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

          Seriously!

          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.

          THAT STUFF TAKES FOREVER, PEOPLE.

      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

      Whoa!!

      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

        This.
        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

        Tangenting…

        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.
      Jerk.

    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

          Congratulations!!!!

          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

        +1
        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: http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardtuschman/2012/08/24/using-volunteers-and-interns-is-it-legal/

  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 (plainlanguage.gov 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.

      LOL!

    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.

      Ugh.

    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.

          Silence.

          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. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

      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

      Adlib:

      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.

    [/rant]

    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

    Hiyes!
    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!

          1. Irish Em

            Yeah, there’s a huge amount of emotion attached to the house, but if it’s me or the house, then I have to choose me :(

        1. Rusty Shackelford

          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

          Then don’t give it to her. “Well, if you need to do that, I understand.”

      1. Irish Em

        It’s in my Top 10 of Places I’d Love to Live :)

        If I get the call, I’ll definitely pick your brain LOL

        1. Jessi

          I think one of the posters has hit it on the head with the comment about the house. Your mum may not choose to sell the house even if you move (people who struggle to be independent don’t tend to take on big scary tasks by themselves, and selling a house is a huge thing). However she could end up willing the house to non-you, as ‘revenge’ for you moving or even if you stay and make her cross. Currently the house is a threat she can hold over your head and get you to comply, don’t let it run the rest of your life

    3. OhBehave

      Good for you even thinking of detaching yourself from your mother! She is totally using the family home to get you to stay and let her control your life as she sees fit.
      You really have to start living your life for you. Just be aware that once she sees that her selling the home won’t dissuade you from going, she will switch tactics, her health, being alone, etc. Just don’t be surprised at what she throws your way!
      I am really hoping you get that job in Germany. Keep looking for those jobs and go for it.

  54. MissMaple

    I’m in a strange situation. I guess this isn’t really a question, just looking to write it out to someone other than my saintly husband.

    I took a new job a year ago and was not really what I was expecting. I’ve been trying to do well and make the best of it, but it was clear to me pretty quickly that it wasn’t a role where I could see myself long term (I’m very introverted and the job is basically program management). However, the team thinks I’m doing a great job and management keeps giving me great training opportunities and recognition. I feel like I’m struggling but they really like me.

    I’ve started job hunting for something that’s a better fit, but I feel horrible about it because I know how difficult it is for them to hire and because they like me so much.

    1. Lefty

      Would you feel comfortable giving longer-than-typical notice if your future offers allow it? Having that conversation now could let them know that you are open to helping them find your replacement and alleviating some of those feelings you’re having.

      Of course, since they like you so much- they may think this is a dialogue and try to keep you. You might have to prepare yourself to say, “Thank you for the offers, but I’ve found something that suits what I want as a next step. I’m able to stay on through X date, so what can I do to help with the transition?”

      1. MissMaple

        I’ve thought about this, but what I’ve seen when people give notice of any length is that they are basically shut out of all work. Also, there is a bit of pettiness around people willing to leave “the family” because many people have been here for decades. So no matter what I do, I think my notice period will be a bit unpleasant so I’m not looking to stretch that out.

    2. old newbie

      This sounds so much like my situation – also an introvert, also took a new job a year ago but in project management, and also did not see it as a good long term role. As the kids say today, you do you. They will survive without you. When the time comes, I hope you will be pleasantly surprised and things aren’t as unpleasant as you fear. Best of luck!

  55. Hlyssande

    I was just handed an envelope recognizing 10 years at this company yesterday. I never even wanted to stay five, but it’s a very comfortable rut with good benefits and mostly reasonable pay. Depression is butts and a comfortable rut is very hard to get out of even when you dislike the company. I’m well aware of the fact that I got super lucky that day when the temp agency called and asked if I could start that afternoon. I wasn’t laid off during the recession like so many and I’ve gotten good raises over the years.

    I’m not ungrateful, but I’m a little grumpy about the gift. The company they go through for their milestone gifts (you have a choice of merchants and can split up the amount between them) has a website that is down. There is no ETA according to the person I talked to on the phone. And if you redeem by mail, it’s a minimum of three weeks for processing.

    In addition to that, my company chose what options I could have, and the most useful (a visa gift card or something similar that could be used everywhere) is not on the list. Stuff is really tight at the moment and I could have used that. It would’ve taken the edge off my worries for my brother’s upcoming wedding in PA.

    Now I need to cancel my fancy salon appointment because there’s no way I’ll get the gift card for it in time since the website is going to stay down for who knows how long.

    GRUMP (but not ungrateful, they didn’t have to give me anything and I think it’s cool that they do it).

    1. Mirilla

      Well it’s good you are getting something at least, although I see your point. Where I work now we just had a girl with her 20th and she got nothing. I had to email the boss a reminder and he sent her a thanks email. I got no recognition for my 5 year either. Boss doesn’t care about that stuff but he should.

      1. Hlyssande

        Ugh, that sucks. For 20 years you’d think the boss would at least take her out to lunch or something! :(

        I work for a giant, well established industrial company that has been around for a very long time. They actually do fairly well at employee recognition, which I appreciate and know I’m lucky to receive. The issue with redeeming the gift is just…so annoying.

  56. Unsure

    First time posting here.

    I graduated from college this spring and have been working at my job for 2 months. One of the things my company does is support charity initiatives in the workplace. The bosses ask the employees and everyone gets to give input before the company donates.

    One of my (white) colleagues suggested a skin cancer charity. Another colleague, who is a WOC like me, objected because she said it’s a white person’s disease and then she went into a tirade about privilege and basically called the colleague who suggested it a racist. That colleague is a melanoma survivor.

    The colleague who objected was looking to me for support. I didn’t say anything but I wish I did. Even though I am a WOC and have a dark complexion I am also a melanoma survivor. I’m unsure what I should do. I don’t want anyone to think I supported the objecting colleague who I think was out of line, as she will have a turn to make a suggestion and because I don’t agree with her position or calling someone racist. She is still talking about racism in the workplace days later. Should I say something to my boss or the colleague who made the suggestion? I feel bad for not supporting her in the meeting.

    1. Temperance

      Wow. It sounds like your coworker is unhinged. Calling someone a racist for suggesting a skin cancer charity? That’s absolutely bananas.

      I would do whatever I could do separate myself from that wackjob. I think speaking up to your colleague and the person who was taking charitable suggestions is a good start. I would also distance myself from said wackjob, because you don’t want to get associated with someone who is so toxic. Calling someone a racist to shut her down for speaking about skin cancer is just one of the most messed up things I’ve heard yet.

    2. Leatherwings

      Oh god, what a crap storm. My advice is Do Not Engage in this dumpster fire, especially since you’re new. If you want, you can discreetly say something to your boss like “I wanted to let you know that I didn’t support some of the things Jane was saying, and I think X is a really good charity.” but that’s it. This is not something you want to wade into your first few months there.

    3. Trout 'Waver

      I don’t think you have anything to feel bad about for not supporting your colleague. Surely any rational person would see your coworker’s rant as grossly unprofessional and crazy.

    4. Kittens

      I wouldn’t say your coworker is crazy, just deeply misinformed in this one particular instance. If it were true that melanoma only affects white people (a clearly dangerous and inaccurate statement) then I could totally see where she was coming from (though her response was strong, I would be livid if money went to a charity cause that primarily affected white people). Unfortunately I can tell you as someone who worked in skincare for many years, there is an extreme amount of misinformation about how skin cancer/the sun in general affects darker skin tones. It’s awful because that myth kills. Is it possible to gently take her aside for a moment? At the very least it will let her know that she’s supported, and maybe she can learn something in the process too? But only if you’re comfortable.

      1. A Penny for your thoughts

        Calling someone racist, going on a “tirade” about racism and still going on about it way later is not being misinformed. It is awful and unprofessional behavior. I’m a POC and I would have been ashamed if I was there and not on her side.

        It is not anyone’s place to educate her. I always heard people say it’s not their job to educate people about issues and privilege. It goes both ways. From reading the post it’s not even her money that’s going to be donated, it is the company’s money (as OP notes that the company donates).

        She doesn’t get a pass for being a WOC and for being unprofessional about this. Especially since it’s a charity related to a disease. I don’t care if the disease affects only a single race. I know skin cancer can affect anyone but it’s not like the person suggested to the KKK. What if someone suggested a charity related to prostate cancer? Would that be shot down because it’s a men’s disease?

        Sorry you had to deal with that OP. I would recommend laying low when it comes to your unhinged co-worker. Maybe a say quick word to your boss that you don’t support such awful behavior, or to the colleague who suggested the charity that you are also a survivor. But beyond that since you are new I would leave it alone.

      2. Temperance

        Even though she called the woman who suggested it, who is a melanoma survivor herself, a racist for merely suggesting skin cancer as a cause? I honestly think that someone should say something to this woman’s supervisor, since she’s throwing around actionable accusations directed at a coworker. Unfounded accusations at that.

        I also really can’t relate to the idea that a charity that promotes a cause that is more common in white people should make someone “livid”. That’s just ridiculous, IMO.

      3. Unsure

        “I could totally see where she was coming from (though her response was strong, I would be livid if money went to a charity cause that primarily affected white people”

        Wow. I’m not white but I think that it’s awful you feel this way. There are many diseases that affect a race/group/gender more than others. It’s sad that you believe some people are less worthy than others. If I replaced “white people” with Black Lives Matter or a women’s shelter in your comment I bet you would be appalled.

        1. Kittens

          Oh my goodness no no no, sorry! This is a miscommunication. As I tried to explain below (maybe I bungled it? Typing from my phone) I think I was just trying to think about the racist history of charities that in effect exclude and oppress minorities, not not not at all suggesting that diseases effect every single population evenly or that anyone matters more than anyone else, or anything like that. No no no. Nothing like that! I’m not agreeing with her at all, I’m also a woman and a POC. Yikes, honestly, I wouldn’t be livid about a charity that helps people (who would be?), I would be livid about a racist charity and I was pointing to that as her motivation not excusing it or defending her. And I’m not saying she’s right! Just saying that’s the underpinning or her clearly inappropriate comments. I’m really sorry my comments read that way. Time to run away and die of embarrassment…

      4. Marisol

        I’m not white either and I think this comment is gross. If you are livid about a charitable cause that helps people you need to examine your attitude.

      5. Observer

        You would be livid? Really? I guess we need to stop all research on uterine and ovarian diseases, including cancers of those organs, which are absolute killers. And we should should stop all research on sickle cell anemia which primarily affects blacks, and breast cancer, which primarily affects women.

        Or is it just WHITES whose (supposed) diseases we’re not allowed to fund research for?

        1. Kittens

          Woah woah woah, guys, Sorry! I think there’s a disconnect here? Just trying to understand the co-workers perspective, not agreeing w her. I would totally be upset/hurt/angry if my coworkers suggested a charity that disproportionately helped only or primarily white people, because there is a long and ugly history of charities whose policies are in effect racist because they ignore or push out minority populations. That’s all I’m getting at. I don’t think I’m gross for Suggesting that that’s where she’s coming from and Couldn’t agree more that the woman’s behavior was out of line. And I’m certainly not suggesting OP owes anyone an education or is responsible for anything. Maybe I mistyped? Again as someone who worked in skincare and saw this myth perpetuated by teachers no less, I have personally taken people aside and gently corrected. That worked for me in the past which is why I suggested it, and said only if you’re comfortable.

      6. Kittens

        Amending here (then leaving it alone, again y’all, sorry), I really did mean to type I would be livid at a charity that helped white people **at the expense of minorities** not that helped white people, end of sentence. I’m typing on a crappy phone in a coffee shop, I honestly think I erased that line by accident. Just a typing error, not a racist manifesto I swear. I find as a rhetorical device that it’s easier to answer to statements like the coworker’s if I try to understand where they’re coming from, even if it’s dead wrong, which is why I said I would be livid if I believed someone was pushing for a charity that was, in my mind racist. We’re all on the same side here, I just deleted 4 words that in effect made me look like a monster when my intention was the opposite.

