open thread – November 11-12, 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.

No politics. Thanks.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,226 comments… read them below }

    1. Sami*

      Exactly why I love AAM. I enjoy talking and debating politics and policy IRL and even on Facebook but it’s SO nice to have a space completely free of it. Thanks, Alison.

    2. Gaara*

      I was wondering if you would comment on the election results, and now, having had time to reflect, I’m glad this is a politics-free zone. Thanks, Alison!

    3. Sophia in the DMV (DC-MD-VA, not Dept of Motor Vehicles)*

      Can I ask a question? Weren’t people able to discuss Brexit? If so, what’s the difference?

      1. Morning Glory*

        This is just a guess on my part, but I think the blog’s main reader base is in the U.S. so the election is more emotionally charged for readers than Brexit was.

        There may well be a British blog out there that forbade discussion of Brexit but is now allowing discussion of the U.S. election.

        1. caledonia*

          Not quite true. UK/EU readers make up a smaller percentage than US readers of AAM do. There was less policing Alison had to do.

          Brexit is very much a loaded topic but from memory, the few threads we had on here were respectful. We had a discussion or 2 about our general election as well. It’s always interesting to see/hear from other people. I have asked a question about US politics several months ago and people helped me understand better, which I think we did for Brexit.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Morning Glory is saying that the U.S. election is an emotionally charged topic for a much larger proportion of readers here than Brexit was, just because of the geographic distribution of readers, not that it’s a more emotionally charged topic in general.

    4. Girasol*

      As someone bursting to yak politics, thank you! There has to be somewhere to get away and remember that there are other matters in life. We can grouse elsewhere.

    5. Troutwaxer*

      It’s clearly a difficult subject and people are very emotional about it, so let me make a suggestion: Start an open thread for jokes and funny stories. My contribution is a thing I heard on the radio today when the classical DJ, describing Rachmaninoff, noted that he “was drunk so often the other Russian composers noticed.” I’m thinking of repurposing that for Dungeons and Dragons with “He got drunk so often the other Half-Orcs noticed.”

    6. Mazzy*

      Thank you. My AA group actually had a meeting about meetings to discuss how to make meetings a “safe space” because new arrivals which were obviously in a delicate state had walked out of meetings because of election talk, and their sobriety is much more important than someone getting an opinion off their chest.

      I think for many of us at that meeting, we were using the term “safe space” for the first time, but it is really warranted this week.

  1. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I have a coworker, Susan, and we work together in different but related fields. We have the same boss, and we’ve been friends for years.

    One of my chief frustrations with her is that she never seems to read ANY of my emails. I’m not surprised as I’m responsible for sending out as-they-happen alerts. Certain employees, including Susan, are supposed to read them, but I know they don’t. I don’t care because it’s the employees’ responsibility to be aware of what’s going on.

    My frustration with Susan came to a breaking point when, around 9 AM, our boss called me into his office and said he needed a written project done. The deadline was COB that day. I told him I’d need Susan on this, and he agreed. This project took a lot of work so I emailed Susan what the deal was at the time and went at it. Six hours later, I hadn’t heard a thing from her despite sending her multiple drafts to review throughout the day. I got nervous and went to her office to ask her what’s up. She had no idea what I was talking about. When I told her I’d emailed her several times, she said she’d been busy and hadn’t checked her email much. When I told her this was due in an hour, she scrambled and got it together but it was a half-assed job on her part.

    A few months after that, Susan was having an email issue and she asked me to help. I did, and it was then I saw that every single email I send her automatically goes into a folder. I glimpsed at the folder and saw a screenful of unread emails from me. I was too ticked to say anything.

    For those of you who know me on here, I rely on email as a CYA paper trail and I refuse to go remind people for stuff after I’ve already emailed them. I really don’t want to do that here. It defeats the purpose of work-issued email accounts, I feel like a mommy, and every employee is responsible for the contents of his/her email account.

    Thoughts?

    1. not so super-visor*

      I guess it depends on how difficult it is for you to go and have a physical conversation with Susan. A lot of people of different communication styles, and hers might be that emails are not urgent. For hot projects or upcoming deadlines, I’d recommend have a face-to-face conversation with her or calling her rather than relying on email. It’s fine in your conversations to throw out that you’re going to send a a follow-up email so that you’ve got your CYA trail but know that you shouldn’t rely on email alone for important communication.

      1. Gaara*

        Yeah, if I don’t hear back from someone in response to an email for something like this, I always follow up by phone or in person to confirm that they got my email and they are on it. Emails are easy to miss, particularly if they’re not looking for them. This should be something like a standard practice for you, I think. Your refusal to follow up in person or by phone when you don’t know that they have seen your email is your fault, and I would have little sympathy for your position here if I were your supervisor.

        That said, I do understand why you would be annoyed that she has an Outlook rule sending all of your emails to an archive folder. You’re a coworker, not spam. That’s irresponsible of her.

        1. Hallway Feline*

          I use BananaTag to track my emails, that way I know if someone actually opened it. If they’ve opened it, I’ll assume (I know, bad!) that they have read it. If they haven’t opened it in a few days, I’ll go to them and remind them (if it’s important; if not, I’ll let it go). I believe following up is important, but there’s a way to do it. In a non-urgent but important situation follow up can be done a few days later. In an urgent situation, call them in an when appropriate (could be 15 minutes, could be an hour, use judgment based on the situation).

          What I can’t stand is when people in my company will email me and 2 minutes later call me to ask if I’ve read the email. The answer is usually yes, and I will work on it after I finish the more important project. They then walk over to my cube and ask if I’m working on it yet, 5 minutes later. I have to prioritize based on what my supervisor says, please respect that I’ll get to it! (end of rant)

      2. designbot*

        For me it’s not even an ‘if I don’t hear back from them’ type of thing, but in the instance described I would go to alert her to the urgency and strategize how to get the project done in person, then follow up emailing pertinent details (specific language, links to files, etc.) that they’ll need. Email just isn’t a communication tool for something you absolutely need read immediately, because its nature is that of letting the people on each end of the conversation control when they choose to engage. You don’t want to give her a choice, but you’re using a communication format that does.

        1. Honeybee*

          Yeah, even for my most email-responsive coworkers, if I have an 8-hour deadline I’m going to go check in with my coworker in person anyway. There’s too much risk – what if they are in meetings for the first 4 hours of the day or they have a weird email bug or their computer is updating or…anything else? Email isn’t good for urgent communication.

    2. Lizard*

      For the first incident, if it was really that urgent, you should have walked over to her office to discuss with her immediately. It seems off that you’re blaming her for not reading your email when the mode of communication you’ve chosen seems ideal for YOU, not for her. It sounds like you want Susan to adjust to your communication needs and that you’re not willing to flex at all to hers.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Here’s the problem with that.

        Whenever there’s an email chain, she misses every single thing I contribute but not anybody else’s. That’s why three big bosses and two other people were left waiting on a meeting that I’d finalized timewise. If someone else had sent out the final time, she would have been there. That’s also why she responds to old information someone else sends and misses if I send an update.

        She misses every single document I send out, which results in her asking me to resend it if she needs it. Constantly. (After discovering the email folder issue, I no longer do this.)

        She missed registering for a conference because she didn’t see my email about it. Everyone else got in before it was booked.

        To her credit, Susan never gets mad at me, but she doesn’t bother to rectify the situation either. She is suffering the consequences of her actions so there’s that.

        So the original example I gave was probably the worst, but am I really expected to go bug her every single time I send her something? And I’m the only employee there who has to do it? That’s what I’m bristling at.

        1. Partly Cloudy*

          Have you asked her about this? Or why she has your emails specifically going into a separate folder?

          1. Snarkus Aurelius*

            I did before I discovered the automatic email rule. She said that she was super busy all the time, and nothing was intentional.

            Once we were going to a big meeting that she’d missed because I’d forwarded the request for our office’s presence. While we were at the elevator waiting for her and watching her scramble to get stuff together, I playfully asked if she ever got my emails. She got SUPER serious and said of COURSE she did but that she was so busy on high profile projects, etc. (Bosses were there.) Again that was before I discovered the email rule.

            I should probably tell her I know now, and I’ll hate doing that because she’ll deny it for awhile.

            1. Natalie*

              Whether or not it’s intentional is a total red herring, don’t get sidetracked by it. It’s probably time to discuss this with your boss.

            2. Troutwaxer*

              I’ve had that kind of thing happen by accident. Somehow I put my best friend into permanent Junk Mail status, then get very upset when I never heard from him. It was VERY embarrassing to discover that it was my fault. So don’t assume malice. She may have simply had trouble setting up an email rule, and may, in fact, be very grateful that you’ve pointed out the problem!

        2. neverjaunty*

          So she’s reading everyone’s emails BUT yours, she puts them in a separate folder so she doesn’t have to see them pop up, and she does this even when it hurts her at work?

          That is some very invested passive-aggressiveness.

          1. Snarkus Aurelius*

            Correct. And it’s weird because we’re good friends and when we collaborate, we do it well. I have a hunch it started because of those alerts I have to send. (Required in the job description.)

            Because it’s hurting her work, although not enough that anyone else notices, that’s why I’m wondering if I should even say something unless I absolutely need her on something. The meetings and conference examples should have taught her a lesson.

            It’s not like I’m a selling Viagra! I only email her directly a handful of times a week!

            1. TheCupcakeCounter*

              I know for a fact that you can change the rule to filter by sender and subject so maybe she just needs to alter her rule. I have a rule for a few emails that I get and the rule is “from Snarkus Aurelius, subject includes “alert”.

              1. MC*

                This is what I was going to recommend. When I need something urgently I always put URGENT or Please Review by date/time.

                Of course, if you don’t include such key words in your subject headers, the same thing will happen.

                Ultimately Susan is responsible and she knows it, but you can gently note that you saw the rule and you’re willing to work with her to resolve the problem.

            2. neverjaunty*

              Yes, you should absolutely say something. Maybe she’s pissed off at you and doesn’t show it in any other way. Maybe she’s feeling overworked and this is her way of dealing with stressful ‘alerts’. Whatever it is, she’s doing it on purpose and she knows she isn’t supposed to (given what you’ve said about her reactions around bosses and how it hurts her work), yet she continues to do it. This needs some sunshine.

          2. Still Here*

            Or… it’s because she gets so many “as it happens” emails from the OP.

            OP: Have you asked her why she has this email rule in place?

            And a suggestion that might be helpful in general: It may make sense for you to have more than one email account. One for you own work and projects, and another that is used for sending the alerts etc.

            1. Snowglobe*

              I strongly suspect this. In addition, the OP sends a lot of followup CYA emails, which are probably seen by coworker as redundant. She probably filters the OP and only OP because of the volume of “non-urgent” email. I would suggest to tell her you saw the email folder, and ask her, calmly, why. Then maybe the two of you can work out a better system so that she can easily tell if an email is truly time-sensitive. She may be able to set up a more specific “rule” that filters out all emails from you except for ones that have a specific word in the subject line (like “urgent”).

            2. RKB*

              But then she should filter the alert emails. I get about 100 emails daily for shift pickups – we have the ability to work at any of the 21 facilities – and I filter out the ones that have locations too far from me. But I don’t blacklist the coworkers themselves – we use the mailing list for a variety of reasons and I may miss out on a notice or two. It’s not hard to do. And frankly, seeing as how the alerts are probably important, I think it’s rude that OPs coworker is filtering all her emails and I don’t think it’s their fault.

        3. BPT*

          Is she technologically savvy? Like, could she not realize about the folder and have set it up by accident and is missing the emails because of that? Or does she not know how to turn the automatic email rule off? Part of it could be that she doesn’t get notifications that pop up when she gets emails that go into certain folders. So when she looks at her inbox to see if there are any new ones, it doesn’t say so. It seems like the obvious answer to that would be for her to be more proactive in checking and remembering, but who knows. Could you ask her to undo the automatic filtering so that she sees your emails?

        4. Golden Lioness*

          It really sounds like she will be falling on her own sword soon. It’s unfortunate, but just do whatever you need to do to CYA. Have you spoken with your boss openly about this and how YOU are perceived through all of this?

      2. Dankar*

        Okay, I hate to make generalized, umbrella statements, buuut… It is 2016. Just about every single field involves some communication by email, and most rely heavily on it. There is absolutely no excuse to regularly miss emails from a coworker, especially (as is explained below) from one coworker in particular. This is not about asking someone to adjust to a very niche, specific mode of communication. It’s about asking them to do something that is outright expected in nearly every workplace.

    3. Murphy*

      I wouldn’t email her anything important, at least not exclusively. Follow up important messages with a phone call or in person (if that’s easy).

      1. Sadsack*

        Yeah, especially when you already knew or at least suspected that she, along with many others, normally do not read your e-mails. Regardless of this fact, if my boss dropped something urgent and time-sensitive on me, I’d make sure to have a conversation with my work partner right away. What if she planned on being out part of the day for an appointment or had some other conflict, aside from the chance that she may not have seen your messages?

      2. Mon Mon*

        For me, important projects start with a quick chat in person or by phone, then follow up with the email to recap the discussion, so they then know to look for it and have had an opportunity to get clarification via the chat beforehand.

        1. LeRainDrop*

          I agree. The point of communicating the urgent project needs to Susan was not to CYA — it was to actually get the project done well and on time. There are all kinds of reasons why a co-worker may not see an email message right away, so when it’s critical that they get started promptly and pay attention for additional communications, the best way to ensure that is to have direct/mutual communication, where you KNOW that they actually received your message — that would be a conversation, whether by phone or in person. I also empathize with the specifics of your situation, though, as what Susan is doing would be super annoying to me, too.

    4. Cookie*

      CC the boss on emails. Then you have the record and s/he may escalate things with Susan when she’s unreaponsive.

    5. Sunflower*

      What is your company culture like in regards to email? We email here all day every day and not checking your email because you’re busy is not acceptable. Old job was very different and email meant basically nothing.

      I think for the first incident you should have called or physically checked in with her after not hearing back from her within the hour on if she was working on the project. I check emails all day but things fall through the cracks, I have been known to breeze over emails and not realize they were urgent. At the end of the day, it’s both your butts on the line and if I submitted a half ass project and my boss found out I hadn’t followed up with Susan after sending the email, my boss would have been beyond pissed.

      The thing that I’m having trouble with is ‘I refuse to go remind people for stuff after I’ve already emailed them’. I know it’s super annoying to have to remind people of things- I very rarely get things by the time I ask for them and have to give people 100 reminders for something simple. Other people have different work styles and we often have to bend and make adjustments to work together.

      I’d suggest having a chat with Susan and ask her if there’s something you could be doing differently. Offer to help her organize her inbox if she would like. IMO your boss is not going to care that you refuse to remind people for stuff. All your boss cares about is the work gets done and that might require having to adjust what you prefer to do.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        It’s government so everything needs to go via email. Not only for a personal CYA but if we ever get FOIAed or questioned, email is the easiest way to demonstrate what we knew and when we knew it and what we did about it. The stuff I send Susan falls into that category.

        Susan and I are required to carry Droids for that very reason.

        1. Beezus*

          Is it possible that she’s not a very advanced Outlook user and doesn’t realize she can tailor her rules more narrowly? It sucks that she’s filing away the important stuff you’re sending her, but I think you’re right – that’s on her, not on you. If you’re not getting what you need from her on other emails, though, I think that might impact you in a way to need to problem-solve more directly on. I’ve been in exactly the same boat, and my approach is usually to assume that it’s a really broad rule, and I offer to help look at the colleagues rules and see if we can troubleshoot them (and most people are glad to learn better skills with email rules, so it’s usually a positive thing for both of us). If that doesn’t help, then I get a lot more direct.

    6. Q*

      You shouldn’t have to baby sit her. She should at least be glancing at her new emails once an hour to see if there is anything important. In this case, I probably would have followed up in person after the first couple of emails were not responded to. But again, you shouldn’t have to. You should be able to depend on your co-workers to pull their own weight.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Babysitting. That’s what it feels like. Doubly so when there’s literally no one else with whom I have this problem.

        1. Observer*

          But, you can’t control her behavior, only yours.

          I’d ask her about this. Also, follow in person for the things that affect you, and then follow THAT up with an email. Judiciously cc your boss on those follow ups. Give your boss a heads up – something like “Susan has a habit of not reading my emails even though others do. Sometimes it leads to her not doing things I need, so I’m going to go through this follow up routine with her on those kinds of issues. I’m going to cc you on those emails, so you can see the pattern for yourself.”

      2. doreen*

        Whether she should be glancing at her emails once an hour or not depends a lot on what kind of work she’s doing – not every task lends itself to stopping to check email hourly. Depending on what I’m doing on a given day, I might only check at the beginning of the day, lunchtime and before I leave for the day.

        Not reading any of Snarkus Aurelius’s emails is a separate issue.

    7. Rowan*

      I’m not sure, but it sounds like you send basically two categories of email: “as-they-happen alerts” that are broadcast to the company, and non-broadcast, everyday emails about projects and so on. My suspicion is that Susan set up that email rule to put the broadcast alerts in a folder, and that accidentally caught all your other email, too. Maybe she has realized this and doesn’t know how to fix it, or maybe she hasn’t realized it (the latter seems unlikely, given that she’s lying about seeing your email).

      I would see if you can get another email address to send the broadcasts from (maybe a group alias?). Or if not that, make sure that all the subject lines for the alerts start with the same phrase, so people can use that to filter. Then talk to Susan about the folder — why did she set it up? Did she mean to catch just the alert emails? Can you help her alter her filtering rule to be more accurate? Should you have to do this? No. Will getting this situation fixed help you and your company? Yes.

      1. hbc*

        Yes yes yes. Some easy way to distinguish the blast emails versus the actionable ones. Then you can tell her you know about the filter and that it seems to be causing problems, but now if she filters on your name *plus* “announcement” in the subject field, she’ll see your important emails.

        For what it’s worth, I vastly prefer email to phone or face-to-face, but I would very much expect a phone call or visit if there was a same-day issue.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      This is a two part problem.

      One problem is where people are ignoring your emails.

      The second problem is your FRIEND is ignoring your emails. The friendship ups the stakes here.

      I am guessing that you did not say anything to her because you were afraid of losing your cool. I can relate. When we get to the point we are losing our cool, we should have said something much sooner. It’s better to say something early on than let something like this fester and incubate.

      Putting these things together, how about something like this:

      “Friend, I should have said something a while ago when I first noticed but it got by me. Now I feel I must say something. You are not answering my emails and it’s really noticeable. There are times where I need-need-need your inputs. I noticed the other day that you have all my emails sent to a folder and they are UNread. Can we change what we are doing here? The bottom line is that at some point the boss is going to wonder why you and I don’t work well together, she will deduce that we do not work well together because our email communication is non-existent. I consider you my friend, so this is a big deal to me. I don’t want you getting in trouble, but I don’t want to get myself in trouble, either. I’d like us to figure out what we are going to do differently.”

      When she says, “everyone else ignores you, too”. Then say, “Everyone else does not have folder for my emails showing that ALL of them are unread.” And you know this because eventually people do respond.

      Unfortunately, lack of response in a relationship will KILL any relationship. A spouse who ignores the other spouse for example will help to end that marriage. If one sibling fails to respond to another sibling, that relationship will wither and die. So you listen patiently to her answer about what she will do to remedy this situation. If she is sincere that will become apparent to you as you go along. IF no change occurs at some point you may have to land this problem in the boss’ lap. It is not up to you to cover for her. If she asks you to cover for her, then she is asking too much from the friendship. Just my opinion, but to me she has already pushed that envelop too hard. Again, it’s my opinion, but I do not think she is that much of a friend. I have worked with friends and whatever the other one needed we made sure the other one was okay.

    9. Worker anonymous*

      Just throwing this out there becasue it happened to me. The staff person had no idea that my emails were going into a folder, I think she clicked on something that generated the rule that all emails with my address would go to this junk folder (different from the spam folder!). She was not aware she had set this up (this button is close to the Delete button in our Outlook) and only after a few back and forths we figured out where my emails were going. She also had no idea how to undo this rule.

    10. KiteFlier*

      If something is urgent, I feel it’s usually best to speak in person – she can’t claim you never had the conversation (or if she does, that’s a different story). Then follow up the conversation with an email, recapping what she needs to do for the project – “Per our discussion this morning, ….”. Mark as urgent and CC her boss if necessary. I totally get the needing-to-email, but walking over to her office once or twice a day seems to be a necessary part of getting your job done.

    11. Testy McTesterson*

      It does not appear to be the case here, but there can be good uses for filtering emails from specific people. My boss does that with his direct reports so that he can find the stuff we send in amongst everything else that gets sent his way.

  2. Regular commenter undercover*

    I work in what I thought was the perfect seven person Governmental Organization for Teapot Standardization team. Over the last five years, we have seemed to have great teamwork, with everyone working seamlessly together and no egos in play. Our direct manager, Monica, is an amazing supervisor (grandboss Janice is very much not, just so this account sounds plausible). Also, all my peers in the team are really great at their jobs, and as we have slightly different backgrounds and skill sets, it’s been a real education just working alongside one another. It’s a wonderful tiny department within a huge grinding bureaucracy.
    About four months ago, my male peer Joey (I’m a woman) mentioned that he was going to start revising the standard specifications for milk chocolate teapots. He’s a colleague whom I trust 100% and often share ideas with. I said that I happened to have a draft of a new standard specification form for white chocolate teapots that I was planning to present as an (uninvited) suggestion to Janice (Janice and Monica encourage us to make these kinds of suggestions). I showed him my specs, which took a completely new approach that I thought would have a lot of benefits. He was impressed by the idea, so I suggested that he take and expand the work I had already done and turn it into a unified standard for chocolate teapots, rather than maintaining different ones for the different chocolate types. I had done about 5% of the total work that would be needed, so it was clearly going to be his project and I didn’t expect anything at all in terms of recognition. (I try to share my ideas freely because I’ve found you get more back than you give out.)
    Yesterday Joey came into my office and told me (definitely not ‘asked’) that he had handed in the new specs to Janice and that he had decided that he was going to “downplay” my contribution to the document to Janice, although he would tell Monica at some point that I had contributed. He had decided this because I won employee of the year 2015 (it’s a big deal with a cash bonus) and he needed this project to be substantial enough so that he can win the award in 2016 (it’s an unspoken rule that nobody wins twice in a row so there is no chance I will win, but what he doesn’t know is that I need to maintain my office reputation at its current level, because next year I want to ask to go remote, which is possible but a big deal in our office.)
    I was completely taken aback and as we had to immediately leave for a meeting, didn’t say anything. In that meeting with Janice and Monica he presented the basic idea I had had as his own. I didn’t say anything because I hadn’t decided how to approach it yet, and because I couldn’t see a way to do it that wouldn’t seem incredibly childish.
    Joey is my only compatriot on the team so I can be sure that it isn’t a cultural issue, unless being a knobhead is a culture.
    I tried to channel Alison and think about solving the problem directly with Joey rather than running to Monica, but I couldn’t work out what I actually wanted to solve. What I want is to unknow what he was doing and why he was doing it, which can’t happen. I don’t care about getting credit for a piddling little idea that anyone could come up with, and I don’t need my name attached to the new specs, as they are a fairly poor implementation of the idea I had. There is nothing that I want Joey to do differently at this point.
    I talked to the only colleague I can trust on this issue, Phoebe, who thought that I should go to Monica and thinks that Monica would definitely want to know what had happened.
    My problem is that I know that Monica has already reprimanded Joey for slightly chauvinistic behaviour and this new information will permanently reduce her opinion of him (at least inwardly; I have no doubt that she will treat Joey fairly and professionally whatever happens but she sure as hell won’t be nominating him for the award in the foreseeable future). She will definitely (and correctly) notice the gender angle here. I feel like the impact on Joey from my doing this is perhaps more than he deserves, but the impact on me from not doing it is greater than I deserve.
    Also Monica gives great advice, and is usually the first person I turn to for this kind of issue, so I’m really missing her input. And I think I need her to know because the destruction of my trust will have an impact on the way our team works (Joey and I are the longest serving team members and so tend to speak up more in meetings, etc.)
    (Also, there is no chance he gets that award. I got it because I achieved 200% of my annual productivity goal while also writing a 250 page history of teapot standardization that was a high profile project for our team; he has written a 25 page bullet list and probably won’t make 100% productivity this year.)
    Monica is out of the office this week, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to talk to her about it on Monday. However, if any of you have different suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

    tl;dr: Formerly trusted colleague appropriated my work for his gain, not sure whether to tell our boss or not.

