open thread – September 9-10, 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 :)

{ 1,215 comments… read them below }

  1. ThatGirl*

    So here’s my funny work story for the week.

    My manager, K, works closely with the managing writer/content acquisition manager, T. T has been my boss in the past, she’s a good person but very loud, big personality, known for speaking her mind.

    K is getting remarried next week, about six years after her first husband died very suddenly. We’re all very happy for her and wanted to celebrate so my coworkers and I plotted a little surprise party and T was in charge of getting her down to the conference room.

    We’re all quietly waiting in the conference room yesterday when the door bursts open, we say “Surprise!” and K is laughing her ass off…

    Because T went into the **wrong conference room** first, yelled SURPRISE! without looking at who was in there, and left everyone wide-eyed and staring at her. (Did I mention that T booked the correct conference room in the first place?) She then booked it out of there with K trailing behind her amused and confused.

    This was a very T thing to do.

      1. ThatGirl*

        They were VERY surprised. She interrupted a high-level IT meeting. Thankfully they also thought it was hilarious.

      2. LBK*

        My thought exactly!

        Some part of me now wants to run around the office on a boring Friday yelling “SURPRISE!” into random meetings. Perhaps while wearing a cape, like some sort of superhero/villain.

  2. BurntOutFrustratedKitty*

    I’m burnt out from ten years of Application and IT support in corporate finance. I know I need to move on from this job but How do I figure out what to do next when I want to burn my computer?


      1. BurntOutFrustratedKitty*


        I have been working in this same team and area for so long that I think if I’ve saturated my skillset. I feel stuck in a rut. So really not sure if best to same in that industry or try different. If I move out I’ll definitely need retraining.


    1. Prismatic Professional*

      There is a website called where you can put in your current job and it will find careers with similar skill sets. There is another website called that has an option to evaluate interests and then match you with careers. Depending on your educational background, some universities’ have career services centers that work with alumni and you could do career exploration with an actual person for free. :-)

      1. Anon13*

        Not the OP, but thanks for the website suggestions! I have felt very trapped in my current line of work – hopefully these sites will help me out!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Hahaha, I clicked :D on writing, proofreading, and editing and :( on all the rest! Bricklaying!? Really? how did it come up with THAT!?

        The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook has a bunch of info on different careers–training, projected future of, etc.

      3. Kore*

        Not OP but as someone that’s in her 20s, out of school, working, and still wondering what she wants to be when she grows up, I thank you.

    2. Camellia*

      Come over to insurance. Finance and insurance are both considered ‘traditional’ areas and are often linked together in dropdowns in the ‘refine your search’ criteria on job sites, etc. Your skills should be very transferable.

      Also, if you haven’t searched for a job in ten years, please know that I have found the ‘2 page’ rule for resumes does not seem apply to IT. When the company for which I had worked for 25+ years was bought and I was targeted for the third round of layoffs, I followed all of Alison’s advice on creating the perfect resume. I did this by creating an outline of all my skills, experience, and achievements, which ended up being eight pages long. I then winnowed it down to two pages and posted it on popular job sites. The first call I got was from a recruiter and the first thing he said was that my resume was “a little thin”. I told him about the expanded outline and he asked me to send it to him. His immediate response was that it was “much better”, and two phone interviews later I had another job. I have since successfully used this expanded version to obtain my next two jobs, and have been at my current employer for six years and counting.

      1. BurntOutFrustratedKitty*


        I love the problem solving, the project work of collating the information on how to troubleshoot the applications and consolidate into a url knowledge base system. Also training people on how to support the applications as well as give solutions to reduce manual intervention where possible

  3. Adjustment Bureau*

    Has anyone ever gone from a stressful, all consuming 24/7 job to a non-stressful, hourly one?

    After college I found a job. It was salaried. It was expected that you would been in the office for 9-10 hours a day during the week and a 60 hour week was the unspoken minimum. There were lots off-site meetings and travel. Every employee had a company cell phone so they could answer calls, voicemails and emails 24/7. It was routine for managers or colleagues to call, email or text if you weren’t in the office. After work and on weekends and holidays everyone would log in remotely and do more work (even on days like Thanksgiving and Christmas). There were no true days off, getting time off was like pulling teeth unless it was literally life or death (and even then). Anyone on vacation would still be expected to check their email and voicemail. In the entire four years I worked there I had one day where I didn’t do any work from the office or log in remotely and didn’t look at my email or voicemail. It was the day I went to the funeral of my cousin and his wife’s stillborn baby. Everyone worked when they got sick and if you had an appointment for something like the dentist it was expected you would work before and after the appointment. Morale was so low and turnover was high. My commute was at least an hour and a half each way or longer depending on traffic.

    I left after four years because I was burned-out out. My new job is hourly. It’s Monday to Friday and the work day begins at 8:30 A.M. and ends at 4:00 P.M. with lunch from 12:00-12:30. Everyone (management included) is out the second the clock hits 4:00. There is no coming in early, staying late or working through lunch. The office is not open on weekends or holidays and closes from Dec 24-Jan 2 plus any weekends around it. There are no company cell phones for anyone and no one has access to email or voice mail outside of the office (management included). Management or not, no one from work will ever contact you outside of work hours or on your time off. It is not possible to do the work from anywhere outside the office and there is no working from home for anyone. There is no travel or off-site meetings and during work hours you are expected to be in the office working. You have paid time off that you are forced to use (and by forced I mean you can’t carry it over to the next year and if they see you are not taking it they will ask you about it) and if you have something like a dentist appointment you take the whole day off, there is no flex time. There is paid sick time and no one is allowed to come in sick (I found out when I came in with a cold and was gently sent home with pay until I was better). Morale is high and the job is stable. People stay for years (decades) and the turnover is low (the last person hired before me was three years ago). I’m told things have always been done this way. The office is right by a train station and instead of a commute I have a short, non stressful train ride. I leave home for work at 7:45 and am home by 4:45.

    It’s not that I don’t like it but it is so different than what I am used to. I am sleeping at least eight hours a night now and have time to eat properly every day. It’s only been a month but its been a big change. Every day when I’m at home I’ll get a sudden urge to check my work email or do some work and then I remember that I can’t even if I wanted to. I constantly feel like I am being lazy and unproductive during non-work hours. And even though everyone including management does it, it feels weird to run out the second the clock hits 4:00. If anyone has made a change like mine I would appreciate hearing about how long it took you to adjust and get used to it.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I haven’t done this exactly but I have changed jobs rather dramatically from newspaper nights-and-weekends culture to a more traditional corporate office.

      It is an adjustment. It sounds like you are already healthier and less stressed, but your brain is still expecting high-stress environment sometimes — it’s on alert.

      You are not lazy. Your old job sounds exhausting with a terrible work-life balance, and now you have an excellent one. It will take some time, but that’s OK. Try to appreciate it. If you have any projects you’ve always wanted to do, now might be a good time – take a fitness class, try pottery, play Pokemon Go, start a Netflix series. Something that engages your body or your brain.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, I haven’t done this exactly either but I did move from a job that was supposed to be “leave it at the office” and yet was constantly stressing me out and overloading me, to a job that is much more realistic about when we do need to do extra work and otherwise respects work-life balance, and it still weirds me out that I can take a vacation and no one texts me to ask where certain files are, or complains when I am sick for more than two days in a row. And I still feel incredibly guilty when I push back on a request or ask to delay it because I have other priorities even though my boss has told me point blank she wants me to be able to be honest with her about workload and trust me to manage my own schedule.

      2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        This was the key to making the adjustment for me. I signed up for a six-day per week boot camp that was pretty regimented.

        I left work, drove to the gym, worked out for an hour, then went home to deal with dinner etc. It kept me active in my off hours, which helped me get over the “why am I not working” hump.

    2. jm*

      I say this in the most gentle, kind way possible: I suspect you didn’t have much of a life outside of work at your former job. Maybe it’s time to reignite your personal life. Get a hobby, find some great books to read, check out some new restaurants, adopt a pet, start a garden, whatever will make you excited to go home and be away from work. I hope this helps you to adjust to your new schedule and lifestyle. Because before, it sounds like work was your life.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yep, this links nicely with what I was saying — time to find a life. I did have a hard time doing that when I suddenly had my nights and weekends free.

      2. J*

        Yup. Get a life, in the nicest possible way.

        My personal favorites: knitting and triathlon. Especially tri even if you’re a non-runner.

      3. Beezus*

        This! My personal favorite was joining a kickboxing class at my gym. It gave my body a way of dealing with all those pent-up stress response hormones.

        Congrats on finding something sane. Enjoy it, don’t let yourself feel lazy or like you don’t deserve it.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I underwent that transition, and it was weird for me, too. I never adjusted to it. In fact, even though I technically couldn’t be overworked without being overpaid, I fought to have my boss change me from non-exempt to exempt so that I wouldn’t have to keep track of my hours and could actually work more and check email from home without having to log time worked. That’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but that was my experience.

    4. C Average*

      I just made a similar change, though in my case there was a year of not working in between, so the transition wasn’t so abrupt. (By “not working” I mean writing a first draft of a novel and being a full-time stepmother and doing some freelance gigs, so I wasn’t entirely slacking off, but I didn’t go straight from one job to the other.)

      Like you, I was in a 24/7 gig. I logged on to deal with a work crisis the morning of my wedding. I spent my fortieth birthday not with my family, but dealing with a product launch in Tokyo. I slept with my phone under my pillow, and checked my email at all hours of the day and night. I was never really off the clock.

      Now I work an hourly job at a specialty fabric store. I show up when I’m scheduled and leave when I’m supposed to leave. No work phone, no work email, no off-the-clock stress and worry. It’s rather amazing. I love it.

      I think work stress is like chronic pain. After a while, it becomes your version of normal, something you factor in to the other aspects of your life. Only when it’s absent do you notice how much space it took up in your life and how much effect it had on your mental and physical health.

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Sound like you just joined my company! I did a similar transition almost 4 years ago and it was a shock to the system for about a month. After that you give yourself a high-five, do a little booty shake, and enjoy. When the only professional environment you have ever known is high pressure, asinine hours, and expect you to thank them for the drudgery your perception can easily get skewed. The thing to remember is that the norm probably lies somewhere in between the two and thank your lucky starts that you found the long end of the stick.

    6. EA*

      I made a similar transition. From admin in a law firm with constant stress and email at night, to a more 9-5 job in a different industry. I struggled with what to do in my free time. I have taken up some hobbies (yoga and cooking elaborate/pretentious meals (try not to mock me too hard for the last one). I have also focused a lot on professional development. I get tuition reimbursement so I took a class at a local university.

      I don’t think you are lazy at all, I just think you have to figure out how to fill the time in a way that is meaningful to you. Some people like to just watch TV after work, but it seems like something to make you feel productive would make you happier.

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        ” cooking elaborate/pretentious meals” is one of the things I loved most about having an hourly job with no overtime or ability to work from home, so you’ll get no mocking from me. :) In my case, I also took up baking and running 5K/obstacle course races.

    7. hbc*

      I’d give the “leaving at 4” thing another couple of months to get used to. Maybe one month recovery for every year you were trained into the old pattern.

      But consider if there’s something productive *for yourself* you want to do now that your evenings are free. Volunteering a couple of days a week? Book club? Sports team? Learn a language? I understand not wanting to take on anything big right away since you’re probably still enjoying the big exhale, but if you’ve got extra time now that’s not sleeping and eating properly, think of how you’d want to look back on this time in a year. “I’ll be glad I did whatever the heck felt good at the moment” is as reasonable an answer as “learned to crochet” or “read 30 books.”

      And congrats on the awesome job change!

      1. Clea*

        I love that way of framing it! I’ve put your last paragraph to remind me that self-care is important, and doesn’t always have to ‘productive’ or a hobby with a future trajectory. Thanks!

    8. MissDisplaced*

      I mean, I like the hours part… but it seems they could perhaps be a tad more flexible about things like routine dentist/doctor appointments where you really don’t need a whole day. What if you had a long-term treatment for something that didn’t impair you and you HAD to use a whole day each time? (such as braces or regular blood work something)
      I imagine you must feel like you’ve stepped into Bizzaro World. I too would find it hard to not stay an extra 1/2 or hour occasionally to just finish something up (I’m that way). But You will adjust. You will.

      1. Ellie H.*

        That strikes me as super weird. I would hate it if I had to take the whole day off if I had to come in late for an 8:30am doctor’s appointment or something. It would be really disruptive to work. Also, what if you don’t have enough sick time but need to have your teeth cleaned or something? (unless there is unlimited sick/PTO) I feel like I would end up avoiding making appointments until I had “saved up” a bunch of other stuff I needed to take care of and it would be a pain.

      2. Adjustment Bureau*

        I thought the whole day off thing was weird too. But there is no cap on sick days because as I learned if you show up sick you will be sent home. But all sick time is paid and no one says anything about you using it. Now if you were taking every Friday or Monday or takings months at a time they would ask, but the way the culture is heterogeneous anyone who was immature and abused this wouldn’t last very long here anyway. They also aren’t stingy with vacation days here so unless you had a long term issue (which would be FMLA anyways) your days wouldn’t disappear because of appointments. So it does work out. I’m still getting used to it.

    9. Akcipitrokulo*

      Not quite the same – but lastjob was a very stressful and unprofessional environment.

      On the financial side, from not having money in my account on payday and being told “Oh, CEO might not have been to the bank yet…” – first time I’d ever worked where they didn’t have BACS set up! – to the landlord of the offices realising we were leaving as we carried our PCs out to the CEO’s waiting car… and a much longer story about the next office rental…

      And on the organisational side, we had “David”, the dev manager, and “Steve” who was both testing manager and sales manager.

      When Steve was being testing manager, David was his boss.
      When Steve was being sales manager, he was David’s boss.

      I reported to both of them.

      They didn’t like each other.

      It was really quite dysfunctional. I was QA analyst, being given directly contradictory instructions by both of them, on one occasion being told by Steve, who said that he had discussed it with David, that I was to stop work immediately on X, only to have David ask me a week later why there was no further progress on X?

      Also assuming coding knowledge which I had been up front from the start I didn’t have – and on which they agreed to provide training when I accepted the job (which never happened), and making me feel stupid for not being able to do it.

      Then having whole team question my actions and competence every time it was sprint planning (a team of devs and one primarily sales person saying “why does it take that long – all you have to do is check it works, don’t you?!?!?”), bullying my estimates down so that I was stressing about meeting them (which was partly my fault as I didn’t push back enough, but when there is a room, including both of your direct managers telling you that you can’t possibly need that time to do it…)

      Then the time I had to leave because I got a phone call that my toddler had fallen and was on his way to A&E – and while not formally disciplined, was made plain that it was not expected.

      Then the only room to express breastmilk in being glass-fronted. Then being told I could use the toilets. (The landlord of building took pity on me and allowed me to get keys for an unoccupied office in the building.)

      Then after the first office move, being about 5 minutes from the train station. Train left at 1702. My hours were 0900-1700. I arrived each morning at 0845. Request to work from 0855-1655 so that I could get train (next was 40 minutes later and was the slow train so I got home over an hour later) was refused. No, there wasn’t any reason I had to be in office to cover until 5 – this was an IT department, and I was testing the product. No customer contact.

      The company moved office (see above note about longer story!) to central London. So that was a good reason to give to interviewers when they asked why I’d left! We were told about the move a month before; when I handed in my notice we agreed I’d leave on the moving day without having to work out full notice and have to have a few days in London.

      So from that to newjob. With Boss of Much Awesomeness. Who respected me. Who recognised that I do know what I’m doing. Who made it known when he was impressed with how quickly I got up to speed, and was appreciative of the work I did.

      And an IT director who values all of his staff and makes sure they know it.

      And a whole company based on appreciating staff.

      Yeah, it’s taken some time to get used to it.

      When we have planning meetings and strategy discussions and all of the people present assume I’m a professional and value my input.

      It still sometimes takes me by surprise! And yes, I still find myself getting stressed expecting oldjob things to happen, but newjob is working its way under my skin :-)

      1. Myrin*

        I’ve often heard people say that someone who was in an abusive relationship might feel uncomfortable or “wrong” at first when they enter a healthy relationship – I feel like this concept applies here as well.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Yes, I think that could well apply.

          I’ve been here 2 1/2 years, and love it so much.

          Like when an hour before hometime the release I was expecting is delayed – saying to manager “there isn’t much I can start that I can get finished in an hour – OK if I head off and stay on tomorrow when we have the code?” and the response “yeah, makes sense, see you tomorrow!”.

          Or stressing about being late when public transport was shit, and getting sympathy from management about how bad the journey was instead of hassle for timekeeping.

          Which all leads to things like me and my colleague’s hanging about for a couple of hours one friday after everyone else was gone “just to make sure that last bit goes through OK…” without thinking about it.

      2. Anon today*

        Yeah, did that. Worked at a place forever and moved up to high level. On all the time, traveled a lot, checked email before bed, when I got up etc.. I was actually okay with it, came with the territory. Then became geographically undesirable and was let go (in a very gentlemanly way, so no issue there). Consulting now, about 25 hours a week and even aside from the reduced hours and off peak commute, the client is way lower key. I don’t have to worry about bus dev, at least for the moment, because this client is regular. Now I have anxiety about not having anxiety. Still check my email compulsively although it’s just not that interesting. Agree with the advice to find some hobbies, start reading, cooking, whatever. I’m planning to work in a bit of volunteer work that will hopefully lead to a new direction.

    10. Tax Accountant*

      I made a similar change in January. It took me six solid months to get used to it and then another couple months after that to truly get into the swing of enjoying things after the initial shock of “this is so different and I’m not sure I like it” wore off. I still have pangs of anxiety about some things, but that is slowly going away too. I finally got work email back on my phone, but now it is a convenience rather than a burden and I rarely check it.

      At first I really struggled because I felt like some kind of a failure who couldn’t make it at my old job. I felt like I had let down feminism as a whole because I couldn’t force myself to work 70 hour weeks and take care of a kid at the same time. But now? I realize that kind of thinking is insane. My new job is amazing. Skipping through fields of flowers, twirling around in a big floofy dress, AMAZING. I can eat dinner with my family. I can get sick without panicking about my billable hours. I can spend time with my friends. I am surrounded by people who work to live, rather than my old coworkers who lived to work.

    11. Anon Accountant*

      Take a class in painting, sculpting, take up bicycling, volunteer, join a bowling league and enjoy your new time to yourself. Your last job sounds terrible.

    12. SeekingBetter*

      I agree with many of the other commenters that you might need to find something productive to do to fill your off-work time. I highly suggest getting involved in volunteer work, whether it be one time or on-going basis opportunity.

    13. Photoshop Til I Drop*

      This happened to me.The extra time let me finally eat nutritious food, exercise, and sleep properly. This caused me to lose weight and my energy levels to sky rocket, so I felt even more like I was bouncing off the walls in my free time.

      IMO you need a bit of time to deprogram your brain so that you no longer feel guilt and obligation over your spare time. Once you get over that mental hurdle and realize that it’s normal and healthy to have a work-life balance, your hobbies and interests outside of work will slowly ramp up until you no longer feel like you’re twisting in the wind. Overall, it took me about 9-10 months to feel “normal” again.

    14. Faith*

      Sounds like an experience someone would have going from a public accounting or Big Law firm to working for the government agency. You will get used to it. If you give it your 100% between 8:30 – 4:00, and then you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Time to find some hobbies and enjoy a nice work-life balance.

    15. TootsNYC*

      boy, I bet you feel disoriented!

      I’m having a small adjustment to “no evening hours” at my job, and that’s weird.

      So I would imagine it’s harder for you.

    16. Golden Lioness*

      Enjoy it! That sounds like a great job to me! (of course it all depends on what your goals are)

    17. Rebecca Too*

      I did this, too! I’ve been out of my former very stressful job for a while now. I had such a hard time adjusting to my current M-F 8:30-5 schedule, but now that I can actually plan on having two days off in a row, I’ve been able to go away for weekends for a change (at last job, it was more like “what’s a weekend??”) and it’s been great. Additionally, not being a complete basket/stress case has improved my health without me even trying. Since I’m not chain-swallowing junk food to stave off the stress, I’ve lost 8 lbs in 4 months with absolutely no effort on my part! I don’t crave the sweets and the junk food anymore, so I don’t eat it. I love having my evenings off to cook myself (and my boyfriend) really good meals. Basically, just knowing that I can count on having time off without being made to feel guilty (or dreading the return to work so much that it killed any time off that I took) makes it all worthwhile. I took a bit of a pay cut, but I have zero regrets. Enjoy your time!!! Trust me, you earned it!

  4. Alis*

    I was hired last month at a university as a TA. The university will help pay for master’s degrees (I don’t have one). When is it too soon to ask about tuition reimbursement? I’m doing well in my job but it’s been less than a month.

    1. Sadsack*

      I wouldn’t wait, they are offering it, after all. Maybe you should tell your boss that you are interested in learning about this benefit.

    2. Audiophile*


      Was there any information in your paperwork that gave a timeline? Most universities have a wait period of 6 months to 1 year of employment before they’ll provide assistance or reimbursement.

    3. Edith*

      Have you checked the employee handbook? I work at a graduate school and their tuition reimbursement policy is covered in the handbook.

      1. Pwyll*

        +1. Or check whatever system maintains your policies. The last few universities I was at even students could access the employee policies, and their tuition reimbursement plans were on the intranet.

    4. Seal*

      The university most likely has a policy on tuition reimbursement for its employees available on its website. At the public university where I work, employees are eligible for tuition reimbursement after 6 months of employment. We’re allowed to take up to 9 credits per semester at any college or university in our state’s system.

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        Same here for staff members. I think the rules are different for grad students with assistantships, though.

    5. Tuckerman*

      Ask now! You could always phrase it like, I was wondering, where can I find more information on tuition reimbursement?
      Going back to school involves months of planning (transcripts, references, application), so better to get the ball rolling now.

      1. JMegan*

        Yes, this. If you’re looking at starting next September, that likely means you’ll need to apply in January, which means you’ll need to start getting all that paperwork in order now. It’s definitely not too early to start!

    6. TCO*

      Given that universities prize advanced degrees and many TAs are probably working towards them, I don’t think it would look bad at all to ask for more information now.

    7. zora.dee*

      I agree, ask now. But if you still are nervous it’s too soon, you could ask “Where can I find out more about the tuition reimbursement? I’d like to start planning for the future.” That will make it less seem like you are greedy and want money now and more responsible because you are planning ahead!

    8. Lemon Zinger*

      I work in higher ed. I applied for my graduate program two months after working there. Nobody batted an eye. Go for it!

  5. Good_Intentions*

    CEO is has a reputation for being “special”

    Yesterday, I met with the representative of a partner agency to my current employer—an out-of-state nonprofit focused on registering students to vote and making them aware of election laws to increase their civic engagement—and he referred to the CEO as being “special” with a slight eye roll and smirk.

    I don’t begrudge the partner for his comments, especially because the CEO needs to have the same information sent to him via two or three times, requests random phone call check-ins for information irrelevant to the specific person’s job duties, among other idiosyncrasies.

    The reason the partner’s comments and my own weird experiences are on my mind is because tomorrow morning I must spend two and a half hours speaking with and teaming up with him for an important meeting with about 20 university professors from across the state. I worry that in his need to raise money and bolster awareness of the program he will put his foot firmly in his mouth and leave me holding the bag.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on keeping calm? Saving face? Has anyone been in a similar situation?

    All comments are appreciated. Thanks!

    1. C Average*

      I tend to be a believer in forming independent judgments of the people around me.

      Here is what you know about these two people.

      Your CEO has some idiosyncrasies that you’ve thus far been able to deal with effectively. Maybe he’s “special.” (Eye roll.) Maybe he’s focused on other aspects of his job and isn’t a detail person with regard to documentation or the org chart. Try to keep an open mind at tomorrow’s event. Even if he is a clueless doofus, you’ll have a more successful event if the rapport between the two of you isn’t clouded by preemptive judgment.

      The person you met with yesterday is someone who makes snarky comments about people behind their backs. Maybe he thinks highly of you and wants you to go into tomorrow’s event forewarned and prepared. Maybe he has a bad history with the CEO. Maybe he is trying to bolster his own political capital by snarking on people higher than him on the food chain. In my experience, people who make snarky comments about colleagues and business acquaintances aren’t necessarily good allies.

      1. NW Mossy*


        When I took over managing my team from my predecessor, she told me point-blank “Fergus is going to be your biggest problem on the team. I rated him Needs Improvement last year and he’s not good at his job.” Turned out that Fergus’s “problem” was that to perform well, he needed a manager that believed he was capable and competent. He’s a solid performer for me and has expressed his appreciation for my management style, which is a nice win-win. Definitely a great lesson for me about not accepting another person’s value judgment as my own.

        1. Golden Lioness*

          Yes, good managers make a huge difference in people’s level of investment. Bad managers are the #1 reason people leave their jobs, isn’t it?

    2. Pinky*

      “the CEO needs to have the same information sent to him via two or three times, requests random phone call check-ins for information irrelevant to the specific person’s job duties.”

      That seems like pretty common executive behavior to me, sorry. I might describe it as “annoying” but it’s so common I would never think of it as “special.” My boss isn’t at that level, and even he doesn’t even necessarily remember what staff reporting to me do, exactly, and often asks Melba for random updates on things that are actually Roderick’s area. He just forgets.

    3. Bob Barker*

      I had a boss once who literally seemed unable to read. He was a senior sponsoring editor at a publishing house. He’d been a salesman before that, where I guess plowing through pages and pages of text is not as much of a thing, but. I resorted to reading him emails out loud, because he wouldn’t read them, or would claim to have read them and clearly not understood a single word. On the up side, I attended editorial meetings way above my pay grade, because I actually knew what was going on with any project, and he did not.

      I think it’s important not to indicate to your audience that you disapprove of him in any way (a whole room turning on a presenter can be pretty ugly), nor that you approve of him (because you don’t want his stink to rub off on you). He’ll do a thing, and you shouldn’t react to it — just go on with your work. Usually the audience figures out who is the one to turn to pretty quick, and figures out that you’ve got the dignity not to draw attention to any buffoonery that happens to break out in front of you.

      1. addlady*

        Was that frustrating? If it seemed to me that I was better able to make decisions better than the head boss, I would be mad that I weren’t paid like he was. No matter how illogical that feeling was.

        1. Good_Intentions*


          Forgive my ignorance, but I don’t really understand your comment.

          Would you mind terribly putting it in context for me?


          1. addlady*

            darn! I mean, if I felt like I was effectively doing the job of my incompetent boss, I would want to be paid like him.

        2. Bob Barker*

          Was that frustrating? Not as frustrating as the time he cornered me in someone else’s office and tried to bully me into moving to his city to work in his local office (he’d been hired in an office 1500 miles away from mine). Not as frustrating as the time he told me to just fudge some numbers on a Profit & Loss report and we’d be fine.

          I hated that man with the power of a thousand Catherine wheels. But I noticed his unwillingess to read long before that point.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        A long time ago, I read that some Supreme Court Judges, like to be read to, because they do so. much. reading. It’s just easier to take in the material if someone reads it out loud. So reading out loud became a part of some people’s jobs.

        I do see that spending too much time inside one’s own head can make processing things much harder. If the person knows they have a problem, at least they admit it and try to find ways to work around the problem.

    4. Marisol*

      I may not be totally clear on what you’re asking but I think you want to know how to avoid looking foolish during your presentation to potential investors/partners.

      I haven’t been in this kind of situation, but I have spent lots of time performing on stage and watching/critiquing others on stage, and so I might have some useful insights.

      First, whenever people get up in front of others to speak or perform, they tend to automatically assume that the audience is against them and that they will be judged mercilessly. This is due in part to the instinct that prey animals have in response to a predator–in the wild, when an animal looks directly at you, it’s because it is tracking you in order to eat you–and also because being social animals, early humans’ survival was dependent on being accepted by their tribe, whereas being cast out spelled certain death. And that’s to say nothing of the early childhood conditioning an individual receives that could influence their reaction to being in front of people. So all in all, this fear is very ingrained.

      In my experience however, the people watching a performance are actually craving inspiration. They want to love you. This is why celebrities are such a big deal–they allow the public to project hopes and dreams onto them. It’s a primal instinct, probably having to do with the adoration a child feels for its parents, as well as a universal reaction to archetypes, and other stuff I can’t articulate. My point being that whoever you present to will not be a bunch of Simon Cowells looking to tear you apart. They’ll actually want you to do well. People who make presentations have a lot more support than they realize, at least until you give them a reason to feel otherwise. All you have to do is accept their goodwill.

      Beyond that, you have to give the group the right cues for how to respond. The colleague that said the thing about your CEO is a jerk, so ignore that and do not follow his lead. Do not telegraph to anyone in the room that you think the CEO is “special,” buffoonish, or anything like that. Do not try to set yourself apart from him with knowing glances to anyone in the room. When he speaks, look at him respectfully and give him your complete, even rapt, attention. People take their cues from the leader and you are one of the leaders in this scenario–I don’t care how learned or jaded these professors are, they are not immune to being manipulated. Demonstrate approval as much as you can by nodding your head, or with phrases like, “yes, excellent point, I was going to mention that but you beat me to it,” etc.

      If you need to do damage control about something CEO said, phrase in a way like, “just to expand on that point…” as opposed to something like, “what I think Bob is TRYING to say is…”

      If he’s a doofus, he’s a doofus and I don’t see how you can possibly change that. Prior to meeting with the professors, I assume you and he will go over talking points so if you can anticipate any mistakes he might make, you can try to go over them in advance. But once you’re in the room you have to accept him as he is and be gracious–if you don’t it *will* work against you. The others in the room, seeing your discomfort/disapproval, will not feel safe because their own fears of being judged/eaten/cast out will be triggered and that’s the time they’ll turn against you and will start judging you, a la Simon Cowell.

      So the only way to “save face” is to play along. The only exception to this would be if someone asks you a question that necessarily entails revealing the CEO bumbles–for example, he quotes the wrong figure and there is no way to go along with it without your organization losing credibility, so you have to correct him or acknowledge the screw up in some way–then do this matter-of-factly and do your best to tack on some positive attribute about him, viz, “yes, CEO can be absent-minded but the way he has brought this organization from a to b has been incredible…”

      I hope this makes sense and is not too philosophical or pretentious.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        This all seems very helpful and insightful. My takeaway is that the OP is to radiate approval of the boss like Nancy Reagan, and to imagine an audience full of Paula Abduls.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If you can meet with him and make a list of key talking points before the meeting. Or maybe you can get lucky and he will answer an email from you. Try to have a little prep.

      Try to remember that it is his thing to raise money and awareness. If you do have to bat clean up, then just do what you can to salvage the situation.

      Sometimes less said is MORE. You might look better saying nothing than trying to say something. This is tough, because in the moment you have seconds to decide which route to go. My rule of thumb is hit the absolutely critical points. This can carry me, because I will ask myself “is this a point worth pursuing?”

      Another thing that has helped me, is deliberately decide NOT to wear the person’s emotions for him. Let’s say he flubs in a big way, tell yourself that it is not your embarrassment to wear. If you can discreetly pass a note, or make a gesture then go for it.

      Once you are through with the meeting, you can discuss any problems with him privately. Maybe you can send out an email correcting erroneous information.

      I wouldn’t give the “special” remark two minutes of thought. People are usually well aware of other people’s quirks and most people are savvy enough to realize we have to work with each other anyway, in spite of the quirks.

      My last tip is the toughest. We have a finite amount of energy. If we use up even as little as 10% of our energy wondering what others are thinking, that is still lost energy. Try to let go of what others maybe thinking and focus on the message for the program itself. A person’s sincerity comes across even if the message is not presented in the best manner. Be sincere, be genuine.

  6. Marie*

    I have a phone interview for an internal job on Monday and, while excited, I am also a little nervous. I feel like this position will be a move in the right direction, as far as getting out of admin support work and working toward my desired field (data science/business), but I worry about aiming for greener pastures that aren’t really green. What I mean by that is that in the past I’ve left jobs for a job that I perceive to be better, but once I’m there for a while the excitement of newness wears off as the realities of the job set in. I know a lot of this has to do with the type of work I’m currently doing, but clearly I haven’t been successful at determining what jobs are the best fit for me and I want my next move to be a better fit.

    At some point during the interview process, I’ll have to ask questions. I want to ask good questions but I’m not sure what I’m coming up with at the moment would give me the insight I need to determine if this job is really aligned with my long term professional goals.

    The job is as a Data Specialist. It seems entry level and from the job description and it seems like the focus of the job is database management. I’m okay with that but I am curious about what type of activities I’d be doing day to day. Will I just be doing a lot of data entry or will I have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the team? What would those types of contributions look like? I don’t really know what else to ask. Are the questions I came up with too broad?

    1. Murphy*

      I think it’s OK to just ask “What will my day to day look like? Will I be working pretty autonomously, are there regular team meetings, etc?” or something like that. They should get the gist and answer your question.

      They also often add every possible job responsibility to job descriptions, so you can ask “What would be my top 3 duties/responsibilities?” and that should also answer how you’ll be spending the bulk of your time.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “What will my average day look like?” has saved me.

        A good follow up is to rephrase as, “So, I will being doing X task. In a 40 hour week, what percentage of hours do you think I will be doing X?”

      2. Marie*

        The job description wasn’t incredibly detailed but I really like these questions , especially “What would be my top 3 duties/responsibilities?”. Thank you for the helpful suggestions!

    2. Government Worker*

      I’d ask as many detailed technical questions as you can think of, depending on how the conversation is going and what your own skills are. What database do they use? Do you need to know any SQL, programming, or script writing? What sort of reports would you be expected to generate from the database, and how (running pre-set reports, creating new reports using a user-friendly reporting tool, or coding/querying new reports using SQL or a programming language)? Will you be mainly working in one database, or in several systems? with Excel? with a statistics program? with visualization tools to make pretty reports?

      I’d also ask about the sources of data that go into the database(s) – if the data source is automatically connected to the database, data entry is going to be less of an issue, but if it’s something like paper forms that customers or users fill out, then you’re likely going to be entering a lot of data. Ask what is done with the data from the database(s) – who the end users are and how they use the data to make decisions. Also what proportion of the work is routine or recurring versus ad hoc requests and special projects – in my experience, the ad hoc requests and special projects where you get to talk a lot with the people making decisions using the data are where the meaningful contributions and skill development happen.