    5. Mander

      Wow. I’d maybe speak to the person who suggested it and maybe also the boss and make it clear that you don’t support or agree with what the other colleague says.

      Also double wow. Skin cancer affects people of every color. Where did she get the idea that it is only a white person’s disease? Maybe we get it more frequently but anyone can be affected.

    6. J

      Reach out to your colleague who made the suggestion to offer your support. It would have been nice to have your support in the meeting itself, however it’s not surprising that you may have been taken aback and temporarily unable to respond in the moment itself. Your co-worker is way out of line in her comments.

      Skin cancer impacts all of us, especially as the earth’s UV layer thins. This isn’t a “white person’s disease”. What a horrible thing to say.

    7. Alice

      While the incidence of melanoma is significantly higher in white Americans that black Americans, there are obviously still POC who are diagnosed with the disease. Even without discussing your own medical history, which is your business, you could share that info.

      What’s more, as Kitten says below, the misconception that POC don’t get skin cancer leads problems. Compared to non-Hispanic whites, black Americans have a lower relative survival rate at five years in most forms of melanoma.

      Some info sources: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/race.htm
      http://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-016-2747-6
      (no paywall)

      Now, it’s a lot easier to look up statistics than to deal with a coworker like this. My two cents — it doesn’t have to be your job, as a POC or as a melanoma survivor, to fix this. Your boss should be dealing with this. Were I the white colleague, I’d be supremely pissed off, but not with you.

      1. Observer

        I agree with this. nevertheless, discreetly telling the coworker and perhaps your boss (separately!) that you absolutely don’t agree with this other person, but were just too taken aback at the time to even think of responding would not be a bad idea. It really shouldn’t be necessary, the Madame Drama Lama has tried to pull you into this, so making it clear you want no part of it is a good idea.

        You don’t need to share your medical information. It’s enough that you just don’t support the crazy.

    8. an anon

      Your coworker is misinformed. While white people are about 20x more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma, people of color are more likely to be diagnosed at a much more advanced stage of melanoma and are more likely to die from it. Black people diagnosed with melanoma have the lowest survival rate by race overall. There is one type of melanoma that is much more common for darker-skinned people and in fact Bob Marley died of melanoma.

      The next time your coworker says something about racism in the workplace in reference to this specific incident, I think you should pull out the above facts. If she believes there is racism otherwise, that’s a different issue, but she is misinformed regarding this one specific incident.

      1. Talvi

        There is one type of melanoma that is much more common for darker-skinned people

        This one is acral lentiginous melanoma, iirc (melanoma on the palm of your hands, sole of your feet, or under your nails).

    9. TL -

      Your coworker may not realize that skin cancer can kill – the vast majority of cases (especially in white people) are basal or squamous cell carcinomas that are easily treated by removing moles.

      Melanoma is a far more serious disease but since it’s all lumped under skin cancer, it’s possible she doesn’t realize it’s a much more dangerous disease.

    10. BobcatBrah

      A WOC? Wacist of Color? Lol

      It’s totally messed up that she reacted like that. You ought to reach out to the cancer survivor coworker and let her know you support her (assuming that you actually do support the charity).

  57. Anonsy

    So I have a pretty good part time job at a non-profit. Background: Started as a temp after difficult job search then I was put on as a part time employee. I was a temp for about half a year and an employee for about 1.5 years. My supervisor has been trying to get me to be full time but it just isn’t in the budget. How much longer should I stay in a part-time job that may or may not be able to put me on full-time next year when the budget allows for it (that’s a maybe).

    1. misspiggy

      Exactly as long as it takes you to find a full-time job (assuming that’s what you want). Take Alison’s advice and act as if the job is never going to become full time.

    2. JLK in the ATX

      I’ve been in non-profit for 16 years. Assume it will never be a full-time job and if you need a full-time job or another part-time to make ends meet.. go forth and conquer.

      Budgets are approved annually by the Board of Directors. Ask when the Board will be approving the next fiscal year budget: Sept for Oct implementation; Nov/Dec for January implementation; June for July implementation are typical time frames with a few months work up time prior to; and if a full-time position is in the budget for their review.

      If it’s not in the budget, move on. If it’s in the budget and isn’t approved (which should be withing 1-2 mos of the BoD review), then move on. Rarely are budget adjustments made after approval and rarely are grants written for positions unless the position is truly mission critical and can be tied directly to clients.

  58. dear liza dear liza

    Do the new FSLA guidelines say anything about a *minimum* number of hours for people who are exempt and salaried? My boss is arguing that FSLA says you have to work at least 40 hours and are expected to work more.

    1. Pwyll

      Not that I know of. In fact, it’d be perfectly legal to classify a part-time employee as salaried exempt, so long as they meet the duties and salary test.

    2. fposte

      FLSA doesn’t apply to exempt personnel–that’s what “exempt” means. You can definitely be exempt while working under 40 hours per week. However, the salary threshold isn’t pro-rated for part-time, so a lot of people who are currently exempt part-time will fail the pay test come December and get reclassified.

  59. College Student Turned Professional

    I have a question about college recruiting. I’m a senior interested in non-profit work, but the hiring processes at small educational non-profits don’t do “cohort” recruiting (ie: recruiting now for positions that start in May 2016). The educational related programs recruiting now tend to be low stipend-based positions. However, the companies/organizations are recruiting on campus right now for May/June start dates. If I interview and accept one of these positions now, and then get my “dream” job in March of next year, is there anything I should be worry about, fallout wise? I’m going to assume that the bridge is burned, but anything else?

    1. Leatherwings

      Don’t plan on committing to something then continue to interview just in case. Yes, the bridge will be burned but it could also damage your reputation in the field. I work in nonprofits in a big city where there are lots of nonprofits, and I still run into the same people all over the place (even in nonprofits working on different issues). Don’t start your professional career by backing out of something, especially with a mission-driven organization.

      If you plan to do something like Americorps (which, full disclosure, I did and loved even though the stipend was a struggle), I think you need to really commit to doing it, not just use it as a backup option.

  60. TeaCupDesigner has found a job

    I finally found a job! After much more months of waiting than I anticipated, and definitely not at a job I expected I would land, I am now starting work in October with a new design firm.
    Frankly I am a bit scared, because no design firm likes to make statements about how much overtime it forces the employees to do (bosses like to claim work-life balance, friends like to claim life is tough), but like Allison says, you can’t judge a job from the outside, so I am heading forth with an open mind and a hopefully tougher mindset so that I don’t become complacent like in my last job.
    I gotten so comfortable in my last job that it was only when I tried applying for other jobs that I realised that at my experience level I actually required team management skills that I never tried to get! Now that I learnt this, I gotta start being more proactive in my next job. Wish me luck guys, I am headed into totally unknown territory!

  61. GeeLou

    I work in a tiny company (7 people) and the guy who is essentially the senior version of my role started together in May, so we’ve both not been here long. It’s just the two of us in our ‘department’. He has clashed with the MD on several occasions and this week he didn’t turn up to an event he was supposed to be chairing, and I stepped in. He then resigned pretty much within the hour, and I was asked to chair another event yesterday which went extremely well.

    I have a meeting with the MD next week, and I want to put myself forward for the senior role – but is it too soon, have I not been her long enough to suggest such a drastic promotion (it is a pretty big step up but I have been covering a lot of the work anyway even before he decided to resign – it’s one of the reasons he and the MD weren’t seeing eye to eye). How do I go about it?? >.<

    1. Drew

      I think you make the case exactly how you made it here. “I’ve been doing a lot of the senior role’s work anyway, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, and I’d like you to consider making that formal.”

  62. Annby

    I’ve been working as an adjunct lecturer, and I want to… not do that anymore. Because all of my work (or “work”) experience has been as a teaching assistant/grad student instructor during grad school and a lecturer after that, I have a l lot of overlap in my job descriptions. Does it make sense to consolidate these on my resume, even though the experience is in different places (many thousands of miles from each other)? Something like:

    Instructor
    University X (2011-2016), University Y (September 2016 – present)
    – Thing I accomplished
    – Another accomplishment

    1. Leatherwings

      Hm. I wouldn’t, actually. If the colleges were right down the road from each other, I think you could get away with it since so many adjuncts work at different schools, but I think it’ll look weird. It’s the same as if you work as an accountant in two different places, right? You wouldn’t list those together. Just because the job title is the same, the job and company isn’t.

      1. Annby

        Thanks! I’m struggling with it because I don’t want to put *too* much emphasis on a job that I don’t want to have anymore, but you’re absolutely right that if I had moved and taken the same type of job somewhere else I wouldn’t be considering combining them.

        1. self employed

          Yeah, I’d split them, too. It would look strange bc there’s no way you did 100% the same thing at two schools, so I’d worry you were hiding something or something off like that.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Because adjunct work is part-time and similar, I actually think it’s okay to do that. I don’t know how hiring managers in academia would feel about it, but I think you’re fine outside of academia.

      1. Annby

        Thanks, Alison! This is of course the counterpoint to my response to Leatherwings’s comment above: When I moved, I realized that (other than maybe the names and sizes of the classes) there was nothing I could say about the position at University Y that I couldn’t say about the position at University X. It doesn’t seem reader-friendly to list the same accomplishments or duties twice.

      2. Collie

        How might this work for two different jobs in which many duties overlap but not all? List both jobs twice with the duties doubled? List both jobs but list overlapping duties just once?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          There’s not much I’d do it with other than adjuncting. With most jobs, you’re going to want to list accomplishments more than duties, and those should be different for different jobs. Plus, I think it’ll just look weird for most things. Adjuncting is a special case.

  63. Birdie

    I was hired at my company last summer, as was another employee. She was hired a month before me at the same level – assistant. Recently I was promoted and moved departments. However she has remained at the same position. I have always been friendly towards her and when we sat next to each other we made lots of small talk. However since I was promoted in the last two months she has deleted me on Facebook, and quit saying good morning at the water cooler- she is still friends with every one else on Facebook and has not seemed to be in a bad mood with anyone else. I am very baffled – could it just be that I was promoted? Or is there a way to tell?

    1. Dawn

      Yup, she’s salty because you got a promotion and she didn’t. Some people are just like that. Keep being nice on your end and let her salty vibes just roll off of you like water off a duck’s back.

        1. Birdie

          My coworker is quite the chatty Kathy – talks to everyone who walks by her desk and I can barely get a good morning back from her lately. She’s an odd girl with strange behavior for our office norms- but I think that’s a post for another time!

        2. catsAreCool

          If she’s not Facebook friends with anyone above her current work level, that might be one thing, but not saying good morning at the water cooler when she did it before? That sounds petty.

    2. LCL

      How promoted were you? If you are starting the management track you should not facebook with the people you work with.

      1. Birdie

        I am not managing – I moved to a different team with more responsibilities, new title and large raise. I definitely agree with your statement!

        1. OhBehave

          It sounds like she’s miffed that you are now ‘above’ her. Did she expect you both to remain at the same level for years? All you can do is to maintain a friendly, professional relationship.

    3. EfficiencyAppreciated

      Yeah, I bet it’s just that you were promoted. I moved to another country a few years ago for a job that turned out to be a mess and not what I was hired to do. There was one other person from my country there doing the same thing, in the same situation. We got to be pretty good friends due to being the only ones in our office most days and living in the same apartment building. Together, we tried to change things, but when it was clear it wasn’t going to happen, I made the decision to end my contract early and come home. She was staying because her fiance lived there. As soon as I told the company I was leaving, she deleted me from everything. Some people are just petty.

  64. Pug Lover

    What is a good cost of living raise for your company?

    A coworker mentioned to me yesterday that she got a 1% COL raise this year, despite an excellent review. I didnt tell her this, but I got 3%. Ive always gotten 3% every year.

    If it matters, this coworker has the same title as me but has about 10 years more experience than me and makes considerably more. Coworker does not have a bachelors degree, and i have a BA from a very respected school.

