open thread – September 23-24, 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 :)

{ 1,399 comments… read them below }

  1. Angry Young Man*

    Hey everyone, I’d like some feedback on whether I handled this situation professionally.

    I’m a younger guy with a few years of professional experience in my industry. I’m job hunting right now and I’m employed full time.

    A recruiter set me up with a phone interview for a skilled technical role in a large retailer. They wanted me to do a long skills test before the interview that took me about 3 hours.

    They liked my answers, so we scheduled a phone interview. But I waited outside in my car for 20 minutes but they never called. I emailed the recruiter and he apologized for the “miscommunication” (quotes because he wouldn’t elaborate on what he meant when I asked him because I was curious if I had done something wrong, i.e. not replying promptly enough).

    We rescheduled, but this time the hiring manager had to cancel a few hours beforehand. I asked if we could do the next morning, and I was told that they conducted all interviews between 2 and 3 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. So I decided I would give it one final chance. On the third time, the company didn’t call again. I sent another email saying that I was “done” (pretty much those exact words, like “It’s 45 minutes past the scheduled time and I haven’t heard anything. I’m done with this company.”). The recruiter was really confused when I said this and insisted I had the wrong date, until I forwarded him his email. The he admitted he messed up and gave me and the hiring manager two different days.

    In retrospect that was a little rude. But I think the recruiter’s reply was worse. He said that I was “being stupid” and costing myself an opportunity by withdrawing my candidacy because of his mistake. I sent something back along the lines of “I would agree that it’s a lost opportunity for all of us. The company should be evaluating me and I should be evaluating them. I’ve spent a few hours on their technical skills test and then lost about an hour of work time this week to step out for phone interviews which they never called me for. Every time I step out of the office to take a phone interview I risk my boss finding out I’m job hunting, and I’ve risked that twice now for no reason. That’s a lack of respect for my time when I’ve respected theirs by being available for interviews and devoting time to their skills test. Best of luck finding a candidate.”

    So was I out of line? I think I made the right decision, but I also think I might’ve been really nasty with my wording.

    1. StupidInterviewee*

      I think your anger is pretty justified, especially considering you are still working and the recruiter is not making your job hunting while employed any easier. I mean, once is excusable, but THREE times? Jeez

      1. Angry Young Man*

        I’m fine with rescheduling once, or even twice with a decent reason. One time I had to cancel an interview once because I needed to drive a relative to the ER (I’d be okay with hearing “sorry, there was an emergency for someone at Hiring Company”), so the hiring manager or someone on the interviewing team having to bail at the last minute didn’t upset me.

        What did upset me was the recruiter/hiring manager insisting on sticking with their weirdly specific interview schedule even after dropping the ball a few times. I’m not expecting them to bend over backwards for me, but saying something “we realize it’s been a little tough so we could do tomorrow morning if that’s okay with you” would’ve gone a good deal to establishing a good relationship.

    2. Newby*

      It sounds like it is the recruiter you should be done with rather than the company. Is he an internal recruiter or an agency recruiter?

      1. Angry Young Man*

        Agency. All the really negative experiences I’ve had (like being invited into the recruiter’s office and then getting sent home because they decided they wanted to work with people from “stronger colleges” — when they had my resume already!) were agency recruiters.

        I think the company definitely has some fault for messing up the first two scheduled interviews and then being really inflexible with rescheduling. We’re talking about one of the top 5 largest metro areas in the USA for a job paying in the upper five figures. I’m not saying they should let someone interview at 7 in the evening, but the response shouldn’t be a robotic “all phone interviews take place from 2:00 to 2:30 or 2:30 to 3:00 on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday” if they want good people.

        1. designbot*

          oh, that makes me feel much better about this! I would *never* send replies like the ones you sent to the company itself, even in the face of that level of rudeness. If it were direct with the company I would have said something more like “I’m sorry but I will not be able to reschedule further. The time I have spent on this is negatively impacting my current job and I have worn out my employers flexibility with my schedule in my attempts to make myself available to you. Best of luck with your search.”
          With an agency recruiter I still don’t feel your replies could be described as professional, but they’re much less likely to bite you further down the road.

          1. Angry Young Man*

            Yeah, I’d absolutely never say this to someone I’d be working for/with on a daily basis.

            I did have a similar situation with an HR manager calling me up for an interview like 20 minutes late and I said something like “I really need to get back to my desk in the next 10 minutes, so let’s talk to the recruiter about rescheduling.” I’m sure he got the message, but at least I didn’t say it in an a-hole-y way. He probably doesn’t even remember it.

            In retrospect (which I kinda realized before making the original post — if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have asked for criticism) I shouldn’t have said anything in that email, and just left it to what you said.

        2. Loose Seal*

          About the limited time slots: They must be getting people they like even with limiting themselves to those time slots. Otherwise, they’d expand them a little more. Or they aren’t getting good people with the limited slots but are unable to expand them right now because of the availability of the interviewer(s). You were right to ask whether you could have a time slot outside their set ones. But when they said no, it wasn’t a cause for you to get angry about. Yes, you could have chalked that part up in the “cons” side of the equation (I would have for sure) and withdrawn yourself from consideration then but this continued insisting that they aren’t getting good people if they only interview during such a short, set time is a red herring. Let that go.

            1. AnonAnalyst*

              But I wonder if the lack of flexibility is really on the interviewer(s). I can totally see them giving some times to the recruiter when they are usually available for interviews so the recruiter can schedule those without constantly checking in, and the recruiter sticking to those times exclusively.

              Particularly in this case since at least one of the scheduling mishaps appears to be a situation where the recruiter screwed up – and he seems unwilling to admit it unless pushed (as it took a couple of exchanges with the OP before he owned up to the miscommunication). That does not sound like a person who will go back to the team and ask if they have any flexibility to reschedule because HE made a mistake.

          1. Observer*

            You left out a third – and in my opinion the most likely – they are not getting good people in any sort of timely fashion, and they haven’t changed their ways because they don’t recognize the problem or don’t care.

            1. Loose Seal*

              Yeah, I agree with that. But the point still being that it’s working for them (in that they don’t know or don’t care that it’s not working) but it’s still the same for the OP. Stuff like this happens when you’re job searching. I agree it’s crappy to be treated that way. But allowing anger to bleed over into communication with them might hurt OP in the future in ways he can’t predict now.

              1. Angry Young Man*

                My money’s on “it doesn’t work well, but it’s not so horribly dysfunctional entire departments are quitting on the spot, so no one with the authority to change it cares enough to.” Maybe I’m jaded beyond my years, though. :)

                1. Loose Seal*

                  Well, there’s always the oldie but goodie (she said sarcastically) where someone with hiring authority has some ridiculous test that they use to see who is a “good” hire. Like the person who, after offering the interviewee a drink such as coffee or tea, wouldn’t hire the tea drinker because clearly someone who gets tea would be a pain to work with. Or the person who wouldn’t hire someone who didn’t pick up their paper cup (given to them by the interviewer) at the end of the interview and ask where to throw it out.

                  Maybe in this case, they have some weird idea that if you can interview well in the after-lunch slump, you are a “go-getter” with some “gumption.” Who knows?

    3. Future Analyst*

      I concur: it wouldn’t have been out of line to politely decline when the recruiter tried to set up another interview time, but tell him you’re “done with [the] company” and telling him there was a “lack of respect for [your] time” was not necessary. In the future, consider the following: a) the actions of the recruiter are not necessarily indicative of the overall company’s culture/pace, etc. and b) you can’t take everything (or maybe anything) personally during your job search. As you said in your email, you’re evaluating the company too: use the information you have available to decide if you’re interested in further pursuing a position with the company, and go from there. There’s no need to get snippy with the recruiter.

      All that being said, you were totally right to be annoyed. Job searching sucks enough as it is, and waiting (twice!) for someone to call who never does is no fun.

      1. Angry Young Man*

        Yeah, I realized that I was sending it out of righteous anger as I was doing it. That’s absolutely a flaw of mine. I am a little ashamed of that, but this recruiter had already damaged their relationship with me; they lied about one of their clients being in my city when they were actually in the next state over. When I withdrew because I was misled about the company’s location the recruiter sent off a snippy email about being “disappointed in me” and how I’m giving up and should’ve used the geographical difference to negotiate a remote work agreement.

        But I’d shift some of the fault you’re assigning to the recruiter in this specific scenario to the company though. The company absolutely refused to budge from their handful of interview slots, even after messing up and missing the call twice. Do I come off as an entitled millennial to call that poor practice when you’re working largely with currently employed candidates (I’m in tech, which has a pretty low unemployment rate in my city) for a skilled position? There may have been a good reason for doing that, but I’ll never know because they didn’t give one. When I absolutely cannot do a certain time I give a sentence or two of detail like “I actually can’t do Thursday at 10 because that’s when our quarterly department-wide meeting is with everyone up to my boss’ boss’ boss. Could we do 3?” I think this leads to better feelings between everyone.

        1. nofelix*

          You’re not wrong, but being angry at every time someone sends a bad email is going to leave you being angry a lot. If someone is inconsiderate then rant discretely to a friend about it, then be totally polite in your response. Always. It’s vital to have ways of dealing with the emotions from annoying situations that don’t jeopardise your reputation. In this situation it probably didn’t matter, but it will do in future.

        2. Sofia*

          This really bothers and I actually had that happen to me a few times. Once I had an interview downtown at 8am and my office was clear on the other side (about a 45 minute drive) from the place of the interview. I waited until about 845, but the interviewer never showed up because she was stuck in traffic. To make matters worse, no one was in the office at the time so I waited outside in the winter this whole time. Not to mention, I had to pay for parking! I told the recruiter that I would no longer like to interview or reschedule because I had already missed a lot of work time. But had it been the other way around and I had been late, would they really have given me another chance?

          The second time was similar to yours, the first time the hiring manager couldn’t call me because she got busy and the second time the recruiter gave us different jobs. I ended up getting that job though and hated it. Maybe I should have taken the hints.

          I think we have a right to be upset and annoyed when this happens, because I do think it is disrespectful of our time, but I think we are not supposed to tell this to the recruiters or hiring managers.

        3. Jadelyn*

          Wow, why are you still working with that recruiter??? Sounds like he’s got issues of his own with inflexibility, LYING, and rudeness, independent of any company’s behavior.

          1. Angry Young Man*

            I’m not anymore, and I won’t be again. Got a new job a few months back! It isn’t perfect, but the commute is incredibly easy and the pay is great.

            At the time I was desperate, though. I actually wrote in somewhere on here and got a ton of “holy crap your boss is horrible” responses.

            1. Jadelyn*

              I’m glad to hear you got out and got something better! I’m just shocked at the, y’know, lying about a company’s location to a candidate thing. How did he think that was going to go, that you’d find out “oh by the way you’re going to have to move/have a really long commute for this job” when they made you the offer, and be cool to just roll with it or what?

              1. Angry Young Man*

                I think it happens a fair deal in my area, actually. I live in New York City and there’s a fair few tech jobs on the outskirts of the city like the Queens/Long Island border, northern NJ, Connecticut, Westchester, etc.

                I can see why a less ethical recruiter would lie about a job in Jersey City being in NYC… it’s only a PATH ride away! Except you can’t transfer via MTA or bike over to Jersey City, and a monthly PATH pass costs around $95 last I checked. If you hide that fact, you might ensnare some people who are desperate or don’t understand negotiation well enough to turn around and ask for more in exchange for the more complicated commute.

    4. Cat steals keyboard*

      I think your frustration is understandable. I perhaps wouldn’t have voiced it the way you did (the being done part could have been better) but hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        Yeah, I agree. Withdrawing your candidacy makes perfect sense and I would have done the same. But saying “I’m done with you” is a pretty unprofessional way to phrase that.

        1. Cordelia Naismith*

          I want to add — I think your anger was justified, but I think you should have phrased your withdrawal differently.

          But, on the other hand, it’s not like you’re ever going to work with this recruiter again, so…

        2. LBK*

          I thought the follow up to explain the situation was fine – maaaaaybe a little curt, but I actually think clearly laying out the sequence of events and pointing out the consequences of those events (ie the OP risking his current job) is good and I wish more people were willing to do things like that when they’re treated poorly in a hiring process. It’s really only the line “I’m done with this company” that I think comes across as too emotional/dramatic for a professional email.

    5. LadyMountaineer*

      As Alison says “they are telling you something important about how they operate. Listen to it.” They are telling you they are disorganized, disrespectful of your time and willing to place the blame on you for the whole thing. Screw that!

    6. Mike C.*

      I think your response was perfectly fine. Your time should be respected and when people refuse to do so there’s nothing wrong with letting them know.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Mike C., you really think saying he was “done” with the company was fine? To me, that word is more of a personal relationship word rather than a word you use with an employer or a potential employer. (I will freely admit that my take on the word is likely due to personal baggage I drag along.) There are other ways to withdraw your candidacy that make you sound like the bigger person while still pointing out that they wasted your time, gas, transit tokens, goodwill with your current boss, etc.

        1. Angry Young Man*

          Hey Loose Seal (I dig the play on words), Mike C., or anyone else, do you think a brief one-liner email to the recruiter like this would be appropriate?

          “I’m interviewing with many organizations right now, and it’s getting my boss a little suspicious that I keep stepping out for about half an hour in the middle of the day, so I’m really not comfortable with doing it again for this company given the trouble we’ve had connecting. So I’d like to withdraw my application — good luck!”.

          I’ve been rolling around different phrasings in my head (work travel leaves me with free time on my hands) and I think I like that one the most. It does imply you’re displeased, but it’s not adversarial and doesn’t put the blame on anyone in particular.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think that’s fine, but I also think you could be more pointed about it without being rude:

            “I’ve changed my schedule to set aside time for this call three times now, and it’s been canceled each time so I think at this point I’ll move on with other opportunities instead. Best of luck with the role.”

            1. Angry Young Man*

              Thank you Alison! I’ve been in the professional world for a few years now, but most of my family and friends don’t work office type jobs, so I don’t have many mentors for business communication; striking a tone that’s not adversarial but still clearly Not Happy. Your blog has been invaluable to me with learning that.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                You are welcome! I find that sometimes using a minimum of words, but having them be extremely direct and emotion-free, can actually make the point in a very satisfying way (and can convey “you are a dick” without actually saying anything people could find fault with).

              2. Gaia*

                It can be really tough to learn how to strike that balance, especially if you did not grow up with white collar family members.

                The key is to be factual, succinct, and unemotional. No one can find fault with your words but your point is clear.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yes! Actually, the headlines here sometimes are an example of that — I try to describe the situation as succinctly and dryly as possible (which in some cases makes things sound quite pointed).

                2. Stonkle*

                  “It can be really tough to learn how to strike that balance, especially if you did not grow up with white collar family members.”

                  This is one of the main reasons I find ASM valuable! I grew up in a blue collar family and speaking professionally doesn’t come naturally to me. Alison’s suggestions for wording help a lot.

    7. H.C.*

      I wouldn’t have used “done” myself, but I would’ve conveyed similar thoughts if they had dropped the ball multiple times (incl. when recruiter try to pin it back on you for having the wrong date [!!!]) and I have no interest in pursuing opportunities with that company anytime in the near future.

      Good luck with your job hunt & hope your future application processes are better than this one.

      1. Angry Young Man*

        This was a few months back, and I have a good new job now! But I want to improve how I interact with recruiters and hiring managers. Most of my experiences with agency recruiters have been negative (the internal recruiter at my current company is great) but that doesn’t mean I should be rude to them.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          I feel your pain, dude. I’m job hunting now and I’ve about had my fill of recruiters. I know there are good ones out there but there are plenty of crappy ones too.

          And for the record, I’m a GenX-er, and I don’t think you were out of line. Both the recruiter and the company were jerking you around. A friend of mine who is also job searching has a rule about companies. If a company says, “We’ll get back to you by [date]” and then she doesn’t hear anything, she’s done, even if they get back to her later and want to move forward. Her reasoning is if that’s how they treat people outside the company, people inside the company probably aren’t treated much better. I don’t know if I agree with that approach or not, but I do see where she’s coming from.

          1. Angry Young Man*

            I’ll offer a word of friendly disagreement on that: companies have a much stronger obligation to people already on the payroll, whether they’re employees or clients.

            It doesn’t leave a good impression to not get back when you’ve given something, even if it’s like “I’m really sorry but we’ll need another week, things have been unbelievably hectic here” and it makes me much less likely to want to work with that org, but it’s not an absolute dealbreaker. Unless it’s something like calling half an hour late and then insisting to do the phone interview right then or get rejected (I know someone who had that experience at a certain huge tech company), but then the dealbreaker is that the employee’s an ass and the managers hire asses.

            But one of my older (Gen-X) friends who’s a type A sales guy loved that response. Difference is what works in sales and what works for techies are different, I guess.

          2. Gaia*

            As someone who hires, I have to disagree. Any number of things could delay me and unfortunately it just cannot be a priority for me to stop everything and communicate a short delay. Why? Because my priorities are 1. my existing employees and their work and 2. fixing whatever caused the delay so we can move forward.

            If a candidate doesn’t get that, than frankly I don’t want them on my team.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              I get where you’re coming from, and I’m not sure I agree with my friend’s philosophy about that. But as many of us here can attest, job searching is just about the most discouraging, demoralizing thing there is. I put it right up there with trying on bathing suits under florescent lights. And the worst is when a company blows you off. I’m even grateful for the few that send out automated “thanks but no thanks” replies. That tells me someone has at least taken a look and decided I’m not the right fit for the role, and that their process takes candidates into consideration and lets them know when they’re not going to move forward.

              On the other side of your argument, I could say that if a company won’t even take a minute or 2 to send me an email saying, “Sorry, this is taking longer than we anticipated,” especially when they know I’m waiting to hear from them, then maybe that’s not a company I want to work for.

              Not saying any of these are right or wrong, or that one is more right or wrong than the other, but it is so frustrating to put yourself out there and then……zippo.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Agreeing with Gaia here. It’s not ideal, certainly, and employers should make an effort to get back to you by when they say they will. But sometimes things come up and are legitimately higher priorities. Or someone is out sick or has a personal emergency. It’s an odd thing to make a deal-breaker.

              1. Ann Furthermore*

                Overall, I agree too. But having been doing the job search rigamarole for the last 6 months (after 11 years of being out of the game), I completely understand the frustration.

                1. Ann Furthermore*

                  PS — And this is knowing that 6 months is a drop in the bucket compared to how much time some people spend job searching. And I have a job, so I don’t have the additional stress of not bringing in any money while looking. So…I know I have it pretty good, and it still totally sucks. I really feel for people who are in a worse position than I am.

            3. Blueismyfavorite*

              In 10 seconds you could alert the candidate with a quick email from your phone or text so there’s really no excuse to be delayed without letting the person waiting on you know. You’re sending a message that your time is more valuable than their’s.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                People don’t necessarily have candidates’ info in their phones; they’re often in separate systems. Plus, it takes time to sit down and figure out next steps.

                I’m not excusing rudeness; I’m on record here repeatedly over the years condemning employers who let candidate hang for a long time. But it’s just unrealistic to make this a deal-breaker.

              2. Angry Young Man*

                Yeah, unless you’re THE expert at your field, I think it’s an overreaction to make this a deal-breaker.

                Now if a company/hiring manager takes over a month to get back to you when they told you you’d get feedback within a couple of days, and you’ve moved on with your job search, that makes perfect sense. I think my personal record has been something like eight months between application and formulaic rejection letter.

                Then there’s the incident where I’d applied with one company, and between that and hearing back from them I applied with others, interviewed with one, received an offer, and accepted that offer. Their recruiter genuinely seemed to not understand why I was passing on that.

    8. Elle*

      Perfectly acceptable response on your part. Perhaps they will rethink how they are treating their candidates…good ones are hard to come by.

    9. anon for this*

      If this was an outside recruiter I would be tempted to contact the company and forward them the email chain (especially the part where he called me stupid) to let them know that this individual is most likely costing them good candidates by driving them away with his incompetency.

      I think your wording when you replied to him is fine, and a lot nicer than I would have been given the circumstances.

      1. Meeeeeeeee*

        Yes, this. The company should know the recruiter is messing up here, because you just know that the recruiter is spinning some story about you.

      2. a fast machine*

        This is going to be the best thing to do. The company might not know that their recruiter is sabotaging things!

    10. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I think your first email (done!) was maybe a bit unprofessional but your second email explaining yourself was very good. I also agree with another poster who said that it is probably the recruiter is who you should be done with. Maybe I misunderstood but both misses were the recruiters fault and the one time it seemed you and the company were on the same page the hiring manager cancelled in enough time for you not to step out. If it was an internal recruiter I would say ok – done with the company but if it he is external I would report his errors to the hiring manager if you have his information.

      1. Angry Young Man*

        The recruiter worked for an agency, and the first miss was because of a “miscommunication” that he wouldn’t elaborate on aside it having to do with their hiring manager. He said that not only were they limited to six phone interview time slots a week, but they always called the candidate and didn’t give out the calling number beforehand — that came up when I asked for that after the first missed call as just in case measure. That could all have been an elaborate fiction though, but when this happened over the summer I was really desperate and went along for those reasons.

        1. Pearly Girl*

          Every phone interview I’ve ever had, the company called me — I didn’t call them. It’s how it’s done.

          1. Angry Young Man*

            Maybe it’s a regional or cultural difference? I’ve been asked to call sometimes. And I like having the other person’s office number for that reason; that way I can call them up if one of us is running a bit late.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think your anger was justified but your response was very rude. I completely get why you’d want to withdraw from the process, but that’s a conversation you should have had with the recruiter, not the hiring manager (the impression I get is that you emailed the hiring manager with the “I’m done”). Call (CALL, not email) the recruiter, say you’re not happy with the lack of respect for your time, withdraw your application. “I’m done with this company” is pretty harsh, and your follow-up email gave a little too much information.

      1. Angry Young Man*

        Oh no, I misspoke then. All communication went through the (agency) recruiter. I never spoke to anyone from their client company directly.

        I actually had a situation a few weeks after that I feel I handled more professionally — company took about 10 weeks to get back to me, then they called up 20 minutes late and said “we can still do the call now” I politely said “no, sorry, but I actually don’t, have time let’s talk to the recruiter and see about rescheduling.”

        Then I called up the recruiter and said that because I had a written offer plus the company being late, I was going to withdraw my application and reach out the next time I was job searching.

      1. Angry Young Man*

        Yeah, I did sorta have that feeling. In the future I’d say something like “with all the struggles we’ve had setting up a phone interview, I’ve actually had some interviews with other companies and I’ll be continuing the process with those companies”, preferably over the phone.

        Weirdly over the phone hasn’t always been possible. I’ve applied to some megacorps where the recruiters will all be located in say, London, and coordinate the process for openings in the big US cities NYC, Chicago, Seattle, and SF. So most or all of the communication is via email.

        1. BobcatBrah*

          Yeah, when I’m pissed at somebody, I tend to be wordy with my emails. It definitely gets the point across, but saves me from coming off like the petulant 25 year old I am.

        2. Turquoise Teapot*

          They behaved unprofessionally and wasted your time, but the thing to do in those situations is to either stop responding or communicate politely that you are no longer interested. By saying, “I’m done with this company,” you stooped to their level. The consequences are that your feedback about their behavior will be taken less seriously, and you may have burned some bridges with well meaning employees of theirs who could end up at more reputable companies later on. You also may have damaged your reputation.

          You did the right thing in that refusing to tolerate inconsiderate behavior is a good business practice. But next time, word it differently. Act more professional than they do.

          1. Mike C.*

            you stooped to their level

            I disagree here. This feels too much like “well they did multiple bad things, but because you weren’t on your best behavior after being treated badly you both did bad things and now you’re equally bad”.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t think “stooping to their level” is exactly right, but by being rude, the OP gives up so much — the moral high ground, the respect of anyone else who might see the exchange, and a bit of his professionalism in general. The thing is, the situation doesn’t require hostility. You can make the exact same point without it – and in fact will make it more effectively because so many people will dismiss someone who sends back a rude response. You have more credibility if you make the point with some emotional restraint.

        3. Anna*

          This is one of those times when it wasn’t egregious, but maybe moving forward you’ll not be quite as harsh. You were absolutely correct to be frustrated and angry (so feel good about that) but make sure you’re not sending emails when you’re feeling that justifiably angry.

          1. Angry Young Man*

            I hope it wasn’t. Again even if the recruiter is like “oh, he was annoyed, whatever” and doesn’t hold it against me, the rest of the stuff that went down between me and them makes me not want to work with them. I’ll keep it at a polite “I’m not looking” or “I actually spoke with that company and decided that it wasn’t a good mutual fit” though.

            I just saw a really really nasty email that one of my colleagues sent our boss about another colleague. The guy being complained about was being pretty awful, but still, I wouldn’t want to be associated with those words, especially not when they’re being stored on some server and are digitally archived for eternity. It made me reflect on this. Thanks for your balanced response!

            1. Gaara*

              A recruiter could also tell the company or others what you said. So there’s a chance you come out looking unprofessional to more people than just the recruiter. I wouldn’t worry about it, but that’s another reason not to use language like “done with you.”

    12. Christian Troy*

      Ehh, I’m a bit torn. I’ve been jerked around quite a bit by certain organizations and it’d be nice to directly tell them that hey, you’re being disrespectful to my time.

      But I also think in the long run, you don’t want to go down that road with people. You don’t know how that can hurt you later on and it’s just not worth the emotional aggravation in getting little e-mail spats with people. Best to stick to the facts and be as unemotional as you can.

    13. neverjaunty*

      Definitely need to work on letting being angry get the better of you, but this recruiter was an unprofessional ass. Good riddance.

      1. Mike C.*

        I think this sort of treatment by recruiters needs to be called out more often. Candidates need to be treated with respect.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sure, but if you call it out in a rude way, you won’t make that point. You’ll get lumped in with the people who, say, send rude responses to rejection. Make the point professionally without needless hostility and it’ll carry a ton more weight, which is the outcome you want.

    14. EyesWideOpen*

      I have had a recent similar experience. I would have just sent an email saying upon reflection that I do not feel the company and/or position is a right fit for me and that I am withdrawing my candidacy.

      That being said, this recruiter sounds very unprofessional and downright awful. You need to stay far away from this recruiter in the future. Though I may be rather jaded in regards to external recruiters.

    15. harryv*

      I totally understand your frustration but it should be towards the individual and not the company. You missed out on an opportunity at this company simply because of a single employees lack of organization skills. Look at the bigger picture next time. You may never deal with this employee again once your application reaches the hiring manager. I would’ve asked to be managed by another recruiter. Just learn and move on.

    16. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      So this isn’t an ideal solution, but when faced with a frustrating scenario like the one you’ve described, have you considered sending yourself your initial reaction email (as opposed to sending it to the recruiter)? I find this sometimes helps me “vent” when it’s not realistic to vent to a person, and it gives me some breathing room to compose a more professional/unemotional response.

  2. Hecate*

    I am a woman working in a male-dominated tech field in a two-person department for local government. I had previously worked here in this department a year ago as a student worker during college so there wasn’t a training period after hiring – I just hit the ground running. I was hired earlier this year and the position was previously vacant for a year before I was hired. Shortly after hiring, my co-worker was promoted to another position.

    I’ve been overwhelmed for the past few months while being the only employee in a VERY busy department and I honestly believe that my prior experience as a student worker has directly contributed to my success. I’ve been juggling major departments and barely keeping my hear above water, but I’ve delivered everything I said I would. Despite this, my co-worker “Steve” frequently says things like, “Our original pick…” and “The guy we really wanted..” referencing the person they tried to hire first but declined due to pay. He’s also said things like, “Just remember who got you this job” which downplays my knowledge and experience in the field. Steve and I have a mostly friendly relationship as I worked under him as a student worker but he often says demeaning things to me and laughs it off.

    Yesterday, Steve slipped that during interviews for his old position his boss said that he was taking two high-profile department off my workload because he deemed the new candidate, one that they interviewed for 30 minutes, a “better fit”, leaving me with multiple smaller woman-dominated departments. I was outraged that after the first interview for this position everything that I have worked towards is being taken away from me. The departments in question has given me reviews with flying colors. They do not know the true scope of this candidates knowledge, character, ability, or work ethic. They know that he is a man and the department is traditionally masculine (think military). This screams sexism to me. Am I right to feel this way?

      1. Hecate*

        He really is. I’ve talked to him personally and also to my supervisor. My supervisor sympathized but said Steve is their “star player”.

        1. Angry Young Man*

          That really sucks, because he might not even be their star player/top talent/whatever and they might just not want to fire him, like Alison’s written a ton about. It sounds like you’re deserving of that acknowledgement yourself. He doesn’t sound like a great work buddy either — that’s pretty nasty stuff to say.

          Honestly here I get the feeling the only thing you can do is leave for a job that treats you well.

    1. StupidInterviewee*

      Have you guys ever accepted a job only to realise it is so much bigger than you can handle? That is me now. This first work week has been so much hell I am actually looking back at the wanted ads again.

      1. StupidInterviewee*

        oOps, sorry Hecate, I posted at your thread, my bad. But yeah, Steve is definitely an ass. He is not making your life in this new company easier and at the rate he is going, potentially losing his company ANOTHER employee.

        1. Hecate*

          Thank you for your response! And actually what you accidentally posted – that was my first month on the job. If I could get to sleep at night I’d wake up with knots in my stomach. I couldn’t eat. I regretted leaving my previous company. But it got better, and if you believe the company is a good fit for you stick it for a month. My second month is when I realized I wasn’t having the icky feelings anymore.

      2. Kore*

        This totally happened to me when I was temping – the job they described sounded like a pretty standard front desk-type job, which sounded good to me since I was fresh out of college at the time. They didn’t interview me at all, so I thought it would be pretty simple. Then I realized, midway through this, that I actually had to do a LOT of the operations planning for some big conferences, so I was creating diagrams, going to meetings with salaried people with several years of experience, and I had never done anything like that before or even had an office job before.

    2. Althea*

      Yes! Go to him and make him define what a “better fit” means in highly specific terms. Either it’s legit and he can give you some concrete things to work toward to keep those departments… or he won’t be able to do it and you can look at it as discrimination and decide how you want to proceed.