    3. CMT*

      If you want the job even if it is just doing data entry, I wouldn’t say “Will I just be doing a lot of data entry or will I have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the team?” verbatim. Maybe just ask some variation of the second half of that question, like “How does this position contribute to the team?”. But if you know you don’t want to do data entry, definitely try to find that out specifically.

  7. Audiophile*

    Happy Friday!

    I’m getting a lot of requests for interviews but now struggling to cover myself when I take time off. I’m worried about taking time since boss randomly stopped by my desk yesterday to ask if I was happy I took this job.

    I’m also getting requests with a pretty short turnaround time (1-2 days, as opposed to a week).

    I guess this is a good problem to have but it’s stressing me out.

    1. Nethwen*

      I’ve been there, complete with the, “Are you happy?” question. What boss in their right mind asks an employee that? If you have to ask, we aren’t close enough that I’ll tell you “no.”

      As for reducing the stress, I don’t have any real advice. Short turnaround times do make it harder. I think my stock answer to questions about all my time off or emotional state would be some version of, “I’m dealing with some things in my life that I can’t put on hold, but am working to get everything resolved as soon as possible.”

      1. College Career Counselor*

        FWIW, I’ve been known to give a big smile and a “so far, so good!” cheery response to questions about am I happy or do I like the job when actually I’m still working out how I feel about it (or if I don’t actually care for it). I realize that this doesn’t help the job-seeker who is actively looking to get out, but it can be useful to those who are trying to manage their reputation in a new/different gig.

      2. BusSys*

        I disagree. I’ve had bosses that I do work very well with and have good relationships with check in on me like this. Usually it follows noticing something like “being less smiley” (I’m a very boisterous, smiley person in general) and they want to help nip any problems in the bud for me. It’s a good chance to get candid about what would be nice to get off my plate or express why such and such project is at a frustrating point and is there anything we can do to mitigate that. Sometimes too it’s just them stepping back to assess if I’m happy with career trajectory/path and want more or less of certain types of work.

        1. Audiophile*

          I don’t know that friends or previous employers would describe me as “smiley”.

          I only started this job in mid summer, and it was a very rough start. Just a quick rundown:
          Boss was fired in my second week (I was away when this occurred but it was presented as boss quitting suddenly.) I shared at the time, with big boss, that I had concerns since ousted boss had shared them with big boss on her way out.

          Part of my job is being done by someone else with no clear timetable for that wrapping up.
          I’ve done more IT work than anything else and while I don’t mind helping out, there’s no dedicated IT to send people to.

          It’s improved slightly, but not enough for me to view it as a long term job that I’d like to stay in for 3-5 years.

          So long story short, I think she was hinting at these abscences.

          My concerns are still present and I don’t see them going away any time soon.

          1. BusSys*

            Sorry I had meant the quotes to indicate some trait about you that might tip someone off you’re not the usual you.

            It’s definitely rough starting a new job in all that churn. It could be she has noticed the absences, and/or maybe she’s wondering how you’re holding up with all that seems to have popped out of the woodwork.

            If you’re comfortable, it could be worth having a conversation about “so you know x,y,z that we’ve had to pick up since Jimmy left? What do you see happening with those? Any time frame for that change? ” particularly if it’s making your core goals a bit harder to squeeze in time for.

            1. Audiophile*

              I may ask how the hiring process for boss’s replacement is going. Since, the project I’m working will involve that person pretty significantly. And either it will become part of my job or big boss’s. Now that I think about it, big boss did mention the two of us splitting most of the duties, so I’d take that to mean there’s no immediate plan to replace boss.

    2. Good_Intentions*


      Congrats on the job interviews!

      Your resume must be pretty solid to have received so many invitations to come in with only 24 to 48 hours of notice. Well done!

      Regarding your concern, I agree that taking a lot of time off could be suspicious. Would it be possible to shift your schedule–come in an hour earlier/later, take a shorter lunch/work through it, use flex time for working hours over the weekend? I realize your company and position may not make those viable options, but they are worth considering and will reduce suspicions of your need to step out for personal matters.

      As an aside, good luck on the job search!!!

    3. Lily Rowan*

      Congrats to you! I am using this same concern to avoid even applying for jobs, which I know is No Good.

      For what it’s worth, I have had many follow-up doctor’s appointments clustered together that didn’t turn out to be anything at all, and I was sure my coworkers thought I was interviewing then!

      1. Audiophile*

        I would use the doctors appointments, except I’m pretty sure NewJob is aware I don’t have insurance anymore. There was a brief overlap with the severance package from my old job where I had insurance and did have appointments but that was a few months back.

          1. Audiophile*

            You’re right. And should I end up taking the day, that’s what I’ll say if I’m asked. Of course no one has asked in the previous instances that I’ve taken off since I started this job a few months ago, but that comment felt pretty pointed to me.

            1. Thinking out loud*

              I always prefer a vague truth, if it’s possible. I’d say, “I have an appointment, and I wasn’t able to schedule it outside of work hours.”

        1. EmmaLou*

          Side topic: If you are in the US, get insurance. We got slammed hard on our taxes for being unemployed and not carrying “our fair share” which we were stupid enough to not know was even a thing. We just avoided going to the doctor and then got fined for every month we didn’t have insurance anyway. Even though we weren’t using it and couldn’t afford to use it when we got it even with the “subsidy” cuts. We did apply for a hardship case but that was 8 months ago and we haven’t been able to get an answer since. Soooo don’t be like us.

          1. Audiophile*

            I’m sorry you got hit with penalties.

            I’ve been lucky enough to qualify for the exemption(s) in previous years.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Same here–this month so far has been lousy with stuff like that for me. I’m sure my boss thinks I’m trying to skip out (though I doubt she’d be disappointed). I wish it were interviews and not doctor/dental appointments.

    4. Marisol*

      1) is it not possible to request interviews before or after the work day? Or during lunch?

      2) is it not possible to explain to your boss what concerns you have about your job, since he asked? It sounds like he really wanted to know, and since he sounds already clued in to your unhappiness, being honest seems less suspicious than lying and saying, “yeah, everything’s great!” when you’re actually giving off an unhappy vibe (if you are). An employee who wants to actively address a problem looks like someone who wants to stay with their employer.

    5. Golden Lioness*

      Congrats and good luck with your interviews! just remain professional. Nothing you can do about what other people think or do. I would take that as a good sign that you’re valued. If he wanted you to leave he wouldn’t ask. It sounds like he’s asking because they’re afraid to lose you.

  8. Callietwo*

    I interviewed for a senior position in my company this week. Boss says I’ll be informed of their decision on who they’ll choose either today or tomorrow.
    I sent all in the hiring committee individualized and REALLY great thank you notes. (I’ve shared them with a couple of trusted coworkers who all said they were impressive, thanks to all the research done here at AAM and the like- thanks Alison & everyone!)
    She responded today with a note that says THANK YOU.. etc etc.. we’ll talk today or Monday about next steps.”
    I’m on pins on needles… please don’t make me wait all weekend!
    Next steps- how do I read that? We already discussed how I would handle not getting the position, should they choose one of the other (several) applicants, so would there be next steps if they didn’t chose me? Shoot. I’m being impatient, I know. But I’m stressing right now!

    1. Dangerfield*

      Don’t read anything into it. Assume it’s a quick email she’s fired off without thinking about her wording!

      I hope it’s today rather than Monday, and good luck.

    2. Jadelyn*

      As far as next steps, it’s a really common wording for “We’re not committing to anything with anyone right now”. As in, “next steps” can mean “we will call to give you the TBNT (thanks but no thanks) speech” – it doesn’t always refer to next steps on your part, it can be referring to the next steps we need to take on the hiring end.

      On that note, though, as far as next steps for you if you don’t get the job. Since it’s internal, if you’re passed over for it, this is a great opportunity to open (or if you’ve already talked about it, further) a discussion with your manager on your aspirations within the organization and what you would need to do in order to be a stronger contender for roles at that level in the future. You might find you can take occasional stretch assignments to develop your skills in whatever you’re weaker on, or it might take the form of a mentorship with someone at that level or above, or the organization might help you find (and potentially could help pay for) trainings or professional certifications that would help you develop in that direction. Those are all things we’ve done at my org when an employee applies for something they’re either not or just not quite qualified for.

    3. Gaia*

      I hope it is today rather than Monday. I always hated waiting over the weekends. But as Alison has said, try to put it out of your mind. Easier said than done, but it will help if you can.

      Regarding “next steps” there is nothing to read there. I use that language all the time and it literally just means “either we’ll offer, or we’ll schedule another interview, or we’ll tell you thanks but no thanks and good luck.” I hope you get good news :)

      1. Golden Lioness*

        Have a celebratory drink. You were already successful in making it that far and have got good feedback.

  9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    So I think I’m about to turn down a big, big promotion. It’s just not the right fit, and I’d rather see how my current work plays out and what it can turn into. But yikes, it feels a little crazy to turn down a huge opportunity.

    1. Nethwen*

      Do what’s right for you. I’ve taken promotions I immediately regretted and hope I’m smart enough not to do that again. Quality of life doesn’t just mean more prestige and more money.

      1. No sinus pressure today*

        At my grandfather’s funeral I learned that he’d had a situation like this during his career. He was appointed a senior official of some sort in his state’s health department; he took the job, realized he didn’t like it, and went back to his previous position (also in the state health department). My aunt said that was one of the most important lessons she learned from him: accepting a promotion for the sake of the prestige (or what-have-you) isn’t worth it if you don’t want the job.

        So…congratulations on being impressive, and it’s completely reasonable to turn down a job that doesn’t seem right for you.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Good vibes, Victoria! I did that a couple of years ago (though more from a very junior to a slightly-less-junior role!) and it turned out to be absolutely the right decision. The person who took the promotion role is still in it, while I ended up vaulting to an even bigger role and having the opportunity to work on a huge, fascinating, growth-supporting project the following year. It’s hard to deal with the what-ifs, but sometimes the right opportunity is a little further down the line!

    3. Golden Lioness*

      Congrats! and it’s not crazy. it’s good to recognize it’s not a good fit. You don’t want to be miserable at work every day!

  10. Blue Anne*

    Wrapping up the job hunt after walking out on my toxic job a month ago… I negotiated an offer for the first time, asking them to increase the hourly rate a couple bucks, and I’m waiting for a call back today. Urrrghhh. I’m so nervous…

    1. Bad Candidate*

      Good luck! I admire your courage for walking out of OldJob, I daydream about that daily. Er, hourly.

      1. Blue Anne*


        I stopped by there briefly to pick up my last paycheck and, luckily, the bosses weren’t around. My colleagues said the bosses have been heavily implying that I had a mental breakdown and that’s why I left. They also didn’t tell my colleagues that I had quit for a full week after – everyone thought I just had a few days off. Charming! Definitely made the right decision…

        1. Bad Candidate*

          Oh for crying out loud. OK my job isn’t THAT bad. Management lies, but not like that. They are much more subtle. Glad you got out.

  11. Nervous Accountant*

    I touched on this a few weeks ago….we’re moving office in a few weeks and I’m just a little anxious about it. Not far, about 6 blocks over. I’m not too thrilled with change. I’m mostly worried about the seating arrangements: 1. I dont’ want to be isolated/in a corner/to the side. but I also don’t want to sit next to creepy coworker and other coworker. Add to that, most people I sit near run very cold, and I run really hot. The other side of the row is cooler and chillier, and I would have loved to sit there but alas m yrequest was turned down. I would like to talk to my boss, but I know I cannot bring up all of these items all at once. I’m trying to decide what’s the most important to myself and how to bring it up to my boss (during the move? after? before?)

    1. Sadsack*

      I’d bring up the temperature issue now, and not mention the coworker issues. Maybe a reassignment due to the temperature issue will solve your problems.

      1. Jaydee*

        First, figure out which issues are the most important to you and then figure out which will be the most relevant to your boss, as those may not be the same thing. Because your boss probably isn’t going to let you have your pick of seats just because seat number 4 from the left meets all your criteria (not next to creepy coworker and other coworker, not isolated, and near the warm people). But you might be able to negotiate a move that addresses the most important factor to you in a way that your boss can appreciate as relevant to your comfort, morale, and productivity.

    2. AMT 2*

      I’d think if you want any chance at having input into your seating arrangement you would need to do it before – from what I’ve been through usually seating/offices is mapped out before the move, to try and get it changed after will be a lot harder and more disruptive, especially as everyone is trying to settle in.

      1. Kfland*

        I just went through this! I’d say definitely before, since by the time all the stuff was moved the seats likely will already have been designated (so the movers know what files to put where). I had a preference to sit by a wall, so I just asked my boss if it would be possible to share my seating preference with him and he said of course. I ended up where I wanted to be! I’m not sure if anyone else said anything, so it worked out in my favor.

      2. Golden Lioness*

        Another vote for before! I’ve been through this and it sucks! Hope you get a good situation!

    3. JustaTech*

      Before! Like Sadsack says I’d stick with the temperature issue, but it is much, much easier to re-arrange desks before anyone is actually sitting in them.
      Last time my office re-organized desks I had to tell my boss point blank that I could not sit next to [co-worker] without him driving me insane and ruining our already-precarious working relationship. It is *much* easier to say that when it’s still just a map and you don’t sit next to someone for a day and then move.

    4. CMT*

      Good luck! Hopefully you’ll feel better once you find out for sure what the arrangements will be. I know that I mostly get anxious over uncertainty. Also, your situation totally sounds like an LSAT logic game :-) Given these constraints, which desk will Nervous Accountant have?

    5. NW Mossy*

      My team just moved spaces due to a remodel, and temperature has been an issue as we figure out what normally happens and how best to deal with it – this is pretty expected, even for a move like ours where we moved up one floor in the same building.

      Since you haven’t yet moved, I’d recommend treading a bit lightly because you don’t know for sure yet exactly how you’ll feel when you’re in the space. Just about everyone on my team has said that some problems they anticipated didn’t materialize (such as noise being less than expected) and some they didn’t emerged. Asking for a change right now before you have actually worked in the space might end up being counterproductive because you’re trying to solve anticipated problems rather than actual ones. Even something like sitting next to Coworker X might be less of an issue than it seems because the physical configuration of the space could turn out to be more protective than you anticipate.

      What you can certainly do now, though, is open the channel with your boss and say “Our move is coming up and I have some concerns about how it will impact me. I’m going to try it out and see how it works, but I just wanted to let you know that I may revisit this if things aren’t working well and I need your help to get resolution.”

  12. SupercaliAnon*

    Hi everyone! I have run into a problem with cover letters. I know they are supposed to be enthusiastic and show your interest in the job. However, that is very difficult when I am not enthusiastic about anything. I am in one of my depressive episodes when everything is meh (yes, I am working with a professional address this). I have tried using the, “how would you talk to a friend about how excited you are about this opportunity” method. And I just blank. I don’t feel any excitement, and it is not the job, it is me. Do you have any suggestions? I’d really appreciate it.

    1. matcha123*

      Unfortunately, I have none. I am exactly the same.
      I don’t get excited talking to people about applying for jobs. I’m not even enthusiastic to apply, but I know that “Whatever, pay me. I don’t do drama.” isn’t the best cover letter fodder. Will wait to see what advice others have!

      1. HopefullyHelpful*

        Not sure if this will be helpful to you — suggest sticking to factual questions, i.e. what characteristics would make a teapot maker a good one?, not an emotional question, e.g. “how would you talk to a friend…”

        Then take the answer (e.g. A skill or B expertise) and, if it applies to you, write it in an active form: “In my five years as a spout designer, I did (X accomplishment) and (Y accomplishment), using (A skill) and (B expertise). I’m eager to use this experience/use these skills to (do C) and (accomplish D) as a teapot maker for your company.”

      2. Christopher Tracy*

        I would hire you in a second – you’d be surprised how rare the “no drama” thing is.

    2. Nethwen*

      This is only one hiring manager’s opinion…

      Enthusiastic doesn’t have to mean jumping for joy. The best cover letters I have received from applicants were the ones that took three or four main points from the job description and specifically showed how their experience/skills/education would help them fulfill those job duties. For example, for a clerical customer service position, one applicant wrote about his experience as waitstaff and how it helped him develop skills to diffuse the situation when a customer is angry.

      Honestly, if a cover letter includes words like “passion” or “excited,” I think the applicant is trying to tick a box. Given the choice, most people would rather be independently wealthy than to work to survive, so while people may enjoy what they do, I think very few actually do a happy dance at the thought of working. I don’t need a cover letter to include emotional hyperbole in order to convince me of the applicant’s potential fit. Then again, I also run from any workplace culture that describes itself as “like family,” so your mileage may vary.

      1. SupercaliAnon*

        My concern with that is it ending up as a repeat of my resume. I’m pretty early in my career, so the vast majority, if not all of my relevant experience is on resume.

        1. TL -*

          but surely specific examples aren’t? Like, you might have “Cheesecake Factory – Server” on your resume but in your cover letter, you can talk about how you developed a group of regulars from the local university who came every Friday specifically to sit in your section because you were so good at cultivating relationships with all types of people.

          1. SupercaliAnon*

            But isn’t that an accomplishment? I would put that on my resume – “developed relationships with X regulars.” I’ve been reading Alison’s posts about how to write an accomplishment centric resume rather than just job duties.

            1. TL -*

              You could but maybe your resume was focused on other accomplishments and you want to address that in your cover letter instead
              Like: maybe you completely revamped the table numbering system and came up with a new code for orders that saved oodles of time and that’s focused on in your resume. But the job you’re applying for also mentions soft skills as being important, so you address that in your cover letter.

              Or maybe you’re applying for a job being a server in the university, so even though it’s in your resume as developed relationships with regulars, you want to talk a little in your resume about how you developed relationships specifically with the clientele you’d be serving in the university.

    3. JaneB*

      Much empathy – it’s so hard when the world is entirely covered in grey cotton wool…

      What about Pretending you are helping a friend whose Cv just happens to look the same as your to write THEIR cover letter – why might they, given their cv, be keen on the job? See it as a logical progression in their career, or a chance to use different skills? Why would they be able to do it well?

    4. hbc*

      Can you imagine how Not-Meh You would feel about this? Or how a colleague with your background would respond? Why would someone else be enthusiastic about this job?

      But really, I would focus on the “interest” part rather than the “enthusiastic” part. There’s some reason that you applied for this job. Even if it’s as simple as being a good match for your skills and abilities, that’s something you can work with.

    5. JustaTech*

      A trick I’ve used to get myself going is to approach the cover letter like a school essay. Thesis (or hypothesis, if you’re science minded): I have the skills for this job and I would do it well. Evidence 1, evidence 2, evidence 3, conclusion.
      It doesn’t necessarily make for an exciting letter, but it gives you some emotional distance if you find the “meh” leaking over. (It’s also super helpful if you hate to feel like you are ‘selling yourself’.)

    6. Jadelyn*

      Enthusiastic doesn’t have to mean hyper and bubbly – tbh that kind of thing is more cringe-making than helpful from the other side. Reword that in your head to “interested” – how would you talk to a friend about how interested you are in this position? Don’t worry too much about repeating your resume, just pull a couple of the bullet points you want the employer to focus on most and elaborate on them a little bit. Like, my cover letters would emphasize the data analysis and IT aspects of my job even though I do more recruiting and administrative work currently, because that’s where I want to go and where my strengths lie, so I’d want an employer to go into my resume with the data-work side of my experience foremost in their mind so that they can hopefully see me as “an HRIS guru who also does admin support and recruiting” rather than “an admin and recruiting support person who also does HRIS stuff.” It’s a way to preemptively shine the spotlight on the best parts of your resume.

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        I’d want an employer to go into my resume with the data-work side of my experience foremost in their mind so that they can hopefully see me as “an HRIS guru who also does admin support and recruiting” rather than “an admin and recruiting support person who also does HRIS stuff.”

        I like this idea — the cover letter presents the lens through which the hiring manager should view your resume.

    7. Jaydee*

      I don’t think a cover letter needs to be enthusiastic in the excited, “rah rah – yay Assistant Coordinator of Teapot Logistics at Teapots International, Inc.!!!” sort of way. And I know how hard it can be to even remember what interest and enthusiasm feel like when you are really depressed. I think sometimes when you can’t really trust your emotional reactions to be based on an accurate perception of the world around you, that you have to get really factual and objective and then just put the emotion words in there.
      Facts: I have five years of experience in teapot logistics at Teapots R Us. During that time, I worked on changing the process we used to source specialty dark chocolates for handles and spouts. As a result we were able to process those orders on average two days faster than previously (or average order processing went from 7-10 business days to 5-8 business days. We saw a 10% increase in orders for teapots with dark chocolate handles and spouts the following year.
      Now, with feeling: During my time as a logistics associate at Teapots R Us, I was in charge of changing how we sourced specialty dark chocolates for handles and spouts. I enjoyed the challenge of this project and was able to complete it successfully, resulting in a two day decrease in processing times for those orders and a 10% increase in those orders over the following year. I am excited about the opportunity to use my experience to help Teapots International Inc. find similar ways to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of its teapot production facilities.

    8. Cordelia Naismith*

      My suggestion is don’t talk about your enthusiasm for the job in your cover letter — talk about your qualifications for the job instead. Why would you be good at this job? What relevant experience do you have? That’s something you can talk about sincerely and honestly without having to feel enthusiastic about it.

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        And you can include experience in your cover letter that you wouldn’t necessarily include on a resume. Personality traits, hobbies, whatever — anything that might contribute to why you would be good at the job but that you wouldn’t put on the resume.

    9. lawsuited*

      Yeah, I really don’t think a cover letter is supposed to be highly emotive – it’s supposed to logically point out connected between your experience and transferrable skills and the job. Honestly, in my experience, the process of writing a cover letter is more mechanical than emotional. The “showing enthusiasm for the job” part is really showing that you understand the potential employer’s business and see how you would fit well into it. You don’t have to go over the top with “I’d super love to work for your company!” – they know you want to work there, that’s why they have your application; what they want to know is why your experiences and skills would help their business.

    10. Golden Lioness*

      Just go to their website and mention one or some of their values in a sentence to show you’ve done your research. Being enthusiastic doesn’t necessarily mean a fake happy attitude. Professionalism is huge regardless. Hope you feel more like yourself soon. Depression is not fun.

  13. taylor swift*

    I had two really great interviews in July for a position I really wanted… and then they never called me. It was disappointing but I moved on, kept applying for different jobs, etc.

    And then earlier this week, they emailed me apologizing for the delay and said that they are finally ready to hire for this position (it’s a new position, and at the interview they did say that they were still working out what exactly they wanted.) So she said if I was still interested, could I come in this week?

    I’m going in this afternoon and really hoping for the best! I’m a little confused as to if this is an interview or if this is an offer/working out the details meeting. She didn’t mention anything about it being an interview, but I’m still going to dress up nicely and bring my resume. Fingers crossed!

    1. Good_Intentions*

      Taylor Swift:

      I love your user name!

      Just think, you can always blast “Shake it off” in the car really loudly before and after the meeting to clear your mind and give you a boost.

      You’re right to dress professionally for this meeting. My experience has shown that new positions often require the buy-in of people across departments, which means you could be asked to meet with different directors, coordinators, specialists, etc. to see how your skills and disposition align with how they envision the position.

      Best of luck to you! And remember, “Shake it Off”!

    2. Golden Lioness*

      Good luck! sounds like this is more informal than an interview and you’ll probably be discussing or negotiating a potential offer. Good luck!

  14. SabSab*

    I got a job offer last week and was told to respond by Monday and also to reach out to HR to find out what the compensation would be. I was an internal applicant. The job was PT and I knew that going in. It was unlikely I could make it work, but possible, so I applied in good faith. I reached out to HR and got information on standard benefits but not salary — I was told they had to review my pay history and they’d get back to me. Monday rolls around and the office is out for the holiday but I call the hiring manager’s cell phone anyway, because that was the only contact I had for her and she had specifically told me on Friday to contact her Monday. At this point, I still hadn’t received salary info and without that and other reasons (like I need FT designation to enroll in PSLF, I’d need to buy a car for this job which is difficult given I couldn’t be guaranteed a FT schedule with continuing my first job with this office) so I decided to turn it down.

    The hiring manager seemed really uncomfortable with the conversation so I only go to the PSLF point before she ended the conversation. So now it probably sounds like I applied in bad faith (and I worry about my reputation), but I never got to explain about the lack of info regarding salary. She admitted she was surprised to hear from me because she said it was a holiday and she’d forgotten that when she told me to call Monday (I had decided to do it because those were the specific instructions regarding my answer) and it was just all downhill from there. I’ve worked with her before and it’s likely I will again in the future, but do I reach out and email now explaining I was never told the salary offer and that was the primary reason I turned it down?

    I was under the impression they NEEDED a response by Monday so there wasn’t time for me to get that information before making a decision. Looking back, I should’ve began with that as my reason, but I didn’t and can’t change that, so…what do I do moving forward? Reach out and tell her about the lack of salary info or just let it go? I’m afraid of digging myself a deeper hole…

    1. AndersonDarling*

      If anything, I would talk to the hiring manager in person to explain what happened. I think you will be able to show your genuine interest face to face and explain that you couldn’t accept the position without knowing the compensation. You don’t even need to go into details about your personal situation, no one should expect yo to take a job without knowing the salary.

      1. SabSab*

        I’d like to do it in person, but it’s unlikely I’ll see them in the near future, so I’m concerned that by then it will be way too late.

        1. TL -*

          Then you can send them an email (just note you probably won’t see them in person for a while and you wanted to mention it in a timely manner.)

        2. Intern Wrangler*

          I’d just write out a card and thank the hiring manager for taking the time to talk with you. You can apologize for the misunderstanding and contacting her on a holiday and then explain that you had to turn down the offer as you were not clear on the compensation. You can add that you would love to be considered for future opportunities.

        3. N.J.*

          What about something like the below. YMMV, as my wording is a bit clunky, but maybe sending an email with this sorts of ideas/sentiments would frame the situation positively??

          Dear Hiring Manager Name,

          I wanted to follow up on our last conversation regarding x position to say thank you (again?) for taking the time the discuss the in and outs of/details of/your plans for/ this opportunity. I really enjoyed learning more about the work your team is doing. im sorry this opportunity did not work out at this time for me to join your team, due to the uncertainty regarding the part-time status of the position and the associated salary. I look forward to working with you in the future (or some other sort of sentiment regarding continued interaction with this manager due to working at the same compamy??).

    2. Marisol*

      Here’s a sample text for an email:

      Hiring Manager,

      I want to apologize again by call you on Labor Day, when you were out of the office. I guess I took your instructions to contact you literally because I am extremely interested in this position and did not want to lose out on a good opportunity.

      Unfortunately, the awkwardness of our phone call led to a miscommunication that I want to clear up. I was under the impression that you needed my answer by Monday, but when Monday came I had still not received any salary information. Not wanting to miss the deadline I had been given, however, I declined the position, because I thought it would be unwise to accept it without knowing what it paid. Upon reflection, I see I acted hastily, which was probably due to my embarrassment at disturbing you. To be frank, I feel silly for having bungled this process!

      Despite my missteps, I am still very interested in this position, and would like to be considered for it. Is that possible?



      This is how I personally would handle it, with an informal, frank, yet professional email. I would send it asap, and I would be very hesitant to send a card as they are slower, more formal and thus less appropriate for an internal position, and I think Alison has advised that they are outdated, but you can search the site for info about that.

      Another idea is to just call her asap on a weekday. Don’t wait any longer though.

      1. SabSab*

        All good points. I think elements of this combined with the example above will be perfect. Thank you so much!

  15. Lily*

    We talk about people working overtime and having work life balance. I do work a lot maybe more than I should. But, I like what I do and I have am inner need to prove that I can solve the problem, so I end up working so much more hours because of that. Other part of it is that I don’t know what to do with my free time since I graduated. I am not sure if that is normal. Or if I need help with being unintentional workoholic?

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      Maybe a bit of both. If you have nothing going on outside of work, that can cause you to focus too much on work.

      I’d say to step back and try some new hobbies. Maybe sign up for a class after work – gym, sports, cooking, book club, crafting, whatever interests you – to force you out of the office at a certain time. I know I like having something after work to force me out of the office during our busy periods, otherwise I’d stay late.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      As long as it doesn’t cause more stress in your life, there’s nothing wrong with you working “maybe more than [you] should.” Is it stimulating to you? Does it make you feel helpful or productive? Do you learn things from it? Does it not adversely impact your personal relationships?

      If you can answer yes to all those questions, then it’s not a problem, I would think.

    3. Susan C.*

      First of all, I sympathize! For me, there’s also the factor that I’m married to a not-so-unintentional, self employed workaholic – so there’s really nothing I can relay to you as a success story, but I’ve put some thought into it.

      What I think would work for me, if I could get around to wrangle it into my life, is joining some sort of club – something with a) a rhythm/fixed appointment I can put into my calendar and trick my subconscious into treating it as equally important as work stuff, and b) other people, meaning a social obligation to not come across as a total flake.

      I’ll be curious to hear about what others can contribute here though!

    4. James*

      You do you. You are the only one who can determine if your work/life balance is out of whack–while there are warning signs, it’s a very individual thing. Some people need more time at work, some more time at home. The trick is to do what makes you happy and is sustainable in the long run.

      As for not knowing what to do with your free, time, do what you did then–join a gym and play some sport, or go out and make friends at the local nightlife, or read, or whatever. Just because you graduated doesn’t mean you can’t do what you used to enjoy. It means you have to adjust it, sure, but you can still do it. After all, you enjoyed it, right?

    5. Sibley*

      I mean this in the nicest possible way: Get a life. Hobbies. Friends. Family. Pets. Gym time. Cleaning your living space time. Whatever.

      Working some overtime isn’t going to kill you. Having periods that are really busy, and others where you’re a lot slower, aren’t going to kill you. But work isn’t everything to life, and the workaholics end up destroying their lives and families because they can’t stop working. Balance is good, and that balance, once found, doesn’t stay static. It moves and adjusts to the latest circumstances. Don’t destroy your enjoyment of work by doing too much for too long.

  16. MissDisplaced*

    Anyone have advice on federal job hunting? Tips? Success stories? What worked for you?
    Is is even possible to get hired for a federal job if you’re not a veteran or current fed employee?
    I’ve been applying for a number of these lately even though I know they’re long shots, but wonder if I’m just wasting my time. Even with the jobs I’m overqualified for, I seem to keep getting the “Qualified but not Referred” response.

    1. Pwyll*

      I’ve had two federal positions in the past. The two biggest pieces of advice I have are: 1) Make sure your resume very, very clearly matches the job’s qualification criteria (even by reusing the same phrasing, if you’ve actually done that work) and 2) it can take a loooooooong time to hear back. I received an interview request for the one position well over a year after I applied.

      But “Qualified but not Referred” is probably the right decision (for the agency) for a job you’re “overqualified” for. It can be a bit of a game to try to match your experience directly with a vacancy.

      The other thing I do is I created an RSS feed of the USA Jobs search for specific keywords, and I read it every single day so that I can apply to jobs the moment they are posted, as a great many Federal jobs close after x applications are received, which could literally be under a few hours.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I had wondered about that too Pwyll. I had been told that for FedJobs you should apply a grade level or two down from what a similar civilian job would be because the government would never hire-in a civilian above a GS-9 grade even IF your actual education and job skills experience was higher. Which means that, technically, then you would be overqualified for the GS-9.

        But I don’t know. I’ve read or heard so many contradictory things about the GS classification system.

        1. Pwyll*

          No idea if this was a fluke on my end, but I was hired without prior Federal experience at GS-11. I really think it depends on the job qualifications and your background.

    2. Meemzi*

      My mom works for the government as a civilian supporting a branch of the armed services. She has said that if you don’t know where to look, you won’t find the job postings, but it doesn’t sound like you have a problem with that. I applied to a daycare center on base a few times and didn’t hear back. She asked her colleague who manages the hiring manager and he said they get hundreds of applicants.

      If you think she could shed any light on the process, I could ask her.

    3. Grits McGee*

      I know that at my agency one of the big stumbling blocks for people is the KSA’s, especially ones that ask if you have supervised a task. I would never recommend lying, but if you can in any way justify that you’ve supervised someone on that particular task (even if it’s just showing someone how to do it), go ahead and rate yourself at the highest competency. Hopefully that’ll be enough to get you over the hump and at least get your resume out of HR purgatory.

      Other than that, the only thing I can suggest is to just keep applying. I applied for about 15 jobs in a 3-4 month period before I got referred at all, and that was for a position in a specialized field that quasi-required an advanced degree. With positions that only require a BA, it’s really tough to compete with the applicants that have non-competitive hiring status.

    4. vpc*

      It IS possible to get hired for a fed job without being a veteran or a current fed employee, because that happened to me. (Caveat: I was actually already employed by the agency, but through a complicated mechanism which means I was only eligible to apply for all-applicants postings. Ergo, not a “current employee”, meaning “could not apply as an internal candidate”, even with nine years working for the agency.)

      In six years of applying regularly (well over a couple hundred applications, many of which I was very qualified for based on the posting / my experience) I got referred *twice*. Once for a position that required a specific foreign language, which was cancelled before the formal offer was made due to shifting funding; and once for the position I’m now in.

      Coincidentally, my now-former position had an announcement posted at the same time I was interviewing for my new job, and it was specifically targeted to recruit people with my exact background and level of experience. I was not referred for that one. And my new job? turns out to be an absolutely fantastic fit, but from the job announcement, I thought it was a really long shot.

      In other words… do everything you can to match your resume to the posting and answer the questions at the right level, but it still seems pretty random.

    5. Chaordic One*

      On several advertisements for federal jobs as a secretary or administrative assistant, they say they want a copy of the results of a certified typing test that shows how fast an applicant can type. Where would someone get the results of a “certified” typing test?

      Would a test taken over the internet be acceptable?

  17. WS*

    I feel ridiculous for even having to ask this, but does anyone have suggestions for how to make sure you get paid on time?

    My company uses an outside payroll service, so I submit my timesheet to my boss (one of the owners), who forwards it to the other owner, who sends it out to the payroll company. This week is the second time my paycheck hasn’t come through. The first time was about a month ago, so I’m especially not happy about it happening again so soon. I’ve already emailed to ask what’s going on this time and I’m waiting to hear back from someone, but I know last time this happened the other owner just somehow forgot to submit my information to the payroll company so I suspect that that’s happened again.

    I’d just feel a lot better about this if I had any suggestions to give to my boss or the other owner to hopefully stop this from happening again, but I’m drawing a blank. Any ideas?