    1. fposte

      I don’t think you’re talking about COL raises then, really; you’re just talking about raises.

      (In answer, a good COL raise here would be “any.”)

    2. Natalie

      Well, to be a true COL increase it should be tied to inflation in some way, which would make your co-worker’s increase just a COL (inflation is around 1%) while you also got a slight raise. Obviously that’s never going to be an exact science, though.

      My last company did 3% practically as a matter of policy. My current company does not seem to have a policy, which I think will fall to my boss and I to change. I’m a big believer in giving COL increases at a minimum – it’s not fair to functionally pay people less every year just because they don’t understand inflation.

    3. jack of all trades

      I have never considered any raise a cost of living unless it is defined as such in a written contract. Giving raises is a cost of doing business. I think it should reward, retain and reflect the health of the company.

    4. nerfmobile

      If you and your co-worker are in the same job classification and at the same level, but she makes a lot more than you, it makes perfect sense that you might receive a higher percentage raise than she does. At my current company, there are salary bands for every position/level, and you can’t exceed those bands. They are adjusted occasionally to reflect market conditions, but the min/max don’t change too much. So, let’s say that the salary band for your position ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 per year. Most people get hired in around the 10-25th percentiles, so let’s say you started at the 20th percentile, or $60K. Your co-worker after 10 years was earning $85K, which puts her at the 70th percentile. The company wants good performers to be within the 25th to 75th percentiles, with room to move strong recent hires up fairly quickly. So your company can easily keep giving you 3% raises with room to grow – after 3 years you’d be making just above $66K, and feeling pretty good. You’ve still got a few more years until you hit the 50th percentile. But if they gave your co-worker a 3% raise, after 3 years she’d be above $92K and blown past that 75th percentile, heading towards the max salary pretty quickly. So they need to slow down her raises to keep her closer to the middle of the band. At 1% per year, after 3 years she’d have moved from $85K to $87.5K, which has brought her to about the 75th percentile. If she’s a strong performer, she might expect to keep at that 1% increase level for a while longer, but at some point she will see those slow down more in order to keep in band.

      If you are in one of those salary band situations, the only way to get more once you reach the top of the band is either to move to a higher position with a different range, or to look for alternate compensation models. Performance bonuses instead of salary increases. Or more time off, a more flexible schedule, more paid attendance at conferences, etc.

  65. ArtK

    Somewhat job related: How do you let go of a dream?

    There’s a company that I’ve wanted to work for since I was 8 years old — that’s 50 looong years ago. I’ve got skills that would work well, but don’t have specific industry experience. It’s also nearly impossible to get a job there in any case. The odds of my working there are vanishingly small.

    The problem is that this colors my view of my current work and is messing up any job searches *and* is messing up a possible move out of the area.

    So, what do you all do in a case like that?

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I haven’t had your exact situation, but I had a workplace I really liked working at that I had to leave for other reasons (not fired or laid off—my own choice). When I tried to get a job back there again, there was someone there (in a powerful position but not the most powerful) who kept blocking me as a viable candidate. It took me a few years, but I’ve let go of the dream of ever going back there.

      I think it just happens with time. I would keep working toward working there, apply, and see what happens. If it’s not in the cards, your dream will shift… but it will take time.

    2. Anonymous Educator

      Also keep in mind that you may have built it up in your mind to be a much better place than it actually is. Have you read Glassdoor reviews of the company?

    3. Leatherwings

      Oooh you need to reframe this in your head big time. Try reading Alison’s advice on dream jobs (there aren’t any), and you have to recognize that working for this company most likely isn’t what it’s built up to be in your head.

      You’ve put this one company on a pedestal, and if you did happen to work there you might sit next to someone who played metal music all day, your boss might suck, or the company might go under. All sorts of things could happen. The job you think you want probably doesn’t really exist, and I think you really need to let it go.

      https://www.askamanager.org/2013/01/stop-thinking-youre-applying-for-your-dream-job.html

    4. Overeducated

      You just have to acknowledge the disappointment and move on. I was shocked to get an offer for a dream job last year, but by the time I got the offer (about 6 months after applying), my spouse had accepted a job in another location and I had to turn it down. I still think about how my life would be different, and better in some major ways, if I had been able to take the job. But raising a family in a long distance relationship was not on the table for me, so I have to remember that life is better with my family because I didn’t. You have to think about not just the what ifs, but the actual benefits you get from living your life without the dream job, like the opportunity to move cities. It’s ok to be wistful.

  66. Muriel Heslop

    First fist fight of the year was yesterday (day 18). Usually happens earlier in the year but true for the last three years the first fight of the year has been the same: two eighth grade girls fighting over a boy. One dad came to school, chewed out his daughter and told her the punishment she got at school would be a vacation compared to what she would get at home. The other girl’s mom came to school and yelled at the AP for not protecting her daughter and said our school was a piece of crap.

    TGIF.

  67. Hibiscus

    So I am a medical librarian at a hospital library. We have a thriving volunteer culture, but almost all the volunteers are older retired people, which means they may not quite be the right fit for our work (lack of computer skills, physical challenges so can’t shelve, library work itself is detailed and odd). Any ideas on where I might be able to look or make a connection with someone who would be a match for our mutual needs?

    1. Temperance

      College students? Library science students?

      When I was trying to find good volunteer work prior to law school, positions only offered daytime hours, unless they were things I really didn’t want to do (work at a nursing home with patients, not my thing). Or they wanted a commitment that basically required you to be completely unemployed, which was frustrating because I wanted to use my skills.

    2. Muriel Heslop

      We have had good luck finding volunteers through our local university (reaching out to specific departments) and through the volunteer section on Craigslist. Good luck!

    3. Leatherwings

      Don’t underestimate HS kids. I don’t know how technical the volunteering is, but HS kids often need volunteer hours and would be thrilled to do something other than pick up trash or whatever. I’ve also found that high school juniors and seniors can be more reliable and responsible than university students. I’m not sure why that is, maybe because mom and dad still make them do things, or they just haven’t learned to slack off yet? They’re great.

      1. Hibiscus

        We’ve had good HS volunteers before, but not during the school year for several years. We get them in the summer, and I had a good crew this year. But I also made the decision that I had a project (run a book drive) and really spelled out the personality I thought would work well with that project.

    4. Emac

      If there are nonprofits in your area that do job training or adult basic education, those might be good places to look, too. I work for a nonprofit like that, specifically with immigrants. We see more and more immigrants coming in with college degrees or some college education and office experience in their countries, but who struggle to find similar jobs in the US because they don’t have experience here. I’m always trying to find them good volunteer positions.

    5. JustAnotherLibrarian

      Job training programs are a great choice. I’ve also had great luck with Library Science school interns, though you have to make sure they are getting something really useful out of the internship. I also have had good luck with asking coworkers if they have a High School age kid who needs volunteer hours for their school. Some schools require a certain number to graduate and I’ve gotten simple filing projects and large shifting projects down with teams of High School students.

    6. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA

      There are websites like volunteer match that you can try posting on but those can be hit or miss. If you have a local volunteer center, I’d reach out to them as they may be able to connect you with some good resources. Do you use social media or newsletters at all as that can be a really good resource if you have an active following. Linkedin is becoming big for more pro-bono volunteers. Idealist is always an option but it does cost to post.

      When trying to recruit new types of volunteers, I like to look at the PD’s for the positions and envision what the ideal volunteer would be for that position. If you need someone who is tech savvy, available during the day but can have a flexible schedule, college students would be idea. You can then reach out to the colleges/universities in your area and most have some type of volunteer program for their students.

      Good luck!

    7. Nynaeve

      Your local Medical Library Association chapter may have some suggestions as well. Co-sign the idea of library science students.

    8. Sybil Fawlty

      Moms with kids in school? I’m not sure if the hours would match, but it might work. I know a lot of moms who have a few hours per week and would like to do something unrelated to kids.

    9. GovWorker

      Seems a tad ageist to me. Why is detailed and odd work problematic for older people? Some of us have careers doing detailed and odd work. I embrace technology in my personal and professional life. Don’t write us all off. Whatever you get is free from a volunteer so how about gracefully accepting it? No volunteering when I was young because I needed money too badly.

  68. JMegan

    This is going to be a bit vague, because I can’t share too many of the details without identifying myself. It’s mostly just a vent.

    Yesterday, my colleague sent an email to about half of our organization (~500 people), identifying a particular issue that the recipients may not have known about. It’s the kind of thing that *could* be a problem in theory, but probably isn’t in practice, and is very easily fixed.

    Here’s what he did:
    *marked the email urgent
    *sent it after most people were gone for the day
    *left for a long weekend, telling people to contact me if they had any questions

    Here’s what he did NOT do:
    *put any instructions in the email as to how to fix the issue
    *give me a heads up that he had done this

    So basically, he threw a panic bomb, then ran away and left me to clean it up. I come in this morning, and before I have even logged on to my computer, I have people waiting for me to help them sort this all out – including one who was supposed to be out of the office today, but who came in just to deal with this issue. So my job (again, before I have even heard that he sent this email, or what was in it), is to figure out WTF is going on, and calm people down by telling them that the issue is not as urgent as it appears from the email. Ideally without throwing my colleague under the bus, because we’re supposed to look like we’re working together here, but honestly that bus looks awfully tempting right now!

    1. neverjaunty

      That wouldn’t be throwing him under the bus. That would be “making sure he is responsible for his own actions”.

      1. Drew

        When someone starts the bus, puts it in drive, and then runs to lie down in front of it, sometimes you just have to let the inevitable happen.

        1. JMegan

          lol! That is an excellent analogy. I will certainly tell my manager what happened if she asks, but I prefer to present a united front outside the team…I feel like we’ll be more credible if we can at least look like we know what we’re doing. ;)

          1. OhBehave

            Yes, but the problem is that what your colleague did seems to show that you (team) DON’T know what you’re doing. That’s the impression some of those recipients have gotten based on that email. Now that they’ve spoken with you and received the real information, it appears that the team is not of one mind. Your colleague blindsided you and left you holding the bag. If I were that person who came in on my day off to deal with this issue, I would be very upset.

  69. Candi

    Heyas! Thanks for the great advice last week.

    There’s three temp agencies in my area. LaborReady is more skilled/unskilled labor. The other two want a resume uploaded. Putting in only the last three/four jobs will easily put it on one page as long as I keep skills/interests/misc down. (I’d forgotten how long I’d worked at the mall housekeeping and dollar store jobs!)

    A few resume questions I haven’t been able to find the answers to on this site.

    Should I put research ability under skills or interests? Part of the problem is it’s really the kind of thing you have to prove in practice.

    Should I put a border on my resume? (I like the border, so I really need objective advice.)

    Should I center justify contact information?

    (Yes, these are both ancient high school/college/Workfirst tips. I’m going to assume I don’t need a solid line between my contact info and the rest of the resume anymore.) :)

    How should I lay out my preferred name vs my legal name? Legal name is FullName MarriedName. But I want to be known as Nickname MaidenName. (And will legally change it back once both the kids are 18!) Nickname MaidenName is also the name my (locked down) online accounts are under.

    Something I find somewhat humorous a couple decades later. High school business class members had to be members for Future Business Leaders of America. Their college advice: Get all the loans, get all the education… you know the tune, can fake the lyrics.

    The teachers advice: Take a 6 month to 2 year class, get a certificate or degree, get your foot in the door with a job, then continue your education, and if you get lucky with your employer, they might help you pay for it. Maybe.

    They were called overly cautious…

    1. JMegan

      Research ability: if it’s relevant to the job, put it under Skills (and give examples of how and when you have used this skill effectively.) If it’s not relevant to the job you’re applying for, leave it off entirely. I would actually leave the Interests section off as well, unless there is relevant information in there that you can’t put anywhere else.

      Border: no. I like them too, but not on a resume!

      Contact information: I centre it, but I don’t think you need to.

      Name: Just use your preferred name. There’s no need to put your full legal name on your resume. The HR department at your new job might need it for payroll purposes, but otherwise there’s no need to have it on there.