    3. J.B.*

      That sounds irritating for sure! I think your best bet for handling it might be to assess what the impact on you is and going from there. If this change will not impact you negatively (in terms of gaining new experience) probably let it go and do your best work for the departments you still have. (This in that overall the reduction in workload will probably benefit you, consider the long term ramifications though.) If there is a woman you trust who has dealt with these folks before maybe go out to coffee or lunch? Also keep in mind you’re hearing this from Steve and not your boss. You have the opportunity to think through what would be a good thing to say, additional questions to ask, if and when your boss does this officially. Or if your boss is approachable and reasonable, talk to him now. Just because Steve is a jerk doesn’t mean he will completely listen but you need to get your side of the story in.

      1. Jaydee*

        I would definitely encourage approaching your boss and talking to him about it now if he’s approachable and reasonable.
        — It’s possible that what Steve told you isn’t accurate.
        — It’s possible that it is accurate but your supervisor is oblivious to the gender dynamics of the decision and would be pretty quick to change things if you pointed out that the new hire is a man and is getting assigned larger, higher-profile, male-dominated departments while you are getting assigned smaller, lower-profile, female-dominated departments and that it appears that “better fit” means “is a guy.” Be prepared to make a logical case for why a particular department should stay assigned to you or should be assigned to the new hire based on the nature of the work or your relationship with the key players in that department.
        — It’s also possible that the information is accurate and that your supervisor won’t say it outright, but “better fit” does mean “is a guy” and he thinks that’s a legitimate basis for a decision.
        — It’s also possible that there are some issues with your work for some of the departments that you aren’t aware of or that there are other legitimate reasons for dividing the departments up this way even though on the surface it looks gendered. If that’s the case, hopefully your boss will be pretty candid with you about that so that you have a better understanding and can either address any issues or have a discussion about the other reasons for this division of labor.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Am I right to feel this way?

      Yes. And I’m sorry you have to deal with this right now. Very frustrating!

    5. Temperance*

      That’s sexist. Especially if the other departments are male-run and higher profile and the other person is a man. Time to go to HR or circle in your boss, especially since Steve the Jerk is just a coworker and not your boss.

      1. Mustache Cat*

        I wouldn’t go to HR. I’m not sure what you (Hecate) would take to them. But yes, time for a very serious talk with the Boss where you really make clear what you want out of him. Force him to articulate his case; don’t let him rely on “better fit”.

      2. BobcatBrah*

        In a two person department, there’s not enough of a sample size to say if it’s sexism or just being an a-hole. Just because he said “the guy I interviewed” doesn’t instantly mean sexism if he interviewed a guy that he thought was a better fit.

        1. Anna*

          Except, weirdly enough, what she is left with is mainly female-focused and that’s an…interesting coincidence.

          (Define “interesting.”)

        2. Temperance*

          Eh, it’s incredibly “interesting” to me that all the important work has been shifted to this man, and that the male-heavy departments are seen as more important or prestigious.

    6. Kyrielle*

      Steve is an ass.

      Have you gone to your boss and asked about whether those departments are being taken off your workload? If not, do so – and express, clearly and calmly, that you’d like to keep them. (It sounds like you do, at least – if not, obviously don’t do that.) Do start with asking, in case Steve misinterpreted (deliberately or accidentally) what he heard.

      (And feel free, if they ask where you heard it, to say Steve told you. Pretty sure he shared it to take a dig at you, and there’s no reason to give him a pass on that.)

    7. neverjaunty*

      1) Yes you are.
      2) I would take what Steve is ‘relating’ from the boss with a ginormous grain of salt.
      3) A company that allows someone to act like an ass because he is a ‘star player’ is toxic, poorly managed, and very likely overestimating Steve’s abilities.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Also, how are they defining “star player”? Because I have to say, nobody who makes demeaning comments to their coworkers could ever count as a “star player” in my book. That behavior in and of itself disqualifies them from that title.

        1. Honeybee*

          Yeah, I am always baffled by companies who defend the abhorrent interpersonal behavior of employees by referring to them being a “star” or to the productivity or results. SURELY you can find someone who is just as good at the job and isn’t a complete asshole, and in fact, not being an asshole might actually make the someone else a BETTER employee and more of a star.

    8. AspiringCatLady*

      This is soooo annoying.

      I’m a bit confused, though – why, exactly, is Steve managing your workload? The hierarchy is a little unclear. I think you and Steven report into the same supervisor, but the Sup lets Steven run the show because he’s a “star”? So when the new person is hired, it will be you and Newbie on the same level, reporting to Supervisor, with Steve in the same department but in a more senior role.

      So, there are two issues 1) Steve’s behavior towards you, and 2) Workload when the new person starts.

      I’ll start with 2. In my opinion, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be weighing in on this (Steve isn’t shy, even though it’s not his job). I’d evaluate the work and pick one or two key departments/projects you love working on, then schedule a one on one with your boss and say, “Over the past year, I’ve loved working with the Teapot Marketing team, I really want to keep them. Here are the achievements I’ve had working with that department. This is important to me and will affect my job satisfaction. But I’m more than happy to hand off my (equally prestigious) work with the Teapot Design team.” Make a case for yourself. You can’t get what you want if you don’t ask.

      As for Steve’s comments – that’s tougher. I feel like you need to shut it down, but everything that comes to mind is a little icy. Steve’s idea of the original pick is just a construct – this guy could have been useless and you’ll never know. So maybe just challenge him? “What’s your point, Steve?” Followed by, “If you want to talk about xyz that’s fine, but we can do that without these comparisons. They’re rude. Now, about xyz…”

      As for is this sexist… I think it is, but I think you’d have a hard time proving it. Have you had a formal review? Was it glowing? If so, then yes, I think you could go to your boss and say, “I don’t understand what’s happened. You gave me a glowing review, but then took away all my high profile, satisfying work. Can you explain why?” And if that can’t, then I’d consider if you need to take next steps. But honestly, that next step should probably be a new job.

    9. addlady*

      Part of me wants you to turn in your notice, and then walk out the door singing “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” Because believe me, if you do, they absolutely will, whether they acknowledge it or not. But I defer to the other commenters here.

    10. Engineer Girl*

      You nailed it. Steve is twisting the required skill sets to favor his male candidate of choice. This is common, unfortunately.

      Call him on it. Talk to Steves boss on it. Demand specifics of what fit means.

      Make a list of your proven achievements and ask directly why an unknown gets preference over an unknown.

      Ask the hard questions.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Unknown gets preference over a known. Unless the other guy has previous relevant experience there’s no reason he should get a bigger assignment.

  3. DevAssist*

    Woohoo! I’m here early! How has everyone’s week gone?

    I posted a few weeks ago about picking up a PT job in addition to my FT job, and I have an interview on Saturday for a retail position!

    1. JLK in the ATX*

      I thought I was the only one anxious for this door to open :)

      I have a phone interview at 11:30 (CST) for a PT, short term non-profit gig. Not ideal but it’s something.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I hope your interview goes well!

      I would love to have a PT job on top of my FT job, but my hours are so random and I am expected to regularly pull 12-hour days. After thinking critically about it, I realized that my mental and physical health couldn’t take the strain of another job. Shame, because I would love to have extra money since my FT job pays me a peasant’s wages.

    3. Venus Supreme*

      Hi, DevAssist! Fellow Devo person here. We chatted a bit last time I posted here, I know you like the arts :) Congrats on picking up a PT job. I hope it’s with a company you’re excited about!

      My week’s been pretty okay- my work is preparing for the new federal overtime law kicking in at Dec. 1, and to be honest working on a timesheet now messes with my psyche! I feel like I’m constantly watching the clock and I’m hyper-aware of what others are doing with their time.

      1. DevAssist*

        Hey Venus! Good to hear from you! It’s a retail job for a major department store, but as long as my schedule works out, I don’t mind taking on a bit more insanity for a few months if it allows me to pad my savings!

        Also- I’m excited because the Nonprofit that would have hired me if their new budget came through has invited me to work in their box office on an on-call basis and they’ll pay me for it! Right now it’s only two Saturdays for about four hours each day, but I’m hoping my continued interest will keep me at the top of their list for when they can hire! :)

        1. Venus Supreme*

          Excellent! That is so good to hear. Definitely work in their box office! I got the current FT job I have now because I started out as a volunteer usher.

  4. Christy*

    What questions do you ask to ascertain workplace culture when interviewing? My wife is interviewing for a job because her current workplace stinks. How can she investigate her possible future workplace to better assess its fit? Thanks y’all.

    1. Burr Sir*

      Following this for sure. I’ve tried things like asking them to describe the environment and culture and got an answer that ended up being (in my experience) completely inaccurate to the truth.

      1. Daffy Buttinsky*

        Maybe fishing for specific examples helps. I tried asking about “average days” but I got “oh, there is no average.” But asking about the last project’s timeline, or an example of an “all-hands crisis” and how it was resolved might tell you what they think crises and reasonable timelines are.

      2. DNDL*

        Yeah, they straight up lied about the culture during the interview for my current job. It doesn’t help that Central thinks the system culture should be x, my branch manager thinks the branch culture should be y, and my direct supervisor thinks the department culture should by z.

    2. Is it Friday Yet?*

      Ask if they have a busy season and how they meet deadlines. This could give you some insight into how they value work/life balance.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I ask what the company does to retain good employees. That will tell you a bit about the culture.
      If you get a blank stare, then you know they have never thought about retention. If they give the standard “We have great health benefits and a fair vacation policy” then that doesn’t help their case. But if they say something special like, “We have annual meetings where we evaluate what skills and training employees need and if they have everything they require to efficiently do their jobs.” Then that is halfway to a good company culture. The rest of the way is if they can tell you about a time when their policy/system/engagement routine was successful.

    4. self employed*

      “What do you do to keep morale high? How would your employees describe the culture? Do you have any areas of company culture that you’re looking to improve and how are you doing so?”

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I think this may have come up last week, but I would ask what they like most about the place and what they like least (or what they’d like to change). That isn’t a silver bullet, of course, though it will tell you a lot about what they value there (for example, if people tell me what they like most is the happy hours, I know that’s not the right fit for me). And if they tell you there’s nothing they’d change (because it’s perfect there), run!!!

    6. Althea*

      I ask about lunch culture. You can find out if people eat together or alone, with their team or across teams, while working or is it free time… it can tell you a lot for such a simple question.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Hmmm, I don’t know about this one. My workplace has great culture and we all eat alone, either out or at our desks. That’s not an inherently bad thing– it’s just how people prefer to take lunch.

        1. Natalie*

          I don’t think Althea is saying it’s good or bad, just that it gives you a lot of information about fit. Some people are going to want a more congenial culture where everyone eats in the kitchen together, others won’t.

    7. Kyrielle*

      “What kind of person would thrive in this position?”

      And any chance to talk to / interact with current workers a little.

    8. H.C.*

      If it’s an in-person interview, I would ask if it’s possible to briefly tour the workplace to get a better idea of its physical layout (where you can also observe how potential co-workers are behaving).

      But otherwise, I agree with asking interviewers what they like most or least, as well as any organizational strengths and challenges they have (be very wary of any who have little/nothing to say about possible negatives.)

    9. voluptuousfire*

      What are the expected hours? This can give you an idea of what hours they well, expect their employees to work.

      It may be 9-5 business hours but its really 8:30-7, for example.

      1. twig*

        One question that I like — if you are interviewing with someone who will be your supervisor: “How would you describe your management style?”

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          In my experience, that may not get you great info. People rarely think they’re bad managers, everyone will say “I’m not a micromanager” even if they are, and weaker managers generally don’t have the self-awareness to give you a truly accurate answer.

        2. Bob Barker*

          I haven’t had much success with that one, but I’ve been working on ways to phrase a question that gets at how/whether the manager helps her employees advance in their careers. Like, is that a good thing, in the manager’s eyes, that sometimes someone leaves for greater things? Would the manager actually help that person, even if it meant losing them?

          But if you ask the question in too-leading a way, bad managers guess what you want to hear. So neutral phrasing seems to be key. I did have a hiring manager volunteer to me, on phone screen, that “we never lose people to lateral moves; we lose people to promotions.” This sounds a little toot-own-horny, except for the fact I am an internal applicant, and… looking for a lateral move into her department. (She guessed, accurately in my case, that a lateral application is a sign of a dissatisfied employee, all without my having to say a word.)

    10. Jillociraptor*

      How do you evaluate your workplace culture and employee morale? How are employees able to give feedback and how do you respond to it?
      What are the characteristics of people who tend to be successful in this company?
      What are some of the biggest roadblocks to success in this company?
      How do you provide feedback and development to your staff?
      What are the organization’s core values? How do staff and management live those out?

      If she hasn’t already, your wife might want to think about what are some of the characteristics of a good workplace culture *for her*. Some people thrive in fluid, entrepreneurial situations. Others need a more settled workplace with clear expectations. Some people work best when they have lots of latitude. Others prefer lots of direction. If your wife is able to clarify for herself what kind of culture would make her happy, she can ask about those characteristics directly.

    11. Somniloquist*

      One of my favorites is when I ask the person why did they join the company and what keeps them there. It’s pretty interesting and I don’t think it gets asked very often.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Hmmm, I hear people ask it a lot and hear them recommend it a lot! I actually really dislike being asked it; I feel like my personal reasons for joining can’t possibly be the best thing they could spend their Q&A time on.

    12. Venus Supreme*

      I asked on my last interview “What is the general culture around here? How does the office celebrate birthdays?” And I got to hear of a couple traditions that one person started 10 years ago that they still uphold, i.e. a mini potluck celebration in February to avoid the winter slump, a little New Years party when the fiscal year ends, etc.

    13. Honeybee*

      I asked pretty direct questions:

      “What’s the work-life balance like on the team?” or “What’s your work-life balance like?” to multiple people, if applicable.
      “What is the culture like on your team? How do you all generally interact with each other?”
      “When people leave the team, why do they typically leave?”
      “What differentiates a good employee from a great one?” <- and listen here for the red flags of long hours, lots of face time, "works really hard," etc.

      I also asked individual contributors what they really liked about working on their team and how collaborative they thought the environment was. Watching their microexpressions before they answered the first question was more instructive than the answer themselves. A lot of people can come up with something canned, but if they have to pause and think a bit before they answer – and that's a pattern across multiple people – I'd see that as a yellow flag, at least. The best places were the places where people's faces lit up before they described their favorite parts of the team and the work. I ended up at a place like that, which is fantastic.

      1. Honeybee*

        And for clarification, I asked #3 to team leads who had insight into that. My current skip-level manager gave a really great answer to this question; it’s one of the few things I remember pretty clearly about my interview and was a big factor in me deciding to work here.

    14. Luv the pets*

      I learned the hard way to beware offices that claim to have a family atmosphere. Some places may be able to pull it off but my experience has been that most families are dysfunctional and don’t have the best boundaries.

    15. Turquoise Teapot*

      What do you like about this company and what would you change?
      In what ways is the company changing? What do you think it will be like in two years? What do you think of these changes?

      The responses I’ve gotten to these questions have been pretty honest. However, I’m still trying to come up with a way to get a sense of how bad discrimmination and harassment are there and how they deal with it. I don’t know if there’s a direct way to ask about that without sounding negative.

  5. Audiophile*

    TGIF! It’s been a long week and I took two days off work for interviews.

    Has anyone interviewed for municipal or state jobs? Yesterday was my first experience with the process.

    I interviewed for a municipal job which has a residency requirement, if I were to be offered and accept the position, of moving within 90 days.

    I also interviewed with a state corporation yesterday, which would basically be a state job as far as I can make out.

    The municipal interview seemed to go well. But the state one left me feeling flustered. Pretty sure I’m going to withdraw today.

    Surprisingly, both moved quickly to the interview stage. Less than a month from when I applied for the positions and was invited to interview.

    I had 3 interviews in total yesterday and ran all over the city. I wouldn’t pack the much in again, it was too much.

    1. LQ*

      I work for a state and have had interviews with both state and municipalities. For my state there are “requirements” that everyone be asked the exact same questions. (Depending on who you ask some people will tell you that they aren’t allowed to ask follow up questions or ask you to expand on something, that’s not true and the good bosses for the most part do.) Answering the question in full gets you more points, so if it is a multi part question making sure to catch all the parts is important.

      My experience has been sometimes it is super slow (like we are hiring right now, it took about 5 months to get the positions ready and set and out the door) and sometimes really quickly (after the job closed my coworker – who is awesome – managed to get everyone interviewed in the next 2 weeks and she’ll be making offers on Monday to bring people in quick after that).

      1. Joseph*

        Yes for the last paragraph – timeframes for government hiring are *all over the board*. Most notably, not only will it vary from place to place, it can even vary for different departments within the same government due to different requirements and/or different levels of strictness in following the hiring practices.

        1. Anna*

          I am currently on the “can be interviewed” list for a county job. I literally do not know if the reason I haven’t heard from them is because they didn’t have to move that far down the list of people to interview OR if they just haven’t got to me yet.

          It sucks.

    2. Dr. Ruthless*

      My first post-grad-school job was with the state. The interview process was pretty whirlwind (I applied and a few days later I got invited to interview the following week…except we couldn’t find a date the next week that worked for both parties, so I wound up interviewing the very next day–in the state capital, which was 3 hours from where I lived at the time. A week after I interviewed, I got the offer conditional on passing the background check. Once I got the final offer, I had <24 hours to accept it, and they were pretty weirded out by the fact that I wanted any time to consider the offer at all–HR was expecting me to say "OK" on the phone call where they told me I had the job–which was also the first time that they'd told me the salary).

      I thought the hiring process was slightly crazy, but my field has a very time-compressed hiring schedule, so it is really pretty par for the course. There was some annoying bureaucracy from the institution, but I never felt like my department was too bad.

      1. Audiophile*

        I just felt based on the way the conversation ended, that she wasn’t impressed and I wasn’t really impressed anymore and that she definitely wasn’t going to offer me job or invite me back should there be a 2nd round. (There wasn’t a mention of a 2nd round, but I imagine for this type of job, that there would be.)

  6. Marzipan*

    My secret graduation for my secret BSc (Hons) was last Saturday! I had intended to tell people IRL about it once it was finished, but now I’ve signed up for a Masters which starts next month, and I figured people would guess I was doing a secret Masters if they knew about the secret BSc, so I shall keep my mouth shut for a couple more years… Mwahahahaha!

    (I know I’m weird.)

    1. Hecate*

      This is interesting! So you received your BS without letting anyone in your professional life know that you were in school?

      1. Marzipan*

        Both my professional life *and* my home life – although I did have to tell one ex-colleague about it, when she and I were both in the same tutor group for two modules. I could hardly hide!

        I do already have a BA (Hons), and I didn’t really need to do the BSc it for any career-related reason, so it was more of an elaborate hobby…

    2. Temperance*

      How did you manage to go to class etc. without anyone knowing? Congrats!

      Also, why keep it a secret? Be proud of yourself!

      1. Marzipan*

        Distance Learning! (The Open University is pretty awesome.)
        I’m somewhat proud of my ability to keep massive secrets for a really long time, does that count? ;-)

    3. H.C.*

      I’ve done my Master’s in semi-secret (won’t bring up the subject myself, will acknowledge I’m going to classes if asked) too. Thankfully, it was mostly night & weekend classes/seminars, plus a flexible part-time job that allowed me to catch up with day classes over the summer.

      And I don’t find the incognito-ness of it weird at all. Personally, I didn’t want to jinx myself with “Oh, I’m pursuing a Master’s too” and then somehow got burnt out or dropped out of grad school with a sizable grad school loan to boot.

      Good luck!

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        I’m in that position right now. I work at a university, so my graduate program is free for me. But I feel that a lot of people brag about being in grad school when it’s not something that makes you special or unique. So I don’t discuss it unless someone directly asks.

        My courses are all at night.

      1. Marzipan*

        I don’t know; I just find it oddly reassuring to have at least one big secret at any given moment. I bought my flat without telling anyone about it until I was literally standing in it on the day I completed the purchase, so I have form for that sort of thing…

    4. MoinMoin*

      You are my hero. Abruptly announcing that I’d sold my house and moved to CO on Facebook with no forewarning or context was very enjoyable for me. I also imagine if I ever have a kid, casually posting a picture of them without ever having mentioned I was pregnant. I don’t know why.

      1. Clever Name*

        I posted a selfie of me holding my newborn niece, and my friends were like, “Did I miss something?” lol

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I had a friend who did this so I guess it isn’t super weird. Although she delivered a double whammy and got married right after the graduation ceremony.

    6. HRish Dude*

      I tried the secret masters. I knew that somehow it’s a lot less discouraging when you aren’t getting questions about when you’ll be done when you just started.

      However, I had to cave when I kept getting pestered about my personal life at work.

  7. WellRed*

    What does everyone thing of the Wells Fargo mess? Not the massive fraud, but the insane pressure of unrealistic sales goals?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Wayyy back in the day I worked for a department store, and we were “required” to open a certain amount of credit lines per month. Thankfully, I left before they fired me for not opening a single one.

      1. Red*

        I’m almost 100% sure the reason Target didn’t keep me on after my seasonal position ended was because I didn’t sign enough people up for the cards. It doesn’t even surprise me that a bank would do something similar.

        1. Kelly L.*

          And I wish companies would realize how short-sighted this is. Like…this is *the* reason I mostly switched to online shopping for my clothes.

        2. Joseph*

          True story (not mine): Many of the big retailers base the numbers purely on sign-ups, while having “customer retention” as a completely different department. So some store-level people will encourage people to sign up and immediately cancel, since it doesn’t come back at all on them if everybody signs up and bails out.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Yep – I worked for a major retailer with a credit card we had to push, and we just had to get applications. If they were rejected, or they immediately closed it, that wasn’t our problem so long as we had applications under our name.

        3. Snargulfuss*

          Oh man, I love Target, but I HATE being asked to sign up for a credit card every single time I checkout. I get so grouchy at the poor cashiers and have to repeatedly remind myself that they probably hate asking just as much as I hate being asked.

          1. chickabiddy*

            I have a Target RedCard (the one that debits directly from checking, not a credit card) mostly for the 5% discount and free shipping, but a major side benefit is that I can say “no thanks, already have it” and the cashier and I are both happy that we don’t have to go through the script.

      2. Chaordic One*

        Quite a few years ago I had a similar experience while working in a grocery store during their grand opening. I failed to “upsell” to a secret shopper.

    2. Anon to answer this*

      About 10ish years ago, I worked for Wells Fargo as a personal banker. Even back then, we were pressured so hard to open accounts and lines for people who clearly didn’t need them, using very high pressure sales tactics. People were regularly fired for not making their goals, which was surprising to me because bankers had to attend 5 months worth of training, which is a huge investment. Tellers had high pressure goals for walk-overs as well.

      I was told to open a few accounts for a woman who had an expired driver’s license, and was subsequently fired for it when my manager denied ordering me to do it. I had friends working there as well that had similar experiences. After I got fired, I closed my WF accounts and told my family to do the same thing, and I’ve never banked there again. I find that other banks try to do this too but not with nearly as much pressure. I LOATHE having to go into banks and I am so glad that technology has rendered physical banks mostly useless.

      1. Anon to answer this*

        I should note – when you open bank accounts, you get a soft hit to your credit. As anyone who tracks their credit knows, these soft hits can make a difference, especially when you have multiples in short periods of time. Credit products would be a hard hit for each product, just to start the process, even if you refused the card. So bankers were already running through the screens before even knowing if people would agree to the products, creating hits on people’s credit each time they came in to speak with a banker. I saw this especially with credit products because bankers recognized that people with worse financial situations would agree to these products more readily and this were easier sales, but they didn’t want to waste the time if the person wouldn’t qualify. So, they’d basically run the application before even asking. If they went to far and actually opened a credit card that the person didn’t want, they’d cancel it, but the credit ding would still remain.

        Additionally, we were pressured to open the non-free accounts very hard. It became a regular thing to sell a free checking/savings account, but then “accidentally” put them into a non-free package, and then also convince them to open a credit card, or set up overdraft protection (this happened a lot w/o even asking), or set up an auto deposit so that they would never see the fees on the account. Even if they did see the fees, by the time they noticed and came in to have it corrected, it didn’t matter to the banker because they’d already made their numbers for the month.

        I only worked there for the training period of 5 months (not in a bank, in a training center) and then I lasted 3 months in an actually customer facing role. It was the worst job I’ve ever had.

        I should also note that people keep making comments on other sites about how much personal bankers get paid to do this stuff – I can tell you that pay was dismal, and the incentive to open accounts was to keep your job, not to get bonuses.

        1. Emac*

          “So, they’d basically run the application before even asking.”

          Do you mean they’d do this when the person came into the bank to talk to someone about their products or to every customer? Is that legal (or does it vary by state)? And is this something other banks do, do you know?

          I’m really curious because as part of my job, I educate new immigrants on banking, credit, etc. in the US.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This must be why my bank tells me that I have been pre-approved for a home equity loan or a credit card. They went snooping around.

          2. AnonAnalyst*

            I believe this is the case, or at least it used to be. About 10 years ago, I went into my bank (not Wells Fargo, but another large, national bank) to deposit some checks, and got the spiel about opening a card. I specifically said I was not interested in opening one.

            The teller then asked me if I would be interested in getting some information about their various credit cards, to which I said “sure,” because I actually was interested in researching some options but I wasn’t quite ready to sign up. The teller told me they would mail some information and confirmed my address. I did not sign anything or fill out any paperwork.

            About a week later, I was shocked, and then incredibly angry, when a new credit card showed up in my mailbox. At the time, I had decent credit but I only had one line of credit, so I was afraid to close the account because I thought my credit score would take a huge hit given my limited credit history. So I ended up feeling like I had to keep this stupid credit card that the bank had essentially opened without my permission.

            Fun fact: the bank told me, during one of the many calls I placed to ask them WTF had happened, that by indicating I would like to get information about their credit cards, I was actually agreeing to open an account. So, by saying I was interested in receiving information, the bank considered that permission to fill out, submit, and process an application on my behalf, and thought that there was nothing questionable about the practice.

            I remember actually saying something like, “what you are describing sounds like fraud” and the person I was talking to acted like I was a complete moron for even suggesting that they were doing something nefarious.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Something similar happened to me when they deregulated hydro (electricity). It used to be that there was one company, owned by the government were you could get electricity from. When that changed, I got a call one day from one of the new companies and I said that I would be interested in receiving some information about their services. A couple weeks later, no information had shown up in the mail, and one of their CSRs was calling me to set up my account. I put a stop to that fast. I said to them that I hadn’t agreed to sign up, had signed nothing, just requested information. It didn’t happen and it turned out that a lot of those companies were doing bait-and-switch (here’s your new, much lower price you’re paying which then tripled some point later… oh didn’t you read the small print on page 50?) I stayed with my government supplier because better the devil you know.

          3. Otter box*

            I’m pretty sure this happened to me when I changed my account type at a different major bank a few months ago because the sales rep asked if I wanted a new card with the new account, and I stupidly assumed he was talking to me about the debit card (since I don’t have a credit card through them). It wasn’t until he made some offhand comment about not needing to use my main credit card from another bank anymore that I realized my mistake, but it was too late to stop the pull on my credit. There’s nothing I can do about it, but I’m so careful with my credit that I’m incredibly frustrated with myself for falling for that when, as a former employee in a different high pressure sales environment, I could see all the signs of a hard sell but ignored them.

        2. Bibliovore*

          Thank you for sharing this. When I moved 4 years ago, my husband insisted that we open our accounts with Wells Fargo because they were the dominant bank in this area. (more machines etc)

          We transferred a huge amount of money from our old bank.

          The gentleman who was helping us trapped us for over 2 hours trying to get us to open other accounts and sign paperwork agreeing to odd things not what we asked for.
          We had no idea what was going on and finally asked to speak to a manager (just to get out of there) I kept saying this is ridiculous, lets go to a different bank.

          The accounts were totally screwed up (who knew that it was on purpose?)
          Accounts that were opened without our say so.
          Money was being deducted for fees that shouldn’t have been charged.
          It took me monthly phone calls to straighten it all out. (and hours on hold, and disconnections etc)
          At NO time did I suspect that this was actually corporate policy!

          There is no where for me to vent my steaming outrage.

        3. Central Perk Regular*

          As a consumer, this makes me so angry to read. My husband and I recently opened up a new bank account to combine our finances and the banker tried all of the tactics you listed. Luckily, we were paying really close attention during the set-up process and stopped her before she did most of these things. Prior to visiting the branch, we did research online to figure out exactly what type of account we needed, so we really armed ourselves before going in there. Thank goodness we did.

          On another note, she also would only speak to my husband and not to me, even though I’m the main person who handles our finances and am pretty financially savvy.

          1. a fast machine*

            Is there a particular reason you didn’t just up and leave that bank and go to another? I don’t think I could ever do business with someone who refused to speak to me.

            1. Central Perk Regular*

              Looking back, we should have done that. But the reason we didn’t is because we just moved to an area that didn’t have a lot of banks to choose from, and this particular bank was the best fit for our needs. This bank also has a lot of branches and ATMs in our area, and that swayed us as well.

        4. Honeybee*

          When I was still with Bank of America, I “accidentally” got moved over to the non-free checking accounts more than once. One time it was because BoA quietly discontinued their eBanking checking accounts, which basically didn’t charge a fee as long as you came into the banking centers fewer than a set number of times per month (not hard for me – I never go to physical banks). They changed me to a checking account that had $20/month fees! And they didn’t even tell me! I was so gleeful when I closed my accounts there to move over to a credit union that has free checking AND refunds all my ATM fees.

          1. Jadelyn*

            They pulled the same crap with me with a student checking account. I was barely 18 and just starting college, and my dad (who was funding most of my expenses) had a BofA, so we got me a “free student checking” account linked up to his (big fat lucrative) main account.

            Literally every other month I would see services fees show up on my statement and have to call to have them removed. They would apologize, so sorry, no idea how that happened, of course we’ll remove those charges! And then two months later they’d be back on the statement.

      2. Clever Name*

        My husband and I quit WF right after it was clear that Big Banks (including WF) were responsible for the economic crash. We now bank with a local credit union.

    3. Jennifer*

      These days, it figures? I cannot say I’m shocked that any whistleblowers who reported got fired either. Seems to be the times we live in

      My mom’s bank got bought out by WF years ago and she left within a month. That was before this went down, but it makes me wonder.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Ditto. We left WF years ago for similar issues. They kept messing accounts up, pressuring us to take out CDS or other things.

    4. Mike C.*

      Not surprised in the slightest. When you have that many people doing it, you have to look towards processes and culture, not individuals.