    1. Dangerfield*

      I wouldn’t go in with a suggestion, because that makes it seem like it’s your responsibility on some level and it’s not. I would ask your boss if she has a suggestion for making sure you get paid on time.

      1. LawCat*


        I’d also start looking for a job. Missing payroll twice is huge and could be a sign that the organization is in financial trouble. Best case scenario is that the owner is being extremely careless with employee livelihoods.

      2. WS*

        I hadn’t even thought about it sounding like I was taking responsibility if I offered up a suggestion, but you’re absolutely right about that so thank you for pointing it out!

    2. neverjaunty*

      Agree that this isn’t about giving suggestions, this is about making sure you get paid on time. This needs to be a very serious conversation with your boss. You don’t need to say anything about why it happened or about the owner forgetting – both because it will make them defensive and because it really doesn’t matter what happened, the problem is that you have to get paid on time. You have bills you are obligated to pay. You understand that mistakes can happen, but this isn’t a one-time error, it’s happened twice now.

      If the owner doesn’t fall all over herself apologizing to make sure it doesn’t happen again, look for a new job like your butt is on fire.

    3. Kristinemc*

      Do you work every pay period? Depending on the payroll company, they can set up a note on the account that you should be paid each pay period, and if there are no hours for you, they should contact the payroll person at your office to get them.

    4. Observer*

      There is nothing for you to suggest. It really isn’t your issue to solve.

      I’m going to agree with “If your boss doesn’t fall over himself apologizing and promising it won’t happen again, start job hunting.”

      Any employer that you might have any interest in working for will totally understand “My employer started having trouble meeting payroll” as a reason for leaving a job.

    5. Chriama*

      I’m thinking something like “hi boss, this is the second time I’ve been late getting paid. My finances can’t handle this kind of inconsistency on a regular basis so I was wondering what we can do to make the process smoother going forward?”

      And to me, it seems like one solution is you submit your timesheet directly to the payroll company. Maybe you submit it to your boss, she has 24 hours to say ‘no’ otherwise you automatically send it to the payroll company.

    6. AMT 2*

      No experience with this personally but Alison has pointed out in the past that there may be laws on when you are due your paycheck, varying by state (such as they have to pay you within X number of days or whatever) – you might want to look up your state laws before going to your boss, so you have that in your pocket as well. But I’d make a point to the owner that you NEED to be paid on time on the date that they have designated as your pay date – this isn’t your problem to solve, it is theirs.

    7. Marisol*

      this might not work for everyone, but this would make me LIVID and here is how I would handle it. I’d go into his office with confrontational attitude and I’d say, “boss, my paycheck has been late twice in the last 2 months. Is there a problem that I should know about? Because if this company is having trouble paying its bills, then I need to start looking for a stable job.” Assuming the boss says, no, it was just an honest mistake or something to that effect, I’d say, “if you want me to keep working here, you need to pay me on time. California law requires that [xyz legal] so you are actually in violation of the labor law when you do this. Going forward, I expect my paycheck to arrive on time.” Boss agrees, then I say, “great, thanks,” and leave.

      Depends on your situation but that’s what I’d do. This is a hill I would definitely die on.

  18. The Other Dawn*

    Any advice on how to start a conversation with someone who needs to improve verbal communication skills?

    Recently I’ve noticed that one of my team members has an issue with verbalizing during our meetings. It’s a fairly informal meeting and it happens every week, so it doesn’t seem to be that she’s shy. The last two weeks she’s had to talk about an issue that came up in the department with one of our QC processes. She’s working with another department to resolve it and seems to be making progress; however, to hear her explain it is very painful. So much so that the head of the department, who isn’t involved in all the day-to-day minutia, came out of both meetings still not really understanding what is going on. He approached me earlier this week and said he’s concerned, because he got the impression that she doesn’t know what she’s doing or doesn’t understand this particular process.
    From what I’m hearing, it seems to be an issue of forgetting that other people are not involved in the process and don’t understand it the way she does. I don’t think it’s that she doesn’t understand it. Also, she dropped the ball on part of it due to a misunderstanding on her part and lack of follow-up on part of her and the other department. I think maybe she’s a bit flustered when talking about this issue in the meeting because she’s embarrassed about what happened. For the most part she does well with explaining things in general, although there are times when I need to ask clarifying questions.

    I actually have communication issues sometimes, in that I sometimes have an issue verbalizing what’s in my mind or just assume that people are in my mind and know what I’m going to say, but I’m finding it difficult to start the conversation. I don’t want it to be like I’m saying she’s a terrible communicator, but I want to get across that she should maybe organize her thoughts before the meeting, bring notes, etc.

    1. Tuckerman*

      I often get flustered when on the spot and can’t verbalize as well as I can in casual conversation. Having a detailed outline in front of me is tremendously helpful. If she is going to need to talk in a meeting, can you ask her to send you an outline of what she plans to talk about, a couple days in advance? Writing an outline may fix the problem, or it might clue you in to where she may need to go into more detail to clue in others. Then you can give feedback (“This looks great! One suggestion: I think you’ll want to add more info about teapot invoicing in the last section so the engineering team understands the context.”)

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Giving those specifics is what makes it not just saying she’s a terrible communicator, so I’d suggest doing that! And be clear that this isn’t about you thinking she doesn’t know what she’s doing, but more about being able to get that across to people who are less in the weeds than she is.

    3. NW Mossy*

      You can also consider her telling her to build in some intentional breaks in her explanation to stop and verify understanding with her audience before proceeding. Giving people an opening to ask questions not only helps the person getting an answer but also helps your employee show up as the sort of presenter who’s there to help people understand, not just drone. This should be fairly easy to do in a process-based discussion, because there’s a natural storyline with stopping points when you’re describing something that’s linear.

    4. brightstar*

      I’m blunt, so that’s how I’d approach it. It’s important, particularly since she’s working with other departments, that everyone understands the processes, status, etc. I’d mention that I use notes so I don’t go off topic and to keep the narrative streamlined (I actually do this). Everyone has different communication styles that aren’t better or worse than other ones and that needs to be considered when presenting information.

    5. Camellia*

      Some people work better with words and some people work better with “pictures”. I like the idea of asking her to create a brief outline of her talking points, but if she struggles with this, maybe she would do better if she could create a graph or a flowchart or some other pictorial representation that will help her better communicate her points.

    6. Chaordic One*

      What is your team member doing before the meeting? If she is involved in doing something nonverbal that takes a lot of concentration, it is probably difficult for her to switch gears and start speaking when she gets to the meeting.

      One way to help her switch gears might be to have her rehearse how she might present information in a meeting beforehand, or at least get her involved in conversation before the meeting so she will have already accessed her verbal cortex and have it up and running before the meeting. Another thing to try might be for her to have a written outline of what she might say.

      (Yes, I know it is probably a lot of trouble to go to, but if i works it should make it easier for her in the future.)

    7. Troutwaxer*

      Let’s go back to the fundamental basics of this issue: Did she know in advance that she would have to talk about this issue? If she didn’t, it’s not surprising that she didn’t communicate well. Was there a meeting agenda and was it prepared in advance?

  19. Cruciatus*

    A friend told me about a job at the university where I work that she applied for. The way she described it I wasn’t interested, but then when I read the ad myself I changed my mind though I don’t think I’m 100% what they want. The job ad was actually rather vague I think for the scope of the position (and I think it may be a new one).

    So my questions are these:
    1) I’ve been in my administrative support position for just a year now in August. Is that enough time in one position to apply to another at the same university?
    2) My current position is a bit of a mix. I help students who come in (with advisors, directions, office hours, simple schedule questions), I create the semester schedules for all faculty in our school (with the help of program chairs of course). I set faculty survey ratings for students for every single class then download them later and transfer them to each faculty member’s “calculator.” But do any of these types of things transfer to a student/academic affairs role? If it’s important, I do have a Masters in Sociology which could be applied somehow, I think. One of the first things mentioned in the ad is holding student interaction sessions and academic mentoring. I’ve never done anything like that. I don’t even quite know what I’d be doing at those sessions. What things should a person expect in a student/academic affairs role?
    3) If I do apply, do I *have* to tell my supervisor? I feel so damn guilty for wanting to apply and if I don’t get it… She’s….something else. And I really don’t need her to know I’m applying elsewhere. I don’t want her fretting every time a job opens or maybe even finding an excuse to get rid of me somehow. She’s very up and down and I never know how she’ll react to anything. They were excited I made it a year with plans to stay longer (I was the first in a while to do s0). But I don’t like my office tension which is another reason I’d like to apply.
    4) Less important, but why do I feel so guilty about applying to this job just because my friend did? I would have discovered it eventually!

    1. Jax*

      I am support staff at a university. I know that at my university many people take whatever they can get to get their foot in the door before moving on to positions that they’re more excited about because it is difficult to get hired from the outside. I recently applied for a position in a different department and didn’t tell either of my bosses. I figured I would if I got an offer. Unfortunately, I knew from the moment I sat down that I was just a courtesy interview (but the person who was hired was waaaaaay more qualified than I am!)

      I wouldn’t say anything to your boss until you know something. And I wouldn’t feel guilty about applying just because your friend did. Best case- one of you gets it so you get to be happy for the other!

    2. Dangerfield*

      What country are you in?

      1) It’s not unknown for people to ready to move on from basic/entry level jobs after a year, but it depends on the rest of your career history.

      2) Interesting! Do they give you any more information on the type of academic mentoring or other duties of the post? Anything I think of as academic mentoring tends to be done by academic staff rather than support staff – perhaps that’s why the ad is so vague. They’re not quite sure what the job is yet. Universities, IME, tend to be very keen on you having experience in the specific duties wherever possible, so you’ll want to ensure you focus heavily on how excellent you are at the duties in which you do have experience.

      3) If you don’t think she’ll find out you’ve applied I don’t think you have to tell her.

      4) It’s tough when either you or your friend getting the job by definition means the other doesn’t have it.

      1. Dangerfield*

        Sorry, I realise my question is a bit out there! I do university hiring but in the UK, so sometimes things work differently. I’m intrigued with how the job you describe fits some of our description frameworks.

      2. Cruciatus*

        I was able to get more info on the DL while everyone in my office was at lunch. It’s been created by one the new associate dean who had a similar position at her former school. It’s a voluntary program for at risk students that involves high frequency contact and mentoring, especially for black males. It’s a little bit of advising and mentoring and everything else. I’m still interested but I still have no skills specifically related. And I’m in the US!

        1. Kbeers0su*

          I have worked in student services type positions for 10+ years at universities, doing everything from running residence halls to hearing conduct cases to advising students. Given what you just shared about the job, they’re likely looking for someone with a strong background in student services, working with at-risk students at some level, or (at minimum) someone who has a strong passion for and understanding of social justice issues. Depending on your other experience, the focus of your sociology degree, etc. you certainly may be a fit. But also understand that it’s likely that you’ll be up against folks with a Master’s degree in Higher Education or Student Affairs (the degree many professionals in this field hold) so that might be a hurdle. That’s not to say not to apply- I’ve hired folks in my time, as well, and that has included folks with other education degrees, MBAs, etc.

          As far as your application materials go (and if you get an interview) you need to ensure that you’re highlighting any knowledge or experience that you have with regards to working with at-risk students, mentoring, or advising. You can google “at risk college students” and get articles that will help give you an understanding of some of the research in the field specifically regarding at-risk students. As someone who also came from a Sociology background (BA before grad school) it will probably all make sense to you given your prior education, but you’re going to need to know more about commons strategies and methods to be able to talk not just about the importance of support in at-risk students but how to actually do that work.

          For that, read up on “college student development theory” as well as advising strategies. There is a shift towards what is called “intrusive advising” these days, which is why positions and programs like this one are popping up at schools across the nation. Essentially, based on all this, we know that at-risk students need a closer advising relationship than a normal student, and thus having someone identified as their mentor- who is going to proactively outreach to the student as opposed to waiting for the student to ask for help- can be a key to success.

          I feel like I just spewed a lot of higher education nonsense at you, but I hope this is helpful. Good luck if you do decide to apply!

          1. Cruciatus*

            No, this is helpful. I figured I’m not 100% what they are looking for, but I had to read between the lines of the ad which was rather bland. They only call for at least a Bachelor’s. Nothing about preferred degrees in X, Y, or Z. It’s new so that is also concerning that maybe they don’t know what they want yet. I haven’t done any advising, and is not my job to do so. Just connect students with faculty. But on the other hand, I do know campus resources, faculty (at least in our school), and how things work more or less. I think my sociology background would help with understanding not everyone gets equal footing stepping onto a college campus and background factors that might play into that (not that others don’t know this as well but I have to pretend my degree is helpful in some way!). But I will do some reading tomorrow on strategies you mentioned and see if I’m still interested and apply on Sunday. This job would sure be potentially more meaningful. I’ve been doing administrative for so long now that I’m hesitant about this job because it’s like nothing I’ve ever done and I fear not liking it (though I’m not convinced I wouldn’t!). Decisions, decisions.

            1. Kbeers0su*

              Don’t downplay the knowledge that you have…you’d be surprised what little some folks who work with at-risk students understand about them. And you make a good point about the skills that you’ve gained being there as an admin for a year- you’ve gotten a sense of how things work and if you’re going to be helping students navigate university bureaucracy, that will certainly be helpful. I love what I do, and if you’re looking for meaningful work I think it could really offer you a great way to do that.

        2. Yup*

          From experience, this is the type of position in which admin assistant experience wouldn’t be so transferable. It sounds like they’re looking for someone who’s worked with at-risk populations, has done counseling / mentoring, and knows the ins and out of the curriculum. The latter might be something you know, but they’d really look for experience in the first two categories the most.

          It sounds like you want to move on. but this might not be the best match for you. If it’s something you’d want to develop, how about volunteering to build that experience?

    3. Guam Mom*

      You may want to check with HR to see if there is a policy about notifying your supervisor for internal transfers. I work at a US university and you’re required to notify your supervisor of your application if you become a finalist. The department you’re applying to can also contact your current supervisor (after you have confirmed to HR that they’ve been notified) for a reference check. The same was true at the other university I worked at previously.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I would notify if I got even an interview, I just didn’t know if you have to do it at the application stage.

      2. Bob Barker*

        This is a tickybox in my University internal-applicants application: My supervisor does/does not know I am applying.

        (It’s really nice to be able to tick that box Yes! But I’m glad I am able to tick it No these days.)

    4. Awkward Interviewee*

      I work in academic advising at a university. It will of course vary by university, but at my current institution as someone with a master’s in sociology and experience helping students and faculty, as well as scheduling experience, you would be very, very marketable for an academic advising position. And it sounds like the position in question is advising-related? If you’re interested in the position, go for it! You definitely don’t need to tell your supervisor… you’re in administrative support yet have a master’s degree – they can’t expect you to stay forever.

    5. Jennifer*

      I think it sounds like what you do does apply to academic affairs. However, academia will ask very specifically if you have done every aspect of the job before, and in my experience you have to have done 95% of that already just to get the interview and 100% to get hired. It’ll depend on the job listing.
      As for your supervisor: does the current job overlap with the job listing? Is it likely that your supervisor is going to run into and chat with the person hiring in the other department? Do they all go to meetings together? Because if it’s a drastically different department without overlap, I think you can get away with it. If the departments work together, then…no. I haven’t told my supervisors until I get a job interview, though, because at that point someone would tell them.

      One of my coworkers interviewed in an overlapping office, didn’t tell the supervisor, and then the supervisor was invited to be on the interview panel…. She didn’t get it.

  20. anon 3*

    We had a coworker start about a month ago and she’s rapidly getting on my nerves. She’s just… too enthusiastic. Other people have commented about this too. Ex: our manager sent an email addressed to me, her and another coworker. She sent me three different emails in the span of about ten minutes, then came to talk to me in person, before capping it off with another email in the afternoon. It wasn’t urgent (at all); she just didn’t read the email our manager sent closely enough. If she had, that would’ve negated about two of those emails.

    1. AP*

      Our team has expanded pretty quickly and three new hires were recently brought onboard, following shortly by our manager leaving for a different opportunity. So we have this issue times three. I’m very torn because I want to be helpful and give everyone the tools they need to be successful, especially since we are manager-less at the moment, but there is also a ton of jockeying for position and power and it’s really distracting and making me nuts. So I have nothing to add, but I feel you! I’m just trying to be kind and not say too much.

    2. Susan C.*

      Calling that an issue of enthusiasm is really charitable… I’d probably go with scatterbrained and/or slightly disrespectful of other people’s time. I mean, come on. Although I could see it as a result of new job nerves – is she by chance very young?

      I don’t know if you’re in a position to do anything about it, but *someone* probably needs to tell her to chill, and also make sure she’s in a position to do so (a constant state of low key ‘what do I do’-anxiety due to lacking guidance/documentation etc would give me frazzled and slightly manic edge too).

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I was just thinking that I don’t see any particular level of “enthusiasm” in the example provided, especially as the emails seem to have consisted of questions or insecurity, and not repeated excitement about receiving an email by her manager.

      2. Kai*

        THIS. Her behavior is annoying, but if she just seems particularly eager to do a good job, I’d bet she mellows out on her own in time. If not, though, a little coaching could help.

    3. TL -*

      Can you respond by pointing her in the direction of the source information? That’s my go-to response: I think that was covered in Wakeen’s email – I don’t remember at the moment so I’d check that first.

      (Also, if I’m really busy: I’m not thinking about that right now – you can check X or I’ll get back to you at Y time.)

    4. HRChick*

      I’ve started responding “Did you read the email? This information is in the email.”

      Doesn’t always work, but I’ve noticed that I’ve “trained” a few people to read the information in the email before contacting me with questions/complaints.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        I got on the wrong side of that scale at my last job. I’m big on detail, and there was a lot I still didn’t understand after being there for months. I had a regularly-occurring situation where I would send my supervisor an e-mail about something weird happening and how I didn’t understand because I had never seen it before, or there was no workaround, or I thought I knew (or just guessed) what to do in that scenario but I suppose I was wrong. Her responses frequently indicated she did not read the e-mail. For example,

        me: I tried to do X to tell the rep their request couldn’t be honored, but the program failed and wouldn’t let me do X.
        her: Do X and let the rep know we can’t honor their request.

  21. Nicole J.*

    Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who responded to me last week! And confirmed what I already knew, sigh.

    1. Drew*

      Went back and looked and, yeah, that’s a rough situation. I wish you luck in dealing with Ramsay and want to echo everyone else; in the long term, you probably want to go somewhere else before you get swallowed up.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      Looking at the situation, I’d want to how the buyout deal is structured? Will Ramsey need income from the business going forward to complete his payment for the business? If so, will his inability to run the business cause financial problems for the current owners?

      And yes, get out as quickly as possible.

  22. Critter*

    We have a lunch swiper here, and the lounge has windows with blinds, which have been closed until recently. Maybe they’re keeping them open to curb the swiper’s impulse to swipe. Anyone ever caught a lunch swiper?

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      Nope, but someone had some cheesecake stolen that she had brought in for an potluck for PT evening workers (FT trainer, so she would be at work in the afternoon). (She was a former pro pastry chef, so this was a homemade, fancy cheesecake.)

      Those of us who had potlucks for our evening trainees would leave things in the car until needed when it was cool enough out or wrap things in plastic bags with lots of tape, so that the food swiper would have to work at it and be obvious.

      My personal strategy is to keep my lunch at my desk in an insulated bag with a cold pack (when needed). I avoid the fridge unless absolutely necessary.

    2. Amelia Parkerhouse*

      We also have one but have never been successful in catching the person. I have begun to suspect that some of the reason they do it is for the fun of risking being caught. I just stopped keeping anything good in the office fridge which is super annoying. We considered putting in cameras like we have in other places in the building but decided we’d probably learn things we could never unsee if we did that.

      1. Critter*

        We have our own small fridge in our office, so I keep stuff in there. It’s mostly people in the larger open offices where they don’t have the space for their own fridge that have to use the one in the lounge. Someone put up a sign a little while ago saying something like “I think you might really be struggling, I’d like to help, please come see me, we’ll keep your identity private”, and we all thought it would stop, but it continued.

    3. Murphy*

      Ugh, no. This used to happen to me. Only a few times, and it may have been an accident, but with only a 30 minute lunch break and nothing nearby, I started writing my name on everything.

    4. Hermione*

      Ugh I feel you. At my last office I once picked up lunch meats and rolls on my way into work on a Monday, intending to make sandwiches all week. I had a sandwich on Monday, left them in a bag labelled with my name and the date (so that it wouldn’t be tossed on cleaning day), and by lunch on Tuesday someone had taken the whole bag – an entire pound of ham and a half pound of cheese, plus grapes and hummus. I was livid.

    5. Minion*

      I just cannot fathom why someone would swipe someone else’s lunch. I often bring in those horrible frozen concoctions from Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine and there’s one in the freezer right now that I’m almost positive I brought, but I can’t bring myself to eat it because I’m not completely sure and I can’t stand the thought of eating someone else’s food no matter how long it’s been in there. I think it will likely end up expiring!

      1. No sinus pressure today*

        When I bring something to work like that, I label it so that I know it’s mine. But so that my coworkers don’t think I’m labeling it to be obnoxious, I don’t use my name. I’ll do something like draw a star on it with sharpie. (Doesn’t help for the current freezer contents, but for the future you could try it!)

        1. Nicole*

          I don’t care if someone thinks I’m being obnoxious – I put my initials on everything I put in the work freezer or fridge. I don’t think my place has had issues with lunches being swiped but I’m not taking any chances.

        2. Snazzy Hat*

          I’m a fan of the obviously different presentation. Forgot which frozen meal is yours? Definitely not the one in the black shopping bag from a boutique in another country; that one’s mine.

      2. motherofdragons*

        This happened to me once! I sometimes bring in a carton of those Laughing Cow cheese wedges. I saw an unopened one in the fridge that’s the same flavor I usually get, and couldn’t for the life of me remember if it was mine. I kept an eye on it, and after a few weeks it was still unopened, and I was super curious (and hungry!), so I put a little post-it note on it that said “Whose are these?” They were gone the next time I opened the fridge – not sure if someone took my note to mean “Get your stuff out of here!” or what!

      3. Golden Lioness*

        I normally label mine, because I knew someone took one of mine by mistake and left theirs (which I didn’t like) I know who it was and it wasn’t done on purpose, but we had a swiper who upon opening a container of home made leftovers proceeded to bite off pieces of meat and then left the half uneaten chunks in the container and put it back… Yuk!

      1. Golden Lioness*

        Yes, they do! I went without linch at all a few times because of them. I started carrying cans and dried food in my drawer so I least I have something to eat in those situations or if I forget to bring my lunch… very rare, I never forget about food… LOL

    6. Trout 'Waver*

      I haven’t run into the lunch thief. But I have run into their equally annoying accomplice. The inquisitive assclown who will open your lunch to look at it and leave it open in the fridge, thus ruining it. There’s a special place in hell for that miscreant.

    7. OhBehave*

      Nope, but Google, workplace lunch theft and you will get tons of ideas on how to combat this! One person left a note on her food saying, I know who you are! She hasn’t had a problem since. There are so many evil things to do to your lunches to cause grief to the thief. I wouldn’t recommend this just because of the liability. I an AAM post from someone who likes spicy foods. The thief struck and ate their meal and became violently ill. He then claimed the person planted ‘bad’ food so he would get sick.

      I don’t think writing your name on anything will stop this. The thief knows it’s not their food in the first place – why would a personalized lunch stop anything? So he can think fondly of you while eating what you so carefully packed for yourself?

      Try locking the lunch bag or keep it in an insulated pack at your desk if possible. It amazes me how people think the work fridge is fair game for them.

      1. Nicole*

        I disagree. I think seeing a name on the lunch personalizes it more; if the other person has even a slight conscience they might think twice. Kinda like the experiment showing how just a photo of a pair of eyes stopped people from stealing. It’s a psychological trick. Won’t work on everyone, of course.

        1. Drew*

          Plus, you can hope that the thief will get walked in on in the middle of grabbing your lunch by someone who says, “Jane, what are you doing with Wakeen’s lunch?” Failing that, maybe you can at least scour trash cans looking for the wadded-up bag with your name on it.

      2. Chris*

        I remember the spicy food theft post, too. If memory serves, in a hilarious twist, HR blamed the person who brought spicy food. (Yep:

        I agree with the orginal take on this. Their HR team is terrible.

        Around here, that sort of incident would probably just inspire copycats to bake habanero-chocolate cookies with ‘don’t eat me’ signs on them, and people would eat them to see if they could tempt someone else into trying it unaware.

        I don’t work in the usual sort of place, though.

    8. Oh Fed*

      My swiper inadvertently outed himself. We used to joke that you could leave a $5 bill on the table in the break room and it would be there a week later but but your lunch, labeled with your name in the fridge and it would be stolen by lunchtime. I was pregnant and working nights. My hubs would pack food for my shift. Since I was still in the first trimester, I had not told a soul at work. One night a rather obtuse fellow sat down in our work area and said “So yer pregnant, eh?” I brushed him off but couldn’t figure out how he suspected until I sat down to eat my relatively puny lunch and found a note written by my husband to eat well since I was “eating for two”. I may have thrown a pickle at his head….

    9. Jeni*

      Years ago when my husband worked at a university, they had a lunch snatcher in his department. It took a few months but they discovered that it was actually someone entering the building right before 5, hiding in a closet and spending the night!

  23. OutTheBox*

    I’m looking for an internal job but I’m wondering if I should tell my boss. How do you determine when you should talk to your boss about wanting to move? At some point I’m going to need her reference but I don’t want to put my job in jeopardy either.

    1. Sadsack*

      You should find out what the rules are where you work. My employer requires me to tell my manager when I am applying for an internal position. Other places have different requirements.

      1. Camellia*

        This! And at OldJob they would ask your manager first if it was okay to interview you and consider you for a job. If your manage said no, even if it was selfishly that they didn’t want to lose you or have to find and train someone else, then HR would not even contact you.

      2. Christopher Tracy*

        So does mine. And our managers get to block the move if they want to by answering No to the email HR sends asking if we’re eligible for a transfer.

      3. Fantasma*


        At my company, you can keep it confidential until you formally interview with another team. Managers can’t block moves but of course transitions depend on business needs. At a previous company, your current manager wasn’t contacted until right before the offer stage, but your move could be blocked by your executive director.

  24. LawCat*

    I’m having a hard time emotionally letting go of ex-job. Any suggestions for moving on?

    Part of me is torn because of policies that I believe are negatively impacting the pay of women. It’s a public entity and I could certainly investigate by seeking public records and I know which ones to ask for. At the same time, part of me just wants to get on with my life and let it go.

    1. Good_Intentions*


      What a predicament!

      Is there a way that you could discreetly share your insider knowledge with an intrepid reporter who could make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and write an article shining a bright light on the inequities of the public entity in question?

      Would you consider working with local legislators to change the policies dictating the unfair treatment of women at the office?

      Please keep in mind that I’m an internet stranger just throwing out suggestions. In no way do I mean to suggest you should neglect your own mental health or sense of well-being. However, I do wonder how many unequal paychecks your story with supporting documentation could stop.

      You’re in a tough spot, and I don’t envy you that.

      Take care of yourself and, in the words of Jiminy Cricket “Let Your Conscience be Your Guide.”

    2. LCL*

      Find out how long a time period you have to legally do something about this. Then stop thinking about it and do something else for a month. You will be more sure of what you want to do if you take some time away from it.

      1. LawCat*

        Giving myself permission to stop thinking about it for a month is a great idea. I have been having trouble setting it aside (it keeps me awake some nights), but if I knew there was a definite future time that I will think about it and it can wait until that time, that would really alleviate some of the anxiety it is causing me.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I had a difficult situation, which I could either investigate or move on with my life.

      I thought about me, being ten years older and what would I think if myself if I let it go?

      For me, I landed on, I have to try.
      But I don’t want it to swallow up my life.

      So I set a time frame of 18 months. I decided to run at it with all my might and at the end of 18 months call it quits. (Eighteen months was appropriate for the nature of my issue, yours might be shorter.)

      I gave it 18 months and came up empty handed. I stuck to my plan, I had a cut off point so I quit and went back to life.

      It was a few years later, I got a letter, “let’s talk”.

      I went and talked and the matter was resolved the way I felt it should be.

      I guess what I am saying, is figure out how big a deal this is over your life time. You know yourself, if you know that this is going to haunt you years from now, you may actually need to dig a bit. If you know that in a little bit your life will have a different focus and you are more interested in getting to that new and better place, you might be able to say, “forget it, I will just build a better tomorrow starting right now”.

  25. all aboard the anon train*

    First, I’m glad the summer is almost over since it means I’ll no longer freeze in the air conditioning!

    Second, I feel like I’m always complaining about recruiters, but I’ve had more than a few contact me on my WORK email lately, which seems like a pretty big faux pas, in my opinion. My LinkedIn is connected to my personal email and white my work email is readily available, I don’t like getting job offers on there in case IT happens to see it and alert someone (I know this is rare, but still).

    Also, I’ve had a couple lately get cranky when I ask if the salary includes bonuses/raises or if the salary offered is the base salary or when I ask about the status of bonuses/raises (if they’re given by personal performance or dependent on the department/company’s performance, the yearly raise percentage, etc). I’ve learned from experience that a lot of companies don’t give great raises or bonuses each year, so you have to really negotiate salary beforehand. But recruiters still seem to not like talking about it, which I find irritating.

    1. Sibley*

      I hate, hate, hate it when recruiters email or CALL me at work. I’ve had both. My response is actually fairly rude, and I’m ok with that. “Do not contact me at this address” or “do not contact me at this number”. Done. I actually had one recruiter then email me at my personal address, apologizing, and I responded with something like “you clearly have my personal contact information, why did you think it was ok to contact me at work?”

      Pretty sure I burned that bridge, and I’m ok with that, I don’t want to work with a recruiter who’s so clueless anyway.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I know there are good recruiters out there, and I’d love to work with them instead of the ones who ghost me or get angry when I turn down what they say would be a “really great opportunity”, or who can’t communicate clearly.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Yeah, seriously. If you’re a recruiter, it should be a business expense for you to spring for premium LinkedIn so you can send me a message even if we aren’t connected. Not looking me up on LinkedIn, figuring out what my work email is, and emailing me there.

      I always delete such emails unread. They’re common enough that even if IT were looking, I bet they wouldn’t think anything of it.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        The weird thing is that in a few cases, they HAVE contacted me first on LinkedIn and then after I respond, they email my work address. It’s so strange and irritating.

  26. anonymous cat*

    how do you all handle a very absent manager? my manager/head of our team seems to be having a very rough year. there’s been medical stays, car accidents, family emergencies. i get it. life happens.

    but she will go off the radar for a few days at a time without checking in. it’s starting to really hamper my workload, my long term career goals, and i worry about our customers. plus, it’s downright depressing and unprofessional. others in our somewhat large department are starting to notice and talk.

    would you go to the leader and say that something needs to change? i totally get it if this is a short term thing – but i’m worried about upcoming projects and not being able to meet deadlines/work efficiently if he continues this. i’ve somewhat voiced my concerns, but i feel like we are swiftly approaching the point of no return here.

    anything you can say would be much appreciated, as i am a lowly peon compared to him, but at the same time.. i don’t know how much more of this i can take.

    1. Critter*

      I would say something to your manager directly if you haven’t yet, before going to her superior. Just in the spirit of collaboration, you know? Tell her that you don’t know when she will be away, and that you need to be able to reach her. Ask if she has a plan in place for contacting her. I would leave it there and see what happens. If you have brought it up with her before, maybe it is time to say something to someone.

      1. anonymous cat*

        i have always mentioned to manager that whatever they need to be taken care of to let me know and i will handle it – they just have to keep me in the loop. i can find things in certain places, but when they have never been shared with me and now i have 3 other departments asking for said info with no place to turn.. it’s difficult.
        but now it’s coming down to things being way way put off because they are the only ones with the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.

    2. AF*

      I think using a compassionate tone is really key here. Ask what you can do to be proactive when this person is out. It sounds like they don’t have a contingency plan in place for his absence. Go to the leader and say that you want to be respectable of your manager’s difficult situation, but that there are concrete examples of things that are falling through the cracks, and you’d like help in making sure the work (and you) isn’t suffering. Framing it as complaining that someone left you hanging (when they have legit reasons for their absence, even if they aren’t good about making other plans to take care of the work) is going to turn people off. Good luck!

      1. anonymous cat*

        oh totally – i’m definitely compassionate. i’ve had a year like that too – got married, had two family members pass away.. it was a doozy of a year. i get it. i’m definitely of the type to ask what i can do to keep things moving and let manager heal. but when manager is not sharing info and unreachable.. i don’t know what to do.

    3. NW Mossy*

      It’s absolutely appropriate to say to both your boss and the leader, “If I have an issue that I’d normally bring to Lucinda and she’s not available, who should I go to? For example, I had X, Y, and Z come up recently and it’ll help keep things moving forward if I know who the appropriate back-ups are.”

      I think it’s kind of outrageous that Lucinda doesn’t have someone who can step into her shoes if she’s out. While her particular situation is more extreme than normal, bosses that have their lives totally together also do things like take vacations, get sick, or just plain get booked solid with meetings on a particular day. It’s a horrible move for a manager to leave her team, peers, and superiors hanging whenever she’s not around. At a minimum, there should be a standing “If you need something, call Fergus and he can either assist or find you the right person” order for all managers.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      “Leader, Absent Manager is really have a heck of a time, I feel bad about it and wish I could change that for her. The one thing I can do is make sure stuff stays up to date. Sometimes I have questions or I need to give info to others and I have no where to turn. It seems a bit unfair to ask her if she is using PTO/family leave and, in fact, there are times when I cannot reach her, which is totally understandable. Do you have any suggestions on how we can keep things from backing up so she does not have an overwhelming pile of work when she come back?”

  27. matcha123*

    I have spent years thinking about jobs, but not really job hunting. On the one hand, I don’t feel like I’m smart enough to do anything. On the other hand, I feel kind of scared of job hunting. What if I apply to a job I feel lukewarm about and they want me to take a job? Do I need to have everything prepared to move at the drop of a hat? Should I apply to jobs I’m not all that interested in just to apply to places?

    Is there a mindset you all get in before sending out applications and thinking about moving?