    1. persimmon*

      I mean, yes, if you tell Monica it will change her opinion of him… but that’s on him, not on you. And if he didn’t already have a history of bad behavior in this direction, which is also on him and not on you, then it likely wouldn’t have this same impact. You’ve already asked a trusted coworker who understands the culture and needs of the office, and you should go with her advice.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        Agreed. If you want to be super accommodating, you could tell Joey it’d be more appropriate for him to tell Monica the base idea was yours. But for the record, Joey made a major judgment error, and I don’t think you should bend over backwards to fix this for him.

        If you want to be perfectly appropriate and also potentially help the team more, show Monica the original idea you showed Joey, and tell her how you think they could be used better than Joey’s specs. Not in a whiny way, just “By the way, here is the original that Joey’s idea was based on. I think it could be used better in X, Y, and Z ways. I mentioned this to Joey four months ago, but he’s taken it in a different direction.”

        If you want to help make your workplace and the world a better place, tell Monica what Joey said verbatim about downplaying your contributions to Janice. It’s utterly inappropriate for him to have done that, and since he’s doing it knowingly and intentionally for his own gain, he’ll do it to others in the future. It’s not acceptable workplace behavior.

    2. Artemesia*

      I think you should have pushed back when he told you what he was going to do; it feels a little oofy to stand there doing nothing and then run to the boss. He alerted you; it was your moment to say ‘I know you have done most of the work to develop this fully, but I expect to receive a nod for the basic idea. This won’t hurt you with the boss, in fact it will actually contribute to your reputation for being a good collaborator.’ or something.

      1. Regular enter undercover*

        I agree with you, which is why I haven’t “run to the boss” yet but wanted to reflect on it.
        I guess I would feel that he had alerted me if he had waited for an answer and hadn’t immediately left for the meeting where he was going to present it as is own work.

    3. Anonymous of course*

      Let it go. I don’t understand what you want to accomplish with this . A colleague is hoping that the work he did will help him get an award. An award you think he won’t get partly based on the fact that this project isn’t that good and one you said you didn’t expect recognition for (“I had done about 5% of the total work that would be needed, so it was clearly going to be his project and I didn’t expect anything at all in terms of recognition).
      What I do see is someone who is bothered by not getting recognition for their contribution. ” he had decided that he was going to “downplay” my contribution”.
      Is he maybe a bit of a tool? Sure but there is nothing gender based in this.

      1. Golden Lioness*

        But the problem is the principles he’s operating under… this time it was a little project, but next time it may be the next big idea. Ethically, he’s not behaving up to par. I think OP should go ahead and speak with boss, but at the same time being kind and as matter of fact as possible. The repercussions are all on Joey, and all because of his shady tactics.

        Good luck, OP, and please give us updates.

      2. catsAreCool*

        I think it’s reasonable to be bothered by not getting recognition for contribution. I can’t tell if there’s anything gender-based here, but I’m not there – maybe there’s smoething I missed.

        How about going to Joey and saying “This isn’t OK. You need to tell them that I had the original idea, and if you don’t, I will.”

        1. catsAreCool*

          I see the possible gender-based assumption now – he has done chauvinistic things in the past, so this might be another example.

          Honestly, if Monica loses respect for him based on things he’s done that are work-related, that seems reasonable.

      3. Regular commenter undercover*

        Teapot standardization is an overwehlmingly male field, so the few women there are have to work hard to get recognition. Comandeering the work of a woman is not a good look for Joey. He’s been pulled up before for presenting the ideas of women in meetings before ( that thing people do where you say something in a meeting and a moment later they repeat it as if it was their original thought).

        1. catsAreCool*

          “that thing people do where you say something in a meeting and a moment later they repeat it as if it was their original thought” I hate it when people do that.

          1. esra (also a Canadian)*

            If I had a shiny loonie for every time a dude higher up on the food chain pitched my own idea back to me…

    4. Myrin*

      I agree with persimmon above. It’s really not your fault that he behaved this way in the first place, especially if he’d shown chauvinistic tendencies before. I don’t think you should feel any guilt (although I can understand why you would) about going to Monica and explain the situation just as you did here.

      (I’m really baffled by why he felt like he needed to tell you this – and in such detail, no less! – at all. It almost seems like he wanted to provoke you/dare you to say something? Super weird. I mean, he probably didn’t want you to feel blindsided in that meeting where he presented his idea as your own but what’s with the adversarial tone and, again, the detail of all of it? And really, would it have looked bad on him if he’d just mentioned you in a half sentence as the person with the original idea? What even is going on with that guy?)

      1. Regular commenter undercover*

        I think he was either trying to control what might happen in the meeting, or perhaps trying to persuade himself that what he was doing was ok. He’s recently been turned down for an internal promotion, so now he has set his sights on Monica’s job and I think feels a bit desperate about it.

    5. Lucy*

      I see no downsides to talking to Monica. Whether or not you care about attribution for this piece of work isn’t really relevant – it’s the behaviour and what it implies that I’d want to know about if I were managing the team.

      If you’re struggling with the idea of bringing it up because it’s about you, think about how you’d feel if you learnt he did the same thing to another woman on your team. You’re giving Monica good information now so that she can watch out for this behaviour in future, not specifically trying to right the immediate wrong he did you, and you can frame it like that when you talk to her.

    6. Kyrielle*

      You have my sympathy. I would remember, regardless, that he has told you something important about himself with this – two somethings, actually. One, that he will appropriate ideas when desperate. But two…he is honest with you about it and told you in advance. It stinks, but you probably don’t have to guard yourself against him doing that *without* telling you (unless he changes his approach after you talk to Monica).

      I think in your shoes, I would talk to Monica, but I would also make it clear that you did very little of the work and were only expecting acknowledgement for having provided a little seed info, that the bulk of the work was his. That way you are not letting her imagine it as more than it was, but you are giving her a heads-up what happened.

      1. Regular commenter undercover*

        Tbh, I wasn’t expecting the acknowledgement until he told me that he thought I would deserve it but he was instead strategically going to conceal all my input. So for sure I don’t want to claim it’s the quantity of work, it’s definitely the principle.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Say something. “I don’t want to get him in trouble” here means “I am shielding him from the natural consequences of his own decisions.”

        2. MillersSpring*

          I think his strategy to conceal your contribution makes it worth bringing up with Monica, as long as you frame it as “thought you should know about this conversation with Joey” rather than “I’m miffed.”

    7. Tara B.*

      I’ve read this several times and I’m having a hard time figuring out what you would like the result to be.

      First you say “I don’t care about getting credit for a piddling little idea that anyone could come up with, and I don’t need my name attached to the new specs, as they are a fairly poor implementation of the idea I had,” but you’re still unhappy that he brought it up in the meeting without giving you credit.

      Is it that you want some credit or an acknowledgment that this originated with you, or is it the fact that he was expecting to use this idea of yours to catapult him into ImportantAward 2016 or is just the assumption that you would be OK with him pretending that you had nothing to do with the idea? Or were you going to use this idea as part of a larger plan to present a justification for allowing you to work remotely and Joey’s actions made it difficult for you to do so without looking like you’re trying to piggyback off an idea of his that really originated with you?

      What’s really bothering you? Once you know what’s really bothering you, then you can figure out where to go from there.

      1. Regular commenter undercover*

        What’s bothering me is that we’ve worked so hard to go from an office culture where everyone was isolated and hostile (e.g. Some people used to sneak into other’s offices and throw their work in the bin) to an incredibly pleasant collaborative culture. Our boss has created this culture by recruiting some great people. If this is how he’s working, he’s going to ruin it.
        And this is the point from which I don’t know how to uphold the new culture. I’m just not sure what I can do as an individual.

        1. MillersSpring*

          In which case, you’ve got a great justification that Joey’s conversation with you is not supportive of the office culture you’ve all worked so hard to improve and maintain.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Look at the big picture. Always.

      I had a boss that took my ideas and presented them as her own. I decided to let her do that and not call her on it. At some point it became more important to get the idea implemented than to get credit for it. I knew I created it and that was my take-away.

      I think what happened here, is that you thought you had this neat work place. And then Joey blew that story away. You probably still have a neat work place, you just have this one character who does not “get” the culture of the place and feels he is running to catch up.
      What to do.

      One thing I would consider is going back to Joey and saying, “You OWE me, big time!” Even if you have no intention of collecting, let him know that YOU realize you did him a favor.

      In your particular story here, you may not want to get credit for inputs because the rest of the work was not up to par. I have seen this one, too. My bestest advice here, is to step back and let the drama unfold meanwhile you do nothing. Sometimes we are on the receiving end of an injustice, but the injustice rights itself without our intervention. If we intervene we just end up looking silly. Sometimes our silence is extremely valuable.

      Other options:
      You could decide to do nothing and just say, “Okay, Joey, that is ONE.” And start counting. If we see a behavior three times that is a pattern and we have to respond when we see a pattern.

      You could decide never to give him your best work again. I mean, he blew it. If you want your idea to be brought to fruition, decide that you will be the one who brings it there.

      You could decide to go talk to your good boss. She may know more things than you know and she may appreciate your telling her. It might be a critical piece of information to her.

      In the end, I would make my decision based on the answer to this question: “Which choice would allow me to sleep at night?” Then I live with that choice.

      1. Artemesia*

        Of course one possible way this plays out is Joey implements the idea and it sucks because it is poorly implemented and THEN he mentions that he was ‘always nervous about it as it was OP’s idea and he wasn’t so sure about it.’

    9. Regular commenter undercover*

      Thanks for all the input, it’s given me some ideas for what to do next.
      I’m going to speak to Joey on Monday and say that, on reflection, while he is welcome to use my idea without credit in this instance, I think in general there’s a danger that this approach will damage the culture that we’ve all said we appreciate so much, so if I see it happening again from anyone to anyone, I’d have to find a way to try and stop it.
      I will then mention it in a low key way to Monica as I know that she would want to know. Phoebe told me something I didn’t know out at the end of today that Joey did something similar to another female coworker (basically took over her project because she was pregnant, and he said she had baby brain and was making bad decisions) so I do think Monica needs to keep her eye on him.
      The culture of our team is the only thing that makes this job bearable, and I have to keep working here until next year as it is the only place nationwide that does this work, so I’m hugely scared of losing this atmosphere.

  3. Sunflower*

    Anyone have some good resources for people who are conducting international job searches/interested in working abroad?

    My search is pretty wide open and I’m not looking to move anywhere specific. Advice blogs, job search websites, websites for expats, ways to get more info on what’s it’s like living abroad- really anything with helpful info!

      1. vpc*

        Or the Peace Corps, depending on where in your career / life you are (there are certain restrictions about dependent children, etc)

    1. matcha123*

      I live in Japan and in my experience with Japan, and trying to job search in South Korea, both countries prefer to hire foreigners within their respective countries. I guess that’s no surprise, it’s cheaper.
      For Japan, at least, you need to have your visa before you come. The type of working visa you will get depends on the type of work you do. For example, my visa is Specialist in Humanities. This means I can work doing jobs such as translation, interpretation, English teaching through a private company, and now that the Engineering visa has combined with mine, jobs in that field, too.

      If you are someone that needs to have a support network, living abroad is hard. Especially if you can’t speak the local language.
      What kinds of jobs or countries are you interested in? That’s probably the first place to start. I’ve seen Japanese companies that will hire people who are abroad, but they won’t pay for the plane ticket or moving expenses (including the massive amount of money you might have to cough up for an apartment).

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        That is a great idea to use Pinterest for that. You could always share the link just to the board and let others search if you wanted.

    2. Clever Name*

      My husband and I are hoping to go the same route. We’re targeting one particular country. I work as a consultant, and many of the companies I work with have a presence in our target country, so I’m starting there.

    3. Chaordic One*

      This is terrible! With the job market being what it is, I’m not too terribly surprised that your state-funded job developer isn’t having much luck finding you a job, but in light of what he is charging he’s clearly milking the system and someone (the people who hired him) should put a stop to it.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      There is a huge amount of variation depending on what you do and what country you want to move to – it would probably help to search either for a particular job, or to look at some countries you’re interested in moving to.

      I live in Taiwan, working for a Taiwanese research institute on a work visa. My institute has a lot of foreign employees, who are brought in specifically for the jobs, but they can’t hire anyone who doesn’t have a Master’s degree or higher. In general, foreigners tend to be hired to teach English, for high level or very specific skills (research, tech, editing), or for domestic/construction work (mostly from South East Asia), as well as some entrepreneurs. Plus, there are people who are diplomatic or business employees of other countries, posted to Taiwan.

  4. Timssphere*

    As part of his services, my state-funded job developer cold-calls businesses on my behalf, supposedly to discover openings that are part of the “hidden job market.”

    Over the last 10 weeks, he’s made 100 of those calls.

    Number of hidden jobs found: 1 (for which I was not qualified)

    Total cost to the taxpayer: $14 per call.

    Apart from the disabilities themselves, inadequate vocational rehabilitation services are the reasons why the unemployment/underemployment rate for those with disabilities is so high.

      1. Timssphere*

        The cost is so high because he bills for 12 minutes worth of time at $70/hour for all calls, regardless of their actual length. I’m trying to convince my VR counselor to STOP this nonsense. VR has already spent about $6K on my case, and my counselor’s boss has started making noise about dropping me because I’m not getting anywhere. They want me to take a menial job and be done with it. They don’t seem to understand that (1) Menial jobs aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to hire someone with a bachelor’s degree and some experience and (2) Going on SSI is actually more rational than taking a minimum wage job because health care is free on disability.

        It’s a real mess all around.

        1. Morning Glory*

          WTF? I cannot imagine any of the calls taking a full 12 minutes, even to include time finding contact info, etc.

          And once it was clearly not yielding any leads, how could he justify continuing with that plan?

          1. Natalie*

            Generally when people bill by time they use some specific increment (quarter-hour, half-hour), and the minimum will be one increment. Sounds like this guy is using 1/5 hour as his increment.

            1. Morning Glory*

              I know this is a different field but when I was a paralegal, all time was done per client, in 6 minute increments, rounded up. So if an attorney spent 55 minutes making 10 calls for a client, she would bill for 60 minutes. If an attorney tried rounding to 15 minute increments for every call, the client would have definitely pushed back.

              It sounds like this guy is making one cold call to one company for Timsspehere, then calling it a day and billing for 12 minutes, working on something else, then making one cold call to one company and billing another 12 minutes. That may happen once every now and then, but if it is happening every time, instead of making multiple calls in a row, then this guy, at best, has terrible work habits.

                1. FiveWheels*

                  The standard here is 6 minutes minimum per call, for every call (except “called, no answer, left voicemail requesting call back” type of things). Same for emails and letters. In fifteen years I’ve seen pushback maybe five times at most.

        2. Jesmlet*

          This is NOT how this should work and certainly isn’t how it works in my state. Your job developer should be setting constant goals and helping you find a job that you want, not finding you some retail or food service job that you’re not interested in. If you end up going on SSI or SSDI, look into the ticket to work program. They’re sometimes a lot better at staying on top of goals and they set up specific contracts that assist with that. They also slowly transition you off of the benefits so it’s not all or nothing and there’s a safety net if the job doesn’t end up working out.

          1. HoVertical*

            VR in my state works pretty much the same, but they’ve got a pretty high success rate. Your caseworker should get you a new counselor, or step up the bid to get your disability approved, because that is just absolutely ridiculous.

        3. Kay*

          Wow, for 6k it would just be cheaper to give you the cash straight from the government than do the job placement.

    1. Mimmy*

      $14 per call??! Is that the actual phone carrier’s charge, or is that how much your state’s Voc Rehab agency pays for this specific task?

      I have disabilities too and have used job development services. I’ve been lucky that I’ve always been allowed to find job leads on my own, even when the developer also searched for leads and/or called on my behalf, so this gave me a little bit more control. Your job development agency is definitely out of touch with current norms.

      The only thing I can suggest is contacting your VR counselor and see if you could switch job developers.

      Good luck.

      1. Mimmy*

        My apologies – I did not see your reply to Morning Glory, but I still am wishing you the best in getting this straightened out.

      2. Timssphere*

        Oh, I’m looking for jobs on my own as well, but I’ve been unemployed for 18 months now, so the stigma associated with long-term unemployment has reduced the response rate to about 1 callback for every 50 applications.

    2. SeekingBetter*

      That’s totally insane! 12 minutes per call? I can imagine most of the calls your job developer conducts can only be a few minutes, tops. I wonder if the job developer is “milking the cow” so to speak. I can’t imagine being in your shoes.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Reading down through your comments, what you are saying is going on seems to be on par with what I know about voc rehab.

      I get the outrage over $14 per call but this is what it is. If people find this is upsetting, this only scratches the surface of what the taxpayer is shelling out for. It wouldn’t be too bad if people were actually helped, then we could say well at least it works. It’s not working.

      The real number here to be in shock over is the 100 calls. OP, this guy has no idea what the H he is doing. It should not take 100 calls to place you. He should have some familiarity with the employers in the area AND he should be calling JUST the employers related to your skills and abilities.
      But noooooooo. That is not what he is doing. He is calling anyone and everyone willy nilly. He has no idea what is out there and no idea how to find it. The proof is in the number of calls he has made.

      See if you can get a different developer, one who is used to finding jobs for someone with your skill set. IF they tell you that is not possible. write your congresspeople. Not kidding.
      This is bogus.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yeah sometimes it’s the system and sometimes it’s the people. I had a disabled family member whose caseworker would charge time and money on useless stuff and it didn’t help my relative one bit, but apparently there was no alternative. A few years later…that person was fired when it was dis covered they were basically taking the money for managing dozens of programs but not taking the time to run any of them. Actual fraud, bUT I don’t know if there will be prosecution…doubt it.

        Just sharing to note that sometimes what looks like a dysfunctional system is actually a terrible employee hiding behind bureaucracy.

    4. Sas*

      This is so true. At least yours makes calls before, the person that I see has suggested she would call a business after I had submitted an application, regardless of their requests, and that I speak with an advisor from college who was the rudest person. She said that maybe the reason that this advisor screamed at me was my fault,( my bad communication), and that I should return with her along with me. B__ch what! Where was this help the first time around? It is makes you feel so low.
      Oh, also, as homework*, I need to do a quiz from a job placement agency I am not even a part of (computer skills), send to her, and then post the results on my resume. Is that really a good idea? I don’t know. After a while, you agree to the demands because, well, what else is there?

      1. Timssphere*

        “the person that I see has suggested she would call a business after I had submitted an application, regardless of their requests”

        They do this too. I’ve even linked my VR counselor to AAM posts about how following up before an interview is likely to hurt, not help, but she insists that it’s effective. I think what may explain it is that according to national statistics, the proportion of people who have a college degree who seek VR services is much lower than the proportion of people who have college degrees in the general population, so counselors and job developers may be used to dealing with big box stores and fast food places, which probably respond more favorably to pre-interview followup.

        1. Mimmy*

          I bet they have even less experience dealing with clients with graduate degrees – this has been my experience with VR. Thankfully, my current VR counselor (through the state’s blindness services agency, separate from general VR) is AWESOME and has made it her priority to help me get back to work because she knows I have a lot to offer but just need a little help. I really wish I could clone her for you and others who’ve had poor experiences.

  5. not so super-visor*

    I’m removing this (and any other threads related to the election) because I don’t have it in me to read the responses in order to police them for inappropriate stuff, which sometimes comes up when politics is the topic. Sorry.

  6. anonykins*

    I have a one-on-one today with my boss and grandboss about new overtime laws. All the other people who were hired recently also have a similar meeting. I think they’re going to tell me I’m going hourly but my more senior coworkers are getting a salary bump. I feel so sad :(

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      I once found some nice soaps at Marshall’s that were very affordable. Easily re-giftable if someone doesn’t like the scent or whatever.

    2. krysb*

      I think I’m getting the salary bump. I think my company realizes that putting me back on hourly or leaving my salary as-is will cost them a lot more money than just giving me a raise. Giving me the raise would actually cost them half of what it would cost them if I was eligible for overtime, regardless of whether I am hourly or salary.

      However, I work for a pretty cool company and, despite my lower-level job title, I carry a lot of responsibility across different levels and departments.

    3. anonykins*

      Yup. Me and everyone else hired within the last year are hourly, while all our peers are getting the raise. At least they didn’t cut the hourly rate – I should still theoretically be getting the same overall pay per year.

      ;_;

    4. Sniffles*

      yeah, we’re mostly all going hourly with an edit to not go over 40 hours/week.
      Not sure how they think I’ll be able to do that since I’m currently doing the equivalent of two 30 hr/wk jobs already. Most the time I don’t bother taking lunch and I’m always working extra hours. Don’t want to mention that as they might lower my hourly wage so any possible OT would only take me t my current salary…..
      Yay! Less money, more work, less time to do it in.

    5. anonykins*

      Worst part is that because of the difference in pay schedule for hourly and salaried employees, I’m not getting paid for a month. Oh, and when I finally *DO* get my first “new” paycheck, they’re going to double dip my benefits payment since I didn’t pay for the first half of the month. I’m basically getting 35% of my pay for the month of December…

        1. Sophie Winston*

          It’s probably legal. In many companies exempt employees are often paid on the last day of the period they are being paid for (pay period is the 1st to 14th, paid on 14th).

          Hourly employees are usually paid after the fact so that overtime can be properly calculated – a week delay is common (paid on the 21st for the 1st to the 14th).

          This scenario would be three weeks between checks; it could easily be four if exempt was paid earlier or hourly later.

          1. Anonykins*

            Exactly. Right now my paycheck include some time I haven’t worked yet, and it seems the hourly paycheck is distributed two weeks after they submit hours. I’ll get paid for all time I work, eventually. My boss was even trying to soften the blow like ‘oh, when you eventually leave the company you’ll get a final paycheck two weeks after you work! Salaried people don’t get that!’ But it doesn’t help much when I have bills NOW.

      1. KiteFlier*

        Google your state’s paycheck laws, you usually need to be paid within X amount of days after the pay period ends. That sounds strange to me that because of the law change, your pay would be delayed. They’ve had months to prepare for this. You shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of their inefficient system.

    6. AliceBD*

      I am waiting for HR to get it’s act together and tell me what is going to happen to me. I make $5k under the threshold so I doubt they will give me a raise. Also doubt they will make me hourly or allow any overtime. But the nature of my job is I am constantly doing bits outside of working hours — I can’t do my job effectively if I am confined to working hours. And I usually work 45+ hours a week now anyway. So I have no idea what they want to happen. (Although I have found out that my boss isn’t happy with the idea that I will have to work over my vacation. I don’t know why it bothers her since I have worked every other weekend and vacation except for ones when I was places with no Internet since I started these job duties a couple of years ago. We’re supposed to divvy it up next week so we both take responsibilities for different days over Thanksgiving. But frankly, working all this out is more bothersome and stressful than letting me do 30 mins of work a day. I’ll be sitting on my couch with a computer in my lap anyway. Might as well be work instead of Buzzfeed.)

    7. Honeybee*

      If I understand Alison correctly, you don’t actually have to switch to hourly compensation in order to comply with the new laws. You just need to track your time and get paid time-and-a-half for overtime if you go over 40 hours a week.

      1. Anonykins*

        Yeah but that is much too difficult a concept for HR at a behemoth corporation to understand. They only seem to get hourly = nonexempt and salaried = exempt. Trust me, I’ve asked.

  7. Coffee and Mountains*

    I’m looking for good ideas for employee gifts for the holidays. It’s out of my own pocket, so I can’t really spend much more than $10.00 per person. I have people on my team that don’t drink coffee, so I wasn’t planning on doing Starbucks gift cards. I also can’t do anything alcohol related. Would you rather get a keepsake or a consumable?

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      People who prefer consumables are often people who don’t like clutter so wouldn’t like a keepsake, but people who like keepsakes may also enjoy consumables.

      1. Two-Time College Dropout*

        Clutter hater here. Whenever I get some trinket that doesn’t actually DO anything, I thank the giver and am genuinely grateful that they think enough of me to give me a gift… but the “keepsake” goes straight in the donation pile (or trash).

        The only kind of keepsake that *might* get a pass is some everyday item that I’d realistically use (water bottle, tote bag, silly novelty pen, etc) because those things are consumable-ish.