        1. LQ*

          I will say I moved to a credit union a few years ago and it is really nice. (Though they are moving (physically) to a much less convient location and it makes me so sad.) They were very much like the tiny bank I grew up with in my home town. And like the bank from the woman in the Cracked article about WF from yesterday. (It’s a super NSFW site, but they do surprisingly good journalismish stuff for a comedy site.) No one ever asked for ID because they knew me. And I live in a decent sized city, but it was the same few tellers, they were always nice and helpful and even when I was having a bad day and couldn’t ask for the right thing they still helped.

          1. Joseph*

            “It’s a super NSFW site, but they do surprisingly good journalismish stuff for a comedy site.”
            Seconding this. As long as you’re not offended by the liberal use of curse words or slightly off-color jokes, Cracked actually does some very interesting stuff – including a lot of insider information from interesting jobs/places.

            1. Nina*

              Yeah, Cracked has some great articles. John Cheese writes some hilarious-but-true articles about being poor and the mindset behind it.

        2. Emilia Bedelia*

          Once, I forgot to sign a check that I had written from 1 bank account to another. I deposited it at the credit union ATM, and a teller called the next day to tell me that he had held it because it was signed wrong, and I would have been hit with a fee if it had been deposited. He told me to just stop by that day to sign it. When I told him that I didn’t have a car and wouldn’t be able to get back to the bank during work hours, he offered to drive over to my work during his lunch break to bring me the check to sign. They ended up mailing it to my house so I could re-deposit it. My credit union is great :)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            When my mother died, my father was hit with major out-of-pocket medical from her illness. The lady at the credit union, literally, held my father’s hand while he signed the paperwork to take out a second mortgage to pay off the medical debt. He had one lone tear running down his cheek and she just kept talking to him in a sympathetic, reassuring manner.

            It worked out, just as he and the CU had planned, he managed to sell the house and pay off both mortgages with a little pocket money left over. But we weren’t sure it would work out when he was signing that paperwork.

      1. neverjaunty*

        If you followed the recent hearing, Stumpf bragged to company stakeholders about how these sales tactics were improving the value of the company’s stock.

    5. LBK*

      If anyone hasn’t seen the videos of Elizabeth Warren grilling the president of WF, go find them immediately. It’s as satisfying (to see her call him out and refuse to suffer his BS) as it is infuriating (that he barely even seems to believe anyone did anything wrong).

      1. Anna*

        Senator Jeff Merkley is sitting next to her on the panel. When I was in DC for work visiting his office, I stopped and had my photo taken in front of her office (which is right next door) like a total fangirl.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve had a theory that if everyone has the same cascading goal, then you are asking for fraud. If the front line employee is committing fraud and has great numbers as a result, then the manager will get a bonus as well. Then the district manager will get a bonus, then the regional manager will get a bonus…and they all know the results are impossible. But they are all making $$$$, so no one will question it.
      Each step of management should have a different goal. In this case, the bankers need to enroll customers in additional accounts. But the branch manager should be held accountable for the satisfaction of those customers. Then the District manager is responsible for the funds invested in the accounts.
      The all kind of have the same goal, but they are tracking different aspects of it. That is how fraud can be exposed and since everyone has different goals, it is more likely to be investigated.
      Wells Fargo created a nightmare. I really feel for those front line employees.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s ridiculous that those 5300 employees are getting throw under the bus. If that many employees are doing something, it’s a direct effect of bad management, whether they got explicit instructions to do that or not.

    8. Rebecca*

      I loathe Wells Fargo.

      Years ago, I had a credit card with them, and had financial problems at the same time. I remember the interest rate was pretty high, and I was making progress getting it paid off, but called and asked for an interest rate reduction if possible. I wasn’t past due, I wasn’t over limit, but I was trying to reduce the interest rate so my more than minimum payments would mean something. I think I owed $2995 on a $4K credit line, something along those lines.

      Instead of lowering my interest rate, they looked at my whole financial situation, which wasn’t good, and lowered the limit to $3K, which immediately jacked up the debt to credit ratio from 75% to almost 100%, and of course when the interest compounded for the next statement, I was over limit. I was absolutely furious. About 6 months later, I was able to transfer the balance to another card with a lower 1 year introductory rate, so I closed the WF card, paid off the new card, and never looked back.

      Now that I’m in much better financial shape, with a better than 800 credit score, I laugh if I get anything in the mail from them. They could collapse into the ocean for all I care. I was just a little person, who needed a little help, and they screwed me over.

      I loved the video of Elizabeth Warren giving them the what for, but really, what good does it do? CEO still has a bazillion dollars in his pocket, 5300 low level employees are unemployed, and the stockholders and other executives still have their tons o’ money. I’ll hold my kudos until someone actually gets prosecuted and goes to jail.

    9. animaniactoo*

      I am fervently thanking tptb that my credit score at the time was not quite strong enough to qualify for a WF mortgage and that I have ended up at a bank that I respect and has never pressured me to do anything other than what I want to do.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Meanwhile, a work friend of mine had a mortgage with them, and when she got hit with crippling medical expenses after cancer treatment, they let her stop paying the mortgage while she finished treatment and then put her on a very reduced repayment plan for a couple of years. She said she would have lost her house if they hadn’t done that.

    10. Lemon Zinger*

      My old roommate used to work for Wells Fargo. The sales goals are one of the reasons for him quitting. He worked at a location near a retirement community and he felt awful pressuring elderly people into things they didn’t want or need.

    11. Observer*

      The thing that gets me the most angry is that a bunch of low level people got fired. But NOT ONE DECISION ARCHITECT OF THE POLICY! Yeah, I’m shouting. The Board admitted that it did not even THINK of firing the head of retail, nor curtailing her bonuses etc.


    12. Kristen*

      Argh, Wells Fargo! I’ve been their customer since around 2000. It wasn’t by choice at first. I started out at a small, local bank at 18 which was bought out by a larger, regional bank, which was then bought out by WF. All within two years.

      About ten years ago, I was using their drive up services (probably just for a deposit). I remember the teller asking me if I was interested in a credit card, argh, and I distinctly remember asking her to provide me with more information in the form of a brochure (maybe a mistake), but declined the card. Less than a month later, I received their credit card in the mail. I was angry to say the least. I called and canceled the card right away and said that I never signed up for a card. Thankfully, I had good credit already and wasn’t going to be using credit to buy a car or purchase a home in the immediate future, but I was concerned about how it would affect by credit score (mostly because I was still fairly young and didn’t want “new” credit cards on my report). I never pursued anything more than that, I think, because I was just too angry and I didn’t know what I wanted them to do to fix it. I think if I had known it was such a pervasive problem within WF, I would have dealt with it better.

      I should have left WF then, but have stayed, because it’s a large bank, located everywhere (blah, blah, blah). Truly, mostly I have stayed, because it seems like a big pain to switch banks and I can be a tad lazy. I’m finally going to do it though. Listening to about two seconds of the WF CEO speaking to Congress cemented that for me. Any advice out there on how to go about switching banks? Maybe I’ll ask that tomorrow…

      1. animaniactoo*

        It’s really easy. Find a bank who has the right combination of services you want – likely all of their offerings are available online so you can do comparison research.

        Once you’ve chosen your bank, go talk to a rep there. They’ll walk you through everything they need to open your accounts, and help you set them up. Once those accounts are setup, closeout your WF accounts and transfer everything to the accounts at your new bank.

        1. misspiggy*

          That’s interesting – in the UK your new bank will close the old bank’s accounts for you, transferring over your regular payments and income. And a bank found doing what WF has done would now be liable to pay compensation to all affected customers.

      2. Elle the new Fed*

        It’s pretty easy I found if you open a new account with a decent deposit and then make a list of ALL (and I mean ALL) places you do auto pay or have connected. So paypal, credit cards, utilities, house, etc. First change your paycheck direct deposit info and once that is going to the new acct, then you can start changing everything else on your list over. If you do it over the course of 2-3 months it’s less painful.

      3. Gung Ho Iguana*

        Look at credit unions. They’re like banks but non-profit so there’s less reason to cheat you and more focus on consumers. They tend to have fewer branches, but I do most stuff online and get cash at the supermarket, so I don’t need branches. The NCUA website lets you search for ones in your area.

      4. Clever Name*

        We walked into our WF branch and announced we were closing our accounts and asked for a cashier’s checks. Then we walked into the credit union down the street and said we’d like to open an account. We also refinanced our then mortgage through the credit union so it wasn’t through WF any longer. I’m sure it didn’t affect anyone’s bonuses in the slightest, but it sure felt good.

      5. Christopher Tracy*

        US Bank did the same thing to my mom recently after she went to them asking about loan consolidation and lowering her interest rate because she was having trouble paying all her bills after a medical emergency. They told her her to debt to credit ratio was too high to lower her interest rate, but then sent her a credit card for $5k – after she just got done telling them she was having trouble paying bills in the first place.

        She had words with US Bank, and that card was promptly closed. Unfortunately, I’m not sure she’d have better luck with another bank since they all seem to pull shady shit like this, and credit unions aren’t an option for her because they’re just not convenient where she lives.

    13. Pennalynn Lott*

      It goes to the truism that I developed (discovered, really) when I worked at Microsoft: “As a manager or a company, be careful what you measure.” Because people will do whatever it takes to hit those metrics, often to the detriment of the overall goals of the organization / department.

      If, for instance, you are an Inside Sales manager, you might want to measure actual sales. . . not outbound dials or talk time. Because a person can rack up a lot of phone time without actually selling anything.

    14. Jadelyn*

      I’m just gonna do a quick drive-by shout-out to credit unions as an alternative to banks. I’ve gotten screwed over by WaMu, BofA, and a couple other big banks – but my local credit union has been fantastic. I’ve got savings and checking accounts with them, and I just bought my first car with a loan from said CU. I also work at another credit union now (back office, not operations) and the entire culture is totally different from banks, from what I hear. Yes, our member service reps have goals, but there’s no incentive pay around them, they’re very reasonable, and I’ve never heard of our MSRs unethically pressuring anyone to make their goals. In fact, we had an MSR leave us for a higher-paying Teller job at a big bank, then beg to come back three months later citing “cultural differences” – which she admitted came down to being miserable with the high-pressure sales environment she discovered, versus the member-focused environment at the CU.

      To hell with the big banks, go find a credit union. You will thank yourself later.

    15. paul*

      5300 people is indicitive of a major corporate issue and they fact they’re not even acknowledging that really infuriates me. Makes me upset that my mortgage is with them, but I don’t know if any other company would be better to refi with

    16. MWKate*

      There is no way I’d open another account at a large bank. I currently have an account with a credit union, which I love. I work with community banks, which I would consider if I ever had to leave my CU. Large banks don’t care about the communities they serve – community banks do. (Of course I can’t say all, but as a rule I would say the community bankers I work with are very invested in their customers. I’ve had bank presidents call me to resolve issues with a customer’s wire transfer before.)

  8. March*

    What are some good questions to ask at career fairs?

    There’s one coming up this Wednesday at my old university (on my birthday, no less!) and I know there’s going to be companies looking for engineers, but apart from talking about my recent graduation and that I’m looking for a job in [x] field, I’m not really sure what to talk to the recruiters about. Should I ask about their work culture? What a typical day is like?

    1. dr_silverware*

      From a software perspective, it depends on if you’re talking to recruiter folks or engineers. I definitely like talking to engineers at career fairs more. Some stuff to bring up in conversation, once you’ve started chatting a bit, are questions about release cycles (to see how intense those can get); languages used (to see how they feel about their codebase); how much time they spend writing code (or whatever type of engineering you’re actually doing) vs designing architecture vs in meetings vs documenting bugs/fixes on a given day; what the culture is like.

      My biggest two would be what languages they use and how much time they spend writing code. For language–this isn’t to see if it’s a language you’d enjoy writing in, but to see how they react about it. I don’t know anyone in the world who doesn’t feel like their codebase is too large, but getting into this kind of conversation can show you a lot about what they think of their coworkers’ and company’s product. For time breakdown–by asking about specifics like this, you get a better sense of an average day than if you’d just said “tell me about an average day.”

  9. HeyNonnyNonny*

    So what are your best document control tricks and techniques?

    I work on a team that is…a mess. People resist any sort of ‘system,’ so there are often multiple drafts circulating that different people see at different times, and it’s my job to corral all of the changes and edits and comments together. Word’s combine documents function seems to cause me more problems than it solves. Any suggestions, for Word or otherwise, would be awesome!

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Oh, we have shared drives and folders. But no one uses them…I can’t even get people to include all team members on emails when they send out drafts!

        It is extremely hive-inducing.

    1. StupidInterviewee*

      The fact that people are resist any sort of system has me worried though. Can you first get your boss to allow you rights to restructure the file system? A proposal might need to be prepared.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Sadly, the team I work with will not change the way they work. Even clear instructions result in lots of sneaky one-on-one document back-and-forths. I’m resigned to it being part of working here.

        1. StupidInterviewee*

          That is horrible. Argh.
          We used to have a horrible file system that resulted in a lot of overtime to fix stuff. The restructuring got rid of that overtime and we never went back! Maybe if you tried to reinforce to people that it could stop mistakes and abortive work?

        2. afiendishthingy*

          You can’t put your foot down on it? Tell people they need to make their changes in the file in the network drive (w/ track changes on), and when they email you their version, say “As I said, for efficiency and to avoid errors, all edits need to be made directly to the document on the F drive”? Would you get in trouble for standing firm and not accepting changes submitted via email?

          Because there really isn’t a good way to combine all these edits if you can’t get people to STOP this madness.

    2. NW Mossy*

      Sounds like you need something like Google Docs or Microsoft’s SharePoint, which allow people to collaborate on documents hosted in the cloud at the same time. In my work, I have a related need to have templates/documentation that we can collaborate on, but we also need to then be able to protect the final version against further changes/overwrites. We’re using SharePoint for this now and while it was a big transition at first, people are really starting to like and appreciate its features.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        So some more background– we have SharePoint, but no one uses it. The team just absolutely will not use any new systems, and I don’t have any standing to make them. It’s really up to me to manage my own system of incorporating the messy edits.

        We also can’t use Drive due to agency policy.

        1. LQ*

          I know you say they won’t use it but have you tried sending document links out so people are just unwittingly useing it? Also you know that you can make it so that a sharepoint library is one of your “Favorites” in your windows explorer right? That can be a handy way to, again, make it feel like they aren’t really using sharepoint.

          That said without good support from leadership it can be really really hard.

          Have you tried track changes but without displaying the changes? So turning it on and switching to No Markeup? This lets people feel like they are just making the changes and makes it easier to control on the other end.

          All that said things that have actually worked: My boss’s mandate (and him actually using it), boss’s continued enforcement, including little 5 minute tips on how to use things like track changes, combine/compare during team meetings, and just straight up complaining to people about how much extra work it is and how that means I can’t do because they didn’t turn on track changes. (YMMV on this one, it’s a really tricky line to dance on, but 2 times of, I just can’t make that happen because I have to redo your thing from scratch fixed one coworker.)

    3. Newby*

      The only way I know is to use google docs. Multiple people can edit at the same time. The only other way to do it is to not allow more than one person to edit at a time so that there is only one document (you can send it out as a locked word document or a pdf), but that is really really inefficient.

    4. KT*

      Could you get them to work on docs via Google Drive? People can all work on the same document at once and leave comments, and it tracks your edits

    5. Cat steals keyboard*

      You could use a check-in/out process that allows only one person to work on a document at a time. I worked at one place that had ‘job sheets’ – if you didn’t have the sheet in your possession you couldn’t work on the document.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        I like the idea of a ‘job sheet’– Even if the team won’t use it (they won’t) at the very least, I can use it myself to keep track of different versions and dates of edits.

        1. Cat steals keyboard*

          If you go down the hard copy route you can include print outs of the different versions etc.

          If you are resigned to inputting changes manually it can help to print a hard copy and cross them off as you do them.

    6. Mockingjay*

      First, you need a central repository – SharePoint, share drive, or cloud storage.

      Next, you need a process set in stone.

      – One file only per document.

      – That file must edited within SharePoint or the shared area.

      – Offline files will not be accepted. They will be sent back to the originator to redo using the current, correct file. This is important. You cannot redo the work of, say 20 people and still do your own work. It may seem easier to just fix it yourself, but it really isn’t. They are responsible for doing work correctly, just as you are.

      – Drafts can reviewed using Word’s Track changes and comments.

      – If the system or repository has one, use a workflow to track progress, inform stakeholders that document is ready for review, etc.

      – Provide training. Make it clear that all will be expected to follow the process/use the system within 60 days (set time limit).

      Finally, you need the backing of the Powers That Be. If they are resistant, show them how many hours/$ are wasted trying to reconcile duplicate items, how that impacts due dates, and so on.

      A Document Manager is like the Highlander – there can be only One. That means you own the process and you control it.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        “Finally, you need the backing of the Powers That Be. If they are resistant, show them how many hours/$ are wasted trying to reconcile duplicate items, how that impacts due dates, and so on.”

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          Yes, this is really the heart of the problem– someday I would hope to be able to create a SharePoint document and require people to use it, but right now leadership is supportive in a very low-priority sort of way. :(

          1. 2 Cents*

            Could you keep track of all the time you spend on each document that you have to hunt down (and if you could guess others’ time when they see the incorrect versions and have to redo their input) and then bring it to the higher ups’ attention as a bigger problem? I work at an agency that bills $185/hour. We’ve gotten processes changed in a very change-averse environment doing this. “I can either spend 2 hours redoing this document because Bernard refuses to use our process, or I can spend those 2 hours doing XYZ on this majorly important account.”

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      As others have mentioned, I’d use Google Docs for real-time collaboration. If it’s one at a time with Word and you have to approve changes, I would have one person edit the document with Track Changes on, and then you approve or deny the changes, and then send it to the next person with Track Changes on, who sends it back to you to send to the next person.

    8. Mustache Cat*

      This is my personal nightmare. My deep, deep condolences. It sounds like your REAL problem is the team you work with; if people don’t want to change and can’t be forced to, they simply won’t.

      That said, maybe you can convince them to take pity for your plight. Would you be able to call a meeting, either with the entire team or with someone who has the power to implement change, and make your case? Show them the mess of a final document that results when there are multiple drafts circulating at the same time, and tell them that’s the level of quality they will have to expect if they don’t implement a system.

      Alternatively, if no one will follow the rules, you may have to be the rigid one. Come up with a hierachy of editors: say the draft goes to Jane first, then Wakeen, then Jane again, then Boss for final approval. Label each document clearly: Teapot Report FOR JANE FIRST REVIEW; etc, and ONLY accept the document back from Jane. And then send directly to Wakeen, labelled Teapot Report FOR WAKEEN REVIEW. And only accept it back from Wakeen. If Jane sends you additional edits while it’s supposed to be with Wakeen, ignore her. Send the email straight to the trash. Don’t even look at it. And keep going like this until it’s done. People will probably email drafts back and forth in secret, but make it clear that you will only accept ONE document from ONE person, which is the person who was supposed to be editing it.

      Make everyone clear on the rules. If they won’t follow them, simply don’t allow it. It’s rigid and people will not like it, but it may make your work easier.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        I like the system where I get to enforce. I won’t hold my breath for the BossMan to let me implement, but I will keep it in my pocket for my next project and see if I can’t convince the Powers that Be to let me try it.

        1. Mustache Cat*

          I guess I’m unclear on what the dynamic is in your environment, but all you’d be doing is to enforce what work gets sent to you when; it’s not a ‘system’, per se. You’re not enforcing everyone’s actions, just the way that it impacts you. It doesn’t have to be a Thing with you explicitly in charge. When people send edits to you out of order, just politely say, “Oh sorry, I can’t accept these edits right now! The document is with X right now. I’ll send it to you when I get it back from him.” In most environments you’d be well within your rights to do that; you don’t need to lean on a boss or a formal implementation. Again, I don’t know your situation, but this isn’t something I would even mention to my boss in doing.

          1. HeyNonnyNonny*

            Yeah, we’ve got a weird dynamic. We have a lot of higher-ranking experts who are allowed to run roughshod over any system in place because we need their expertise. There would definitely be feathers ruffled if I said I couldn’t accept someone’s edits right away. So for now….stopgaps.

    9. H.C.*

      Instead of combine documents, I typically do compare documents instead so I can see how the changes differ and which version I prefer to use.

      Also, our protocol is for reviewers to add their initials to the end of the filename when they have reviewed/edited the document (so our standard file name might be “Company Policy 09.23.2016 DRAFT” if Abby B., Carl D. & Ella F. have already reviewed it – it also gives you an idea of which draft they have reviewed/amended from)

      Lastly, I’d try to establish a linear workflow as much as possible (with the author taking responsibility of funneling through these reviews). I know sometimes concurrent reviews are unavoidable (esp with tight deadlines) but a linear review system ensures changes are reviewed & made more effectively.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        OK, would you mind explaining to me the difference between compare and combine? I’ve never been able to find a clear explanation on what each one actually does, and it sounds like it could be really useful!

        The linear workflow is a dream of mine, but not something I can really implement or enforce right now. :/

        1. LQ*

          Honestly? I’d take 2 problem documents and just run them through to see which one works better, but I find compare tends to be more helpful. Compare puts them side by side and combine stacks one on top of the other. It’s not a good explanation, but I really think that taking the same 2 monster documents and running them through and playing with it will be totally worth your half hour.

          1. Mustache Cat*

            I love the Compare tool, but putting HeyNonnyNonny in the position of having to decide which of the concurrent edits from his higher-up coworkers to keep or edit out exposes him to all sorts of annoyances. Say he likes Coworker A’s edits better, but then Coworker B gets mad about it and is higher in the hierarchy…Or it turns out that Coworker B’s edits actually contained an incredibly important nuance that HeyNonnyNonny is unaware of. He just can’t put himself in that position.

          2. HeyNonnyNonny*

            Oh, that explains it! I’ve noticed that they put the changes side by side, I just didn’t realize that was the only distinction between the two.

  10. Receptionist no more*

    I’m an office manager / receptionist for a team of executives. I have worked here for 5 years without getting a raise yet. I come in early, stay late, rarely take time off and I myself ragged trying to do a good job. They constantly say I do a good job so I have been asking for a raise for over two years. Yesterday I was told I would be getting it finally. They gave me a 5 cents an hour raise. 5 cents. They told me it was all they could afford. Meanwhile all the executives and board members got 5 figure stock options this year and got to trade in their year old company cars for new ones. I quit yesterday at the end of my shift. Today they won’t stop calling me but I’m not answering. Has anyone ever quit your job on the spot? Did you regret it? I don’t right now but I’m just wondering. Thanks!

    1. Audiophile*


      That’s just…no words. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’ve never quit on the spot like that, but I think if I was going through what you are, I ‘d likely do the same thing.

    2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I did once and did not regret it one bit. I might be tempted in your case to answer and see what kind of raise they can afford now. Just to have a paycheck while you look for something else.

      1. Receptionist no more*

        Their messages say that they can’t afford to pay me anymore but the perk that they are offering me to come back are 1) Unpaid days off (that I can’t afford to take) and 2) being able to take home the leftover food from their business lunches.

        1. Elle*

          These people are jerks. I’d move on if I were you (sounds like you already have). I have no words…their leftover FOOD??? And unpaid days off? Wow. How freaking generous of them. Some people have absolutely no clue.

        2. Tandar*

          0_O leftovers as a perk? They are clueless.

          I would be less insulted by just being told no to a raise than to get a “raise” like that.

        3. hbc*

          They are a complete caricature of corporate executives. Seriously, the only reason to take their call is so that you can laugh at them.

        4. LawCat*

          Their “offer” is UNPAID days off and table scraps?? You have to wonder what goes through the minds of people that green light making an offer like that. Ugh.

          I’d be really tempted to just send an email, “Your offer of no money and table scraps is rejected. You can send my final paycheck to [address]. Do not continue to call me.”

          1. This is She*

            Good god — thank you! I could not find the right word for my outrage at the leftover food abomination. TABLE SCRAPS.
            Thanks for reminding me. Disgusting!

        5. animaniactoo*

          Dear lord. They deserve everything that is coming to them as they figure out that they will have a hell of a lot harder time getting their work done without you. Even if they hire and train somebody else it’s going to be a long transition period as they get up to speed. They’re going to LOSE so much more time and energy and profit than if they had just given you a decent raise.

          And 5¢ an hour? That doesn’t even cover a freaking cost of living adjustment.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Right? Dang – and I thought my 30 cent an hour raise at Evil Law Firm was a slap in the face. This is much worse.

        6. animaniactoo*

          [snickering to myself as it just hit me] – The irony of this situation is that you now ARE taking unpaid days off. Forever and ever from them… so they just offered you something you’ve already taken for yourself. How pointless.

        7. Dee*

          Please come back! We’ll ultimately pay you even less by giving you unpaid days off!

          That is a special kind of clueless.

        8. Tomato Frog*

          It’s not even possible that they can’t afford to pay you more than that. I could give you a bigger raise out of what I have in my wallet today. I hope everything falls apart without you.

        9. neverjaunty*

          I can’t think of an appropriate response to these jackwagons that fits within the AAM comments policy.

        10. ThursdaysGeek*

          If they skipped one business lunch, they could double your pay raise.

          I hope you find another job very quickly, and please send us an update. I’d like to hear an update from their side too — how their business fell apart because they lost a vital member of their team because they were selfish and clueless idiots. That probably won’t happen, but at least they are feeling some pain right now.

        11. BRR*


          That is so incredibly insulting. You want a raise and they’re essentially offering to pay you less and give you leftovers.

          I think it’s so freaking awesome you did this. I hope you told them why.

        12. periwinkle*

          So that’s what happened to Mandy the Horrible Director! Once upon a time I worked in a corporate help desk and our boss’s boss’s boss was a dreadful person of the “they should just be grateful they have jobs” type. She actually said that in a meeting, too.

          One late afternoon she loftily dropped by (a rare occasion, such an honor!) with a few mostly-empty sandwich trays. “I thought you might as well have them. We were just going to throw them out anyway.”

        13. EmmaLou*

          They seriously offered you their table scraps…. as a perk?! Who ARE these people? (Don’t answer that.)

        14. LBK*

          I’d reply “Sorry, I think you accidentally sent that email to me – assuming you meant to send it to you dog.”

        15. Clever Name*

          I gasped out loud that they are offering you LEFTOVERS as an incentive to come back. I can’t even.

        16. Mazzy*

          Oh…OK…I was on the fence about quitting with no notice, but this makes it seem like a joke of a company, I guess you did the right thing then!

        17. AnAppleADay*

          Wow. Are they really that clueless and out of touch ? Or, purposefully adding insult to injury?

          Quitting at the end of your shift with no two week notice was perfect. Not answering or responding to the calls is perfect. I don’t know how future employers might see it but I hope they see it as a strength. I do. You deserve much, much better.

          I once worked my first shift at a new place then called in the next morning to say it wasn’t a good fit for me. When the HR person called me back, she cautiously asked if I felt comfortable telling her what had happened my first day. I described how at first, I was very happy to be there and learn fast from my supervisor “George” as he trained me to do my job at my desk. Then the ten o’clock break happened. The workers in the warehouse came in and one woman “Sandra” marched over to my desk where my supervisor was training me. She started an argument with George and he pulled her into the warehouse to talk. She came back in after awhile and sat at the break table fuming and say things directed at me. After returning to the warehouse my supervisor apologised saying Sandra was easily jealous whenever he talks to another female. As the day went on, I learned that Sandra and my supervisor were having an affair with each other while both were married to other people. Sandra left the warehouse a couple times that day to let me know George was HERS and that I needed to STAY AWAY from HER MAN!

          Yeah, no wonder they couldn’t keep anyone in my position. The last two people hadn’t stayed in the position much longer than I did.

    3. Hermione*

      WOW. Good for you. I don’t have any experience with this but I hope you quickly get hired somewhere fantastic.

    4. Construction Safety*

      Whoa, 2 bucks a week!? That’s hella insulting, I’d need a smaller calculator to figure the benefits of that.
      While I don’t blame you for quitting, you might regret it later when explaining an employment gap.

    5. Christy*

      Oh my god. That’s completely unfathomable. Why even bother with the raise? Seriously, that’s a huge insult. Good for you for quitting.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      That’s completely ridiculous, even discounting what the executives got. If you multiple that by 40 (hours per week) and 52 (weeks per year), that’s a $100 raise.. for the year!

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Oh, yes… I didn’t even think of that! So, yes, it’s like a $.70 “raise.” With cost of living increases, it’s actually a pay cut.

    7. RSCanuck*

      I quit a job once on the spot and I did not regret it. The job was awful and I was basically bullied by the director and the assistant director (the organization was so small that it didnt have managers or supervisors so I essentially reported directly to the director). I dont regret it because the job was so awful that I experienced workplace PTSD and depression afterwards, but that didnt make quitting on the spot easier. My whole body was shaking when I did it and I was scared, but it was so necessary in order to protect my mental health.

    8. Pwyll*

      Yup. For 5 years I absorbed every imaginable role in the company without a raise: they fired the HR consultant, the IT consultant, and never replaced admin staff and were discussing having me “crosstrain” with the bookkeeper so they could let her go too. I begged for an additional staff person to take some of the pressure off for 2 years. Finally, they called a big meeting and were very happy and proud to announce that they were fulfilling my request to “bring in additional resources”. An intern. To add to my 3 other interns to manage. I stood up, said, “An intern is more work, not less. I’m done with this. I’ll have a resignation letter on your desk within the hour. Thanks for everything.” Then I left the room, wrote the letter, packed up my stuff, and walked out.

      Never regretted it. Admittedly, a few days later after I cooled off I -did- answer their calls, and I went back in to help them wrap up affairs. We actually still have a great relationship. But I only went back because their voicemail messages were “Clearly we’ve screwed up here, and would appreciate if you could help us in the transition, and we’d be happy to help you find your next opportunity if we can.”

      If the calls you’re getting are anything but that, run far, far away and never look back.

    9. Verklemptomaniac*

      Back i when I took time off from undergrad to earn enough money to finish up undergrad, I worked for a major department store selling shoes on commission (ranging from 7% to 10% depending on the type of shoe). Crappy job, but I worked my tuchas off, was consistently the top seller in the store (if not the region), and was making ~$25/hour, which was fantastic money for me. They’d screwed around with out commission rates before (lowering them without telling us, then shrugging when we found out), but I was still making good money, so I stayed on.