    1. Bad Candidate*

      My mindset is “Don’t trouble trouble until trouble troubles you.” I try not to worry about those things until it actually becomes something to worry about. I’ve found that most of the time, I’m worried for nothing. I don’t know if I’d apply to jobs that I’m not all that interested in though. That’s how you end up in jobs you’re not all that interested in. Which can and will make you miserable.

    2. Sibley*

      For me, yes there’s a mind set. I need to be dissatisfied in some way. Other people are different and need less motivation.

      However, I’m a little concerned by your comment “I don’t feel like I’m smart enough to do anything.” If you really mean that (and be honest with yourself), maybe something in your life is out of wack. Maybe look at that first.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t apply to jobs you are lukewarm about and that gets rid of that dilemma. And going along with that no, do not apply to jobs you are not interested in. Interest will not improve once you start working there.

      They are not saying “we want you to take the job”, they are saying, “We think you are a good fit, do you think we are a good fit for you?”

      Feeling smart enough: There is a difference between “feeling” and “fact”. You may not feel smart but that has no bearing on the fact of if you are or are not smart. You could be the smartest person in the world, but if you tell yourself that you do not feel smart then not too much is going to happen. So how about telling yourself that you are an average person with just as much right as anyone else to having a decent job? You could start there and build on it.

      Mindset-wise, look at what you do well in life. If you can’t think of anything right away, start thinking about what others compliment you on. This could be at work or at home. Write down the compliments if you need help in looking for patterns.
      Look at jobs that will give you the opportunity to use your natural abilities. If you are talking to an employer about something you know you do well with, that becomes your mindset, you are just explaining how you do well with this type of work.

      Understand that if you have spent years thinking about jobs, you’ve probably scared the crap out of yourself. Our minds have a way of making things super huge. You’re better off in dealing with facts. What types of places would have work for your types of skills and abilities? What do you like about current job/previous jobs? What do you dislike about your current and previous jobs?

      If you just think about jobs, I can almost promise you, you will talk yourself right out of any job opportunity. I kinda know something about this first hand.

  28. Poppy*

    My boss is asking for feedback on a co-worker which may contribute to a case for him being terminated. I’ve been working with this guy closely for a couple of weeks. He is smart, good at things that we need around here, but his attitude stinks. He creates the impression that he believes himself to be the smartest person in the room at all times. Whether the people he’s talking to have 4x his experience or not. So he talks with a smirk. It’s subtle and hard to describe, because the words he says are respectful, but the tone is not. If you point out an error he has made, he doesn’t believe you until you prove it to him. Which is pretty time consuming! He can also be sloppy with work, meaning I have to spend a lot of time double checking things. I will give me boss honest feedback, but I feel like this guy might get fired for basically being a bit of a jerk, not for true performance related reasons. Can being hard to work with count as a performance issue?

    1. Graciosa*


      Part of any job is getting along with people.

      You’ve identified in your letter many reasons why this person is having a negative impact at work. You’re spending time dealing with him and his issues that could be spent doing – oh, I don’t know – *anything* more productive.

      The answer to this one is easy.

      I would be happy you have a boss who both sees that and is willing to address it. If the arrogant jerk can’t straighten out and ends up being replaced, imagine your work place with a decent human being (or at least one who can fake it while on the clock) in his stead.

    2. Myrin*

      Absolutely! (And I’m pretty sure Alison has talked about this before – I’ll go and search for relevant posts.)
      Soft skills are part of his performance and if he isn’t exhibiting them, he’s not doing well in an important part of his job. Also, because you seem to feel a bit guilty about being honest: It’s this guy’s own behaviour that got him fired.

    3. bb-great*

      Yes, imo being hard to work with is absolutely a performance issue. It makes it harder for work to get done. It’s difficult to have an efficient, productive work relationship with someone who causes friction constantly. Sometimes people can get away with an abrasive personality if their work doesn’t necessitate a lot of interaction with others and/or they are truly brilliant, but that doesn’t sound like that’s the case here. If you have to spend a lot of time double checking his work and explaining his mistakes to him, is he really a great performer? He sounds mediocre AND unpleasant, which is really not a compelling combination.

      1. Critter*


        Even if he wasn’t difficult to work with, spending time checking his work is more than enough to warrant honest feedback.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Absolutely. Though in giving the feedback, be sure you stick to facts and not let your emotion enter into it. I say that only because it could be possible your dislike of him could cloud the way you hear his “tone.” [Maybe not but we’re all human that way].
      “Fergus could use improvement with his verbal skills”
      “Fergus needs to improve his detail and proofreading skills, I often find small mistakes that need to be pointed out to him.”
      “Fergus is not always open to receiving feedback when mistakes are pointed out.”

      Rather than “He talks with a smirk” even if he does tend to talk with a smirk. And if you’re being honest, you could point out what Fergus does do well (hopefully there are things). Though, I guess if the negatives outweigh the positives here, you may not want to.
      What’s funny is that at some organizations this would be put up with if the person was in a high enough position or (often) male.

      1. Poppy*

        This. All of this is what I’m struggling with. Because I can’t pinpoint that his verbal skills are exactly lacking, it’s just difficult and stressful working with him.

        1. Chriama*

          You can just say that. It’s difficult and stressful working with him, plus you’re wasting all this time negotiating with him instead of collaborating to get work done.

          Also, someone being unpleasant is totally a legitimate complaint. It doesn’t need to directly affect your work – if you find yourself hesitating to talk to him, or other people avoid him by directing requests to you, those are all reasons why his behaviour is unacceptable. Quite frankly, part of your job is being professional, which means being reasonably pleasant to be around.

    5. Observer*

      Absolutely. The disrespect aside, you’ve just described two performance issues that his attitude creates. One is that you have to spend extra time “proving” that you are right, even when he should accept what you say. And you have to spend extra time checking work that you shouldn’t need to check because he’s sloppy.

    6. Biff*

      My department just declined to make a job offer to an intern for just this kind of problem. It is not necessarily a performance issue in and of itself, but the lack of respect for others on the team was certainly the root cause of performance and burgeoning HR issues. Our disrespectful dude zoned out during meetings, didn’t listen to women who were training him on new processes, and tended to ignore ethnicities and seniors but seemed to fetishize our young asian lady. (I wish I could unsee that, btw.) This means that at the end of his internship, he didn’t really understand the job, he didn’t understand our business norms (even though we had specifically said that was a goal of his internship) and we saw a strong potential for him to create drama or bad team dynamics.

      If you need help telling someone this in more diplomatic terms, you can certainly steal a line from me. When I was asked to characterize the intern, I said “I’m not comfortable with how Intern treated Enuice, Geraldo, or Momo. Geraldo and Enuice have extremely valuable experience to share with interns, but I felt he blew them off in favor of paying attention to Hans, who isn’t even on our team. I really didn’t feel like he made a strong effort to learn material he felt was boring or beneath him. He’s not who I would chose for our team.” I will say, though, that I was relieved to find it unnecessary to say anything about Momo. That would have been a can of worms.

    7. TL -*

      There is a not-insignificant subset of those men (and less frequently, women) in the sciences, and they do end up causing big problems with work because never thinking you’re wrong is a huge barrier to getting science done. So, yes, in my field, that attitude would be a good reason to fire (it wouldn’t get a person fired in general, because sigh) but it could be something that could have serious long-term impacts on the quality of your work that wouldn’t show up in the short-term.

      1. Poppy*

        That’s really interesting! We’re in a STEM field, but not research or anything fancy. But that’s a really good point about it being a barrier to getting good work done.

        1. TL -*

          Haha, it can get really interesting! Approaching problems with the attitude of “What I suggest must work because I’m right” is a serious hindrance to actually solving any problems because it leads you to dismiss evidence that works against your hypothesis and overvalue evidence that supports your hypothesis.

          It’s worse in research because you don’t actually know what you’ll find until you’ll find it (and bias always causes problems!) but it will hinder all other types of work as well.

    8. Isben Takes Tea*

      Remember, you aren’t getting him fired. He’s getting himself fired with his own behavior. You are not responsible for his employment, only your own work, which he is impacting.

    9. Marisol*

      Yes, and being fired can be an excellent way to learn a valuable, much-needed lesson. Might be kinder in the long run.

    10. Chaordic One*

      The cynic in me says, “Sounds like management potential. Promote him!”

      But don’t listen to the cynic. Being fired for being a jerk is a thing.


    11. Not So NewReader*

      Here’s what I see:

      Coworker talks down to everyone, it’s in his tone of voice. The words he uses are fine and you have to catch the tone things are said. This means his message is ambiguous to others, people are not sure what he meant, if he is sincere or if if he is sarcastic.

      He does not accept constructive criticism from others. If you find a mistake of his, you have to prove it to him each and every time. This gets very time consuming and very draining.

      Sometimes he gets sloppy with his work and I feel I must double check his work.

      What you have written here is that he is a crappy worker at every turn. What makes him a jerk is his smugness and unwillingness to modify what he is doing. So he is a crappy worker and he is not going to change.

      Look at it this way, employees have to get along with each other. Employees have to be able to accept constructive criticism. Employees have to be able to work accurately, day after day.
      It’s up to your boss to decide how to handle it and it’s just up to you to report what you see.

    12. LCL*

      I would stay far away from the tone issue. That is used against women and African Americans and others frequently. Unfortunately, one of the cultural affiliations(?) in the US is the culture of sitcom snark. See the letter at this website about dipstick and bobble head. Basically, he talks this way because that is how he and his friends talk to each other.

      So, concentrate on what he is or isn’t doing. The inability to take criticism is enough to halt your career at my workplace, and is enough reason to not hire him.

  29. Myrin*

    I posted this in last week’s thread already and several people seemed as interested in getting answers as me but then it kind of got buried in the middle so I’mma post it again:

    I know there are fellow Germans here and I wondered if any of you guys know of a work advice blog that is similar in quality to Alison’s, but pertaining to Germany? A lot of AAM advice can be used here without problems as well but there’s always gonna be stuff that is just different/doesn’t apply here and I don’t really know how to find blogs that are actually good (especially with regards to legal work stuff).

    Also, AAM readers of different countries altogether – are there AAM-like blogs or advice boards in your country/language as well and would you like to share them?

    1. Susan C.*

      Let me camp out here waiting for an answer with you…

      (I think I even posed this very question before)

      1. Tau*

        I camped out in last week’s thread and I’ll join you for this week’s thread as well. I’m worried about looking for a job in Germany soon (I’m German, but I’ve lived abroad for my entire adult life so I’m a bit out of touch with the norms) and I’d really like to know more about the legalities surrounding e.g. health insurance, sick leave, PTO, and working hours. So far my knowledge of the differences mainly boils down to “put your date of birth, high school info and a professional photograph on your CV.”

        1. Schmitt (in Germany)*

          I’m American but I’ve worked in Germany for 10+ years at three employers so I can give it a shot!

          Resume: Having a photo on the resume is very normal. For my first two jobs I did an American-style resume and did not include photo, DOB, high school info, or things like parents’ professions (!) which I saw a lot of while looking for apprentices (I think their career counselors were pretty old-school). For the third job I was thinking about applying for a government position so went with a photo. But not the rest of it.

          Germans seem to really, really like fancy pieces of paper. If you go to conferences and seminars you often get a certificate of attendance. Save these, scan them, have a sidebar on your resume. (eyeroll)

          Health insurance: You will be required to have health insurance and can choose which insurance company you sign up with. Public health insurance comes out of your paycheck pre-deposit with the rest of your taxes and social security type stuff. Doctor visits and outpatient treatments don’t have a co-pay in most cases. Hospital stays are something like 10€ a day for a maximum of 10 days per calendar year. Most prescription medicines have co-pays between 5 and 10€. I’ve had four hospital stays since July 2014 and it has not in any way been a financial hardship for me.

          Sick leave: If you are sick, most employers will let you have 1 or 2 days off without a doctor’s note, though they can require them from day 1 if they want. The employer must cover six weeks of sick leave, after that the health insurance company kicks in and pays roundabout 75% of your income. Your job is protected, though of course it doesn’t mean your employer will be thrilled about it. If you have been off work for a long time, it’s possible to arrange with your company and the health insurance to start back at part-time while still being paid by the health insurance sick leave.

          PTO: I believe the law requires 20 days for workers with a 5 day working week, 24 (or 25? ish, anyway) for those with 6, though most people think the latter number applies for everyone. Depending on the industry, 25 is seen as stingy and 30 generous, though there are industries (and government!) where 30 is standard. Add to that the very generous scattering of public holidays, especially in spring.

          Working hours: Totally depends on the company and the industry though a 40 hour working week is the typical basis. I think there’s a law about overtime under a certain salary cap, but in practice, in my jobs, it’s always been expected that you just do it; though often with some flexibility to take it as comp time. Various coworkers had varied success with pushing back; I just didn’t do it unless absolutely necessary. Bigger companies will likely have a formalized time bank or other rules in place.

          Assorted: Unlike the US, you will have a formal contract. Pay attention to things like notice periods – the company can ask for more than what the law requires (one month for the employee, I think, and for the employer it goes up depending on length of employment), but not less. I signed a “six weeks before the end of the quarter” agreement at my last job and regretted it because it made looking for a job in the correct timeframe a pain. I have a six months’ notice agreement on both sides in my new job, but am confident that I could give notice and then find a job. They could kick me out immediately but they’d still have to pay me.

  30. super anon*

    I’m looking to formally move into project management. Project managers out out there – are there any programs aside from MS Project I should be learning that will make me a more attractive candidate/better at the job when I start looking for jobs after getting my PMP? Any books or resources that are must know about?

    1. Key to the West*

      I would get extremely comfortable with Excel – I can only speak for my company but we use it a lot and you need to be quite skilled in it.

    2. AF*

      Smart Sheet might be good – I feel like most online/cloud-based project management software probably closely mirrors MS Project, but they each have their own little features that make them more or less attractive depending on your needs. Smart Sheet has a fee, but you can do a 30-day free trial on their website. And ditto on Excel!

      Do you have the Project Management Institute’s Book of Knowledge? That’s pretty much the Bible for the PMP – it’s about $40 on Amazon (if you’re in the U.S.). Good luck!

      1. super anon*

        I have the PMBOK 5th edition, a copy of Andy Crowe’s PMP exam guide, and I am taking a Project Management Fundamentals course to get my 35 contact hours for the exam (and so I can take some more hands on PM classes that have that course as a pre-req). Hopefully I can hit it out of the park and pass on the first try, because I’m Canadian and the exchange rate absolutely kills the already high test taking cost.

    3. CMT*

      Can I sort of hijack this question and ask how people get into project management? To be certified, you have to have a certain number of hours of project management, right? But how do you get those hours if you’re not certified? Are there, like, entry-level project management jobs out there? I’ve always thought in the back of my mind that my skills would probably be a good fit for project management, but I’ve never really done anything like it before. I’m just curious how people end up doing it.

      1. NW Mossy*

        At least at my org, we have project managers that don’t have any specialized training or certification. They’ve typically come to the role as an internal hire, usually as a people manager looking to switch gears into projects. External hires typically have some background in PM or a particular methodology like Lean.

        I actually interviewed for a PM role here a few years back and didn’t get it, and the hiring manager suggested beefing up my resume with people-management experience to strengthen my candidacy. I ended up taking a people manager gig and I like it so much that I’m not looking to switch away from that any time soon, but it was good advice anyway. One of the most important skills our PMs need is the ability and willingness to hold project team members accountable whether they have formal chain-of-command authority or not, and managing people helps a lot in making you good at that.

        1. Us, Too*

          Typically when someone talks about “accountability” they mean holding individuals accountable for their tasks. But that isn’t really the most important thing in managing a project. In fact, most PM’s won’t have the personnel management authority to actually hold someone accountable from an HR perspective. Instead, PM’s manage RISK to increase the probability of favorable OUTCOMES. Here’s what I mean.

          You’re the PM on the Top Secret Teapot Initiative at your company. You recognized from day 1 that Wakeen is the only person at the company who has mastered teapot polishing, the last step in manufacturing the new product, per the requirements of TSTI. So you create a mitigation plan (“Plan B”) in case anything happens such that Wakeen’s output might be compromised. Maybe you identify outside contractors you can hire to polish teapots. Or you start cross-training your teapot assemblers to learn to polish. The key here is that you figure all this out BEFORE Wakeen starts to have teapot polishing output issues.

          And let me be candid here: you don’t actually care about whether Wakeen sucks at his job and whether his boss holds him accountable on a PIP or whatever. Maybe he wins the lottery and quits. Or gets sick. Or takes a vacation. All you care about is whether teapots are getting polished per the project plan, and identifying discrepancies ASAP so you can determine when/if to implement Plan B. And when they aren’t, you implement your plan B to avoid impact to the project’s outcomes. Your Plan B might include talking to him about his job performance or what have you. or it might not. It depends on the risk to the project outcomes.

          1. NW Mossy*

            I was thinking about this from the point of view of holding people accountable to their specific tasks on the project. For example, if Wakeen is supposed to provide copies of his teapot polishing procedures to the group for analysis, the PM sets a deadline for Wakeen to do so and then ensures that it happens.

            My view, however, may be skewed because we often see projects bog down because of lack of completion in project tasks, not the tasks that the project ultimately impacts.

      2. Us, Too*

        Start by asking to take on small projects at your current job. You can build up to more complex projects over time as you gain skills and confidence. You can track your hours/tasks/results for any project, small or large, and use them for your PMP certification. PMI doesn’t care what your official job title is. (Or didn’t the last time I checked!) :)

        Honestly – the formal education stuff is all well and good, but you become an excellent PM by practicing it. And screwing it up so that you can learn from that and continuously improve.

        FWIW, my opinion on the PMP certification: it means nothing to me other than someone is good at taking tests and has worked in the field a while. I’ve met crappy PM’s who have it. And I’ve met excellent PM’s who don’t. The only reason I got mine is that it was required because I worked in a role that wanted to be able to advertise that 100% of it’s PM professional services departments had x, y and z certifications. (To justify our $$$ hourly rate). When I took the test, I had to constantly remind myself that the test is about asking “what would PMBOK do?” as opposed to “what is the best way to have a successful project outcome?”. LOL.

      3. Guam Mom*

        Yes–there are tons of PM roles that don’t require a certification. A lot of entry-level jobs are listed as Project Assistants, Project Specialists (sometimes with varying levels of experience, as in Project Specialist 1, 2, and 3) or Program Managers. But there are also lots of just general, entry level PM positions that don’t require certification. However, some fields (science, construction, manufacturing) mostly do require certification at some level.
        Hours are built up from working in project-related fields and by taking courses to earn CPDUs (continuing professional development units). If there is a university near you with a continuing education department, see if they have any project management certificate programs available. A lot of them will occasionally offer an evening seminar/lecture for free or host open houses for the programs (or have some online that you can view) which can be a good place to learn more about PM overall and see if it sounds like something you’d enjoy.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          I’ll throw my 2 cents in on this one. I work in a medium sized company that doesn’t have project managers. Instead, technical managers are tasked with the types of cross-functional projects that project managers would normally do. If they’re successful, they keep getting bigger projects until they’re functioning mostly as project managers even if they’re still listed as technical managers on the org chart. I’m in the middle of this now and I like the balance, tbh.

      4. Witty Nickname*

        I got most of my PM experience through the day to day project management I did in non-PM roles (I was in marketing and managed product launches, sales trainings, etc. I didn’t have a PM, so I did all of it myself, but I didn’t actually realize I was doing it then). I got my PMP about a year after I moved into an official PM role.

        I ended up moving into the role when a former manager called me and said, “hey, I’m building this new team and need a PM. I think it’s a perfect fit for you. Are you interested?” She was actually the second of my managers to suggest that – before she became my manager, the person I worked for told me “I wanted to let you know that we’re going to reorganize the team, and everyone is fighting over you. I want to keep you on my team, but the only way I will be able to is if you move to a project management role.”

        I had the same thought both times. “That sounds like the most boring job in the world!” Heh.

        The second time, though, it was going to be a promotion and former manager was the best manager I’d ever had at that point, so I decided to at least look into it. I ended up deciding I wanted it, depending on the offer, and while I was waiting for the offer to come through, my current team reorganized and I was put on the org chart under former manager (in a completely different department within our organization). Thankfully, the offer, while less than I had been hoping for (because I had zero room to negotiate at that point), was something I was ok with, so I became a PM!

        And what I discovered was, I was meant to be a PM. I project manage EVERYTHING anyway, I might as well get paid for it! I’ve moved mostly into program management now, but still do project management (both within my programs and for one-off projects for my team) and like it even more. I’m hoping to get my PgMP certification next year, since my company is willing to pay for it.

        Some of the PMs in my company have their certification, and others don’t, across all levels (from entry level to VP). I got mine because my former manager thought it was good to have and was able to get the company to pay for it.

      5. LH*

        I recently entered the project management field myself; I’m a marketing project manager for a technology company and I am not certified (yet). Since you asked how people get into project management, my background was in marketing and business development at technology companies. My last job was at a very small company reporting to a managing director who hated dealing with the details of running a company and wanted to focus only on sales. Since he also worked remotely half of the time, I ended up unofficially running the office day-to-day. I dealt with everything from securing financial and IT resources, vendor management, writing business proposals and negotiating with government officials on top of my actual sales role.

        While it was an absurd situation, it ended up providing invaluable experience for my new PM role. I realized there were a lot of transferable skills, the key ones being: keeping everyone on the same page in terms of responsibilities and timelines, following up regularly with stakeholders to manage expectations and getting projects out the door on-time (and on budget). Maybe you have experiences with these skills in your current workplace (even if it’s not officially under the PM umbrella) that you can sell in interviews.

        I will say though that I think some formal PM training would have been helpful prior stepping into a new PM role. I have been doing a lot of reading on my own time and I’m looking to take the CAPM test in January while I build up my required project hours for the full PMP certification.

    4. Us, Too*

      My two cents worth…. When I’m interviewing PM’s I don’t care about the programs they have experience/skills using. What I’m primarily looking for is a track record of delivering projects on time, on budget and on scope with happy stakeholders. I don’t care what tools you use to do that. :)

      (I have never seen a project fail because an otherwise excellent PM couldn’t figure out how to operation MS Project. Projects fail because the PM isn’t good at risk identification/mitigation or communication, typically).

  31. Joshua*

    I’m a nonprofit fundraiser working at an arts organization. I come from Chicago, but I am now at an organization in a smaller and more conservative area. I moved here because of my boyfriend’s job.

    Question about how to best handle this when speaking with donors and community members. I usually try to leave my boyfriend out of it and say how much I love this organization and this community. But, I’m finding most don’t leave it at that. They ask “do you have any one here?” or “what prompted you to even start looking in this area” or some other question in this vein.

    I’m very comfortable with myself, and in Chicago I wouldn’t think twice about saying that my boyfriend works for X and transferred here. But, there are definitely more conservative mindsets here and I don’t want to potentially turn people off from my organization because of political ideologies. Should I be concerned about this? Should I just say “partner” and be generic? I’m probably over thinking this.


    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      “I relocated here with my family this year.” If you’re committed enough to your boyfriend to move for him, that’s family, and no need to go into details. “My partner’s job sent us here” would be more than enough if pressed.

    2. J*

      Oh gosh. I wonder if “partner” isn’t just as transparent as saying “boyfriend”?

      If you’re applying to arts organizations, I’m sorry to stereotype this, you may find that you’re among welcoming people. But you can’t know that in advance.

      Maybe just use partner and hope for the best? Good luck!

    3. Murphy*

      I think partner or family is fine. (I’ve heard lots of unmarried straight people use “partner” before, so I don’t think it necessarily implies anything.)

    4. Anonish*

      I’m a woman in a relationship with a man, and I would use “partner” in that context. “We moved here for my partner’s job” sounds more professional than “boyfriend,” no matter the genders or ages of the people involved.

    5. Minion*

      I hope I’m not misinterpreting your question – it’s because you’re a guy and you have a boyfriend right? You didn’t come out and say that and I’m not that great with subtleties sometimes and I’ve misinterpreted before!

      I live and work in a very conservative place and I also consider myself conservative. I wouldn’t blink an eye at your mention of your boyfriend and having moved here due to his job. There definitely are places here that would, though. You could look at it in a couple of ways, I guess. If someone acts like a jerk toward you or gives you the feeling that they have a problem with you, you can self-select out. Or seek a lawyer at the first opportunity. You shouldn’t have to do either of those things, but sadly, some people just don’t understand how to be a decent human being.

      But there are those of us who really wouldn’t have a problem with it and would be happy to evaluate you based solely on your qualifications and to have you on board. You don’t know going in who you’re going to get, so I’d say don’t censor yourself out of some concern for a jackass’ delicate sensibilities. Sometimes that’s easier said than done when you need a job, though.
      Sorry you have to even think about it.

      1. Minion*

        And I wasn’t trying to be a jackass with asking about the guy with a boyfriend aspect of your question. I really do sometimes read things a certain way only to find out later that I completely missed something and feel stupid. It seems straightforward, but if you only knew!

      2. DragoCucina (formerly Library Director)*

        Yes, in my conservative community most people would take partner = boyfriend. Most wouldn’t really care. Family is true, but generic.

    6. General Ginger*

      I’d say “partner”. I’ve heard plenty of straight folks using “partner” for a boyfriend/girlfriend who is serious enough to move for, so I wouldn’t think anything about your use of the term “partner”. Saying you moved to be with family, or relocated to the area with family would also work.

  32. Berry*

    I can’t stop my family from meddling in my job search!

    I had what I thought was a good interview about two weeks ago, and I know all I can really do is hope that I stand out amongst the other candidates. It was for a Teapot University, in their offices (not faculty), but my aunt happened to go to the school many years ago when it was Chocolate Institute. She decided to reach out to some old professor she knew to get him to chat me up or something, but this is after my interview and he has no real connection to the office that I interviewed with. (She gave him a copy of my resume, which I did give her some time back to pass along to a completely unrelated job opportunity.)

    I’ve been a bit of a pushover when it comes to letting my family help me (in terms of giving my resume to other people that they know), but in this case I’m nervous that this professor, who knows nothing about me and is just reaching out on my aunts behalf, will make everything worse and affect any positive impression I had in my interview (and that if/when I don’t get the job it won’t just be because of other qualified candidates but because of family meddling). I’ve still been applying to other positions but I can’t help but have this worry lurking in the back of my mind.

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      Omg, I had the WORST time a few years back with my grandpa. I had just moved across country and he told me, “One of the guys I play poker with has a daughter who works in the same city. He gave me her number! You should call her and ask for a job!”

      Oh that rubbed me the wrong way. My grandpa felt he was doing me this HUGE favor (and it was kind of him to try to help), but seriously, you give me the first name of a woman and expect me to cold call her about a non-existent job opportunity? How would that call go? “Hi, my grandpa knows your dad who lives 1800 miles away. I have no work experience, but could you keep me in mind if anything opens up at the prestigious firm you are employed at?”

      My grandpa kept at this for years. I think he was really offended I didn’t follow his “lead”….

    2. chocolate lover*

      I don’t think you’ll really have to worry that would have a negative impact on you. If the professor is unconnected to the department, it’s unlikely he’d say anything to them anyway. Heck, even if he was connected, they’re often in their own little bubbles and unlikely to go out of their way about it. He probably tossed the resume after your aunt gave it to him.

      Good luck!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      If I were you, I’d take control of my job search now. Don’t give them your resume. Don’t post on social media about your job search (you probably shouldn’t do that anyway, but especially where they can see it). Don’t give them any ammo or info, or as little as possible. If they have a suggestion of someone you can contact, say “Thanks; why don’t you send me their info/that website and I’ll look into it.” Don’t let them contact people on your behalf. If they protest, tell them, “I’d really rather send it myself, thanks.” Smile, nod, lather, rinse, repeat.

      Practice saying, “Thanks, I’ve got it,” or “Thanks, I’ll take that under advisement,” every time they say anything. The idea is to own your job search and communicate that to them by handling it without their help (whether it’s pushed on you or not). If it helps, practice with a friend and have them come up with all kinds of arguments so you can say it in reply to anything. And if they start nagging you about it, “Hey how’s the job search going?” ad infinitum, you can bean-dip, as they say on Etiquette Hell: “Great! Oh by the way, have you tasted Sylvia’s bean dip? It’s fantastic!” How about them Dodgers, did you see that hilarious Hey-for-meow cat on Facebook, etc. etc. etc.

      They shouldn’t really be doing this for you–and if they’re not, then you won’t have to worry about awkwardness.

    4. Anon Accountant*

      You can tell them “send me info on that job posting or give me his email because I like to take iniative in my job search. It makes me feel proactive and good to take iniative by checking it out myself/emailing him”. And when asked how your search is going “ok. So how about that football game? Who do you think is headed to the Super Bowl?”.

      Repeat as needed.

  33. Mazzy*

    I’m at BEC stage with my coworker. He is very busy being busy and important and thinks he is at a higher level than he actually is without any indication from others that they think he is at that level or deserves to be or is qualified to be. I think I am most at BEC with him because I understand his technical work more than almost everyone else, so I can tell when he is sugar coating or taking the lazy way out of something, usually pretending he has researched or analyzed something in depth when he’s really just skimmed a few articles or pulled a few data points and looked at them for ten minutes. Meanwhile there are lower level people who’ve looked into these topics for days, and he gets equal floor space to talk as they do, even though he talks out of his ass.

    I’ve dealt with my fair share of entitled people, but I usually get to a point where I see that they do at least a few things really great, so I feel a tad better working with them. But it’s been a few years and I still haven’t had that moment with him. I rack my brain every day trying to figure out what triggers someone to wake up every day and this that they are so great. Do they really think they are smarter and better than other people? What happened to make them think that?

    What kills me is that working for an egalitarian company, he gets treated the same as people who bust their ass. Employers seriously need to get that treating employees fairly doesn’t mean treating them the same exact way in all situations.

    1. so, so, so anon*

      I am so with you here with a colleague. It takes every ounce of strength and my maturity muscles not to sigh every time he opens his mouth or when someone else sings his praises. How can they not see through his bullshit? How is it he makes more money, (this is public information) just got promoted, and has a teflon reputation? I just keep repeating to myself- keep your eyes on your own plate. Thank you for letting me vent.

  34. Anon de Plume*

    I heard an amusing and bewildering story from my former workplace recently, which I sadly can’t share in its entirety, but I’ll just ask:

    What would you do, dear AskAManager commentariat, if you were a manager in a small organization (where everyone knows each other a little too well) and have just noticed that one of your employees, Maggie, is not good at her job? WITH the complicating factor that her daughter, Jane, is also not good at her job, but was hired because of her mother, and is the employee of the manager of a related department, who also happens to be your toady/best friend?

    1. Manders*

      Oh, what tangled webs we weave…

      I think that if you’re Maggie’s manager, all you can do is manage Maggie (and maybe manage her out, if the situation is that bad). Jane’s performance is not your problem, and the other manager can deal with her or learn to work around her.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      They’re totally separate issues. Address Maggie’s performance; the rest of the context is unrelated and up to Jane’s manager to handle.

    3. Chris*

      Pave the path to the outcome you want. The outcome you want is for everyone to meet the needs of the business with respect to productivity / skills, and there are shortcomings. The manager of the related department is obviously the one in this situation who can cause any unpleasantness in the situation to expand beyond the solutions needed, or can help minimize the impact of whatever solution you choose. Obviously they are the one you need to discuss the situation with.

      I would identify clearly the business needs that are not being met by YOUR employee, and ask the other manager for advice on resolving the situation. Mention that there is a concern that due to the relationship, your problems may be spread to the other manager’s team, and you’d like to avoid that. In this way, you can identify clear business needs that are uncontestable, and the other manager should have the same goal as you; minimizing conflict in their own team by containing the problem. By asking them for advice / assistance, you’ve protected your own working relationship with them, and shown respect to them.

      If you outline the shortcomings properly, they will likely internally use the same meter stick on their own team and realize the daughter also falls short, but you don’t need to tell them how to solve their own problem. A good manager will realize the same suggestions they give you apply to Jane also. A poor manager may not, but you can’t solve problems outside your scope.

      1. Chris*

        Although, on a re-read, since you describe the other manager as your ‘toady’, it implies you have a responsibility towards their career / skills development too. So if the realization doesn’t occur to them on their own, you could probably nudge them in the right direction.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Let the chips fall where they may.
      I would address Maggie’s problems and the rest is not my circus.

      If your best friend does not understand this then that would be a separate issue. If your best friend loses Jane because Jane is ticked that mom got fired/written up, that is yet again another separate issue.

      We cannot control how other people act/react. All we can do is be professional and expect the same of others.

  35. Pearly Girl*

    I got a job!

    I’m so pleased. I used a LOT of the advice I’ve read here, to be sure… but beyond that, I think it was also definitely a matter of my skills fitting their needs, and the hiring manager’s comment that she and I had good rapport, and that certain crucial skills of mine were above the other interviewees’.

    A good full-time job with benefits — for a 62-year-old. It can happen!

    1. Pearly Girl*

      Oh, and as far as salary negotiations: they made an offer (HR called me), I expressed how happy I was to get the offer, and mentioned that I was hoping to get closer to X+5k. She told me she would talk to the hiring manager. Called back the next day and said they were offering X+5k!

      I was expecting something in the middle, so imagine my surprise!

      1. Callietwo*

        Fantastic! As one in her late 50’s… I can relate to the relief you feel when things work out well! Congrats!

      2. Good_Intentions*

        Pearly Girl:

        Congrats on the terrific news!

        Also, I’m very impressed with your negotiating skills. You really deployed Alison’s advice well and have such an inspiring success story.

        Thanks for sharing and enjoy your new job.

      3. Woman of a Certain Age*

        I’m glad to hear it!

        While not in the same league, I at least had an interview today for what sounds like a promising job. The interview was with the person who would be my immediate supervisor and the person who holds the same position for at the company’s corporate headquarters in another state. I felt like I connected well with the potential immediate supervisor, but guy from corporate headquarters kind of gave me “that look” that seemed to be dismissive. I thought the interview went fairly well for me, though. I felt fairly relaxed and I think I was able to be myself in the interview. I guess I’ll wait and see.

  36. Needing sleep anon*

    How do you survive a horrible job?

    While I like the team I work with, the organisation I’m in is going through lots of uncertainty and changes, and seems to be horribly dysfunctional (People can be mean, or unhelpful, and I know I’m really unhelpful to some people, as I get told to prioritise some things and ignore others, which I hate)

    I’m in the middle of a huge project that currently means long days and weekend work. It will end soon, and things should get better then (or at least less busy) but I’m not sure how to last until then.