    2. Leatherwings*

      Definitely a consumable. Keepsakes end up as clutter for me. Maybe a $10 visa giftcard? Waterbottles? A small box of chocolates?

      1. Leatherwings*

        I just had another thought: What about a nice but small jar of jam or honey and some pretzels/bread of some kind to eat it with? Those kinds of things are cute and easily re-giftable if the person doesn’t eat such things.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Harry & David has a lot of nice things that would fit in this category, I think. Their dips are delicious! (their everything is delicious, really)

          1. Chaordic One*

            Ooh, this is a good idea! I love Harry & David and there are lots of similar gourmet items out there.

        2. Anonymous of course*

          Personally I wouldn’t like this. I prefer to buy my own food. As an employee I did not expect nor want anything from my supervisors for Christmas. A company bonus would be nice. But gift giving of any kind is not a business requirement

          1. Partly Cloudy*

            “As an employee I did not expect nor want anything from my supervisors for Christmas.”

            I wish everyone felt that way. Sigh.

      1. Windchime*

        Agreed. I don’t drink coffee at all–I hate the way it tastes. But I still go to Starbuck’s several times a week. I bought a cute mug for myself there the other day, they have tons of yummy treats, and they have lots of teas.

      2. Two-Time College Dropout*

        I don’t ever seek out a Starbucks, but I’d still welcome a gift card since I inevitably end up at one several times a year.

    3. hit the wall*

      I’d rather get a consumable. If Starbucks isn’t an option, what about a gift card to another place they might like? One year, our manager gave us all gift cards to an ice cream place.

    4. Nanc*

      Hmm, that’s a bit tough. Is there a local chocolate shop that could make little boxes for you? We’ve done this for clients the past few years, a $10 box from a local place called Lillie Belle Farms. We picked 8 different pieces and they put them in nice boxes with a little cheat sheet that included our logo and contact info. They were very popular!

      I’m not big on keepsakes but I do love nice pens, so perhaps something like that?

      1. Hibiscus*

        We have a French bakery that has adorable treat boxes for $7 that are a perfect hostess/thank you gift. They are my go to for little volunteer gifts.

    5. SMT*

      Mugs filled with candy (I use mugs for hot chocolate, and you can get cheap ones at Goodwill in good enough shape to gift) are usually a good way to go. Also, gift cards to a local grocery store instead of Starbucks would be awesome.

    6. Meredith*

      I personally don’t love visa giftcards because I always have 5 of them floating around in my wallet with $2 on them. For some reason it’s hard for me to spend them out! I forget I have them, but I do enjoy gift cards to places like Starbucks (there are non-coffee things to get there!). I’m not usually a fan of keepsakes, because I’m just not into knick-knacks, but I do appreciate food.

      Or you may want to bring in some food for general consumption. I like to bring in a mix of sugary and salty snacks as well as whole fruit like good fresh grapes and clementines so that people with all kinds of dietary needs can find an option for a treat.

      1. chickabiddy*

        It’s kind of a pain, but at my supermarket the self-checkout machines let you make a partial payment. I use up the remnants of Visa gift cards that way — I just try to go when it’s slow because it takes a while to run a few different gift cards and then pay for the rest with my regular card.

        1. Meredith*

          I also figured out that Walgreen’s will also let me use small balance-d pre-paid debit cards that are lower than my total amount. I just have to run them as credit. Great, when I remember to do this! It’s also something that not all of the cashiers are aware of, but I was able to get one last lingering rebate card out of my wallet this afternoon. Woo-hoo!

      2. Candy Machine!*

        Use them in the vending machine that takes credit cards. We did that once in a hotel! Came back to the room with all kinds of candy, pretzels and gum! It was like creating your own minibar!

    7. Kelly L.*

      Consumable. I don’t mind keepsakes as a general thing, but keepsakes from work I’m less of a fan of–keepsakes work best when there’s a lot of personal sentiment involved, and I don’t always love my co-workers that much ;)

    8. Temperance*

      If you were in Philadelphia, I’d say Wawa. I think Starbucks is good, though, even for non-coffee drinkers. They have excellent tea, and there are Starbucks everywhere. They have snacks and stuff, too.

      1. SJ*

        My mother is the sort of person who never wants anything and buying for her is impossible, so every Christmas she asks for a Wawa gift card. I got her one, and a few weeks ago, my dad and I were running out to Wawa to grab lunch and she said, “oh, I think I have a gift card you can use!” Mom, I KNOW you’ve been to Wawa in the 10 months since I gave you this.

        1. Temperance*

          Seriously it’s the one thing that literally everyone I know can use and will appreciate. I still haven’t figured out how to explain Wawa to out-of-staters … or Sheetz people (shudders).

            1. Temperance*

              Me too! I’m from Scranton, and they still have Sheetz. It’s gross – they even have an entire cooler dedicated to Faygo, for the local Juggalo population.

    9. DG's gal*

      How many people do you have? If it’s under 10, a nice baked good is always appreciated in my office. One supervisor always gives me pumpkin bread that they make. If you have more than that, I agree with the other consumables. Maybe boxes of Godiva or a similar high-end chocolate people wouldn’t always buy for themselves. I also agree with Not Karen, Starbucks has lots of stuff, my husband is not a coffee drinker but gets the chai tea lattes.

    10. Artemesia*

      Consumables. I always gave staff something they could take home to their family that way they get a little glory as in ‘my boss gave me this elegant holiday bread’ (thus I am a valued employee) in front of their kids and spouse. I had about 7 support staff who provided work for me although I was not their only ‘boss’ — many people supported by the group didn’t buy gifts on occasions and I couldn’t afford big expenditures, but they always looked forward to what it would be each year. I would get everyone something similar but not necessarily identical. I had one admin who was diabetic and so I always got her something she could eat when the general gift was going to be cookies or cakes or whatever; she loved the year I gave her a box of clementines.

    11. Sunflower*

      I don’t drink coffee and I go to Starbucks a fair amount. I like their Tea plus they have food and snacks. Plus they can always regift it.

      I’d vote for a Visa giftcard but I think most of those have activation fees- I know AMEX is $5 so that would make it not worth it for $10.

      1. NJ Anon*

        I get visa gift cards through my bank. Because I have an account there, there is no activation or any other charge.

    12. Another HRPro*

      I would go with consumables. And if people have different tastes / diets, try to give each one something for them specifically. Examples:
      – the candy lover: assorted chocolates / candies
      – the sweet tooth: holiday cookies
      – the coffee lover: coffee beans
      – the healthy one: small bags of mixed nuts
      – the I have no idea at all: hot chocolate mixes

    13. AshK413*

      Honestly, I’d rather get a card, free breakfast (i.e. you bring in donuts, or bagels) or nothing at all. I hate trinket-type gifts and almost always end up tossing or giving them away.

    14. Q*

      If at all possible, try to personalize the gift card. I have people who walk in every day with Starbucks so I know they will like that. There are others that go to Jimmy Johns for lunch at least once a week. Others love Jamba Juice. Not only will they appreciate the gift, but they will appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into it.

    15. Coffee and Mountains*

      Thanks, everyone! I love everyone’s ideas. I’m leaning towards a small box of chocolates from a fancy chocolate shop in town and maybe some sort of office supply – pens, notepad, etc. But, I’m going to hold on to everyone else’s thoughts, because I’ll be in the same boat again next year. :)
      I’m not used to giving gifts, really, but I started a new job this year and there seems to be more of a gift culture here. I was the only person on my team that didn’t get my boss anything for Boss’s Day, oops!

      1. LeRainDrop*

        Just a thought about the “office supplies” idea — if you work at a company where pens, paper, etc. are already provided, then what is the point of gifting these things to them?

        1. Chicken Flavour*

          I think a fun type of office supply that normally wouldn’t be provided could be a good gift – it’s something that reminds you that a coworker thought of you on a holiday but also something you don’t have to bring home if you hate clutter. Coworkers have bought me fun office supplies before and I liked them!

      2. Hope*

        My boss has done $10 Amazon gift cards before. You can buy pretty much anything with them (and if you’ve got prime, you don’t have to worry about shipping). And like other people have pointed out, Starbucks has a lot more than coffee (including mugs).

        I would go gift card before actual consumables, simply b/c of allergies/food restrictions/etc. that you might not be aware of.

      3. MC*

        For one holiday timed meeting I convinced the powers that be to let me buy chocolate instead of ordering tzchotzkes. I went to Vosage, bought a bunch of different flavors and enough for everyone to have two bars and told people in the meeting they should trade/swap to get flavors they liked. I also got some non-chocolate candy in case of allergies/preferences. People were raving about the chocolate.

        No one needs another mousepad.

    16. Phoebe*

      I usually get a Trader Joe’s gift card from my boss, which I love. Or maybe an AMEX or VISA gift card they could use for anything.

    17. Florida*

      A sincere individual note to each person thanking them for their hard work, creative thinking, or whatever is appropriate or that specific person. Forget the chocolate or coffee or whatever. Letting each person know how you appreciate them specifically will be more appreciated than something where everyone gets the same thing.

    18. MsMaryMary*

      My co-manager and I used to get our team an “office toy” every year. Just a little doodad people could fiddle with at their desks. Think: mini slinky, a tangle toy, stress balls, magnet toys (do not eat the buckyballs), a little puzzle… They were always pretty popular, and if someone was a low clutter person, we weren’t offended if they regifted or donated their toy.

      1. Windchime*

        A few years ago, I worked with a couple of vendors who were in their mid-twenties. They would come to our site regularly and I got to know them pretty well. For Christmas, I gave them each a min-Slinky and they loved them. I think I paid a buck apiece. They’re just a cool toy to play with at your desk as long as it doesn’t bug your neighbors.

    19. Stellaaaaa*

      How about Target gift cards? They have an in-store Starbucks! Worst case scenario, people can buy shampoo, toothpaste, or a book.

    20. Tilly W*

      Maybe a gift card to a popular lunch spot near the office? A deli or sandwich shop with lots of options so all diets and preferences are accommodated and the $10 gets you a nice lunch or a few breakfasts. We have a great place across from our office that helps employ and train homeless women in the culinary arts while serving some great food. It’s my go to for gift because it’s a great cause and close to the office.

    21. Anono-me*

      99% of the time consumables are best.

      If you want to do a permanent item, I always appreciate a really good quality travel mug. And one time I received a super flash light ( battery or hand crank power, phone charger cord port, multiple light options, car evacuation tools, magnet, and it floats). I love it and have used it as a gift idea many times. Most home improvement stores carry something similar.

      1. SJ*

        I finally bought a great travel mug this year and it’s my favorite thing ever. No leaks, keeps my coffee hot for 5+ hours. Sadly, it was more than $10.

    22. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Think about a savory consumable like an herb and seasoning blend that pairs well with meat and veg or soups. Bonus points if you can find something locally grown or blended but the more commercial blends from a specialty foods store work well too. I give a bag of seasoning and an empty spice jar as teachers gifts. So much of holiday edibles is sweet. I’ve found people really appreciate something savory that stores well.

    23. ginger ale for all*

      I work in a library so gift cards to the Barnes and Noble go over well here. Our local one has a nice cafe there as well as a good selection of media items. So the card could be used for a nice lunch or a good book.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        I forgot to add, the best gift I have ever gotten from a boss was a Keurig for the whole office to use and he got a starter box of a variety of cups for us to try. Once we tried it, we were so grateful. Then we brought in our own preferred cups to keep at our desks. His box of starter cups had cider, hot chocolate, caff and decaff teas, and caff and decaff coffees. We still use the Keurig, most of us use it several times a day.

    24. Mazzy*

      I was thinking, how about a nice easy to follow book, not a novel, but I’ve given people a Far Side book or a Dilbert comic strip book, or my coworker who is Irish American, I got a nice book of pictures of castles of Ireland, not big walls of text like I’m giving them homework and not so big and bulky that they’d feel like they’d have to display the book or keep it forever. Just flip through it, that’s it.

    25. Dina*

      I don’t know if anyone has suggested this but I really love to gift mugs from World Market. They are well under 10$ and adorable. There’s all other kinds of cool things there too, most of which are giftable and inexpensive.

    26. AliceBD*

      I not a boss of anyone but I make break and bake cookies for everyone in my department at Christmas. (Including bosses because it would be weird to give cookies to everyone except them.) I put them in sandwich size ziplocs with a sticker To/From tag on it. Usually two cookies per person. They are a HUGE hit and cost me less than the materials to make the cookies from scratch would be (like enough chocolate chips). For the coworkers who can’t eat cookies due to dietary restrictions I get some small card or something so they are not left out.

    27. ..Kat..*

      Consumables can be tricky. With all the food intolerances and special diets, it might be more headache than it is worth. Starbucks gift cards could work-they have a lot more than just coffee.

  8. SJ*

    Hey SJ, I’m removing this because I don’t have it in me to read the responses in order to police them for inappropriate stuff, which sometimes comes up when the election is the topic. Sorry.

  9. Moonlight & Misery*

    Ok, I have been saving this up all week:

    Due to an unexpected, immediate, and expensive home repair issue, I’ve had to take on a second job. For the last 3 months, I’ve been moonlighting for a cleaning company (not the one that cleans my workplace) as part of a crew that cleans a large financial institution’s corporate office. Let me tell you something, folks: BE NICE TO THE PEOPLE WHO CLEAN YOUR OFFICE!!

    We get a ton of passive aggressive notes about a cord being moved while we vaccuumed or “DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING ON MY DESK.”. We had a lady who frequently eats crackers (or something super crumbly of the sort) at her desk, and someone failed to vacuum up the crumbs ONCE. The next time that we were in, she left a note that said “Since you missed the crumbs last time, I made it more obvious for you.” I’m not kidding– it looked like she had crumbled up a whole sleeve of saltines and scattered them under the desk.

    Also, please for the love of all that you hold dear: stop throwing full drinks into your personal trash (especially when you are within 20 feet of a kitchenette with a sink). There’s a specific cube that I approach with fear every time because the trash container ALWAYS has at least 1 mostly full fast food cup of soda and half full coffee from Starbucks in it. Few things are grosser than wearing half of someone’s mocha all night because you were on trash duty.

    BTW: Most of the gross behavior isn’t even execs (their offices are ridiculously immaculate) — just ordinary worker bees.

    At my “real” job, I can’t even fathom this happening. Our facilities manager would probably be personally inspecting our cubes if the cleaning crew reported shenanigans of this sort.

    All I’m saying is the cleaning people aren’t your personal maids. It’s already a crappy, dirty job already, so don’t make it harder than it has to be.

    1. Princess Carolyn*

      Somehow I am always surprised at how rude people are, no matter how often I hear stories like this. Who on earth thinks it’s OK to act this way? Apparently, more people than I’d like to admit.

      1. MoinMoin*

        Me too. I take it as small comfort that I’m not yet dead inside and have some tiny hope for humanity. :-)

    2. cultino34*

      People are really gross. We moved from a shared office that had a cleaner to a new one which didn’t and as the senior manager I never ceased to be disgusted at how filthy some staff were and how they seemed to think some magical cleaning fairy was going to pick up after them. As a non-profit we couldn’t justify a cleaner so I actually used to do it – and they knew it. It came up at every team meeting and I was eventually accused of bullying one of the staff for speaking to them about how disorganised and dirty they kept their workspace. I left soon after.

      1. Observer*

        As a non-profit we couldn’t justify a cleaner

        Seriously?! And the COULD justify having a “senior manager” doing the custodian’s job?!

        Hint: Most non-profits actually DO get cleaning services, generally through a service.

        1. Florida*

          I once worked at a nonprofit that did this. It was the most ridiculous thing. People who worked out in the field had to come back to the office because it was Tuesday and that was their day to vacuum the hallway and somehow this was a better use of money than just keeping the cleaning service.
          I’ve learned that a lot of nonprofits make decisions based on how things look on paper. The cleaning service was a line item in the budget, so it’s easy to see how much it cost. But having the senior manager of teapots vacuum the hallway is not reflected in the actual budget (although it is an expense), so we can pretend like we are saving money.

          1. cultino34*

            Pretty much for the reason above – we had no margin for a cleaner in our budget and the higher ups felt it would look ‘extravagant’ so we didn’t get one. Glad I left for several similar reasons :)

    3. Meredith*

      I would be halfway tempted to just ignore the crumbs and let that person live with the mess she created. :(

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d have been tempted to make a formal complaint to the manager of that office and leave the crumbs and request that they take a look and deal with it. Of course, I would probably get fired — but maybe not. That crumb thing is totally gross. The drinks thing is totally insensitive and self absorbed but the crumb thing is aggressively hostile.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, I think this is complaint worthy, too. I remember at one old workplace years ago, someone clipped their nails and left the clippings for the cleaning staff to take care of. That person got in big trouble; it’s so nasty and disrespectful.

          And Moonlight & Misery’s post reminds me that I forgot to move my trash can and recycling box off the floor when I left the office so that they could clean the carpets. Now I feel bad. :(

        2. AnonAnalyst*

          And also, not really what the company hired the cleaning crew to take care of. I’m assuming that the agreement was for light office cleaning plus more intensive kitchen and bathroom cleaning. If the cleaning company keeps getting stuck cleaning up large messes that are beyond what would normally be expected, it will take them longer to do the job and they are well within their rights to raise their rates. The company might actually want to know that employees are doing this if there’s a chance that the cleaning company might start charging more.

          I actually worked for a company that had to include information in their onboarding materials about what the cleaning company would clean and what they would not clean (AKA, what employees had to clean up themselves). I found it really sad that they had to spell it out for grown adults, but it worked (or maybe I just worked with people who were mature grown ups and knew to clean up their messes…)

          1. HoVertical*

            That’s the type of work I used to do before I moved in to take care of my mom. There are messes, and then there are MESSES. Like when one office decides they are going to un-pot a huge plant, and leave not only the deceased, desiccated dracaena in the only large garbage can, but also leave a mound of potting soil on the floor next to it.

            There are inconsiderate contractors, too; just before I finished that job, a large renovation was done in the building. Sheetrock dust everywhere, drops of paint on the carpets, little metal spalls from metal wall studs, and the real kicker – sheetrock mud in the sink drains, because the guys found it “inconvenient” to go to the janitor’s room to clean up.

            Grrrrr.

    4. SophieChotek*

      I am sorry! I also never cease to be amazed by that – plus can lead to other problems, like rodents, ants, etc.

      For full drinks — yes, the worst in trash cans. I work in a coffee shop part-time and drives me nuts when people pour all their hot coffee in the trash, instead of asking for “room for cream”.

      1. the.kat*

        Ack! And then the hot coffee melts the bag and you’ve got a sticky, nasty mess. And then — at night — the fruit flies show up. The worst is when you ask people if they’d like room for cream, they say no, and then they pour some into the can. I had a customer tell me that they paid for a full cup then pour almost a full two inches into my trash can. I don’t work in a coffee shop anymore, but that was my least favorite thing about it when I did.

        1. SophieChotek*

          Yes! I think they are afraid you’ll give them “too much” room, but then they almost always pour way more out then the room you ever would have given them. When I go to a coffee shop and take my coffee cup back and ask them to pour a little more out, baristas are usually astonished.

    5. Temperance*

      Wow. I’m admittedly messy, but damn, people are the worst. Thanks for the reminder.

      My trash is always full, but I don’t put gross stuff in there (except tissues, which I’m just not stockpiling and carrying to the kitchen).

    6. Karanda Baywood*

      And that is why I will not leave wet/crumbly/sticky trash in my trash can. I take the elevator down to the big waste bin or leave my half-filled paper cup in the bathroom trash which has a plastic liner.

      1. ConfusedGrouch*

        If you are dumping a cup with liquid in the bathroom trash, why dont you take the extra second or two to dump the liquid in the sink and rinse the sink?

    7. Audiophile*

      A friend of mine was a custodian, because of the union and being decently compensated (she had been there for a while) and the stories she told me about what people would do was astounding.

      People are gross and the level of laziness is beyond.

    8. Anxa*

      Question:

      If someone put a please or a no capslocks, would you think it were okay to ask not to have anything touched?

      Also, I would love to be able to use the wastebaskets near me, but I always leave the building to go to a more communal one because I can’t tolerate watching a whole garbage bag be replaced over one dry paper straw wrapping every day or a a single dry erase marker. I’m sure this varies from service to service, but does facing a complete empty bin mess up your work? Do you have to change the bag anyway?

      1. Audiophile*

        I know at my current workplace they don’t replace the garbage bag unless there’s liquid spilled in it. They just dump the garbage out and reuse the bag.

      2. Moonlight & Misery*

        The issue with the “do not touch anything” notes is that we’re not trying to touch your doo-dads and knick-knacks. Unfortunately, we’re required to dust all desktops on a certain floor on a certain day of the week. While everyone is pretty careful, sometimes a doo-dad or knick-knack gets moved a few inches. This seems to enrage some people– usually the same people who have an entire desktop of souvenirs from every vacation that they’ve ever been on.
        The same thing with moving cords. In order to avoid sucking up your phone charging cord when we vacuum (which I’ve done and then had to fish out of the vacuum), we sometimes have to pick them up or move them.
        On the bag question: I have to dump the basket regardless of how full it is, but I only have to replace the liner if the current one is dirty. So whenever we’ve go bags with liquids, smeared with salad dressing or yogurt, tea bags, gum or food particles stuck to it, then we need to replace them. We don’t really count how many we change, so I don’t think that the company charges by the bag.

        1. Anxa*

          I like the way your company handles bags!

          I figured it was one of those things where even if an employee would rather dust and clean their own desk you’d have to do it anyway. I appreciate the insight.

    9. fposte*

      Oy, I’m curious–do you ever meet any of these people face to face? I’m wondering if the anonymity makes it like road rage and if it would be better if you overlapped with them enough for them to meet you. (Not that I think you have a choice–I’m just trying to figure out what makes people like that tick.)

      1. Moonlight & Misery*

        I start at about 6PM, so I never bump into the worker bees. Every once in a while, I will bump into an executive in one of the immaculate offices, and they are always incredible gracious and apologetic about “being in the way.”

    10. Kristinemc*

      I had no idea about the drinks – I am guilty of sometimes throwing half full drinks away, but will stop!

      1. RKB*

        On a related note, please don’t ask your grocery store cashier to throw out your half cup of coffee anymore. It stinks, it makes the garbage wet and sticky, and you’re not the only person to ask so it piles up. It was easily one of the worst parts of the job, and I had to smell people’s wonky returns.

        By you I mean general you, of course.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I had to put a note on my dock that said “DO NOT TOUCH OR MOVE” because when you even looked crossways at it, the display would go all wonky. The note was for me as much as it was for them!! It was big and yellow and would catch my eye and remind me not to bump it.

    12. SeekingBetter*

      I’m just starting to wonder if these “ordinary worker bees” have any common sense or care about anything besides their job. I would NEVER throw a full large container of pop into my personal garbage can when I know it’s better to just walk over to a sink and empty it first.

      I hope this message gives you less to worry about at your second job!

      1. Windchime*

        I honestly think it’s probably thoughtlessness or, honestly, laziness. That’s what it is for me anyway. 90% of the time, I go to the kitchen to empty my drink before throwing away the cup, but I will admit that I don’t always. And it’s because of laziness and the fact that I never really thought about the fact that it might cause a spill or mess for the cleaning staff. So I will up my game and empty it 100% of the time because the last thing I want to do is make one of my coworkers’ lives harder.

    13. Two-Time College Dropout*

      OH MY GOD PEOPLE WHO PUT LIQUID IN TRASH CANS MAKE ME SO ANGRY THAT I CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT WITHOUT SHOUTING

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        Heh.

        I even dump the ice out of the cup after the drink is empty before throwing it out. At home, too.

        And while I’ll throw an empty coffee cup in my desk trash, I never throw away empty plates that had food on them or empty bags/wrappers at my desk, I take them to the break room trash. I don’t want to smell my food garbage for the rest of the day, nor do I want to subject my office mates to it.

    14. Jules*

      I tend to work late and so sometimes speak and thank the cleaners for doing their job. I am one of those lazy to clean but I hate a mess. But the one perk I miss from my old job is the cleaning person who would wipe down my office daily. She is amazing and so helpful.

      As for the crappy behavior, when someone grows up thinking that some people are beneath them, jerks happens. It doesn’t surprise me anymore.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        I’m not even sure that it’s that they think those people are beneath them – they are just so far removed from working or interacting with them that it doesn’t register that they are PEOPLE doing the job. It’s sort of like all of the trash and dirt just disappeared while they were gone and they don’t think about how it happened.