      Then, right before back-to-school season (one of the busiest times of the year), they announced they were virtually eliminating commissions, instead paying us minimum wage plus 1% commission. I was… not thrilled. Store manager called me up to discuss it, knowing I was pretty disgruntled, and tried to convince me to at least stay through the busy back-to-school season, saying I’d make good money.

      I asked him for a piece of paper and a pen, and did the math in front of him. If I had my best day ever under the new system, I’d have made 40% less than I did on a slow-average day under the old system. I asked him if he’d stay if they cut his pay by more than 40%. He said no. I stood up, shook his hand, thanked him for his time, and quit on the spot. (Which is less dramatic than it sounds, because my options were basically “accept new pay structure starting now” or “quit.’)

      1. BRR*

        I was watching the office last night and Jim hit a commission cap. Gabe tried to convince him to keep selling but yeah.

    10. Lucky*

      I’m so sorry that you were treated so shabbily. If you are concerned about finding a new job after quitting like that, you may want to take the weekend to cool off and then call someone (preferably someone you have a friendly relationship with) and tell them why you left. Give all of these reasons – 5 years no raise, then a $.05/hour raise, pleading poverty while others get options and perqs. Then tell them what you want from them – a legit raise and you’ll come back, a good reference if you work out a notice period – whatever you can stand.

      $.05/hour is literally $100/year.

    11. Master Bean Counter*

      I admire your restraint. I wouldn’t have made it to the end of the shift. At the mention of 5 cents I probably would have laughed. Then I would have gotten up and cleaned out my desk and headed home right then.

    12. Mustache Cat*

      Good for you. Everything they offered you was an insult from start to finish. Don’t ever go back (except if they offer you a LOT of money and benefits, but even then, don’t).

    13. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Wow…just wow.
      Next time they call pick up and have a list of questions for them:
      How much did the new cars cost over the old cars?
      How much do each of those business lunches cost?
      What was the combined total of the stock options?
      Was the lowest stock option granted higher than your “new and improved” salary?

      Now that they have looked at all of those numbers…what are they willing to offer.

      1. Blue Anne*

        I think that would be very satisfying, but (personally) I wouldn’t be going back after leaving with no notice unless they offered to double my salary and give me a different puppy to hug every day. Just doesn’t seem like something that would work out.

      2. neverjaunty*

        It doesn’t matter what they’re willing to offer now that she’s quit. Anything they offer at this point would be a temporary “please please don’t make us find somebody else to abuse” that would quickly return to the status quo.

        1. TheCupcakeCounter*

          Oh I wouldn’t go back either. I just want them to do the leg work and then still throw it back in their faces (or go back at better rate while actively looking for better job without telling them I’m looking)

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        I would bet that just one of those cars was probably more than OP’s salary for the year. No wonder they didn’t have any more money left, they spent it all on themselves.

    14. H.C.*

      Yeah, that’s effing awful. I don’t blame you for leaving at the end of day but hopefully you have ex-colleagues there who can be your references & vouch for your work quality—given you’ve worked there for five years and the official company line may be “you quit without notice” when asked by potential employers.

    15. Blue Anne*

      I quit on the spot about six weeks ago. I don’t regret it at all; I’m proud of myself for sticking to my principles. And today I’m finishing up my first week at a job that looks like it’s going to be infinitely better.

      It can work out. I don’t blame you for your decision there at all. Good for you!

        1. Blue Anne*

          I quit without one. I’m an accountant and there were a ton of legal/ethical issues which weren’t being addressed; that can mess with my CPA eligibility. I gave them almost a month of notice, and the next day my boss pulled me into a meeting for 3 hours of emotional blackmail. Left at the end of the day and didn’t go back.

          1. Blue Anne*

            That said, I had already been talking to this firm and was 90% sure they would be making me an offer at some point, and I had another application in which was a personal referral with a very good shot. (I did two interviews with that company, met the CFO and Controller, but didn’t get an offer.)

            So, no job offer in hand, but not exactly walking away blind either.

    16. Happy Lurker*

      I did that once. Eight bullet point job description 3 months later turned into 8 pages, in addition to covering the front desk for 2 hours per day. When I asked my supervisor what my priorities were she said all of them. I quit.
      I didn’t realize it, but I had a job offer headed to my mail box and started in a new position 3 weeks later. I spent 5 years with the best coworker at the next job. I figured it was karma for putting up with all the crap from the last place.
      OP good luck. With your work ethic, you will go far. Good admins are hard to find!

    17. Not So NewReader*

      Just my opinion, but stock options are utterly worthless. My husband’s company gave him options to buy at around 40 per share. The market tanked and the stock never went up to $40 per share and the option to buy expired. It’s a worthless piece of paper and empty promise.

      The car swap may have been a lease arrangement that gave them plenty of tax benefits.

      Now I will add 2 plus 2 and come up with the answer of 5.67. It looks to me like this is a company that is not on good ground financially. I am betting you will see them go belly up fairly soon.

      I bet you never stay for 5 years with another employer who acts like this one! I am sorry this happened to you. You did the right thing by leaving. I bet you will find something else really fast.

    18. HR Pro*

      I imagine the cost of the HR & payroll time to process that raise is more than $100 per year.

      Personally, I wouldn’t quit on the spot in this situation, but I would immediately and aggressively start job searching.

    19. Venus Supreme*

      Oh man! I don’t blame you at all. I know someone who has quit on the spot. She worked for a terrible man. Not one iota of regret.

    20. Golden Lioness*

      That is horrible. 5 cents is an insult. It’s worse than not giving you a raise at all. And this is after 5 years without a raise!

      Good luck and hope you find a new job where they appreciate you soon!

    21. Elizabeth West*

      I did, for a job that turned out to be a bad fit (on their part). I was hired as a receptionist for an accounting firm, in spite of a personality test they gave me that indicated I was “the wrong type.” A married couple owned this business.

      Three days later, I quit. Reasons:
      1. Procedures were muddy and I had to do personal work for the owners’ church.
      2. They did not tell me until my third day that I would be full-on doing a client’s payroll (work that one of the accountant should have been doing).
      3. Also on my third day, the bosswife screamed at me for accidentally stamping a check with the wrong stamp. I offered to go to the bank and rectify the mistake, but she refused to accept any compromise and ranted at me.

      I went right to bosshusband and resigned on the spot. Her excuse for screaming (provided by bosshusband, not her)–she was tired from moving over the weekend. I told him I did not want to be responsible for a client’s payroll, and I did not think a job where my boss screamed at me was a good fit (I left out the church stuff). They cut me a check for my work and bosswife wrote on it, “Come see us sometime.” OH HELL NO LADY.

      1. twig*

        I think my husband worked for them!!

        He got a reception job at an accounting firm owned by husband/wife with one other accountant there. The wife was supposed to be stepping out of the business so that she could start a restaurant. She was very particular — with no guidance ahead of time — and prone to yelling

        They wanted my husband to be setting up corporations for their clients — with no training. He’s a smart guy and can pick stuff up fairly quickly — but with no guidance, it was nerve racking for him.

        His final straw came when she yelled at him for turning off the radio at the front desk so that he could concentrate.

    22. EyesWideOpen*

      I have quit my job on the spot after approximately 4 months. I worked in an office where the young executives liked to play frisbee and football in the office and were encouraged to do so to blow off steam. One fun thing was to aim the frisbee or football at my head. One day I simply had had enough and quit on the spot. It was the best feeling ever. Plus now I always use the story (the ball throwing not the quitting) on job interviews when asked questions such as what I will not put up with on the job.

      I also once rejected a small demeaning raise after 2 years on the job telling the CEO that I much prefer to retain my current salary than accept this raise. It worked as 6 months later I received a very large raise.

    23. Piano Girl*

      I almost quit on the spot today. We are moving offices and I was looking at the desk in my future office. The secretary came up behind me and started yelling about how that furniture had already been promised out. I replied that I was just looking at it and she kept yelling. When I told my supervisor what happened, I was told, “She’s stressed out” and told just to ignore her. This is not the first time this has happened.

    24. MissDisplaced*

      Yes I did that once, over shift assignments. You do realize you will not get a reference, right? That being said I don’t blame you One bit, and do not take their calls if you truly are ok with that.

    25. Hiraeth*

      GOOD FOR YOU! I am amazed you stayed for five years. A penny for each year of loyalty? PSH.

      I did have some regrets after leaving a job because the time I spent in unemployment was longer than I expected, but I honestly do not miss the stress.

    26. Engineer Woman*

      I have never quit on the spot but if there ever was a reason to do so – yours is a good reason! This company is crazy (who offers a 5-cent per hour raise to an employee whom they consistently tell has done a good job? And prioritizes changing company cars over providing a decent raise to a good employee?) and their offer to retain you is laughable as so many comments have said.

      I wish you best of luck in finding a new job. I think you made the right decision.

  11. Jayne*

    I am very, very shy and introverted and struggle in social situations. My husband is in a field that requires a lot of networking and socializing to advance in his career. I know the wife plays an important part in this, and I really, really want to support him in this way, but I don’t know how do I do it. My main problem is I have no idea how to start a conversation — and hold it– with a stranger. My husband told me that currently it is best if I stay home until I learn how to better communicate and socialize. Any suggestions on ways that I can improve? Any conversations starters or tactics that are helpful in these types of social situations?

    1. Dawn*

      Learn some conversation openers and just let the other person talk- that’s what I do! Then all you have to do is stand there, smiling and nodding, staring at the space between their eyebrows (so it looks like you’re looking them in the eye) and interjecting occasionally with “Oh interesting!” and “Ooo tell me how you handled that!” and “My goodness I bet that was hard, how did you ever decide to do that?”

      1. T3k*

        Hahaha, sorry I just imagined a very giddy person messing up and the person being talked to going “why is she smiling at that for?”

        But definitely agree with the “spot between eyebrows” trick. I don’t like looking people in the eye (must be a habit I unconsciously got from the Asian side of family) so instead I learned to look at a spot near the eyes, like between them, the nose, forehead, to make the person I’m talking to believe I’m looking in their eyes without actually doing so.

          1. T3k*

            Not look an elder/superior in the eye is a sign of respect among many Asian countries, and doing so is considered disrespectful or like you’re challenging them, especially intense staring.

          2. Charlotte Collins*

            In some cultures it’s seen as very aggressive, like you’re trying to start a fight. Also, who gets to look whom in the eye can be based on age/status/etc. (This isn’t just in Asian cultures.)

    2. Workinwoman*

      Maybe a solution is by not staying home? having your own work/volunteer efforts/etc to talk about gives you conversation fodder. Just a thought!

    3. Newby*

      That sounds harsh. The best way to improve is to observe how other people socialize in these situations. I don’t think you can improve by staying home. You should talk to your husband about finding some events to attend together where you can practice or observe without feeling too much pressure.

      1. Yup*

        Yes, I agree, the staying home sentence is harsh and unhelpful. OP, do you feel your husband is being supportive of your efforts? Please know that socializing, especially in a high-stakes environment (career advancement), is hard! Be kind to yourself – you are trying, and that’s the main thing. Please don’t be too hard on yourself.

        Speaking as a shy introvert myself, the main way to becoming more comfortable is exposure. And your husband absolutely should help you! Ask him to introduce you to people (not too many), to stand with you and converse together with the other party/parties, until you get to know them and feel more comfortable. He can also help by linking you with people with whom you might have something in common, or something similar. It’s not all on you!

        Also, how about you agree to a timeline for the next event? Say, you go for an hour, then excuse yourself. Slowly, if it suits you, you could try staying longer. In brief: start small, and reward yourself mentally for how far you’re stretching yourself. Make sure your husband appreciates it, too!

    4. self employed*

      Practice! Go chat with the checkout person at the grocery store. Make small talk in line. Compliment someone on their shoes and ask where they bought it. Do frequent low-stakes conversations and build from there.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I completely agree with this. I am a shy introvert, but you might not guess it. Why? Because I was raised by a gregarious father (who shows introvert tendencies), and I grew up watching how he interacted with strangers. I think it also helps that my early jobs were in retail and food service, where I was being paid to interact with customers. (Interestingly, I was really good at retail, because I could read body language and never did a hard sell.) Unless I’m having a day where I really don’t want to talk to anyone, I model my behavior on how I have seen my father talk to people, and it works really well.

        On the other hand, from my mother I inherited a weirdly approachable vibe. The oddest person in the room will come up to us for a conversation. Since my mother is a very sweet person, she is unfailingly polite in the face of some very, very odd interactions. It was good training for me.

    5. Temperance*

      What do you do? Does your husband support your career with networking?

      I am a serious weirdo, but I turn off the weird when I’m networking or in a professional context. I always introduce myself and say something about the room / event. “Hi I’m Temperance, aren’t these drinks / the decor / the band wonderful?” is my go-to icebreaker. I then ask firm affiliation or how someone knows the host or what they do.

      1. Jayne*

        I’m a receptionist. We hardly do any networking here, but I will need to if/when I start my own business one day. He’s already very supportive of that.
        I like your ice breaker! I’m adding it to my list.

    6. Ian Mac Eochagáin*

      I don’t think staying at home is where you learn how to socialise! You don’t have to be super-extrovert to make small talk with people. Just ask simple things like how they know your husband, what they thought of the food, etc. If there’s an awkward silence there’s an awkward silence – they happen and reasonable people will understand that. They’ll also probably get your a quieter person and respect that. So just go to an event or two – only if you want to, of course – and just be yourself.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        And keep in your back pocket the simplest question of all when you want to get out of the conversation, “Excuse me, but do you know where the restroom is?” Then go. Or, “Excuse me, my drink is a little low.” Then go and get some more water/$AdultBeverage. If it’s really getting overwhelming, take a walk around the block or the building. If these events are held in a hotel, you could go up to the lobby, use the free wifi for a bit, then come back down and find your husband. BTW, your husband should be helping you with this with a “and this is my wife, OP. She works at ThisThatTheOther on Main street” so that you’re just not hanging there.

        Other ideas include
        “How long has your Spouse/SO worked here?”
        “Are all events that $Company holds similar to this one?”/”Have you been to many of these events?”/”Do they do anything special for $HolidayYouLike.”
        Be honest! “I’m sorry but I find events like this a little overwhelming. I work as a receptionist for $ThisCompany and I’m used to dealing with people one at a time!” / “I’m really not good at networking like this, but I’m happy to be here and meet some of my husband’s colleagues. He’s very excited to be working at Teapots Inc. and it’s nice to be able to put some faces to the names.” (because surely he will have said that he has to go in early to meet Wakeen, or Jane helped him with his TPS reports, so it’s not like you have to mention the people your husband hates)
        “Have you tried one of $ThoseAppetizers? They are really good!” / “Ooo, I had one of $ThoseAppetizers and they’re really spicy/salty”

        Ask questions, because people love to talk about themselves.
        Where do you work (if they weren’t introduced that way)/How long have you been there?
        Do you live in the city?/What’s that area like?/Is your commute really bad?

        As a receptionist, surely you’re used to talking with people. It’s not the one-on-one that bothers you (also the fact that they are there for a specific purpose and there is more or less a routine you’re used to) but the crowd. Unless you get really drunk and start dancing on the tables, you are not going to be that memorable. Sad fact of life, but true. People don’t think about us as much as we think they do. So try to come up with your own routine. And what other people have said about talking to people in the checkout line or in stores. Think about what kind of small talk or chitchat you would have with your coworkers at the coffee pot. The truth is, you’re not going to get better unless you practice and by staying at home, you don’t have any reason or motivation to practice.

    7. LadyKelvin*

      I keep a mental list of questions that I can ask people (having recognized what people who are good at small talk do to me). Things like, Have you seen any good movies recently? Have you read any good books recently? Do you have any fun travel plans in the future/travelled recently? Pretty generic that keeps them talking. Then you can take what people have told you (oh yes, I read Gone Girl, it was good) and turn it into the next question/response (oh you should ready Girl on the Train, it is the same genera and also really good, what other types of books do you like to read). It takes practice, so be kind to yourself and practice in low risk places, on friends, family, etc that you are already comfortable talking to. Then it feels much more natural and less panicked whenever you are talking to strangers. Think of questions you can ask that double as things you are interested in. I always ask about books because I love to read. I rarely see movies so its hard for me to keep up that conversation. But those are the ways I deal with my difficulties making small talk. Good Luck!

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      Can you just be supportive? Do you have to go and make your own conversations? In other words, when you’re an event with your husband, can he not ditch you and expect you to make small talk with others on your own? Can the two of you make small talk together with another person/couple/group of people?

    9. RSCanuck*

      Jayne, I am also a very strong introvert and I have a very hard time with small talk. I have to say that I think your husband’s advise is misguided. The best way to improve your ability to network and be in social situations is to practice as much as possible. I know that it can be hard but it is really the only way to increase your comfort level. One thing that I do sometimes is just parrot the question that the person asked. So for example, if someone asked me what I do for work…I would answer and then just simply ask what about yourself? It saves you from having to think about what to ask next. I am also going to guess that doing this will be really exhausting for you…so make sure that you are mindful to do things to “recharge” after these events.

    10. Burr Sir*

      I also struggle with this. I’ve found it’s helpful to remember the person you’re speaking to knows something or has done something incredibly interesting and you don’t yet know about it. Try to find it out. Lifehacker also often has great articles on small talk and recently recommended using an ice breaker question that asks what the person wants to do before they die. It’s a bit bold, but many of the people in the comments thread said they had success with it, though it may seem counter-intuitive. Remember, even if you don’t, most people love to talk about themselves. Ask open-ended questions to get things going and then smile and nod. Find places to practice (especially if you live in a more urban area, Meet Up is great!) and talk to your husband about people he already knows. “Oh, so you’re Linda! Jeff told me you’re really into fly fishing. Where’s the best spot?”

    11. Badmin*

      People really like talking about themselves. Take a genuine interest in them (not interrogate) and I think you will have better results.

    12. Althea*

      I’ve improved my socializing. It helps that my husband is good at it, and I’ve been able to watch what he does.

      First, keep in mind that no one like to stand around in silence. Everyone feels awkward if that happens. So even if you say something odd or ramble or anything, people are all grateful that someone is talking and giving them a chance to react and such.

      Second, pre-plan some conversation openers that work for a lot of occasions. Such as, “Where do you live?” “Did you have any trouble getting here?” “I heard X is happening in town and think it sounds interesting. Are you attending (or, are you doing anything this weekend)?”

      Third, when you are in a room with someone and you are blanking on what to say, do 2 things. Think to yourself, what do I know about this person that I could possible ask about? Sometimes you only know that your husband said the person was a tennis player. “My husband tells me you play tennis. Do you do that often?” And, if you are at a complete loss about them, just start telling them something about yourself or something you heard/did. “I heard on the radio this morning that rubber ducks are floating all over the Pacific Ocean. Can you imagine coming across that on a cruise? Once, we were on a vacation and the owner of the hotel provided us rubber ducks for the bath…” You can even pre-plan the stories you’d like to tell and how you want to introduce them. At some point in the story, stop and say, “Have you ever been to (the place I was just talking about)?” or “That was my favorite vacation – what’s yours? What should I see if I go there?”

      Finally. Sometimes you get to dead air with someone, and neither of you knows what to say. It happens. Some people just don’t click. Remember it happens to BOTH of you (not just you). And that’s when you say, “I’m going to get something to drink” and ditch. In fact, when you start out and don’t have a lot of practice, you’ll do this often. It’s ok. Everyone understands and is happy to escape to a new conversation.

      It sounds like a lot of work, right? It IS a skill. It takes time, effort, practice, and preparation. It does get easier, if you put in the time and effort. It does NOT come naturally to a lot of people, even the ones who make it look easy. Finally, when you’ve worked at it, you’ll get better at figuring out how much effort you can put in before getting exhausted and needing to be in a quiet room with a book. Tell your husband what you need in order to recover properly so he doesn’t overload you.

      1. KR*

        This is good advice – I agree about the pre-planned story. If I have a thing where I have to go talk to a lot of different people, I like to listen to NPR that day because they have a lot of interesting, objective, and informative stories. If I blank on what to talk about, I’ll just tell the person about whatever NPR story I heard that day.

    13. bb-great*

      I second the advice to practice, practice, practice. Also, check out the book How to Talk to Anyone. It has some tips that I’ve found helpful.

    14. East of Nowhere south of Lost*

      I’m currently take a Dale Carnegie course for about the same reason. Only been to 1 session out of 8 and its already helping my smalltalk social skills a lot.

    15. ZVA*

      I’m shy and introverted too, and my new job requires me to meet and talk with a lot of strangers, so I completely understand and empathize! My advice is to ask people questions about themselves. They will appreciate your genuine interest (I know I would!)—the key is, though, that you actually have to be interested… If you’re just going through the motions, I think people will pick up on that—but if you can enter these situations with a spirit of curiosity and even adventure, I think you may even end up having fun :)

      I also like to mentally shift the focus from myself/my own nervousness onto other people. How can I make them feel welcome? How can I help them feel at ease? It helps get me out of my own head and into a more open and compassionate and social frame of mind.

      Good luck! We’re rooting for you…

    16. neverjaunty*

      Wow, what an unhelpful and rude thing for your husband to say. How does he think you’re going to be motivated and confident when he’s dogging you like that?

      The easiest way to talk to people is to ask them about themselves and lots of follow up questions. “Oh, you’re a sales manager? Tell me more about what you do. Wow, hiking? I’ve never done that, where do you hike?”

      1. KR*

        +1 Honestly, being quiet is not a bad thing but the way to help someone improve their conversation skills isn’t to lock them away in the house until they’re not awkward anymore.

    17. Jayne*

      Thank you all for your suggestions and encouragement! I am definitely taking notes. I have a small thing I’m going to tonight, and I will be putting these into practice right away. I’m so ready to beat this!

      1. ZVA*

        “I’m so ready to beat this” is a fantastic attitude. The other week I said to my therapist “I’m so sick of being afraid of everyone and everything all the time” and it felt so good! As a grade school teacher of mine liked to say, practice makes much much better… Good luck :)

    18. Hermione*

      I don’t know if this will help you, but I am moderately awkward in person unless I have a role to fill (perform?). When I run events at work, I am in the zone even in the company of complete strangers because I know what someone running the show would need to say (small talk about the event, point out various locations/directions as needed, and let them know who I am/where I’ll be if they have questions). Put me in the same crowd without a job to do and I’ll flounder for 45 minutes to find the phrase “I’m good thanks, how’re you?” unless I’ve known the person for years.

      I’ve developed a bit of a coping mechanism around this need to fill a role by giving myself one each time I’m in a situation like yours. I find it much easier to be “confident, elegant, gregarious, networking Hermione” by sort-of acknowledging that it’s just a mask I’m temporarily putting on with built-in scripts and attitudes than it is to feel anxious trying to force myself to change who I am and how I feel about certain situations. I built this persona by mimicking traits I’ve found in watching others who are good at these situations, from TV shows, movies, and celebrity interviews, and from “small talk” lists on the internet. It helps to keep in mind that many, many people are equally awkward, and that conversations are two-ways – the person you’re talking to needs to keep up their sides as much as you do.

      People here have given you some great small talk types of questions, and I don’t have any “works like a charm!” ones to offer, but I thought maybe you or someone else might find it helpful if you think of it as a role you’re playing for a short while, mentally attach the scripts you’ve been given here to the role, and don’t worry about trying to force yourself to become someone you’re not. It’s valid that you feel anxious in social situations. It’s valid that you’re shy, or introverted, or awkward – some people just are, myself included.

      1. ZVA*

        I am exactly the same way. It took me til relatively late in my life (early 20s; I’m in my mid 20s now) to realize that I enjoyed social situations ~way more if I had a task to do. Now, knowing this, I seek out those tasks if they’re available (guess who was first in line to offer to serve hot dogs & burgers at her company’s annual “Managers’ Lunch” recently…). And if they’re not, I do exactly what you do: I think of “being social” as just another task, rather than some kind of referendum on my personality. It helps take that paralyzing personal edge off everything.

        1. misspiggy*

          Yes! The thing that cracked it for me is realising that it’s a task of kindness to others. The task is to help other people to avoid feeling uncomfortable, and maybe even have a more enjoyable time.

      2. Hiraeth*

        I second Hermione’s comments (specifically building the persona and acceptance of your introversion). If you want to go to these events, you should go. And I don’t see why other people can’t initiate conversation with you and you build on that.

        (Hi, Jayne, how is everything?
        I’m well, Sarah, and yourself?
        Great! I’ve finished so many projects this week, and now I get to have some R&R!
        Oh that’s nice. Are you just relaxing at home or going somewhere?)

        Just asking follow-up questions has helped me in the past. Also, if you haven’t read Susan Cain’s book Quiet, I highly recommend it. It has helped me to embrace my introversion.

        (And I also agree with others that you can’t practice being social at home. Work with friends that you have or hangout with other introverts!)

    19. Someone else*

      Maybe join Toastmasters? There are several people in my club that joined for this very reason, and they said it helped tremendously.

    1. T3k*

      That’s… wow, a bit shocking. But I wonder, if they’d done this with men instead, would it have gotten such a huge increase as well? Or used a different excuse/gap. Too many “what if’s” to really use this as a standard though, but still interesting.

      1. Joseph*

        Actually, I’d guess that men would show an even bigger increase. It’s not uncommon for women to choose to take a long employment gap when they have children, so that possibility immediately jumps to mind. Whereas stay-at-home dads are far more rare, so the immediate assumption would be “couldn’t get a job”.

    2. LBK*

      I’m not really sure why this is surprising – an explanation is always better than no explanation. Even an explanation that might not help your qualifications is better than just leaving the hiring manager wondering what happened, especially for a pretty huge gap like 10 years.

      If they had compared resumes with no gap to resumes with a gap attributed to family care and the latter got better responses, that would be pretty shocking to me. But thinking about this from a hiring manager perspective, more information is always going to be better to me than less.

      I feel as thought this is meant to be a contradiction to the wisdom about not putting being a mom on your resume or oversharing your personal life in the hiring process, but I’m not sure they’ve really proven that, assuming that the explanation was just a quick line in a cover letter or something similar.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I was thinking the same thing. No matter what, any explanation for where you’ve been for 10 years is better than no explanation.

    3. Elle*

      I’d rather know. I think the human mind has a tendency to want to fill in the blanks, and the truth is often way more acceptable than some of the other scenarios that could come up. You leave a gap like that with no explanation, I’m going to wonder what you are hiding.

    4. Turquoise Teapot*

      I wonder what kinds of names and other info that might hint at demographics were on the resumes. Would the results be different based on the perceived race or socioeconomic background of the applicants?

      Also, only two reasons were given, according to the article, and there was no comparison between them. I suspect “raising a child” would have a higher success rate than “getting through a divorce”.

      And that’s exactly the issue here. The article doesn’t mention that the main reason not to put personal info on a resume is that it can be used in a discriminatory fashion. It is useful to explain a large gap, but “attending to family responsibilities,” would suffice and would do more to avoid discrimination based on family status.

  12. LiteralGirl*

    I finished my large company’s yearly compliance training yesterday. For some reason, the powers that be have removed the “Preventing Workplace Harassment” and “Pay Practices and Policy” from the training. I did, however, as a data analyst working in a strictly administrative building, have to learn about chemical spills. Maybe they’re redoing the training because of changes and haven’t completed it, but I’m confused (and, I suppose, a little dismayed) as to why those were not required.
    Just a vent.

    1. Anon for this one*

      That reminds me, I have some online training I need to finish. It includes HIPAA. We are not a health care provider, nor do we have any access to anyone’s health information.

      1. CMT*

        I feel like this is the kind of thing that just perpetuates misinformation about HIPAA (like the idea if you tell your boss you’ve got the flu, they can’t tell anybody else and that kind of thing.) Not to mention being a complete waste of time.

    2. Mee Too*

      They may have decided those trainings should be separate or part of other trainings. Often harassment training is done as a stand alone.

    3. JustaTech*

      Pointless training I’ve had to take: preventing spills (at the oil-pipeline scale), electrical and foundry safety, “don’t bribe public officials or give things to doctors” (which is incredibly specific, down to the number of bagels you can buy). I work in a bio lab and have absolutely nothing to do with sales.
      At least with our new corporate overlords the harassment training has gotten better.

      1. Ange*

        My most useless one was the anti-terror “how to spot someone who has been radicalised” training. I spend maybe 10 minutes with my patients and most of that time they have something in their mouth so there is minimal talking. I will never use this training.

  13. Bibliovore*

    New employee/new to office culture work.
    We just hired a charming young person, entry level, recent college graduate English as an office assistant/library assistant. Duties include pulling from our archives, copyediting, data entry, shelving, filing, phone answering, processing, and “other duties as assigned.”

    He start this week. It is part-time. On his second afternoon, I saw that he was mylaring book covers. I said “oh, good, Ramona, gave you these to do.” He cheerfully said, ” Yep, busy work”

    I may have reacted badly. I said, “This isn’t busy work. This is essential work of the department and if you weren’t doing it, I or Ramona would have to do it and that is why we hire people to assist us.”

    so do I owe the kid an apology?

    1. SMT*

      I think it’s more important to explain why the work was essential, rather than how it was something he should do so that you don’t have to.

      I don’t know if you really need to apologize, but he would probably value the work he is doing more to know the why behind it, rather than why he has to do it (presumably to free you and Ramona up for more exciting/important work).

      1. TheCupcakeCounter*

        Excellent point. I think it is extremely important to explain the “why”of certain tasks that are essential but can often be viewed as menial or boring filler work.

    2. Simplytea*

      I’m mid-twenties, and I think this would actually be a good comment to hear. Thought not the best feels in the moment, you’re setting an expectation for him that will be good for his professional development. Those are the types of comments you quickly learn to stop making when you’re in an administrative role.

      1. Collie*


        I’ve been this kid. I am this kid. I still catch myself making off-the-cuff comments that are meant to be sociable and friendly and downplay the seriousness of the work I do as a person in their mid-twenties who doesn’t feel like their contribution is important to the big picture (and, further context, I also work in a few libraries). It’s helpful to hear this stuff, even if it hurts or is embarrassing in the moment.

        1. Cat steals keyboard*

          Good point about feeling like your contribution is unimportant vs feeling like you’re too good for it.

          1. Collie*

            There’s definitely a distinction there and it’s often even more the former when the culture and experience with coworkers reinforce the concept. It’s subtle, though, so I can’t blame people who jump to the “too good for it” conclusion.

          1. Collie*

            And, agreed, but it’s certainly not as valued on a conscious level, at least not in most places I’ve worked.