    I haven’t been here that long, so I can’t look to leave yet, plus roles in other organisations aren’t really equivalent in responsibility, so would either be a step up, which I’m not qualified for, or step down, which would mean less money.

    Any tips on how to just survive this until it gets better or I get out?

    1. Good_Intentions*

      Needing sleep anon:

      Ouch, I’m terribly sorry that you’re stuck in such an awkward and dysfunctional work environment.

      Beyond focusing on your huge project and trying to bolster your own profile to update and polish your resume, the only advice I can suggest is being civil and keeping a low-profile at work. Your co-workers are likely to engage in rude and unhelpful behavior with colleagues they know better and who provide ample opportunities to engage.

      Are you able to spend time alone in your office concentrating on work? Can you listen to podcasts and take regular breaks (walk around the building, make a point of going to a nearby coffee shop for a pick-me-up, etc.)?

      You have my sympathies. Please just keep your head down and don’t take the sniping and unprofessional behavior personally.

    2. Marisol*

      Pack as much fun, satisfaction, and pleasure into your personal life as you possibly can. Read Regina Thomashauer’s books.

    3. Drew*

      First of all: prioritize self-care. When you aren’t at work, do things that bring you joy and make you better and happier. Try hard to leave work at the office and not let it affect you when you’re away from there, especially when work itself is so toxic.

      It sounds like you can’t avoid being unhelpful because of crashing priorities, but you can at least be pleasant and apologetic: “I’m sorry, Jane, but I’m on a really tight deadline to get Wakeen this spreadsheet and I just can’t help you right now. Do you want me to look for you when this is done? It’s likely to be a couple of hours/tomorrow/next week, just so you know.” Or, if you can’t even promise that, “Jane, Fergus told me I had to focus all my time on Wakeen’s spreadsheet right now, so I’m afraid I can’t stop to help you out.” The key is to communicate that you aren’t blowing Jane off because you want to but because Fergus gave you instructions, and in a way that says you wish you weren’t so tied up on this other project.

      Good luck!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Let people know what priorities you have been given so they don’t keep asking.

      To survive a toxic job, I put a lot into diet, nutrition, rest. Treat yourself to a massage at regular intervals if that is possible. Soak in a hot bathtub or shower to loosen up tense muscles. Read books at night that are calming and soothing.

  37. Mature Intern*

    I just finished an internship at a great company with a fantastic team. It’s a big part of my transition into a new career after waiting way too long to get out of the old one and being lost and directionless for a while. But while I left with a lot of accolade and fanfare with references coming out of my ears, the company is on a strict budget and unable to offer me anything at the moment. (I knew this going in, but in this industry, they were the most likely to hire.) I feel hopeful about my future and want to leverage this experience into related industries or jobs, but today I’m so tired and more than a little heartbroken. After years of feeling like a total oddball in one office after another, I finally found a place that I did amazing work at with people I respect, and then I had to leave.

    Please join my pity party. I’m serving tea and toast. (But just for an hour, because I’m applying to something in the afternoon! Thanks to Alison for all her tips and that amazing book.)

    1. Me2*

      I’m sorry you didn’t get on with them as hoped. I’ll bring some homemade scones and lemon curd to your pity party, I find scones and tea make everything easier to deal with. Good luck with your new application!

      1. Mature Intern*

        Much appreciated! On a literal level, I cannot wait for crisp fall weather so that I can start baking scones again. :)

        1. Me2*

          I’ve been experimenting with making french macarons (not the coconut ones) which are easier than I’d been led to believe. Anyway had a surplus of lemon curd, which is never a bad thing, so I made scones even though it’s sunny and seventies here.

  38. Manders*

    Marketers, how do you explain what you do to other departments? I’m one of several people in the marketing department at a small law firm, and I’m the only one who doesn’t do much with IT or HR work on top of marketing duties, so I’m a bit cut off from the rest of the staff to begin with.

    Sometimes the paralegals will get excited about a big accident they’ve heard on the news and tell me to go get that case (I can do my best to put ads out there, but going after a specific person even when I can get their name and info is waaaaay over the line ethically). They’ve also gotten frustrated because I seem “tech savvy” but can’t fix certain computer problems, because they don’t really understand the difference between someone who has basic HTML skills and someone who has the authority to reset the server. One also treats me like an admin assistant and gets visibly peeved when I can’t tell her off the top of my head where a certain type of stamp or envelope is stored in the supplies room. The legal staff understand what I do a little better, but have been complaining to me that there are too many people calling in and it’s exhausting (but more calls = marketing department win!). I’m about to spend three days out of the office at a big conference and I’m sure people will think I’m on vacation or getting special privileges.

    How do I navigate this politely and professionally? No one wants a lecture on SEO, but I just don’t know how to explain what I’m doing all day in a way that the people who are complaining to me (and, I’m sure, about me) will understand.

    1. Temperance*

      Are you a woman? If so, you need to draw stronger boundaries with the paralegals who are treating you like support staff. This is also true if you’re a man, but in my experience, women are more likely to receive this sort of crap treatment than men because no one looks at a man and thinks “secretary!”. Practice saying “I don’t know where X is, ask one of the assistants”. Don’t worry about being overly helpful or nice when it’s actually a detriment to you.

      You don’t owe anyone an explanation of what you’re doing all day. Do you go around asking people what they do?

      1. Manders*

        Yep, I’m a very young-looking woman. :/ You’re right, I think I need to practice setting boundaries and sticking to them, even if it makes some people think I’m being unhelpful on purpose.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      This is a bit tough because I think a lot of law firms seem to be a little “new” to the idea they need marketing (same with medical and dental). Not only that, but it seems like you’re filling the marketing communications/public relations role as well at your firm.

      Marketing is the process of getting your business noticed by the people who need or want your products or services, building a customer base, and spreading the word about your products or services. Advertising and selling are part of the process but there is much more involved, including and especially detailed statistical analysis to form a sound marketing strategy.

      I don’t know if that helps much, as I also sometimes struggle with this, when it’s not a definitive as say sales or customer service. But you can focus on the statistics and numbers (Campaign X brought in xx new clients with a revenue of #X to the firm) and that type of thing.

      I’m just curious as to why you’d think people would assume attending a conference = special privileges?
      This is WORK, or at the least part of learning and staying on top of trends. Do others in the office not attend similar things that apply to their work?

    3. zora.dee*

      what you need is someone above you to have your back, and from what you’ve posted before, it sounds like you might not have that. :o( But is there a partner or someone who really understands why your position exists?

      In places I’ve worked disconnects like this have been solved by things like giving you a slot at a monthly or yearly staff meeting, a few minutes to explain why marketing the firm is important, what you have accomplished in the past Xtimeperiod, and what you need from them to help you market the firm for everyone’s benefit.

      Or for someone of authority to send out an email or make an announcement: “Manders is working on important projects to bring in new clients. I need all staff to cooperate with these specific tasks that will make this successful. 1. When you have a particularly happy client, ask them if they will talk to Manders to give some testimonial quotes. 2. Ask all the clients how they heard of us. 3. etc.” If you have a good person above you, you could even draft this email and ask them to send it periodically. (once a quarter?)

      A good company makes sure all departments are integrated to some extent so that everyone knows why every dept is important and basically what they do. If no one will help you do this, then people suck. I hope there’s an easy way to fix things!

      1. Manders*

        I have two bosses who understand my accomplishments and why my position exists, and they’re both great, but it does confuse the issue a bit because they have certain duties and permissions that I don’t have. So a lot of the huffiness is happening when the person they actually need is out of the office or otherwise occupied, and they don’t understand why I can’t or won’t do the thing they’re asking for.

        I have a lot of sympathy for the staff, they’ve very busy and anxious about making sure they get good cases and get their work done, but often that comes out in the form of getting frustrated with me or refusing to accept my explanations of why thing X is the way it is. I did suggest sending emails out to the staff when marketing completes a project that the paralegals might be interested in knowing about, but my boss didn’t think that was necessary. I definitely get the sense that there’s an office “grapevine” that I’m not part of–there’s never any official announcement of things like employees leaving, but everyone else already seems to know and is surprised that I don’t know.

        1. zora.dee*

          Oy, yeah, that sounds tough.
          I would try pushing back one more time on your email suggestion, though. I think if once in a while (like once per quarter) an email went out about something you accomplished, it wouldn’t be ‘too many emails’ and it would really help you in the future because people would know more about how to get you info that would help you do your job. Come up with some concrete arguments about why you think those emails would be a good thing, and ask him again?

          Other than that, maybe it’s something more informal in some offices, of getting coffee/chatting at the water cooler, with employees in different areas more often and casually chatting about the cool stuff you are working on, or how this campaign is going, etc.

          I think your main issue is a disconnect between departments, though, which is a common workplace issue, and a valid concern. So, don’t feel bad about being frustrated.

  39. Alter_ego*

    My annual review is in two hours and I can’t focus on work at all. I have that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. This is what happened last year, and my review went incredible, but what if that just lulled me into a false sense of security? I took on some new responsibilities this year, maybe I’m sucking. Waaaaaaaaah!

    1. Good_Intentions*


      I feel your pain and just encourage you to breathe.

      Given that you’ve already gone through one annual review with this employer and succeeded, I have no doubt you’ve adequately prepared and will once again shine.

      I would also bear in mind that annual reviews are meant to be an open and constructive conversation between employee and supervisor. You shouldn’t encounter any surprises and should feel comfortable owning up to both your successes and trouble spots.

      It’s perfectly natural to be nervous, so just keep breathing and remember it’s Friday.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Definitely go to the bathroom a few minutes before and do some power posing in a stall. It literally boosts testosterone and other confidence-priming hormones. You can do it!

    3. SophieChotek*

      I hope you can now breathe/focus and that it all went well and that you can now enjoy your weekend.

  40. Joseph*

    Wondering if anybody shares my pet peeve: I hate it when people are listing their phone number and say the number super-fast. “Hey, sorry I missed you, this is John with Vanilla Teapots, call me at [blur of numbers]. I’m calling about teaming on the Chocolate Teapot order.”
    Someone leaves a message like this on my voice mail at least once a week. I can replay the message to catch it, but seriously, would it kill you to slow down even just for that part? Or say the number twice or something?

    1. Rebecca*

      Oh, I hear you! I think people get so used to saying their phone number that it makes sense to them when they say it, but it comes out in an unintelligible blob of nonsense. I tend to speak to quickly on the phone, so when I need to call someone, and end up in voice mail, I use the time listening to the voice prompt to take a deep breath, remind myself to slow down, and when I give my phone number and extension, I say it very slowly and enunciate each number, just so the person on the other end doesn’t have to replay the message several times.

    2. DevAssist*

      That bugs me too, but not as much as when I call someone, leave them a voicemail, and then have them immediately call me and say. “Someone called me.” ??? I don’t like repeating myself all the time, and if you call two days later because you saw you missed a call but didn’t listen to the message, it can be frustrating for myself and other staff to figure out WHO called you and WHY….just listen to the message then call if you have questions or need to follow up!


    3. Margali*

      Oh, you have ALL my sympathies — that’s my least favorite part of voice mail. I know I make a distinct effort to speak slowly when leaving my own call back number, and I usually state it at the beginning and the end of the message.

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Yes, leaving your return telephone number, along with name and company, at the beginning and end of a message greatly reduces confusion for the voicemail recipient.

    4. Temperance*

      I hate that. I alway sleave my name and number twice in a message, and think it’s rude when others don’t.

      I get a lot of calls. If you want something from me, and it’s outside of my purview, I’m not going to call you back if I have to listen to your message twice. Sorry not sorry.

    5. Kelly L.*

      Yesssss. I try to say the number at least twice when I leave one, so that even if both instances get garbled, maybe with luck the same digit won’t get garbled. If you hear 123-scratch567 and then 1scratch3-4567, you can reassemble it! :D

    6. zora.dee*

      Seriously, this is one of my biggest pet peeves, too. I not only repeat my number twice as others said, but I make an effort to slow down and pause (briefly) in between each combination of numbers.

      I might be biased because I worked a job where I made literally hundreds of phone calls per day sometimes, and that involved getting messages as well as leaving them, but GAH why don’t people get this??!?!?

    7. Maria*

      Also when they don’t leave the number and say something like “Call me at this number.” I work at a small family-owned company with bare bones equipment. I don’t have caller ID, so you’re out of luck.

    8. ASJ*

      This has been one of my biggest pet peeves since I began working as an admin assistant. Bonus points for the people who are speaking a different language (in my case, French) because then it’s twice as impossible.

      It did, however, teach me to always say my number twice when leaving voicemail. I usually leave my name and number at the start, and then finish with the number again at the end.

    9. Nicole*

      Big pet peeve of mine as well. I say my name, give my number slowly with a pause between, like 555 pause 555 pause 5555. Then I leave my message and at the end say “again, this is Nicole at Company Name” and leave the number with pauses.

      What irks me besides having to listen to the voice mail twice to gleen the number are those people who say their company name so quickly I have no idea who they are even after listening to the message multiple times.

    10. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Yes, that is so annoying because you have to listen to the whole message again, sometimes more than once. (At least my VM system is like that.) I always repeat my name and number twice.

    11. Marisol*

      Yes it’s thoughtless and has an air of self-importance to me. Can you ask on your outgoing message to “please leave your phone number slowly, or I may not be able to return your call” or something like that?

    12. Chaordic One*

      I used to get very annoyed with a former co-worker who would speak very quickly when giving her unusual first and unusual last hyphenated name when making travel reservations. She seemed to speed up when giving her name and would then always act peeved when people asked her to spell it.

      My own last name, while fairly common and shared with several celebrities, is not spelled phonetically and I don’t mind spelling it out for people so they can have it written down correctly.

  41. Ann Furthermore*

    Keeping everything crossed that I hear about a job today.

    About a month ago I applied for a position that popped up on an alert that I received. I had a preliminary interview with the HR person, had my resume, the job description, and my questions all prepared. I gave a quick recap of my background and he said, “Wow, you’ve got awesome experience, I’m giving your resume to the hiring manager.” The interview lasted all of 10 minutes.

    Had a second interview almost 3 weeks ago with the hiring manager. It seemed to go well and we talked for almost an hour. Sent the thank-you email and he replied and said I was the first person he’d spoken with, so it would take some time to get through the rest of the interviews. OK, fine. Both he and the HR guy said they would have “next steps” for me “soon.”

    Last Monday I sent a follow-up email to the HR guy, asked if they’d filled the position, and said I was still interested. He said they’d have an update for me “soon.” This past Tuesday (so just over a week later) I emailed again and asked if he had a timeline for when a decision might be made. He said he’d have an update for me “this week.”

    I know I can’t reach out again, but the waiting is killing me. Patience is not one of my virtues. I would think if I was out of the running, they would have just told me that instead of continuing to string me along, but of course I know there are no guarantees. I would just like to know one way or the other. I was hoping I’d be able to come back from Labor Day Weekend and resign from my current job.

    1. Clever Name*

      Having been involved in the hiring process at my company, it takes FOREVER. Even longer than the people involved in the process think. Like one of the decision makers told me to tell applicants that we’d get back to them in 2 weeks, when I know it takes us more like a month to respond. Are we jerks? Maybe. But I think it’s more that busy people often get sidetracked with things that rise to the top of the pile, and hiring someone, while it is very important, just isn’t as pressing as finishing a report when an impatient client is breathing down your neck.

      I totally understand. Waiting sucks, and I’m an impatient person too. Allison’s advice to mentally move on from a job you apply to is sound, albeit very difficult.

  42. The IT Manager*

    This is an observation or musing more than anything else. I used to have force myself out of the house to be social because it would be good for me. I am having a more active social lately. The negative impact is that sometimes I’m getting less sleep because of it. Not crazy late nights, but if I get home at 10pm, it could take me a couple of hours to wind down which is past my “bed time.”

    Being tired makes staying motivated to work is a lot harder. I can’t miss meetings, but on quieter days where I have unscheduled time where I am supposed to work convincing myself to start on anything especially the big projects is a lot harder. I guess I’m having trouble finding my work-life balance even though I am only asked to work 42 and a half hours a week and I don’t have a commute. So it’s not like work is intruding on my life any more than expected for an full time job in the US, but still … I just really wish I could work less hours and I’d be happy to take a pay cut, but that’s not an option for my employer and my job (which would normally be exempt). I am also unwilling to sacrifice benefits because I am a naturally conservative / risk adverse person, and in the US it’s your job not the government that provides healthcare and retirement benefits.

    So in order to not be too tired to work and to keep doing a good job, I may have I have to learn to be selective and turn down some of these fun opportunities. Which is a shift because I used to have to force myself to not turn down any social opportunities.

    OTOH even before the more active social life, there were some way too late nights on the internet or watching TV. Being less productive because I was out interacting with the world is better than that.

    1. Chaordic One*

      You sound like a classic introvert. I don’t know what to suggest. You seem to have a good handle on the situation and what you need to do about it.

      Maybe someone else has some good ideas about how to cope with your situation?

  43. Anonymous overconcerned student*

    Hi all! School question here – I am currently taking an online class that involves an IM system and the instructor has encouraged everyone to upload a profile picture that will show up with their messages. No big deal, although I’m not huge on putting my picture out there when it’s a bunch of strangers, but not a major issue. He also DMed me to remind me to add one (think I’m the only one w/o a picture yet- about a dozen participants total – but one other person had a picture of their pet instead of themselves) and said “It really makes a difference on how people respond to you.” For some reason, that really weirded me out – it makes a difference if everyone knows I’m a twenty-something caucasian woman? I mean, I get that it’s online and it’s nice to “see” who you’re talking to since we can’t actually talk in person and get the body language and facial expressions, but what someone looks like _shouldn’t_ impact the way we respond to them! Am I overreacting here, or does this seem off to you guys too? Any suggestions on how to respond?

    FWIW, I had a situation like this previously that involved making a resume website with my name and picture, and I was like “Ha, nope!” and made one with a fake name and resume and a stock picture instead of my info (cleared it with my professor, but no way was I putting all that out there – if I wanted it publicly available, I would have LinkedIn, not a ridiculously amateur practice website). Sooo, I could just use that picture and let the professor know what I was doing (picture of a professional-looking woman about my age leaning against a granite building with a newspaper), but it’s still woman-my-age and why should that affect anything?

    And obviously everyone would know my age and gender if I was in class with them, and it wouldn’t bother me a bit! It’s just something about insisting on that information when it’s irrelevant and doesn’t naturally come up. Also, I’m happy to share information in general, but I also clam up and get super private as soon as someone insists on information or feels like they have a right to have it.

    tl;dy Professor is requesting profile pictures for online IM and says it will affect the way people respond to us. Is this weird, and what should I do?

    1. Temperance*

      Do you have to use your own photo? I have coworkers who use Star Trek, Hello Kitty, She-ra, … okay we’re a bunch of nerds, but still.

    2. Dangerfield*

      People do respond better to someone when they’ve got a face to put to the name – even if that face actually happens to belong to your cat! I wouldn’t put a stock picture up – it could be really awkward if you ever meet them in person.

    3. Raine*

      I don’t think it’s weird, it sounds like your professor is hoping to encourage polite thoughtful discussions and thinks that having a name and face to attach to someone will help students think of each other as real people and not faceless bits of data you occasionally have to respond to for class.

      I’m not sure how sound this is (having your name and picture on facebook certainly never stopped some of the comment wars I saw on there) but it could well be he noticed a pronounced uptick in civility when everyone was clearly identifiable.

    4. Karo*

      I get where he’s coming from – there’s actually a good bit of research in the marketing space that shows how profile images lend credence to a message. As others have said, I’d use an image of something that is blatantly not you, and preferably not a real person at all (e.g. if you love Hermione Granger, use a drawing of her instead of a picture of Emma Watson dressed up).

      1. Judy*

        Or use an avatar builder to build someone like you.

        I’ve got the coolest (to me) one done when the Peanuts movie came out. It’s me Peanut-ified.

    5. Bad Candidate*

      I think your prof probably means it humanizes you more. Like they say, on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. If someone sees a picture, it’s a mental reminder that there’s a real human being behind the message.

    6. Meemzi*

      My avatar is often a cartoon-me that a friend drew. You could make one on one of the many avatar or doll sites. There was the hipster one that got pretty popular. I think someone here uses that as an avatar.

    7. LadyKelvin*

      Can you compromise a bit and use a photo that can’t be explicitly you but is still you? Allow me to explain: Often times for profiles that are public-ish (like vacation rentals or couch-surfers) I use a photo which gives you a basic idea of who I am without a great view of my face so that random people don’t know who I am. I usually use a photo from a distance or a profile/view of my back. Photos of me hiking on a ridge are good candidates for this. I’d think about using a photo of doing something you enjoy so that you seem more like a person without being a super personal headshot.

    8. Swoop*

      my boss’ requirement for profile pictures on IM is ‘something with eyes’ – it gives people something to focus on and talk/type to (people in my org use various birds and animals, I don’t think anyone has their actual pic :) )

    9. Anonymous overconcerned student*

      Wow, thanks for all the feedback and suggestions everybody! It helps to know that this isn’t as weird as it was sounding to me. I was all set to put up a cute animal picture (with eyes!) and checked with the professor that that would be okay and he sent this back: “No, sorry. That will just set everyone up thinking they can put up stuff. You are a nice looking person with a nice smile. Just put your portrait up and be part of this interactive and fun group.”

      Now I’m back to being weirded out. :/ I’m thinking I’ll try a more distant shot like Lady Kelvin recommended, but I don’t know if that will fly. I already put my picture in an initial post for a different part of the class (which bothered me also, but that part was partially graded on including the picture), but having it on the forum we use every day with a bunch of strangers. Tbh, it’s the insistence that’s really turning me off – no, you can’t make me put a picture up if I don’t want to, and you sure as heck can’t do it by telling me I look nice. No. Way.

      1. Anonymous overconcerned student*

        Oh, forgot to ask – any suggestions for websites to cartoonize pictures for free? I found a few, but they are more photo-effect type (so, looks pretty much like me with more contrast and brighter colors). I’d love the Peanuts one!

        1. Anonymous overconcerned student*

          Okay, found an avatar maker! I uploaded it to the IM site, so we’ll see if he says anything. Pretty sure he thinks I’m totally paranoid by this point, but oh well.

      2. Drew*

        I’m wondering if the prof wants your faces so HE can see them, since he probably has dozens of students and this will help him match “person on IM” with “student in my History of Teapottery seminar.”

      3. Yup*

        It’s really not weird, and I do think viewing it as a come-on is an over-interpretation. You’re a class that has discussion – talk to each other! That means, as pointed out above, “humanizing” and identifying yourself to your classmates. No one outside the class will see the pic.

        And yes, your professor would also likely appreciate a visual reminder of who you are amidst his/her 78 other students. Please don’t read too much into it and get defensive. This is low-stakes. There’s creepy behavior, but this, on its face, isn’t that (trust me that your prof can access your student profile in a jiffy, which has your pic on it already).

        1. Anonymous overconcerned student*

          Thanks for your comment! This is an online class, so I don’t have a student picture on record (and wouldn’t give them one). I’m not interpreting it as a come-on, but it felt weirdly demanding and sort of gross to say basically, “Aw, just do it – you’re pretty!” My looks have nothing to do with whether I should put up a picture for class! For context, my hackles go up if my friendly, but nosy and gossipy, older female coworker starts asking where I’m going to school, what I’m getting my degree in, if I’m doing anything tonight, and “Oh! You’re not getting a can of Coke this morning? Why not!?” It’s not that I think she’s going to _do_ anything with the information, it’s just that it’s my personal information, and my life, and, in this case, my picture, and no one has a right to it just cause they ask for it.

          So, I’m not freaking out over the request (and thanks for the reality check! – I mean that sincerely), but I’m ticked when someone, especially someone in a position of authority, requires anything personal. You don’t have a right to my personal information, no matter how innocuous. And, yeah, I know I’m super touchy about this. :/

      1. Anonymous overconcerned student*

        Ha! I’d love to do that. Sadly, I don’t think that would fly. He already turned down my request for an animal picture. :(

    10. Anonymous overconcerned student*

      The cartoon avatar me passed! He said, “This looks okay. Much better than [animal]. Thanks.”

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I’m on the executive committee of a student organization at my university. We have to put up a poster with our pictures on it in the “hallway of clubs” (a hallway where all the business clubs have their own display). I sent the person in charge of the poster three pictures: One of the “logo” I use on my LinkedIn profile (which is pretty much a simplified monogram of my initials), a picture of one of the baseball caps I always wear to school (because I’m too lazy to get dressed up for class), and one of an avatar I created at avatarmaker(dot)com. Hopefully the administration won’t object to whichever one our marketing person chooses to print out, because I haven’t let anyone take my picture in at least two decades and I’d rather drop out of the organization than be forced to post a photo of me anywhere.

    11. Chaordic One*

      I really like my old Yahoo avatar that I used with Yahoo Messenger, but everyong quit using that a long time ago.

      1. DragoCucina (formerly Library Director)*

        Fortunately I saved some of my Bitstrip avatars. People ask how I got it to look just like me. I use it in places I want a more lighthearted picture. I’m still recognized, but it’s not a formal photo.

  44. KatieKate*

    I’ve completed my firstish week with the new role! I love my team, I love my office door, and I have so much less stress than expected with changing positions.

    Now a fun question! Where can I get cute/cheap stuff to put on the wells? I have walls (!!!) to decorate!

    1. Amber Rose*

      I just print out comics and pictures. People stop by now just to read my filing cabinet, which is covered in them.

    2. Temperance*

      I have a huge collection of kid art, Funko pops/Star Trek, and soccer stuff. If you aren’t as openly nerdy as I am, I would recommend dialing down the Star Trek. ;)

      1. KatieKate*

        I already have a Hulk bobblehead and an “R2D2 Do’s” notepad on my desk so no worries about hiding my nerdiness!

    3. Prismatic Professional*

      I used really cheap but colorful fabric to decorate my walls! A lot of people still comment on them! I hung them up and randomly draped pattern so they look kind of like modern art and not just a block of color. :-)

    4. Anon13*

      Etsy has always been one of my favorite sources. I’ve found some cute prints of Leslie Knope quotes, if that’s your thing and something that would be well-received in your workplace. My workplace is, unfortunately, kind of stuffy, so I can’t hang them up here, but I have some in my home office.

      1. Drew*

        I am reminded of the time I found a cartoon in my daily Dilbert calendar that SCREAMED “this is your boss and this is your workplace” to me. So I put it up on a small corkboard that usually no one but me saw.

        One day, my boss came to my office for a Serious Meeting, closed the door, read the cartoon, and said, “That’s really funny. Good thing no one here acts like that.”

        Readers, that was the day I started hunting for a new job.

    5. Emilia Bedelia*

      It’s mostly aimed at kids/teens, but I have had good luck at Five Below for cheap decorative stuff. Very hit or miss, but I’ve found some cool things, especially if you’re crafty and open to a little spray paint.

      TJ Maxx/Home Goods/Marshalls is also great if you have slightly more expensive taste (but still pretty cheap!)

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I had Star Trek, Harry Potter, and Star Wars posters on my cube walls stuck up with those velcro coins–I just put them on the back of the posters and they clung to the walls. They did come down recently, though; I never look at them at work because they’re behind me! :) I’m redecorating at home, so I’ll hang them up where I can see them.

      A plant will make your office look more homey too. A pothos is good because they like fluorescent light and are very hard to kill. Mine is named Horace. :) That reminds me–I need to water him!

    7. Camellia*

      Take your time. You will find stuff that speaks to you in some way, makes you laugh, inspires you, etc., and those will mean more to you than stuff you just run out and get in order to fill up your walls. And you will enjoy the hunt! :)

    8. SophieChotek*

      If you lived near me I could give you tons of cheap/fun stuff to decorate your walls. I used to save calendars (those art wall calendars) for that exact purpose…finally decided I need to clear my stashes…

    9. Trixie*

      I have been in good sized cubicle for seven months now, and kept it minimal. Odd because it’s the one space all my own ( do not live alone) but I think I like keeping it organized. I looked at so many ideas on Pinterest but most too much. I did bring in a lovely potted plant, and am eyeing some succulents and airplants. A simple tray to keep my keys, sunglasses, passkey. I’m thinking about a simple lamp for indirect lighting. I think I appreciate the uncluttered look more than anything else when I come in each day.

    10. Honeybee*

      Etsy! I found some cute custom designs related to the games I work on at Etsy pretty inexpensively. Some of them I even got digitally, so I printed them on fancy photo paper and framed them cheaply and bam, office decor.

  45. Amber Rose*

    I’m rewriting and revamping a lot of stuff right now. Or preparing to. I have the power! :D

    We have a system called the daily tour where I go around and get each of the 5 supervisors to sign off that everything is OK. If everything isn’t ok they can say that too, but then I’ve already heard about it. So it feels redundant and it eats up a chunk of every day.

    I don’t want to get rid of it because that’ll be a flag during next year’s re-certification audit, so I want to replace it instead. But I’m not sure what with. A weekly tour? A tour with no signatures? Something totally new and exciting? … A meeting? (Just kidding.)

    Online won’t work, some of the supervisors don’t have computers, or are only on them once in a while.

    1. ArtK*

      Signature or not depends on the standard you’re being certified against and how strict the auditor is. We have some customers who are pharma companies and they can be extremely picky about stuff like that. In one case, even though we have an electronic signature system, they insisted that we upload copies of everyone’s physical signatures and all documents be printed, signed and scanned. Took quite a bit to talk them out of that.

      I’d take a page from the agile process. Schedule a weekly stand-up meeting. 15 minutes with everybody in the room, standing up (helps make things go faster.) Go around the room and ask for an update. Publish the minutes. Next meeting, pass the previous minutes around and have them signed, if that’s still a requirement.

      If there are issues, especially cross-group issues, they can come out at this point. If there is already a standing meeting with all of the managers, you can use that as instead.

  46. Temperance*

    I just wanted to thank everyone who comforted me last week when I complained about my husband getting offered a job super-close to our house while I was in 90-minute-each-way commuting hell.

    He ended up accepting a different (better) job that will have a bit of a commute, and SEPTA got their crap together and my commute is now much more reliable and reasonable. I feel like an actual human again.

  47. DevAssist*

    At what point does “The Boss” delegate too much?

    In my position, our CEO delegates EVERYTHING it seems. I don’t mean that there are many outlandish non-work related tasks assigned to staff, but everything from calling board meetings, annual scheduling, etc. seems to be delegated. One example- if someone calls us angry or with a time-sensitive issue, our CEO won’t take care of it in a timely manner, and then my coworkers and I keep having to try and reassure people that they will receive a response. I’ll talk to the CEO: “Mr. Smith called 3 times in the last two days regarding the issue of fixing his teapot before the date you two previously discussed. That date is coming up soon.” Then the day of or just before the deadline, the CEO will email me: “Call Mr. Smith. The crack in his teapot can’t be repaired by us and he should look elsewhere.” REALLY?!? You couldn’t tell him that before the deadline?? I wasn’t part of the initial conversation! Why is this suddenly my responsibility?? He will be mad and it will look like my fault.

    While my boss isn’t a bad person, the example set is just strange to me. They delegate a lot of tasks that I would actually think should be their responsibility (plus, their EA left and there was no reason given, so the tasks that an EA would hold have now been assigned to other staff members and there is no intention of hiring a new EA). And yet, while staff is expected to clock in and out on the dot, the CEO will send emails at all hours of the day, including on weekends. Overtime is a necessity not often granted, so my direct supervisor is working 2 (sometimes even 5 or 6) hours of overtime off the clock every day to stay on top of the work.

    I’m sorry to have kind of a rambling question/rant, but while I work with good people, there is a crap ton that my company does that I disagree with.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t have any suggestions, but I can tell you that an old CEO had an issue of responding to urgent issues. Ya know…like approving the budgets for the next year, approving projects that needed to start the next week…things like that. Our directors got fed up and started leaving for other jobs.

      1. DevAssist*

        Jessi- I can and I do, it’s just that I can tell on the client’s end it feels to them like we are giving them the run-around. For more background for the example I gave, each time I took the client’s call, our CEO asks that we never tell a client we can’t fix their teapot and only that their teapot can be fixed. So, if that is what the Client is told 3 times when wondering about when his teapot will be repaired, he is rightly going to be annoyed when I call him and tell him otherwise.

        Part of what drives me insane about my job is the amount of messenger shooting we have to endure for various reasons. Communication just isn’t good.

  48. But I'm the Fun One!*

    I’ve been working as an HR Coordinator for over five years now at a company of about 100 people. I sort of fell into to the job, but I really enjoy it – I do recruiting, onboarding and also coordinate various fun company events. (No forced attendance for those, I promise!) I’m used to being the HR person that people are happy to see – I welcome them to the company, and hand out the birthday and work anniversary gifts.

    However, I have found out that I may also have firing/laying off people added to my responsibilities in the next six months or so. I’m nervous about what this role change will mean for my relationships with my co-workers. I’m REALLY nervous about how to handle it when I will have advance notice that someone is heading for being fired or laid off. How do you smile at and make chit-chat with someone in the lunchroom when you know you’ll be lowering the boom on them in the coming week? Any advice on how best to handle this role change is welcomed.

    1. BWooster*

      You just kind of get on with it. Yes, the feelings of other employees towards you will change. It will hurt and will drive you crazy if you don’t get used to it. There is no shame really in feeling these kinds of things deeply and to allow them to affect you. I work in tandem with a woman now who simply can not deliver negative news be it of discipline variety or termination. I’ve had to take that on because someone had to. I’m more or less fine with it but the woman I replaced couldn’t deal with it. It caused depression and unhappiness and she had to move or quit.

      1. Chris*

        As the person who has to make the decisions on hirings and layoffs, and inform people, I can tell you layoffs are without a question the worst thing I have to do. In my opinion, it should be. When you offer someone a job, you are committing to them that you will do your best to offer them stable employment, and a path to growth in their career (At least in my industry). When you take on that responsibility, you should never feel good about ending someone’s employment. If you do, you’re probably not the right person for the job.

        You absolutely have a responsibility to show people you have to inform the most respect and consideration you can, and to do it in person. In my role, I also remember that the decisions I have made, were made to provide the best outcome possible for the largest number of people, and that doesn’t always mean everyone gets the news they want. I also believe that there are few others who could do this function who would care as much about the team as I do, and therefore I am probably the best person for the job.