    15. Lore*

      Here’s a question: at my desk, I can always go dump out a coffee cup in the sink before putting it in my trash. But what’s the right thing to do in the cafeteria, or in our big meeting rooms on the cafeteria level? To complicate matters further–the cafeteria has trash and recycling so if I have a half-full can, it should go in recycling but I don’t want to put it in half full. So I mostly leave it awkwardly on the counter next to the recycling can. (I usually take the stairs to the 10th floor after lunch so it’s awkward to carry the drink up with me.)

    16. Chaordic One*

      The people who leave cups full of liquids in their trash are the absolute worst!

      My other pet peeve is people who remove staples from documents and then just drop them onto the carpet beneath. The staples get stuck in the carpet and you can’t vacuum them up. You have to get down on your hands and knees and manually unwind them from the carpet twill to pick them up.

      I’ve worked in places where barefoot workers (they came to work wearing flip-flops) and pets (dogs) cut their feet and then proceeded to bleed on the carpet and office floors.

      1. HoVertical*

        Staples in the carpet! The worst! My vacuum had one of those magnetic strips across the front of it, so I didn’t have *too* much trouble with staples/paperclips/etc. Almost vacuumed up a diamond earring once, though, and the owner was so pleased and happy that I’d found it and that it was still in perfect shape that she gave me a $5.00 tip on the spot…LOL.

  10. Cube Farmer*

    *UPDATE*

    I know how much everyone loves updates so here is one to a question I posed in the comments section back in September. I had asked for advice to give to my teenaged son (Fergus, as Dawn named him) on how to handle an illegal policy at his part-time, seasonal job. The owner of the company had attached a signed note to all the seasonal employees’ fist checks that told them they would be fired if they discussed their pay with anyone else. (See link to original post in the post below). Here’s the update:

    Fergus read all of your comments and was very appreciative of the support and the verification that this was not something that was OK. He talked to his manager who replied that she was pretty sure it was legal. He told her it wasn’t and cited the law but, between this conversation and others before, realized the managers were terrified of the owner. His plan was to finish out the season and then file a complaint with the appropriate government agency.
    He was scheduled to work most days of the week but was constantly being sent home when the store was not busy, causing him to not be able to make plans with family and friends but then lose out on the pay in the end. His last straw was when a customer apparently shoplifted the costume he was helping her pick out earlier. He was told by his manager that the owner was going to make him pay for it as she had with others. With another job already lined up, he called his manager the next day to report that he would not be returning to work. He was told to call a specific person in the office and tell her. He did this also, but she did not answer so he left a polite and detailed message (I was in the room with him when he did this).

    The owner called him about a week later and was incensed that he had quit and had not told anyone. He told her the names of the people and the times of the calls he made but she said it never happened. When he went to pick up his final check there was one last piece of crazy… His manager relayed a message from the owner: She was requiring him to submit a written resignation saying that he had quit without notice by just not showing up anymore before he was allowed to have his check. He told his manager that she could not hold the check on those ground and she begged him to please just write a letter because the owner was blaming the managers for him quitting and she was going to get in trouble if she did not get him to write one. He wrote a letter on the spot saying how much he enjoyed working with the managers and other employees and they had no impact on him deciding to leave. He did not mention anything about how he quit or the people he had notified. He just left it at that.

    Where the karma comes in: The day after Halloween the owner was forced to close two of her three business’s locations because of dismal sales. (She tends to treat customers as well as she treats her employees). I asked him if he was still going to file a labor law complaint. He said, “Mom, I think she has suffered enough.”

    He just turned 18 and has a wonderful part time job where he is appreciated and rewarded for his work effort and there is talk of training him for a first level management position. All’s well the ends well.

    1. not so super-visor*

      wow, that’s a great update! I love it when karma comes back to bite someone so spectaularly.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yes! Incredibly mature! I wish I worked with more people with that much self awareness and self control!

    2. Future Analyst*

      Your son gives me hope. Thanks for raising a good person, I think it’s the hardest part of parenting.

    3. J*

      The only thing here I’d worry about is whether his income was reported to the federal government. If so, there’s tax liability with it. And if you’re going to pay taxes on the income, you should absolutely have the income. But, you could always chalk up the “lost” income to a learning experience and pay it anyway.

    4. Cube Farmer*

      Thank you all. He is a pretty sharp kid, and generally compassionate… unless he is picking on his younger sister!

      Something else Fergus learned at the job was how to talk to an employee about body odor. He told me that his coworker had such a strong, unwashed odor that customers were noticing it and it was hard to work with him. He was an excellent employee so the managers just complained/talked about him behind his back but would not talk to him about it. Fergus and I had discussed how a conversation with the employee should go (from his manager!) so the next time a manager was complaining about it, Fergus asked her if she was willing to have that conversation. She said she couldn’t do it, so he asked if he could because the employee deserved to know so he could do something about it. She more than readily abdicated her responsibility. When Fergus had the talk with the employee at the end of their shift, the employee said he was embarrassed but that he really appreciated being told. Fergus did not tell him that everyone in the store had been talking about it. The body odor problem improved and he and the employee had a great relationship the few weeks he remained.

      1. Jersey's Mom*

        You have a mature and compassionate son. You did a great job and he’s going to go places with his fantastic attitude!

    5. Rebecca*

      I cannot tell you how impressed I am with your parenting and your son’s maturity. Oh. My. Goodness.

      He is a much better person than I am. I would have probably filed the labor law complaint, regardless of the store closings, just in case this silly woman hadn’t gotten the hint.

  11. JLK in the ATX*

    Thank you to our Veterans today on Veterans Day!

    My husband and I are Vets, my brothers are Veterans. It’s a tough row to hoe out there, in the working world. Whether it’s trying to find where you’re best suited to work or deciding to start a business, transitioning into the civilian workplace, staying even if you don’t feel welcome or valued, or making a big leap somewhere else.

    We’re the best 1% America has.

      1. JLK in the ATX*

        Isn’t this weather great? Nice to have rain but things look great for this weekend. If you’re enjoying the great outdoors, all TX State Parks will waive entrace fees, on Sunday 11/13 for Vets Day.

        1. ATXFay*

          So glad it stopped raining! We needed it, as always.. but it does get a little mucky (and, dare I say it, cold!). We’re up in RR and were planning to get down to Pedernales on Sunday.. one of of our favorites. Thank you for sharing that info.. gives us more incentive to go!

    1. LCL*

      Thank you for your service.
      Today I printed out the list of places that have specials for Veterans today and gave it to our one Vet on shift. A small thing, I know.

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Thank you for your service!
      My company had a really cool presentation today where we honored all our veteran employees and another employee who collects vintage military garb and paraphernalia brought in dozens of uniforms and military issue supplies from the 19th and 20th century (seriously cool, museum type stuff).
      The department next to me even had a surprise party for a somewhat new coworker who is about 1 year out of the service. She had no idea it was happening and just started crying and took a million pictures and sent several of them to her husband who is still active duty. They also put up picture of family members who served it is seriously cool to see as well as a great reminder how many people are directly impacted.

    3. Cube Farmer*

      Thank you to you, your family, and all our brave veterans and the families that wait at home for them.

      1. Jules*

        Sorry reply cut short my an eager little finger.

        I have worked with really amazing veterans. I know some people don’t like to hire them due to biases but I think the vets I work with are amazing.

    4. DragoCucina*

      We’re part of a special family. I was at a luncheon yesterday and they asked all f the vets to stand I was shocked that it was one older gentleman and myself. My husband, sons, and I are all vets. We never encouraged them to join, but their sense of service called to them.

  12. ATXFay*

    Hey all – would love some insight. I’m an EA at a firm where the partners regularly shift responsibilities and roles on different committees and teams. When I was hired on, I was hired to assist Big Big Cheese of Teapotdom, and my title and ranking within the company reflected that. Since I’ve been here, however, Mr Big Big Cheese of Teapotdom has switched roles and is now Mr Sort of Big Cheese But Not Really. That being said, my title has recently been changed internally from a high level EA to a medium level EA. I’m not so much concerned about how that looks internally, because people here can look at my work history, see who I’ve supported, and understand the nature of org. However, I was really proud of my former title, and who I supported, and I want to make sure that is reflected on my resume and LinkedIn – but don’t want it to look like I was demoted. My change in title has absolutely nothing to do with my performance – in fact, I’m in the top of my tier as far as all of that goes. How would you recommend reflecting my previous title without shooting myself in the foot and looking like I’m going backwards in my career/responsibilities?

    1. TP Designer*

      I don’t have an answer to your question, but I have a title story to tell. I recently accepted a job. The title in the job ads, on my offer letter, and everything I signed from HR was Teapot Designer. My supervisor kept saying my title was Teapot Designer/Painting Manager. The title didn’t really make sense to me, so I mentioned it to him.
      I just learned that my new title is TP Designer/Painting Manager. I am horrified. I don’t even get Teapot in my title. It is officially TP.
      I would have negotiated the title during the offer stage, if I had known my title was not what I thought it was. I feel completely hoodwinked.

      1. KiteFlier*

        That doesn’t seem like such a big deal to me – on your resume/LinkedIn, spell out Teapot. Future background checkers don’t care about such a minor difference, it’s probably not even on their radar.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Wow, this is total BS! I’m an EA who had my big cheese boss leave and they stuck me with a senior vice president (I was hired to work for a C-level boss). I kept my Senior EA title because that’s my skill level – I think it’s awful that your title depends on the level of your boss.
      I would ask your boss or HR if you can use your highest level title externally (like in your email signature and linkedin) and have your other title used internally. We do that with a few people here – internally, they are VPs but they are called Directors externally (due to the nature of their work).

      1. ATXFay*

        I know, it’s a little frustrating… but I can’t help how his career progressed. That’s a great idea – I will run that by them!

  13. Cass*

    Happy Friday!

    I started a new non-exempt job two weeks and was notified yesterday that my organization will be switching me over to hourly. Makes sense, and my boss told me my position isn’t expected to have overtime and that we could informally even my hours out. (If I have to attend and take pictures at an evening event, I’ll leave a few hours earlier another day, etc.)

    My question is this – I run our social media accounts and my boss told me when I started he’d like me to keep an eye on things in the evening when necessary and to be responsive on important e-mails from our higher ups even off working hours. I’m fine with that, but I haven’t broached the subject of my soon-to-be hourly status in that. It won’t be a big time suck to check in every now and again while I’m at home, but I feel like I may need to build up a strong reputation before I start “nickel and diming” hours. (Probably not the best term since it’s the law, I’m just not sure how to describe it.) Any suggestions?

    1. MarketingGirl*

      I would definitely just ask him. I do something similar and while it’s not a time suck, it definitely prevents you from ever being completely “off.” Social media is a 24/7 thing, but there are times when I become resentful of checking at night or on the weekends. Maybe they’ll factor an extra hour or two of nightly/weekend work into your weekday hours.

    2. Friday Friday*

      Check in with your boss for clarification before you do ANY evening work – you need clear guidelines on how many hours you are expected to put in. Think of it in 15-minute increments. It’s illegal for them to not pay you for evening work, even if it’s just a few minutes of checking in. The nickel and diming is what employers must knowingly sign up for when they hire hourly workers instead of salary workers.

    3. Artemesia*

      Absolutely say something like ‘Since I will be going hourly how do you want me to handle the time you want me to spend monitoring our social media?’ And don’t accept ‘oh it won’t take much time, do it on your own.’ This needs to be part of your compensation.

    4. Sunflower*

      I’m confused. If you’re currently non-exempt, salaried, you should still be getting paid for anytime over 40 hours. Meaning if you are currently doing this at home, you need to be getting paid for it if it’s putting you over the 40 hour mark.

      1. Cass*

        Yeah, it’s a new change though for me since the new FLSA regulations. The way the conversation was presented to me is that overtime in my position would be extremely rare, so the solution we’re using it a flex-time system. (If I work an hour late one day, I can leave an hour early another day.)

    5. Danae*

      No matter what you do, look into a system where you can easily track the hours you’re putting in outside of working hours. I use OfficeTime, which has a phone version that syncs with the desktop version, and does custom reports. (Both of my jobs require me to track my hours, one to the quarter hour and one to the tenth of an hour, and OfficeTime has been a godsend.)

    6. Future Analyst*

      I think it would make the most sense to decide (with your boss), how much time you should/could spend on it nightly, and have a “standard” number of minutes you spend on it every night, which then count towards your weekly hours. E.g. if you decide that 15 mins is enough to spend on it each night, that would count towards 75 minutes of your weekly work hours. (or 105, depending on if you’re expected to spend weekend time on it). And then set a timer for yourself when you start, so that you know you’re not spending more time than that. But definitely discuss this with your boss ahead of time, and make sure you frame it as abiding by the law (you’re not nickel-and-diming them by following the law).

    7. fposte*

      I would really encourage you not to think of it as “nickel and diming” hours–it’s ensuring the company is compliant with federal law in its pay practices. From a DOL standpoint, it’s acceptable not to pay you for “de minimis” stuff like a few seconds or minutes, but longer than that (I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule about what “that” is), or a pattern that leaves you doing work unpaid in the evening on a regular basis, is a breach.

      I’d lean toward talking to them now, especially if you think monitoring social media in the evening is going to take more than 5 minutes per night. “We didn’t talk about the impact of the change to non-exempt on the the evening work obligations for social media and email response–I think it makes sense to treat those with the same informal evening out we discussed for event coverage, but I wanted to check with you to see if you were thinking the same way. I know it’s tricky to move an exempt position to non-exempt, and I want to make sure I’m staying on the right side of the law.”

      1. Cass*

        Absolutely – I guess I’m thinking of it more as a two-way street because my boss has said to me several times since I started things like – “you know, if you have an appointment or want to take a long lunch, I don’t want you dipping into your PTO. Just keep it to things like when you’ll be out for a full or half day.” So I guess I don’t want to seem like I want that flexibility on their end, but none of my own. Does that make sense? Boss and company are great so far, no whiff of them trying to unfairly use this change to hourly for their profit.

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      I would say something like, “Since I’m being moved to hourly, could we set a schedule for when I should check social media and emails at home? How about 15-minute blocks at [time] and [time]?”

      It’s more important to get this sorted out for weekends than for weekday evenings. You might want to set aside 2 hours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to work from home.

    9. Jules*

      It is illegal to lie about time sheet. This is not about nickle and dime-ing. It’s about keeping your company compliant. If your company is called out in an audit, if someone in the organization filed a claim and you are pulled into that investigation, it could go badly for them. Be honest and be realistic. Explain to him how much time it would take to do those things. Remind him that it could get the company in trouble if you don’t report your hours correctly and work on a schedule so that you don’t go over 40. If you spend say 30 minutes total in a night over email, leave 30 minutes early for the day, or something like that.

    10. Gaia*

      I would ask plainly as it is just another business decision. Perhaps something like

      “I wanted to ask how you would like me to handle social media in the evenings since I’ll be moving to hourly. Should I keep track of those hours and adjust a day later in the week similar to what I’ll do for times when I need to attend events, or would you prefer I just track them on my timecard as overtime?”

    11. wannabefreelancer*

      Definitely ask about it. I’m in a similar position, and I usually put them in 15 minute increments. It’s not nickle and diming – it’s against the law to lie about your time.

    12. AliceBD*

      I know exactly how you feel! I also do social media and do stuff evenings and weekends. But I am still waiting to hear from HR about what they will be doing for the new rule for me (they haven’t told anyone affected) so I don’t know exactly what I will be doing yet; I” expecting to be salaried with overtime but I’m not sure. I know I will have to keep track of hours so I won’t go over 40.

      And I am already really annoyed at the idea of having to track my time in the evenings. I know it’s technically work but a lot of it is in between doing stuff on my phone for fun (Facebook notifications for work stuff and personal stuff are necessarily mixed together) so it doesn’t feel like work now and by having to stop and keep track of it I will start feel like work is intruding on my life in a way that it currently doesn’t. /rant

  14. SJ*

    I also wanted to make another quick post and thank everyone who gave me suggestions and supportive comments in the open thread last week about my postdoc brother with possible Asperger’s. I got pretty emotional reading through all the comments, and there’s a lot of helpful stuff for me to start acting on. Thank you so, so much!

  15. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So, on Monday, a couple of guys with Make America Great Again hats shoved me while I was on break near work. And yesterday, my car was vandalized (no permanent damage, but rotting fruit jammed into my windshield). I’m gay. And last night there were threats at a gay club.

    Would I be out of line to ask my work friend to walk me to my car today? I know that people were generally against letters where coworkers had to take something extra on to help people with anxiety or such.

    But I’m scared for real reasons. And I park fairly close, so it is a matter of five minutes.

    1. SJ*

      It wouldn’t be out of line at all. I’d walk you to your car in a second. I’m so sorry this is happening to you.

      Do you carry anything like pepper spray or one of those cat keychains with the super pointy ears that you can use as a weapon, just in case?

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I have some on order. But I am scheduled to go to Alabama, flying for a family holiday, in Thanksgiving. So I can’t even take it there.

        My current weapon is basically loudly saying, “I am a fully licensed lawyer. You are harassing me due to my orientation in a jurisdiction with hate crime penalty enhancement laws.”

        1. Clever Name*

          Good for you. If I may, I’d like to suggest tweaking the wording to me more accessible to non-lawyers. (I wonder if people’s reaction currently is “huh?”) Maybe something like, “You are harassing me because I’m gay, and in Teapotville that’s considered a hate crime and you can go to jail” or whatever is most appropriate for your jurisdiction.

      2. AnitaJ*

        SJ–I’ve never heard of those keychains. Would you mind sharing where they can be purchased? I’d really love to get one.

        1. an anon*

          If you google “cat keychain with pointy ears” or “cat self defense keychain” several different online stores come up selling them for about $6. Be aware, though, that they aren’t legal in some states–they are not legal in my state (though carrying a small knife is–go figure).

          1. AnitaJ*

            Thank you!! This is amazing! I just ordered a similar type–not sure how it works in DC, but I guess I’ll do some research on that.

          2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            I read somewhere once about putting your keys between your knuckles as a last resort – its something I do if I am feeling a bit awkward at night in an area I don’t know.

            These keychains look much more solid – thanks for suggesting these!

            1. Salyan*

              Just leave it at home when you go flying… I lost mine on my last trip, and almost had the airport police called on me (the first security guy thought they were brass knuckles!).

    2. Key to the West*

      Absolutely not out of line.

      Your anxiety is not unfounded, twice this week you/your car had been attacked. I would definitely ask someone to walk with me if I were in your shoes.

      Stay safe.

    3. Alex*

      That’s awful. I didn’t support Hillary but that is despicable behavior on their part. I am not sure what the norms are for your work place but I think it would be completely reasonable. If this was asked of me, I would help without hesitation and I think most people would feel the same way.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I happen to agree with your comment that I removed, but I still need you to respect my rules here. If you don’t feel you can do that today, please bypass the post. It’s not okay to openly flout clearly stated rules and force me to spend my afternoon cleaning this stuff up.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        I hadn’t seen this before, but I love it. Going to start wearing safety pins on all of my clothes as soon as I get off of work today and can get my hands on some!

      2. Resident Martian*

        I put a safety pin on my ID badge lanyard today before work- I am so happy to see that other people are doing it too! I’m also adding a big silver one to all my winter coats because tbh I can barely remember to put on both earrings.

    4. BabyShark*

      Please ask, I’m sure your work friend would be more than happy to help. I am so sorry you have to deal with this. Stay safe!

    5. Anono-me*

      That is terrible.

      Would it be possible to try to walk out as a group? This may be a situation where having more people in your group, than are in the shoving group means the shoving group does not initiate anything.

      Also, please notify the police of both incidents; if you have not already done so. 1 Police can’t address crime they don’t know about. 2. If this escalates, you want everything documented.

    6. LCL*

      Totally ask! Because I would be willing to do this, but wouldn’t offer to escort a specific person unless they asked, for worry that I would make them feel singled out. I think there are a lot of people that feel the same way… If you feel unsafe in an area please let everyone know so we can keep an eye out for anything suspicious. I do that anyway, but don’t tell people I am watching, because it only unsettles people.

    7. Friday Friday*

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you and I’d walk with you in a heartbeat too. If your workplace is supportive and you feel safe doing so, you might want to let them know how your world has changed since the election… it’s the company’s responsibility to keep you safe at work after all and supportive bosses would want to be a part of the solution to protect you. This is so not about any anxiety you might have – this is about your right to physical space and safety in our society.

        1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

          I’m a contract worker for a large firm. I just don’t think that it necessarily cares what happens with me unless it affects how many hours I can bill. But, it seems my coworkers do.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I don’t know that much about employment law.

            But I have to guess that there is some responsibility there. They know that their parking area is not safe. And it is because of your employment there that you are exposed to this unsafe area.

            I remember in the 80’s I worked at an upscale mall. On average once a month a woman was raped in the parking lot. The parking lot was big, you needed a bus to get from your car to the mall. Mall management issued orders that NO ONE was to walk out to their car alone. So, in other words, if something happened the first thing management would say is “where was your walking buddy?”

            Us employees would get together in small groups. We would figure out whose car was closest and we would all pile into that car. Then the driver would bring each person to their own car. It worked.
            This is not that hard to set up and run.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              This wouldn’t have anything to do with employment law, but premises liability. If something happens to the OP on their premises as either an employee or business invitee (however she ends up being classified), they could be found liable for it and either the firm or their CGL carrier would have to pay damages to the OP.

    8. ThatGirl*

      Adding to the chorus – not out of line. I would gladly walk with anyone to their car who wasn’t feeling safe.

    9. Temperance*

      Nope. I would do this for even a work enemy. Do what you need to feel safe. I’m so sorry that you’ve been going through this. People suck.

    10. asteramella*

      Asking a work friend to walk with you is worth it. They will understand.

      I was just talking to a friend about how we have contemplated putting LGBT-related stickers on our cars but have both hesitated in the past due to fear of vandalism… I know several people whose cars have been pamphleted (annoying but harmless) and vandalized. I really can’t afford to fix my car if it is vandalized… But I think I am going to finally decide to put up that rainbow sticker now anyway.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      No no not at all! I wish I were there; I would gladly walk you to your car.

      I’m going to start wearing a safety pin when I go out. It was a post-Brexit thing but people here are doing it now. The pin signals “safe space with me.”

    12. literateliz*

      I’m so sorry. I agree with others that it’s no imposition at all for you to ask your friend to walk you to your car. But I’d even go beyond that: A lot of people are feeling scared and helpless right now, and if I were your work friend, I would actually be very glad to be given the opportunity to take some action, no matter how small, and help someone in the face of everything that’s happening. (I’m sad that it’s necessary, of course, but lots of people are looking for ways to help.) We have to stick together right now. Please stay safe!

    13. Lee*

      Buy a taser (fairly cheap on Amazon). I have rings with pointed ends and knives that can fit in the palm of my hand. I feel a little safer when carrying them and they’re more low-key self defense items. Also have a phone on you and call the police if attacked; it’s a hate crime.
      I’ve had people be awful to me too, but you can’t let them control your entire life. I hear the “Make America Great Again” hats thing, but the next President doesn’t appear anti-gay on the surface and the entire country is more aware and supportive of gay folks then in previous decades. Also, depending on your gender and the area you live in, use situational awareness a bit more.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        It wasn’t the future president (ick…..) that assaulted him. It was the future president’s supporters. Who are very vocally anti-gay.

        1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

          I’m a woman. 5’1″ in shoes. So I just asked the tallest person out of the people at work I get along with!

    14. MsMaryMary*

      Definitely ask! If your coworkers are halfway decent people I’m sure they’d want to make sure you are safe. I used to work for a store where the employee parking lot was a couple blocks away and under a freeway overpass. My coworkers would get mad at me if I decided to skip using the buddy system to walk to my car at night.

    15. Stellaaaaa*

      Please ask. If your buddy is a real friend, she/he will be glad to help.

      ps: “Come leave the office to take a 10-minute walk” isn’t the same thing as picking up someone’s data entry slack :)

      1. chickabiddy*

        Even if not a “real friend,” most people would be glad to help. I’m short and fat and middle-aged so I’m not particularly intimidating but I would be more than happy to walk with anyone whether I liked her, didn’t like her, or didn’t know her.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s true even people who are not real (long term) friends will pair up for safety. I have had this happen to me on a college campus, the person made it clear we were just walking buddies. That was fine with me.