            1. Happy Lurker*

              Cat – I am pretty sure it took me 20 years to realize that my admin tasks (that I constantly put off) are truly the things that keep this place going! If I put them off too long – all hell breaks out.

      1. Myrin*

        Aaaah, thanks for explaining that! I’m not a native English speaker and have not come across that expression before – I just thought it meant “busy with work” (something I would totally say in such a situation, if only because I wouldn’t know what else to say) and was quite taken aback by the harsh reaction to it, but that meaning makes it understandable.

        1. EmmaLou*

          You often hear it in school as busywork is ubiquitous there. For example, you’ve just learned about photosynthesis and then you have a 10 page worksheet bundle to sit at your desk to fill in on photosynthesis. Or worksheets on your seven times table when you learned that two weeks ago and are on twelves now. Work for the sake of keeping you busy.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Yes, Mylar is the protective plastic covering that goes over hardback books in the library, or if you’re in an archives, the protective “plastic” slip the record is kept in, if it’s needed.

      2. ScarletInTheLibrary*

        Mylar is the name of the company that essentially monopolized the polyster sheet market. I believe Mylar were bought out by DuPont many years ago, but the name remains in the archives/library world.

        PSA: Not all plastics are the same when it comes to preservation/conservation (and most off-gas in a way that destroys the materials).

    3. DevAssist*

      Ohhh…I don’t know. From your post, it doesn’t sound like he said “busy work” in a sarcastic or rude tone, but I don’t think it was a great comment for him to make. However, you may have come on a bit strong.

      If you think it would help, you could always approach him and say “Hey, I may have come on a little strong with my reaction to your ‘busy work’ comment, but I want you to know that this isn’t something we’d consider busy work. All the work we do and assign to you has merit, and we appreciate having you on our team.”

      1. T3k*

        This. I read it as more of someone being funny and light-heartily going “busy work” but he could have been sarcastic or rude instead. If it was the former, I like Dev’s approach to it, otherwise, if he did sound annoyed about it, I’d say you did the right thing with the reality check.

      2. Badmin*

        I agree with this, even though he referred to as Busy work, his tone suggested it wasn’t something he was upset about doing. I think in the future the framing of your response could have been different such as “This is super important and we’re appreciative of you doing this.” It also takes the emphasis off you and Ramona while motivating/incentivizing him.

    4. Mike C.*

      I think the tone was a bit much, but helping him understand why it’s important is a good thing to do.

      Work can be important and tedious or boring at the same time, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with acknowledging that.

    5. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I think he may think that “busy work” means work that well, keeps you busy, and not realize that it has a negative connotation. It would be helpful to let him know why the work is essential and be sure that most people are going to see that phrase as negative.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        This is what I was thinking. I think, especially since he’s young, he may have a different idea of what that phrase means. I think I’ve heard it used for “work that anyone can do with almost no training or skill”, without the connotation that it will be disposed of or not used after it is done.

        I would have just played up that he’s saving some trained professionals from having to do that, so that they can spend more time designing teapots using those manuals instead of laminating them.

        1. Jake*

          Yeah, I never thought busywork had a negative connotation. It has always been “low level work that you do to keep busy when other, more pressing matters are not tying you down” to me.

          I’d have been shocked to hear the OP’s reaction. In the moment I would’ve just been very confused and assumed that friendly banter with this person is off limits.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            “Busy work” actually means work that keeps someone occupied but doesn’t have much value. So it was a pretty rude thing for him to say! He may not realize that’s what it means though.

          2. Engineer Woman*

            I’m with Jake here. I don’t think the term “busy work” has a negative connotation and didn’t read into it that the comment was rude. It was even cheerfully said as OP indicated.

            OP’s response would throw me off somewhat. I would still think it is busy work but appreciate the explanation of how it is helpful…

          3. Trout 'Waver*

            In my current job, busywork doesn’t necessarily have a negative connotation. It’s used to describe work that requires time but not skills. It conveys nothing about how valued the work is. Given the number of people that are debating this, maybe this is a regional or field-specific thing?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t doubt that people are using it differently, but the actual definition is “work that keeps a person busy but has little value in itself,” according to the dictionary.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        This is totally what I thought it meant!!! I am a middle-aged native English speaker with what I think is a fairly good command of the language. I was SO CONFUSED because I really thought busy work was important work that you fit between other work to keep you busy when you otherwise wouldn’t be. I had NO IDEA this word was so loaded!

        I can imagine myself, eager to please and trying to show a good work ethic, saying something like this in an earnest, “Yep, working hard, Boss!” kind of way.

        I’m really glad that I’ve learned hear not to use the word that way:)

    6. Temperance*

      Nope! He’s sending a message that he thinks he’s above doing administrative tasks. I would keep an eye on him.

      1. Cat steals keyboard*

        I had a colleague with this attitude.

        He was asked not to return to work after, among other things, waving his payslip in an unpaid intern’s face* and getting drunk and swearing at people at a works do.

        *I was that unpaid intern. They ended up going me his job.

      2. Ian Mac Eochagáin*

        I had no idea what “busy work”/”busywork” was until I read this thread. Must be an American thing.

        1. Loose Seal*

          Every time we had a substitute teacher fill in (U.S. rural south), we had “busy work” to do to keep us occupied. And they specifically called it that. It was work that didn’t really count toward learning anything new and didn’t count toward your grade. It was just something you had to do so you didn’t get in trouble (and trouble generally came fast and hard when you misbehaved for a substitute).

          So, in my mind, “busy work” does actually mean the task isn’t important and you’ve only assigned it to me to keep me occupied until you find something meaningful for me to do. If your new employee used the term like I would have with my background of the word, I think OP’s answer was perfect.

    7. Aurion*

      I think it depends on the tone in which you delivered the message. If you’d raised an eyebrow pointedly but kept your voice mild, then I think it would’ve been perfect. If you had said the words with a more severe, berating tone, then I think that was a bit much.

      But I think the words themselves were perfectly appropriate.

      1. Bibliovore*

        No, my tone wasn’t harsh. But I like what people said about giving more context to the task.

        And yes, he has caught the flack because previous hires thought they were too good to file, shelve, tray, and pull materials- they perceived that was student/worker work.
        There will be more interesting projects once he gets the hang of the basics.

        1. Engineer Woman*

          Is the new hire aware of this? That in addition to interesting and more intellectually challenging projects, part of his job is to file and shelve, etc? When I first read your original post, I wondered why you would hire a college grad to do the tasks you indicated (or has workforce changed so much that college grads cannot find other work and competing for this type of work that seemingly doesn’t require a college-level education), such as answering phones, data entry, filing… But if this is only part of the job duties – makes more sense now.

          1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

            We have a bachelor’s degree as a preference for our library assistants, but I can only think of one hire in the last four years that did not have a bachelor’s degree. It is not unusual for a large percentage of the applicant pool to also have a MLIS.

    8. Tomato Frog*

      He might have appreciated the reassurance that what he was doing was useful, who knows. I don’t think either of you did anything wrong, but it’s not bad for him to learn not to say dismissive things about the work he’s doing. I think there’s a good chance that apologizing would just make things weird.

    9. Murphy*

      I think you responded OK. I think it’s important for him to know that this work is essential since, presumably, he’ll be doing more of it.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      This was my thinking 30 plus years ago:

      Thinking: “Ohhh.. OP is mad at me for doing this. Maybe I shouldn’t do what Ramona tells me to do? ugh. Maybe I should be working on some thing else? But I have done everything OP told me to do. It must be that OP thinks I should not be doing this mylaring and that is why she said something. Well. I am keeping busy. I know! I will tell her that I am keeping busy! I really don’t mind, even if it is busy work. I can do it. See, OP? I don’t mind, honest.”

      Outloud voice: “yep. busy work.”

      [later] Thinking: “Oh, okay. Must be that OP is not mad at me for mylaring. I guess she appreciates my efforts to help? Yeah, that must be it. I hope she’s not mad at me for calling it busy work, when it really isn’t. Why is it I never say the right thing? I hope OP and I get along okay, I like it here.”

      My vote is give him the benefit of the doubt. To me his cheerfulness indicates that he meant nothing negative about the work. He really had no clue how his answer could be read in different ways.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        My assumption about this is that a mylared book lasts longer and receives less damage than a non-mylared book. So you say to the young man, “Putting the mylar on the book makes it last much longer, which means that we get an additional 1.5 years of usability out of each book, so mylaring is a very important thing for us to do!”

  14. Kat_Map*

    Happy Friday!

    I will be starting a new job on Monday, and I’m both so excited and nervous! I’ll be working for a very small (~5 people) non-profit in the arts sector, working mostly from home. My question is this — on Tuesday, a whole day into my new job, I’ll be required to attend a meeting with some of our board members. I have no idea what I’ll be able to contribute, how to dress, how formal it will be or anything. I was hired as their database coordinator with some webdesign tasks, so I hadn’t anticipated this level of involvement. Can anyone with more profession meeting experience give me some tips or feedback? I just don’t know at all what to expect!

    I hope everyone has a nice weekend ahead of them, and thanks for the thoughts!

    1. JLK in the ATX*

      16 years in non-profit here… business casual is fine for Board of Directors but the best bet is to ask your new boss. Explain that this is a new opportunity for you and you want to make a great impression on the BoD. Your new boss should be happy to help you.

      Many non-profits like to expose all their staff to a Board meeting so they can see how governance takes place and what happens at the top (when you normally wouldn’t be exposed to those kinds of things).

      Perhaps they have a project proposition for you? Maybe they just like to meet all the new people, being its a small staff.

      Have a great time.

      1. Kat_Map*

        Thanks for sharing this! It’ll definitely be insightful to see how things are governed from the top. I appreciate your input!

    2. StupidInterviewee*

      I’d say dress as if you are going for the interview, considering some head honchos are attending. I wouldn’t worry too much about contributions though, you have barely settled in yet!

      1. Kat_Map*

        I had originally thought, too, that I should wear interview-esque attire, so thanks for corroborating my original plan!

    3. Willow*

      For the dress code, they’ll probably be at the normal level of formality for their office, but you could always just ask your boss what the standard is.

      Since you just started, you probably won’t be able to contribute much. But make sure you are ready to answer any questions you’re asked. Have a way to take notes. Again, you can ask your boss if there’s any information you should have ready.

      1. Kat_Map*

        I’ll probably spend my first day mining all the information I’ve been given thus far so I can feel as adequately prepared as I can in the even that I do have questions come my way. I’ll be sure to take studious notes, too. Thanks!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, definitely ask. Most places I’ve worked have wanted staff to Suit Up for board meetings, regardless of our role or involvement.

      2. BRR*

        That’s what I was thinking. At my previous job, meeting with the board would definitely be suit and tie. I’ve been at my current job almost a year and I still have no idea what I would wear to a board meeting.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Take any handouts they offer. This could be meeting minutes, financials, information sheets, and so on. Check each thing and make sure there is a date on it. The boards I have been on are not good at putting dates on their handouts. As time goes on you get a mountain of paper with NO dates, so it is harder to figure out which papers are relevant.

      You can scan the documents while you wait for the meeting to start, but you can really read them once you get home.
      Put little notes on the handouts or write down key words to remind yourself of a question you might want to ask.

      It’s been my experience that boards whose members get along well do not stick to Robert’s Rules of Order. Boards that do not get along well can down right CLING to RRoO every inch of the way in effort to get through their meeting. Go with the flow, copy what they are doing. Primarily, though, copy what your boss is doing.**

      Try to have an overview of their set up.
      They may want you to assess their needs, extra points if you are able to come up with an idea or two before the meeting. It’s probably not necessary though.

      Ask your boss to clue you in as to:
      if you need to bring anything special
      how long the meetings run
      if you can bring water/coffee
      if you need to bring a laptop/other device
      what your boss expects from you at this meeting
      what the board might be expecting from you

      ** Copy your boss. OMG. I went to a meeting with my boss. We have a great relationship, the people at the meeting not so much. Before it was over, they were yelling at each other. About halfway to the yelling part, I stopped talking and just started watching my boss. She remained seated so I remained seated. The yelling escalated. She stood up. I stood up. She gathered her things. I gathered my things. She turned to walk to the door. I tell you at this point, I was maybe a half of a step behind her. We got out of the room together and never had to say one word because I just followed her lead. This is an extreme example and will not happen to you. But is shows how just watching your boss can be so helpful.

  15. Anonymous Educator*

    Someone very close to me has had professional struggles almost her entire adult career, and I think I know what the problem is—mainly she is a high performer who is idealistic and has no tolerance for bureaucracy or incompetence. I fully admire her capabilities in multiple areas (and I’ve worked with her professionally, so it’s not just taking her at her word), but sadly she’s been unhappy in almost every job she’s had, because—surprise, surprise—every job has at least some measure of bureaucracy and some colleagues who are incompetent (or at least not amazingly skilled with a strong work ethic).

    So two questions for the group:

    1. Anyone else here like that? How did you get through it? Or are you still struggling with it?

    2. If you know someone who has been like this in the past, how have you been able to help that person see that sometimes there’s a value (for your own sanity and happiness) to having at least some tolerance for bureaucracy and incompetence?

    1. Cat steals keyboard*

      2. I haven’t. I gave up and realised some people just cannot be talked out of their reality…

        1. Cat steals keyboard*

          It is, but some people just cannot be saved from themselves and it sounds like she’s quite attached to her position on things.

    2. Rocky*

      I’ll confess this sort of sounds like me, at least when I was early in my career. The only place I’ve really loved working had very rigorous standards and high expectations for everyone (to the point that we had a reputation for being elitist, unfortunately), I worked directly with a bunch of people who I knew were smarter than me, and I had an individual contributor role that was mostly shielded from bureaucracy by my wonderful manager. I have someone kind of like this reporting to me now, and we have a lot of talks about how her colleagues are never going to have the exact same priorities as she does, and how different people in the organization are motivated by different things.

    3. Mimmy*

      Your friend sounds a lot like me, although I can live with bureaucracy to a point. It’s incompetence as well as carelessness that drives me nuts. I’m a perfectionist both with myself and with others.

      1. Rocky*

        I also want to add that I think some people like this really need to work for themselves. My totally type-A friend ran her own business for several years and was quite successful, but is transitioning back to being a regular old employee (for benefits, mainly). I think it’s been difficult.

    4. Finman*

      My buddy is exactly like that. He found his “bliss” by finally giving in and working for his dad’s accounting firm. The small business meant he didn’t have to deal with bureaucracy. Try to help them find a smaller company that doesn’t have the massive amounts of layers, divisions, etc

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Thanks for the suggestion. Don’t know if she’ll take it, but good to know that’s another option for her to explore.

    5. Temperance*

      I struggle with this in my personal life. Generally speaking, I expect everyone to be as intelligent and logical as I am, and get angry and frustrated when they are not. This is NOT me bragging about how ~smart I am, BTW. It’s a huge character flaw that I work on constantly.

      I learn things quickly, and in my mind, I’m not exceptional, so why can’t others do what I do? I’m like Erudite in Divergent in a lot of ways, which … isn’t great. My very patient husband is the one who told me that my brain works a certain way, other people’s don’t, so it’s not fair or productive to get impatient when someone can’t learn a skill from reading an article. (for example)

      The person needs to want to change. Or start their own company.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Thanks. I don’t know that it’s a character flaw, but I do think learning to do deal with people who are less logical or intelligent or competent is a good life skill to take on, and it will ultimately make you less frustrated. Sounds as if you’re dealing with that head-on. But, yes, there has to be a desire to change.

        1. Dweebette*

          I’m there with you, Temperance. It’s been really hard to understand that things I consider easy or obvious or straightforward simply don’t register for other people. I’m in a senior role nowadays, which is somewhat helpful in that I can assign people tasks they can do, rather then be frustrated because they’ve been tasked by someone else sort of at random and are flailing. A lot of people, I’ve learned, can shine if in the right role, so writing them off as useless or whatever isn’t accurate — they just need the right work. So when I realize someone’s flailing, I do still experience this frustration and frankly shock, but then I know I can sort of direct them elsewhere, and hopefully we’ll all be happier when they get a task they can do. But there are times when I have to work with someone who simply (a) doesn’t do a good job and (b) I have no authority to re-task or guide. In those cases, I’m learning the beauty of simply letting go. I’ll offer feedback to their supervisor if asked, and if not, I have to learn the peace that exists in not getting invested/involved. But this is an active effort on my part and one has to choose to make that effort.

      2. Drew*

        Learning styles are real things. I love to read and learn new facts doing so, but if I’m actually trying to pick up a skill, I have to DO it; reading won’t be enough. This has caused problems occasionally when a boss has wanted me to learn something by watching them do it and I keep saying, “Please, let me drive and you can walk me through it step by step.”

        Don’t even get me started on how-to YouTube videos.

    6. Jake*

      1. I’m not brilliant, but I struggle daily with my own frustration with incompetence, be it with coworkers, contractors, vendors, clients, etc. I struggle extra hard when I’ve successfully handled something in the past that is very similar and my coworkers choose to handle it differently (after advice from me and others) and end up making life hard for the whole team as a result. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll struggle with this for my whole life, and that biting my tongue is better than continually talking about it and making myself more and more disgruntled. The less you give voice to these ideas, the quicker they go away.

      2. Most people I’ve found that have a high tolerance for this have a lot of experience dealing with it.

    7. AnonAcademic*

      Bureaucracy and incompetence are like traffic jams, they are part of life and people who dwell on how terrible they are quickly become tedious. I hate to break it to your friend but I’m now working at my 4th Ivy-level university and there is inefficiency and incompetence everywhere. It might look different in different places (everyone I work with is book smart, many are MD/PhDs, but there are often social skills deficits) but it is everywhere. She can expect the world to change to suit her preferences or she can accept working within the confines of reality.

      My best advice would be to not let her vent to you. Because it’s tedious and borderline rude, and not a good use of your time. Can you tell I’ve had this conversation with my persnickity husband many times ;).

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. I guess we’ve met??? lol.

      I am not like that on everything but some things will hit me right between the eyes. Most of the time, if I am griping it’s not because of one thing, it’s because of ten things. The one thing that I am talking about has just sent me over the edge I was already standing next to.

      Things that are helpful for me:

      1) A solutions focus. “Okay you have clearly identified a problem. What do you think are some solutions YOU can implement right now?”
      2) A cut to the chase summary: “You can have X or you can have Y. You cannot have both. Which one would you like?”

      Things that I have used on people similar to me:

      1) “We are all in the same Boat of Unfairness together. Yes, you are correct. This is not fair and it’s not right. {Validation) But we all need to eat and wear clothes. (Reality check)

      2) “Yes, I agree. That law/reg/policy is unfair. I think you should work to change it…. oh you haven’t got time? Join the club. If you don’t want to sink the time into reforming the situation that means that this is not the hill to die on. You have to let it go. Maybe someone else will die on that hill.”

      3) “When you find that perfect place with perfect people, let me know, I want to put my application in, too.”

      4) “You know, many of your points here are valid. But the problem is this is taking up too much space in your head and it’s pulling down your health. You were out sick last week and today you are telling me you have a violent headache. This stuff is eating your insides. Is it worth losing your health over? And how are you going to fix these wrongs from a hospital bed?”

      5) “Pick your most important crisis. I can only do one crisis at a time. Which one is the most important to you?”

    9. Positive Thoughts*

      I have struggled with this, but in the last few years I have made progress with this issue. What helped me was realizing that being intolerant just meant that I refused to accept others/circumstances as they were, and also understanding that accepting how people/circumstances are is not the same as condoning them. Acceptance also means that you do your part, voice your opinion/suggestion, and let go of the outcome. Letting go is not washing your hands of the matter, but rather that you do not take personal responsibility for the process and the outcome by trying to exert control over everything, including the people involved.

      There’s quite a bit of negative thought patterns related to intolerance and I imagine that everyone’s mix of those is different. Now the key to increasing your self-awareness and better managing your negative thought patterns is intrinsic motivation: your friend needs to want to change. My personal motivation was noticing how miserable ruminating over how people/circumstances fell short of my personal standards was making me. I felt silly when I acknowledged how futile it was to devote so much time and energy on (mentally) diagnosing and treating others’ shortcomings when the only behavior I could change was my own.

      Perhaps you can help your friend see the role she’s playing in her own unhappiness and that might motivate her to seek ways to gain more positive thought patterns.

    10. Bad Candidate*

      >.> Are you one of my friends? Yeah you pretty much summed it up. I have no patience for stupidity. And bureaucracy drives me nuts. I haven’t overcome it. I wish I could. I would love to hear other people’s suggestions. I did try to start my own business and it did not go well. I’ve thought that maybe freelancing would be a good idea, but I’m really not good at selling myself.

      1. Rocky*

        Well… I think a key part is getting past the idea that people are behaving differently than you’d prefer because of stupidity. See comment above about intolerance, and below about MBTI.

    11. Snargulfuss*

      Kind of off-topic and I know lots of people think MBTI is total bunk but….I wonder how many of the people who have replied saying “This sounds exactly like me” are INTJs.

      I get super impatient with inefficiency and people that need to go over and over and over details. I’ve been trying to remind myself that some people need to do lots of explaining to feel heard.

      1. Rocky*

        Yep, I’m an INTJ. I think MBTI is largely nonsense, but I admit that it did help me understand that there are different styles of learning and communication, and they’re all valid. And that someone who has a totally different way of understanding things isn’t dumber than I am, and might even be more competent in many ways.

        For example, I’ll never forget the time in my 20s when I learned that many people see work as a series of personal interactions, not as a bunch of processes. Blew my freaking mind.

    12. chocolatechipcookie*

      I struggle with this and could use some advice myself. Maybe suggesting some coping strategies might be of use.

      One thing I try to do, is think of what strengths the less competent person might have. Everyone has their strengths (although sometimes it might not be at the particular job they’re in). Can I get them to help me in different ways? Or what can I do or get my manager to do to nudge them in the right ways to get the job done? For example, implement more checks and reviews or split up the work in a different way.

      Also it is okay to accept if it is not your strength to deal with people who aren’t as stellar- this is a skill in itself (although if you are a manager, it is a skill you should be developing!). In the past I’ve leveraged a coworker (peer) who has more patience than me to go deal with someone to extract the info I needed so I could get to the actual work. Another thing I try to focus on is that I either need to deal with the problem, or live with it. I cannot change the other person but I can change the situation- and nothing will change if I do nothing – so if someone is truly incompetent, then it’s time to take steps to raise the issue to a higher level. Or if a process is really overly bureaucratic or getting in the way of my job, I need to talk to my manager about other options. Or at least ask about why the process is the way it is.

  16. OverwhelmedDesigner*

    I’m in a slump and therefore going anon for this. Is it bad to not want to move up in a company? I like my job, the company and really like my boss. I like the work I do for the most part. My boss’ boss is very much about moving up, gaining promotions, getting more responsibility. He told me a few months ago that I need to recognize opportunities for advancement and take them but the problem is…I like what I’m doing. I like the work that I get assigned.

    I’ve been in charge of video production for the company since day 1. I was hired knowing this. Well…we’ve now decided to make it a priority, like at the level of my other work. I’m a graphic designer for the remaining 80% of my job. I was in video club in high school, but other than that I don’t know video. My boss knew this (I can do basic editing) and they hired me knowing my skill set. But now that this is more of a priority and we purchased new equipment it seems imperative that I learn how to produce high-quality stuff. I feel terrified because I don’t know what all this stuff does, nor do I know how to be creative with it or how to do the things I think everyone is expecting me to do. I’ve talked to my boss and she said she’d look into training and that’s great but I feel like the training I need is go back to school worthy.

    I’m just overwhelmed and frankly, I like just being a graphic designer. I didn’t go into this field with any views of being anything but that. Video is a whole career path, not something I think I can do half-hazard. Is my only option to find another job at this point, since clearly, I’m not capable of handling this responsibility? I’ve been so stressed out thinking about this, and I’ve been trying to watch tutorials and learn the equipment but half the battle is I’m not interested in it. I have been wanting to post this in the last few open threads, but I’ve been afraid of the tough love responses I’m going to assume I’m going to get. I feel like my only path is suck it up or look for a new job, and I’m sitting here not wanting to do either.

    1. StupidInterviewee*

      I am sorry I can’t offer you a solution, but I just got to chime in and say I totally know how you feel and I am very much in the same boat. It seems like everybody and my bosses is telling me I should be moving up! Going into management! Doing LEADER stuff! But my GOD why can’t I just remain at my level now, doing the drawings? I am happy with that more than managing people!

    2. Dawn*

      Have you sat down with your boss and had a heart to heart about how you feel? “Boss, I love being a designer. It’s my passion, it makes me happy, and I am good at it. I want to keep being a designer. I do not know video and learning how to do video well is beyond just doing simple training- people go to school for years to learn how to do video! Given my current skill set I do not believe there is any way that I can deliver quality video at the level that this company needs now or anytime soon in the future.”

      Don’t say that you *won’t* learn it because that makes you look obstinate, but do be completely honest about it being so far out of your field of expertise that it doesn’t make sense to have you do it. I think most people who aren’t in a creative field are like “Oh you do ‘art’ and this is ‘art’ and so you can totally do it!” when they wouldn’t dream of asking a CPA to be a mortgage lender in addition to a CPA.

      1. OverwhelmedDesigner*

        I did. She was wonderful and completely understood but also seemed to have a bit of a deer in headlights look about it. She and I are basically twins when it comes to our skillsets (she obviously has more experience, but we both do the same job just for different audiences), so she understood where I was coming from.

        She immediately went to her boss, who went to his boss to talk about training for me. Her advice was bringing someone in to train me in a bootcamp setting. It’s all well and good but I just feel so much pressure and nothing has been done yet, so it still seems overwhelming. I’m also ashamed at how bad my video is, and I HATE putting out subpar work so that is stressing me out too.

    3. A*

      Oof. Do the powers that be not realize that video production is a whole other animal from graphic design? I mean, yes, both are visual but that’s where the similarities end. Plus, making videos with high production value is not a skill that one learns overnight or even in a bootcamp! I am really sorry you’re going through this. I would probably be looking around.

      1. OverwhelmedDesigner*

        I don’t think they realize that video production is that different from graphic design. I think they thought that if they upgraded my equipment it would be magically better…I am trying to learn as much as I can, but I don’t think that people realize it’s not easy. People do express that it’s intimidating to see all the equipment, but VIPs seem to think it’s all a matter of training. I really want to stress that everyone has been really kind about this and no one is yelling at me or insinuating I’m doing a bad job at all.

        They spent a ton of money on this but a VIP recently mentioned to me something about making a video for customers, like a commercial, and I almost had a panic attack. I am definitely nowhere near that level of skill.

        1. annejumps*

          I was wondering if this was a case of them assuming creative stuff was easy, like recording something on your phone.

          Recently we had a client who wanted “training videos,” and after some meetings we realized (tech writers) that they actually wanted interactive Adobe Captivate videos, for computer-based training. Well, we don’t do that; that’s an entirely different discipline, and if they wanted that they’d need to hire contractors who specialized in creating training courses, with interactive components and voiceover tracks. My coworker told our boss that this would be a full-time job for three people that would take a year to create a course, and told the client we’d be happy to assist the consultant if they hired one for this (as part of a major corporation, they were used to professional training courses and assumed we did that, apparently, since no one really seems to get what tech writing is).

          If they want to invest in making a video for customers they can invest in hiring someone who specializes in creating marketing videos.

    4. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*


      If it helps, this all is in my wheelhouse (we have designers, we also have some video production), and I think this situation is crazy. While it is possible that your designer might also be a good candidate to move into video production, it’s also possible that the receptionist or the inventory clerk would be. I would never assume that a designer was interested in or skilled at video production.

      You aren’t the one off base here. They are the ones off base!

      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        Our video production specialist btw is someone who started out in sales for us, who went to film school for college. He’s not an artist. He’s a video producer! I’d certainly never ask him to do graphic design, that would be nuts.

    5. Rookie Biz Chick*

      Is there potential to consider outsourcing the video production and you manage the contractor, content, and the process? Sounds like you are plenty creative and have knowledge of the company to guide video projects, so perhaps you could pitch it that way, and keep your design work intact while still contributing to the video initiative? Justify the additional costs with the rationale that professionals will deliver a superior product in less time.

    6. MissGirl*

      I don’t know if what they want you to do is possible in the quality they want, but I do have a perspective of jobs changing responsibilities and having to adapt. I was a print book designer. We started an ebook initiative and everyone wanted me to convert our titles to ebooks and I knew zero code. I found coding tedious and boring. This was back before there were services and programs to streamline the process. Also our books were filled with photos and design that they wanted to convert over with text.

      Though I didn’t want to, it was now part of my job. I took night classes on html and css, watched tutorials, and threw myself into it. It was definitely a learning process, and I’d be embarrassed now to show anyone the first efforts. Luckily I had a company who was patient with my efforts. By the time I left that job, I’d created hundreds of ebooks and was very well versed in CSS, which made me a stronger job candidate.

      Every job changes. Whether it’s new technology, responsibilities, or market shifts; you can count on change. To be a valuable employee, be flexible and open to these changes. Maybe you’re right and this is beyond you, but what if you’re wrong? Take some classes, make an effort; at the end, you may go back to what you were doing but you may enjoy the new challenge. Thirty years from now I guarantee you won’t be doing the same thing you are today.

      1. Simms*

        This is like asking a cartoonist who does weekly comics to suddenly do full animation. Sure they are similar but the reality is the end product will not look as good as someone who actually had the experience and training to do it as a career. This is beyond just picking up extra duties in your extra time or learning to do.

    7. LoFlo*

      Are there positions on the org chart for you to be promoted into? I would be weary of being told I need to take on more responsibility to qualify for a promotion to a position that doesn’t exist.

    8. Wheezy Weasel*

      I’ve found it valuable to get together with the bosses and demonstrate the level of competence that I have in terms of work product and set realistic expectations, but use someone else’s product as an example. For instance, show them a video that I’ve previously shot and lightly edited in something like iMovie or Camtasia Studio and say ‘is this the quality of video that you want? I can do that right now or a month from now’. Then show them something more advanced where you think you might be after a bootcamp-type session and lots of practice in your 20% time allocation, and say ‘I estimate it will take me 6 months to produce work at this level, given that I’ll need X hours per day, Y dollars in training, and that you’re OK with the timeline’. Finally, show them something completely whiz-bang that you know you’ll never be able to do with the time, money and tools available in your job, and say ‘We’re not able to do this type of work in-house, and we’ll never be able to do it based on my talent and our staffing’

      You may be surprised that the expected work product is only slightly higher than what you’re able to do right now. If their expectations are too high, hey’ll appreciate knowing that it won’t ever be possible to produce super-bowl commercial quality videos.