        And then you do it, and you let people see you are not happy about it, and you don’t treat it with one ounce less seriousness than it deserves, and if you can correct the reason it was necessary, you do that. If you can’t, you accept that it will likely happen again, and your job will still be to do it with dignity and respect.

    2. Graciosa*

      There isn’t a magic formula for this – you just have to do it. I wish there was something I could say that would make it easier.

      One thing I will point out is to be very wary of the desire to break the rules / give people a “heads up” about something coming / change your interactions / start avoiding people it would be hard to deal with. These impulses are generally rooted in the desire to make things easier on *yourself* rather than in concern for the other person. It is absolutely hard to know these things and never give even a hint of them. It is a burden to bear this knowledge.

      The result – hey, we’re human – is often that people rationalize to give themselves an excuse to put that burden down and the effect is that you’re actually just transferring it to someone else.

      The other person wonders why you’re not stopping to chat the way you used to, or hey, now they know they may be on “the list” but don’t know all the details of the package and timing (or worse, don’t really understand that these things change in a blink). We had one significant employment activity change drastically in the last hour before it was announced – it really isn’t over ’til it’s over.

      Don’t assume people will be mad at you for knowing and not showing it. Some will be mad, and some will be thankful you didn’t make it harder on them with advance knowledge or changing your interactions or letting them wonder if everyone else knew from how you behaved what was coming. This has everything to do with the individual affected – it is a matter of their reaction – and not you. You need to respect their responses – whatever they happen to be – without letting it tear you apart.

      And wow, is that hard to actually do.

      But you need to be professional *for them* and I assure you that this is usually harder on them than on you. You need to be strong enough to set aside your own pain in dealing with this in order to do what is best for them.

      It doesn’t ever get easy, but you do learn to deal with it by practicing. Best wishes.

      1. Margali*

        Thanks! I think I’ll definitely need to remember this, “One thing I will point out is to be very wary of the desire to break the rules / give people a “heads up” about something coming / change your interactions / start avoiding people it would be hard to deal with. These impulses are generally rooted in the desire to make things easier on *yourself* rather than in concern for the other person. It is absolutely hard to know these things and never give even a hint of them. It is a burden to bear this knowledge.”

  49. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    This is my first week at my new job, and the woman I’m replacing had her baby early so I’ve been thrown in the deep end all alone! It’s getting easier every day, but I can’t wait for the point where it’s no longer super awkward and I know everyone and I can just do my job instead of asking a million questions.

    And wow, hardcore impostor syndrome. I cannot BELIEVE they’re trusting me with all this! I can’t stop thinking they’re going to tell me they made a mistake and they need to hire someone more qualified!

    1. Good_Intentions*

      Former Diet Coke Addict:

      You worked so hard to secure this new position, and have been such an active and supportive member of the AAM community that I, a total stranger on the internet, have complete confidence in your ability.

      Besides, all new jobs have a bit of awkwardness while you’re learning the ropes and figuring out the office quirks. Please know they wouldn’t have hired you unless you were qualified and that you are up to the challenges of the position.

      Enjoy your weekend!

  50. Amber Rose*

    Ok, so now I have a separate story to share. Our rock radio station does prank calls on Fridays. Today they did something a little different. They called random people at random businesses and asked them to pretend to be a job reference. Most of them agreed! And then the station called them pretending to be the job, and they seriously awkwardly tried to promote this person they didn’t know at all.

    Not sure if this is touching, or disturbing. It was funny anyway.

    1. Sophia in the DMV (DC-MD-VA)*

      Most those radio bits are fake and are hired actors because of laws and recording without permission

      1. Mreasy*

        They get the permission afterwards, though – obviously not everyone will agree to use the recording, but there are legal ways to make it happen.

  51. BWooster*

    For two months I waited for my provisional offer to change to a formal offer. I’d get sporadic emails about needing to submit this and that but no update or hints about the timeline or anything. I emailed a few times asking for an update and got nothing.

    Finally I worked up the courage to just call and ask and had the most surreal conversation I’ve ever had. I was told that they had everything they needed and nothing further was required and oh by the way, am I aware that my starting date is first week of October? No I was not aware as I hadn’t heard from them in nearly a month! Well yeah, it is first week of October and it is quite rigid and they’re unable to push it back. And that is how I ended up going into work on the first day of my holiday to give my notice which will now have to be only a week and a half and not three or four weeks I’d hoped to give as my current employer has always been fantastic to me.

    That leaves me with three weeks to find a place organize a move to a city three hours away. Why is government hiring such a massive clusterfudge?

  52. Squeegee Beckenheim*

    So I have a highly irritating coworker who I deal with by playing anthropologist and making mental notes about weird stuff he does to report to friends and family. This week was the best week ever because I first found out that his sorta-girlfriend is a PET PSYCHIC, which was pretty great. And then I found out the next day that he’s taking classes to be a shaman. So if I ever get cursed at work, now I know who it will come from.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      Last night I watched the episode of Detectorists where Lance has to help out in Mags’ New Age shop. I’m imagining conversations like those.

      Just remember: quartz crystals give a mild feeling of paranoia…

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Well, it is true that black magic is one of many occupational hazards in the workplace today. But perhaps as a shaman, he will choose to do white magic.

    3. Bad Candidate*

      Don’t knock it. I think it was Seth Green who said he was having a problem with his cat peeing outside the litterbox at night. They took her to vets, vet specialists, vet behaviorists, no one could say what was wrong. At the end of his rope (and his GF or wife, not sure which) they contacted a pet psychic who told them that the aging cat’s vision was going, and she had problems at night getting around the house because she couldn’t see. They put up some night lights, and the cat stopped peeing outside the litterbox.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I find it bizarre that the VETS didn’t notice her vision might be going. That doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you’d need a psychic for.

        1. Bad Candidate*

          I had the same thought, but that was his story. Still. There’s good and bad at each job out there. I’ve had really good vets and I’ve had vets that I wouldn’t trust to be able to figure out how to check my pets heart rate.

          1. Jersey's Mom*

            I always remind friends that hey – your doctor/specialist/vet could be the guy/gal who graduated dead last in their class.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I was at a health and wellness expo, which had everything from people selling artisanal soaps to pet psychics. Someone was giving away free readings, so I thought why not? My one cat is terrified of The Crate. He won’t even go in boxes (actually neither of them do). When I say terrified, I mean close all the doors, limit his access to hiding places, chase him around the house for 30 minutes until we’re both tired and sweaty terrified of The Crate. I’ve left it out for him to explore (and he will go in it, until he sees me then he runs out of it), I’ve sprayed it with Feliway and catnip. I’ve put in one of my shirts. No dice. When he gets put into The Crate (which is a size for a medium dog, it’s huge for a cat), he gets so stressed he has seizures and vomits when he’s not yowling. The ceasing of crying is usually a sign that he’s seizing and puking. Anyway, the pet psychic said (she needed to look at a photo) that he associates The Crate with death, that he saw litter mates or other cats going into The Crate and never coming back. That was something I hadn’t thought before, that he could have held a memory of being a kitten and seeing that — I found him as a dumpee when he was about 5 months old (it took almost two months to catch him because The Crate).

        I think I have to try putting my other cat in her crate (which is a normal cat-sized one) and take her outside, then bring her back inside and let her go for a week or two. She’d go off with the Devil himself if he was carrying a bag of Temptations, she has no problem getting into her crate. Maybe if he sees her going in, leaving and then coming back several times, he’ll feel more secure.

        1. Jersey's Mom*

          I’m firmly convinced that domestic animals can form weird connections between objects. One of my dogs, which we’ve had since she was a pup, is fine with rolled up magazines being used to swat bugs. Doesn’t flinch. In fact, may try to get the bug after it’s been swatted. Pull out a .99 cent plastic flyswatter from Costco, and she goes into a full-blown panicky guilt frenzy. Once the flyswatter is put away, it’ll take 5 minutes of constant reassurance petting to calm her down. We’ve never hit her with a flyswatter (or a rolled up magazine), the flyswatter has never fallen on her, she’s never been ‘threatened’ with the flyswatter.

          We just call it the mystery of the flyswatter. Now when she’s sometimes going bonkers (she’s an austrailian shepherd) we tell her “we’re getting the flyswatter out” to calm her down. And it works. Sometimes their brains just work in bizarre ways.

    4. Squeegee Beckenheim*

      Also, I should note we’re both engineers, which is not a profession I usually associate with any kind of belief in the supernatural.

    5. Anon0909*

      The irritating and annoying I can empathize with, but I guess I’m not so quick to knock other people’s belief systems, and I don’t really like the idea of making fun of them for them. I don’t think it’s far fetched to consider or to believe connections to things we can’t explain in our world. I understand as a scientist that’s not how your mind works, perhaps.

      But a large percentage of the world does believe in an afterlife in some form or another and/or a greater being, so believing in connections that we dont understand, imo, isn’t that far off. Just because we can’t see it.

      This isn’t meant to be a discussion on religion/beliefs/etc, just in that, I don’t really like the idea of making a joke out of people for having a belief system different from my own or what is considered “typical.”

  53. Rebecca*

    Open thread! I’m on vacation from work this week, and have spent as much time outside as humanly possible! I rode my bike, went hiking, walked a lot, and just relaxed. I watched zero TV. It’s so wonderful not having a schedule, and seeing/breathing/experiencing the outside. I’ve been trapped in a windowless office for 14 years and I just hate it. To make matters worse, my manager told me that we would be moving offices around, and I would be moved to an larger office space, with windows, to share with 2 other coworkers. I looked forward to the move for 6 months, then when I asked about it, she said plans had changed, and no one is moving. Sighs. I’m not really surprised.

    I may need someone to physically pry me out of bed Monday morning and force me to go back to work :)

  54. JMegan*

    Calling brightstar, and anyone else in records and information management! I’m thinking about studying for some kind of certification in the field – likely the CIPP (Certified Information and Privacy Professional), but the ICRM and CIP are both possibilities as well.

    For context, I have a rapidly-aging Masters degree from 2000, and I’ve been working in the filed since then. RIM work until about 2014, and mostly Privacy since then. So I’m wondering if the credentials would actually be likely to enhance my career at this point? Or at least, would I learn anything from studying for them (versus is it mostly entry-level content, that I probably already know after doing it for sixteen years?)

    Also, obviously there’s a difference between the CIPP and the other two, but is there a significant difference between the ICRM and the CIP? Do employers generally prefer one over the other, or are they about the same from an outsider’s perspective?

    Any thoughts, experiences, etc are welcome…thanks!

    1. brightstar*

      I can only speak to what I saw while I looked for a Records Manager position (which was from 2010-2014). I didn’t see a lot of requests for CIP certification, but the ICRM certification was more prevalent as in if certification was mentioned, the CRM was the one mentioned. But I work in more traditional RIM and not privacy.

      My specific plan for myself is to get the CRM (my job pays for it and I will get a pay increase upon acquisition of certification, which you think would mean I study more than I currently am) and a CDIA + certification. The technology portion of the CRM is, I understand, notorious and it was recommended by several CRM’s that I know. The CDIA + book is about $40 on Amazon and the test itself is under $300. To get the CRM, the cost is close to $1,000.

      Are you planning on staying in more of a privacy role? I think that will determine which certification is better for you.

      1. JMegan*

        The CIP is pretty new – I’m not even sure it was available in 2010, so that might be why you didn’t see it at the time! My impression is that the CIP is more broad-based (information management in general) than the CRM (records management in particular.) And the CIPP of course is specific rather than general as well.

        Lots to think about – thanks for your help!

    2. Damn It Hardison!*

      Fellow RIM professional here! Another certification is the IGP (Information Governance Professional), sponsored by ARMA. A industry group that I belong to did a survey last year of members, asking which certifications did members have, look for when hiring, etc. There was just barely consensus that the IGP was more helpful than the CRM, mainly because the IGP was broader and more up-to-date. I have a CRM and would agree that the IGP is more current (esp. about technology).

      I honestly haven’t seen all that much about the CIP – and I get AIIM emails all of the time. I don’t get the sense that it has caught on. There’s been talk that AIIM is becoming less and less relevant, so that might be an indication of its value.

      In terms of employers, it really depends on how much a RIM/IG professional has been involved in drafting the job description and qualifications. I’ve seen entry-level jobs that ask for the CRM, which is a dead giveaway that someone doesn’t know what they are asking for. I see CRM more in job descriptions than the IGP, but generally as a nice-to-have not a requirements. For now I think the CRM is still more recognizable but I think the IGP will catch on.

      1. brightstar*

        I’ve been curious about the IGP, but don’t know a lot about it. I thought I was just out of date not seeing much about the CIP. Is it something you’re considering getting?

      2. JMegan*

        Oh, I will look into that one as well. Thanks!

        And don’t even get me started on job descriptions that were written by someone with no actual knowledge of the job. The worst I’ve seen is a “start from nothing, give us records management!” type deal, CRM preferred, for $30K. Reporting to an EA. Ummmm….yeah. No. But thanks for putting all that in the job ad, so I can screen myself out ahead of time!

  55. Abby Don't Read this! (or do, it's your choice)*

    So I just need to vent and see how common this is in other workplaces.

    I’ll start off by saying I am salaried and get no OT. But when I joined, I signed a paper (sort of a contract?) that said my set hours are M-F 8am-5pm with 1hr for lunch. There was no talk of working earlier hours or travel, it was supposed to be all hours strictly at the corporate office location. (And recently they’ve been forcing more and more travel on me because I live alone and am not married so I don’t have “reasons” I wouldn’t travel… But that’s another post.)

    So yesterday, I had to arrive and start work by 5:25am. I am a manager who has employees in the field, and I was told that I should ride one day with them to get a better perspective on what they do. Fair enough, and I understand why that was asked of me. But it was asked of me on Tuesday to rearrange the field operator’s schedule and mine to make this happen. Short notice, which was annoying but it happens.

    But when I returned to the office (around 2pm, an 8 hour day in the field), my Director told me that I had to stay until 5pm because “your contracted hours are until 5pm and under no circumstances are you allowed to leave earlier.” I had work I needed to do, but it grated that I was singled out to be told that specifically. There are two other managers in my department who also have done the same thing in the past two weeks, but were allowed to leave as soon as their ride-along was over! I honestly can’t comprehend why we aren’t being held to the same standards in this matter.

    Should I have pushed back? Should I just let it go? Does this happen often in other places?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Does this happen often in other places?

      Unfortunately, yes, based on what I’ve read on this website. That’s kind of a crappy thing to do to make you start work at 5:25am (almost three hours earlier than you would have) and then make you stay until 5pm, as if you’d started at 8am.

      my Director told me that I had to stay until 5pm because “your contracted hours are until 5pm and under no circumstances are you allowed to leave earlier.”

      Unfortunately, responding to this properly would get your director upset at you for no good reason, but this makes no sense. Your contracted hours are until 5pm, but your contracted hours also start at 8am, not 5:25am.

      Technically, it’s not illegal, but it’s super horrible.

      1. KatieKate*

        I think after the new laws kick in it will be illegal to not pay her overtime for this, depending on her salary though. Not sure what the laws are right now.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Are you sure? It sounds as if Abby Don’t Read this! (or do, it’s your choice) is an exempt employee. How do exempt employees earn overtime with the new laws?

          1. KatieKate*

            Not sure at all. But I think the exempt/non exempt laws are bypassed by salary levels? But “Abby”‘s situation is strange. How can you be both salaried/exempt and have contracted hours?

            1. Karo*

              A lot of organizations use “salary exempt” to mean “you’re expected to work overtime without getting paid.” They don’t actually offer the flexibility a salaried exempt position is supposed to have. If I have to go to a tradeshow that starts Saturday, I’m expected to do that on my own time. But if I have to leave early for an appointment I have to make it up (and pointing out that I gifted the company 20 hours last month doesn’t count).

              1. Abby Don't Read this! (or do, it's your choice)*

                Exactly! I commonly work 50+ hour weeks, and for the new law on Dec. 1, they will have to raise my salary to meet the minimum. I even do a lot of driving for the company (but I pushed to be reimbursed for that which legally they have to do here) on my days off.

          2. Karo*

            They’re changing the exempt salary threshold by a LOT of money – Come December 1 it’ll be 47,000 (ish) instead of the 23,000 (ish) it currently is. So if she’s making in the 23-47 range, she legally can’t be exempt anymore.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              But if she’s making $48,000, it won’t matter how many hours she works—she won’t be paid overtime.

                1. Abby Don't Read this! (or do, it's your choice)*

                  The raise wouldn’t be substantial, so it would be very little savings while I searched. I’m going to start editing my resume again this weekend and decide what to do after my review (November 2nd(ish)). Most likely, I will apply elsewhere because I want to move and I do want to work in a different industry (slightly).

        2. Abby Don't Read this! (or do, it's your choice)*

          Laws in my area currently make me exempt, and I am honestly not sure in December what the company will do in terms of compensation (raise the salary to match the law or grant OT at current salary). I’m hoping for the raise, but then I’d still get dragged into situations like this and not be compensated for OT, so…

    2. Pwyll*

      Perhaps it may be helpful in a week or so to sit down with your manager to ask about this.

      “As you know, my contracted hours are from 8 to 5, but in order to go out in the field with employees as you’ve directed, I would need to start working at 5:30 am. How should we handle that moving forward?” If he pushes back by saying you’re exempt, perhaps add:

      “I’m happy to rearrange my work schedule as needed to get the job done by working early or staying late as necessary, but I don’t want to go against our contract, which says I’m not supposed to start until 8. Perhaps we should revisit the contract in light of the field reviews?”

      It’s perfectly legal what they’re doing, but you may be able to get some leverage by pointing out rigid adherence to the end time but not the beginning is just as much a violation of the agreement as leaving early might be. But I’d frame the entire discussion as ‘You’ve asked me to do additional things so how should we handle my documentation’ as opposed to an argument about numbers of hours.

    3. Wee Raspberry*

      Contracts are supposed to protect both parties, and if “under no circumstances are you supposed to leave earlier” than it can be argued that “under no circumstances should you be required to start earlier.” It’s pretty unreasonable, and worth talking to your boss about, I think.

      1. Abby Don't Read this! (or do, it's your choice)*

        I will try, but the weird thing is HR said it as well. So HR and my boss are in agreement about this particular issue, which means that I can’t get assistance from HR if I need it.

          1. Abby Don't Read this! (or do, it's your choice)*

            That’s just my luck. If you can believe it, this place is about 1000x better than the last place I worked.

  56. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Had a job interview this week… for a job that doesn’t exist yet, but I think it went well! Several of the local agencies here are looking to expand their offerings and they need someone with my background and skills. I met with 5 people in a 2-hour window and got to know a lot about the company, the culture, etc. But I realize I didn’t learn much– or ask much– about the day-to-day. Things like hours and schedules and overtime and even benefits. I’m hoping they ask me back so I can clear that up. We also haven’t discussed money at all, and ordinarily that wouldn’t bother me, but the other agency I’m talking to asked about it upfront– I don’t want to go down an enthusiastic path and find out the salary doesn’t work for me. Red flag? Or simply something that they’re trying to figure out too?

    But all in all, it was a pretty good experience. All five people responded to my follow-up messages, which was nice of them. And I just had a conversation with someone at another agency about freelance work. Onward!

    1. SeekingBetter*

      Good luck! Usually, most organizations will have a second interview for candidates, and that’s when you can ask about day-to-day or benefits and any other questions you may have. Assuming this was a first interview. That’s great to hear that all of your interviewers followed up with you!

  57. Anon13*

    Those of you who have successfully transitioned from administrative work to non-administrative work, how did you do it? Of course, admin work is important, often difficult, and crucial to the success of any organization, so I’m not knocking it, but I am not suited to it at all. I neither enjoy nor excel at it, but have had a difficult time even securing an interview to do anything else. I’ve talked up my transferable skills in my cover letters and have highlighted my accomplishments on my resume, but I’m not getting much traction. I currently work for a small organization, so there’s no room to move up or move to a different department. Compounding things, when I’ve interviewed for administrative roles at larger organizations, they seem to want someone who is looking to do this type of work for his or her entire career. I’m guessing that’s because they are higher-level administrative positions. I can’t even get interviews for lower-level administrative positions, probably because I have too much experience and the organizations assume I’ll be looking to leave soon. This is my long-winded way of asking for advice, personal anecdotes, or encouragement! I know this topic has been covered here before, but I’m always looking for extra words or wisdom. Thanks!

    1. Manders*

      I had a lot of free time during a slow period at my last job and I volunteered to do some marketing projects. I also did some marketing for my partner’s side gig. Then, I seriously lucked out and found an entry-level marketing position at a small company in the same very niche industry, so I could show that I was coming in with some industry knowledge that other applicants didn’t have.

      I had been sending out applications on and off for about six months, and turned down one previous job offer because the company had bad Glassdoor reviews and was proposing something not-strictly-legal with making me a 1099 contractor. So I did have to kiss a whole lot of frogs.

      The awesome thing about working for a small company is that you can have the opportunity to try on a lot of hats, see which fits the best, and get some career experience that way. The lousy thing is that there’s rarely room to move up or into another department.

      1. Anon13*

        Thank you for your story. Your last paragraph rings true – I am the only non-attorney at a small law firm, so I am responsible for work across a variety of areas. For about 9 months, maybe a little longer, I’ve been working on some marketing-related projects, so I think I’ll go back over my resume and make sure those are highlighted.

        1. Manders*

          Hey, I’m currently working in marketing at a law firm! Legal marketing is a hot field right now, I bet your experience could give you a leg up if that’s a field you want to stay in.

          1. Anon13*

            Sorry for the delayed response – I have been looking quite a bit at marketing in general, but maybe it makes sense to focus it a little more. I’m glad to know the field is hot at the moment!

    2. Mature Intern*

      I had the same problem, so I looked at what I wanted to do long-term and took a direct stab at that industry. My problem right now is starting from the bottom-up all over again, and it’s hard to break past the student/intern barrier into full-time worker. I suspect contract and temporary positions are the next hurdle.

      Some people manage to slide in somewhere laterally even without direct experience, but I realized I needed actual training for what I wanted to do. So I started with an evening course and then branched out to join committees, workshops, and seek out professional mentors and connections.

      Good luck to you!

      1. Anon13*

        Thanks for the encouragement! I don’t mind starting a few steps down from where I am now, but would prefer not to have to start completely over as an intern (and, frankly, since I’m single and have a mortgage, car payment, etc., I’m not sure I can afford to). Hopefully I can figure out a way to translate at least some of my experience, so I can start with the jobs that require, say 2-3 years of experience.

    3. EA*

      +1/a million

      I am going through this as well. I am an EA who wants to go into project management. This is what I am doing.
      – Making my resume- Executive Assistant- Project Management Office (I do work in it and took this job specifically to get that experience). Then listing all PM duties and only one line for Admin duties. Also, I made sure not to put the title in bold because I do not want to draw attention to it.
      -Cajoling/begging my bosses to give me more project management duties. I have gotten some and I need more. I have been here almost a year so it will be a big part of my annual review.
      -Used my tuition reimbursement to take a PM class at a local university.
      -Took training held at my employer in Lean Six Sigma
      Basically, I am trying to tailor my resume very specially to the job I want. I want it to say “Look how much she has done to try and be a PM”. I am not applying for new jobs for another year, but this is the game plan. TBH, I am super nervous about it working, I have several unsupportive people in my life that like to say I am just an assistant and that there is a stigma associated with my job.

      I would say tailor your resume as much as you can, have a goal job, and ask your boss if there is ANYTHING she can give you to help you get to your goal, if you have that kind of relationship. If all fails after some time, I would consider making a lateral move, to a larger organization and specifically screening for growth, it can be hard, but I found jobs that were willing. Good luck, I know its isnt a situation that feels great all the time.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Some people do see a stigma with admin roles, but those are people who haven’t worked with rockstar admins. I know many assistants who can step in and cover manager’s positions, run projects, and handle major initiatives.

        1. EA*

          Yes. They think that it isn’t even worth it for me to try to transition because it will never work. I tend to think some people will look down on me and others won’t, and it only takes one to get a better job. Also, like, what is the alternative? Wallowing in a job I don’t like?

          I will say to the OP, the process has been disheartening, but I have met and found examples of people who it worked for. In the AAM community and in real life. So it can be done.

          1. Temperance*

            My own family thought I should be a secretary, too. My mother was devastated when I decided to become an attorney, because I thought I was “better than” other women. Uh, no.

            It will work. Some people might judge you, but others won’t. Especially since you’re doing a lot of PM work.

      2. Anon13*

        Thanks for the encouragement and good luck to you, as well! I’ve tried to tailor my resume as best I can, but I’m going to really go over it with a fine-toothed comb. My boss travels a ton and I’d prefer to talk to him in person, but I’m going to put some time for us to meet on his calendar when he returns. It’s a small operation, so there’s no room in the budget for him to pay for expensive courses, but I’m sure he’d be more than willing to give me some time off work to take some.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I thought that all I would ever do was be an administrative assistant. One of my jobs was very data/financial heavy and I had no resources to help me so I had to teach myself advanced Excel and a lot of database skills. I moved to another company as an administrative assistant and they picked up on the data skills and before long I was a Data Analyst. I was given all the training I needed to expand the role.
      There isn’t much advise in that story, but admin work does give you exposure to all sorts of skills. If you are dependable, then your company can trust you to pick up other tasks like billing, marketing, or data. If one of those is interesting, you can leverage your resume with a few classes.

      1. Anon13*

        My current job is actually somewhat financial heavy, as well, but it’s probably one of my least favorite aspects of it! Thank you for letting me know what worked for you, though. Hopefully I can take one of the other aspects of my current job (marketing, PR, etc.) and learn to really shine in that area.

  58. TMA*

    I have been in my current job for a little over two years. I love the organization and want to work here long term (great pay, great benefits, great coworkers). However, the work that I am currently doing is not what I want to be doing forever. It is not what my degree is in, and I honestly, just don’t really like it.

    I recently applied for another job here that is more closely aligned with what I want to do long term + it is what my degree is in. I haven’t heard anything in about 3+ weeks, and I think it is unlikely that I will even get an interview. I really think it is a lack of related job experience.

    A job outside of my employer has opened up and it is closer to what I want to be doing long term. I think I’m going to apply for it. But then what? What if I get it? I want to work at my current employer indefinitely, but I don’t like the current work I’m doing, and I think it is unlikely for me to get a job at Current Employer that is closer to my degree and long term goals because I don’t have as much related job experience that they are looking for (and I’m not going to get it in my current role).

    So what to do? Make the jump outside of my employer to get needed experience to get ultimate job at Current Employer? Or just stay put and hope that I’ll eventually get my ideal job at Current Employer?

    1. Anon13*

      I would apply outside of your current employer and, during the interview process, make sure you really screen for culture (in addition to making sure the actual position is a good fit). It’s tough to do, but there are always little clues regarding what the culture is like. You can directly ask some questions about it, too! Good luck.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I second this. I get not wanting to leave if you really like it there, but not liking what you’re doing isn’t going to get any better, and Current Employer may never have what you want.

  59. Tick Tick*

    I live in the UK. I am 5 months through a 6 month probation period at my new job.

    My boss at my catchup mentioned that he would be considering my mental health (I missed 3 days week for mental healh reasons) and the fact that I have a heart condition (which he learned from my new start occ health review where they checked my desk over to make sure everything was fine. I haven’t missed any work because of it and do a great job managing both. He said they were concerning and that he would take them heavily into account when deciding if he will keep me after probation. Hes happy with the quality of my work but he has to look at the longterm of the company. Is this legal? Can he extend or fail my probation because of my health? Especially for something that has had very little impact on my work at all? If occupational health hadn’t put it on my paperwork he wouldn’t even know I have a heart condition. So how can that be grounds for me losing my role??

      1. Ange*

        If you are in a union this is the kind of thing your union rep should be able to help with. My understanding is that they shouldn’t be able to take health issues into account especially if you qualify for protection under the Equality Act (and particularly one that hasn’t had any effect on your work/attendance) but IANAL. However I was refused one promotion due to health issues so just because they shouldn’t do it doesn’t mean they don’t.

    1. Key to the West*

      Assuming they (either your mental health or heart condition) are counted as a disability then yes, definitely illegal under the Disability Act (where you have to make all accommodations for a person – I thought it was reasonable accommodations but recently found out it’s ALL).

      Perhaps contact Citizens Advice and/or research the Disability Act and email your manager detailing the legal requirements.

      1. Tau*

        Assuming they (either your mental health or heart condition) are counted as a disability then yes, definitely illegal under the Disability Act

        As far as I know, the Equality Act also covers discrimination due to perceived disability, which may be worth looking into; there may be an argument to be made that even if the conditions don’t qualify as disabilities, the way the boss is reacting to them makes it clear that he perceives them as sufficiently severe to qualify and is discriminating based on that. This isn’t to say they wouldn’t be considered disabilities – I’ve found the definition of disability under the EA is wider than a lot of people seem to think – but covering all bases here.

        Disclaimer once again that I am in no way, shape or form a lawyer, just someone who’s done a bit of research in the past.

    2. Tau*

      IANAL but I am a disabled person working in the UK and have tried to inform myself a bit. As far as I’m aware, the law that most likely applies here is the Equality Act 2010 , and you may want to read up on it – there’s pretty nice guidance available on the government website. On the face of it it sounds pretty damn illegal to me.

  60. Xtra Anon Today*

    Glad to be able to hop on here early just as I have a question pop up.

    Background: I’m heading out on maternity leave soon, yay! I absolutely love my job and my team, but my commute is terrible and I will probably want to move on to an organization closer to my home by next summer. I’ve thought about transitioning sooner (because of some unexpected turmoil at current job), but I ultimately decided to see what life looked like after I got back.

    Situation: A recruited contacted me about EXACTLY the job I’d want at EXACTLY the organization I would target closer to my home. He sent me the job description and I sent him my resume, but I had a few questions before he passed me along to the organization, including what the timeline for hiring would be. It sounded not too urgent, so I explained my situation and that I wouldn’t be willing to move to a new employer until January. He responded that I should get back in touch with him when I’m “ready to return to work”. It felt very abrupt, but I guess I don’t know what I should’ve expected.

    Question: Should I not have been so upfront about my timeline and situation? Would it have been better to have a few conversations and then to explain the timing thing?
    I know that a company can’t not hire you because you’re pregnant, but I assume they can not hire you because you want a start date in 4 months due to a pregnancy, right?

    1. JHS*

      No I think it was good you were up front. The recruiter sounds a little bit like a jerk if he was abrupt about it. You could have gone through the process with the new job, but if you really weren’t ready to move on until January, then it was probably smart not to so you don’t have to turn it down then burn a bridge. I think there is a big bias about maternity leave and people deciding not to go back to work at all. I’m sure that’s what the recruiter was thinking about. When I came back to work after maternity leave, my (female!) boss said “Oh I was so worried you would quit! Glad you’re back!” It’s like–yeah who is going to pay my mortgage in the fantasy world where I don’t have to work? It’s an old fashioned thinking that has not gone away.

      1. Xtra Anon Today*

        This is such a big pet peeve of mine. I just wish people would believe me when I tell them that I’ve made a decision, and I AM COMING BACK.

        1. neverjaunty*

          You’d think it would dawn on them that one sure way to make sure women don’t come back after maternity leave is to loudly signal that you believe them to be unreliable and dishonest.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Or suddenly won the lottery–there are plenty of parents who can’t afford to stay at home. I remember a coworker at an old job coming back after mat leave and someone said, “I thought you’d want to stay home,” and she was like, “Not if we want to eat!”

            1. New Bee*

              Every time my husband calls his 95-year-old grandmother she asks if I’m still working and is so surprised to hear that yes, living in one of the most expensive cities in the country on what we makes means I’m not taking a day until this kid’s born.

    2. orchidsandtea*

      I’m not sure about the legal side. I am also pregnant and jobhunting, but my timeline is different. I’m hoping to start now, take maternity leave (unpaid and with risk of getting fired, since FMLA wouldn’t apply), and then go back.

      I decided to reveal it after receiving an offer, but if you’re visibly pregnant, that probably doesn’t work. It might get better outcomes if you’ve had a few conversations with them so they know you’re awesome and they’re invested in you, but proving pregnancy discrimination is hard unless they’re blatant about it.

      Also, congrats on both the pregnancy and being recruited about a great role!

      1. Xtra Anon Today*

        yeah, at 9 months, it’s pretty obvious… :)

        Congrats to you on your pregnancy! Hope the job hunt goes well!

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      I think the recruiter’s response is normal, especially if it’s an outside recruiter. It’s like Freakonomics and real estate agents: The recruiter has an interest in “flipping” the job opportunity ASAP so he can take the commission and move on to the next one.

      So, once he found out that you can’t start working for a new company right away, or close to it, he decided to move to the next name on his list. Maybe it’s not nice, but it’s not rude either IMO.

      1. Xtra Anon Today*

        That definitely makes sense. With that perspective, would it have been better for me to move forward with conversations regarding the job and address the timeline more directly with the company once he had forwarded along my information? (Just thinking what to do differently for next time)

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Hmm, maybe? The organization may be more likely to see/treat you as a human that they may be working with, rather than just a revenue generator.

    4. New Bee*

      Oh my goodness, are we the same person? O_o

      Seriously, I could’ve written this post nearly word-for-word–I was honest about the timeline, and the hiring manager didn’t have a problem with it; he said, “Let’s keep in touch because the position may still be open when you get back.” To be fair, I know him personally, but I think you did the right thing–the recruiter responded kind of rudely, but saying something later might’ve been awkward, especially if the timeline took long enough that you were home with a newborn by the time they got back to you. Good luck in this hone stretch!

  61. Wee Raspberry*

    I’m about 7 weeks pregnant (had my first doctor’s appointment this week) and not ready to tell anyone at work yet. However, I’m having a really hard time with morning sickness. I feel vaguely queasy all day long, and while I’m not throwing up, I am occasionally having difficulties with the other end of things. It’s been two weeks of this so far. (I was out a few days last week on vacation.)

    I did tell my boss that I wasn’t feeling well and worked from home one day, which is thankfully easy done for my job and he was cool with it. But I don’t know how to navigate this going forward. I really don’t feel well, but I don’t want to take sick time all of the time, and I don’t think I can work from home all of the time. (I’ve been here a little over a year and, from what I can see, it’s generally cool if you have a reason to work from home, but most people don’t seem to do it regularly.) Obviously I’ll be taking sick time for my doctor’s appointments from here on out, since that’s what the sick time is there for, but I’m not sure how to handle feeling sick on a pretty regular basis.