    16. Overeducated*

      I am so sorry. So sorry.

      Absolutely ask. My Facebook feed this week was full of friends saying “hey if anyone wants company or an escorts anywhere I volunteer,” and I think most people would be more than willing to help a colleague or acquiantance who didnt feel safe in a concrete way like that. You are not being irrational or asking too much.

    17. Jules*

      Group walk or ask security if they would walk you to the car. That is what they are for. You don’t have to explain, just say, ‘I’ve been harassed lately, mind walking me to my car?’ A reasonable person will not think this was an imposition.

    18. Red*

      If I were your coworker, I would insist on walking with you to your car. Don’t be afraid to ask someone. I hope you are and continue to be okay, and I wish you the best of luck.

    19. Golden Lioness*

      That is awful. You’re not overreacting and I would totally walk you to your car, even if it wasn’t close.

      It’s getting so ridiculous…. A friend of mine started a “Hugs, not hate” campaign in FB and I usually abstain of political posts but I commented and shared. Hugs, not hate, people!!!!

      Stay safe!

    20. Girasol*

      I hope your coworkers are delighted to help you out, but just think of the virtual crowd of AAM readers also with you.

    21. DragoCucina*

      Please ask. We park in a well lit, visible area and we still have staff walk out in pairs. Safety is always a reasonable concern.

    22. ginger ale for all*

      It’s not out of line and in addition to the cat, you can also get a whistle for you key fob in case you don’t want to get to close to a threat. My local police department gives them out for free with their logo and contact information on them. I also took some martial arts classes for four years to gain confidence in being alone in public. Good luck.

    23. ..Kat..*

      While I would never tell someone that they don’t have the right to defend themselves, I would urge caution with these self defense tactics. People like this can travel in packs. Do you have enough pepper spray for numerous people? Are you proficient enough with your special cat key chain to take on several attackers at once? This takes a physical proficiency as well as a mental mindset that most of us don’t have. You have to be willing and able to inflict serious bodily harm. (If you find yourself alone and needing to defend yourself against multiple attackers, go for the leader.)

      If you decide to ask for an escort to your car, consider asking several people to escort you. You don’t want your escort to have to walk back to the office by themselves.

      Is this a company parking lot? If so, can you raise the issue of company provided security? Your car is being vandalized and your physical well being is being threatened.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Maybe Elizabeth West can strap on her ice skates and escort you. I am willing to chip in for her airfare, posh hotel, and meals. And she will probably need a nice massage afterwards…

    24. Shayland*

      Slightly unrelated, but your comment reminded me of a similar experience. This was before the election.

      My coworkers and I get off work at about ten at night and we wait for the bus back to our college together. Sometimes there’s three of us, sometime just two. Well, this night it was just me and my male coworker I’ll call John. We’re all new to this job and new to each other, but it’s a great, supportive environment and we get alone well.

      I also want to say that we work in not the greatest area of the city.

      So we’re at the bus stop, waiting. I have my service dog. And there’s this lady there, and before she even speaks she’s really giving me the creep vibes. John and I are chatting a bit, kind of quietly. In a break in our conversations the lady says, “Is that a boy dog or a girl dog?” Except I couldn’t really hear her.

      So I said to John, again, we’re speaking softly and she’s about six feet away, “I didn’t understand her, just keep talking. I don’t want speak with her. Alright?”

      John says, “Alright.”

      And before we can get into talking about nothing again the lady says, louder, “Is that a boy dog or a girl dog.”

      A sort of freeze for a moment before saying, “Boy dog.”

      She then makes kissy noises and distracts my dog for a full five minutes. (I timed it.) I then say to John (and I don’t really know what I was thinking), “That’s really rude of her. I me, normally I’d just ignore it but she’s been distracting my service dog for five minutes by now. He’s trying to work, and it put me in danger if he’s distracted.”

      The lady stopped with speaking to my dog and making noises and faces. But she started pacing around the bus area really irratically. I tried to stand so that John was always between me and her. She kept wandering closer and closer. And at one point I said to John, “Will you please hold my hand?”

      I had a death grip on my dogs leash, and he isn’t tall enough yet for me to be able to stroke his head or back and ground myself.

      John laughed at me and said, “Are you afraid?”

      I said, “Yes, she’s really scarring me.”

      He said, “Nothing’s going to happen. You’re so overly dramatic. No I’m not going to hold your hand.” And then laughed again.

      I don’t know if I had a question, I just wanted to share.

        1. Shayland*

          Thanks for sharing. I do mean that sincerely, the though thing through me for such a loop that I just didn’t know what to think. I know now that I like him less, feel less assured by his presence, but I don’t know if that’s fair or not.

          1. Perse's Mom*

            It’s entirely fair. Whatever his reason for not wanting to hold your hand, he was both dismissing your fear and then laughing at you for being afraid. He’s told you all you need to know about what kind of person he is.

          2. ..Kat..*

            I am assuming you are female from the way you write this. The woman should not have been interfering with your service dog. Ideally, you would have told her he was a service dog and asked her to stop distracting him. Since you were afraid, I can see why you didn’t. It is easier to think of something to say from the safety and comfort of my sofa.

            I would cut John some slack. Many guys don’t understand what it feels like to be female and vulnerable.

      1. Dawbs*

        If you think he can be a nonass about it (and only if,zero obligation here) and is open to hearing it, pointing out what is scary to an able bodied cis looking white guy (<I made a bunch of possibly incorrect assumptions there) and what is scary to some startistically much more likely to be a victim and less able to defend one's self can wake some people up.
        I know it took a lot of "would you be scares for you alone? How about your wife or mom along e?" Conversations before my husband got it.

        But it isn't your job to educate asses

        1. Shayland*

          Nope, you are 100% right, able-bodied, cis, white. He also recently bought chocolate for me, but it was in an incidental “oh, I need to pick some stuff up at CVS, if you want to some gum or something it’s cool.” (And I pressed a couple times to pay him back.) So that’s… nice? But for the most part I’d just say he’s indifferent to other people.

          I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Because if something like it happens again, in the moment isn’t the time to mention, “Well there are very real and valid reasons for this to be scarier to me than to you.” but any other time I can think of wouldn’t really be right either. I mean, we’re canvasers, so I don’t want to say something just to have it make the whole night awkward.

  16. Casanova*

    Hi! I graduate from college very soon, and I have a phone interview next week for a client services position at Gartner. Does anybody work at Gartner? Any useful info or tips?

    1. Dankar*

      Oh, Gartner is such a great place to work! My mother and a few of my friends work there, and they’re a company that’s been steadily growing for years. Are you interviewing for the HQ in Stamford or elsewhere?

      1. DoDah*

        I think it depends on what side of the business you work on. I know several analysts who have left over the last two years because of internal issues.

  17. cultino34*

    I’ve applied for a job I sortof applied for before – following a public scandal of sorts the role has been vacated and downgraded (as has the salary) and the reporting structure of the new role is such that the job has little ‘management’ responsibility. When it was a more senior role with the higher salary I got to interview stage but didn’t attend. In the two years or so since then I’ve been in a different management role, from which the new role would be a big step down in terms of title, responsibility and salary.

    Do you think this is likely to come up at interview, should I raise it first and if so any tips to address it? I’d love if the job was of the old level/salary but the reality is that it isn’t and this company is one I’d really like to work for. I’m assuming they’ll recognise me as a prior applicant for what was a much more senior position the last time it came up.

    I’d be hoping if I got my foot in the door that something more senior would come along or that perhaps the role would be re-graded to what it used to be once the public furore has died down. The scandal was unfortunate, very public and very bad. I suspect the role has been downgraded significantly so as to fall within the remit of a more senior manager.

    1. fposte*

      I think it could go either way as far as it coming up. But if you don’t get promoted or the job doesn’t expand would you still want this job? I think if you wouldn’t, you should think seriously about whether applying is a good move–you really don’t want to resent a job for not giving you something it never promised you it would.

      1. cultino34*

        Honestly I’m not sure, I was thrilled to see the job advertised and then my heart sank when I saw the change in conditions. It’s a great company in terms of industry prestige and would be an opening into better things after a year or two, even if I had to move outside the company. There is a salary range advertised with the top end being 15% below the lowest figure for the old version of the role. It doesn’t specifically say appointment will be at the low end of the scale and realistically if I got to offer stage I’d need the salary figure to be at the higher end.

  18. Quietseeking anon*

    Any acoustic engineers or just white noise experts here? Next week I have to talk to a colleague about our head of HR (colleague’s direct report). Because this persons office is less than 8 feet from other cubicles, they use a white noise machine to mask loud confidential conversations, and it is giving my team headaches. This staff member tends to be loud anyway, so insists on turning the machine to high, and won’t even turn it off when leaving the office for hour long meetings. Here are a few options – would love to have more:
    1 – see if this person and their asst can be moved to another floor. Apparently they suggested this and it’s been turned down. In general I think it’s best practice for HR to be away from other offices – can anyone back me up on this?
    2 – ask that the machine be placed inside the office. When I suggested this to the staffer, the reply was “that’s not the way it works”. They say the same thing about turning the machine off for a few hours.
    3 – ask staffer to try another machine That has more volume options.

    4 – high quality noise cancelling headphones. But it will look odd to have several of my staff in a row wearing them, and it is treating the symptom rather than the problem. They wear earbuds now with music to try and cancel out the roaring. And one staffer has migraines so is close to bringing in a doctors note.

    Other ideas? The machine bothers me as well and I’m next door to the office and I can hear it through the door as well as hearing the raised voices through the wall. Head of HR is known for having a temper so I’ve been reluctant to have a direct conversation. Any help appreciated!

    1. Sadsack*

      Not an expert here, my only experience with white noise was with an executive who had one installed in his office because everyone in the surrounding area could hear his conversations with his door closed. The white noise unit was installed in the ceiling in his office. Good luck, I can’t imagine having to listen to such noise in my workspace all day.

    2. DG*

      If this person is regularly having confidential conversations, shouldn’t they have their own office? That would be the ideal situation.

      1. Quietseeking anon*

        This person does have their own office with a door, but also raises their voice often in meetings, and all of us can hear it. We can’t hear actual words if the white noises is on but we can hear an angry tone of voice.

    3. Beezus*

      One thought – can you download an app that measures decibel levels and measure them at the desk closest to the noise machine? OSHA requires a hearing conservation program when the average noise level is 85 decibels or higher. If you’re anywhere near that, maybe expressing concerns about your team’s longterm hearing impact will help?

  19. Audiophile*

    Quick question for the group – what’s the best way to approach my boss about the check they wrote me last week? The plan right now is they’re going to take it out of my next paycheck. But how does that work since I’m exempt? Wouldn’t that be the equivalent of docking my pay?

    1. Natalie*

      No, salary advances are treated differently, since you did receive the salary, just at a different time than your regular payday.

      1. Audiophile*

        How would it be considered an advance though? They missed payday, and weren’t entirely sure when the check would hit. I have direct deposit, but also the physical checks failed to show up on time.

        1. Natalie*

          The specific timeline isn’t the crux of the issue, it’s that the money you were given last week was just a portion of your normal salary paid at an irregular time. So deducting that portion of your salary from your regular paycheck is not treated the same way as a deduction for missing work or smashing all the computers or whatever.

          1. Audiophile*

            Yeah, I just read the DOL page, thanks. That’s asinine because it puts employees at a disadvantage when employers screw up. Imagine if this kept happening.

            1. Moonsaults*

              I sit a regular occurrence that the employer screws up like that? There are regulations about meeting your scheduled paydays, you can’t just jump them around as you see fit. If it’s a one time thing, it can be viewed as a regular mistake.

              I am wondering if they’re jumping around so they can afford to pay their liabilities and hope that this is the way to do so. You have to pay those within 3 days of paying your employees, otherwise you’re into a can of worms for the government smacking you with penalties.

              1. Audiophile*

                I’ve been told checks have bounced before, about six months back due to fraud and them not catching it in time and moving money into the account paychecks are drawn on. Regardless, I’m miffed and it really feels like being penalized twice.

                It’s also really making me rethink continuing in the nonprofit sector.

  20. Natalie*

    My company is very likely to downsize or close completely within the next year or two, and I’ve decided to start a casual job search basically now. The downside to this is that I’ve only been here for a short time (July). I’d rather not leave this job off my resume for various reasons. I’ve heard people here suggest that one just address the fact that there are layoffs coming, but I’ve never been clear on the details of how you do that. Do people put that in their cover letter somehow?

    1. Audiophile*

      Last week was the first time I put my current job, the one I’m attempting to leave, on my resume. I only began this job in July also and I’m hoping to be out of it by January.

      I had no issues still securing interviews this week. And no one batted an eye when I explained why I was looking to leave.

      I say put it on your resume, explain that you anticipate there will be layoffs.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      Being laid off isn’t “read” the same way as being a job hopper is. Especially if your current company is a small business, people understand that these things happen.

      1. Natalie*

        Right, I’m aware of that. My question was how (or maybe “when” is more accurate) one brings that up.

        1. fposte*

          I lean toward interview rather than cover letter, but not for any hugely convincing reason. I’d love to hear from somebody who negotiated this (as I’m sure you would too).

    3. Jules*

      If it’s a well know industry knowledge, you could definitely put it on your cover letter. However, you could always explain in person otherwise.

    4. SS*

      I wouldn’t put it in your cover letter or resume. Keep those things totally positive and focused on your achievements. And don’t proactively bring it up in an interview either. Wait for them to ask about it. When I was job searching after 7 months at my last place I had no trouble getting interviews, but every single one of them asked me why I was leaving. That’s when you can bring up layoffs matter-of-factly, and no one will hold it against you.

    5. Sunflower*

      I would wait til the interview. I started job searching pretty much as soon as I started my old job and I don’t think it affected the likelihood of someone calling me. Especially if the rest of your job history is solid, I don’t think ‘job hopper’ is the first thing they are going to think when they see the short time.

      I think a company is gonna look at your resume and say ‘ok this person is leaving after X months, something must be up’- I don’t think it’s putting you in the reject pile but they are going to want to know ‘why are you looking to change jobs’. I think it’s fine at that point to say your company is experiencing financial difficulties- that should give them the hint that you’re expecting to lose your job.

    6. AnonAnalyst*

      Is this the only short-term job on your resume? If it is, I don’t think you need to address it until you have an interview. In my experience, if the rest of your resume looks like a solid match for the job, that one short stay won’t keep you from getting an interview. It will definitely be something interviewers ask about, though!

  21. Amber Rose*

    I need a way to make extra money but I work full time a fair ways from home. Does anyone have legit ideas for making money in my spare time, ideally on my computer?

    I need a very expensive surgery that isn’t covered by insurance. :(

    1. SJ*

      I’ve seen websites where you can take surveys or be sent products to test out samples or something – maybe someone can help with a link?

      Or if you have any writing/tutoring/editing experience, maybe you could sign up for an online org that provides those services? Before I got my new job I almost applied to be an SAT essay grader.

    2. beetrootqueen*

      you could try a few online surveys you can get paid for those. U Test and fiverr may help. If youve got some spare clothes in good condition you could try clothes resale sites.

    3. Sibley*

      the other side of the coin is expenses. can you do anything to decrease expenses?

      cut cable, cancel monthly subscriptions, not eating out or buying lunch, etc.

      1. Amber Rose*

        If I could do that, I would do that instead. But i’m already living at minimums. All my money is eaten up by debt so it’s not like I could afford anything I could cut out anyway. I don’t even eat lunch anymore.

        1. Natalie*

          I know this isn’t work related, but is bankruptcy an option? I don’t know what the laws are like in Canada, but in general it’s meant for this type of situation, where you can’t even function because of your debts. There’s no shame in needing a fresh start.

    4. Lurker*

      If you’re a US citizen living in the US, you could give Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) a try. You have to hunt to find the good jobs/surveys (crappy ones will pay you nothing) and it takes a while to build up your account so you can do some of the better paying jobs, but it’s a great resource. I suggest checking out the reddit forum /r/mturk. From there you can head to various forums that post good tasks to do to get a decent rate of return on your time. You still won’t get more than $6 an hour or so until you get really far into doing tasks (most of the better paying tasks require a large number of previously done tasks, and some require prequalifying by doing different tests or tasks), which sucks, but if doing a few things here and there works for you, it’s a great resource. I highly, highly suggest learning and using some of the browser add-ons that make it way easier to find tasks.

      If you have good hearing, there are a lot of transcription tasks on Mturk, and I know there are other sites out there that do transcriptions, too. The speed (and therefore $ per hour) depends on your abilities. I have poor hearing, so I’ve only tried it a couple times and it took me *forever*. Something to consider, though.

      For surveys, you can try QuickRewards or Swagbucks – those are the two I’ve done the most surveys on. QR is fast to pay out, but SB has a better site (and has a lot of non-survey stuff to do, too). Neither pays terribly well, you’re better off with MTurk if you can find good tasks.

      If you’re decent at writing, I believe there are jobs to do short pieces with various groups on whatever topic they give you. I haven’t looked into it, so you’d have to hunt around. These are often clickbait-type articles, just to warn you.

      Sorry for the wall of text, I’m usually a total lurker here, but MTurk and various survey/watch-commercials-for-money sites are how I fed myself for most of the past two years. It’s not enough to completely live on (i.e., I could never pay rent with it), and it depends on how much time you have to put into it (I’m disabled and have all day), but it is a way to use some spare time whenever you have it to try and make some small amounts of money. If you have the energy, a second job is a *much* better return on your time. But the sites above let you set your own hours and do it from home, so it’s an option if you need it.

        1. Lurker*

          You can try the other non-MTurk things mentioned – you won’t get as many surveys as an American, but you’ll still get some. And many of those transcription sites don’t care where you’re from, as long as you do a good job. Writing, likewise, doesn’t matter where you’re from. There are also some MTurk-ish sites that are international – try Microworkers, I’ve done a little on there before. Also, check out Fiver, a site to sell your skills for $5 – there might be options there, if you can think of things to do.

    5. Xarcady*

      I’ve tried a bunch of on-line surveys and things and you can make a little money from them, but not very much. Amazon Mechanical Turk is another option.

      Things to look into–on-line tutoring, on-line standardized assessment scoring (if you have a college degree).

      When you say you work a fair ways from home, does that mean you have a long commute and therefore little time for a second job? Because right now, most stores are begging for seasonal hires. If there’s a store near your day job, you could probably pick up 10-15 hours a week until the end of the year. Not what you wanted, I know, but if you could spare the time and are able to do the work, it would be a fast way to start saving up.

    6. SeekingBetter*

      You could try to resell some of your personal items on Ebay. I have a friend that buys a lot of electronics, and she’s always upgrading to the new gadgets. So she’s reselling the old stuff on her Ebay account and often gets at least what she paid for it or at least $10 over the price she originally paid for it! For example, she recently sold an old fitbit for $130!

      Ebay is great for electronics and rare collectibles. So if you’re willing to part ways with those types of items, then you could try it out. It might not be steady month-to-month income, but it’s worth a try.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I don’t have any personal items to sell. I’m not poor cuz I buy lots of stuff. I’m the kind of poor that never gets to buy stuff. I have a phone that I need, an old laptop that I need, and then maybe some books and games but nothing that’s worth anything.

    7. chickabiddy*

      I don’t know what you do or want to do, but upwork (dot) com is a legitmate platform to connect remote workers and employers. There are a lot of *very* low-paying gigs so you’ll have to do a bit of sorting and screening, and they take a fee, but they make sure that you will get paid.

    8. Manders*

      Do you have any job skills like writing, web design, photoshop, or graphic design that you could use as a freelancer, or are you looking for something more along the lines of data entry?

      Can you do something that might require some physical labor, like selling items on ebay, or are you restricted to work that doesn’t involve moving physical object around?

      This is a really tough spot to be in. I’m sorry you have to deal with this. :(

      1. Amber Rose*

        Not really. My skills aren’t really computer based. And I would sell stuff, but I have nothing I can sell. I can do physical things, my need for surgery isn’t a lifesaving one. Which is why it’s not covered even though i’m in Canada.

        1. Manders*

          Do you have a network of friends or family nearby? Have you tried reaching out to them to ask if there are any odd jobs they would pay someone to do?

          Are there any subjects you know well enough to tutor?

          Are there any gig economy-type startups that might work for you? Maybe something like Rover or Taskrabbit?

        2. TL -*

          Do you have any skills, like photography, knitting, crafty or art type stuff? I make an extra $200/month with my camera (could make more but I’m happy just supporting my camera habit.) I also have a weekend job performing at kids’ birthday parties and if you’re near a major city, that could be with looking into.

          You could also teach lessons for arts or musical instruments. Also, check Craigslist – you never know what comes up there.

    9. ginger ale for all*

      Perhaps you can sell things for other people on eBay. I have things that I would love to sell on eBay but I don’t have a good camera and I’m not organized enough to do it. Maybe you could offer a fifty fifty split? And don’t forget the old college standby, selling plasma.

    10. ..Kat..*

      Is crowdfunding an option in Canada? People can be willing to donate, especially if you provide them with updates. Of course, you do have to give up some privacy.

      Good luck.

  22. Myrin*

    I’ve started attending a course to learn LaTeX for my dissertation (the way it needs to be structured is such that no other word processor would probably be able to realise it quite as well)! It’s going well, albeit slow, and I know that I still have a long way to go but I’m really enjoying it already! I feel like way back when I first started to learn to type with ten fingers and without looking at the keyboard – I was agonisingly slow but bit my way through it and am now a pro at it! :D

    1. kilendra*

      LaTeX is great for long papers – it can auto-manage figure labelling and bibliography/citations which saved me so much time on my bachelor’s thesis. Plus there are great templates out there for LaTeX resumes – my favorite is Ted Pavlic’s resume/CV (google it, it’s gorgeous).

    2. krysb*

      When my friend wrote her doctoral dissertation she used Scrivener – but her doctorate was in English/Folklore. Seeing this made me look up the program. It might actually be useful for work. Thanks!

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      Ooh, I used LaTeX to write my math proofs in undergrad! Great tool, I loved it. I’m sure our professor loved it too (he gave extra credit for it), because he didn’t have to deal with smudged pencils and illegible handwriting.

    4. Mephyle*

      Happy LaTeXing! The results are beautiful, aren’t they!

      I used to keep a list of LaTeX resources and tips many years ago, but now there is so much information online that it’s easier to solve any problems (“How do I do this non-standard thing?”) by just doing a Google search on some related keywords. There’s almost always an answer in tex.stackexchange.com.

  23. Bye Academia*

    I started a job recently running a new teapot painting facility. At my previous job, lots of people wanted their teapots painted and we always had a wait to use the facility. In my new area, though, the demand isn’t as high for teapot painting and people don’t really know about this new facility. I feel very prepared to actually paint the teapots, but networking to get new customers is really not my strong suit. I am still early career so I don’t have a ton of contacts, and I have already emailed everyone I can think of. Does anyone have any tips for finding new customers? I don’t even know where to begin.

    1. Nanc*

      It sounds like what you need is publicity and marketing. Is there a Small Business Development Center near you? They may be able to help you come up with a plan. Also, check your local library for books like Marketing For Dummies (it’s actually a pretty solid book!) or how to publicize your small business.

      Quick things you could try:
      An email or mailing to recent customers letting them know about the service. Do you have access to that customer contact data?

      Where are folks buying the teapots? In the same place as the painting facility? If so, a flyer at the counter or in each bag is an easy way to publicize. Can you put up a display of customized painted tea pots so folks get a better idea of what it’s about?

      An open house–especially since the holidays are coming up. Buy your loved ones a great new teapot and come to our open house for a discounted custom paint job–you could pick 3 or 4 quick-to-paint-options for the discounted rate. If you’re by yourself, see if you can recruit some volunteers or perhaps make it more in the nature of a demonstration so you aren’t overwhelmed.

      Press release (if you haven’t already done one). If you can get your local papers and news to come in and do a story that helps boost your exposure.

    2. the.kat*

      Building some “non-customer” relationships in your community might help. Where does your community consume media? Can you get an ad on a local radio station or news station? Is the local high school looking for sponsors for their sport season? Is there a nonprofit that does an activity you could support? A couple hundred bucks for either of these will get you in front of people who will appreciate that you care about their children or their community. It’s goodwill and advertising. Are you doing anything that might be newsworthy? If this is a small town, a call to a local reporter might get some coverage.