      Also, if your position allows you to ask the tough questions, find out what other types of video content are your competitors doing. Would increasing the quality of the video in your company have a measurable gain/return on investment?

  17. i don't have a name*

    So, a recruiter contacted me about a job and when we had our phone call, something weird came up.

    Recruiter: What’s your current salary?
    Me: I’m not comfortable providing that information, but if the salary listed in the job description you sent me is accurate, that range is okay with me.
    Recruiter: Why can’t you give me your current salary?
    Me: I prefer not to give out private financial information.
    Recruiter: Well, I’d like to know it because this job has a history of problems with salary and it not being what candidates expect.
    Me: Is the salary range in the listing accurate? Because my range is within that. I’m looking for $X-$Y.

    The recruiter never mentioned if the listing is accurate.

    After that conversation, the recruiter described the role in more detail. It’s a Digital Product Manager job where the role will work to combine 7 – 9 existing platforms/apps into one. After we spoke about it and set up an interview with the hiring managers, I thought it over and I can see why the salary might be trouble for anyone. That seems like a lot of work for a salary range of $70K – $95K. The $70K would still be a bump for me, though I did say my range was $80K – $90K, but I’m worried that it is underpaying for the amount of work that needs to be done and how to convey that in the interview.

    I want to ask the hiring manager and team I’m interviewing with about what the recruiter said, but I don’t know if it’ll come off as aggressive is I ask about the recruiter saying that the role has been hard to fill and the salary isn’t desirable.

    1. Dawn*

      I think it’d be totally fine to ask the manager about the recruiter saying the role has been hard to fill- don’t bring up the salary thing, just see what the hiring manager has to say about why the role is hard to fill and go from there.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m worried that it is underpaying for the amount of work that needs to be done and how to convey that in the interview.

      I don’t think you need to convey that in the interview. You’ve already made it clear to the recruiter that your range is within what’s posted up ($70K-$95K). At this point, I’d wait until a job offer to negotiate what makes sense. In the meantime, really determine through the interview process what the position actually entails.

      For the same reason they shouldn’t judge you based on your salary history, you shouldn’t judge the position by your work history or the title of the job. Judge the position for itself. If it’s a lot more / different work from what the title would usually suggest, that justifies a salary bump from what the market would usually dictate for that title.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Recruiter: Well, I’d like to know it because this job has a history of problems with salary and it not being what candidates expect.

      And it didn’t occur to them that they could avoid these problems by revealing their salary range?

      1. i don't have a name*

        The strange thing is that the job listing DOES have the salary listed. The recruiter just wouldn’t confirm if that was still accurate information.

        This company is very good about listing salaries for all positions, along with percentage ranges for raises and bonuses, which is why I thought it was weird that the recruiter wouldn’t confirm if the listed salary was accurate.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        And it didn’t occur to them that they could avoid these problems by revealing their salary range?

        Or that they could avoid these problems by paying what the candidates expect for what the position demands?

      3. Joseph*

        Well, they give the range, but it’s still a really strange response. Like, if you’re listing the salary range than any candidate who applies should expect a salary in that range. And if you keep getting candidates who aren’t satisfied with your salary range, something is wrong.
        Also worth noting that if those are real numbers, $70k-$95k is actually a pretty big range. I don’t know about your industry, but in many industries, a 25% salary difference is at least one full level of employment. So that’s pretty strange on its’ own.

        1. i don't have a name*

          This is one of the reasons I was wary after ending the call. Not only is it a big range, but the fact that the recruiter has said that the salary has been a problem for the job led me to believe that maybe there’s more work involved that would require a higher salary, especially after I heard what the job entails – or that they offer at the lower end of the range instead of somewhere in the middle.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            It could also be that they’re saying $70K-$95K, but they’re always going to lean more toward the $70K than the $95K part of the range.

          2. Turquoise Teapot*

            Ok, preparing to get flamed on this one, but here it is.

            Product management, in some organizations, can be a role where women with technical skills get sidelined. It is a vital role that requires a highly specialized set of skills. But because it’s gendered female in the tech world, it’s undervalued. That could be part of what’s at play here.

            The contradictory thing about all of that is that a great product manager actually has a very broad skill set. I mean, ideally, you’re a full stack developer with a big picture mindset. If you run into another low salary, emphasize your tech skills and mention other highly paid roles you’d be qualified for.

    4. Turquoise Teapot*

      Ouch. Product manager salaries vary greatly by location, but I’ve never seen one under six figures (unless the title is misleading, which doesn’t sound like it’s the case here).

      The way the recruiter pressured you into giving out that information is a huge red flag about the company. I’d proceed with caution. But if this happens in the future, you could forward them some general info about salaries for that type of role instead of disclosing what you make. (And if they keep pressuring you after you’ve politely declined and tried to be helpful, stop responding or let them know you’re no longer interested.)

  18. Anon for this one*

    I have a friend who worked at a large box store. She was forced by her manager to give him oral sex in his office. She reported it, filed an official police report, etc.

    The store tape that her husband was shown that collaborates her story on the timing of the incident has gone “missing” now. (The tape also shows him following her around the employee area just out of sight after the face rape)

    The store has been asking other employees if she’s flirty at work etc.

    Another manager that is a friend of her husbands was let go for insubordination right after returning from medical leave…

    The DA in the area is being charged with showing assault victims and employee porn. It’s also worth noting that her case has been closed pending DNA evidence. They man obviously denied it.

    This is in IL. Any of the lawyers have advice for me to give them?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I’m not a lawyer, but I know that your friend needs to hire a good one. This is really a criminal issue that needs to be dealt with by people familiar with the situation.

      1. Anon for this one*

        Oh, most definitely. They have spoken to a lawyer, who was basically not interested in taking the case. Because, these cases rarely win, as we know. Plus without any hard evidence I’m sure it’s going to be he said, she was asking for it. *sigh*

        They live in a rural area, and they drove 2 hours to Chicago to get almost no advice. And they don’t have money for an attorney. Which makes it even worse. Basically this guy is in a position of authority over young women, and women who are economically tied to him because there are no other jobs in the area. And the store is ok with leaving that predator as a manager. It’s infuriating.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Go to the Illinois Bar Association website: You can find a lawyer and look at referrals there. She might be able to find someone willing to take the case pro bono.

          And I’m really sorry that this happened to your friend. This is disgusting and horrible.

        2. neverjaunty*

          They need to talk to a different lawyer ASAP. Whoever they talked to was an idiot, and employee-side lawyers work on contingency – meaning they get a cut of any proceeds, the client doesn’t pay up front.

          As for the tape going missing – any competent lawyer is going to be all over that like ants on sugar. It’s called spoliation of evidence, and it would not be a very comfortable experience for anyone at that company to explain under oath how that tape just so happened to vanish.

          Please encourage your friend to talk to a different lawyer, one who specializes in representing employees, not a generalist.

          1. Anon for this one*

            Yes, the store is a national brand.

            The police are involved, however… the case is closed pending DNA evidence return. My gut don’t trust the situation.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Your gut is right here. Please, please encourage your friend to talk to a different lawyer – one who specializes in representing employees. They should not have to pay a dime out of pocket to talk to an attorney on this.

            2. WellRed*

              Reach out to corporate (through a lawyer)? Local and regional managers can be downright stupid, but DNA evidence or not, I would think they’d take this seriously

              1. neverjaunty*

                100%, absolutely, through a lawyer at this point. Friend’s company is trying to cover up a rape and blame the victim.

        3. Temperance*

          Also, speaking as an attorney – I very often get phone calls for cases that just aren’t appropriate for me to handle. I recommend that they call their county or state bar association.

          What they need is a plaintiff-side employment attorney. Most work on contingency. Do not seek out a solo practitioner/general practitioner. They won’t be appropriate for something this sensitive.

        4. Rosalind*

          On the criminal side, keep at the police and District Attorney he said/she said is enough to file charges and have someone convicte. DNA is useful but not necessary. On the civil sidetry and find a different attorney.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Yo, that’s actually really not a helpful thing to say about a rape victim. I understand hearing about stuff like this is angering, but saying things about what a person “should have done” is pretty harmful.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          This. And, frankly, that would probably not have made her life any better. In fact, she would probably end herself charged with assault or worse.

      2. Anon for this one*

        While I understand your sentiment, it’s not helpful and in fact the very thing a school in the US is being sued about right now. A student was coerced into oral sex and she was asked wyhe didn’t bite it off.

        So you know, because I don’t know your gender, women aren’t predisposed to doing anything that may cause more violence then we are already being exposed to….if you just let him finish you *might* get to live. We are taught to deescalate the situation, because men frequently respond to “no” with violence and insults.

        This is victim blaming lite. She froze and, until you are faced with a dick being shoved into your mouth, you really can’t say how you would respond.

    2. Pwyll*

      Lawyers can’t really give this type of advice over the internet. Please have your friend contact a lawyer licensed in your state. Easiest way for a consultation if you don’t know a lawyer is to type “Illinois lawyers referral” into google and look for bar associations and legal aid providers. Additionally, your friend may want to search for a local rape crisis center, which can help her to find the psychological and legal help she’ll need in this harrowing time. I’m so sorry, best of luck to her!

    3. Emmie*

      Has she reported this to the police? I see the DA, but am not sure is that’s District Attorney.
      Get a lawyer, and counseling. This is so horrible.
      As for you, keep being there. That must be so hard, but your support is a lifeline.

    4. Lucky*

      Has she contacted corporate headquarters? She probably has, but if not – this is exactly the type of thing that store managers, district managers, etc., try to keep Corporate from finding out. I would suggest a big blast – contact corporate HR, but also find out who the executives are and loop them in — communications/marketing, risk, legal — all of these departments should hear about this and should be concerned.

      If they do nothing, maybe she can put the F’ers on blast on Twitter, Facebook, contact independent media outlets.

      Grr, I’m so mad and really want to know what chain this is so I can make a point to not go there ever again.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I’m inches from a petition myself. It’s nationwide and I’m sure they wouldn’t enjoy being associated with a rapist. (Or at least the publicity from it)

        1. Temperance*

          Not legal advice, but I would really hold off on that until your friend involves the parent company. You don’t want it to come out that she didn’t go through proper channels above her store, and petitions don’t really do anything in most cases.

      2. Joseph*

        Yeah, this is actually one of the (few) benefits of working at a Big Chain Store over a smaller local one – There’s a higher tier of people who have a vested interest in handling management issues. Because if it explodes into a press issue, the entire corporate name gets dragged through the mud.

    5. Observer*

      1. Lawyer – see if she can Legal Aid or whatever the equivalent in IL is.

      2. Keep chasing the police. Politely.

      3. EEOC – they don’t charge anything. The way the store is handling it works in her favor – tapes of an incident going missing and conducting an investigation by asking around if she’s “flirty” are the kinds of things that make for a really good case, because at that point, it’s not even just about the assault.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes. The idea that ‘cases like this rarely win’ is so out to lunch that I wonder about the competence of the lawyer who gave them that advice.

      2. Anon for this one*

        The whole thing is very good ‘ole boy, sweep it under the rug. Obviously, I’m sick about this for my friend, but I’m also so very worried about the other women who work at that store…I mean…seriously he forced a woman to give him oral sex, inside the store, during business hours. Why the actual F does he still have a job???

        1. Observer*

          From the point of winning a case, that works for her. Of course, there are no guarantees, but the EEOC really goes after companies that don’t handle these investigations well. And the courts have backed them up.

    6. Golden Lioness*

      Contact the local bar association and they will refer you to a good lawyer. She needs a lawyer ASAP. This is a criminal case, the employment part is a separate (although related) one.
      If she hasn’t talked to corporate she should.

      On the tape missing. Are there any written records where there’s a mention of the tape? This is aserious offense for the store to try to explain, but if there are no records and they deny the existence of the tape it could become a “he said/she said”

      Most importantly, your friend needs counseling. I am so very sorry she had to go through that,

    7. BRR*

      Have to echo lawyer. Search around.

      I would say make as much noise as possible. Go up the chain. Go to management and HR. Local, district, region, and national. Government agencies both state and federal.

  19. Terra*

    Question for a coworker who’s planning to leave. She’s the only person in her department (think marketing). She answers to someone with a title equivalent to director of sales and marketing. He is often completely unavailable by phone and email due to travelling or just because he will lock himself in his office and refuse to answer them which means she is responsible for all marketing inquiries and duties in a high volume department. Often times she cannot go to him for help so makes fairly high priority decisions herself.

    1) Should she list this as an accomplishment on her resume? 2) If so how would she word it? I’ve suggested something like “managed marketing department x% of the time” but she’s wary of doing so since her title is not actually “Marketing Manager” even though we don’t have a marketing manager.

    1. Cat steals keyboard*

      Can she just describe the tasks and responsibilities – i.e. just say what she did – rather than worrying about an absolute title for them?

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, I don’t think she should list “managing,” but she should list the things she did.

      Assistant Marketing Manager
      – things she was supposed to do
      – responded to marketing inquries
      – etc

      1. Lily Rowan*

        If she’s been managing the marketing, I think she can totally say that! But maybe frame it more as managing the function, not the department, since that sounds more like managing staff?

  20. T3k*

    So, I don’t know if I accidentally did a Really Bad Thing or not and want to know what you guys would do if you had this situation. This is a bit long:

    I came across a job posting that was posted about 3 weeks ago on a company’s website. It said to click the individual job posting to see the specifics of the job and how to apply. Problem 1: there were no instructions on how to apply within the pdf file. I even selected all to see if perhaps it was hidden text or something, checked in another browser, etc. Basically, no instructions.

    So, this company is a pretty well known company (about 200 employees) and have different emails depending on what you’re inquiring about, but none for careers, so I emailed the general one asking about the job posting, but no answer (been about a week now). Their number is also not listed on their website, but easy to find if you use google. Again, that didn’t go anywhere (generic operator type thing).

    I really want to apply for this job because it feels like a great fit so I then decided maybe I could find someone on LinkedIn who’s part of the hiring process to ask. Nope. But, I did find the person who the position would be reporting to as their name was on the job posting, and here’s where my possibly bad thing is. Having exhausted everything I could think of, I sent a message earlier this week to the guy, apologizing for contacting him but I tried all these other avenues and couldn’t get anyone to answer and explained that the job postings had no instructions on applying and I really wanted to apply to it and how to go about doing that and apologizing again.

    Of course, a day after this, I came across the job on a generic job board, slightly different description, but says at the bottom to send resumes to someone who, when I looked them up, was a recruiter. So now I just don’t know what to do, or what I should have done.

    Do I apply through the board site (though it’ll actually go directly through there and not a personal email to the recruiter)? Do I mention there were no instructions on the company’s site, hope the guy doesn’t blacklist me, or just not apply at all now and try to pretend none of this happened? The guy is also very far up the ladder there, as in one of the VPs, and I don’t know how often, if ever, he checks his LinkedIn, but I’m not holding my breath that he’ll respond.

    1. Fabulous*

      Just send your resume and cover letter to the recruiter as it instructs. You don’t need to mention any of the other contacts you made, although it might be helpful in the body of the email to let them know the posting on the website has no instructions how to apply.

    2. Jesmlet*

      I’d just send your resume to the recruiter as if this was the only place you’d seen the job and not mention any other attempts you made. It’s not like you did anything wrong, it just sucks that you didn’t see the job board before you took all the other steps. Just pretend it didn’t happen and apply through the only avenue they’ve actually mentioned.

    3. BRR*

      Just apply like how it tells you. I’ve had similarly frustrating situations where instructions are left out. I’ll google a job to see if another site has it and also sometimes another site might have more information like a salary range.

    4. Turquoise Teapot*

      You didn’t do anything wrong. Just apply as you usually would and if the VP writes back, thank him for his time and let him know you’ve submitted your application.

      Considering the circumstances, I don’t think contacting him on LinkedIn could hurt. If anything, it could make you stand out as a highly motivated candidate and they might appreciate the info about one of their job posting sites being difficult to use.

  21. FancyDress*

    Folks who work in or have hired for UX/UI…what would you be looking for in a UX/UI resume, especially if the person hasn’t really been working in tech?
    I’m a web producer who’s worked primarily in news. Over the years I’ve taught myself HTML/CSS and Javascript and done a bunch of design and project management on products like our newsletters and apps.
    I’d really, really like to transition to UX/UI work as I find it fascinating, and I had the opportunity to chat with a recruiter about doing so. He said that my resume was too…news-focused? I guess. And that I needed to rewrite it to appeal to tech hiring managers. I did a bunch of Googling, but as I’m entirely self-taught I got a bit lost with the language and figured I’d ask here (especially after the amazing technical writing discussion from the other day).

    1. Michaela*

      Your portfolio is going to be important. Since you’re self-taught (me too! high five!), and come from a non-tech background, I’d want to be able to see your work. I hate saying this, but if you contribute to an open-source project or two, that would be a plus.

      1. FancyDress*

        Thanks! I’ve got a portfolio of live links, but do you think I should be including wireframes & so on?

        1. Michaela*

          Yes. Show me your process, have a narrative of what problem the design/development is solving, how you approach your work, what the results were.

        2. Turquoise Teapot*

          Yes. Include wireframes, site maps, anything like that. And listvyour languages and software skills at the top of your resume.

          My experience is that in the tech world, people tend to exaggerate their skills on their resumes. Don’t over do it, but don’t sell yourself short either. Include all languages and relevant software you’ve used. Bullets under each job should be focused on keywords that recruiters look for, and should be in keeping with current industry terminology. To get a sense of this, read anything you can that was recently written by people in the industry. Terminology can change, and you want to avoid sounding dated.

          Keep the wording on your resume really concise and focused on your skills. Most hiring managers will just scan it to get a quick sense of your background and put more weight on your portfolio and interview.

          1. Turquoise Teapot*

            Re-reading this after posting, I realized it sounded like I was suggesting that you exaggerate your skills. I didn’t mean that. Be honest, but don’t be shy or modest.

    2. nerfmobile*

      UX is about process – anybody can show a portfolio full of pretty end results. What we want to see is the initial problem you needed to solve, how you approached it, and what you have to produce to communicate your intent to the people who actually made the thing.

  22. Leatherwings*

    Ugh, I got laid off this week. I am totally crushed and finding it hard to show my face at work until my last day. I am grateful that a lot of other people in my organization are stepping up to help me with my job search, but it still feels really crappy.

    Anyone have any tips on pushing through after a layoff?

    1. Dawn*

      You’re gonna be sad and mad about it for a long, long time, probably even after you take another job. That’s OK, normal, and is just something that will fade with time. Let yourself be sad, let yourself be angry, when you’re ready, ask yourself if there was anything you could have done to not get laid off and then work on those areas going forward. Most of all, tho, don’t let this layoff rule your professional life- it was just a layoff, most of the time those are not personal at all and you just lost the layoff lottery. It SUCKS in the short term but it’ll get better in the long term.

      I was laid off in late 2014 and can look back and say that it was absolutely a good thing in the end as I’ve grown more professionally because of the new job that I had to get. If I had stayed with that company I would have stagnated.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same here–I was at BEC at Oldjob and even after I sucked it up, I still knew I wouldn’t be able to stay there much longer. Several people got laid off, which was actually a blessing.

    2. beetrootqueen*

      that sucks I’m so sorry. allow yourself to get emotional about it and then start clearing out honestly. Right down what you need to do to hand over and make sure it’s already. I’m sorry this happened to you

    3. Emmie*

      Yes. I was laid off and felt horrible. My coworkers were so sympathetic, which I never expected. I kept it quiet, but the a few people who knew took me aside, and told me how valuable I was. It was enormously helpful. You’ll find coworkers who don’t know what to say, who take a lead from you, and those few who really support you. Go out with grace, and quality work. Keep your good reputation. I packed my stuff well before my last day. And, my heart really goes out to you.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      That really sucks. I’m so sorry.

      I worked at my last organization for about five months after I got notice of my layoff. I tried to stay centered by thinking about what I wanted my managers/colleagues to say about me when they were called for references, and what I wanted to be able to say about myself in interviews. I felt pretty crappy, but that crappiness wasn’t helping me achieve any of my goals, so I vented on occasion to my boyfriend, but tried to cultivate a productive, positive and effective persona at work.

    5. SeekingBetter*

      Very sorry to hear the news. Yes, when I was laid off last year, I felt the exact same way that you do now and can relate. The company I worked for didn’t give me any heads up and told me to leave the same day the HR person informed me about it.

      As far as help from former coworkers on the job search, I personally didn’t get any leads from them. It’s been all of my own search. Yes, it’s frustrating, but try to keep positive and do what you have to do in the meantime before your next gig.

    6. Sniffles*

      Been there, got the t-shirt.
      Also got a “going away party” with all the higher ups telling me how great I was to work with and how valuable I was to the company! Um, so why was I one of the layoffs???

      Find something to do with your time while looking for work. I volunteered for the months I was outa work & really felt it helped me from sinking into deep dark despair because I could see tht there were some much worse off..

  23. StupidInterviewee*

    Have you guys ever accepted a job only to realise it is so much bigger than you can handle? That is me now. This first work week has been so much hell I am actually looking back at the wanted ads again. And I honestly feel ashamed because EVERYBODY is telling me I should be able to handle it because of how many years I worked, but I don’t have the experience and confidence in the job they want me to do, and I am so worried now.
    Has anybody ever felt the same?

    1. afiendishthingy*

      I did once leave a job after two weeks because I was in super over my head. There wasn’t any real support or training, and I was also in the midst of a bit of a mental health crisis, so leaving was definitely the right thing to do. But I also think feeling overwhelmed in the early days of a new job is very normal and not always a sign of things to come! You don’t have to be perfect.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Yes, that happened to me. Whether you should leave or not, though, depends on which way you think it’s bigger than you can handle.

      Is it just imposter syndrome (in other words, “I don’t feel qualified to do this; this is a steep learning curve”)? If so, and you’re a fast learner, be optimistic and roll up your sleeves. I’ve had a job like that before, and it was really tough the first two months, but I got the hang of it.

      Or is it more the workload? Not one full-time position or even two. You’re doing the work of three or four people? If so, I’d definitely start looking for a job. I had a situation like that, and my boss kept saying there’d be ways to lighten the load, but those ways never came, and I had to leave within the year.

      1. StupidInterviewee*

        Thank you for the encouragement afiendishthingy and anonymous educator. I’ll maybe give it a further weeks, see if my anxiety can ease a bit.

        1. Troutwaxer*

          Keep a log of each skill you learn and each challenge you surmount, and reward yourself, even if it’s only a “hey self, you done good!”

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Yes, absolutely. It was my first job out of college– an entry-level sales role.

      The first month of training was fun, but then everything went to hell. I realized that a high-pressure sales environment is not for me, no matter how fun the workplace was, or how friendly the coworkers were. I couldn’t stop thinking about work when I went home, I dreamed about making calls, and I would frequently go home and cry because I felt like a failure.

      My boss refused to offer additional training after I begged for it, so that’s when I started looking for a new job. In total, I was at the job less than four months. It took me upwards of six months post-job to recover from the emotional damage.

    4. Crylo Ren*

      I’m in this situation now. I started looking at job boards within the first 2 weeks of the job.

      I will say give it time and see how you feel. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you’re first starting a new role, no matter how many years of experience you have. I’ve been here 6 months now and while I still feel like I’m in over my head, it’s gotten easier and I can see myself sticking it out for the year…but I’m still keeping a constant eye on job boards just in case.

    5. AnonAcademic*

      I had to “fake it till I made it” for the first 6 months of my job. That’s normal for my position though (research – you are always learning new, unfamiliar tools so there’s always a learning curve). I questioned regularly whether I was unprepared for my role but I am pretty good at learning on the job and my boss seems fine with my pace. Can you get feedback from your boss on whether they think you’re picking things up quickly enough?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Ordinarily, I would say try to tough it out for six months and see where that puts you. BUT. I see you are saying “everyone is telling me I should be able to handle it because of how many years I have worked….”

      Uh. NO, that is not how jobs flow. Okay, first who is “everybody”, if it’s your family and friends they don’t count, stop listening to them. If it’s your boss, this might be a problem because you might need training on specific things and he does not want to spend the bucks.

      Do you have someone mentoring you? If no, can you find someone? Do you have resource material that you can look at on your own, so you can start to answer your own questions?

      Do you think that it is just too much work for one person?
      Have you tried talking to your boss about what his expectations are?

      1. StupidInterviewee*

        Yeah, I think it is time I had a sit down with the boss to talk clearly about what I need training in, and whether or not he can provide it for me. Thanks for the suggestion Not So NewReader!

  24. Cube Farmer*

    My minor child has a seasonal job working for a local costume & dance wear shop. This business has three locations in our city. Attached to everyone’s first paycheck was this note: “[Information on when paychecks are issued and when and who can pick them up.] Additionally, discussing your paycheck/pay with anyone except [owner] will be grounds for termination. WELCOME ABOARD!!! Thanks, [signature and owners name].”

    I’m 99.9% this is not legal but just wanted to get your thoughts on advising him. Should he point out to his manager that this is illegal? Take the anonymous route and print the law out and mail it to the owner? Ignore it? This is an owner the takes pride in telling the new employees that she is not required by law to give them breaks. Although she did finally figure out that she has to give the minors an unpaid 30 minute break after four hours per Florida law. For my part, I am just going to give him advice. What he does with it is up to him because this is his job and not mine.

    1. Dawn*

      I think it’s a good educational moment because you can say “Hey Fergus, I want to point out that it is completely legal for you to talk about money with your co-workers [insert chance to learn about worker’s rights and the struggles that led up to them being implemented]. Just because your boss says something doesn’t mean it’s right, always check the employment laws where you work because there are some bad apple bosses out there who will try and take advantage of you. Here’s how you check those laws. [Maybe insert conversation about how to talk to a boss who’s doing something illegal, where to go for help if they’re working somewhere that’s doing something illegal, etc.]”

    2. Bekx*

      Oh jeez. I’ve been in a similar situation as a young employee and the difficult part about bringing it up is you are told you can’t possibly know what you’re talking about. Personally? I’d probably just report them to my state’s labor board if it were me.

    3. Newby*

      Is it something that is important to your son? If it isn’t it may be worth it to wait until the season is over and he doesn’t work there anymore to send the information about the law. Since it is a seasonal job that would be an easy way to avoid any potential backlash.

    4. a fast machine*

      Super definitely not legal. Sadly though seasonal and youth employers like to exploit the fact that their staff don’t usually know the law and what is and isn’t legal. I would mention in passing to the manager about how your son noticed the rule about not discussing pay and was curious since he’s always been taught that was illegal. Less of a “you’re breaking the law!” and more of a “how do you explain this to a young naive person who thinks this is illegal?”
      But since it is seasonal and your child is a minor and doesn’t need this job for vital living expenses, it might be better for him to let it lie.

    5. Jesmlet*

      Isn’t Florida an at-will state though? Which basically means they can fire your son for any reason they want. I would do nothing because if it’s the owner’s policy to terminate, then that’s really up to him.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        At-will employment does generally mean that they can fire for any reason, unless the reason is one that’s specifically illegal. Retaliating against someone for exercising legally protected rights is actually illegal, so they couldn’t fire him for this.

        That said, I think Dawn’s approach above is the best one in this context.

        1. Jesmlet*

          So blatantly saying it’s grounds for termination is illegal, but technically he could still do it and make up another reason right?

            1. Observer*

              Sure. But when a company puts something like that in writing, they are going to have a EXTREMELY hard time proving that they fired someone for anything else – even when it’s true!

              This just recently happened – some kid got fired from a pizza store for discussing her pay with someone else at the store. It hit the news. The chain first tried to claim that the manager didn’t mean this that or the other, but they had to back down.

              Oh, and the manager got fired.

              1. Pwyll*

                I’m not sure about the extremely part, but I otherwise agree. I imagine a company -could- come up with evidence to show an employee wasn’t fired for sharing their salary, but the writing would make that more difficult.

      2. Pwyll*

        While it’s true that an at-will employee can be fired for any reason or no reason (so long as it’s not a discriminatory reason), it’s also a violation of the National Labor Relations Act to prevent employees from discussing their wages amongst each other.

    6. BRR*

      This is one of those situations where there’s the awesome thing to do and the here’s what might actually happen thing to do. The awesome thing for him to do is go to owner and say that’s illegal and file a complaint. Now questions to ask to determine how to handle it. Does he need the money? Will he need the reference (and would the jack ass owner give one)? Will this job have awful working conditions and not be worth it?

      And I love that you’re giving advice then letting him decide. Heck he could come on next Friday if he wants to follow up. I know when I was younger I would have found it much more difficult to speak up. Dawn has great advice in teaching that just because your boss/employer saying something doesn’t make it right. Sometimes it’s malicious and sometimes it’s just a lack of knowledge.

    7. Turquoise Teapot*

      Ah yes, I remember being young and encountering similar things. Looking back, I wish I had just quit and reported them. I was in a small town and assumed that if I reported my employer, everyone would know about it and I’d never find a job again. Now that I’m older, I know that there are honest business owners who appreciate the dishonest ones being held accountable. I also learned in these jobs that the illegal behavior you witness is usually just the tip of the iceberg. A red flag. These jobs don’t tend to go well and the owners don’t tend to be good references.

      But to answer your question, I agree with other posters that you should give him information about labor laws and let him decide what to do. “Start looking for another job. These people are shady,” is what I’d be thinking. But, yeah, this is a learning experience.

  25. NASA*

    HR people – how long does it take to get a f&$^ing FMLA form?!

    I requested my FMLA form almost two weeks ago. I sent my HR generalist a reminder after one week and we are quickly approaching two weeks of no response…

    I asked my pregnant co-worker if she had recently asked for any forms and she just hit the 2 week mark of no response from this person as well.

    I really don’t want to have to CC this person’s supervisor in my next email. Don’t make me be that person!

      1. NASA*

        Yeah, I called her (HR Generalist) first to make sure that the FMLA form was what I needed. She said yes and to email her so she could send it to me. I emailed her as soon as we got off the phone and it been radio silence since.

        I’m thinking of calling her but I’ll need to have a script, otherwise there is a chance I will go into snippy territory. You know the whole bees/honey/vinegar saying :)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Hey Jane, remember when I talked to you on the 15th about an FMLA form? I haven’t received it yet, so I just wanted to let you know that if you emailed it, it vanished into the ether. Could you re-send it please?