      Good luck!

    2. periwinkle

      1. Don’t just say you have research ability – include a job accomplishment that demonstrates your research ability. If you want to claim research ability make sure your accomplishment isn’t something you did in 30 seconds on Google! Show how you can dig into data or connect information gathered from multiple sources.
      2. No border. Do what you want with the contact info. No special characters, non-standard fonts, lines, pretty colors, or graphics either. If you are working for a temp agency your resume is going straight into a database so make it clean and well-organized so the software can scan it accurately. You can make an attractive alternate version (with a border) for those occasions when you need to bring a printed resume with you, but it still should be well-organized and easy to read.
      3. Use whatever name you regularly use and that your references will recognize. I went by a nickname for most of my life but did not make it my legal first name until I was in my 40s. When I fill out job applications or background check authorizations, they often ask for “names formerly used.” There’s never enough room for me to write them out! (BirthName MaidenName, Nickname MaidenName, BirthName MarriedName, plus my current legal name which is NicknameMadeLegalName MarriedName… I damn well better not get divorced…)

      The really smart teachers would have said “go to VoTech and become a skilled tradesperson.” I have a professional masters degree and my brother is an expert in HVAC maintenance. I’ve done the job struggle for years but he’s been making good money since his early 20s!

  70. Jilly

    Okay, so I started a new job in May. Yesterday I applied for a promotion. Normally, I wouldn’t have considered doing something this soon after starting a new position, but there were reasons. I work on a gov’t contract. Our Deputy who was also functioning as a Team Leader just moved over to the agency that we support. Another TL was promoted to replace him. But they don’t want her to be a TL anymore because it was really bogging down the previous Deputy having to do both roles. So now there are two openings and any Senior Specialist is eligible to apply. So this is kind of a blue moon opportunity that likely won’t come up again on this contract. And it would be pre-positioning myself as we prepare to bid on the follow on contract. And it could make up for the fact that the company doesn’t give the best annual increases but I would possibly be slotted into a new labor category which would mean a promotional increase.

    Not counting the existing Seniors who are also TLs, that leaves 14 Seniors. To be a TL, you have to be based in my city. 6 of the Seniors are not, though one might be coming back. 2 of the Seniors were just promoted from Mid in June so this would be a really big leap. So that sort of brings it down to 2 openings with 6 or 7 eligible people not all of whom may choose to apply. And my quals are slightly different than a lot of the others. Not better, but bring a different perspective.

    I think they are interviewing everyone who applied, probably because it is such a small pool . . . The worst that they can do is say no!

    1. BobcatBrah

      I also applied for a promotion recently. I’ve been in my position since February, and while typically people at my level are here for 12-24 months before promoting, there was some major restructuring of the company recently. 65% of VP- level management was laid off, and the COO intends to replace them from within, meaning promotions for mid-level managers to VP spots and low level managers (my tier) to mid-level spots.

      Good luck Jilly!

  71. LawCat

    Does anyone else hate suit jackets? I feel like they’re high maintenance, clothing prisons when I wear them.

    1. Dawn

      Counterpoint- I LOVE suit jackets. I feel like the baddest Beyonce backup dancer ever when I wear them. Cardigans make me feel frumpy and like I’m a 4th grade teacher.

      1. Random Citizen

        This is me. I LOVE suit coats and would live in suits if I could. And tennis shoes. If I could live in suits and tennis shoes I would be ridiculously happy.

      2. Camellia

        I too love suits, especially skirt suits, and cocktail dresses, and beautiful shoes. And I’m married to a man who doesn’t even own a pair of dress shoes and thinks he is dressing up when he wears full length jeans instead of jean shorts.

    2. Menacia

      I don’t like traditional suit jackets, but I do like the softer sweater/jackets in the winter. I think suit jackets tend to be uncomfortable and too severe for my taste.

    3. Not Karen

      I hate wearing them (uncomfortable, limited movement), but I do think they look snazzy when fitted properly.

    4. Garland Not Andrews

      I hate them because as woman with narrow shoulders and a large bust, they always fit badly. The lapels gape and even small shoulder pads make me look boxy.

      Sweaters work so much better because they fit more closely.

      I’m so glad I work in a casual environment. That person walking down the hall in jeans and a flannel shirt just might be a CPA!

    5. Mander

      I love the look on other people. I like them on me when they fit well and I am standing still with my arms down, but I have never yet found one that looked good when I am sitting down and that allowed me to move around properly.

    6. Chaordic One

      Actually, I love them!

      I feel they add a certain professionalism and polish to my appearance. And, it seems to me that, other people treat me with more respect when I wear one.

  72. Amy M in HR

    Hello everyone! I posted several months back about being offered a position with my “dream” company and having to relocate to the other side of the country from where I was currently working. I credited AAM for the help on my cover letter and resume, and the company was willing to wait for me for two and a half months to give me time to give notice at my (then) current job and move out there. Well, I am now two weeks in to the new position and I LOVE IT!!! Although it meant splitting up my family for the next 8 months until they could come out, they have been very supportive and it was definitely worth it. I couldn’t be happier here and am so glad I followed my dream!

  73. Crylo Ren

    I’m going to a conference next week…that I really don’t want to go to, but it was framed as a “reward for all of my hard work!” so I feel very conflicted about it.

    I don’t want to go because it’s one of those buzzwordy conferences that are more of a networking opportunity than anything else (aka: basically a 2-day party in Vegas). The conference itself is targeted towards C-level executives and above, which I am decidedly NOT (I’m not even a manager). Basically – not a lot of actual tangible benefit to me.

    I totally get that the opportunity to party for 2 days on the company dime is totally awesome for some people, but this kind of thing gives me such anxiety. I HATE schmoozing and I’m basically being “rewarded” for my hard work by being forced to schmooze for 2 14-hour days – and, since I’m the only person in my role at my company, I’m just going to come back to piles and piles of work that I’ll struggle to catch up on. Yet, I feel guilty that I’m chafing about this when it was framed as a reward and direct result of the great work I’ve done here.

    Trying to tell myself I’ve been through much worse (I was a marketing event specialist in a past life so this used to be my entire job…hence why I’m no longer doing that, haha) but I’m still dreading it. Ugh!!

    1. CAA

      Is it possible to duck out of some conference events and do something more interesting (even if more interesting means reading alone in your room)? Unless your own C-level execs are going to be there, who’s going to know or care if you’re not present for every session or if you skip a few of the meals?

      Also, if you don’t yet have hotel reservations, do what you can to stay at the same place as the convention so it’s easier to come and go.

      1. Crylo Ren

        Unfortunately, no. I was handed a conference itinerary that had everything mapped out to the minute, includes transportation reservations (so I will need to stay because we reserved an exact number of seats), and our group is small enough that it will be noticed if I duck out of any of the planned social events. My boss has also already put time on my calendar to have some sync-ups during the conference days, so I won’t really have time to duck back to my room.

        I’ll survive. This experience will just make me even more grateful to come home and binge-watch Great British Bake Off. :)

    2. Kay E

      Ugh try to make the most of it. One time I attended a HUGE conference where I didn’t know anyone. One of the vendors hosted an after party and Snoop Dogg performed a surprise concert. So it was worth a few awkward meals.

      When you return hopefully you can provide some feedback to your supervisor along the lines of. “It was a great opportunity! I learned/met X, Y, and Z and I already have ideas about how to apply these new ideas/use the contact I made. It’s great to know that my work is appreciated but I wanted to mention that in the future I would prefer rewards that allow me to spend more time with my family (or whatever).”

      1. Crylo Ren

        I will do my best! The funny thing is that I don’t actually mind conferences in general as long as the conference has actual tangible benefit to me, like if it offered workshops or certification exams that I could then use in my job and add to my resume. Snoop Dogg would definitely be worth it but it seems that the most I’ll get is an awkward 90s tribute band…

      2. Product Person

        Hmm… I think that the script you suggest would offer a conflicting message: “yes, I learned a lot and the company can profit from the new ideas I got there, but next time, as a reward for a job well done I’d rather stay home and stagnate my ideas”.

        Indicating to one’s boss what types of reward we’d appreciate is fine, but I’d be careful to avoid giving the impression that you’re not interested in rewards that represent new learning opportunities. My company offers some good options that don’t require me having to endure a buzzwordy conference, such as the ability to choose a book from Amazon Kindle, a training course being offered in my city during work hours, etc.

  74. DatSci

    What do you folks think about letting a manager contact at a vendor know that one of their subordinates has a pattern of coming across rude/snarky in email communication with me (their client). The first time it happened I made a mental note of it and just let it go but it just happened a second time.

    I think the offender may be a more entry-level staffer who could use the guidance of their manager in appropriate email communication with clients. However, I don’t want to make a big deal over something small, especially since tone is so subjective over email.

    Keep in mind the transgressions are completely subjective but are getting on my nerves, would complaining to their superior be a “jerk” move or helpful to them in the long run?

    Should I take this up directly with the staffer or escalate it to the manager (since now its a pattern, and it is not my job to train their staff).

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      I think it would depend on the level of rude/snarky. If they’re just a bit brusque or if their maybe-snark is ambiguous, I’d probably leave it alone, but if it’s more blatant, I might delicately bring it up with the manager — with some caveats.

      Namely, a) do you have contact with their manager already? and b) can you talk to them via telephone or face-to-face?

      My reasoning:
      A) Contacting the manager out of the blue, when you don’t have an existing relationship with them, automatically would make this a more serious escalation, and from the way you described it, this doesn’t sound like it’s that kind of warranted. But if you already have a relationship with the manager, whether it’s professional or personal, you can append the discussion of “Hey, Bob has seemed a bit sharp with me over email. Can you give me some insight about that?” to something else you’re discussing, which makes it a side-issue and therefore less of a big deal. Ultimately, Bob isn’t being unpardonably rude (at least from the sound of it) so you don’t want to convey to his manager that he is.

      B) This is the kind of discussion where your tone and nonverbal communication are going to matter a lot. I’m not normally a huge fan of talking on the phone, for a whole variety of reasons, but I think this is an exception to that. You’re going to want to be pretty sensitive to how you convey this, and how Bob’s manager reacts in turn.

    2. Sybil Fawlty

      As a business owner, I would absolutely want you to tell the manager. If the employee is not acting appropriately, they probably won’t be able to fix it themselves. They will need outside help, ostensibly that is their manager’s job.

      I would be very upset if I lost a customer who was unhappy and I didn’t get the chance to correct the situation.

    3. CMT

      Do other people find this contact’s emails to be snarky, too? If it were me, I’d double check with one of my colleagues. I’d really only complain to the vendor if it were very blatant.

    4. Desdemona

      I think it’s worth bringing to a manager for exactly the reason you gave – the offender might need some guidance. Speaking diplomatically with customers isn’t a skill most people are born with, and if this has happened twice with you, it’s got to be happening with other clients, too, or will eventually.

  75. Sideshow Starlet

    My current company is making major financial changes and is not doing a good job communicating to the frontline employees about these changes (until said employees find themselves suddenly out of a job). So, I am looking for a better job. A friend told me about an opening that looked promising, and I had my interview yesterday. I have good feelings about this new company, the job itself, and my chances of being hired for and being a good fit for said job. But the BEST part of the interview was when I talked about reading Ask a Manager and following this blog’s advice as one of the things I was doing to help with my main weak point (supervising aides; I am a staff nurse. I don’t do hiring and firing, but the day-to-day make sure the aides stay on task falls to me). When I described the blog, the Director wrote the website down on a separate piece of paper and said he would have to check it out. I mentioned how Allison was a big proponent of addressing problems in the moment, rather than letting them fester (This was where I was originally making mistakes while supervising aides). He wholeheartedly agreed with the importance of being direct. This and other things I observed throughout the interview and tour of the unit, has led me to believe he is a good manager. So…. Even if I don’t get the job, I may have recruited another regular reader! :)

    1. anon for this one just in case........