  24. kilendra*

    Job offer negotiation question! I have a call with a recruiter tonight for a job I’ve been verbally offered. Salary/benefits haven’t been talked about at all so far, so I’m anticipating that this call will be the compensation discussion. Does what I’m asking for (see below) sound reasonable?

    Background: I’m an engineer with 2 years of experience in a related industry. Company is a prominent, successful startup known for being on low end of salary ranges. The job is a great opportunity that I really want to take and I like the new city (explored a lot during my onsite interview). I currently live in the South and will need to relocate to the West for this job (~2000 miles, comparable cost-of-living in both locations – startup is not in the Bay Area). I’m single with no spouse/children/pets and currently rent a small apartment.

    I want the new company to:
    1. Match my current job’s salary ($A) + bonus ($B) as my new salary ($A+B). I currently make about $80k per year in salary + bonus, which is maybe slightly high for my industry.
    2. Provide relocation services: either ~$5k lump sum (will pay for UHaul + gas + hotels + 2 months loss on current lease) or arrange my move for me and pay for it.
    3. Pay a starting bonus of ~$7.5k to partially compensate me for losing my current job’s bonus . The way that my current company does bonuses is that if I’m an employee on the last day of the year (Dec 31) then I will get the full bonus even if I leave the company on Jan 1. So, if I leave my current company to start this new job in December, then I’m giving up a guaranteed $15k in bonus that was supposed to be a big chunk of my 2016 compensation.
    OR
    Allow me to delay my start date to late January so I can still get my current company’s bonus, then give my 2 weeks notice and move. I’m concerned that if I give my notice in mid-Dec saying my last day will be Jan 6 that my current company will immediately end my employment to avoid paying me the bonus.

    Does all of this sound reasonable? Has anyone successfully negotiated something like #3? Which version of #3 would be better to ask for?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I think it’s reasonable to ask for this stuff, although you may not get all of it. And I think the way to put it is that you’re excited about the offer, but you don’t want to take an effective pay cut, and a substantial one, for it. I wouldn’t even tell them you’re willing to accept half of the bonus — just tell them you have a guaranteed bonus for 2016, and that you would like to be compensated for leaving that money on the table. They may come back offering less, or who knows, they may try to match it if they really want you!

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I also think you’re more likely to get the January start date than the full bonus, actually. And hell, you’ll need some time to prep for a cross-country move!

    2. lulu*

      1. and 2. seem fine. I don’t know about 3. Is a starting bonus common in your industry? It might be easier to delay the start until January (you can mention that you need to stay until Dec 31 in order to get the annual bonus, and then it’s their move if they want to buy you out of it). Unless you got a sense when talking to them that they are looking for someone urgently, in which case it would be tone deaf to ask for such a delay.

      1. kilendra*

        Starting bonuses are fairly common in my industry: my current job gave a starting bonus, and several of my college friends doing similar work have gotten starting bonuses when moving to new jobs. I did get a sense that the new company wants someone urgently, though, so you’re right that I probably shouldn’t ask for the January start date too strongly.

    3. GlorifiedPlumber*

      Let me guess, an Elon Musk company?

      IMO, your bonus as you discuss it is less bonus and more “salary like” in that it appears not at risk. You need to treat it like a salary not something at risk performance wise. 80k + 15k bonus if present on date X is 95k. That’s your mental negotiating point for SALARY. Especially because if it is a EM company, you’re going to be working some solid hours.

      Many other people have NON set performance bonuses that are some trifecta of personal performance, local site performance, and corporate performance. It MIGHT be 6% of your salary, it might be 18%… then there are others like myself in the engineering industry who get ZERO bonuses.

      Relocation seems like a no-brainer, I would be surprised if for a professional like yourself that they do NOT offer this. I feel like I would treat it like a “confirmation” vs. a “it’d be nice if…” item. E.g. “For my planning, what relocation assistance from this company should I expect?”

      #3 – I highly doubt this would happen, but it MIGHT happen on its own if the recruiter takes a long time, company takes a long time, and you squeeze 4 weeks to wind down vs. 2 weeks. I feel like presenting this as an option to any recruiter company runs a risk… some might play ball, not care… but some others might be rubbed the wrong way for reasons they can’t espouse. Not a good way to start.

      So yeah… that’s my advice. If that bonus is GUARANTEED, then it is total comp. That needs to be your mental salary pivot by which you measure any job change. Not saying taking a salary cut isn’t warranted, but you can’t compare 80k to 80k when one of the 80k’s is associated with 15k bonus. Treat the relo as “of course…” and #3, just try to drag it out on its own.

      IMO, if it is a EM company, I doubt they’re going to go from 80k to 95k because you asked. 85k maybe.

      Curious how it turns out! Good luck man! I think personally job changes and moves are FUN. It’s a new adventure… especially for a single dude like yourself with no commitments. This is definitely an opportunity to stamp your name on something that not many others might get.

      1. kilendra*

        Thanks for both of your comments! Knew there had to be some overlap between AAM and r/FI readers :)

        You’re right, it’s an EM company. When I say ~$80k per year, that’s already including the bonus – my official salary is more like $67k. Bonus is based on company performance and has already been determined based on the last 4 quarter’s financial results, so it is a guaranteed $15k at this point (it was also $15k in 2015). Plus my current company bases raises off of the $67k base salary and not the total compensation, which sucks. I’m considering my salary range as $80-90k for negotiations : having the full~$80k as guaranteed compensation each year would be a nice thing for me – no more worrying about the company’s performance to determine a large chunk of my compensation.

        For #3, I ‘m starting to think that I should just try to negotiate a small starting bonus ($1-2k, if that) as part of relocation (“incidental expenses” or something like that). If I’m really lucky, the formal offer will be drawn out for a few weeks which gives me a chance of still getting my current company’s bonus.

        I’m also just plain excited about this job, so it would be hard for me to walk away because of $$.

        1. DoDah*

          If it’s SpaceX–you’ll be in SoCal. Rent, food, gas, entertainment, etc. are ridiculously high here. Negotiate for as much as you can get.

  25. Doug Judy*

    I had a very good interview Monday and the hiring manager said they were having a “consensus meeting” Tuesday (4 people interviewed me separately) and I would hear by the end of the week. I know it’s not that long and I need to not dwell on it but it’s taking all the will power I have not to email the HR contact and see if the timeline has been extended. Talk me off the ledge!

    1. Jen RO*

      A couple of days mean nothing in CompanyLand. If they don’t answer today it may mean that the manager is out sick, or the four people couldn’t find a common slot, or that an emergency came up. Relax! Trust me, we never forget a good candidate.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Maybe they have Veteran’s Day off? But I wouldn’t worry about it – this happens more often than it doesn’t happen. I don’t think I’ve ever had a company get back to me within the timeframe they gave me. Good luck! Do not contact anyone there until next Wednesday at the earliest.

      1. Doug Judy*

        I did hear back. I didn’t get it. This is the 4th job I’ve made it to the final round and not gotten an offer since August. This one stings the most as I was very qualified and the company was amazing. I don’t know what I am doing wrong. I’ve read the interview guide and I know my references are solid. There are few companies left that haven’t rejected me that I would like to work for. I’m feeling very hopeless.

        1. Future Analyst*

          Sorry to hear. :( I know it feels bleak now, so give yourself the rest of today and the weekend to grieve and feel frustrated, but promise yourself you’ll start fresh on Monday. I know how hard it can be to keep going… hang in there, we’ll be here to commiserate and congratulate (hopefully soon!).

          1. Doug Judy*

            The breif conversation I had with the recruiter today said they really liked me by wanted someone with more leadership experience(not a leadership position), which was never brought up in any of the questions not mentioned as something they were looking for. Had they asked, I have a dozen good examples. She did specifically ask if I would be interested in future openings and if it was ok for her to call me if something came up. I told her absolutely.
            I might reach out to her Monday for some more specific feedback. Tonight though, there will be some heavy drinking.

            1. nerfmobile*

              It is possible that leadership wasn’t an original criteria, but after interviewing all the candidates they had someone who stood out because of that aspect and they decided that was where they wanted to go with the position after all. From a hiring perspective, sometimes talking to the finalists can highlight different possibilities for the job and influence the final choice in ways the hiring committee didn’t anticipate. Sorry you lost out this time, hang in there!

        2. ChrysantheMumsTheWord*

          Also, I’m sorry because I’ve been there and I know how disheartening it is. Try to keep your chin up and remember you keep getting to the final round for a reason!

        3. catsAreCool*

          Maybe you didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe there was someone else who had more leadership experience, and since they found that person, they went with that person. Getting to the final round is a good sign.

            1. TL -*

              Maybe once they talked to people, they started discussing what they wanted the position to look like in depth and that had changed since the posting. It sounds like they actually ended up advertising for the wrong set of qualifications – nothing to do with you.

  26. My Throat Burns*

    I have a bit of a conundrum. A new woman (let’s call her Jane) started in our small department this week and she seems like a very lovely person. The issue is she REEKS of some type of, for the lack of a better word so please forgive me, “old lady” powder or perfume. The smell follows her everywhere she goes and because she’s in the cubicle against mine (inches away with only a fabric wall separating us) I smell it all day. Or more like I am “eating” it all day (if you’ve ever been near someone who used too much fragrance I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean by that).

    If Jane hasn’t moved for a bit it starts to dissipate somewhat but as soon as she moves around or gets up to visit the printer, BAM! it’s back with a vengeance. I literally hold my breath when she walks past me so as not to breathe it in. She takes her breaks and lunch at her desk (most of us do since the break room is tiny) so I never get a break from it. I have started taking MY lunch in the break room (which is not very relaxing since it’s so high-traffic) just so I can get away from it for awhile. Plus the chemical smell is messing with my appetite and sense of taste.

    The smell itself is overpowering and annoying enough on it’s own that it’s making me dread going to work, but after being surrounded by it all day I go home with a headache and sore throat, and my mouth tastes like I’ve eaten a bar of soap.

    I actually broke down in tears of frustration after work yesterday because I don’t know what to do! I’m a non-confrontational person, yet I can’t let this continue to affect my health. The reason I’m so upset is there don’t seem to be many options to resolve this. The office is at capacity so there aren’t any empty cubicles to move to and switching with someone isn’t possible since we’re arranged by team. Working from home isn’t possible either since this place is very paper-centric.

    I’m going on vacation so I won’t be back in the office for awhile, therefore I have time to come up with an action plan. Is it best to say something to Jane directly, and if so, what? And would it be kinder to do it in person but risk our coworkers overhearing the exchange, or to do it via email to spare any potential embarrassment? Or should I speak to our HR person first for guidance? HR is typically great about handling issues, plus I get the sense that they don’t want people getting into potential disagreements. Therefore I could see them appreciating a heads up as opposed to me handling it on my own (especially if Jane becomes offended by me approaching her directly about the problem).

    I understand scents are very personal to people and many of them become nose blind to them over time so Jane probably has no idea just how overpowering it is, but (and I understand I’m jumping the gun a little here) that also worries me – would she even be able to tell what too much is if she was agreeable to toning it down?

    I’ve worked with a lot of women over the years and other than this other one who you could smell a mile away, but luckily didn’t sit anywhere near me, I’ve never had to deal with this. I also don’t want someone thinking I’m melodramatic because it truly is affecting me physically; it’s not just that I don’t like the smell (although that too is true).

    I was hoping I’d somehow adjust to it over the week but it seemed worse than ever yesterday. A few times during the day the smell would suddenly intensify and it turns out Jane had been away from her desk and had just sat down. A few times it even triggered coughing on my part.

    I hate being in this position but short of finding another job I’m not sure what else to do and it’s making my work life miserable. I have it good here – short commute, a flexible schedule, and decent pay – so it would be tough to find an adequate replacement. I just want to be able to come into work and do my job without feeling sick. Last night it took hours for the soap in my mouth taste to go away and for the burning sensation in my throat to disappear. I can only assume the fragrance became embedded in my sinuses after sitting in it for 8 hours.

    What do I do? I’m already dreading returning to the office after my vacation.

    1. SJ*

      sorry, I tried to post a link but it’s in moderation, maybe. If you search “perfume” a few things will pop up.

        1. Q*

          I’d recommend HR. I had a situation where I did as Allison suggested, politely asking the person to wear less or none at all while at work. Luckily I did this in writing. He tried to turn it around saying I was singling him out and saying he stunk. It got really bad ; he was yelling discrimination and hostile work environment and it got really ugly. And we didn’t even work on the same team! Protect yourself. Involve HR from the beginning.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But that’s a bizarre outlier, and you don’t want to let that shape your actions in more normal situations.

            Involving HR from the beginning just won’t make sense — they’ll ask her if she’s talked to the person directly, she’ll have to say no, and they’ll tell her to go back and do that first.

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              HR would expect someone to speak to a person they don’t manage about something as personal as odor (even if it’s not natural BO)? I’ve never been in that situation, but I find that hard to believe — it’s hard enough to have that conversation when you are the employee’s manager and can TELL them to stop. I think it’s a lot to ask of a peer to have that convo.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                If it’s “your perfume is triggering my allergies,” yes. It should be a simple conversation. If it ends up not taking care of it, then HR can step in. But HR having to go to someone and say “your perfume is bothering one of your coworkers, who asked us to intervene rather than just talking to you personally” is really overkill.

                Body odor, no. That’s much more personal/awkward.

                1. Golden Lioness*

                  I worked for a company where this lady bathed herself in this “oil” every day. Every time she was 4-5 ft away from me she would trigger an asthma attack bad enough that I had to use my inhaler and had to stop working for about an hour. I even had to go the the hospital twice…. I went to HR an was very nice and apologetic but they told me that they’ve heard about this and that multiple people had complained of getting sick. They also said that they had talked to her and she said that was her body and she’d bathe it in as many oils as she could and if people didn’t like it they could just tough it out… It had nothing to do with not liking it, people (including myself) were getting really sick! so callous!

                  HR said there was nothing they could do… I know… loons! sigh.

                2. Audiophile*

                  Golden Lioness, your coworker’s comments sound like something my sister would say. She’s actually said things like,”it’s my body. Do you know my body?”

                  What was the end result -are people still getting sick?

                3. Golden Lioness*

                  The result is nothing got solved and people kept getting sick (I wasn’t the only one, and I am not super sensitive).
                  That was by far the worst job I ever had. I am glad I no longer work there.

                  And I can understand the “it’s my body” comment, except that when “your body” is making multiple people around you sick, then it’s not just “your body”

                  She openly admitted to HR that she did not care, not even a little bit and even if people had to go to the doctor they should just suck it up and be grateful they had insurance… and she was a manager… sigh.

      1. Sadsack*

        No, talk to Jane first. Be polite, but just tell her you gave a bad reaction to something she is wearing. This is not at a point where HR needs to act.

        1. catsAreCool*

          And like Sadsack said, talk, don’t e-mail. E-mail doesn’t have the concerned, friendly tone you want to use in this discussion.

    2. Artemesia*

      This must be awful. I think you have to confront and make it ‘you not her’ i.e. scents bother you as you have allergic reactions to them and her perfume is giving you a crashing headache every day — you would be so grateful if she could not use scents for the work day.’ Hope it works.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh my goodness, say something! For example: “Jane, your perfume is lovely, but for some reason it’s giving me a terrible headache (or whatever). I’m so sorry to ask, but I’m reacting so strongly to it — would you be willing not to wear it to work?”

      1. Sadsack*

        Exactly. I had a coworker tell me that an air freshener infuser thing I had at my desk gave him headaches and he asked if I could get rid of it. He was polite and didn’t over explain, and didn’t make me feel bad over it. He just said it and I immediately got rid of it. Not a big deal.

        1. TL -*

          Yup! There’s a chemical at work we use that gives me the worst headache and I asked my benchmate to either use it in the chemical hood or give me warning before she uses it. She does the latter and I just go work at another bench. Super easy and keeps me quite happy.

        1. Sadsack*

          Yes to this, too! It would be unkind to make your coworker spend the entire day knowing her scent is killing you.

      2. My Throat Burns*

        I like this script Alison, thank you. Is this something I should do in person or via email? And should I do it at the end of the day like someone else suggested? My day ends before hers so it would be end of my day. I am worried about possibly embarrassing Jane which is the last thing I want to do.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’d do it in person — that way you have control over tone, whereas email could inadvertently seem chillier.

          End of your day is good if the timing works out, but otherwise I don’t think it’s a huge element to worry about.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          If you are worried about embarrassing her, then let her know. “I feel bad asking you this ….

    4. JBurr*

      If you can stand a funny story about fragrances, you’ve described my since-retired former theater teacher to a T! We were hyperbolically certain that Jane bathed in her perfume. You could smell her clear across the campus with the right breeze. Heaven help you if you were in the narrow confines of the costume closet with her. And it was an old lady smell even for her as she later revealed she’d adopted the scent from her late mother-in-law.

    5. Temperance*

      Talk to HR? I’ve done this before. I worked with a monster who sprayed air freshener randomly throughout the day.

    6. My Throat Burns*

      I appreciate all the replies. When I’m back in the office, and assuming a miracle doesn’t happen in the meantime where she stops wearing the stuff, I will gather my courage and speak to her directly using your wording suggestions. Wish me luck! I will post a follow up in a few weeks.

    7. ..Kat..*

      I have this problem with fragrances. Thank goodness I’m a nurse. We have to be fragrance-free in the hospital.

  27. beetrootqueen*

    ok guys i need some advice. I got out of a toxic job (I resigned and then I was fired and told i was an untrustworthy cow and he called family members etc) and my ex boss has now left the country to con his way somewhere else but it sitll lingers on my mind. Any ideas on how to stop fixating on the awfulness and move forward?

    1. Artemesia*

      When I have to deal with an awfulness like this I dwell on it for a couple of days and sort of ‘wear it out’ and then move beyond it. Know that anyone who calls relatives is going to be viewed as a jerk — who does that? Your best way to deal with those he besmirched you with is ‘yeah that sounds like the sort of thing he would do, he was furious that I resigned and has been having a tantrum every since.’ I think everyone feels like you do when something like this happens.

    2. MC*

      Been there (although they didn’t call my family – that’s beyond weird). I refer to the entire job as “when I worked for the crazy people”.

      It’s a breakup like any other and it’s frustrating because this jerk didn’t get his comeuppance (yet). So remember that you’re out and that’s the best result you could ask for. And eventually you’ll be able to talk about it without cringing as in “Oh, that’s nothing… let me tell you about a job I once had… it was sooooo bad…”

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I actually saw a therapist about this topic. She reminded me that I am only responsible for myself and my future. If jerky boss is going to con other people, I need to let it go, it’s not my job to stop him or be mad about it. I left, I made my decision to have a better life and now I need to do that.
      But it took a year at good job before I could really let it go.

      1. Golden Lioness*

        I had to do therapy after my job from hell too. It took a while to recover, but I can relax and enjoy my currently sane and collaborative environment…. every now and then I get a bit of PTSD, but I try to check myself when that happens so I go back to normal. Good luck! and thank goodness you escaped the toxic environment!

    4. DaniCalifornia*

      Just know that you took the first step to walk away. You can’t be fired after you resign from a job. You realized it was bad, chose to leave, and the way he acted after you resigned just confirms your actions were the right move for you even more.

      Hope it helps and hope your next job is way better!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Agreeing with others here.
      You could try journaling, type or hand write your stories over and over until the energy/charge goes out of you.
      You could try taking walks. Walks work on a number of levels.
      Use affirmations, when the memories pop into your head firmly remind yourself that it is not happening any more. It’s over.
      Deliberately build something into your day/week/life that is pleasant. Ideally it would be something that you routinely look forward to.

      This one is a little tougher. Try to figure out what you will do differently the next time you encounter an AH like this. You know, we have this happen and we kind of have to take our lumps because we did not realize how huge a hornet’s nest it was until we were in the thick of it. But we can beef up what we are doing to protect ourselves from being in this type of misery again. This may entail reading up on work place bullies or therapy, depending on your preferences/needs. Consider it an investment in you and your future.

      I don’t think it ever goes away entirely. I think that just accepting it as part of your life story is a good idea. That way there is a low expectation that it will just “go away”. It’s not going to “go away” totally. Annnd key point: Part of your life story, not the sum total.

      FWIW. I am sorry you went through this.

  28. Librarian hopeful*

    I got out of library school five years ago. Due to the job market at that time, my search ended up leading me to a position not in a library, but in a teapot industry, where I’ve been ever since. I’ve done well here, and have lots of translatable skills as a result of the work I’m doing, but ultimately, I want to get back into libraries, so I’ve started looking at job listings.

    My problem is, during my time in the teapot industry, I’ve slacked with my knowledge of the library profession — things like trends and developments, which are things that employers are looking for (and, even more importantly, things that are important for me as a professional in the field). I feel behind and stuck, and I’m not sure how to get out of the hole I’ve dug for myself. I’m hoping that the librarians of AAM can provide some advice on where I should be looking — helpful publications and blogs, things that I can springboard off of. I am also looking at joining my state’s library association as a way to get involved as well. Thank you in advance.

    1. Alice*

      I’m sure you haven’t dug yourself a hole — you’ve gained transferable skills and come to the realization that you are passionate about libraries as opposed to the teapot industry!

      Can you give us some more info — public libraries, academic, special?

      1. Librarian hopeful*

        Academic would be ideal (all my interviews pre-teapots were for academic institutions), but special libraries and archives are also appealing, and I wouldn’t write public libraries off altogether.

        Another reason I want to get myself up to date is because I know that part of being an academic librarian is the expectation that you will publish. I’ve seen listings where employers want to know what your research interests are at the time that you apply, and at the moment I don’t really have any. I suspect that learning more about current trends will also help me refine my job search a bit more (right now everything feels very open — see my first sentence in this reply, heh — and that’s a little overwhelming too).

        1. Rosamond*

          The importance of publishing in academic librarian positions varies. If it’s somewhere that librarians are faculty, it probably is required, and you’d be evaluated on that basis, among other accomplishments. If it’s somewhere that librarians are staff, it’s can be more of an “as time allows” thing. I’ve worked in both environments.

    2. Mrs. Smith*

      I think you may want to start by deciding what kind of library appeals to you: public library? College or university? Public school? Private school? Corporation? After that, see what conferences are out there and what the relevant blogs and publications are. Join local associations – most of them are very inexpensive – and go to their meetings or programs. There you can network as well as keep abreast of current developments. Someone may need an intern or an entry-level position where you can build your skills back up and make yourself a strong candidate. Good luck!

      1. Hopeful librarian*

        Academic is most appealing to me, but I’m very open (which I suspect might be part of the problem — need to focus a little more). Thank you for the tips — all of the advice in this thread has been great.

    3. Rosamond*

      Your second to last sentence is your best bet. Join professional organizations (national and local), read their publications and blogs, attend local meetings and networking events. I know the national conferences are expensive if your employer isn’t footing the bill, but you can probably do some local/regional ones. If you’re feeling removed from the library field, this would be a good way to network with people and learn about libraries in your area are doing.

      I’d also suggest studying job postings, even if they’re not jobs you’d necessarily apply for, just to see what employers are asking for. Certain skills and qualifications will come up again and again, and that will give you an idea of what’s trendy or particularly in demand right now.

      1. Hopeful librarian*

        I actually went to ALA this summer! I spent most of my time in the JobLIST section, which helped convince me that no, I did not irreparably harm my career by taking a teapots job (just slightly overdramatic, I know), and yes, I do have some things on my resume that appeal to potential employers. It was expensive, but I’m glad I did it. I’m going to look more into local/regional happenings as well.

        I admit that I end up looking mostly at things that I think I would qualify for, but I will also start looking a bit more broadly for those common threads. Thank you!

    4. Another Librarian*

      Check out your state library association. Join listservs – they have tons of great information! There are state and national listservs as well as others for specialized libraries (like academic or archives). Look for workshops – many times they are free or low cost and they are great networking opportunities. Call up librarians in your area and ask if you can chat with them about the industry. As long as they don’t feel as if you are hitting them up for a job, they would probably be happy to meet with you. Good luck to you!

      1. Nynaeve*

        Second listservs. ACRL does a bunch of free webinars and their main journal is freely available online, so you can read the back issues easily: http://m.crl.acrl.org/content/current. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the new information literacy framework; that’s a pretty big change.