        2. Murphy*

          You call every single day at the same exact time and use the same exact script. They should get the message pretty quick that it’s not going to stop until they do what they’re supposed to do. Have your coworker do the same.

      2. BRR*

        This is my method. At a certain point you lose your right to not be called. I have a colleague I do supporting wor for who never responds to email or IM. She now gets an in-person visit.

        PS love the name

    1. LCL*

      (Not an HR person.)
      I go to the link to the forms on the company inweb where the forms are stored and print them myself. Or send my co workers the link and let them print their own forms. Our form is just a polished version of the federal governments’ form, which is available at this link.

      1. NASA*

        Update: there is a form deeeeeeep in the intranet trenches of my university website.

        All HR directions say that they will email you the form, but after 6 clicks in I found something resembling a LOA/FMLA form.

        I’m going to fill it out and attach it and say, “is this what you meant to send me?” Technically they had 5 (or 2 depending on website you’re looking at) business days to send me the form after my verbal/written request. I did both! Ha. And now it’s been 8 business days. Double ha!

        Grumble grumble grumble.

    2. SouthernLadybug*

      I’m not HR – but my employer’s website (NOT intranet) has links to the HR policies and all the forms an employee or the employee’s HR rep needs to fill out. So I found mine in less than 5 seconds.

    3. E*

      Can you and your co-worked talk to your boss instead, presenting the written evidence of your requests 2 weeks ago? Perhaps he or she can push the matter further with the HR generalist or their manager. If you meet all the requirements for FMLA, there’s really no good reason for a request to take this long. HR needs the info to process your requests, otherwise they’re essentially blocking you from applying for FMLA at all.

      1. NASA*

        Yes, great idea!

        My entire department has had issues with our HR Generalist for at least two years so compiling all the evidence of the same crap happening to different people over months and months is the next step. This is unacceptable.

    4. Chaordic One*

      Well, gee. You should get one as soon as you request it. Is it something that you can download from somewhere on your employer’s website? That’s how we handled it back at “Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd.”

    5. Canton*

      They should be sending it to you within 5 days. You should definitely check your company’s intranet but you should also go above that HR Person because you don’t want her sitting on the form after you submit it.

  26. Overeducated*

    Here for commiseration. It’s my third week of work and my toddler is home sick with a decently high fever. I haven’t accrued a sick day yet so my husband is missing his second day this week, AND it’s his birthday. Obviously he and the sick kid are having a worse day than I am, I got to join a fun project, but I worry and wish I were home. It is hard being a working parent with not much leave. Probably harder being a kid of working parents.

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      I don’t have kids but I feel for you on the not-much-leave thing. My boyfriend’s leave policy at his job stated he couldn’t take a paid sick day for the first 90 days at work- how one is supposed to control that kind of thing is beyond me.

      As an aside, I am a child of working parents. For a while, it was just my mom, my brother, and I. I’m sure it was hard on her to have to handle sick days with us by herself, but that’s not what we remember. What my brother and I remember was the example she set for us by working as hard as she did- I think we’re better people for it. I know you wish you were home, but the days you weren’t able to be there aren’t necessarily likely to be the be-all-end-all thing your child internalizes about having working parents. *hug*

    2. TL -*

      I was a kid of working parents and it never bothered me at all. I stayed home by myself from an earlier age, like 8, I think? (unless I was sick enough that my mom thought I needed to be monitored – but usually I wasn’t up for anything but sleeping and watching videos so it was fine to leave me alone.)

      I guess I didn’t know there was anything different but there was always an adult around when I needed one so it was okay with me. I wasn’t too picky about who gave me medicine or cleaned up my sick, either.

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Yeah that sucks. I doubt your kid will have any lasting negative thoughts about both parents working and Pineapple Incident has a point about setting a good example of “its hard and I don’t want to do it but I made a commitment and I am sticking to it”.
      Maybe this is just me ranting a bit but I think it also good that your husband is the one home with your child. That is a battle my husband and I fight over sometimes and as a working mother a stereotype that I have to fight against. At OldJob it was brought up that I had taken 2 days off that YEAR because of a sick kid and I had to be careful because I didn’t want to get a reputation of not caring for my job. That seriously pissed me off because several of the men in my department had “worked from home” for 10 or more days during that same year for childcare related issues. And I know they didn’t work during that time because they responded to zero emails or IM’s asking for critical info (my boss backed me up as he was not the one who brought up the sick kids days and he is who I went to when I couldn’t get the data I needed). I actually heard another one of the managers praise his male employee for being such an active parent while openly criticizing a female employee for doing the same thing but significantly fewer days. When me and one other employee pointed out the comments and were able to point out that he took more time off then she did for childcare related issues he got real uppity but shockingly checked it out and realized we were right and apologized. For the record it was two managers talking in a hallway and I happened to be walking by when I heard it and since the guy they were praising was the one I had been having issues getting stuff from I felt it needed to be addressed.
      I’m not saying you should never stay home with your kid just that we need the fathers to make it a more normal both in the home life and at work as opposed to it immediately falling to the mother to take the time off. I have also heard managers sneer at fathers who take time off to care for their sick kids so it really does go both ways.

      My rant for the day and kudos to all of the working fathers out there who already do this. I know you are out there so keep on being awesome!

  27. self employed*

    I need to update my resume. About 2 years ago I did freelance work but I’m not sure I saved screenshots/printouts of the articles. Will these be necessary? If someone wants my Word docs (as a writing sample, say), I can provide them, but I cannot “prove” that I was published on this or that website. Am I worrying for nothing?

    1. KT*

      Freelancer here–you’ll have a tough time if you only have Word docs–as you said, it’s not prrof it was published anywhere. That said, printouts and screenshots aren’t much better.

      Can you Google yourself and see if you can find any online? I’ve found most hiring managers/editors will only look at my work if I can provide live links

      1. self employed*

        Some is still live but not all of it! I can definitely prove I did some things but not all of it. Live links only kind of stinks, because if I worked on a project that is no longer relevant (on a technology that has since been updated), they’ll pull it offline. Thanks for your response!

  28. Edith*

    Okay, special job open to recent graduates, with recent defined as last 12 months. Interested party is obligated to remain at old job for 12 months following graduation due to tuition reimbursement. Is that just how the cookie crumbles and interested party is out of luck, or should potential employer be contacted to see if they’ll make an exception?

    1. Leatherwings*

      It depends. Some companies are going to stick to that requirement, others might make an exception. You might mention it in your cover letter and see what happens – it can’t hurt to try.

    2. It happens*

      Can the interested party ask the organization if the twelve month rule applies to application date or start date?

  29. Random Lurker*

    Just got out of a termination meeting for a very productive, but very difficult to work with employee. It didn’t go well (why would it… he’s seeing his livelihood come to an end). I’ve never seen someone sabotage themselves the way this guy did, so termination was the correct choice, no doubts on my end. Bust still, I’m a little conflicted right now. I obviously feel bad that it came to this. Given that, is it wrong that I am so relieved that it is over and that he is gone?

    1. afiendishthingy*

      Nope! Sounds like you made the right choice, and others who had to work with him are probably grateful.

    2. Dawn*

      Not wrong at all! You can like a person, see their potential, and wish them well in their future… but still be happy to not have to try and cram a square peg into a round hole all day.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      Not at all! There have been a lot of situations in my professional life lately where my main reaction was just, “Ugh, can you not.” People who had a choice to just make the thing not a thing, but decided to take the path of greatest annoyance, make it hard on everyone. It’s so frustrating to try to resolve a situation of a person’s own making, and totally appropriate to be relieved that you don’t have to push that boulder up a hill anymore!

    4. Anonina*

      That sounds hard, sorry! Of course you’re relieved.

      I hope this doesn’t sound odd or troll-like, but would you be willing to give examples of how the guy was difficult to work with and sabotaged himself? I ask because I often worry that I’m that way… and I want to change what I can. What did he do and what could he have done differently? How did it get to the point of termination?

      Any insight appreciated…

      1. NicoleK*

        At Old Job, I had a new coworker that was difficult to work with. These are a few things that she did:

        1. When she didn’t know something, instead of asking someone for the answer, she tended to fill in the blanks herself which led to mistakes, which led to her colleagues having to correct her or her mistakes.
        2. When she stepped on toes or overreached, she never apologized for it.
        3. She had all kinds of ideas, unfortunately most of them would not work due to the setting, resource limitation, time constraint, and etc. But she kept throwing out her ideas anyway even when no one else was interested in them. A few instances, she even challenged the project manager about the feasibility of her ideas.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        When I’ve seen people I would describe as “productive but difficult to work with” it’s usually a matter of soft skills. They treat other people badly – they’re rude, or condescending, or aggressive, or mean. They have attitude problems – they’re sulky, or short tempered, or overly emotional, or unreasonably argumentative or sensitive. They complain all the time, or are in the habit of publicly slagging off the company or their coworkers and bosses. They throw people under the bus, or evade responsibility when they make a mistake. They treat coworkers as subordinates, or hog all the interesting work, or don’t communicate with others, or refuse to follow instructions. Occasionally it can mean someone who has weird quirks or mannerisms that drive everyone else up the wall – people who sing out loud while working.

  30. Fabulous*

    The good news is – My temp job I’m in finally started steps toward onboarding! I officially applied yesterday and just spoke with the corporate recruiter.

    The bad news is – When I first talked with my manager about coming on board, I told her my target salary ($40-45k). The recruiter just offered me my current hourly rate ($17/hr, or approx. $35k) – No thanks, I can barely afford things as it is! Countered at $19/hr and I’m waiting to hear back.

    Hopefully I get good news and they accept my counter! Though I probably should have gone higher since $19 is where I want to end up…

    1. Fabulous*

      Not the greatest news, but at least they came up some… Been in the working world for a decade and I still haven’t seen $40k and likely won’t for a very long time still. This sucks :(

    2. NicoleK*

      It will happen. It took me 9-10 years after I graduated to make $40,000. It’s frustrating when you know people who make $40,000 1-2 year after they graduate.

  31. Nervous Accountant*

    Things were stable this week, so not much to report. We move next week so something to look forward to!

    On another note—PLOT TWIST! CC (creepy coworker) complained about ME to other coworkers and requested that he not sit next to me.
    I”m not even mad, in fact i’m thrilled because I didn’t have to.

    1. Myrin*

      I’ve been following this saga on the edge of my seat and while I’m hurray-ing for you over here, I’m also insanely curious what it was he of all people complained about. (Also, I’m still not over that he can just ask to be sat somewhere else when, if I recall correctly, you didn’t get a say wrt your seating arrangements.)

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Lol! I’ll be sure to post more when we move!

        He complained that I was “too spread out” and i have my shit all over the place. He’s not factually wrong BUT:
        1. The seat next to me is empty. He sits in the seat NEXT to that. He’s welcome to put his stuff too, but he doesn’t.
        2. I was very considerate and careful of my stuff when the seat next to me was occupied.
        3. It’s kind of a joke in the office that I have a lot of shoes underneath my desk and I’m a sitting pharmacy. (need advil motrin cough drops I have it all).
        4. He had a HUGE desk before and would have gotten a huge desk still, but in an isolated room. But he still insisted on sitting next to us.

        If he had other complaints, I’m not privvy to it; a cw told me about it, but I shut it down and said “even though I’m curious please don’t tell me, because there’s nothing I can do abut it.”

  32. LadyKelvin Now A Doctor (of Philosophy)*

    So I passed my PhD Defense on Monday. Yay! I have some corrections to do, but I had no idea how stressed out I was until I was finished and all the tension in my back and shoulders was gone. I also found out from my references that the people in Hawaii called them. Thanks a pretty good sign right? My husband and I have decided that if I get the job we are going to move to Hawaii. Crazy. I also had a job interview yesterday that I thought went really well, but I’m not going to take it because the job was posted for 2 different cities, and if the job was in DC I’d take it but they said they actually want the person in the other city so I’m going to have to pass. It doesn’t pay enough for us to move down to a city where my husband won’t be able to find work. Plus it only requires a bachelor’s degree so I’m a bit overqualified. Its a fed job and in my field, so I figured after a year or two working there I could start applying for fed jobs that I’m actually qualified for and want, since I’m having such a hard time getting through the hiring system as it is. Anyways, no questions today, just wanted to share my good news!

  33. Tuckerman*

    I work at a University and am pursuing a Masters in an unrelated field, so any tuition benefit in excess of $5250 is taxed. My first year, my employer took the taxes out of my paycheck at the end of the year over a couple paychecks (It’s taxed at 37%!) Last year they completely forgot, and didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. So I included the taxable tuition in the appropriate section when I did my taxes with Turbo Tax. Easy peasy. This year is my final year, and I’d like to do it the same as I did last year. Does anyone know, is there any reason why they must take it out of my paycheck? I end up getting most of it back when I file faxes because of my income bracket and it’s a hardship to have that much deducted. A lawyer at work says he can’t think of any reason why I have to essentially “pre-pay.” Any help/knowledge would be appreciated!

    1. jack of all trades*

      The only issue you would have is if you owed taxes. As far as it being 37% the first year. That is because the benefit amount is treated as if it is your normal salary and taxes are computed as if that were your salary for the whole year. You do get it back but it’s a bit of a surprise when all that extra gets taken out.

      1. Tuckerman*

        Hey jack, I don’t mind owing taxes (though I haven’t yet). I would just rather pay it when I file (because instead of a having huge chunk out of my paycheck for a couple months, it will likely just reduce my refund or I’ll only have to pay a little bit).

    2. Natalie*

      If the benefit is taxable, they’re required to withhold taxes. Assuming you received $5,250 or more last year, they obviously just made a mistake.

      If they are able to run the reimbursement check separately from their regular payroll, they can withhold at a flat 25%. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

    3. BRR*

      I’d contact payroll and ask. It just might be difficult to get it down if it’s a university policy. Another possibility might be to adjust your withholding when you know they’ll start taking it out then adjust it again Jan 1 so it would hopefully give you enough cash..

      1. Natalie*

        It’s not university policy, it’s IRS policy. Withholding is required for this type of fringe benefit.

        1. BRR*

          Ah so it does appear mandatory. From what I can tell. Reading tax code reminded me I hate trying to understand tax code.

  34. Jaqui*

    Looking for a skills enhancer course for exec. assistants. Is Skillpath any good? Are there others you would recommend?


    1. twig*

      I keep coming back to see if anyone has replied to you yet, because I have the same question!

      I have taken a few webinars through the American Association of Administrative Professionals that have been helpful:

    2. DragoCucina*

      We’ve not used Skillpath, but have used Fred Pryor both in person seminars and online training. We were already happy with them and then another ED in my state, he has a HR masters, also independently recommended them.

  35. Need Interview Question Advice*

    I need advice on how to answer question why I want to leave job after only 14 months. The short story is that I took a job with a boss I really liked but she left 5 months into hiring me. It is a nonprofit that turned out to be extremely dysfunctional. The board took almost a year to hire a replacement. This new boss is a nightmare! Has a bad reputation and is living up to everything that has been said about her. Colleagues in the field will not even speak to her. I want to get out ASAP because it is a sinking ship! The problem is I have only been here 14 months. My job has completely changed from what I agreed to when I was hired. Also I left my previous job where I had been for 5 years because the CEO retired and the new CEO was a nightmare as well and was very mean to certain employees. His meaness was never directed at me. I was one of the few staff he seemed to like but he created a toxic work environment so I left and took a job at my current workplace. I really don’t want potential employers to think I just leave when things get rough but I can’t do toxic work environments. The current job is getting worse every day and I really feel like I need to get out ASAP!

    1. Myrin*

      My job has completely changed from what I agreed to when I was hired.
      I think that sounds like a good and reasonable explanation, actually!

      1. Dawn*

        Yup! If I was interviewing you I wouldn’t even think twice about that answer, heck I’d probably think “Good for you!”

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      You have an easy explanation for why you are looking and if you are worried about short-term stay you have a solid 5 year stint on there so you should be good to look around.

    3. Kyrielle*

      Yep. The five-year stay doesn’t have to be explained at all – don’t mention the change in leadership there or the word ‘toxic’ or any sign that it was the functioning of the workplace. You’d been there five years and you moved on. For this one, the organization’s needs for your role changed so much that the job was completely different from what you originally hired on to do.

    4. BRR*

      Echoing others. Five years is nothing alarming. Could you say you left for more responsibility? 14 months isn’t terribly, especially after five years.

    5. Golden Lioness*

      You do have a good explanation. You signed up for a job, and then they change it. Also, 14 months is not bad, considering you were at the prior job for 5 years. Get out and good luck!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      If these two bosses have been around any length of time, then people in your arena already know what is up. Keep your explanation simple, as suggested here. Stay classy. I don’t think you will have a ton of problems with your explanation.

  36. Simplytea*

    How do career-focused individuals in their twenties and thirties leave the US for a few years and come back a restart their careers?

    I’m not a spontaneous person, but I’d really love to live outside the US for a couple of a years if I had the chance and it wouldn’t ruin my chances of having a fulfilling career later on. Has anyone done this?

    1. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Why not try the best of both worlds and find a job with an international company that has offices in the US and around the globe? That way you should be able to get the sponsorship/visa issues covered to work outside the US but also have the opportunity to come back when you are ready and not have any work gaps and possibly have a job when you return.

    2. It happens*

      That’s a tough question. A lot depends on both why you want to live in another country and what you want out of your career.
      I was an expat for a number of years, sent by my company to another country. I had never expected to work abroad, it just happened. Those plum multinational jobs are few and far between nowadays. Expats are expensive and better have a very specific skill set not available locally to justify that expense. Work visas are hard to get – what’s the super-special skill you have that no one in your target country has? A few examples of American friends and their jobs – advertising (from a big multinational), accounting (Big 4), Foreign Service, entrepreneur (so much hassle on a daily basis), commercial real estate (multinational), Human Resources consultant (multinational), etc. A number of them came to the country on time-limited rotations and then decided to stay, either at local pay rates or by going through the process to hang their own shingle as consultants. Except for Foreign Service, no one took their jobs or had the expectation at hire of working internationally.
      Some options, that can still play in interviews after repatriation: teaching English in a foreign country, Peace Corps or other international service orgs that allow you to apply your business skills in another country. Foreign language requirements vary. Going through an established organization by starting in the US makes the logistics a lot easier.
      TL;DR think about who you are and what you want out of your work and life experiences then find an organization that can help you make them happen. Enjoy!

    3. aelle*

      I’m not from the US but I have lived and worked in a number of countries and I’m in my early 30s now. The fact that I started with internships was helpful (I built a track record of professional skills + transnational collaboration skills early on) but you can do that at any point in your career.

      I’d recommend identifying foreign companies in your industry that have open positions. You do need to be an excellent match to justify them putting up with the cost and the hassle of getting you a work visa.
      Looking up US companies with open international positions is possible but probably not the easiest. Expat positions like these have become a rarity – at your career level they tend to be covered by a mix of local hires and regular travel.

  37. JLK in the ATX*

    How do you manage the application process when volunteers and/or seasonal staff apply?

    I’ve been with a non-profit for 3-yrs as a seasonal staff member and I also volunteer for this organization (doing the same work) in the off-season. My seasonal boss is also my volunteer boss, and she sends unpublished openings within the organization. I applied to one, but never received any communication (in response to two emails I sent) from the hiring person (who is not in HR or in the dept I work/volunteer in) for the past 2 months.

    Admittedly, I’m a bit surprised that my organization affiliation isn’t being acknowledged, even if I’m not right for the position. My seasonal/volunteer boss is embarrassed by this persons actions (or lack thereof) as I’m embarrassed to keep her updated. This treatment will not affect my desire to keep working for this organization (I love the seasonal job I do and they keep asking me back) in my seasonal role.

    As a non-profit professional, 16 years in, I wouldn’t dream treating a volunteer and/or seasonal staff this way. They’ve earned the professionalism and respect of the organization to be kept in the loop up until they’re accepted or denied for the position. While all applicants deserve this, the organizational affiliation has weight and should be considered.

    Does your non-profit treat volunteers and/or seasonal employees with any deference when applying for positions? What about those referred by current employees, particularly for an unpublished position hoping for an employee referral?

    Do I have any leverage, as a volunteer and/or staff member, to share my negative experience with those who could be part of the education process (Volunteer Manager, HR, the hiring persons’ manager) on how to treat volunteers and/or seasonal staff applicants?

    1. Cat steals keyboard*

      I think I would mention this, but frame it as being worried the application system might be failing – i.e. as a tech error.

      I work at a non-profit and we would be mortified if this happened to a volunteer.

      1. JLK in the ATX*

        Your suggestion was the direction I was considering. Thanks for the reinforcing my thoughts on it. I, too, am in shock that a volunteer and/or employee would be treated this way and I don’t know – if they know- how bad this is for business in other ways.

    2. Cat steals keyboard*

      PS re dereference – no idea how it works in current job as I’m quite new but when I volunteered I had a guarantee of an interview for any role I wanted to apply for. When I interviewed for a role and didn’t get it I received a very nice phone call explaining why and saying they valued my volunteering and hoped i’d still want to do it. They later acted as a reference for me as well.

    3. BRR*

      Is your seasonal/volunteer manager giving you a reference to the hiring manager? I’m with Persephone Mulberry that your current manager knows and it’s in their hands.

      1. JLK in the ATX*

        My boss isn’t giving me a referral, but did in my cover letter I noted how I found out about the position and affiliation with the organization. My boss is embarrassed at the lack of courtesy, from the hiring person to me. From what I know, I haven’t been considered for the position which is fine by me.

  38. AshK123*

    This is just a (petty) vent! I flew out to interview for a position and the first thing the next morning I got a one sentence rejection email that was very perfunctory. They didn’t even include the generic “it was a difficulty decision because we had so many great candidates…”. I spent so much time speaking with them (not to mention flying out there) it would’ve been nice to get a little fluff in the rejection! Compare that to the 3-paragraph (really kind!)rejection email I received from a recruiter who I’d only ever spoke to on the phone for about 25 minutes.

    1. Overeducated*

      I hate that! I interviewed for a position that required a 3 day trip (1 full day of meetings and 1 half day where I gave a tailored talk) and actually heard nothing for 5 months until I received a form “thank you for applying” rejection letter from HR. A one line email from the hiring manager given that I put a lot of time and effort into their interview process would have been nice.

  39. Lucky*

    I just want to post some appreciation for Alison and the AAM community for the great conversations we’ve had about gender issues in the workplace recently.

  40. Gandalf the Nude*

    Gosh, I just wanna shout out the colleagues that always make your day better. I’ve got one guy who always has me smiling by the end of the phone call even if I was seeing red before the phone rang, even if he’s added something stressful to my workload, just because he’s so pleasant. Thank you to those, folks.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Ha! I know those folks. The ones that call with the crazy request that will take up 50% of your work hours for the next month But they are so engaged in their request. They take the time to explain any issues and answer every little question. Then they tell you how much they appreciate your work.
      My co-workers ask “Aren’t you so mad at JoeSchmo because they give you such big crazy projects?” And I never am. Somehow, I’m grateful.

  41. Lillian McGee*

    Idk how many of you would remember but a while back I commented about how my husband was a career-hopper and never spent more than 2 years in a job before hopping over to a completely different field. (To recap, he’s done GIS mapping, firefighter, train conductor, and now land surveying)

    I think it’s finally caught up with him. He regrets his most recent hop. I think it really hit him when I pointed out that I am now bringing home more money than he is (from a non-profit job! I never would have dreamed…) plus he has no pension, crap insurance, crap hours. I have been 100% supportive each time but now I wonder if I was actually just enabling.

    Anyway, he is going back to the railroad it seems. And to underscore just how weird an industry the railroad is, the employer he walked out on is OVERJOYED to be taking him back. I told him that maybe it is time to grit his teeth and stop jumping ship every time he finds some part of the work unbearable. It’s pretty sad that he has been essentially “entry level” his entire working life so far! Am I right to put my foot down this time? Is it my place? I dunno.

    1. Christy*

      Oh yeah, it’s totally your place. Who else, if not his wife? I mean, “putting your foot down” might not be like 100% the best way to handle it, but you’re the right person for the reality check.

    2. Dawn*

      I think it’s fine as his friend and life companion to point out that it’s pretty immature and definitely limiting if he runs away every time work gets annoying. Like, definitely don’t work somewhere unsafe or unethical, buuuut…. we all have aspects of our jobs that we don’t like, and we grow professionally and personally when we find healthy and successful coping mechanism to deal with those unpleasant aspects.

      1. Lillian McGee*

        That’s really nicely put, thank you. I really don’t like it when people say things like, “Well *I* put up with *this* so *you* should be able to blah blah etc” (even though I am super guilty of doing just that sometimes…) But what you said delivers the message in much more general and less judgy terms.

        1. Dawn*

          You’re welcome! And yeah, everyone has a different threshold for putting up with stuff. My husband, for example, can nonchalantly deal with situations at work that would break me down into a gibbering, fuming MESS, but he gets really really annoyed when someone’s being intentionally ignorant about something whereas I can brush that off easily.

          In your situation, it sounds like you need to point out, as a friend, that shouldering through tough/annoying situations is a good thing personally and professionally and it’s super limiting to just throw up his hands and go “Nope! I’m out!” every time something bugs him.

    3. AnonAcademic*

      Has your husband ever considered seeing a counselor specializing in career issues? Often people with a history like your husband’s have some unreasonable deal breaker about work which leads to them quitting or being fired eventually everywhere. My MIL is like this, she’s a “my way or the high way” person who eventually settled into a part-time job where she could run the show, until management changed and there was more oversight and she was essentially forced into retirement. She absolutely hates the place where she worked even though she had like 10 good years there, because of how it ended, and it’s pretty clear she has a chip on her shoulder about every place she ever worked basically. Her attitude was a huuuge career limiter and the financial implications of that for her retirement are Not Good.

    4. BRR*

      I think it’s your place to put your foot down. Now to what level depends on what if any expectations you set early on. It was known to both my husband and I that we expected each other to earn at least an ok salary with ok benefits. He has a PhD in the humanities and is aspiring to be a professor but our expectations mean that he can’t only adjunct.

    5. Gene*

      The railroad is probably thrilled because there’s a severe shortage of rail labor right now. And he has EXPERIENCE!!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      The way my husband approached it with me was pretty well thought out. I had moved up here, dealt with a dying parent, planned a wedding, moved again and through out all this I bounced from job to job. I found seasonal work or temp work. I thought I was doing well to stay employed. And there were times where I was working three jobs. Well I had to work three jobs to make up for the times that I was out of work.

      My husband said to me that I needed to get my income stabilized. He pointed out that our goals as a team depended on me being on an even keel income-wise. He caught my attention, well, I really liked that “team” and “we” part. Sure it was hard to listen to because it was criticism (constructive but still….), but I thought about it and realized that he had put some thought in what he was saying. He wasn’t yelling or slamming is fist on the table. He was very matter of fact. I appreciated the fact that he did not say I needed to earn a specific amount of money. He did not compare his pay to mine. All he wanted was for me to have a steady income so that we could work on more of our goals.

      What I like about this approach is that it was up to me to nail down the problem areas and work through those myself. It took me a few months but I landed a job that I stayed with for over a decade and we hit many of those goals that we had.

  42. Caroline*

    I’m on the job hunt, and I saw a job posted as “exempt” but the hiring range was 39-46k. I’m OK with that range (although obviously I’d like more if possible), but it is my understanding that as of December, this combination of exempt and salary will be outlawed.

    Let’s say I get this job (OK, this is truly jumping the gun because I’m not even 100% sure I’m going to apply), even if they moved through the hiring process quickly, a start date probably wouldn’t be until November. Would I bring this up when I get an offer? Accept an offer and then bring it up a month later, when it becomes outlawed?

    This is a major university with thousands of employees, so I would be shocked if they were unaware of the new law (might be understandable for a small company with no HR), so I’m surprised that they have listed it this way. It kind of makes me not want to apply, because I don’t want to have to call them out for trying to dodge the law as a new or potential employee. This is someplace I really would like to work, though.

    1. ThatGirl*

      In my understanding, it could still be exempt in that range but they would owe you overtime if worked.

      I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong about that, though.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yes, that’s generally what it means. The whole point of the law is that you can’t make someone exempt from overtime if you’re paying them less than the threshold amount.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, “exempt” means exempt from overtime requirements. They’d either have to make you non-exempt and pay you overtime as of Dec. 1 or raise the salary.

          If you’re offered the job, you can simply ask at that point what will happen to the exempt status when the new regs go into effect.

          I wouldn’t be put off that they haven’t indicated that; it doesn’t mean they don’t have a plan for it.

          1. Lemon Zinger*

            For what it’s worth, I work at a university too, and nobody knows what they’re going to do come December 1. Obviously HR is hard at work, but management in my department knows absolutely nothing.

        3. jack of all trades*

          You can be exempt and still get overtime. The exempt is that you get a set salary for the first 40 no matter what.

          1. BRR*

            My cousin is exempt but earns overtime at her normal hourly rate. She works in an industry where long hours are common so she’s got a great gig where sometimes she’s gets great pay and then gets the work-life balance to enjoy it.

      1. Pwyll*

        Not exempt, salaried. Folks making under the salary threshold can still be salaried, but they have to track their hours and be paid the equivalent of 1.5x their hourly rate for any hour worked over 40 in a week.

    2. jack of all trades*

      It could be they are using an old description and as the new rules have not gone into effect yet no one thought about updating the salary.

    3. N.J.*

      From my understanding it is not unlawful to be “exempt” at that salary level, it just means they will have to pay you overtime for anything over 40 hours in a week. It’s still “exempt” it just means the threshold for situations in which an exempt employee will receive overtime pay has changed. It’s not designed to change everyone from exempt to non-exempt or hourly.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Nope, it’s illegal. They can’t treat you as exempt if you don’t mean the legal tests for it (salary basis test and job duties test). People who don’t meet those tests will become non-exempt on Dec. 1 unless the company raises their salaries.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        it just means they will have to pay you overtime for anything over 40 hours in a week

        I thought this was the very definition of non-exempt.

    4. HRChick*

      It also depends on the position. The Academic Administration exemption has a different salary minimum that is basically that you have to be paid more than the minimum payment to faculty/teachers (who are exempt with no salary minimum).