      As much as I love AAM and tell people about it, I would much prefer my managers not be aware of this site! I would not feel I could post freely if they did. You are far braver than I in that regard!

  76. Countess Boochie Flagrante

    Question for the financial/investment types around here — I’m interviewing for a job that would entail getting my series 7 license. I’ve been doing some digging online and it looks like that license could well be something I could parlay into good career growth even if I don’t stay with the company that’s sponsoring me to get it. I’ve seen a lot of suggestion online that more employers will want you to already have it than will be willing to sponsor for it, for example.

    My question is — how true is that, really? And if so, how broad is the career tree starting from that position? Am I looking at a broad range of potential paths from the series 7 upward, or is it limited to “well, you’ll be a stockbroker eventually”? I’m planning to ask this at the interview too, of course, but I also want to be able to ask without having to frame it around emphasizing loyalty to the company. I don’t have my heart set on a career in finance, but it’s what I’ve wound up in so far, and I’ve discovered I like playing with numbers, the bigger the better.

    1. Christopher Tracy

      Not in finance (though financial institutions are my division’s main clients), but one of my former coworker’s husband works for a bank that sponsored his series 7 and my mother’s employer suggested she get it if she wanted to move out of her current role, and yes, they offered to help her get it. My mom works for a health, life, and annuity insurer and I’m not quite sure what coworker’s husband does, but I know he gets large quarterly bonuses and he’s been promoted up through his company pretty quickly once he got the certification. It’s worth looking into it for the money alone, I think.

  77. Cat steals keyboard

    I’m in the UK and have been intrigued and confused by some of the US practices I’ve come across since I started reading AAM. Please know I don’t mean to sound disdainful or critical and I’m not assuming one way is right or wrong. I’m just really puzzled and would love to understand better.

    For example, I am utterly perplexed by mentions of employers contesting people filing for unemployment. I don’t get it. Why would they have anything to do with that? Do they have to approve it – or *pay* for it? Over here you would apply through the relevant government agency who would look at your situation and determine which benefits you could or couldn’t claim, and your former employer would have no further stake in this.

    Also, I’m a bit stunned by the sheer amount of information you guys have to provide when applying for jobs! Not just your work history but long lists of referees, details of every single one of your former supervisors, sometimes with contact details… it sounds kind of intrusive, and a possible career death sentence if you had the bad luck of, say, working with a difficult supervisor. I’m in a role that requires a background check and I still didn’t need to provide the level of information that seems to be routinely described on here.

    Anyone willing to clue me in?

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I can’t speak to the former, since I’ve (fortunately) not had to deal with unemployment benefits.

      In terms of the amount of information applying to jobs, it really depends on the workplace. Some places have extremely detailed forms and applications. Others require almost nothing except essentials (information for taxes, emergency contacts).

    2. Nervous Accountant

      Well for unemployment, each employer has to pay into insurance employment. From my very very basic understanding, the more employees/higher turnover = higher insurance rate that the employer pays. That’s how I understand it, I’m sure others can weigh in in more detail.

      1. Cat steals keyboard

        Wow, really? Here employers pay a set rate of national insurance (which isn’t insurance so much as a part of the tax system) which is based on wages paid, not the number of employees.

    3. fposte

      Unemployment practices vary by state, but in general UI is funded by taxes on employer payroll, and the amount of benefits claimed will affect that tax rate. So workplaces do have a bit of a financial incentive to keep unemployment claims down.

      1. Bad Candidate

        There’s even businesses that will assist other companies in keeping their UI down. Basically they help them argue every UI case that comes by, even if that person has a legit claim. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t know that they can appeal, so they don’t. I had an employer dispute one, they said I was fired for gross misconduct when I was laid off. Turns out that company can’t help you out when you’re just fabricating lies.

      2. Cat steals keyboard

        It’s funded by that here, too, but the tax rate is fixed and in no way pegged to benefit claims – those aren’t linked to your former employer. That’s made my head spin!

    4. Bad Candidate

      Well you give your resume, which would have your work history on it. Then some systems want references, these don’t have to be previous managers, though some say that’s what they want. But yeah a lot want your former supervisor and their name and number as well as title. And TBH, I don’t remember them all. So I give them what I have. Most never call those supervisors anyway.

    5. Coffee Owl

      New poster and former unemployment insurance processor here to help!

      In the US, unemployment insurance is set and dictated both at the federal and state levels, with the majority of it coming in at the state level. Each state has its own laws, but they all essentially act the same way – an employer is taxed at the state level for SUTA, and the tax rate that they are taxed at is unique to each employer. Each year, the state evaluates the employer based on how many of their former employees have filed for unemployment and revalues their unemployment tax rate up or down based on their “report card” from the past year.

      Now, in terms of the former employee, their unemployment check is still coming from the state where they worked (NOT the state where they LIVE), but the way that state is paying for those benefits is through the employer and the employer’s tax rate is dinged every time a former employer is granted unemployment using the wages that they earned through the employer.

      Therefore, the employer has some incentive to contest unemployment claims from former employees that they don’t want to pay for, especially in the case where the former employee behaved badly. In order to qualify for unemployment, a person has to meet two levels of qualification – first, they have to be financially eligible, meaning that they earned enough money in a particular period, and then they have to have an eligible separation from their employer. A lack of work is automatically eligible, so companies like construction firms that by nature of their business automatically lay off their employees for four months of the year pay very high unemployment tax rates and their employees’ unemployment claims are basically automatic.

      Any other kind of separation – if you quit or if you’re terminated for ANY reason – must be adjudicated. That doesn’t mean you’re automatically disqualified, but it does delay your claim and your payments. Savvy former employees who know these facts can game the system and submit that they are no longer employed due to a lack of work, when really they were justly fired for stealing. The employer is not interested in having their tax rate increased due to a claim for someone that they fired for cause, so they have a certain period to contest the claim to have the employee’s benefits denied.

      As an aside, if an unemployment claim that was initially ruled eligible due to the claimant stating a lack of work that is later determined to be ineligible because the employer contested it, the ineligibility is retroactive. The claimant would have to pay back any and all money they received from the state since the beginning of their claim.

      1. Cat steals keyboard

        Wow. Just wow.

        Here the employer pays a % of wages and everyone is taxed at that same rate. Unemployment benefits are in no way linked to an employer. I just cannot get my head around this at all.

        1. Coffee Owl

          Oh yeah, it’s definitely not, let’s say, an ideal system. It leads to all kinds of headaches, especially for New Englanders who, say, live in Massachusetts but during their employment worked in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, which is totally a thing that happens. So now you, Laid-Off Employee, are going to be filing in New York because that’s where your former company happens to have their headquarters, but New York has to get your wages from Connecticut and Rhode Island, which takes forever. It can be a really royally giant PITA, and I happened to be working for the State of Former Residence Unemployment Compensation during the recession in 2010. Funnily enough, it was the only place in town that was hiring cause they couldn’t keep up with the phone lines. There was never a time when we were NOT in queue, and sometimes the phone queue would be over 300 calls deep.

          1. Cat steals keyboard

            What a headache! Here it’s all kind of centralised and you can apply online or by phone if you want.

    6. CMT

      How do you do references in the UK? I don’t find providing references and their contact info to be that burdensome. I don’t even mind putting the names of supervisors of my past jobs into online applications. It really doesn’t take that much extra work.

  78. Nervous Accountant

    I’ve been meaning to ask this for a few weeks now.

    The CFO of our company left. No announcement, we don’t know if he was fired or quit.

    I’m connected to him on Linked In….I liked him a lot, and would like to talk to him or at the very least send a msg via linked in.

    1. Would it be OK to contact him?
    2. If so, what do I even say? “I miss you” is totally inappropriate I feel but I don’t know what else to say. “Hi how are you?” Is too random as well. Idk.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      I think it would be fine to contact him, but don’t bring up the circumstances of his departure. Cultivating him as an ongoing contact shouldn’t be a big deal.

    2. EyesWideOpen

      If you had a relationship with the CFO, I would definitely reach out to him/her. If you did not have a relationship, then it might be kinda weird/stalkerish.

      It is always good to keep relationships alive. You never know where your next job might come from. I have been offered jobs by former managers in the past because I kept the relationship going.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        ummmm I’m not sure I’d call it a relationship. He knew all our names, and we each had 1-on-1 with him when he joined. I’d say it was the same with everyone, at least visually (I can’t speak if there was any private stuff going on thats not common knowledge). Otherwise, he was very warm and friendly (to everyone!) and we spoke a few times at work events.

    3. JMegan

      I would say something like:

      Hi Fergus,

      I was sorry to hear that you left Teapots Inc, as I really enjoyed working with you during your time here. (Insert whatever other details are relevant, if you worked on a specific project, or talked a lot about his rice sculpting hobby, or whatever.) I’d love to get together with you for coffee some time if you’re free.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        I’m seriously in paralysis. I haven’t written anything yet. There was nothing specific btwn us and I honestly don’t know if I even want to see him for coffee when we never did that to begin with.

        If this were a coworker or even my mgr/supervisor, I wouldn’t think twice, but its not. I don’t even know what my own motives are. Gosh, I don’t know if it’s truly this tricky, or I’m making this more complicated than it really is.

        1. JMegan

          I think you might be overthinking it. And I say that in the nicest possible way, because I do that all the time as well!

          “I’d love to meet for coffee” isn’t a literal invitation in this case, rather it’s another way of saying “keep in touch.” Chances are, he’s going to say something like “Yes, let’s have coffee some time” and that will be the end of it. If you get the the point that he’s actually suggesting a specific date, you can say something like “too busy right now, so sorry, can we try again in a couple of months?”

          Of course, you can always just say “I’d love to keep in touch” instead, if you’d prefer. But to your main point, there’s nothing wrong with sending an email like this, it’s a perfectly normal thing to do.

        2. neverjaunty

          If you don’t know what your own motives are, probably figure that out first. Is it that you want to know what happened? You liked him and wanted to become (or stay) friends? You want to keep him as a professional contact? Some combination of those? Knowing what it is you want out of staying in touch will help you figure out how to approach this.

  79. HKM

    I have had my therapist appointments come through for panic attacks and anxiety!

    When I had something like this at my previous employer, I told them that I had a recurring appointment and they OK’d it without any hassle, but here they want my to forward confirmations of the appointments and have check-ins once the appointments have started…and its now making me so anxious that I want to drop out of them.

    What do I do?

    1. Cat steals keyboard

      I’d suggest you contact Mind – http://www.mind.org.uk. They have helplines that can advise on whether you should have to give these details (I suspect it’s not what should be happening but they can advise properly).

      Good luck with your therapy!

  80. Anon for details

    Hello everybody! I have a coworker retiring the end of the month and would like to get her a gift, as she’s been really special to me over the years, and could use some ideas.

    Background: I got a job cashiering right after high school, and this coworker, “Donna,” was one of my supervisors (not my actual boss, but next level down and full-time). We often worked the same shifts and enjoyed talking about a lot of different things. There’s obviously a big age gap, but I always appreciated her and she had my back in a few different work kerfuffles. It wasn’t really a mentoring type situation, as I wasn’t specifically looking to move up at the time, and she has worked in the same department of the same store since she was 16 – over 50 years, although she’s been moving up the ranks to her present position. I worked directly with her for about six months before being promoted and moving to work more behind the scenes vs. frontline with customers. I loved my new job, but didn’t see Donna as much. We still talked when we ran into each other, took breaks together occasionally, and were generally always happy to see each other or pass in the hallway.

    This summer, Donna was out on medical leave and just returned about a month ago on a part-time basis, and is now planning to retire at the end of September, and I’d like to give her something. Only one other person has retired from the store in the time I’ve been here, and it was in a different department only about six months after I arrived. I made a point of saying good-bye and telling him how much I’d enjoyed working with him, but that was it. At the time, someone organized dinner at a popular, nearby restaurant and posted a sign in the breakroom inviting any employees who wanted to come and say good-bye (I didn’t go to that one). I’m not sure whether someone will be organizing something similar again, although I would think so, and I would definitely go! But I’d also like to get her a small personal gift.