    Any advice appreciated.

    1. JHS*

      This is one of those ridiculous situations that we all go through. Being pregnant is so hard and especially in the first few months when you feel the worst but can’t tell anyone! I told my boss when I was 5 weeks pregnant for this very reason and because I was a high risk pregnancy, but I asked her to keep it confidential until I was ready to share more broadly. If you feel comfortable telling your boss and asking her to keep it confidential, you could do that. Otherwise, you can just treat it as if you were not feeling well and wait another month until you get through the morning sickness phase (hopefully!). Congratulations!

    2. Janelle*

      For me, pregnancy = hyperemesis. I was violently ill for all my pregnancies. With each pregnancy, it set in earlier and earlier. (By the fourth, I POS the first day of my missed period and started vomiting that afternoon. This led my husband to make an ill-advised joke about it being a psychosomatic thing. Which: no.)

      My first pregnancy was the only one that went to term, unfortunately. I was sick as a dog the entire pregnancy. I had to come out to my co-workers at 8-9 weeks. There was no way around it because I had my head in a garbage can several times a day. It just wasn’t something I could pass off. I think I spent a total of three days in the office during one month because I was so very, very sick the rest of the time.

      All this to say: if you’re sick, you’re sick. Take the time if you need it and can afford to do so. I was fortunate enough that I could take as many days as I needed, and I am aware that it may have looked like I was taking tremendous advantage of that fact.

      Congratulations on the pregnancy, and I hope your morning sickness passes soon.

      1. Wee Raspberry*

        Oh man. I’m sorry you went through that. I had a coworker who had the same thing. She was awfully sick the whole time and was out a ton. (For the record, I never thought she was taking advantage of the leave policy and I don’t think any reasonable person would think so.)

    3. Graciosa*

      Figure out what you need, and then ask for it.

      As a manager, I would not have any issue with your working from home more often. I don’t even care if you don’t tell me exactly why – you could refer to a “medical situation” that is making you nauseous and which your doctor estimates to run for another X amount of time. You could even drop the nausea part of the speech.

      I do care – because my job is to make sure my employees can be as productive as possible – if you suffer in silence because you’re afraid to say anything.

    4. Xtra Anon Today*

      First, congrats! and Second, I’m sorry you feel so crummy. I hope it does get better. I too felt fairly nauseous for most of my first trimester but never actually got sick – thank goodness!

      As for how to deal with it at work, I’m sure you’re doing some of this, but try a few of the tips for feeling less nauseous. There are some good hard candies that helped me. Also, keeping hydrated.

      I was NOT going to be ready to tell my boss until after 12 weeks and once I had a plan for some of the specifics worked out. She was going to have a Million questions, and I wanted to be able to answer at least some of them.

      If you’re not ready to tell even your boss, then do your best to minimize the impact your symptoms have on your work and do your best to survive it. Likely you’ll feel better in about 6 weeks, so just take it a week at a time. GOOD LUCK!

      1. Wee Raspberry*

        Thanks! My doctor just recommended vitamin B6 this week but of course no place carries it in the mg that she recommended, so my husband ordered it online and I’m waiting for it to come. I have some ginger pills, and I’ve been eating saltines in the morning, but I’m still feeling pretty rough.

        1. Tandar*

          If they have them in your area, try Preggie Pop Drops. They were the best thing for my nausea. Unfortunately I never found much to help with the other end other than just waiting until it got better.

    5. Wee Raspberry*

      Thanks for the advice everyone. Maybe I’ll have a think on it over the weekend about whether or not I should tell my boss. We have a good relationship, somewhat friendly, but not close, so I do feel a bit awkward telling him, especially when so few people know at this early stage.

    6. Med suggestion*

      Has your doctor talked about medication? My OB gave me a prescription for an anti-nausea med at my first appointment. I told him I hadn’t gotten morning sickness yet but I generally get nauseated easily. It’s worked nicely so far, and I do notice when I miss a dose.

      It was kind of expensive ($40 for a bottle of 100 with my insurance, I know that doesn’t mean much with all the different insurance types) but definitely worth it to not miss work.

      Link with specific drug’s wiki page to follow

        1. Wee Raspberry*

          Thanks. The only thing the doctor recommended was vitamin b6, which is making me kind of sleepy when I take it.

  62. Lolly Scramble*

    I have been reading Alison’s book and am keen to follow her advice on trying to make the job search more of a two way process, rather than approaching it as one sided (I need a job and I’ll do anything to get one). However the truth is that I need a new job and I WILL do anything to get one. Anyone have any advice on how to try to remove the neediness from your job search when it is real. I am currently saving up to quit my job in the hope I’ll be able to job search better if interviews aren’t my only hope of getting out of my current job which is rife with gaslighting, but I am worried this will just make me desperate in a different way (I need to get a job before the money runs out).

  63. chocolate lover*

    Our admin is driving me nuts. This is not new, she drives literally everyone in the office nuts. I was warned about her before even applying to the job. She does very little work anyway, is generally annoying and sometimes outright rude to our students not to mention the other staff/faculty. Some of the things she’s said are completely out of line and I don’t understand why she hasn’t been fired (this is universally agreed upon.) She has this way of being superficially nice, in a syrupy kind of way, at least, until she’s not! And she likes to act like a martyr sometimes.

    This morning s he messaged me to tell me my appt was here. Great, no problem, that’s part of her role. Except she messaged me twice in 3 minutes, because I didn’t acknowledge her fast enough. Frankly, I find it a waste of time to acknowledge it, when appt time comes, I’ll just walk out there. So I said I know, thanks, I’ll be out in a few minutes, she got huffy about how she was just trying to be helpful. But 2 messages in 3 minutes just interrupts what I’m trying to finish before my appointment.

    The other day she asked me for some information, which I hadn’t been able to give her yet, because I was waiting on some one else to give me part of the information. This was after 3 pm, and she said she’d come back in a little while. I said I wasn’t going to have it today, because I was waiting for information. She stood there with hands on her hips and said WELL I NEED IT TODAY. So I looked back at her sand WELL I’M NOT GOING TO HAVE IT TODAY. She then tried to whine to my boss about it, but he knew why I didn’t have it, and I had talked to him. He just rolls his eyes and says to ignore her.

    These aren’t her most obnoxious moments by any means (some of them are laughable, some are ridiculous, all are irritating), it’s just particularly irritating this week because we just kicked into high gear and everyone is busy and I’ve had to interact with her more than I prefer to.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Okay, I get the frustration, but you need to acknowledge the message.

      That’s how she knows you’ve gotten it and she doesn’t need to be tracking you down elsewhere so this guy isn’t sitting there in the lobby (front reception, whatever) for the next half hour.

      I’m sure she’s really annoying about lots of stuff – but you’re in the wrong on the “waste of time to acknowledge the message”. That’s disrespecting her and her job. The three minutes you’re trying to spend finishing what you need to do on your end becomes 3 minutes for her that she has to actively be paying attention and trying to figure out if you’re there, you saw the message, etc. A 2 sec message “okay, bts” will solve at least that portion of the problem and keep your side of the street clean to boot.

      1. chocolate lover*

        I can see that. Without a doubt, I’m in the BEC mode with her in general. In today’s case, I was actually finishing something with another student in front of me, and not looking at the computer when the first message came through, so I don’t think it’s always reasonable to expect a super quick answer (such as in 3 minutes.) I’m not going to disrespect the student in front of me by turning my attention to something else.

        I’m also used to an office that trusted us to do what we were supposed to, when we were supposed to – they messaged us once, and expected us to show up. I didn’t even have to think about answering the admin. I do respect the admin job, but admittedly, not her. I need to work harder at controlling my irritation with her personally.

      1. chocolate lover*

        She’s at her best when making racist comments to our students. Or making our student workers cry (she’s not allowed to supervise them anymore.)

    2. Hermione*

      Having been an admin/receptionist, I agree with animaniactoo: you need to respond when someone’s waiting in front of her to meet with you. A simple “Ok, be out in 5!” changes the guest from her responsibility to yours – she’s done her part and she knows you know to come out. 3 minutes can be a lifetime with a guest in front of you, and you’re making her look ineffective and feel helpless unnecessarily.

      I commiserate with you on the second point though – I can’t imagine loudly saying that I NEED IT TODAY in a work setting short of me becoming a neurosurgeon or literal-bomb diffuser or something.

      1. zora.dee*

        I get what folks are saying, but I’ve literally had the job of the admin, and 3 minutes is not unreasonable for her to wait. What you do is say, “great, have a seat, I’ll let Chocolate Lover know you are here and she will be out to get you.” Then you send the IM.

        I did not need to sit there anxiously waiting for a response. It was not their appointment time yet, they can wait for 5 minutes. Or even if it is there appointment time, they can still wait for 5 minutes, as the person at reception it’s not my job to manage the waiter’s emotions for them.

        Maybe in some offices an immediate response as you all laid out above is normal, but I’ve worked in offices where Chocolate Lover’s system is normal. So, I think it is on the admin to chill.

        CL: I’m sure there are 5 million other things with her, but if this one keeps coming up, you can totally say “So, when someone arrives, please ask them to have a seat, and then send me the IM that they are waiting only one time. If I am meeting with someone, it is disrespectful of their time to interrupt them to respond immediately, but I will respond in a reasonable time to come get the person for their appointment. Thank you.”

  64. J*

    I know Alison talks about “candidate time” and “employer time”, but there needs to be a third one: “higher ed time”.

    My current job notwithstanding (which moved freakishly fast for a large university… 6 weeks from resume submission to offer), higher ed just takes for-freaking-ever. I’m trying to limit myself to checking the status of my application online to once a week. I’m not really expecting a call back, I tell myself. I just want the closure of the thing.

    1. chocolate lover*

      It does. It can take months, even on a good day. Depending on the role, part of it can be affected by timing. Once the semester starts, it gets crazed, the people in charge of hiring are trying to cover for the departed employee, can’t schedule time, etc. Especially since a lot of candidate review is done by committees. It can really drraaaggggg.

    2. Little Missy*

      Yes it does take forever. In my case it was from Mother’s Day job posting to June 30 first interview, August 14 second interview, and September 23 third interview. Then they called me on October 1 and offered me the job. Fortunately for them (and I guess me too), I was getting married in two days and moving to the city the following week anyway. We agreed on a start date, I filled out the paperwork the next day and my first day was October 26. So about five months. This was in 1992 before email, Internet, social media, etc. I am still here, with some title changes and salary bumps and raises, 24 years later.

      I’m a staff member. for dean and director positions that go through national searches, the soup-to-nuts process can go up to a year.

  65. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I’m openly gay and at BEC with a right wing coworker. Some work friends complained about him on my behalf and he was told to no longer talk to me, and is careful not to, and not to say anything directly harassing, but his airing of his anti gay politics on breaks and lunch and otherwise in conversation still bugs me.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      You’re not at BEC in usual sense of overreacting because of small things building up. He’s acting like an asshole ON PURPOSE and it’s not appropriate at work, and you have appropriate boundaries in getting upset about this. I’m so sorry he’s being this way. You deserve a peaceful workplace.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        Also, the problem isn’t that his politics are socially conservative — it’s that he’s airing them in this workplace-inappropriate way, with no regard for those who feel differently and who are directly affected. I know plenty of well-mannered, kindhearted conservatives who would be horrified at this guy’s behavior. It would be reasonable for your manager or HR to tell him to not discuss politics at work. (Can we all agree to not discuss politics at work?) And it would be reasonable for your friends to tell him he’s coming across like a boor and that they’d like to change the topic now, if they’re willing to stand up for you in this way.

        I wish I could make you a cup of tea and then spill a little on his foot while it was still hot.

      2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Yeah, when he was asked not to push his views on people, by the supervising lawyers (I work in litigation support and am a new lawyer), he said, “but SHE does that by mentioning her wife!”

        1. Kelly L.*

          Oh, F that garbage to kingdom come. If it’s not pushy for a straight guy to mention his wife, it’s not pushy for a gay woman to mention hers.

        2. Myrin*

          Aigoehgöahergöo, I hate crap like this so much. You would be pushing your views on people if you pestered all of your coworkers to get married to a same-sex partner; the existence of your wife isn’t an opinion. >:|

          1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

            Thanks! Also, I speak German well (my mom was a German teacher and taught it to me from birth), and I think it’s cool to run into Germans here! I have never heard that expression you used though…or is that first “word” just angry keys mashing on a keyboard with umlauts? :)

            1. Myrin*

              Yup, just keyboard-smashing, and since the ö is right next to the l, it inevitably ends up there whenever I do that. ;)

        3. Dang*

          OMG this is the stupidest argument ever.

          And I’m totally going to use this on every straight person in my office. Stop pushing your heterosexual views on me, mentioning your husbands all the time. (Kidding, of course)

      3. Mazzy*

        I agree, though I am always confused when “right wing” is used as synonymous with someone else, apparently, on the internets. I’m not sure what he is talking about but I’m guessing it doesn’t correlate with right wing politics since there are no real “anti gay politics” going on besides the general lack on both sides to push pro-gay initiatives.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Are you in the US? There are a lot of anti-gay policies being proposed and/or debated at the moment. They tend to come up in election years, to get certain subsets of voters to the polls to vote on other things too.

          1. Mazzy*

            That’s what I’m asking, what are those policies. I’m trying to adhere by the guidelines here and not go on a side thing, but I have not seen any anti-gay things going on here. There is the trans bathroom thing here but that is also about the POTUS bypassing Congress yet again. But that isn’t gay people anyway.

            1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

              Well, he’s also complaining about the national discrimination protections for work based on sexual orientation…you know, ENDA. It’s been stalled a while but still gets discussion. And of course he’s mad that religious people might have to provide wedding services or close.

            2. Kelly L.*

              I’m getting the sense from this comment that even if I listed the policies, you’d have an explanation for why they’re not really anti-gay and are really about something else, so I’m out. I had thought maybe you were in another country and didn’t follow US news, which would be totally understandable and make sense.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Wait, are you kidding? If you do a quick search online, you’ll see that’s very much not true. The Log Cabin Republicans have criticized the Republican party platform this year as the “most anti-LGBT … in the Party’s 162-year history.”

          In any case, this is not the place for this so please let’s move on.

    2. JHS*

      If your state laws protect you from discrimination based on sexual orientation (not all do unfortunately), you should tell HR that this individual is contributing to a hostile work environment. They need to shut this down immediately.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        They do! I’m a Minnesotan too, so we have them. But, the general Midwestern passivity and niceness makes it hard to confront bad behavior.

        1. JHS*

          Oh man and at a law firm? We are the worst at confronting the things we advise clients on. Definitely needs to be shut down and it IS contributing to a hostile work environment. I wouldn’t hesitate to press the issue on this. Unacceptable! I am so sorry you’re going through this.

        2. Natalie*

          You mentioned work friends upthread, could they back you up with HR, or even bring up their own complaints? I’m a Minnesotan too, and IME funneling your issues through a third party is a time honored way to avoid the dreaded direct conversation.

    3. Temperance*

      Yeah, this isn’t BEC. This is you working with a rude, bigoted ahole. Frankly, I would complain about him on MY behalf for spewing hate speech at work; I shouldn’t have to listen to that, and no one should, especially a person in the targeted group.

      I am side-eyeing your company for being just fine with a hatemonger spewing negativity and hate while working.

    4. Sadsack*

      He was told not to talk to you? That sounds like the wrong way to have handled it. He should have been told not to discuss politics or religion at work.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I know, but what do I do? I haven’t been here long and this would be the second time in two weeks HR would have to deal with this for me.

        1. neverjaunty*

          No, this would be the second time in two weeks that this a-hole is violating company policy and placing the firm at legal risk. AFTER being warned.

          Don’t see this as your problem. He is the problem. The flip side of that Midwestern niceness is disapproval of people who can’t stop being asses.

          1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

            Yeah, only spewing hate speech at lunch or on break doesn’t make it any less bad. This is a continuation of the issue they talked to him about in the first place. It’s just not finished yet.

        2. Sadsack*

          Neverjaunty is right. This is his doing, not yours. And I was incorrect to suggest he simply shouldn’t discuss politics at work. As others mentioned here, this sounds like downright hate speech.

  66. Ce*

    Back in June, I took a p/t job as receptionist/box office/admin support at a tiny family-run arts org. I also started a p/t fixed-term research job at the same time (at a much higher pay rate). Since the arts job would be ongoing, it’d offer a small but reliable income as I find my feet in the research career and build up experience for future work.

    Juggling both (along with casual work at a previous arts job) has become unsustainable, and I need to let the arts job(s) go. Quitting shouldn’t be difficult since I don’t have a contract, and I can offer to work through my hours on this month’s rota and then be done. Or, do my short shifts today, Sat and Sun and be off. I’ve never quit a job before, and have only held short-term teaching while doing my PhD. I have a few months left on the research contract, and a good chance to pick up another short project at the same place, but nothing ongoing past the winter.

    I’m looking for reassurance that drawing on savings and focusing on research work isn’t going to be a catastrophe. I can survive ~6 months on savings, and would use that time to achieve goals which are likely necessary for career advancement (plus I want to do them!). Help?

    1. Chaordic One*

      It sounds like a bit of a risk to be sure.

      Be sure to give at least two weeks notice to the arts job(s), don’t burn any bridges and leave under good terms. (Or at least as good as possible. You never know how an employer might react, but they should be professional and accept your decision.) If things take longer than expected with finding paying research work, you might be able to fall back on the arts job in the future and you could certainly be able to find something else to tide you over.

  67. Jobhunting & Maternity Leave Question*

    What sorts of things can you do to mitigate the impact of needing maternity leave? Specifically, if you’re starting a new job and will have 5-6 months before needing 3 months off.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        Yes, my question is mostly about how to negotiate for maternity leave. Alison had a post some time ago about saying something like, “And I’m planning to do X, Y, and Z to help with the maternity leave.” I’m just not sure what X, Y, and Z could be, other than documenting daily tasks and ongoing projects so coworkers/temps could pick right up.

        1. J*

          I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that if the role is currently vacant, they have some means of the work getting done while waiting for the new hire. I should think you wouldn’t need to do much more than make sure you’ve adequately prepared someone else to handle your work in the interim.

        2. JHS*

          I think it’s probably just being up front with it and making sure that they understand you’ll need the leave even unpaid. I have a co-worker who was hired at 5 months pregnant with that understanding. There wasn’t anything for her to do per se, but she was only able to negotiate 6 weeks as opposed to the 6 months they normally give at my office (not paid)

  68. Almost Architect*

    Has anyone “announced” a professional certification?
    I’m in the home stretch of becoming a licensed architect (just 1 exam to pass and 150 hours to go!) I’m planning to throw myself a HUGE party to celebrate – but that would just be inviting a bunch of friends to a bar for the afternoon.
    I want to let some former bosses/mentors (some who I haven’t spoken to in a year or more) know I finished and thank them for support, but is that weird?

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Congrats! That’s awesome.

      I thin it’s fine to send them a nice and personalized email, Linkedin message, or note… As long as it’s a sincere “I really appreciate you and you made a difference in my professional life” and not something like “Hey! I made it. You helped. Now I’m job-hunting. Spread the word!”

      (I don’t think you meant the second option, but just in case!)

    2. AndersonDarling*

      At my office, we bring in our certificates/diplomas and display them at our desk for a while. Anyone interested will spark a conversation and ask about it.

    3. TeaCupDesigner*

      Congrats man, that is a big step! :D
      If you have a LinkedIn you can announce it via there, and maybe send an email of thanks (could double up as a networking hint too)

    4. Pwyll*

      Not at all weird to send a few personalized messages to people to thank them for their support in the past, though I recommend not doing a blast e-mail and instead doing individualized messages to a few people. Then post it on LinkedIn, which will notify many of your other connections anyway.

    5. Lily Rowan*

      I feel like thanking someone is always nice — I’m always glad to hear from former employees who are doing well, and have no need to be in touch in between.

  69. Just Another Techie*

    I’m doing some business travel. The total cost of airfare, hotel, rental car, and meals is estimated around $800. My organization is very budget sensitive right now. Most people in my office take an airport shuttle to the airport, because they live in suburbia 50-80 miles from the airport, and these shuttles typically run $20-40 each way. I live close enough to take a cab (for $25 or so each way) but I also live on the subway and can just take a train to the airport (for $2.25 each way). But my flight is also at an ungodly hour of the morning, and the subway will take half an hour longer than the cab ride. I’m already taking a less desirable flight (much earlier departure from home, after midnight return, hour long layover in a crappy airport with few amenities instead of a direct flight) to save money on air fare. How much do I owe my organization to also skimp on transit to/from the airport?

      1. J*

        Just to further explain… the additional $50 that your employer will be out on your cab fare is *nothing* compared to their annual budget. Taking public transit isn’t bad if you don’t mind it, but don’t feel bad at all about spending the money on a cab on this occasion.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I agree that taking the cab is completely appropriate especially with the other undesirably aspects of the trip.

      I would suggest you ask yourself “what would you do if you were paying for it yourself?” However it sounds like the answer is that you’d never book a flight at that ungodly hour because of many reasons including extra long commute by mass transit that would result in moderately costly cab fare (compared to the subway).

      1. Just Another Techie*

        If I were paying for it myself I’d have shelled out the extra $200 for a direct flight at an hour when taking the subway is faster than sitting in a car in traffic, and then taken the subway :)

    2. STX*

      If the cab is comparable to a shuttle, and your approval authorities are used to seeing the shuttle pricing, I would take the cab. As long as the bottom-line transportation number looks what they expect it to be, they likely will not care. I have taken public transportation to the airport before and the hassle of hauling my luggage + the risk of delays is not worth it for work travel. Imagine how much it will cost your boss if there is a problem on the subway and you miss your flight.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Take the cab, unless you think a bean counter might be petty enough to refuse reimbursement. If that’s the case, talk to your boss first and make the case that you’re already bending over backwards to lower the cost of this trip, get whatever formal approval you need, and THEN take the cab. ;)

      (I once worked for a nonprofit that denied me reimbursement for a $5 Mickey D’s breakfast at the airport, even though I had had to get up at an ungodly hour for a 6 AM flight, because their policy was to start reimbursing for meals only once you arrived in the destination city. Not cool.)

  70. Nervous Accountant*

    Two minor annoyances:

    someone told me that CC (creepy coworker) is back to whining and complaining about me. I told him not to tell me any details because I’ll get pissed off and it won’t help me.

    a former friend/cw who’s no longer here, still complains about how horrible this place was. I know, not to take it personally but I helped her get this job, she did well, and everyone here loved her. Since she’s left, we barely ever talk now, so I feel like I lost a friend after doing what I thought was a good thing. I’m (mostly) over it but it slightly stings.

  71. Evie*

    Hi all! Alison recommend I ask here to get some feedback, so I’m hoping you guys can help me out!

    At my current job, employees have one bank of PTO that doesn’t differentiate between sick and vacation time, which overall I really like. My husband and I are planning to start trying for a baby in the next six months, and I plan to use my allocated FMLA to stay home after the baby is born for 12 weeks. I also have the option to supplement that with some PTO, which I would like to do, especially since I’ll have a fair number of hours built up by then. However, since this is my first time working somewhere that bundles sick time and vacation time into one undifferentiated chunk of PTO, I’m not quite sure how to mentally divvy it up. I’m happy to dedicate some of the “vacation” time to staying home for an extra few weeks, but I don’t want to do so to a degree that would deplete my “sick” time too much either, especially with a new baby in the house. Does anyone have a good sense for what might be a good balance to strike between the two? Split it down the middle and just mentally categorize half of it as “vacation” time and use that up as wanted/needed, and leave the “sick” half untouched? 60-40? Or something else?


    1. JHS*

      I literally used all of my sick/vacation time to supplement my maternity leave, however, I have flexibility to work from home when I need to. It sounds like your workplace isn’t flexible with time outside of PTO, so I would say leave at least 10 days set aside for sick time post-baby because once your baby goes to daycare, they will get sick and you may get sick from their germs too!

      1. Evie*

        Thank you! I’m really banking on mooching off other parents experience here since I know it’s probably not a perfect science, but I’d still like to maximize my time home without shooting myself in the foot later on, so I appreciate the feedback!

        (And sadly, no work from home option; both policy as well as the nature of my work make that a no-go unfortunately).

        1. JHS*

          Good luck! It is really hard to plan, but my baby was sick a LOT the first month. She literally got sick in the first week then it seemed like every other week for a month she would get kicked out with a fever or vomiting or diarrhea. No fun at all and one time my husband and I both got the stomach flu when she did! After a month or so, it REALLY calmed down though and she hasn’t had to miss daycare since (CROSSING MY FINGERS).

          1. Evie*

            Crossing my fingers for her as well! Sick kids are no fun at all, are they? My poor nephew couldn’t catch a break last winter (one cold after flu after pukefest after another) and I know it really drained him and my sister.

        2. J*

          Every pregnancy is different, so don’t stress yourself out about this, either. You could need the time during the pregnancy.

          And don’t forget to keep your spouse/partner’s time off allotment in mind. The other parent can stay home with an infant just as well as you can. (If somewhat balanced parenting is important to you, start those conversations early. My husband and I alternate on who takes care of the child when she’s out from school and/or sick, and we set that expectation very early on.)

          1. Evie*

            Oh yeah, I definitely plan on allotting some for the actual pregnancy! I tend not to use sick time very often (especially since I have a weekday afternoon off each week where I stack any appointments), so I figure during the pregnancy I’ll bump up to like, normal-person levels of sick time, haha.

            And definitely! The nature of my husband’s job makes it a lot harder for him to call out spontaneously than it is for me, which they compensate for by being very flexible with scheduled in advance PTO since they recognize it can be a burden, so my mental figuring is that most of the time he’ll probably wind up as the take-the-baby-to-planned-appointments person and I’ll be the oh-shit-the-baby-is-puking-at-quarter-to-nine-someone-has-to-stay-home person, haha.

      2. Sally-O*

        I only left myself with 2 days of sick time and 1 day of vacation upon returning to work, BUT we are allowed to borrow against future time. I’m lucky and my LO hasn’t gotten sick at all in her first 7 months (and she’s been in daycare since 3 months old) so I’ve built back up a few sick days.

        1. Evie*

          Oh, I hadn’t thought of the idea of being able to borrow against the future — I’ll definitely check on that! Thanks!

    2. animaniactoo*

      Prioritize the number of sick days that you can reasonably expect for you. Add another 3 or 4 for days when the baby might be sick.

      Everything you have left over is your vacation/personal day time.

    3. Xtra Anon Today*

      My employer also groups sick + vacation = PTO and I’m about to take my maternity leave. Here’s what works for me:

      I don’t like to have fewer than 3 days PTO as my buffer for unexpected emergencies, including illness or a family emergency – but I’m generally healthy as is my extended family. When kid comes, I might bump that up to 5, but my husband has access to much more sick leave, so I may not need to.

      That being said, I’m draining pretty much ALL of my PTO to take my maternity leave partially paid and have a week off for Christmas. Our plan after I go back to work is to just rely on my husband’s sick leave until I’ve built up that buffer again.

    4. CMT*

      I thought it was pretty common for employers not to allow FMLA leave until you’ve used all your PTO. At least I’m pretty sure that’s the case where I work. Plus, FMLA isn’t paid, so I personally would rather be getting money while I wasn’t working.

      1. Xtra Anon Today*

        Based on my understanding, FMLA leave is just the ability to leave your job for family/medical reasons and have your job protected. For maternity leave, that’s for up to 12 weeks. During this time the employer is not required to pay you, but can if they choose to.

        I haven’t heard of any companies who require you to use up all of your PTO before going unpaid for maternity leave, but it might be something more common than I realize.

      2. Wee Raspberry*

        That’s definitely not the case where I work. You can use PTO if you want, but you’re still entitled to your FMLA separately.

      3. Just Another Techie*

        FMLA is unpaid. What’s pretty common is to require using all PTO before dipping into paid mat leave or paid temporary disability leave.

    5. Wee Raspberry*

      Bear in mind you’ll need some sick time pre-birth as well. Lots of doctor’s appointments, and also possible morning sickness (me right now…boo)

    6. Canton*

      How much PTO do you have? I wouldn’t concern myself with trying create a perceived difference if your company doesn’t. 12 weeks is a long time and you’ll most likely use it all before your time off is over unless your company provides STD or you can supplement it in a different way.

      FMLA is job protection and your company isn’t required to pay you for that time off, unless it is in their policy to do so, in which case, never mind,

  72. 42*

    Happy Friday everyone. I work in an office where we frequently have dial-in meetings, almost as frequently as we have meetings in one of our conference rooms. I’m encountering a problem that I don’t know how to address, nor whether it can really be addressed at all.

    Fairly frequently (like at least once per week), I dial in to a meeting led by “Danny”. Also many times, “Wendy” dials in to the same meeting that Danny leads.

    Danny has one of the most extreme cases of vocal fry that I’ve ever heard in my life, and I’m not exaggerating. It’s not that the end/last several words of his sentences trail off…his entire sentences, paragraphs, meetings are all done in that REDRUM voice. (Like that line in The Shining: “Danny isn’t here Mrs Torrence.” The WHOLE meeting).

    Compounding that is that Wendy also has a bad vocal fry, but hers is somewhat more tolerable than Danny’s, in that only the latter half or third of her sentence goes south rather than the whole thing.

    When I have earbuds in or my headset on listening to Danny leading the meeting (and by default speaking very frequently) please believe me when I say it’s intolerable and makes it difficult to focus with that croak aimed directly into my ear. I find myself focusing on Danny’s and Wendy’s voices rather than what they’re saying.

    I know that it’s not a physical ailment causing this, because once in a glorious blue moon the fry drops for a word or two, and Danny’s actual-and-quite-lovely REAL voice shines through. Wendy rarely goes an entire sentence without frying the end of it, but the start of her sentences are in a normal speaking voice.

    I’m really not in a position to talk to them directly about it. They’re both relatively new to my company, I don’t know them well at all, and it simply isn’t my place bring it up.

    Does anyone have any suggestions or tricks on how to deal as a listener? I wonder if I’m the only one who has real problems focusing on the meeting details and not on the sandpaper on the other end of the phone. If anyone has any ideas, I need to hear them. Thank you!

    1. Kelly L.*

      Is there something you can do technologically to make their voices less annoying on your earbuds? I don’t know what it would be, but I remember that my ex made me hate one of my favorite albums for a while by experimenting with playing it with the treble maxed out. It made me feel like I was being hit with tiny hammers the whole time. I wonder if you can mess with treble/bass or something and make them sound less sandpapery.

      1. 42*

        Hmmm like the EQ setting if I’m on my cell. I use my headset when I’m using my desk phone, but if I go on his calls with my iPhone, I can see if I can tweak the sound. That’s a fantastic idea and one that I’d have never thought of, thank you!

    2. self employed*

      Ugh that sounds horrible. I have had to stop listening to certain podcasts bc of it. I think you have GOT to stop paying attention to it (easier said than done). Maybe double-down on note taking or do something during the call that takes a bit of focus? It only gets worse the more you think about it.

      1. 42*

        I believe that about the podcasts, I’ve done that too (changed the station) for certain NPR shows over the weekends. I’m realizing how very sensitive I am to it.

        It does get worse the more I think of it, but we all know what happens when someone says “Don’t think of an elephant!” During today’s meeting I was using my 1-ear headset, so I slid the ear part behind my ear so it was a bit more offset, but it makes it hard to hear someone addressing me specifically on the call.

    3. Sally-O*

      That sucks. Perhaps you can speak to your team more generally about everyone using a good “phone voice” or “presenter voice.” Evenly pitched, not trailing off.

      1. 42*

        I wish I could, but I don’t see that being feasible or my place to say. It’s really not. However it’s definitely a fantasy of mine. :-D

        1. zora.dee*

          Could you phrase it as a request from a participant? Address Danny directly: “Hey, I have trouble hearing you on the calls sometimes, the ends of your sentences drop off, and I think over the phone it just gets lost. Could you try speaking a little more clearly and enunciating more? It would really help me follow the conversation. Thank you!!!” Big Smiles!

          1. 42*

            That I could totally do. Good one. And if he starts to fry out again, “Whoops, you’re dropping off again Danny, can you speak up on that last part?” Maybe he’ll start to think about his voice. It’s sad, because the fleeting times that I catch it, he’s got an extremely pleasant voice.

    4. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I vote for changing the settings on your devices like mentioned earlier, if you can. There was an interesting discussion on vocal fry on this American Life (link in the reply to this). The podcast wasn’t about that particularly, but there’s some discussion about how common it is, etc.

      As a perpetually fast speaker (with probably a little vocal fry), I’ll tell you that I’ve been working on it for years with limited success–you can try the “speak up” thing, but he’ll likely revert to his normal voice. Then you’ll run into the “how many times do you keep saying it” problem.

        1. 42*

          I (avid TAL listener) did hear that when it was run and I was fully simpatico. It’s an awful trend and I’m really really tuned into it. So I thank you for recognizing that you yourself might lapse into it, and for at least trying to stay ahead of it.

  73. Mimmy*

    I have a bit of a dilemma – it’s not exactly about work, but it is an issue that could impact my professional relationships.

    I’ve mentioned this person before – I’ll call him Wakeen. I cannot drive due to my vision, and Wakeen has been kind enough to offer me a lift to a meeting that we attend on an almost monthly basis. I’m an official voting member of this group, he attends as a member of the public. The plus side is that it saves me time and money on train and taxi fares, and he likes to make me laugh.

    The hitch is that he tends to also say negative, sometimes unkind, things about others in our field. My mentor, Lucinda, also attends these meetings, and we talked after the meeting briefly. She warned me to be careful in my conversations with him because she said he tends to “bate” people into saying these negative things. In the past, he has gotten into trouble because he’s made these comments in online environments (blogs I think). Just this week, he called me to warn me about a job where Lucinda worlds – and this is not a large agency. Thankfully I was in the middle of something else, so I was able to cut short the call.

    I need to figure out how the balance this – I don’t want to just stop accepting the rides to our meetings (though I’ll concede his motives for attending may be less than genuine) because it is a kind gesture and he seems to genuinely want to see me succeed in our field. Yet, I don’t want to inadvertently get into a situation where my reputation is harmed because of things he and I talk about.

    What say you AAM’ers!

    1. EddieSherbert*

      If he’s a pretty reasonable person, I think you could say something along the lines of “Hey Wakeen, I’m working on having a positive attitude and this conversation isn’t helping. Can we talk about X instead?” followed by a couple “This is getting a bit negative for me, can we get back to X?” until he gets the hint.

