type it anyway, so would this be inappropriate or overstepping for me to do?

    1. Temperance*

      Adding an extra step wouldn’t be kosher at my org, especially data entry, but what if you set up an Outlook rule and folder for these type of updates, so they’d be easier for you to separate out and manage?

      1. EfficiencyAppreciated*

        It’s not an extra step, though. Instead of typing the information into an email, they’d type the same information into a spreadsheet or form. I think a form might make it seem less data entry-ish. The info they send me is never done in person or over the phone, always by email, if that makes a difference.

        I’d love to do a filter or rule, but there’s nothing that is similar from email to email and I get emails from these people all the time about other stuff, so it can’t just be based on their addresses.

        1. justsomeone*

          But you are essentially adding another step. You’re asking them to open another program and file to put the info in. They have to:
          1) remember to do this new thing
          2) find the file – annoying if it’s buried in sub, sub, subfolders
          3) open the file
          4) find the appropriate line to input the data
          5) input the data
          6) save the file
          7?) tell you there’s been an update

          And if they want to send you the updates from their phone it’s even more cumbersome.
          emailing is MUCH simpler from a pure number of steps
          1) open new email (because the email client is probably already open, and if not, very easily accessible)
          2) type update
          3) send email

          This kind of thing would not fly at my work. I’ve tried implementing similar things and there has been significant pushback.

          1. fposte*

            Yup. Not to mention find the instructions for the form, and make sure it’s for that form and not all the other forms, and then work around the difficulty when it turns out that those instructions are outdated or don’t work on your browser.

            Plus I would argue there’s a psychological difference between contact with an actual human and filling in a form, even if they’re both on the same screen, and that it feels like shifting the burden onto them in a way that isn’t a good look.

        2. Temperance*

          In my office, that would absolutely be an extra step. It is just Not Done here to ask someone to put info in a form or spreadsheet that they’d been emailing.

    2. fposte*

      That’s a culture question, so I would run the idea past your supervisor first. There’s a process we do that I would not allow such a change on, because high-level people report the way that’s comfortable for them and our job is to adapt to that; there are other processes where I could see doing it.

      1. EfficiencyAppreciated*

        Yeah, I can definitely see this, especially in a large organization. However, I work for a very small nonprofit. My department consists of six people – director, assistant director, 2 advisors (I’m one), & 2 teachers. The other advisor, the assistant director and director are generally the ones sending me this information.

        1. fposte*

          It’s not a size thing, though; if the expectation is that you are there to make their jobs easier, it’s quite likely that you’d be expected to take the information however they wish to get it to you.

    3. animaniactoo*

      Can you set your e-mail up so that the updates route to a separate folder? So that people would just have to make the subject of the email be “Data Update” for it to file itself? Or setup an alternate e-mail that people should send that update info to so that it all stays in one place?

      1. EfficiencyAppreciated*

        I thought of that, but I highly doubt that any of them would remember to use the right subject line every time. Which I can understand – I don’t know that I would remember, either.

        1. animaniactoo*

          On the other hand, you can ask them to try and see how it goes. Plus, it doesn’t have to be a single subject line, it could be whatever is most relevant for them.

          “Food safety stats”
          “Breakage stats”
          “Data analytics update”

          and you have rules that forward all of those to the correct folder for you.

          I would at least try doing that before saying “I want you to do it this other way” because then you’ll at least have shown that you attempted to organize it to work within the current system, and that didn’t work and it’s a problem as the amount of work increases.

        2. nerfmobile*

          Can you create a form/table in email that captures the information you want? Then send that email to them and ask them when they need to give you data, just reply to that message and fill out the table? You could then at least use rules to file it, and possibly even just be able to copy and paste the whole column into your spreadsheet, if you lay it out right.

    4. SortofManager*

      Sounds like it’s a great idea and a reasonable request. But, my rule of thumb tends to be, if you have to ask yourself if it might be overstepping, then it might be if you do it without your manager’s say/permission/pitching it to her first. Can you pitch the solution to your manager before building it and asking others to buy in?

    5. Cat steals keyboard*

      Why aren’t you just filing those emails in a separate folder when you read them or flagging them for follow up? Not being able to find them sounds like something you could easily rectify.

    6. Chaordic One*

      In my experience, while it certainly sounds reasonable to have other people add the information in shared spreadsheets, the reality was that it just created more headaches as the people adding the information didn’t always understand how to use the spreadsheet and they ended up typing over previous information, or “accidentally” deleting information or putting in the wrong column.

      I wouldn’t want other people messing with the spreadsheet and I’d recommend setting up folders to move the emails into, like several other commenters have suggested.

    7. BobcatBrah*

      We did that. We’ve got about 25 locations in our region and had a few different point people for a few different things that would compile our individual spreadsheets into a single spreadsheet after we emailed them the excel file. Google sheets made life much easier. That’s also how we schedule our vacation.