        Good luck!

    5. ginger ale for all*

      Facebook has several library groups to join. ALA Think Tank is a large one and they can let you know about other library groups there to join. Just try not to post library cake pictures there and you will be fine :wink.

  29. Pwyll*

    I’ve made it! Today is my last day at work, and I’m moving to a new job on Monday with FAR better work/life balance, a 15 minute commute, and telecommuting. Huzzah!

    Trying to stay motivated to wrap up projects and complete my instruction manuals for my replacement (who I trained this week), but YAY!

  30. DCGirl*

    TL;DR – After eight years in an extremely toxic workplace, I started a wonderful job in July. But I do want to share the details with anyone who’s interested. It’s epic.

    I’ve been meaning to provide an update. I’ve posted comments in threads here and there about my dysfunctional workplace. One was about Tom, who was promoted earlier this year to be Teapot Operations Manager, who greeted me on my first day by telling how many people he’d seen come and go in my position and that he was sure I wouldn’t last. Another was about being told to dial in for conference calls after an accident in which I sustained a concussion.

    There was the company’s unique approach to FMLA. They had something called “extended leave” that accrued and could be used for illnesses of three days or more. HR would actively discourage employees who had extended sick leave from applying for FMLA. This affected me because I was injured at work (tried to catch a box that was dropping and tore muscles and ligaments in my right hand/wrist). The workers comp insurer was glacially slow, and no one at the company would do anything to get them to move faster. “Once it’s turned over to the insurance company, it’s out of our hands,” was the refrain. My response was that someone in the building was cutting a check to the insurance company every month to provide a service and that the situation should be handled as though it was any other non-performing vendor. I was injured in June 2013, and surgery wasn’t authorized till February 2015. Then I had to fight for follow-up physical therapy, which took six months. I finally settled my case in July of this year after reaching maximum medical improvement.

    I was really hesitant about job hunting while all the workers comp drama was going on, knowing that I’d be out a lot once I had surgery, so I kept gritting my teeth and putting up with a lot. The tipping point came in March, when annual raises were announced. I got a 3% raise. Because I was at the top of my salary grade, however, I received a one-time lump-sum check for 3% of my salary. This meant that, if I stayed, I would be missing the compounding effect of getting annual raises. It was clear that it was time to go.

    I did a lot of research for companies that I wanted to work at and targeted places that I thought would be the best possible fit for me. I updated my resume, reached out to my references, gathered my writing samples, and started to apply for jobs. I immediately started getting calls for phone interviews. In May, I had my first in-person interview. When I walked in, the hiring manager had my resume on his desk. Reading upside down, I could see it had A++ handwritten in the upper right corner. I walked out feeling really good about it.

    Then there was a bit of a lag where I didn’t hear from the company and I started to think, “Oh, well…” The first week in June, I was loading my car for a vacation, when my phone rang. It was the recruiter, who said that they were “moving my candidacy to the next phase” and wanted to know my salary requirements. One of the few good things I could say about the dysfunctional job is that the annual bonuses were really good (a calculated retention tool). I knew I wouldn’t get that kind of bonus elsewhere, so I added the amount of the bonus to my base salary, upped it by $3,000, and told her that was my desired salary.

    A few days later, my husband and I were at a rest stop when my phone rang. The final offer was $3,000 above what I asked for. Which just shows how badly my salary had stagnated in eight years at the old job. The job title was manager. At the old job, it was difficult to be a manager unless you had direct reports, no matter how important the program you managed. I had asked for the title and been turned down on that basis, even though there was one department that did have managers without direct reports. I accepted the offer and told the recruiter that I would prefer to wait to give notice till I was back in the office. She understood completely.

    I gave notice on my first day back in the office. My manager and her co-manager, Tom, chose to be not nice. Whenever people on our team have left the company, there’s always been a gathering that included the entire division as well as all the SMEs from other departments that our team worked with. My manager booked a small, dank, windowless conference and only invited our team. Two employees who had left our team to work in other divisions asked about it and were told they couldn’t come. Refreshments were an Entenmann’s cake and a Hormel cheese-and-salami tray from the Walmart up the street. My gift was a wilted spray of flowers from the vendor in front of the building. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. The only saving grace was that, in the middle of the party, the door opened and the admin assistant from another division I worked closely with walked in, looked at my manager, and said, “I know you said I couldn’t come, but tough!” She had a beautiful flower arrangement in a glass vase and a card from her group. Inside the card was $100 from the spot bonus fund that my manager and grand-manager always swore didn’t exist. As we carried the leftover food to the break room, we were stopped by several people who said, “Oh, did I miss the party? I really wanted to be there.”

    Tom chose to be awful the last few days, to the point that I broke down in tears at one point. I had exit interviews with HR and with the senior vice president of my division and told both of them that I was disappointed with the farewell I received. A week after my last day, I was at home (I had a week off between jobs), and a florist delivered a beautiful arrangement – from the company – and a card that said, “Sorry it happened so quickly and we did not get a chance to celebrate you.” LOL. I’m pretty sure I gave the standard two weeks’ notice that all the other people got nice parties did. I’m sure the SVP made that happen; that’s who I addressed a thank-you note too.

    So, the new job is wonderful. The people are really nice, and the company treats its workers really well. The hours are very flexible so, even though it’s in an area known for rush hour gridlock, I’m able to arrive at 7:30 and leave at 3:30, missing the worst of the traffic. Because I’m not working downtown, I actually leave my house at the same time I used to but get home two hours earlier. As a result, I now have time to work out after work.

    So, to everyone who’s in a bad situation, keeping hoping and keep trying. It can and does get better.

    Oh, yeah…. the old company is now advertising a manager’s position with my job description.

      1. DCGirl*

        Yeah. I bumped the turnover rate for the department to more than 50% in a year and was punished accordingly. Thank you.

    1. Rahera*

      Wow – I’m glad you’re out of there in a much better situation. I’m really sorry the party was so pathetically and childishly handled, and so glad there were some decent people there who broke the ‘rules’ and let you know you were valued :). Hooray for the admin assistant and everyone who wanted to be there :).

    2. legalchef*

      Yikes! That sounds very similar to what happened to me! I gave my old job an opportunity to counteroffer (essentially to promote me to the same level of my new job), and they declined. But my manager was clearly really mad that I was leaving. Everyone else when they left got a card signed by the whole team (purchased and passed around by the manager) and most also had a little party with snacks. I got… nothing (from her). No card, no celebration of my 8 years there. My team realized that nothing was being done and gave me a card from them (and also an amazon gift card, which wasn’t necessary but very sweet). Companies need to realize that unless there is a reason for someone to leave a job on bad terms (such as getting fired), they should do everything possible to make the transition a good one. Because nothing is more demoralizing to *current* employees then to see that their manager doesn’t care when someone leaves.

  31. Allison*

    As I mentioned last week, my contract isn’t getting renewed going into next year and I need to find a new job to start in January. It hasn’t been going as well as I’d hoped, but I did manage to get a couple good leads this week.

    Here’s the thing though, I’ve been a contractor for 3 and a half years, and while for a lot of that time I’ve been payrolled through a 3rd party, meaning a W-2, healthcare, and an unmatched 401k, I haven’t gotten paid time off. I can accrue some sick time, but that’s it. No paid holidays off, no vacation days. Not cool. I’d really like full-time employment now, but the reality is, I may need to start my next job as a contractor. Which is fine, as long as the employer has an idea of what I need to do to become a full-time employee. Do I need to transition into a different role, or do I just need to demonstrate success, and if so, what does that look like?

    I want to communicate this to employers, but I need to be professional about it and I worry that, due to my age (27) I run the risk of sounding entitled. What’s the best way to phrase what I want?

    1. Mon Mon*

      Couple things… 1) ensure the employers know your goal is contract to hire and get a timeframe in writing and also ask for more formal reviews of your work prior to the timeframe deadline. It’s also important to ask them if their annual budget cycle has impacts on converting contractors to full time. Sometimes they want to, but they can’t for various reasons internally due to timing in the year, etc. 2) in the meantime, bump up your hourly rate to cover your salary for 1 or 2 weeks of vacation time. I did this as a contractor, so when I took a week off, I’d mostly already been paid for it in my hourly rate. And of course, I let them employer know that as a contractor, I’d be taking a week off, so they were prepared to digest that as part of their hiring decision. Good luck.

  32. TotesMaGoats*

    I’m sitting in the most mind numbingly boring time sheet training. That’s right folks, it’s 2016 and we are just now SLOWLY transitioning from paper time cards to online. I feel bad for the guy because under normal circumstances he’d be a good trainer but I think I could’ve given this training on the fly because the system is super simple. Although all the background noise of people who thought they were muted and weren’t is hysterical.

    At least this means that time cards will be submitted bi-weekly instead of every 3 months or, in my case, every six months. No kidding. For people who were non-exempt, they only got paid out their overtime every 3 months. And any sort of leave use was basically on the honor system. My boss signs my time card twice a year. Uh huh.

    Please get me out of here!!! Good news, I sent some detailed consulting business ideas to my BFF and we are talking next month. Scared but excited.

    1. she was a fast machine*

      How on earth was that legal? Aren’t there laws requiring compensation to be paid out at least x number of weeks after it occurred?

      1. neverjaunty*

        Guessing no, but that’d be a question for an employment attorney or the state department of labor where TotesMaGoats lives. With luck it isn’t and there’s some massive penalties owing!

    2. Meredith*

      I work for a major state university, and we’re still turning in paper time sheets! So, time-saving, much efficiency.

  33. Susan*

    My department runs a report at a specific time every day and e-mails it to some managers. Yesterday, it was my turn to run the report, and 6 hours after I sent it, one of the managers replied to all asking, “Why isn’t [information that wasn’t available until 5 hours after the report deadline] on this report???” (With three question marks just to make sure I knew he was upset about it.) Fortunately, by the time I saw this response, my manager had already replied and said that the information in question wasn’t available when the report was run and would be on the next day’s report, which saved me the trouble of apologizing for the inconvenience caused by my inability to see into the future… But wow, what a jerk.

    (The report is simply a compilation of data that other people have entered in the system, and all of the data is time-stamped, so it would have taken him about 10 seconds to check to see what time that information was entered in the system.)

    1. Rincat*

      I feel your pain. I do reporting work and have to constantly remind people that if the data isn’t there, IT’S NOT GOING TO BE IN THE REPORT.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      This is every day. Every day of my life. People have gotten better about it, but it still happens.
      The best is when a report is sent and someone checks their email 5 days later and asks why the last 5 days is missing. “The report is broken! You did it wrong!” I assure them that one day we will have the time traveling email system that will read minds and only show the data the reader wants.

      1. zora*

        Seriously, some people just cannot figure this concept out no matter how many times…

        My last job, we ran reports weekly for an activity, and as it got closer we ran them daily. Every couple of months we went through the same process. And I swear Every.Single.Time. we sent one out, our division director would reply hours later: “Why didn’t X person show up in this report!??!!” And we would explain. Again. “Because that person wasn’t added until 2 hours after we ran the report this morning. They will be on tomorrow’s report.” “BUT OMG ARE YOU SURE THE REPORT ISN’T BROKEN??” Yes. We are sure. They will be in tomorrow’s report. And still every time she acted like we must be complete idiots who don’t know how to do our jobs. There was just no way to explain it that she would understand ever.

    3. Friday Friday*

      Never apologize for something like this! Just be matter-of-fact about it like your boss, as you did nothing wrong.

      1. Mephyle*

        I was going to say the same thing, but then I read more closely and saw that Susan wrote that if she had chosen to offer an apology, it would have been “for the inconvenience caused by my inability to see into the future”. In fact it could be, “I’m sorry my inability to predict the future caused you inconvenience, and I’m sorry you’re a jerk.”

    4. DaniCalifornia*

      How ridiculous!

      We routinely get calls from clients asking us why we didn’t get their faxes. When no fax every arrived and they didn’t let us know they were faxing us something.

      *facepalm*

    5. Epsilon Delta*

      This reminds me of the time the Big Boss (C-level guy at the fortune 500 I was working at) asked me, the department’s most junior programmer, to compile a report with data that we literally did not have. Boss and I spent a day trying to figure out how to jerry-rig something out of the available data, but it was simply not possible. That was a fun first interaction with Big Boss…

  34. HR Anon Today*

    How do you support an initiative when the rationale isn’t sensical?

    I’m really struggling with a decision that my company has made. Our CEO had a bit of a temper tantrum about a month ago and decided that no one in the world was able to work remotely, except on an emergency basis. And even then, they need to have it approved by their manager and HR. We’re a technology company that has all the tools necessary to work remotely. I myself enjoy about one day a month working remotely to catch up and minimize interruptions. The announcement was made in mid-October and employees were told to sort it out by 1st November. The announcement came from the US and did not take into account any contractual homeworkers in other countries or consultation requirements.

    The communications plan states that employees coming into the office fosters productivity and creativity through face to face interaction. Now, my company has over 125k employees globally, and we’ve spent the last decade under this CEO moving teams around the world, so an employee’s team may not be co-located. So basically, the comms plan is a bunch of BS to try and explain away a stupid decision made in a fit of pique by a childish CEO. And as HR, I have to own, support and help communicate this message.

    In the 5 years I’ve worked for this company, they’ve made several decisions that I personally wouldn’t have made, but I could understand the business rationale behind it and therefore support the decision. I can’t find any legitimate rationale here, and I’m really struggling to help drive the process without being completely cynical about it. How do others deal with a situation where they’re fundamentally opposed to a decision the company has made? I can’t quit/find another job for another year, since I’m under a really expensive reimbursement agreement.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Honestly, I think you have to just look at as a job and do the best you can with it.

      (Although I think AAM has said before if people band together as a group and can show reasons why this won’t work, maybe there could be a chance to change things.)

      2 weeks to sort this out isn’t much time, in my opinion (inexperienced as it is). I mean, if you are all over the globe, does that mean you actually do have office space everywhere for people to come in?

      The company I work for has made odd decisions I don’t agree with, but I just internally roll my eyes and do the best I can (while looking for a new job). My immediate boss knows my feelings, but doesn’t always agree.

    2. Pwyll*

      You might magically leave articles about Yahoo’s failures in implementing this policy scattered around the executive suite.

      But seriously, a big struggle can be having to do the party line when you disagree with it. Lawyers deal with this all the time, and unfortunately the best advice I have is to do what you can in your own chain of command to provide evidence of better ways of doing things, and carry out your duties by adhering to the party line.

      1. HR Anon Today*

        Thanks, I appreciate the thoughts. I think my big struggle here is that I normally am able to rationalize and provide an explanation to the employees I support. In this instance, I’ve basically been quoting the comms plan verbatim, and the employees have noticed and commented on it. I’ll keep on with the same approach for now, and hopefully the business will see the error of their ways.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I think you’re doing the right thing. As an employee, I can accept that sometimes higher ups make a decision that neither I nor the management closer to my level agrees with. I appreciate it when people don’t try to BS some ridiculous answer for why. Sometimes it’s a decision that doesn’t make sense.

  35. Tomato Frog*

    How long have I been reading AAM? Years. Years and years. Yet what did I do this very week, despite these years and years and years of reading AAM? I told an HR recruiter how much I make at my current job, without her even having to press the point. I told her without preamble or dodging or redirecting to the more important issue of how much I want to make; I told her without even trying to get information about how much they are willing to pay. Nope, just told her the number.

    And she, like someone who is evil, said quietly to herself, “That’s helpful to know.”

    Oh, you know me, just doing my bit to perpetuate the wage gap.

    I know what you’re thinking. That sucks, but it happens. Live and learn (I thought I had already learned, but okay, learn again). Oh, but I wasn’t done yet! The HR recruiter continued to describe some of the retirement-related benefits at the job.

    Me, brightly: We don’t have that at my current job!

    *facepalm*

    I met with this HR person at the end of a long, tiring interview day, during which I had made an effort to be pleasant and emphasize my assets while being as forthcoming as possible. I was not mentally prepared to be cagey. Next time I will definitely prepare.

    Happily, I’m in a position to turn down a job that doesn’t pay what I want, but I really don’t want to get to that point. A not insignificant part of me hopes they don’t offer it to me at all, because whatever they offer now I will eye with suspicion.

    1. ButFirstCoffee*

      Hey, there’s still a chance they could make you a good offer! It’s a habit to provide all the relevant information asked when job searching. Try not to feel bad about it.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Just because you told them now, doesn’t mean you’ve doomed your negotiations! If the offer comes back and it’s suspiciously close to what you’re making now, you can respond back that you know you’re currently being paid below market rate (if indeed you are), and you’re not interested in moving unless it’s for a salary that reflects your market value. And are ALL the benefits better at this new place, or just retirement? If they come back with, “You should take our offer because 401K!” you can also say that your overall benefits package at your current position is good, so you would need a significant bump in salary to consider moving.

    3. Rincat*

      I did that with a recruiter last week as well, mostly because I’m a state employee and my salary is public anyway (just a quick google search away), so I couldn’t plausibly say my company prefers that be private. Her response was, “Oh wow, you are so underpaid! I could get you way more.” Here’s to hoping!

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Okay, come off that ledge.

      And she, like someone who is evil, said quietly to herself, “That’s helpful to know.”

      The reality is, it is helpful to know. That’s not her being evil. Hell, it could be helpful to know because now she realizes you’re at the top of their range and that’s useful because now they now they can’t offer you something lower. Don’t read anything into that response.

      And people give out their current salaries to employers ALL THE TIME. They shouldn’t be it’s really, really common. You didn’t do anything outrageous here. (I mean, obviously it’s better not to, but it doesn’t warrant this level of self-berating.)

      1. Tomato Frog*

        I am somewhat self-codemnatory, but I was mostly trying to be funny! Nonethless, y’all are very reassuring (about my not having messed up that badly; not so much about my comedy chops).

        My reaction to her statement was colored by the fact that she’d already shut me down when I asked about pay bands and I hadn’t felt we were having a good interaction before she said that. But mostly, regardless of the outcome, it would’ve nice to think I could trust myself to keep my wits about me in situations like this.

    5. Nye*

      At my interview, I think I might have said to HR, “You have dental?! That’s amazing!”. (I have been in grad school and the postdoc world for too long.)

      I did get an offer and luckily the organization has a standard salary/benefits rubric based on position, so I don’t think it cost me. But it was definitely a “d’oh!” moment for me.

    6. Mazzy*

      We’re all in different situations but I’ve thrown out my salary because my title is generic and my duties are all over the place and I think my salary can be used at shorthand for the level of responsibility I have in my role, without spending an hour going into every detail or how I think I am so good at what I do.

  36. ButFirstCoffee*

    So, I would appreciate if someone could tell me if this is a red flag or could just tell me if I’m being overly paranoid/sensitive.

    In my interview a couple days, I shook the interviewer’s hand (woman) and smiled politely. She told me if I wanted to be “taken seriously as a woman in the business world” I needed to get a better handshake because otherwise people would think “just men can do this kind of work.”

    1. Leatherwings*

      Yeah, that’s not really appropriate feedback to give someone who just finished an interview. I would never do it.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          Not disagreeing. Shouldn’t have said but just because it was wrong of the interviewer to say doesn’t mean it should be dismissed out of hand.

    2. Kai*

      A firm handshake is always good, but telling someone that yours isn’t sufficient in this kind of context is rather antagonistic and unnecessary.

    3. Crylo Ren*

      You’re not being overly paranoid or oversensitive. What a weirdly adversarial comment to make to someone you’ve just met!

    4. SMT*

      The Leadership Development course I took at my work devoted at least half a day to correct handshaking. It’s ridiculous, but as long as it’s something hiring managers put stock into, I guess it has to matter.

      (And by her logic, would someone physically incapable of shaking hands due to lack of limbs or paralysis or whatever not be qualified for this kind of work?)

    5. N.J.*

      The interviewer in an asshat and in her attempt to give advice to further the cause, so to speak, perpetuated sexist thinking herself. Even if you shook hands like a wet noodle, uncalled for on her part. I would certainly take it as a red flag that she will have very specific opinions about how you should comport yourself as a woman in her company or department. Run.

    6. Jen G*

      Consider a third option: it’s valuable information. First, reproduce the handshake and the smile for a a few people, preferable people that will be honest with you and not just say “oh that’s fine!” even if you have a dead fish handshake.

      Once that is settled, only then can you assess the interviewer. Yeah, it might’ve just been a scrappy thing to say, but if it results in you fixing something that has been hiding you back, isn’t that a good thing? And if it turns out that she’s full of it or making some passive aggressive power move, then again, that is valuable information. Best of luck with your job search!

    7. AndersonDarling*

      Ick. I hate it when people think an interview is a mentoring session where the interviewer criticizes everything about the candidate. I don’t want to work for someone who is trying to dominate me instead of saying “hello.”

      1. Future Analyst*

        I also don’t appreciate being lectured by strangers, but if someone is telling your something about themselves (and what it would be like to work with/for them), listen. If she’s comfortable criticizing a stranger, that’s helpful to know.

        1. ButFirstCoffee*

          Thanks everyone. I agree that maybe it is something I could work on, but I think I still lean towards the way she went about it wasn’t necessarily conducive to a good working environment (I also didn’t like the workspace or the industry that much either). So the search continues. Thanks guys.

    8. SeekingBetter*

      I get limp-fish handshakes from interviewers practically all of the time now. But I would be taken aback by an interviewer who tells me I need “a better handshake.”

    9. Sunflower*

      I wouldn’t have been so taken aback if the interviewer had maybe just mentioned that you could be a little stronger/firmer(?) in your handshake but bringing all the gender stuff into it is just ACK.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, because so often people judge others on their handshake alone, not on their work or the things they think of to say or references from other people. /snark.
      Wow, judge much?

      I would assess this as a person who is not able to recognize what is a priority and what is not a priority.

      I have a friend who has 17 pins in her wrist after it got shattered in an accident. Other people have arthritis or other hand problems. Personally, most days I can shake hands just fine, but once in a while if I have been working with my hands on a difficult project, I have a flimsy hand shake.

      Definitely a yellow flag for me. I would review what else was discussed that I might have skated right by without questioning. I am kind of wary of people who try to make others worried.

    11. Mazzy*

      What the hell? I go to a group where we sometimes say a prayer holding hands in a group, and I’ve realized that so many people are awkward about handshakes and don’t know how firm to be, and it is OK.

    12. Office Plant*

      Depending on how it was said, I might take it as constructive criticism. It’s helpful feedback. Unless the person sounded mocking or snarky, in which case I’d forget about it.

  37. AdAgencyChick*

    If your company does PTO (as opposed to “sick” and “vacation” days), what’s the attitude of the organization about whether people should be using every last one of their days?

    My agency just had a managers’ meeting in which we were told that the expectation in 2017 would be that we manage our teams’ days better so that there aren’t large numbers of people taking giant chunks of time off in December (which can lead to teams needing to hire temp workers, which cuts into the agency’s bottom line). Fine, I get that — and, in fact, I had already started working with my team from the very beginning of this year to manage their calendars better.

    However, an offhanded comment from a higher-up really bugged me — he basically sounded upset that people felt they had to take every single day of their allotment, because after all, when it was sick time and vacation time, people didn’t always use all of their sick days. (The agency changed over from sick plus vacation to PTO a couple of years ago.) He didn’t go so far as to tell us to tell our teams not to take all their days, but he did say we as managers should sometimes be saying no to PTO requests, even if that means that someone gets, say, 28 days out of a 30-day allotment for the year. (The company does not allow any rollover.)

    My attitude is that PTO is a benefit that was offered to each of us when we accepted our jobs, and if you don’t use all of yours, you are working for free and you have lost the game. Plus, we’re in an industry that often asks late nights and sometimes weekend work of us without giving comp time or overtime pay, so why begrudge people who want to use the full allotment?

    My personal policy is that next year I’m going to continue to encourage direct reports to plan large chunks of PTO in advance, plan to use a good chunk in the first half of the year, and figure out ways that they can use all their days.

    1. SophieChotek*

      My company also has PTO (no separate sick policy). My boss has claimed he’s “never” used his PTO in 5 years (and thereby loses it each year, because it does not roll over, except 40 hours) because this is a 24/7 job and even on days when we are off, we should be working/checking email (ugh). So – not a *great* attitude, although he has so far actually approved all my PTO, so I guess it’s not that bad, and I told him outright, I would not check my email/run answering my mobile on my PTO days.