      Otherwise, if that’s likely to ruin things with Wakeen, stick with boring/vague/neutral statements:
      “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
      “I haven’t noticed that.” and “That’s not been my impression.”
      “Hmm. I don’t know.”

      Maybe even followed by… a subject change!

      Good luck!

    2. C Average*

      At my old job, I had a stated policy against negative gossip. I flat-out told people, “I don’t want to hear negative things about people I work with unless they report to me and the problem is work-related and it’s part of my work responsibility to address it. If you want to say nice things to me about my colleagues, I’ll listen all day long, though.”

      It felt a little goody-two-shoes to say it straight out like that, but it got me what I wanted: a gossip-free environment. And when you state it plainly like that, it’s pretty hard for even the biggest gossip to come up with a valid objection. Basically, you’re putting in thirty seconds of awkwardness in exchange for subsequent transparency and lack of awkwardness. I found that a good trade.

      (I’ve employed a similar strategy in personal relationships, with similar results.)

    3. Murphy*

      If you don’t want to ask him directly to stop (which I think would be acceptable), be very careful what you say to him. Deflect and change the subject as much as possible.

      1. Kai*

        Agreeing with this, and also–respond blandly to anything “baiting” that he says to you. Don’t show any interest in what he’s saying and don’t indicate whether you agree or anything. Hopefully he’ll get bored of sharing these thoughts with you.

  74. Anon for this*

    So, I work for a super small nonprofit. (3 year-round contractors, including me, goes up to, like, 15 during the summer.) I got this job because my friend (who was the only year-round contractor when I started) came to me when the last person in my position was failing to do work and then quit, and asked me if I would be willing to fill in and help them hire another person.

    Well, everyone we’ve attempted to hire since then has failed horribly, either because they’re not very good at being given a list of tasks and then just going and doing them (or asking relevant questions and then going and doing them), or they can’t deal with my friend/boss (who is a cantankerous and overly-obsessed-with-details person by nature), or they don’t have the relevant background and can’t connect to our target population. I am good at these things, and I know not to take the cantankerous aspects of my friend’s nature personally because they are a friend of long standing, and I am good at this job, and I enjoy this job, but sometimes I get overwhelmed by having a friend who is also my boss and feel like I have to break up with them as a friend if I want to keep doing this job, or I have to find someone who will function the way I do in this position if I want to keep this person as my friend, but right now, neither of those positions are practical.

    I am terrible at keeping a work/friendship separation with my friend. I try to be just a coworker, I fail utterly and wind up on a tangent about friend things. We’ve tried hiring other people and phasing me out, but this is my friend and I want to help them and if there is work to do I enjoy doing it and want to do it because it is interesting and also helps my friend.

    Has anyone been in a situation like this? How did you negotiate that weird line between being a coworker/boss and a friend without going bonkers?

    1. ASJ*

      I don’t think you can be friends with your boss. It’s just an awkward situation all around. Ultimately, they like the way that you do the job. As long as you’re willing to do it, they have no real push to full the position permanently because they know you’ll bail them out.

  75. Fourth Month*

    I’m still job-hunting. My last day at the job from which I’m being downsized is 9/15. It’s still hard to refrain from panic or despair. Words of reassurance would be very welcome.

    I have two in-person interviews and one phone screen scheduled during the next week and a half. I hope this is a good sign, and that it means my efforts at sprucing up my LinkedIn, writing better cover letters, and focusing my search on roles where my experience transfers well, have all been worthwhile work on my part. I’m going to do more job applications this afternoon, in an effort to get more interviews as soon as possible and give myself more options.

    I have a past history of making rash decisions during periods of unemployment. At two different points, I’ve spent so long unemployed that I took work in the food-service industry, out of a sense of desperation, and found it a poor fit. (No bias against waitstaff/baristas–I just mean I’m not suited to it at all.)

    I don’t want to make a rash decision like that this time and go into a job where I have no future, just for the sake of having a job, but I also don’t want to be unemployed for a long time. I have a panic song playing in my head, singing, “You’ll starve and DIE!!!!!”

    Hopefully, I’ll be able to draw unemployment, and that should keep me from having to make a life-or-death job choice. However, I’m glumly frightened that there will be some stupid reason that I don’t qualify for unemployment, and I’ll be up the creek without a paddle. I’m going to call and check on this on Monday, even though it looks like I can’t actually file for unemployment till I’m officially unemployed. (I’m in Massachusetts, if anyone has words of advice on dealing with unemployment in this state.)

    1. Not Phoebe*

      It sounds like you are doing all the right things, between those interviews and applications! Hang in there!

    2. Dang*

      So sorry you’re in this situation… but it sounds like you are doing everything you can. Sending good job vibes your way!

    3. Drew*

      Thirding the above. Sounds like you’re taking all the right steps. Remember to breathe; all else is secondary.

  76. EddieSherbert*

    Anyone ever use/subscribe to Was it worthwhile?

    My background: I’m in marketing/communications. I handle graphic design requests from my team; make promotional, sales and training images/videos; and run social media/blog. I have an Adobe account mostly for Premiere, Illustrator, InDesign, and some Photoshop.

    1. C Average*

      We had a shared subscription at my old job. saved my hide when I had to learn basic html over the course of a weekend. The classes were dull (in my opinion), but I did learn the material. Shortly after, I discovered (and much preferred) Codecademy, which is free.

      There are a ton of free online classes and resources. I’d exhaust the free ones before subscribing to

      1. Audiophile*

        +1 Codecademy. I’ve used that a few times, but not nearly enough to strengthen what little HTML knowledge I possess or to keep up my beginning level knowledge of higher level programming languages..

      2. Kaitlyn*

        +1 for Codecademy, also. I’ve found that’s it has really helped me along with the little bits of programming languages I learned in school.

    2. it happens*

      See if your public library has an account that you can test drive before subscribing. (My library does, but I’ve never taken advantage of it…)

        1. Dodobird*

          Hey, I’m a librarian and want to reinforce that you should check with your local library. My library system has a subscription to and all you need is a current library card.

    3. Sybil Fawlty*

      I have really learned a lot from I have my own small business and am old-ish (43) so tech has changed a lot since I was in college etc. It’s been really enjoyable also.

  77. Cafe au Lait*

    I’m on a committee that pulls together several different departments within my organization. In the past the committee has done fabulous programs, and has gained a ton of support from the administration.

    In our last meeting, one of my peers was incredibly upset. She, her boss, and her department director have conflicting perspectives on what her role encompasses. To me, it sounds like she’s trying to take her role in a direction not envisioned by her boss or director. I don’t think her direction is bad, per ce, but perhaps not what is needed/above her paygrade. I don’t work in that department, so I’m only hearing this through her and what I can read between the lines.

    Here’s my problem: a really great programming idea came out of that meeting. I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t explore the topic in more depth. However, this topic bolsters my peer’s argument about her job. I get the impression that she’d like to use this meeting as a cudgel to tell her boss and director that they’re wrong; our unit supports her view.

    I know that this might happen about any of events. I can’t control how my peers use my committee’s programming. I’m just really hesitant to sign off on an event topic when I suspect the motives are less anout creating a dialog and more about proving the validity of an argument. It’s my first time chairing a committee. I’m relatively unknown in my workplace and I don’t want to gain a reputation as using these programming events to pick a fight with administrators.

    1. Graciosa*

      In this situation, I would probably postpone. You don’t want to give up a great idea that will benefit the organization, but you also don’t want to be pulled into a political battle like this one before you have established yourself.

      I don’t know what the timing looks like, but I would pick other ideas for the immediate future while making it clear that the great (and controversial one) would be scheduled for Future Date (maybe the latter half of next year?).

      Good luck.

    2. catsAreCool*

      Can you talk to her boss about the idea? If this becomes something the boss supports, it woudl be easier to put it in as an event topic.

  78. C Average*

    Apologies in advance; this may be a bit rambly.

    I had a really interesting experience this past week. I got the chance to take a copyediting and proofreading test for a publishing house–something I always figured I’d do really well at. (I figured this based mainly on other people’s assessment of my abilities, although I’ve always had a certain amount of innate confidence about spotting misspelled words and incorrect punctuation and that sort of thing.) I wouldn’t say it’s been my life’s dream to do this kind of work, but it’s always been a baseline assumption of mine that, given the chance, I’d be well suited for it.

    It turns out, I’m really only meh at it. I did okay on the test, not great.

    For my line of work, it’s roughly the equivalent of getting to audition for one of those TV talent shows and getting told, “Yeah, you should probably keep singing in your church choir, but hang onto your day job, because you will not be getting a record deal.”

    I shared some of this with my family and close friends in part because I want them to stop sending me job links to writing and editing jobs, or trying to talk me into attending writing workshops. I’m not some kind of great talent. I’m a person you can call if you want someone to check your cover letter for typos. And they are being really weird about it, telling me, “Don’t let one person’s opinion dash your dreams! You’re really talented.” I want them to stop. No one is dashing my dreams. I got an honest assessment of my abilities, along with some really helpful feedback.

    I really love my new job. It’s an hourly retail job, but it’s related to something I really love, and it’s at a business I’ve patronized for many years. (I’m working at a specialty fabric retailer. I’ve sewn for most of my life and do it fairly well.) I am slowly–very slowly!–working to revise the first draft of my novel. I have no expectations that it will be the great American novel; I’m not even sure it’s worth finishing. (I can’t believe I wrote that. I’ve never admitted that even to myself.) What I’m doing right now is fine. I like it. I don’t really care if it’s a waste of my so-called talents.

    I still have no earthly idea what I’m going to do when I grow up.

    1. Manders*

      I also wanted to be an editor until I realized I’m not so into proofreading! It turns out that I like books and I like writing, but proofreading is not actually as dreamy a career as it’s made out to be.

      Writing and editing are actually two very different skillsets, and proofreading is only one of many types of editing. Strong writers tend to be able to pick certain errors documents because they understand grammar and punctuation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll pass professional proofreading tests.

      It sounds like your friends and family are a bit confused if they’re trying to talk you into writing workshops to improve your editorial skills. What skills do *you* want to develop?

      1. EddieSherbert*

        I just want to second this… I started out as a editor as an “in” for the communications field (it wasn’t).

        While editing/proofreading and writing have some overlap, they are different skills. This was glaringly obvious because they often tried to have one of the senior writers fill in for me and she hated doing it. It’s different enough that the roles aren’t interchangeable.

        1. chickabiddy*

          Yes. I am an editor/proofreader, and generally considered good at my job. Sometimes I’m asked to pitch in and write something, usually by someone who does not understand the difference between a proofreader and a writer. I can produce a document of the appropriate length that is error-free, but it is definitely not inviting or even particularly interesting. That is not my skill set.

      2. C Average*

        I think that’s part of the problem! My friends and family have a very vague idea of what writers and editors do, so they carpet-bomb me with advice that really doesn’t apply. I want them to Just. Shut. Up. And it’s kind of nice to be able to say to them, “Here’s some persuasive evidence that I am not the lost Brontë sister. Now leave me alone.”

        Part of the problem is that my mother is a successful freelance writer and therefore thinks she’s a great judge of writing and editorial talent, and she’s incapable of keeping her opinions to herself. We have a wide shared circle of friends and relatives, and within our circle it’s sort of been received wisdom that I’m the most talented writer in the family. I’ve done some writing professionally and have held writing-intensive jobs. It’s just the box I get sorted into, by myself and by others.

        What do *I* want to do? I have no earthly idea. I’ve tended to find the things I like and the things I do well by just trying new things often. Sometimes I luck onto something I love so much I’m willing to put in the effort to get good at it. Sometimes I find that I’m okay at something but don’t like it enough to try to get better at it. Sometimes I find something I don’t really dig, but I can do it well with very little effort, so it’s a useful skill to have in my bag of tricks.

        I found the tests really interesting, in part because I just plain like tests. (I know. I’m the weirdo who did really well on the SAT the first time and took it again just because I’d found it an interesting challenge.) I like getting a quantifiable, independent, non-squishy, non-biased assessment of what I can do. I think, if I applied myself, I could be a pretty solid proofreader, and I think I might even enjoy it.

        I am not sure that even a lot of work will make me a good creative writer. Per all the expert advice, I try to focus on a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset, but I do think that innate talent has to be factored in. If I’m a B student with the potential to get As, I’ll put in the effort. If I’m a C student with the potential to get Bs if I really work at it, I’d rather just be happy and sew quilts and let other people worry about writing and/or editing the great American novel.

        1. Mimmy*

          I think that’s common with a lot of professions – most people only have a general idea of what they entail, and writing and editing is no exception.

      3. Charlotte Collins*

        Editing and proofreading are not necessarily the same thing. (When Obama guest-edits Wired, he’s not going to be the one checking for typos.) Copyediting is related to but separate from proofreading. These are all distinct skills that have to do with language and writing.

        The good news is that you can learn to do them, but to do them really well requires a certain skillset/temperament. However, you shouldn’t expect to just *know* everything there is to know. Look at how thick the hardcopy of The Chicago Manual of Style is. Then realize that there’s also AP style and MLA style.

        Based on personal experience, it helps to be raised by a mother who has worked in both copyediting and book editing. (Anne Fadiman has a really amusing essay about her family’s tendency to proof everything. It hit very close to home for me…)

      4. Mimmy*

        proofreading is only one of many types of editing

        What *are* the different types of editing? I had a colleague tell me I’d make a “wonderful” editor because of my attention to detail (we worked on a grant proposal review committee together for a few years).

            1. Jessica Snell*

              You’re welcome! Googling the specific jobs from there (i.e., “proofreading” or “developmental editing”) should give you definitions and details, but I figured that list would get you started.

              I mean, I know everything’s searchable these days, but so often it’s knowing *what* to search that’s the hard part.

    2. Lily Evans*

      I mean, like all skills writing and editing are things that you can improve with practice over time. Sure some people have more innate talent than others, but one bad skills test shouldn’t stop you if it’s what you really want to do. But is it what you want to do? Because you said it’s not your life’s dream, and it kind of sounds like your friends and family pigeonholed you into it. Even if this used to be your dream, dreams are allowed to change. I’m sure they only want what’s best for you, but only you get to decide what that is.

    3. the.kat*

      All my life, my family and friends have told me that I was a super special snowflake who could write novels in a single sitting, edit them to perfection and be the next JK Rowling. When I let that dream die, I found that I was writing because I enjoyed it, not because I needed to get published.

      I don’t want to screen print my feelings on you, but are you maybe a little burned out and needing a new dream? Tell your family you’re working on your craft and that your job gives you the time you need to be creative while paying the bills and making you happy. What they’re offering isn’t what you’re looking for right now. If that doesn’t dissuade them, let them know you’ll be screening their emails and set up a filter. Anything that mentions “job” or “application” goes into a junk folder.

    4. Isben Takes Tea*

      As someone who went through what you’ve been through and now has a job giving those tests to people, I want to really encourage the mindset of “I have an aptitude, I just need to develop it.” Proofreading and copyediting are skills, and like any skill, they take a lot of practice and some study. I took a test and was turned down, but took some classes, practiced, and started getting freelance jobs, and then a full-time job.

      Also, there is a large swathe of “editing” professions, and most book editors have difficulties with commas themselves–they are substantive or developmental editors, and focus on theme, structure, organization, etc.

      It sounds like you’re comfortable with where you’re at, which is great! My two cents is to practice and study whatever you enjoy doing so you can get even better at it.

    5. SophieChotek*

      How did you get the chance to take the proofreading/editing test? that in itself sounds interesting.

      I agree though; editing and writing are two different things. i do a tiny bit of both in my current job.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      UGH UGH UGH.

      I’ve been dealing with this and it sucks–and no one in my family knows jack diddly about publishing (I don’t know that much either, but I know more than they do because I’ve done my homework). They think I can just write a book and put it out there and as my dad said once, “write her own ticket.” UM NO. It doesn’t work that way. If it did, I’d be on the NYT list right now! Their confidence is touching, but also annoying, because they have no concept of how hard it is or how the industry works or how long it takes, especially with books. And if I try to set them straight, I’m being “negative.” No, I’m being realistic. I finally just stopped talking to them about it because they do. not. get. it.

      I’m in a similar place with Secret Book–the story is good and it contains some really first-rate stuff, but I wrote it with my head firmly up my arse and OMG WHAT was I thinking with what I did! The revision is going to take AGES. So I’m moving on to the next one and I’ll dip in and out of it. I know what I want to be, but right now I’m in omg-what-if-I-lose-this-job mode. I need to let that kick me in the behindquarters and get busy on my next book rather than drifting into a state of dread and torpor.

      If you’re doing something you like right now, keep doing it. Your novel isn’t going anywhere. It will wait. And maybe it isn’t worth finishing. Maybe it is. Maybe right now your brain needs this break. Writing is flipping hard work. But in response to my email about writing a huge ridiculous fanfiction, a grad school instructor of mine did tell me that no time spent writing is wasted. You learn things even if the product isn’t the best thing anybody (or you) ever wrote. And sometimes those things relate to your life, not your book. :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Heh. I’m glad he thinks that–though he rarely reads any fiction, he did read the fanfic and told my sister, “She writes as good as Ann Rule!” Ann Rule is one of his favorite authors (and mine), so that made me feel good. :)
          I was hesitant to let him read it at first–I said, “Well dad it does have some sex in it,” and he goes, “I think I can handle that.” *cringe* LOL

        2. Honeybee*

          Both of your dads sound like my dad, but about pretty much every career field. He used to give my mother (a nurse) tips about nursing and working in a hospital (he is not a nurse). And he used to give me the weirdest career advice.

      1. Drew*

        Some writers I know talk about their “trunk books”: the ones they wrote when they were still learning how to write and how to write in their own style — different concepts — and that will stay buried at the bottom of the trunk until they die, unseen by everyone. It sounds like you have a great trunk novel and now you’re starting on your REAL first book.

        Good luck!

        1. C Average*

          Actually, what’s funny is that I’ve been hauling an unwritten novel around in my head for DECADES, and then I decided to do a different project just for fun and actually managed to finish a first draft of THAT project. And I think the just-for-fun book is a better book than the in-my-head book. The revision is such a drag, though! I keep starting and restarting, and everything I write, I wind up hating when I reread it a few days later. It needs to be put in a trunk with several large rocks and flung into the ocean.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Ha, this is my fifth book and the one before it is the one that has pages out. :)

          It’s not unsalvageable, but I think I bit off more than I could chew with it anyway even without the stupid thing I did (which might have worked if the main characters were aliens :P). Maybe I’ll fix it later–I do like the rest of it.

      2. C Average*

        Can I just say I wish you lived near me? I feel like in some parallel universe we hang out together in coffee shops and write and talk about books and it’s awesome.

        Families, man. As you say, their confidence is touching.

        And, well, even if my novel never gets anywhere, thanks to my research I’ve read most of the major books about the financial crisis, and I’ve learned to swear in Ukrainian.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ha, I wish that too–it would be fun!

          And yes, research is great. I know way more than I want to know about armed bank robbery. Plus I’m sure I got on a dozen internet watch lists looking up Joker-like activities.

    7. MissGirl*

      I worked in publishing for ten years and have a few nonfiction books out. I’ve written two novels: one for practice and one I hope to be published once I’m done editing it (a lot). Writing and editing are different vocations, although being a good writer entails having a good editing eye. If you have any questions about the publishing world or what it entails, I’d be happy to answer for you. There’s lots of jobs in it that aren’t proofreading. I started out as an assistant editor and never took a test. I eventually ended up in production and design because I liked the creativity of it and didn’t fancy proofreading.

      I’m also figuring out my next steps. I’m getting my MBA to go into, of all things, business analytics. I couldn’t have foresaw that one two years ago.

  79. self employed*

    Anyone set up a successful blog/social media presence? I’m a writer starting a new side project, but the idea of starting at literally zero sounds really tough. How do you break through?

    1. Manders*

      I had some small success with my blog, but really dropped the ball because I stopped posting content regularly. So if you want a steadily growing audience, definitely think about what kind of posting schedule you could stick with long-term and how far out you can schedule posts.

      For social media:
      1) Share things on your own Facebook page
      2) Set up a Facebook page for your project and decide if you’re going to invite some or all of your friends to like it. Read up on Facebook click farming and check Facebook Blueprint to familiarize yourself with what the different types of Facebook ads do before shelling out any money.
      3) Twitter’s more for connecting with other people in your niche than for relentless promotion. Follow people who inspire you but don’t pester them.
      4) Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest miiiiiight work for you if you have a visual component to what you do or if you’re writing something with snappy quotes that could be turned into graphics.
      5) Reddit can be a very powerful tool, but you have to find the right subreddit and you absolutely will annoy people if you’re too pushy.

      If you have any budget for advertising I’d also recommend getting an account with Project Wonderful. It’s a good way to dip your toe into display advertising without spending too much cash.

    2. Red*

      I’ve also been working on my social media presence. It’s a little tough, since I’m pretty shy. It’s taken a while, but one of my pennames is finally breaking through a bit. One thing that has been a big help is befriending other people (content producers) in my niche and using some cross-promotion. The other thing that has really bumped engagement is posting snippets of my works in progress. Also, as Manders alludes to, don’t be afraid to spend some money on promotional advertisements. It’s almost impossible to get visibility if you’re starting out completely on your own, without a related community you’re already part of. Spend a little money and get your work in front of eyeballs.

    3. C Average*

      I used to work in social media and blogging for a big brand, and based on that experience, I’ve arrived at the following philosophy.

      Starting a blog or any other social media endeavor is like adopting a puppy. It’s fun to pick him out and buy him a collar and come up with a name that fits and skim “Border Collies for Dummies.” But don’t forget that your puppy is going to grow into a dog, and he’s going to require food and vet visits and daily walks and a dog sitter when you go on vacation. He’s cute, but he’s a commitment. If he turns out to be too much of a commitment, you’re going to have to re-home him, which may be challenging both logistically and emotionally. If you can, you should foster a dog before you adopt a puppy, to see if dog ownership is really for you.

      Before you start a blog, write a couple dozen blog posts. Track how long they take you to produce, and multiply that time by four. To publish your blog, you’ll likely need to create a web presence, and you’ll likely need to learn some new tools. That will take time. If your blog is successful, you may need to read, moderate, and respond to comments. You may want to periodically change the look and feel of your blog.

      Have a decommission plan in place. You may get bored with your blog, or get too busy with other stuff to attend to it. If that happens, will you leave it up but stop posting new content? Or will you take it down altogether? It’s good to have this planned out in advance.

      I have briefly considered starting a blog, but the truth is, I know I wouldn’t want to deal with it consistently, and consistency is really key. I know I don’t want a puppy, either.

      1. Manders*

        That’s a great way of putting it. The rush of starting a new project is so thrilling, but do put some thought into what it’s going to feel like to feed that beast a few years from now. In my case, life got complicated in ways I never thought it would, so my advice is to also make a plan for what to do when emergencies happen. Are you going to go on hiatus or shut down permanently? Is this the kind of project where guest bloggers could take over? Have you got enough material banked that things could keep ticking for a few weeks or months, or is this a topical subject that requires your constant attention?

        Also, get your technical ducks in a row early, and don’t choose a blogging platform just because it seems beginner-friendly. I stupidly started my blog on instead of and transferring everything over now is going to be a very annoying project.

      2. AliceBD*

        I LOVE this analogy! May I steal it?

        I do social media marketing (which includes blogging for our corporate blog, managing relationships with independent bloggers, etc.) for the largest brand in our niche. If you buy the things we sell you have heard of us, and even if if you don’t like our particular products chances are you have tried them, but if you don’t buy the things we sell chances are you have never heard of us. I get lots of questions like this from casual acquaintances at social gatherings, and they don’t understand what it takes. I’m happy to do it for other people, but I am not interested in running my own blog and building my own brand. It takes way too much effort, so I’d rather just do it as part of my official job duties.

  80. Telly*

    How can I care less about the quality of my work and just get things done? I’m a perfectionist and a mild procrastinator, but I work in a field where people seem to appreciate fast over perfect. I need some tricks to get out of my own head and just SEND the email or DO the task, without agonizing so much over the perfect wording or perfect execution. I know that I will actually do better and achieve more in the long run if I just get ‘er done and make some mistakes along the way. But right now I am spending way too much time avoiding and agonizing, rather than doing. Help!

    To be honest, I think a glass of wine would help. Alcohol quells my internal editor. But I can’t drink in the office. :-P

    1. Pinky*

      One thing I tell myself is, “I’m shooting for a B+ on this, not an A.” A metaphor I use to talk to teams about this is, “We’re building a nice solid ranch house, not a McMansion with a leaky roof.”

      Alternately, I scare myself with the memory of a former colleague who was managed out of her job because her perfectionism got so extreme, she was unable to complete her work.

      1. Telly*

        I like this. I was always an A-student and I felt such relief in college when I realized that, hey, it’s okay to prioritize my classes and only shoot for a B in a given class! I need to apply this to work.

    2. Not Phoebe*

      Oh my gosh, I do the same thing, *especially* when it comes to emails. I blame my father for that – he can’t even send a text without getting my mom to proofread it for him haha. And even after that he stares at it for another 5 minutes.

      Wish I had advice for you since I struggle with this too. But if it helps, I doubt anyone reads that much into wording, especially since they’re probably worrying about their own response. It’s like the whole concept that no one is thinking about you as much as you think they are – they’re too preoccupied with themselves.

    3. Chaordic One*

      There’s always some whiny person who will complain about the piddly 5% that wasn’t perfect and ignore that 95% that was. I’ve never really learned to tune out that person.

  81. Quieter please?*

    How does one get their coworkers to use “inside” voices? I work in a semi-open plan office and there are 3 offices surrounding where we sit then a long hallway where the rest of the offices are. You can hear them most of the way down the hall! These aren’t people’s new to work, one is late 40s/early 50s the other late 20s.

    1. Rebecca*

      If you can figure this out, please let me know. I have a coworker who cannot or will not use her inside voice, and it’s so distracting! She’s the manager’s friend, so nothing has been or will be done about it. She used to actually sing along with CD’s, the same one, day after day…and one day when she was out of the office, I took the CD, put it in its case, and then put it under her bottom desk drawer, on the floor. So, technically I didn’t take it or steal it, it was still in her area, but at least I didn’t have to suffer through one more day of Barbra Streisand duets with coworker singing along. Sadly, it’s not legal to duct tape her mouth shut.

    2. Murphy*

      Ugh, I feel you. There’s a person a few cubes behind me who has loud nonwork-related conversations across the aisle to someone in an office all day long. I know way too much about her dogs and travel plans.

      We also have a woman in upper management who keeps her door open all the time, even when she’s having long meetings on speakerphone or listening to her voicemails. All at full volume.

      In short, I have no idea. But I feel you.

    3. Drew*

      I have occasionally had to walk over to people being loud and say, “I’m sure you don’t realize how much your voices are carrying, but it’s clearly audible at my desk and it’s pretty distracting. Would you mind holding it down a bit? Thanks!” At that point, if they’re annoyed, they’re jerks, because you made a reasonable request and you did them the courtesy of assuming they didn’t realize that they were being distracting (instead of leading off with QUIET DOWN YOU ARE LOUD).

      That said, boy it’s annoying to have to do this over and over.

  82. Rosamond*

    Today I just want to vent about gendered responses to reference requests. I interviewed a pretty good candidate for a job that’s about 50% technical, 30% supervision, 20% other stuff. All of her references said her strongest point is “She gets along really well with everyone,” and 2/3 of them said, when I asked about her ability to quickly get up to speed on our technical environment said, “She got along really well with the IT guy,” and one added, “and her husband is a programmer.” If I’d felt more strongly about her as a candidate, I would have been tempted to say, “No, stop, say something else.”

    1. Audiophile*

      What does her husband being a programmer have to do with anything? Unless she’s telling previous employers that he trained her or helped her strengthen her tech skills. (Which why would she be doing that is a better question.)

      If they don’t have an adequate answer to your question, they should just say so.

      1. Rosamond*

        Exactly. I was describing this to my husband and said, “Imagine if someone asked one of your references, “How are his organizational skills and attention to detail?” and they said, “Well, his wife is a librarian!” Saying “I can’t really speak to her technical skills, sorry,” would have been an improvement.

        1. Audiophile*

          Haha, “He’s shadowed his wife at her job and he’s watched her in the stacks, organizing books.”

          Seriously, assumptions based on gender always bug me.

          Years ago, I went to a local computer guy to get my mom’s computer looked at and said I was pretty sure I knew what the problem was but didn’t feel like trying to fix it. The gentleman looked at me and “no, don’t do that, you’d probably make it worse.” Excuse me, how do you know I don’t work in the IT field? It was so rude.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      Maybe they didn’t actually have much feedback or good things to say about her? I mean, it may be a gendered or bad references things, but I find it very weird if you’re asking legit questions about her technical skills and managerial abilities and all (all three of!) her references have to say is “the techy guy here liked her” and “her husband is a programmer (?!?!?!).”

      To me, that just comes across less gendered and more like they either didn’t work closely with her or she didn’t make much of an impression.

      1. Rosamond*

        Unfortunately it was very, very clear that they thought they were giving glowing and insightful references.

  83. WayOfTheTeacup*

    I have a new worst job interview tale! Had to happen eventually lol.
    I applied for a small office a few months back and got the notice for an interview. I saw the office’s facebook page had a lot of friendly, happy worker pictures, even featuring small office birthday celebrations, so formed the impression that it was a cheerful place where everybody would be friends.
    Went to the interview, sat down in a hot meeting room, tried to start my usual spiel of “Tell interviewer about who WayOfTheTeapot is”. Barely 1 minute in interviewer cuts me off and starts flipping through my pre-printed resume instead. I was a bit surprised, but picked up on his cues and started going through my recent job achievements. He cut me off once again, saying that he doesn’t have time.
    He then described his job, saying that I will be required to shout at the consultants. I was a bit shocked at this. Seeing at my obvious confusion, he says that the job involves a lot of aggressive people who will shout at me, and he doesn’t want to hire me, only to have me crying back to him and quitting my job when I cannot take the verbal abuse.
    I mumbled my agreement and said that sounded great, but am already mentally on my way to Nopesville. Probably my first real experience of “You are not just being interviewed, but you were also interviewing the company”. Despite all their cheerful facebook photos, the office probably is anything but,

    1. Drew*

      Maybe he was hoping you’d start shouting at him during the interview.


  84. Candi*

    TL:DR My life got screwed up, partially by my bad choices, and now I need to climb back up, by school or work.

    Life is going to (have to) change rather drastically in the next five years for me. I need to start dealing with it now.

    Question: Should I job hunt with what I have or go back to school? If I go to school, what should I study? I know the broad path of what I want, but there are a lot of cups on that tray.


    Housekeeping in a home -nine years
    Personal Design Concepts
    Family-owned dollar store
    Housekeeping -mall
    Food Court -same mall
    Merry-go-round operator (first job)


    Tech college -Health Unit Coordinator certification (ward/unit clerk)
    Community College -required and office classes, but moved to tech college


    Darwin Awards moderator -nine years

    During this time, I was dealing with a toxic mother, abusive relationship, multiple toxic workplaces, job gaps, undiagosed Asperger’s Syndrome, depression, and rebuilding my life with two tiny kids.

    Cut off most contact with mother (connections remain because grandkids), dumped the guy, learned the problems in my first three jobs were not my fault, found out from my mother that my grandmother had found out in her genelogical research that AS/ASDs run heavy in the family, got diagnosed (but don’t have the paperwork, and no one can find it), found out a couple years ago that my thyroid was screwed up and that was a root cause of my depression, got supplements (I can feel happy now!), and my kids are teens now.

    It’s time to get my life back on track.

    The current biggest problems I see are: my official education is pretty much useless at this point, and I don’t have paperwork saying I’ve kept up informally via net and: my housekeeping gig (that gave me flexibility for my kids) will be seen as one step away from stay at home mom. My reference network is kaput.

    After the daycare closed (owner decided to), my dad hired me as housekeeper so he could concentrate on his freelance gardening business. Government’s happy as long as taxes are paid and laws are followed. But to employers I have a pretty good idea what it looks like, money involved or not. Effectively, it’s a job gap.

    Work I can’t stand: Food service, working for Sears

    Skills/Work I like: Office work, working with computers, especially documents. I love going into software and doing a (very careful) ‘what does this button do’, researching and finding out things that teachers and coworkers who’ve been using the stuff for years didn’t know it could do. I have writing skills, but none specific to a field.

    Research. I love research, have been told I’m really good at it, and can par down the extraneous publications from those that actually contain the meat needed for the project. (“This book has information on chocolate, caramel, and licorice teapots, but that one only gives them a mention and concentrates mostly on sugar candy tea cups.”) But with Google, most people don’t need that much anymore. :(

    The job I loved most: 6-7 week holiday job for Personal Design Concepts back in 2003. Customers mailed in photos and orders, and the (temporary) worksite made mugs, t-shirts, keychains, etc. (No teapots, though.) I worked in calendars. Figuring out how to use the software beyond basic training, reduce jams in the printers, streamline the process, stop/pause a job when a picture came out wrong, and then just reprint the necessary pictures, doing something I learned quickly how to be good at. A regular schedule. Coworkers I can respect. And four weeks in, I was asked to train a new hire. (Don’t care how many people they were hiring and asking, that made me feel awesome.)

    While I don’t think I could have continued the insane pace or overtime schedule indefinitely (I was basically going home to sleep while my roommate watched the kids), I wouldn’t mind a regular job along those lines.

    Volunteering in person ties my stomach in knots.

    This site is an excellent resource and has given me a lot of hope. I’m working on my resume based on the guidelines given. I hated objectives and follow-up calls; I’m glad they’re old news.

    Thanks in advance for any and all help. :)

    1. C Average*

      Wow, you’ve been through a lot. Congratulations on the fact that you’re still standing. Seriously.

      Two thoughts here.

      Have you kept in touch with anyone from Personal Design Concepts who might be able to help you get an in somewhere? Obviously 2003 is a long time ago, but it sounds like your experience was really positive there. Who knows? Maybe someone you worked with there knows someone who’s hiring now.

      Do you live in a metro area large enough that there are some temp agencies? If so, that might be a decent place to start. You could try on a few hats without committing to something long-term. At the same time, you could build a work history and some connections, and maybe land in a place that would be open to hiring you long-term. I know temp agencies get a bad rep, sometimes deservedly so, but I worked for one a few yea