    Constraints: I could go the gift card route, but it feels kind of funny in this situation for whatever reason, and I’d rather go with a physical gift – homemade is a possibility (I’m not super crafty, so bear that in mind :)). Home and family is really important to both of us, and we talked about that a fair amount. One time she told me about an incredibly special gift her sister got her – I think it was a framed photo of Donna’s house/farm that said something like “Home is where the heart is” (not that quote – I can’t remember the actual one, but that sentiment), which was really special partly because Donna’s husband has cancer and was really struggling at the time.

    tl;dr I’d like to get a small, personal gift for a retiring coworker, prefer not to do a gift card, willing to make something. Any thoughts?

    1. Leatherwings

      This is a pretty specific idea, but what if you got a small, homemade (not by you) home decoration? Like a wood carving or a painted vase? I have this idea because I recently bought a beautiful hand carved/stained jewelry box for a family member and it was a hit. I also got a really beautiful customized cutting board for a wedding recently. Gifts like that can be personal without being sky-high expensive. You can find good stuff on Etsy!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I think that’s a lovely thing to do.

      Personally, I am a big fan of boxes. I love small, beautifully crafted boxes, and I think they make lovely gifts. For my grandfather’s 90th, I found two handcrafted wooden boxes with meaningful (to him) quotations burned on the tops. Maybe something small and pretty like that.

    3. Anon for details

      Ooh, great ideas! These are exactly the type of thing I’m looking for! This is grocery retail, actually, so something like a cutting board might be especially apt and meaningful.

    4. justsomeone

      A small house decor piece would be a good idea – I second etsy, though you can also find cute stuff on amazon. There are lots of neat decorative “boxes” that are kind of plaques that say things like “Home is where the cat is” or “All you need is love…and a dog/cat/parakeet” etc.

      When I give a gift like that I try to personalize it to our relationship by tying it to something that we share, like an inside joke, or a band we both like, or author, etc.

      1. Anon for details

        Yeah, I’d love to make it specific to something, but there’s not really anything to tie it to in this case – we talked about our families and lifestyles, and work stuff/dealing with people- things like that. But it was grocery retail, so maybe something food related… now I’m trying to think of profound/home-y food quotes. I wish I could put our store’s logo on something, but I’m pretty sure that’s against policy. I’ll check etsy for ideas – thank you!!

        1. Mander

          I’ve seen many things on Etsy that can be customized, too, so if you come up with a quote you really like you can probably find someone who will put it on whatever you pick.

    5. OhBehave

      Feel free to start your own sign up for her going away bash.

      Does she like to garden or tend her flowers? How about a rose bush? I’ve given these as gifts before (knowing the person would like it), and it’s always a hit. I like knowing that they will enjoy it every time it blooms.

      Home décor boxes are really cute and you can find some really pretty ones. You could even buy a plain one at Hobby Lobby and Mod Podge it or stencil a nice phrase. So many fun things to do with this kind of thing!

      Does she like to cook? Maybe a cooking class (even better if you joined her!).

    1. Charlotte Collins

      And part of that “unreliability” apparently has to do with women taking all the maternity leave that they are legally allowed. I guess it isn’t that big of a burden to create, birth, and bond with a brand-new human being, not like a spinal cord injury. (To be clear, I think a spinal cord injury sounds pretty horrible, but I also have serious doubts that arranging transportation to the legislature was the kind of burden for the fully adult Mr. Gay that arranging for the safe, responsible, and reliable full-time care for your baby (read: helpless brand-new human) would be.)

      Also, wasn’t there just a recent news story regarding everyone freaking out about a very, very well-known woman showing up to work with pneumonia? Because women do that kind of thing every single day in the US.

    2. Emac

      Wasn’t there a Congressional or Senate session last winter in DC after a snow storm where literally the only people who showed up were women? Very unreliable.

    3. catsAreCool

      He said “You’re elected versus when you’re hired,” Excuse me, but I want politicians to treat their elected position like it’s actually important enough to show up for (unless they have a good reason, like being in the hospital).

  81. Aussie Teacher

    So I’ve recently been offered Acting Head of Department for the first half of next year while my HoD is on leave. But when he comes back there will be no opportunity for me to continue acting up and I’ll return to my old role (and would need to leave to find a new HoD role).
    My question is, if I am interviewing elsewhere for a Head of Dept role, can I mention on my resume that I’ve been offered the acting head role for 6 months? Does that make me sound like a desirable candidate (eg “my current school thinks I have the skills to be a head of Dept”) or like I’m looking to leave despite being offered a good role at my current school? Advice please!!!

    1. fposte

      At least in the U.S., you could definitely put it on the resume if you were Acting Head. However, you wouldn’t bring it up if you didn’t actually take the role, any more than you’d bring up any other job offer you’ve had in the past and didn’t take.

      1. Aussie Teacher

        Well it’s at my current school, so I’ve said yes to it for next year, but obviously if I got another job then I wouldn’t take it. So since I haven’t actually DONE the acting head work yet, you don’t think there’s any value in including it on my resume?

        1. fposte

          I wouldn’t in the U.S. Now that I think about it, I think it’s fine to drop it into interview conversation if you’re talking about growth and reasons for leaving, but I also don’t think it matters a ton until you actually do it.

    2. Rusty Shackelford

      Maybe it’s something that could go in your cover letter – assuming that’s a thing in Australia. Something like “I’m interested in moving into a HoD role, and while I’ve been offered one temporarily at my current school, your permanent role is just too enticing to resist.”*

      *No, not exactly like that. ;-)

  82. mirinotginger

    I started my first job out of college in May. Background: I’m 30. I spent 4 years in the navy and have had a lot of other jobs, but this is my first “professional” job. I interned with this same team last summer, but have a different manager now. I got hired as a teapot analyst, but have recently started transitioning to program manager, managing about 1/3-1/2 of our suppliers. It’s a different job code, and one I’m not “technically” qualified for, but my job title isn’t changing at all. I’m not the first analyst on my team to do program management work. My question regards pay. One of my coworkers is quite insistent that I ask for more money now, that I’m doing a different job with more responsibilities, and that deserves a level and pay increase. However, all job advice I’ve ever read says not to ask for a raise within the first year. Complicating matters slightly, my company only does pay/level increases twice a year, in October and April. So when should I go to my manager about a raise/level increase? Is now too soon? Is April too soon?

    1. Leatherwings

      I think this is an exception to the one year thing – if you have more responsibility that should = more pay. I think you can raise it in October.

      1. Karo

        Definitely. Not for small changes in responsibility, I don’t think, but when you’re essentially doing a different job you can ask for pay commiserate to that job.

  83. Machiamellie

    I have Asperger’s and my boss was told this before he hired me. I gave him some literature on the characteristics of Aspies and how to best manage one, etc.

    18 months later, he’s now saying things like “When you have more than one or two balls in the air, you tend to freeze up.” I disagree, actually – when I run meetings to go over my priorities, I can easily move between them all and discuss everything I’m working on. But he continues to say things like “you’re not multitasking very well.” He is a micromanager who’s constantly popping into my office and demanding updates on random things,which sometimes does cause me to scramble to look things up in email if I’m not working on that thing at the moment.

    Multitasking is not an Aspie’s strength, typically, that’s true. But I actually think I do fairly well at it; it’s his management style that makes it look like I’m not on top of things. What’s the best way to respond to indicate that without sounding defensive?

    1. fposte

      You’re at risk of getting distracted by an “Am not/Are too” exchange when that’s not what’s really important here. Is he genuinely unhappy with some part of your job performance? It sounds like he’s not doing very well at being specific about that, if so, but it’s to your advantage to identify the specifics, so I’d ask, and then I’d propose a solution to the answer. This isn’t even necessarily an Asperger’s issue.

      Now, if you think it is an Asperger’s issue you might want to consider officially requesting accommodation for it under the ADA and therefore identifying what that accommodation might be. But I think this could just be a manager expecting something that he’s not getting, and that you might be able to assuage that concern.

      1. Machiamellie

        Thanks fposte! yeah I think he expects a different reaction to something that he’s not getting, and I need to ask him for examples.

  84. Menacia

    Ugh, just had an annoying consultant tell me that something was wrong when it wasn’t and then only told me to disregard what they said and that they were working 14 hour days so they must have seen it wrong. Who told you to work 14 hour days, and why should I care? I can’t WAIT until this project is over!

  85. JeannieNitro

    How do you figure out what you want as a career path? I’m fine with what I do now, and there are lots of different directions I could go with what I’m doing, but my boss asked me what my career goals are and I just . . . drew a blank.

    I’m in my late 20s, second job out of college, and (given that I come from a rather conservative religious background) always just sort of assumed any job was temporary until my husband got out of graduate school. Well, I have a good career, and tenure-track positions are sort of non-existent right now, which leaves me as primary earner and career-haver for our family, breaking into a whole new world of “wow, um, so I could basically do anything.” Also, I don’t really consider myself “passionate” or “dying to do” any one particular thing and I think I would be happy in a large variety of jobs.

    So how do I figure out what I want when I don’t necessarily “want” anything? And I’ve never had to “want” anything before?

    1. fposte

      This is more a book-length topic :-). However, I’d say you have the luxury of the path of least resistance here. Take what you’re good at, find the field/type of job that gives the best rewards for that aptitude (“best” meaning both “best for you” and also “best you can reasonably get in the area you want,” and dive in. It sounds like you might be able to avoid the pitfall of the perfect being the enemy of the good and be fine in any number of situations, so be practical in choosing your situation and let the contentment flow.

    2. Dawn

      Well, honestly a career goal doesn’t have to be “Big Career Goal With A Capital G and Then The Angels Sing And You Are Fulfilled As A Person.” A career goal can be “comfortable job with good co-workers and a great vacation policy” or “I make oodles and oodles of money” or “I work in the basement and everyone leaves me alone.” It’s absolutely fine to have those as career goals and not look at it like “I will have This Job at This Company and make This Much Money and then I Will Be Complete As A Person.”

      What do you want to get out of working? Enough money that your family is comfortable? Enough money that your husband can be a stay at home dad? Super flexible hours so you can go to kid stuff as they grow up? Eventual work from home? Be CEO one day? Also you don’t have to figure out what you want for the Rest Of Your Life just now- think about what you’d like next year, 3 years from now, and 5 years from now. What would you want your life to be like? What kind of job would allow you to live that life? Bam, there’s your career goal.

      1. JeannieNitro

        This is a very helpful comment, thanks! I tend to get worried about “the rest of forever” and forget that I can take things one step at a time.

      1. Trix

        I didn’t know, until I did it. Then I realized that I definitely do not want to manage people.

        Although honestly, I think I probably did know that I wouldn’t like it, deep down. But it was the only real way to start moving up with this company, and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now (a position that was created, and offered to me, still responsible for managing some aspects of a team, but a much smaller one, and with the knowledge and skills, both technical and soft, to make this position something that I’ll enjoy and be excellent at, and will contribute to the company overall) if I hadn’t spent that year and a half babysitting 20 middle-schoolers in the guise of adults.

        I think that learning what you don’t want to do is just as (or maybe even more) important that figuring out what you do want to do.

    3. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t have any career goals. In fact, when my current boss asked me during the hiring process where I saw myself in five years, I said I had no idea, because five years ago I had no idea I’d be doing what I do now.

      I think some of this is generational. My parents grew up in a generation in which you picked a career and pretty much stayed it until retirement—and usually not just the same career but the exact same workplace.

      Most people I know in their 30s and 40s haven’t stayed at their workplaces more than 5-7 years (I know three people who’ve stayed longer than 14 years at one place), and I know a lot of career switchers (myself included).

      If you’re in your late 20s, definitely don’t try to pin yourself down to a career. Be open to possibilities.

    4. Bad Candidate

      I wish I knew. I’m in my late 30s and so far the only thing I know I want to be when I grow up is retired.