      I suppose it depends on the environment, though. Might want to run it by your boss if he’s going to be adding to the sheet as well.

  52. CareerChange*

    Hi – regular poster going anon for this question.

    I currently work for a large company, and while I like the work I’m doing now and my manager, I don’t like the overall company culture, or where my job is located. Normally I’d be job hunting but I’m also pregnant, and my company has a very generous maternity leave policy. So I’m sticking it out until after I return to maternity leave.

    My husband and I would like to relocate to be closer to family & have a lower cost of living, sometime after the baby is born. I’ve already talked to my manager & next level manager to give them a heads up, and figure out if it would be possible to transfer to a different role in that city, but nothing in set in stone. At the same time, I’ve been freelancing on the side and one of my clients would love to bring me onboard next year, but would need to start me out at PT due to budget.

    In my perfect world, I’d come back to my current employer PT, and also work PT for the freelance client, and then eventually leaving my current company and going FT at the client. The complication is that we really want to move, and I wonder if I should focus on trying to get a transfer, over trying to go PT. In my mind, I don’t see my company both allowing me to transfer jobs AND go PT in that new job, but maybe I’m wrong.

    So TL;DR questions – does anyone have experience transitioning from FT to PT in the same role/company? Should I focus on trying to get the PT arrangement or the job transfer?

    1. Gina*

      I don’t have a similar experience, but am weighing in anyway. :) Since it sounds like you wouldn’t be focusing on transferring to the exact same position in a different city, I don’t see the harm in putting your ‘perfect world’ scenario.
      “I know I’ve brought up my husband and my desire to transfer to XYZ city, and I wanted to talk seriously about what that would look like. What opportunities are there for part-time work?”

      And then go from there. If they say, “yeah let’s figure out this transfer BUT it’s FT only” – would you take it? It seems like the transfer is Priority 1, with PT work being Priority 2. But if the only acceptable solution for staying with this company is transfer AND PT-work, then I think if your company isn’t able to accommodate that, then you wait until after maternity leave to move and change jobs/companies.

      Just my two cents…. Interesting question! Good luck!

  53. Irish Em*

    Haven’t commented in a while, but I ‘ve been lurking. If this isn’t work-related enough, do let me know and I’ll repost tomorrow.
    This week I *actually* found some positions worth applying to, so yay for that. One of them was in Dusseldorf (I know I’m spelling that worng) in Germany, and I just would love if anyone here could advise on how to deal with my mother if I should get the job. I live in Ireland – with her – and I have no siblings and when my Dad passed away a few years ago, she basically switched from having a deeply unhealthy co-dependent relationship with him to having a deeply unhealthy co-dependent relationship with me, more or less on the day he died. At the time I was grieving, obviously, and so I didn’t really notice, but it’s more than five years on, I’m ready to move on with my life (which got put on hold when he was diagnosed) and she wants me to just stay at home and be the “good child” and “mind her” while she ages, and I just can. Not. Tolerate. That.

    Unfortunately for me, the fact that I let her ride roughshod over the merest whisper of any boundaries for so long means that establishing them now is a painstaking process. I get the feeling that I won’t be given a huge amount of time to decide, should I get the offer, (heck, should I even get called to interview) and Dusseldorf, while not a dream location for me, is high on the list of places I want to live in that are not Ireland. Do I just lay all the blame on “there’s no work in Ireland” and hope she can cope? I mean she LITERALLY states that she’ll sell the family home if I leave, and this is a house that has been promised will come to me in time, so, I am not cool with her selling out from under me while I try to earn a crust in the EU.

    (Also, I do know that the odds are I won’t even get the call, but I’d love you’re take on how to deal should this come up in the future. Again, if it’s too un-work-related I’ll take it down, just let me know.)

    1. Dawn*

      Go read Captain Awkward, that site is basically like AAM but for real life stuff. There’s about… oh probably a hundred different questions that are variations on your exact situation that have already been answered over there, and there’s some great scripts for dealing with manipulative family members who can’t deal when someone finally spreads their wings.

      1. Irish Em*

        I really thought I’d answered you earlier, when I replied to fposte, sorry!

        I really like Captain Awkward, I think it’s time I went back through the archives. Thank you for the rec!

    2. fposte*

      My problem is that you want two conflicting things–you want to be separate enough to get a job without being hassled (understandable) while still having her treat her house as something she needs to keep for you whatever, which just seems like more of the enmeshment that you’re seeing needs to end.

      I say let go of the house and live your life.

      1. Irish Em*

        That is a fair point. And the fact that she knows she can get an emotional response out of me when she threatens selling the house is my playing into her unhealthy codependency, too. That makes a whole lot of sense. Thank you, fposte!