      We have a few staff employees who fall under the academic administration

    5. Sophia Brooks*

      I work at a large university, and for some reason they keep using the words wrong. They are saying that our job is still “exempt”, because we are still receiving the exempt level benefits (like more vacation time, unlimited sick time, tuition benefits), we will just be paid hourly and need to be paid overtime if we go over 40 hours. It is making me crazy, because the very definition of exempt is that we are exempt from overtime, and they agree that we are no longer exempt from overtime. But I had to let it go, because they are actually following the rules, and I feel like fighting them about semantics will cause them to reduce my vacation time.

      SO, anyway, maybe they are meaning it like that?

  43. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I just (as in, less than an hour ago) got an email from a company I’ve been talking with. They asked for work samples. Most of the work I did in my past jobs was proprietary and confidential to clients– I can’t share it. I do have an internal presentation I did (and loved) at my last job, a draft of a blog post, a published blog post, and a couple of pieces from the second-to-last job I had (which I left in November 2014). Are those pieces too old?

    1. Caroline*

      If they are relevant to the work you are applying to do, I don’t see what age has to do with it. I mean, if you had improved and your new work was better than your old work, newer might benefit you, but I can’t see why someone would reject work you did a long time ago if it was up to par with what they expected.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This is good to know– thanks! This is the part I hate, mostly because I’ve done mostly client-based work. All I can do is cross my fingers and hope they like my writing.

    2. Dee*

      It’s a pretty common problem. I’d bring what you have and also maybe offer to complete a writing exercise, if they have something like that. And I agree that 2014 isn’t old.

    3. edj3*

      When I had a similar situation, I anonymized the work and used wording to indicate that proprietary material had been removed.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I have two pieces where I’ve done that, from a job where some of my work was sent out as examples of what the company did– clients had to subscribe to see the data, so I’ve blinded any data points. The trouble with my last job is that our work became the property of our clients and we had really strict NDAs, so unfortunately no go there. It does make job-hunting a bit challenging at times!

  44. Anna*

    In sort of a weird place at the moment. I’m currently on a one-year leave of absence (without pay) from work to complete my masters degree (the university I’m attending is in a different country so I couldn’t do it while working, and my job isn’t one that can really be done long-distance). So I’m a full-time student, with visa restrictions that mean I can only work a maximum of 20hrs per week.

    At this point I’m not sure how to approach job searches. I have over five years experience in my field but there aren’t many part-time roles in this industry. Then again it’s been over five years since I’ve done anything related to retail, and I’ve never worked in hospitality. So I don’t really know where to aim my job search at this point. Also, I’ll be leaving after a year, so that probably doesn’t help my case.

    The alternative is to just focus on my studies. I’ve planned for this for over a year and had saved/budgeted accordingly. If I don’t work I won’t need to go into debt or anything, but it’s still a massive chunk of my savings that I’ll be sinking into. Also, would it look odd if I basically had a full year gap in my work history (although I’m technically still employed, but I’m not even sure how I’ll make a note of that on my CV)?

    1. LadyKelvin*

      They year you take off for your master’s is not a gap in your resume. Its a year you spent on your masters. And since you’ll include it on your resume with when you completed it, it’ll be obvious that the gap in your work history was for education. So I wouldn’t worry about it at all. If you want to work in retail or hospitality part time to make some extra money during your degree, I’d do it. But I wouldn’t even include it in your resume, since it won’t be relevant.

  45. Do Not Speak of My Accords*

    It is bad to interview for a new job during your probation period if you feel your new job isn’t a good fit?

    1. Leatherwings*

      Bad? No. If you leave a new job so quickly, you’ll probably burn a bridge with your current employer, but if you think the job isn’t going to work out in the long run anyways that’s probably a calculation you’ve got to make.

      You have to do what you have to do for yourself, even if it’s not always ideal.

    2. beetrootqueen*

      nope. I wish I had done that. If you think its game over at your current job the best thing to do is walk out of your probation period with another job prepared and get the hell out of there

    3. AshK123*

      I don’t think so. I’m currently doing this because I knew within the first week of starting my new job that it wasn’t going to be the right fit for me. I think it benefits everyone if you don’t stay in a job you don’t like. (obviously be sure not to make a habit out of this)

  46. Fourth Month*

    For those of you following the Fourth Month Finds A Job saga, this is where I’m at:

    I have achieved one part-time job, to start next week, doing phone sales of season tickets for Eminent City Theater Company. It doesn’t look particularly fun, but it’s acceptable and I can do it in the evenings and go on job interviews in the daytime till I find full-time work again. I may also have picked up part-time remote work transcribing medical interviews, but I don’t know yet how much of that there will be. They’ll send my first trial piece sometime in the next two weeks, so it’s not an immediate solution to my problems, but it’ll be good to pick up a little money on the side if it does work out.

    I have had good luck getting interviews recently. I have one phone interview for a remote full-time position coming up next week, and another in-person interview for a part-time position working with an event manager for Big Public Space. Since I want to go into event management, this appeals to me even though there aren’t enough hours to make it my sole job. It’s in line with my eventual goals.

    That said, some of the interviews are with companies which deeply misrepresented themselves. I have a job interview for this afternoon with a “marketing” firm, and they didn’t really give me a straight answer when I asked them what the position would entail, in my first interview. Welp, I just read the reviews on Glassdoor. From what I can tell, I’d be doing door-to-door sales. And I’d be paid by commission only. NO. I’m not willing to get involved in that. The last time I did that was at the age of eight, as part of a multilevel marketing scheme that a friend of mine bought into, and I hated it then. It’d be worse now because I don’t have the option of asking my parents to rescue me.

    I was going to just cancel out of the interview entirely, but I left my coat in the building last time I was there, so I have to stop back at some point. Perhaps I’ll go into the interview, get them to tell me what the position actually involves, say it’s not for me and walk out.

    It’s hard for me to make this decision, because I grew up with an awful sense that I must take any job available when unemployed–no matter what it was–and that if I didn’t take a job when offered to me, that would make me a horrible lazy shiftless good-for-nothing who was so much of a goddamn princess she thought she was above a hard day’s work. I am having a hard time fighting that idea right now.

    The self-protective part of my brain says that there’s laziness, and then there’s knowing my limits and weighing the pros and cons of a job in a reasonable way, and this is the latter set of qualities. The stern Yankee work ethic in my head is judging me nonetheless.

    1. Alton*

      Ah, the vague “marketing” companies.

      I had to take my contact info off Monster because I was getting calls from these commission-based insurance sales companies that would imply that I’d applied for a job with them (I hadn’t) or would be vague about the nature of the job. I know I’m a terrible salesperson, so I told them all thanks but no thanks.

      I know what you mean about feeling like you have to take whatever comes your way. But I think it’s good to still have some standards. If you take a horrible job and leave after a few months because it’s a bad fit, you won’t be any better off than you are now. Also, getting an interview is usually a sign that your resume impressed people, so it’s natural to feel like it’s a good opportunity. But honestly, I think some of these companies basically spam people en masse. They don’t have a lot to lose because the sales are commission-based, and they have high turnover anyway.

      It’s okay to have standards!

      1. Fourth Month*

        Thanks ^_^

        I went in, and they were exactly as full of crap as you might imagine. Three times I outright asked the manager interviewing me for a job description, and twice she responded by telling me how wonderful the company was, and once by negging me, telling me that since I was the one who didn’t have a JOB, and I was the one who’d come to HER to ASK for a job–

        The punchline was probably, “Therefore you have NO RIGHT to question me, you cringing supplicant,” but I’ll never find out, because that was the point when I walked away. At least they were blatant about being manipulative creeps. As you say, things wouldn’t be any better if I went to work for them and then had to leave anyway.

  47. Cruciatus*

    This past weekend I officially applied for another position at my current employer. I felt weird and a little guilty, especially as I realized as this week went on that the school I work for likely is working with the new position I just applied to. So, probably the director and my supervisor know I applied (which I’m trying to remind myself, is not the end of the world. I was just planning on waiting unless invited for an interview). Oh well. Lots of people have moved around so this isn’t unusual.

    Went out with a coworker last night that I don’t know well but do trust. We chatted for about 3.5 hours! She recently moved from a similar position in another school to a new one she likes better. It was good to chat with her and have her outside perspective that management in my school is cray-cray and that there are better spots for me on campus (at least eventually). I haven’t made a lot of friends here (some of this is because I feel I must be confined to my desk all day) but it was really nice to make that connection with a coworker and have her get it!

    So overall, not a bad week. Nice to have one of those once in a while!

  48. Kore*

    Hey gang,

    I don’t work in an open plan office but I work out in the middle of everything – most of my coworkers are in offices but I sit out at a desk next to another desk. My coworker who sits at the desk next to me is very social and a lot of people chat with her for extended amounts of time. I don’t want to say you shouldn’t talk about work-related stuff in person, nor do I want to insist on no personal chat, but when there are people at her desk for 20-30 minutes at the time I find it very hard to concentrate. I try listening to music on headphones but to no avail. Any advice?

    1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      Super annoying. I’ve got a person like that who sits next to me–mostly the loud conversations are one-sided on the phone, but every once and a bit he’ll have an in-person visit. I’ve found that instrumentals allow me to drown out the noise a little better and concentrate, while songs with lyrics do not.

      I’ve also spoken to my manager about it and when I have projects that require high-concentration and no distractions she allows me to work from home.

      Other than that, it is maddening and I’ve not found any good solution.

    2. Damn It Hardison!*

      I do work in an open space office and this was definitely a problem as we were adjusting. I think the best way to address it is directly with your coworker. Ask politely if she can limit her at-desk conversations while you are at yours. You don’t even need to make the distinction between work and non-work. A friendly “Hi Jane, I’m finding myself distracted in our open area.I know how busy you are and how many people you interact with, so I’m not surprised by the foot traffic at your desk. To help me focus, would you take longer conversations to the huddle room/conference room/coat closet? Not all conversations obviously, just ones that are extended. And of course, I’ll do the same.”

    3. Saturnalia*

      I’m usually too passive for the direct approach but ambient sounds (rainstorms especially, tons of this on YouTube) on headphones really help me in my open office.

  49. LawCat*

    Any tips on helping a loved one with their job search when they’re really demoralized and want to get out of their job, but feel tired and defeated every day?

    My unhappiness with my last job really lit a fire under me to get out because I definitely felt like I could, but my spouse’s unhappiness with his job has almost had an opposite impact. He feels stuck and hopeless.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Don’t let him crab endlessly. He has to find the motivation internally. Give him 10 minutes to vent a night (or whatever) and then ask him what he’s going to do about it…

      I get it, my husband feels more or less the same, and he’s also been struggling with depression. I’m encouraging him to get his resume fixed up, cover letters started, and also get his depression back under control – but ultimately he has to be the one to do it.

    2. justsomeone*

      This is me. I am struggling to find the energy to do the work to get out.

      I’m going to resort to bribery. I have asked my husband to help me meet my weekly application goals, but he’s too soft on me about it, and I don’t actually meet my goals. Can you ask your spouse “Is there something I can do to help you move forward?” and if he has an answer, try to actually do the thing.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I’m there. I had so much hope at the start of my job search, but now I’m feeling pretty demoralized. (I think that I’m in that weird “too much experience to some positions not enough for others” state – at least from a potential employer’s view.)

        One of my tactics is to not allow myself to go home. I do my job search at the public library right after work (we have a great library system where I live). When I’ve completed all I can for the day, then I let myself go home. Where I try to make myself think of anything else. (I’m not always successful in this…)

        1. LawCat*

          That’s a really good idea and I will suggest it. Mondays and Thursdays, he doesn’t have any activities after work. He could go to the library before coming home or just come home to get the chromebook and walk to one of the local coffee shops to work on job searching. That avoids any pressures to get other stuff done at home too (and the temptation of watching TV or playing a computer game).

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I know we have some awful recruiter stories on here but if you can find a good one they do some of the leg work and help tailor your resume (at least mine did – she really was great). I think the ones that are a bit more field specific are usually better.

  50. Anon for this one*

    Well, my company has merged, and they’re firming up the organization. I pitched myself hard to my department head for a leadership role, but there’s a lot of talent here and he had a total poker face, so…idk. It will be awhile before we find out.

    So nerve wracking.

  51. beetrootqueen*

    Right so i’m a situation at work and need some advice. I work with children and the organization I work with has a new boss. The person who used to work their was my boss for a job I resigned from due to his behaviour and after my resignation and him then trying to fire me after I had resigned the whole thing ended terribly with him. However as my new boss is still taking over and the two have to talk at work he appears every now and then which I could handle. Only he is making it very obvious to the kids about what happens he whispers insults and swear words words under his breath about me and makes a big deal of “ignoring” me. The children have all noticed and are now uncomfortable both with him and the situation. It’s awkward and I honestly don’t know how to stop him from doing this behvaiour in front of the children
    any advice?

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      What?! He is swearing and insulting you and the kids can hear it? That’s horrible! I’m confused: is this your old boss or new boss? Either way, it’s awful. Is there anyone you can talk with about this?

        1. BuildMeUp*

          You should tell your new boss ASAP. This isn’t something that’s just affecting you – Old Boss is visibly making the kids uncomfortable.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      Um, that’s totally unacceptable. Round up with him ASAP and say “”Bob, when you swear and mutter under your breath, it frightens the children. Please stop doing this around them.”

  52. Alton*

    I’m curious if anyone on here has gotten an MPA degree, or has opinions on its value.

    I’ve been thinking about it because I work for a university and I’m also interested in non-profit work. I have a BA in a humanities discipline but no other degree. I’m having a hard time finding out if an MPA would really be significantly likely to help me or not, or what an MPA is truly good for.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      I work at a university and a few of my coworkers have gotten/are getting their MPA degrees. It has no relevance to my particular office; one colleague was SHOCKED that he didn’t get a raise once he completed his degree. However, another person plans to leave higher education for nonprofit/government work once he finishes the program, and I think that makes a lot more sense.

      If you wanted to stay in higher ed, I’d suggest a M.Ed in Higher Ed Administration. I don’t think an MPA will help you if you stay.

      1. JOTeepe*

        Employees should only get raises for completing degrees if it allows for you to do more in your current role. For example, an RN who completes his/her BSN. Or an architect who has been recently licensed. Etc.

        (Obviously, employees get raises for lots of reasons, but I don’t agree with getting a raise solely for completing a degree when your duties aren’t changing or expanding.)

    2. JOTeepe*

      I have an MPA! The simplest way to describe it is an MBA for public (or not-for-profit) sector.

      If you live in a State capital or near the DC area, it is most lucrative. Also, like with MBAs, make sure you are going to a program with a good ranking and good job placement.

      Can you be more specific about what you want to do with the degree? If you wanted to break into the government sector, it’s a no-brainer. But for higher ed/not-for-profit, depending on your interests, where you want to live, and what programs you are looking at, an MBA might be better. (Or, as Lemon Zinger stated, M. Ed. if you want to stay in higher ed.)

    3. BRR*

      It’s a good choice in terms of a masters degree when you’re applying for jobs in the areas you’re interested. But I would place it in the “will check off a box” category. It’s more versatile than a masters in higher ed admin if you don’t want to always work at a university. I wouldn’t do it though unless it was paid for or possibly very cheap.

    4. JLK in the ATX*

      I obtained my MPA for several reasons: my unit commander said I should do it, I used my GI Bill and I lived in Germany where I couldn’t work. Great motivating factors, but also I really like the process of learning and I wanted to better myself. (Note: it was hard, took 2 years and I only remember the last few months of capstone being late nights, whiteboards, and markers. I wrote on the impact of grant outcome duplication and reporting. I anyone cares, it costs a lot of time and resources :)

      So for career, it has proven helpful when I was hired as an Ex.Director and as a fundraiser (both with the same national brand; brand knowledge made an impression). Most would say MPA if you have aspirations for a Director level positions and others would say that continuing education, in lieu of a Masters, can prove to be as good as.

      My MPA, from CSU Dominguez Hills, focused on public sectors and policy. I would suggest one that focuses on NPO if you want to stay in non-profit (more application) and if you’re not ready for the whole thing, there are great non-profit management certificate classes (I completed mine, prior to my MPA, at Duke University – took a year)

  53. Finman*

    Going through resumes can be fairly entertaining. I had someone who misspelled his own city in his address (split it into 2 words and added an S at the end. I also had someone who had a 1/3 page summary at the top of the resume where he talked about himself in the third person twice using John Smith and many other times using “he”. Of the 60-70 resumes I’ve been given by HR (they don’t do pre-screening) only 6 are in my phone interview pile.

    1. Rebecca*

      I looked at resumes once. My manager left them sit in a pile, and was laughing at some of them – one resume had no capital letters, at all, not even in the person’s name. Some of them had some pretty egregious spelling and grammatical errors. I would have tossed them. I have no idea why she hung on to them.

    2. brightstar*

      A friend of mine, who’s an HR Recruiter, had a cover letter this week that stated “It’s lit”. That person went in the nope pile.

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        Last week my coworker got a resume that started with a Summary section which I SWEAR must be identical to the summary section of the applicant’s okcupid profile. The first sentence started “I am five foot five, brown eyes…” And went on to describe her heart and smile, as well as mention that she was “big an [sic] beautiful”. The section ended “anything you want to know, just ask me!!!!!!”

        I. What.

    3. Sniffles*

      I once had two people apply at the same time in the same letter – twins!
      Couldn’t tell whether I would have had to interview/hire them as a unit or if they were conjoined or what.
      One of those letters I wish I had kept for my “Smile” folder since it was so bizarre & puzzling.

  54. Lemon Zinger*

    AAM readers, I need your insight on professional attire for the workplace.

    I work at a large public university. Because I’m female and quite young, I make an effort to dress a bit more formally than others so that I avoid the “student” look. I’m tall and most of my dresses and skirts are too short for the office (my preferred skirt length is no higher than an inch above the knee). Pants are great, but they need to be slim-fit or straight-leg.

    Thus far, I’ve shopped at H&M and Gap, both of which have let me down in terms of quality., so please don’t suggest those. I am willing to spend money on quality pieces that will last me a long time. I am also desperate to find clothes that can go through the wash without shrinking. I’m tired of donating piles of ill-fitting clothes!

    Please help! Where do you stylish female office workers get your clothes?

    1. beetrootqueen*

      skirt wise have you tried more “vintage” style shops like Collectif or Joy. they often have longer pencil skirts and full dark ones that would be good for work and would probably cut out the length problem at least.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Land’s End has great quality and a great return policy.

      NY&Co and LOFT are both pretty solid for the young professional look and their stuff has lasted me decently long.

      1. MsMaryMary*

        Lands End also carries Talls. Watch their sales, at the end of the season you can get things for 50%+ off.

      2. NASA*

        Yes, LOFT. If I could I’d buy all the things from LOFT I probably would. There are also there are several pieces from J. Crew that my co-worker wears and she looks so chic (not the super preppy pieces).

        Sandro and Maje would be my splurge items, but that is if I wanted to look really snazzy.

      3. KR*

        I love Loft. Their dress slacks fit me perfectly – but I’m petite and curvy so I’m not sure how well they work for tall people.

    3. Leatherwings*

      Ann Taylor! I know people think of it as overpriced, but it’s head and shoulders above H&M and Gap in terms of quality.

      1. Caroline*

        If you can find an Ann Taylor outlet, that’s the best! I think half my wardrobe is from Ann Taylor outlet.

        Both the stores and the outlets have good sales, too.

      2. theguvnah*

        plus they almost always have a 30 or 40% off sale happening if you get on their email list. I’ve shopped at both AT and Loft for years and only ever once paid full price, and that was because it was an emergency!

    4. Jesmlet*

      Pixie pants from Old Navy are my go-to business casual. I’ve never had issues with longevity and they come in lots of different colors and look professional enough.

    5. Dawn*

      I’m a huuuuuuge fan of the Merona pants from Target- they’re like $30 a piece, come in black, tan, navy, and grey, fit super flattering on me, and are great quality for the price.

      I also get StitchFix and I really dig the quality of the stuff they send me- if you make a great effort filling out your profile and make a Pinterest board with examples of what you’re looking for and explanations of why you like what you put on that board then the selection they send is awesomely curated.

      I looooove Banana Republic but their stuff fits me weird. Maybe you’d have more luck! Also New York and Company!!! Oh my god I love all of their collections and their price points are great. If you want to spend a little more go check out Nordstrom- they have workwear from $60-$200 and collections for all age groups. I also *just* heard about Carrie Hammer (check out her website) who is a designer who specializes in really awesome quality workwear for professional women. Her selection is limited and she leans way more towards dresses and dress separates but OH MY GOD HER STUFF IS TO. DIE. FOR. So amazingly beautiful, and most dresses are in the $200 range plus hit just above the knee like you said you like.

    6. KatieKate*

      Express has some great pants, but the fit is particular. They don’t work on me but are amaaaazing on my sister.

    7. justsomeone*

      Nordstrom rack! I find great deals on professional clothes there, that are better quality than stuff from H&M. I particularly LOVE Maggy London dresses, and stalk the Maggy London site for sales. Those dresses last a looooong time, and I put them through the washer with no problem. I wash them on cold and hang-dry them.

    8. AVP*

      Anne Taylor Loft! And they have nice sales, too.

      I also like J Crew and Banana Republic – they often have “tall” sizes.

      It might be hard to find corporate-appropriate pieces on ModCLoth, but I always have really good luck with them in terms of finding weird sizes and being washable. My biggest problem with stores like H&M is that you wear something once and wash it and then it’s like an entirely different shape and color, but I’ve never had those issues with the above.

      I know the Corporate blog has a *lot* to say about this as well.

    9. Anon for this one*

      My very tall coworker swears by Banana Republic because the pants come in tall options. She’s especially partial to the Sloan skinny ankle pants.

      I have some too and they’re good quality, can be dressed up or down, are comfy and come in tons of colors.

    10. Master Bean Counter*

      The quality is top notch. I have shirts that are 15 years old that still look new. The pants at Christopher Banks also last forever.

    11. Muriel Heslop*

      Boden. Lands’ End. Ann Taylor. Theory. I am also tall and for a long time looked much younger than my age. I found sticking to solids and neutrals really helped.

      Good luck!

    12. Violet_04*

      If you have a Nordstrom nearby, you could try their personal shopping services. Haven’t tried it myself, but have seen people report positive experiences on other blogs.

      Other stores to try – The Limited, White House Black Market, Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft. I’ve had good luck with Macy’s website. They have a bigger variety of sizes than in store.

      I also like Nordstrom Rack.

      I’ve found it can take time to build up a professional wardrobe. I buy a lot if stuff online and send a good bit back. I only keep things I really love and lean towards classic pieces.

      I also like the fashion blogs You Look Fab and Cap Hill Style for ideas.

      1. Khal E Essi*

        I have to second White House Black Market skirts for work. I do not put my work clothes in the dryer and everything from WHBM has lasted me years.

    13. Pearl*

      If you typically have difficulty finding skirts that are long enough for you, you could also try eShakti (which is only online). They ask your height before they send you anything, regardless of whether you add $7 to your order for customization for your exact measurements. Also, almost every single skirt/dress is going to have pockets as the default. You can remove them for free if you want.

      Their skirt section is smaller than the dresses, which is their big thing, but they do have a decent amount of options. I haven’t heard reviews of their things shrinking. They ARE located in India, though, so it takes a while for shipping.

      1. DragoCucina*

        I was just going to suggest eShakti. I just bought 3 dresses (buy 2 get 1 deal). The fact that I can get a decent sleeve is marvelous.

    14. Isben Takes Tea*

      I LOVE White House/Black Market–they have fashionable, feminine clothes that are good quality/last a long time, and usually go on sale regularly. Their pants are generally for the slim/non-curvy type (not me), but their skirts, tops, and dresses are fun but polished.

    15. super anon*

      I work at large research university and I am significantly younger than most people in a position at my level. I work in student recruitment, and my portfolio and building is a lot more laid back than other faculties on campus, so I find myself wearing jeans and casual sweaters paired with little booties or flats to work a lot of the time. If I were to come to work in pencil skirts or blazers I would be incredibly overdressed, and people would ask me if I had an interview. I also like to pair my slightly too short dresses and skirts with opaque black tights and boots for office wear (plus coming in to winter, it gives me a great way to expand my wardrobe choices outside of pants).

      In terms of shrinking, be wary of 100% cotton clothing – no matter what store it is from it will most likely always shrink when put in the dryer (unless it is pre-shrunk, but I don’t believe that hype myself). I hang most of my clothes to dry – I’ve been able to wear fast fashion stuff for years by not putting those clothes the dryer.

      I buy most of my clothes for work at Express and Aritzia. I have some Aritzia sweaters I’ve worn and washed at least a hundred times and they still fit the same as they did when they were new. However I don’t hang them to dry because they definitely will shrink. I lost two to a horrible laundry service incident that I’m still bitter about.

    16. TheCupcakeCounter*

      If you like wearing skirts, NY&Co has a large selection of very professional pencil skirts that are cut right around the knee or a bit lower (almost a midi-length). They also have a great selection of pants is a variety of length, cuts, and styles. I also think a tall, mid-heel boot with a pencil skirt looks very stylish while providing a bit more coverage. If you have a couple of skirts you think are borderline the tall boots and an opaque tight will help too (especially if the skirt and tights are the same color).
      Also – be very careful with career clothes in the laundry. It sounds like you might be drying stuff that shouldn’t be or washing in too hot of water. I think Gap is a decent product and have never had an issue with shrinking.

    17. ArchErin*

      I second NY&Co. I have several pencil skirts from there that are in my regular rotation. Also, Modcloth! I tend to stick with 40’s style more basic pieces from there like blouses and skirts and cardigans but I have been very pleased with most of what I purchased from there. The reviews on their site for each item are very helpful to determine fit/quality/etc. And I have always had a very good experience with their customer service.

      1. Somniloquist*

        I was going to suggest The Outnet for stuff like this. I have a few Valentino skirts and some other nice blouses that I got at 80% off that I’ve had for years and they were prefect for my professional dress workplace.

    18. DodoBird*

      I hate synthetic fabrics (they make me itchy) so I stick with 100% cotton pants from Banana Republic or Gap.

      But I always make a point to: 1.) wash in cold water and 2.) LINE DRY and no dryer. Or I’ll dry them for 10-15 min in the lowest setting after line drying them. Honestly, heat kills clothes.

  55. LadyMountaineer*

    So, about a year or so I was promoted from Old Department in Local Government to New Department. It was a really nice step up for me but my heart was really with Old Department. The problem was that my old boss didn’t believe I should get paid as much as the men that I worked with even though I was a better software engineer than they were. I was paid 20K less than the men in my area. I told my old boss a bazillion times “I want the same title and the same pay as the people in this department who do my same job” and I repeated that to the point where Old Boss would get visibly nauseous whenever I would say that phrase to him. I really had no issues about walking out of the door on him.

    The issue that I have now is that people at Old Department have assumed that I left for the promotion and not necessarily because of the discrimination. I’ve had a few people ask me why I didn’t take a counter offer (it’s against city rules for agencies to counter offer internal promotions) and why I left “just about money.” I think that Old Boss mis-characterized what happened to several members of Old Department’s executive management as me not asking him for what I wanted or giving him a chance to fix the issue. I gave him a ONE YEAR DEADLINE. Should I reach out to Old Department and try to clear the air? Or should I let it go and just shrug and say “the promotion was too good of an opportunity to pass up?”

      1. Dawn*

        Whoops hit send before I meant to!

        For the people who ask about the counteroffer, just point out that wasn’t an option. If you’re comfortable, whenever someone says “it’s just about money” say that no, it was about you being dramatically underpaid compared to your male co-workers and that your boss said you shouldn’t make as much as the men do, so you left when a better opportunity came along.

      2. LadyMountaineer*

        I do need his reference. This is way more complicated than you give it credit for. Managers might not be able to adjust salary when the issue is raised because of budget so the actual “reason” I was discriminated against according to my department was because of budget not because Old Boss was an ass. :(

    1. Chaordic One*

      Well, if it really was an issue of sexism and your not getting paid as much as the men in your department doing the same work, I don’t see why you can’t tell that to people who ask you why you left “just about money” (and you can certainly include the sordid details.) But only to people who ask.

      At this point in time, I wouldn’t bother reaching out to Old Department to try to clear the air. Let it go. You’ve moved on.

  56. Faith*

    So, very soon I am about to become the hiring manager for the first time in my 10 year career! The requisition to add another person to my team just got approved, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that we start getting some resumes in soon. I am very excited and very nervous at the same time. Wish me luck!

  57. Ann Furthermore*

    Couple questions for the AAM hive mind:

    – I have may be a promising phone interview this afternoon. Part of the role is doing Project Manager work, which I’ve never done before but I’ve been thinking about getting my PMP so I’m open to it. This company is mostly interested in my ERP expertise (which, not to brag, is considerable). I got an email from a VP the same day I sent in my resume, asking for a phone interview, which is what makes it promising (although of course there are no guarantees). Question to the PM’s out there — what do you like/dislike about being a PM? What would you say the most important quality of a PM is?

    – I had also had a second interview with another company about 3 weeks ago, and the said they’d have next steps for me “soon,” and I followed with the HR person twice, but haven’t heard anything. The job is still listed on their website and it’s popping up in my Dice alerts. So my question is that if things with this other company go well and they want to move forward, should I reach out to the other company to see if they’ve made a decision? If they’re just slow but still considering making me an offer I’d like to have that information. Or should I just let it go?

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Cautiously optimistic about the interview. It went very well. Any and all positive vibes appreciated!

  58. AVP*

    Can I vent here for a minute?

    My boss has been repeatedly telling me that I’m a terrible writer, in very certain terms. And not coached as feedback, but more of a lament – “I wish we had a good writer on staff.” “This paragraph you wrote is terrible, it’s too bad you’re not a good writer and we can’t fix it.” “I have no idea what you’re saying, this whole thing is unintelligible, if only you were a good writer this wouldn’t happen.” Things like that.

    Problem is, I have a journalism degree, newspaper experience, pieces of my writing have been published and praised by all of my old bosses, and the rest of our team and clients are always complimenting me on my writing. The very paragraph that he referred to above got the following response from our associate – “This is just fantastic!!!! Thanks for putting the pitch together, incredibly helpful. I’m also sharing it with X since we can keep it and use it for many presentations for projects.”

    I can take a step back and realize that we just have different styles and needs and priorities, but holy hell I have to be in this job for another year and I don’t know how I’m going to do it unless our clients keep complimenting me and cc’ing him every day.