    5. JLK in the ATX

      I will be 42 next month and I’m not sure what I want to do. I’ve been in non-profit for 16 years and left for a short stint to start a business (didn’t make it) and now going back in. I’m not wholly passionate about non-profit, but I’m passionate about people having the resources they need to do their jobs (I’m a consummate learner, info hoarder and analytical – as supported by my StrengthsFinder assessment and coaching)

      I totally understand how you feel. My husband is our main bread winner, simply because non-profit isn’t going to make it and he’s the ‘responsible’ guy and I get to have the ‘fun’ career (mutually agreed upon when I left the Air Force to join/support his Army career)

      This response, by Dawn, is really cool “Well, honestly a career goal doesn’t have to be “Big Career Goal With A Capital G and Then The Angels ” Sometimes just doing works. I can’t say we’re all going to make big dinosaur sized prints in life. Our best is where we’re the strongest.

      Have you considered investing in what your strengths are, not to find the ideal job but to find out what you do best – as a person and professional – and work from there? It’s been helpful to me.

  86. Anon-Today

    You’d think I’d be used to feeling isolated and alone in this terribly clique-ish office but it still stings now and then, even after two years of knowing it won’t change.

    1. A.J.

      I was about to post the exact same thing. Seriously, how difficult is it to simply extend a lunch invite to a person you work with every day, so that the person doesn’t feel excluded and depressed? I really don’t get some people… The only times I ever get to go out to lunch with the group is if I see them all leaving the office and invite myself.

    2. OhBehave

      That is so hard to deal with. You spend so much of your life with these people and still feel alone.
      Are these people you really want to hang with? If so, invite them to join you for lunch.

  87. Kyrian

    What would you do in this situation? I work in a job that offers “unlimited” vacation time, but what that really means is that employees can make requests to their individual managers when they want to take time off, and the managers can approve or deny them for any reason. I haven’t taken a vacation in a long time (it’s been years since I’ve had more than two business days off in a row) and had finally gotten some time off approved (one week). However, a couple days before my vacation was due to begin, I made a small mistake at work (proofreading error in an email). I shouldn’t have made the mistake, but it seems a reasonable manager would just have provided a reminder to be more careful, especially as I hardly ever make such mistakes. However, my boss became furious and revoked my vacation, saying I had “humiliated” him and would have to earn back the right for time off by not making any mistakes for a while. I made an inquiry with HR, and they reminded me that vacation is granted at the sole discretion of the manager and approvals can be changed at any time for any reason.

    Obviously it is time to move on, but is there any way I should have handled this differently? I apologized to my boss, and reiterated the request to take my vacation, because otherwise I would have to cancel a number of family obligations and other appointments important to me. I also told him that I knew I wasn’t at my best due to needing some time to recharge, and that if I could take my vacation I would likely come back rested and less likely to make mistakes, but this just made him angrier because he said I was making excuses for my poor performance. Ultimately, though, I had no choice but to come to work instead of taking the vacation, because otherwise I would have been considered AWOL.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      is there any way I should have handled this differently?

      No. You just need to leave at some point.

      Some companies institute unlimited vacation time well.
      Others do so with good intentions and bad side effects.
      Sounds as if yours did it just to skirt giving you actual vacation time.

      I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this…

    2. Leatherwings

      What in the name of god was your boss thinking? He’s being absurd. Vacation isn’t a stick managers use to make sure their employees are being perfect. It’s a normal working benefit that, as you point out, people need in order to recharge and do their best at work.

      I don’t think there’s anything you could have done differently to deal with this obviously irrational and terrible boss. Your best bet is to find someplace reasonable to work.

    3. fposte

      Holy hell, your boss sucks. And it sounds like your company sucks, given the HR response. No, you did nothing wrong in handling the situation, and if vacations were revoked everywhere for typos nobody would ever get a holiday.

      Get ooouuut.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      It sounds like you handled it just fine. All of this vitriol over a mistake in an email? That just sounds insane. Did you leave the “o” out of “count” or the “l” out of “public”? Even if you did, that’s hardly cause to deny your vacation. You are a human being. Good grief.

      Start looking elsewhere. Your manager is an ass.

      1. Kyrian

        Nothing like that, just a typo that made the email look a little sloppy and hastily dashed off. But it was just an email to an industry colleague with whom our group corresponds regularly; it’s not like the correspondence was intended for publication or any sort of formal, broader distribution.

        Of course now I am spending a lot of energy being anxious and stressed about making any more mistakes, no matter how tiny, which means I am not working very efficiently. I appreciate your and other commenters’ advice to look for opportunities to move on.

        1. Natalie

          “Of course now I am spending a lot of energy being anxious and stressed about making any more mistakes, no matter how tiny, which means I am not working very efficiently.”

          FWIW, your “mistake” probably didn’t actually have anything to do with this. Batshit people will often react to things that threaten their control, and then latch onto whatever slight is handy when they put a narrative to what happened. Somewhere, somehow, they must know that their reactions are out of line, so they attempt to find a reason they’re justified.

          As the target, you can drive yourself absolutely bananas remembering every “infraction” and “mistake” that’s caused them to go off. You will not prevent them from reacting like this, because it is driven entirely by their internal fucked-up-ness and not actually by anything you did or will do.

    5. animaniactoo

      Get out get out get out.

      Your boss is a petty tyrant and I guarantee that he was looking for a reason to cancel your vacation because he didn’t want you to be out of the office.

      1. neverjaunty

        THIS. Having to ‘earn back’ something that is supposedly a job benefit, and which has nothing at all to do with the supposed transgression? (Also, of course, a benefit that your manager is allowed to completely withhold is not a real benefit.) If it hadn’t been the typo it would have been something else.

    6. Drew

      Your boss is a but-whole and your company is stupid for not slapping him down. Revoking vacation at the last minute as PUNISHMENT for making a typo? That’s bullcrap.

      Time to move on.

  88. Amber Rose

    We don’t have an issue with food theft, but we do have an issue (if you can call it that) where someone cuts a small piece or half off a donut instead of taking the whole donut.

    So today one of the crews did this to every donut in the box so we could “experience their frustration.”

    Welcome to first world problems: corporate edition. :P

    1. Good_Intentions

      Amber Rose:

      This is the funniest thing I’ve read all day!

      I hope everyone was able to “experience their frustration” and that only whole donuts will remain in the box going forward.

      Thanks again for the laugh!

    2. Hallway Feline

      Wow, that’s crazy! I mean, we have people who do that here, but they usually take half of a doughnut (usually those trying to diet) and they tell people as they’re doing it so people know it’s okay to take. And they always use a clean knife. I guess we aren’t as bothered about it here?

      1. fposte

        Yeah, we do that all the time. It’s a bonus, not a problem. Why are the crew unable to just move on to a donut without the slice out of it (and it’s a donut, it’s already got a bit missing–that’s the point)?

        1. Hallway Feline

          True! If you know it was done with a clean knife, does it really matter? Unless someone puts a sign on it saying, “Property of Dudley, will eat later” it’s fair game! It’s less of a doughnut, but then you can get a second one to make up the difference =P

      2. Amber Rose

        This is a dudely place. Man up and eat a whole donut! That kind of thing.

        I threatened to write them up for aggravated donut dismemberment, everyone laughed, situation too minor to even be a situation.

      3. neverjaunty

        Seriously, the place we get our donuts from makes these enormous things the size of your entire face. I’d be more worried about somebody who didn’t cut themselves a half.

      4. Emilia Bedelia

        Same- I don’t think anyone has ever taken an entire anything at my office. There’s always a knife next to any treats that are brought in. (But some of us have multiple halves :) )

    3. Dawn

      Not gonna lie every time I see you post I think about how the situation would be if it was happening to Miss Amber Rose herself… and I can see her rocking up glam as all hell to the break room and being like “Alright, who messed with all the doughnuts?!?”

      Makes me giggle every time :)

    4. Tris Prior

      This has happened in just about every office I’ve ever worked in. I guess it seems normal to me?

      That being said, the ONLY time I ever catch the office illness is when I’ve eaten breakroom food that was obviously touched by someone else. So I avoid the half-donuts like the plague.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        I never understand this. No one ever eats that half donut left. And it goes stale faster, so who would? To me, if you only want a half donut, you have one of two options:
        1. Offer to split a donut with a co-worker and do so. Each gets their half right away.
        2. Take the donut, cut it in half, and dispose of the second half however you see fit. Take it home, throw it away, feed it to a squirrel, whatever you want. Once you’ve touched that donut, it’s yours.

        1. Random Citizen

          I… eat the half donuts all the time (leftovers from other coworkers). Everyone at my office does this! Granted we’re a slightly weird bunch in other ways, and there’s one whole department where someone will get a new kind of drink (non-alcoholic) and leave it on the common desk area for anyone who walks by to try, double-dip off a common ketchup pile if someone has fries, etc., so I freely admit my view on this is probably skewed, but I never batted an eye at it.

        2. Rusty Shackelford

          A lot of people here eat the half donut, including me. As far as I’m concerned, donut cutting (with a knife) means I have more options. One whole blueberry donut? Or one half blueberry and one half apple cinnamon? Mmmmm. Donuts.

    5. Beezus

      A half doughnut, I can deal with. When someone cuts a quarter of the doughnut out, though…that’s too far. Either cheat on your diet or don’t, people.

  89. EyesWideOpen

    I am looking for a new position because the place I am currently at is toxic.

    I have noticed in more than a few job postings that the company wants you to send a photograph along with your resume + cover letter. The reasoning given is to verify that the person is who they say they are.

    Has anyone heard of this? Is this a new thing??? I am not inclined to send a photo being a woman of a certain age.

      1. EyesWideOpen

        I am an assistant. The postings are for C-level assistants not in my industry which is very small and I doubt I could find another job in it.. I wonder if this might be a new thing for LA rather than the industry.

        1. OG OM

          I recently had a company I applied for request I make a video and I was completely flummoxed. Then one of my friends who does HR research mentioned that photos and videos are becoming a really common way to dodge EEOC regulations.

                1. Audiophile

                  But how would you really know that you’re looking at that person? Unless they have a very active social media presence with pictures, until you invite them in to interview, you don’t really know.

                2. Anonymous Educator

                  Why do you have to know? Again, just putting a face to a name. It’s not a dating site. It doesn’t really matter if some applicant thinks she/he is gaming the system by putting someone else’s picture in the application.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Video interview — they’re just caught up in a new fad.

                Photos — utter cluelessness around hiring. And yes, probably putting a face to the name without realizing that It Is Not Done.

            1. Natalie

              And even if it was the intent, it wouldn’t work anyway. They take disparate impact into account for precisely this reason.

    1. LadyKelvin

      It sounds like that company is opening itself up for (age, sex, race, etc) discrimination lawsuits. In general the jobs I’ve applied for say DO NOT SEND A PHOTO so that they can’t be unconsciously or consciously biased.

  90. Hallway Feline

    I need some tips on how to better motivate a problem employee.

    This employee is otherwise decent, if you take out his habit of not answering his phone, parking the company vehicle where he shouldn’t, and not turning in his daily paperwork on time. It’s hard because he’s seasonal, and after this month no longer working here. But this has been headache after headache for me. I’ve tried being nice about it, then stern, then firm. I have set hard deadlines and issued consequences (when I could) about missing deadlines (ie: written warning). But it doesn’t seem to matter!

    Right now, I’m working on payroll and (again) am missing one daily worksheet that is also a time sheet for a crew member. This crew member is typically on another crew, but was moved over for the day I’m missing to help out. So now, because I don’t have one time sheet, I cannot finish two crews’ payrolls! I’m so frustrated, and I can’t get a hold of him about it because, like I said, he doesn’t answer his phone.

    For the future, how would you motivate an employee like this to get the results you need?

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I would let him know that his performance is not up to par in those very specific ways, and then if I don’t see improvement that season, not offer him the job back next season.

      1. Hallway Feline

        I already told my Director that I did not want him back for those reasons. Director thinks we need to finish out the season with him (I started raising flags in mid-July, our peak time) and seems to think we will want him back next year. Firm no on that one. Or, as Mona Lisa Saperstein would say, “hard pass.”

        1. an anon

          Have you documented all the major problems with the contractor? Saying “he doesn’t answer his phone and doesn’t turn in paperwork on time” is one thing, saying “on 9/16 I needed this paperwork in order to pay 2 crews’ payrolls, and when I called contractor at 8:00, 1:00, and 3:00, the calls went to voicemail with no response” may be another.

          1. Hallway Feline

            I’ve gotten to the point that whenever I need to email him for something, I also CC the Director and HR to get at least some documentation on his file, even if the Director doesn’t want it noted as an official warning.

    2. Leatherwings

      The only thing you can do is set clear expectations and deadlines and follow through with consequences if they aren’t met. I think it’s important for managers to do what they can to make sure their employees are happy, so motivating them includes being reasonable with time off, giving them more responsibility when they’ve earned it, and providing opportunity for growth and learning.

      This guy isn’t going to respond to any of that because he’s a bad employee. You should fire him/not hire him back again.

  91. Jadelyn

    Wish me luck, guys…I had a meeting with my boss and grandboss yesterday where we went over the things I’m doing and which administrative pieces I can hand off to our other temp assistant, but today I need to revisit part of that talk with the grandboss and I’m super nervous.

    It was nice to have the confirmation from both of them that I’m doing well (in that my boss pushed back HARD on grandboss when he suggested handing off certain things to the other temp, saying that she absolutely needed my support on those things because I am the best at it; and my grandboss said he was “nervous” about handing off some of my administrative stuff because he trusts me to take care of it all for him), and nice to get the sense that they’re trying to position my role to move up from administrative to more specialized things. But…the other temp is making $28/hr, while I’m only making $17/hr. So I’m feeling really weird about being told “The filing and data entry can be done by this other person who makes $11/hr more than you, but you need to keep the specialized and higher level tasks”. It doesn’t make sense to me. So I want to raise the issue with grandboss, starting from a querying standpoint more than anything else, like “I really appreciate the redistribution of my duties to allow me to catch up on the data analysis and systems work that I haven’t had time to get to because I’ve been bogged down with administrative stuff; but it seems odd to me to hand off basic administrative duties to someone who is making that much more, while keeping the specialized stuff with the person at a much lower salary level. Is there a reason for the discrepancy in salary, given our duties?”

    I’m just also worried that if I say that, it might push things the wrong way – rather than increasing my pay or even reconsidering the pay discrepancy, they might decide to reverse the distribution of tasks instead. I don’t think they would, given that I *can* do specialized stuff the other temp really can’t do, but…I’m still nervous.

  92. Gene

    Venting.

    If you get a data request (Thank Lard it’s not a FOIA request!) on August 24 that wants a plethora of information on all teapot manufacturer inspections done since 2007, AND requires that the data be submitted in a specific format AND it’s due on September 30, don’t sit on the request until September 14 then send it to me with an URGENT!!! tag.

  93. Dave

    I still haven’t heard back from the interview I had two weeks ago yesterday. The ATS still says “under review” and they said they would be in touch in a couple weeks but I am getting antsy. I am not sure if I should risk bugging them with a follow-up email or not.

    I have another interview on Monday. This one involves a 20-minute case study presentation. I haven’t had near the time I have wanted to work on it, between a sick, potty-training toddler and my freelance work (but mostly the toddler). Not totally sure what they want from it–the case study is very much teapot marketing but the job is teapot researcher. I actually considered that they sent the wrong case study but that’s not the case.

  94. Kore

    Is there any way to ask for less time sensitive / less stressful work without making myself look bad? I’m in a position where a lot of my work is very time sensitive, and I have the most time sensitive workload of any of the other people in my position. I can definitely do this at work, I don’t have any issues with how much work I’m doing, and I don’t mind difficult work. It’s just been very stressful, having a negative impact on my mental health, and making me dread coming into work. I like my coworkers and I don’t mind the position, so I’d like to stay in this position longer, but if this level of stress continues I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to.

    1. fposte

      Often, yes, especially if you have a good relationship with your manager. What would be best is if there is specific work you could ask for instead: “Jane, I’ve been handling all the Teapot Disaster Recoveries for the department, and I’d like to vary the intensity a little so I’m not always in emergency mode–could we redirect about 25% of those to the rest of the department and let me take over some of the Licensing Filings instead?”

      1. Kore

        My relationship with my manager is fine but I worry about her underestimating me – she has underestimated me in the past, and I’m really worried that this would be “I can’t handle the work” rather than “I can handle the work but it’s not healthy for my mental state.”

  95. AnAppleADay

    Does anyone else cringe when receiving email that uses “Thx” instead of “Thanks” ? Thx comes across to me as “I feel obligated to acknowledge you did something but I don’t really mean it but don’t want you to know I don’t mean it, blast, blaa,blaa” So, an insincere “thank you” is what I’m getting at.

    I personally don’t write “Thanks” because if I’m really thankful I’m going to send “Thank you”.

    I’m not a snob or grammar nazi or anything of the sort. It’s just one of those pet peeves I guess. Anyone else?

    1. Amber Rose

      I hate text speak in professional emails. It feels kind of disrespectful.

      I either use thank you or kind regards. The second is mostly for international contacts, as they tend to be very formal so I match that.

    2. Leatherwings

      Doesn’t bother me, it actually sort of amuses me. To me, the “thanks” in an email is obligatory anyways, so the difference between that and thx is negligible.

      I, however, adore the shortened “pls” in casual exchanges. I don’t know why, but I find it delightful.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I used to have a supervisor who would write “lmk” in all of her emails, and it annoyed the crap out of me. So, yup. I get it.

      1. AnAppleADay

        I didn’t know what lmk meant so I looked it up. For text messages with friends, I’d think it was fine but email in the workplace, no, just no! That would irk me as well.

    4. Aurion

      I hate chatspeak on principle, not just in professional emails. I strongly prefer actual English words with all the vowels and consonants where they belong, and I think it makes the writing look sloppy whether it’s a blog post, a comment, a text, or an email. :P

      But I know that’s just my peeve so I just try to ignore chatspeak when I see it.

    5. Beezus

      I don’t use “thx” in email, but I don’t raise an eyebrow when I see it. In text or IM, I frequently use “ty”. If someone’s really bent over backwards for me, I’d be a little more effusive and use full words, but if it’s just an ordinary exchange, I keep it brief.

    6. Two-Time College Dropout

      It seems insincere to me too! When I see “thx”, I pronounce it in my mind sounds like the noise someone makes when they try to hold in a sneeze… which makes it a little less annoying.

      A colleague and I always use or “thansk” or “THANK” (always in all caps) with each other. I don’t know how that got started, but I think it’s silly and charming. I’m sure it would reach “bitch eating crackers” level fast if I didn’t like him.

      1. AnAppleADay

        Your post made me laugh! Thx definitely comes off as insincere to me as well.

        When you have a colleague you can be politely silly with, itvmakes work more fun. No harm in that!

    7. Emilia Bedelia

      I understand. I work with a lot of international folks who abbreviate “best regards” to BR…. and that just drives me bananas, for some reason. It just feels so perfunctory. But, you know, international.

    8. Secret Life of Wood

      If I type Thx I mean Thanks. It’s just an abbreviation. If you choose to interpret it differently, that’s your problem.

      I’d be exhausted and miserable if I went around second-guessing and reading into communications like this.

  96. Alice

    Weird story, happy ending expected, advice welcome

    I started a new job this year; it’s great. My boss and colleagues are happy with me; I know from regular check-ins and a formal review.
    A manager in another department recently said something in a meeting making it clear that he thought my job was high-level green tea support, and I’m not doing much green tea support, so what do I actually do? I was a little taken aback by the implication that I’m not living up to expectations.
    I’ve confirmed with my manager that I am living up to and exceeding expectations within my department. She said, “Yes, it’s really surprising he thought you were responsible for high-level green tea support. Our department doesn’t do, and doesn’t want to do, high-level green tea support. What you’ve been doing in terms of green tea outreach, along with your coffee responsibilities, is exactly what we want.”
    The thing is, she was in the meeting but she didn’t push back at the time. No big problem — it was a surprising statement and honestly a distraction from the agenda.
    But… people from the other department will be on my promotion committee. I want to make sure they understand my actual job. I feel like that correction should come from my manager, not from me.
    How could I manage up and make sure the other department’s misapprehension about my role gets gently but fully corrected?

    1. JMegan

      Just be straightforward with your manager. Tell her that you are concerned that the other department’s perception of your job might affect their decision on your promotion, and ask her if she can set the record straight with them. No need to manage up on this one, I don’t think – just ask. Good luck!

      1. Alice

        I will, thanks for the advice. Sounds like luck shouldn’t even be needed! (Though you can never have too much of it…)

    2. fposte

      As a manager, I wouldn’t necessarily leap in to correct in situation like that because it feels kind of parental to me–I’d expect you to do it. But it also doesn’t sound like it’s that big a deal, and presumably the promotion committee will be supplied with relevant materials about your position and expectations.

      1. Alice

        That is helpful perspective. Thanks. Reframing it to myself as my manager leaving the field open for me to address the issue is much nicer to think, and also probably more accurate!
        And yes, there will be all kinds of quarterly reports and other materials that make it clear that I do valuable things all day, and I do them well.
        Much appreciated!

  97. Rebecca in Dallas

    Who travels for work? I need some tips. I’ve never had to travel anywhere longer than a day-trip for my job but might have to be in another city for a (work) week.

    I’m very nervous about it because I’m a creature of habit. I have a boot camp group and a running group, between those two groups I get in my workouts every week. I looked online and my boot camp group doesn’t have a location in the city I’m traveling to. I have no idea if the area my hotel is in will be safe enough for me to run alone or if I’ll be stuck on a hotel treadmill for my workouts (I’m currently training for a marathon).

    I’m also really particular about food. I like the same thing for breakfast every morning, my coffee a certain way, etc. Eating out for every meal sounds like a nightmare. I’ll have another coworker traveling with me, she’s a perfectly nice person but I’m dreading making small talk all day. OMG I hope we don’t have to share a hotel room. And what if I don’t pack right?! Like if it’s way colder than I think it will be and don’t have enough layers?

    Not to mention I’ll miss my husband and pets all week. :( Anyway, I’m already dreading the whole thing. If you can’t tell, I’m prone to anxiety. So give me your business travel success tips!

    1. oh.canada

      Some hotels actually have running groups associated with them. If yours specifically doesn’t, maybe one that’s closer will. If you are only gone for a week you can probably shift your long run around so you do it at home right before you leave, and then as soon as you get home, then if you are stuck on a treadmill at least it’s not for a super long run. If you google hotel gym workouts, there are a lot of resources with great workouts that you can do even in a wimpy hotel gym. Download some audiobooks or podcasts and it will help you get through the workout faster.

      If you hotel has a small fridge you can get around having to eat out for breakfast and lunch by buying some groceries – get milk and cereal, sandwich bread and basic fixings, bags of salad. Lots of options to avoid eating out every single meal.

      For your coworker, just be up front – say you find traveling pretty tiring and will need quite a bit of downtime. The terrible hotel gym will actually feel like a refuge! Find some evening stuff you might want to do to get you out of the hotel and then just lie – “I’m meeting an old friend for dinner” and then take yourself to a museum. Carve out solo time!

      1. Rebecca in Dallas

        I will only be gone during the work week and my long runs are on Saturdays, so luckily I won’t have to miss that!

    2. Anonymous Educator

      I think these are the best tips I can give:

      1. Realize, to a certain degree, that it will suck. It’s not a vacation; it’s a business trip. You’re there for work, and so it will probably not be that fun.

      2. At the same time, if you’re going to an area you’ve never been before, try to make the most of it—be a tourist, catch up with any old friends you have who live in that area.

      3. Eating out every meal is kind of annoying, especially since rarely on business trips is the food actually good. If it’s some kind of conference, it may be catered by the hotel and usually med