      Personally, though, I agree with you and feel it is a benefit and I will work hard to get all my PTO used up. I did not manage my calendar well and could easily have lost some PTO but that’s definitely on me and I know I need to be better next year about not scrambling after August to use my PTO. (Although my company is weird, we’re not allowed to use our PTO for 5 months of the year, which is really inconvenient and weird.)

      I agree – help your direct reports manage their PTO and do your best.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We switched from separate sick/vacation buckets to PTO years ago, and the company’s attitude has always been that you should take advantage of your benefits. Most people here will use leave rather than lose it, and if someone is under a deadline when they are about to hit the cap, they will usually be given unofficial “credit” for those extra hours over the cap.

    3. ThatGirl*

      We have PTO with no rollover, and my managers have encouraged us to take it all. I find any attitude to the contrary to be obnoxious. It is a benefit, and it’s already paid for. I’m not sure it quite translates to “working for free” but you are certainly giving something up if it’s not used.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      We have PTO and we are required to take at least one week every year. The rest can be rolled over or cashed out. Some people prefer to use every minute of PTO while others prefer to cash out and have the $$. No one has a problem with people using PTO, even when it is in week long chunks.
      It would not fly if a manager suggested we not use it. It’s a benefit, just like salary and health insurance.

    5. MsMaryMary*

      We just have PTO, not vacation and sick time, but we also have both a cash out and rollover option. I can cash out up to five days or rollover up to five days, which is really nice. I like to leave myself a cushion in case I’m sick in November and December, so I usually end up cashing out 1-2 days and rolling over 1-2.

      If I didn’t have those options, I would absolutely want to use all my days.

      1. MsMaryMary*

        I think it also depends on how accomodating your organization is if someone has used all/most of their PTO and then gets sick. As far as I know it’s only come up at my company for someone who had a fairly major health issue (she was hospitalized for a few days), and they didn’t make her take unpaid sick leave even though she had used all her PTO. If you company would make someone take unpaid leave or consider it a performance issue if someone got sick in December after using all their PTO, that’s an argument for saving a few PTO days just in case.

    6. burnout*

      We only get 10 PTO days a year (that’s vacation and sick, its all one bank) and I always use all 10 and then take unpaid days. Why? Because my mental well being is more important than this job, and because I can afford to take some unpaid days (I budget for it). It would be freaking great if my employer would give more PTO but he won’t because he hates the thought of paying us for not working.

    7. Gaia*

      We have PTO and I work with my teams to ensure we don’t have everyone needing to take large amounts of time off at the end of the year as that is disruptive to our ability to function properly. That said, we can roll over 5 days a year and I encourage my team to use all of their PTO (or roll it over) because I’d be damned if I was going to give up PTO.

      Does this manager expect employees to give back part of their check, too?

    8. George*

      We also switched from vacation/sick to pure PTO some years ago. The only corporate attitude I can remember is from the old days — when business was really bad, they’d ask us to take all our vacation early because it was a liability sitting on the books.

      The current PTO scheme allows rollover up to a certain limit; above that limit, it cashes out at somewhat less than the equivalent pay rate. That’s an incentive to use it, but not a requirement.

  38. Good_Intentions*

    Rude interviewers

    Please, please stop looking at your light-up watch or phone when I am asking questions during the interview.
    I know that I’m addressing the hiring manager directly, but I would appreciate it if you could show some respect and interest by looking at me, not your device.

    Thanks from an interviewee who recently noticed this off-putting pattern of behavior.

  39. thisgirlisonfire*

    Just need to vent about a work thing, and figured some of my fellow introverts here could commiserate. Our team is throwing a potluck to celebrate the holidays soon, and they have sent out a signup sheet, like 10 times, and now have asked that managers check in with their reports to make sure thy’ve signed up! Just… it’s not a fun celebration if you’re making participation mandatory. STAHP IT. Really hope my manager won’t be checking up on me — eating lunch with 100 other people is just too overwhelming to me, so I had planned on opting out entirely. Sigh.

    1. Q*

      If you don’t mind lying a little, I used to say that I have food allergies so I’d prefer not to participate since I don’t know whats in every dish. The thing is, I actually do have a peanut allergy and one time I did accept a cookie after asking if there were any peanuts in it. The maker said no but as I went to take a bite I noticed a light brown streak in the fudge icing. I asked what it was and she happily replied “its peanut butter!” Now I politely refuse everything from everyone no matter what.

      1. Drena*

        Reminds me of a college roommate. She liked to do her hair with hairspray in our room but that caused me to have asthma attacks. After having an intervention with the RA for our Hall, she promised to never do it again. One night I woke up choking and gasping for air. I took a puff of inhaler and wheezed “Did you spray hair spray again?”

        “You were sleeping! I didn’t think it would bother you.”

        “I always have asthma, even when I am sleeping. Don’t spray hairspray in the room!”

    2. Chat Noir*

      I usually opt out of these things too. We have one scheduled for next week, but it looks like it’s going to get canceled for low participation. Only five people have signed up to bring dishes, but luckily no managers are forcing people to participate. I think part of the reason is low morale. This past month, there were a lot of people who chose “separation packages” to voluntarily leave and then others were laid off. It just doesn’t feel like a fun time to celebrate.

    3. Mints*

      My new company does “potluck or $5” and I’m fine to pay $5 for lunch (I’ll deal with a group lunch less than once a month) but I didn’t realize that it’s supposed to be like “please bring a potluck dish or pay a $5 penalty” and I find it weird. I barely cook for myself, I’m not cooking for a dozen coworkers.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Ha, ha. I remember working for a well known computer company in the 80’s. When we had potlucks, the men could (but weren’t required to) contribute $5. The women were expected to cook – spending way more than $5 on ingredients as well as time making the damn food. I tried to contribute $5 and was forbidden from doing so!

          1. ..Kat..*

            I tried. After all, I was a sweet, agreeable, unassertive young woman back then. I also couldn’t cook back then. What I made turned out awful. I threw it away and brought something store bought. Got a lot of side eyes and some pity!

  40. Theresa*

    In September we got a new boss. Over the past few months I feel like so many things I’m in charge of were disasters. Now, I’m not sure if they actually were disasters, or they just weren’t as good as events I had previously run last year. I have a feeling that my new boss can’t stand me and at the end of the year (June, I work in a school) I’ll be on my way out. I’m really tempted to meet with him and ask what I should be doing better/differently, but I’m not really sure if that’s a good idea. Thoughts?

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      I don’t think it would hurt to schedule a meeting to check in. To see what his expectations are. Saying something to the effect of “I wanted to check in and see what your expectations are and if there’s anything I could be improving on from your point of view.” Then listen as objectively as possible and go forward with that knowledge. (Assuming he actually talks to you about anything going on.)

    2. Sunflower*

      Schedule a check in but don’t go into it with the attitude of ‘oh crap I have screwed up a ton and need to make sure I don’t get fired’. I would just ask how you’re doing and what he thinks you could improve on.

      1. Sunflower*

        BTW scheduling check-ins are the furthest thing away from a bad idea. Any good boss wants his employee to want to improve. My boss and I have quarterly ‘how am I doing’ check-in’s scheduled .

  41. Pro Cat Instagrammer*

    Have you ever been in a Bitch Eating Crackers situation, but with a job? Like there is a reasonable factor in your old workplace (bad management, horrible hours…etc) that made you decide to start search for a new job. And during the long wait, you start finding all sorts of reasons that irritate you about your old office. “I can’t believe I stayed so long. The carpet is blue. I LOATHE blue. I can’t stay here and see this carpet for four years!” “My boss speaks with a French accent. I always hated croissants. I can’t stay here and listen to his croissant accent for four years?”

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      I’m there. I’ve been hardcore jobsearching since July, and am like that with almost everything at this point. Supply chain peeps other than our main guy are useless, it’s impossible to get IT to look at ANYTHING on our unit despite weeks of waiting and trying to comply with only submitting online tickets about our broken machinery, equipment breaking and the Facility guys are not helpful for days on end fixing something we need ALL THE TIME, staff I love keep leaving because pay sucks here/boss sucks and performance doesn’t factor in at all (system is seniority-based raises that are only 1-2% annually), and my boss drives me up the wall!

      Tl;dr I love most of my coworkers, and they really like having me in my support role, am starting to hate it here because the org doesn’t support us for s**t.

    2. krysb*

      I love my company, but I get what I call DSBipolar syndrome where I lose all rationality and everyone is incompetent and I hate them.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      croissant accent… hee-hee-hee…
      Yep. Been there. The only thing that seemed to help me was to get extra rest. I was less irritable if I felt a little rested.

      One mistake I made at a place I worked was to load up on junk food. I knew I was eating more junk than usual because the job sucked so much. The more junk I ate the more witchy I got. It was the first time I noticed that about myself.

  42. orchidsandtea*

    What’s your go-to outfit for a first day in a business casual office?

    The email from the temp agency said, “Business Casual! Just be business professional for the first day!” But honestly, the office is on the casual side of business casual, so showing up in a suit sounds like a judgment error.

    I interviewed in colorful sheath dress + black blazer. My interviewers were in Halloween costumes with full makeup. I remember one manager wearing a waterfall cardigan, t-shirt, skinny black pants, and knee-high boots.

    1. Van Helsing Job Hunter*

      I’d say for the first day it’s safe to err on the side of caution. So pretty much interview standard clothes for me. Because on the first day, you are pretty much gonna be making the rounds and saying hi to everybody in the place. So nice clothes will help make a good impression.

    2. Leatherwings*

      In the past I’ve worn nice slacks, flats and a nicer chiffon or silk blouse. I also always make sure to bring a sweater in case he office is freezing.

    3. Anonymous of course*

      Sounds like what you wore for the interview would work. But certainly anything between that and the manager’s outfit. But most importantly is wear what you are comfortable and confident in.

    4. SJ*

      I wore a long-sleeved button up shirt tucked into a pencil skirt and cute oxfords for my first day a couple of months ago. It fit the “business casual” requirement, but I quickly discovered that pretty much none of the women here actually wear dress pants or pencil skirts or sheath dresses — they dress a little cooler and funkier, which fits my style way better anyway.

    5. Artemesia*

      I’d go with dark jeans, low heels, nice blouse and jacket or slacks and jacket i.e. high end business casual and then adjust as you go along. Sheath and jacket works too.

      1. BPT*

        I don’t think I’d go with jeans – they’re causal (fullstop), not business casual. They might end up being completely fine for this office in the long run, but if they’re asked to wear business casual on the first day, I’d stick with that and not go the jeans route.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I think even a slight upgrade to khakis/chinos/other cotton trousers doesn’t shift you into business dressy but eliminates the jeans-signaling risk.

    6. BPT*

      Suits aren’t business casual – they’re business formal. Business casual could be what you wore for your interview, a sheath dress with a cardigan, a pencil skirt/blouse/cardigan combo, or pants/blouse/cardigan, something like that. I like to stick with the three piece foundation – top, bottom, and cover (a dress counts as top and bottom for me, so with a dress it might be two pieces). Anything in this type of area would be fine.

      1. orchidsandtea*

        Precisely the problem. When I’m told to dress business professional, I wear a matching suit. The temp agency said to wear business professional to what appears to be a fairly casual environment. This strikes me as a misstep.

        Business casual isn’t casual at all; I have no confusion on that point. Business casual for me means either a professional dress or slacks/pencil skirt + a nice blouse, sometimes with a blazer. But the temp agency suggested business professional, and I’m skeptical of that advice. They give formulaic advice and have likely never been to the client location.

        1. Annie Moose*

          In that case, I would say something on the nice end of business casual, juuust in case. For example, a nice cardigan with dress pants. It’s more dressy than just a top + dress pants, but isn’t so formal it’d look ridiculous.

    7. Karanda Baywood*

      I wore a black and white patterned tunic with 3/4 sleeves, slim black ponte pants and dressy sandals (it was warm/August), a nice pendant and carried a sharp tote.

      We are business casual Mon-Thur.

    8. MC*

      My business casual uniform is: Pants (90% of the time black), sleeveless blouse and cardigan (60% of the time black). Everything mixes and matches. Switch out the sweater for a jacket and instant exec meeting outfit.

      1. Chat Noir*

        Same here! That’s pretty much my uniform in the fall and winter. I have a lot of sleeveless, knit blouses that I can wear with black pants and a black cardigan. In the summer, I wear dresses the majority of the time.

        Check out the blog Outfit Posts if you need some visuals.

    9. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I wore dress pants and a cardigan. I see no reason you can’t do khaki/chino pants, a button-down and the same black blazer from the interview or a similar dress plus cardigan. My go-to is always black dress pants, a shell, and cardigan or blazer.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Black trousers and either a brightly patterned T-shirt top or a cashmere jumper depending on the weather.

  43. Van Helsing Job Hunter*

    One thing I found very weird about the job hunting process is the weird “Job hunting while employed” double standard.

    If you job hunt while unemployed you are seen as undesirable. You could have the best reason in the whole world for not having a job at the moment, yet employers will find you suspicious and demand explanations for your weird state of employment.

    If you job hunt while employed you are in demand. Future employers love that.

    YET.

    If you job hunt while employed and your current boss finds out, reactions would range for “I will chase you out of my office right this minute” to “I am having several angry meetings with you which will involve HR.”

    So frustrating. Sigh.

    1. Rosamond*

      Errr…but that last scenario you describe is not normal. It’s how messed-up bosses react. Last time I was job-hunting I was very open with my boss about it. She wasn’t happy, but I was in a position with no growth opportunities, so she understood. If I found out one of my employees was job-hunting, my reaction would be somewhere between, “Let’s talk about how I can support you in finding your next position” (if they weren’t a great performer or were leaving due to factors outside my control) and “I’m sorry to hear that – is there anything I/we can do that would keep you here?” (if they were awesome).

      1. Van Helsing Job Hunter*

        oh… that is good to know, WHEW! I read so many stories on the internet about such scenarios, I was so scared to let my boss know I was job hunting.The common wisdom seems to never let your bosses know you are looking else where.

        1. BPT*

          I mean unless you absolutely know that your boss would be very supportive, I still wouldn’t proactively let them know unless there’s a good reason for it. There’s not a lot to be gained from it, and there could be repercussions. A good boss wouldn’t punish you for looking, but unless you need to tell them, I’d still keep it on the DL.

          1. Rosamond*

            Yeah, I guess I should clarify that my boss and I did have an excellent relationship and we had talked openly about how I was going to have to move on someday due to lack of growth opportunities. In most situations I agree that it’s best to keep things on the DL – but it’s to protect your own interests in general, not because bosses will always punish you for looking out for your career.

        2. TheCupcakeCounter*

          yeah…don’t tell your boss unless you are absolutely 100% positive it won’t come back to bite you in the ass.

        3. vpc*

          Yep, it depends on your boss and your relationship with her. In my last position, my boss had been encouraging me to look for other positions for about a year (we both knew that although she’d love to keep me and I’d love to stay, there was unlikely to be any opportunity for advancement, and there were additional factors about our workplace that meant me moving to another division was the right thing to do). Her boss and everyone’s grand-boss were also aware of the conflicting issues we were dealing with and everyone was incredibly supportive.

          I let them know as soon as I’d accepted the interview request that I was doing it, and got nothing but “good luck, they would be soooo lucky to have you and I hope they know that”. My boss, grand-boss, and great-grand-boss all provided references (in the great-grand-boss’s case, without being asked by me! A cold call from the hiring manager, who knew her from previous work together). There was a lot of back and forth between them as the hiring decision was being made, and when I got the verbal offer from my new boss – as good as a letter in our case because it was an internal move – my next conversation was with grand-boss (boss was on vacation that day) to let her know my decision. Through the six weeks it took to make the transition, every one of them was fully supportive of me, how I needed to re-distribute my projects across the team, and my thoughts of the best way to carry the work forward without me. Great-grand-boss even came to my goodbye party – first one he’s come to in at least the last three years, and we’ve had significant turnover during that time – which made me feel really valued. In our relatively small professional niche, it’s likely I’ll work with all of them again in the future, and I’m grateful for how well my transition worked out.

          In other words, from someone who’s been there – it can happen! Know your boss and know your situation, and act accordingly.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Not exactly the same thing, but my old boss was super supportive when I let him know I was applying for law school and subsequently would be leaving a few months later. As he was an attorney, he actually wrote one of my letters of recommendation. Some bosses are definitely cool with losing people, which you know, they really should be, because life happens. Others take it all personal-like, which I think is very silly.

    3. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      And don’t forget the part where many of them love that you currently have a job, but seem to expect you to have endless free time to take calls/schedule short notice interviews…

  44. A. Lias*

    Six months in to my job (at a company where I’ve worked for 8 years), and I’m just about at BEC stage with a coworker. I’ve learned some cool new skills in this department, but miss working with the systems I used to have access to and hate sitting on the sidelines measuring things instead of actually working on projects and process improvements.

    Which is why it’s great to have a second interview scheduled with a company that wants someone to do exactly that, with the systems I miss, and where people seem actually happy! And they are actually profitable, unlike my current company!

    This is the quickest application to interview turnaround I’ve ever had – applied on Saturday, first interview on Wednesday, second scheduled for Monday. Fingers crossed! And THANK YOU to AAM for all the great advice on this site.

  45. Looey*

    How many references from the same company are too many?

    I moved overseas about 5 years ago so in the beginning, all my references were from Home Country. I’ve done a lot of temp work and short term contracts since then, but I don’t want to use those managers/supervisors for references since they probably don’t remember me from a bar of soap.

    I had 1 job that lasted 2.5 years, which I was fired from (without cause they said), but obviously, not going to use that boss for a reference.

    I’ve been covering a position at my current company for 12+ months, but the contract is ending. There’s no budget to keep me, so I’m looking for my next position. Two of the managers I work closely with have offered to be references for me.

    At the moment, my references look like:
    – Manager 1 (Current Company)
    – Manager 2 (Current Company)
    – Overseas ex-boss

    So, is it bad to have more than 1 reference from the same company? I do difference types of work for each of them, so it’s not 2 people just saying the same thing about my typing and filing skills. There is also a 3rd manager I could ask, which would get rid of all my overseas employers.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      It’s not bad at all — and are you sure your references from 5 years ago wouldn’t remember you? I wouldn’t use a 5-year-old reference as my ONLY one, but I think you can add them into the mix if you had a particularly great relationship. I certainly remember people I managed 5 or more years ago if they were particularly good or bad.

      1. Looey*

        They may remember me, they may not. One was through a temp agency for a 2 month stint in a call centre over the Christmas rush with about 100 others, another was a 6 week admin/tax prep position with about 20 other people. I did approach the tax prep supervisor a couple of years ago about being a reference and she never responded so I figured that one was a dead end.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      If you were laid-off from that 2.5 year job rather than fired for cause, I don’t think there’s a problem with using a reference from there, unless of course you don’t think they’d give you a good one for other reasons.

      1. Looey*

        Up until I got fired, I would have said they would have given me a positive reference. There were a few issues, but I thought we were working through them. But when they take you into the manager’s office at 4:55pm, tell your car pool buddy to leave without you and clear the floor of everyone but management so no one knows you’ve gone until they see your empty desk the next morning, I have a hard time trusting they wouldn’t be negative.

        I did get a letter of recommendation from them, but I don’t know if that would open the awkward door of “can we call this person for more information” since I’d really prefer them not to call. I know I can’t stop them from contacting them, but I’d prefer to stick with “official” references who I *know* will give positive feedback.

    3. vpc*

      Some of it does depend on time. I have held four positions within the same company over the last ten years, so when I gave references in July it looked like this, and it wasn’t a problem:
      1. current supervisor / grand-boss, call whichever one you can get ahold of first during summer vacation season
      2. A coworker from three years ago who is now in a leadership position in a different area
      3. Someone I didn’t report to, but who was in a leadership position, 8 years ago, and is now in a similar leadership position in a different area

      They called #1 and #3 but skipped #2, replacing her instead with #4, great-grand-boss who has a prior working relationship with the hiring manager. Who I hadn’t prepped to serve as a reference, but gave me a glowing one anyway when she got the call.

      It’s fine to use multiple references from the same company, especially if you’ve been there a while, and especially if they can speak to different aspects of your skill set.

  46. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

    As more time passes I’m strongly considering the likenesses that the problems that I’ve been having at work are not pettiness but discrimination. Backstory- i started working for this large organization 5+ years ago, at the time and for 3 years I worked with my supervisor daily out of the same office. After moving I took an open position in another office, same job, same supervisor. Last winter I was out of work for 6weeks due to a hormonal fluctuation that caused extreme anxiety. When it was time for me to talk to my boss about returning she has a PT position at another office that needed to be filled so she asked if i would like it, temporarily then it would either be open full time or they would add computer duties after the office closed to fill my hours so I could be FT again. I accepted and returned. Within a week i was called in for a meeting (in April 2016), apparently prior to me leaving and once since being back I had 6 patient complaints. The complaints spanned 5 months (not counting the 6weeks i was out) . keep in mind i normally saw about 60 patients a day which doing some quick math is about .07% of my patients in that time. Those complaints go me a “final written warning” one more complaint and I’d be fired. i never got a verbal or 1 written warning just a final. Along with that came a write up & 3 month probation for attendance, i had 4 absences however one was arranged the day before and i was very clear about requesting it and being able to work if there wasn’t coverage and the other my supervisor offered me after my husband had surgery. She really said “would you like to just take tomorrow off to stay home with __?” when she called to see how he was feeling!
    In the entire time i had been with this company I never had a write up or verbal warning and after returning I got a final and a write up. also i have not received a “patient complaint” since and its been 7 months. Im still stuck with part time which i think is deliberate because short term disability isn’t an option and now that im pregnant she didn’t even consider me for the 2 part time positions that were just open both of which i submitted official applications for.

    has any one had luck with a discrimination case like this?

    1. Considering becoming a government lawyer...*

      Go see the human rights and opportunities office in your state or discuss with a plaintiff’s lawyer.

    2. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      I’d like to add that i fully expect to be fired prior to going out for maternity. we had 2 positions open and 3 people hired, it probably wont be long at all

  47. haru*

    Would it be unreasonable to ask my manager to change the holiday dinner to holiday lunch? I rather not spending 3 hours in a loud restaurant or bar after work, then feel tired the next day because I got home late. I know it wouldn’t be a conflict with anyone’s schedule to have an hour lunch during one day in December. And, there are times when everyone eats lunch together. The company buys lunch for everyone when it’s someone’s birthday in the office I work at and if anyone has a schedule conflict, it’s changed to the day before their birthday. It’s a small office with 10 people.

    1. SophieChotek*

      I think it depends on how well you know the manager? Also might depend on workload?
      a longer dinner (3 hours) versus a one-hour lunch may not be what manager envisions? (Or thinks the former might be more “fun” and “relaxing”?
      (I know I’d probably prefer a shorter, quieter lunch, to a loud restaurant/bar after work too…)

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Totally reasonable to ask. They might say no because some people are convinced dinners are more festive, but it’s a totally reasonable thing to suggest.

    3. Anon Accountant*

      I think it’d be greatly appreciated by many. Especially around the holidays with other parties, baking, shopping etc it’d be nicer to have the party during the day and an evening free. Especially for those who would otherwise need to arrange a babysitter.

    4. SMT*

      Are spouses/partners invited to the dinner? If so, it makes sense to keep it in the evening. However, there’s no reason for you to not already have plans on the date it’s scheduled if you don’t want to go. (And watching Netflix is a plan.)

    5. haru*

      I wouldn’t say I know my manager well. For the last 5 years I’ve been there, we plan on leaving the office at 6pm. At 6pm, we finish our work, then wait for manager. Around 6:30pm, he’ll say to go there without him, and he’ll come later, once he’s done with his work. Then, we wait some more at restaurant while eating appetizers. And he gets there at 7pm and dinner starts.

      Technically, we can invite one friend/sibling/partner/etc, but usually no one else outside of the office goes. Since everyone goes and stays until the end of dinner, I feel like I have to go unless I have a really good reason.

    6. Anonymous Poster*

      Something my company does is it moves a holiday dinner to January or February. It primarily does this because leadership is swamped during the end of the year and doesn’t want just one more thing to do, but the rest of us appreciate it also because the end of the year is busy enough without an extra work related thing.

      Granted, it’s not ideal for your situation because the problem is coming in the next day tired, but it’s another option you could present since people get burned out at the end of the year with so many things going on too. At the very least, it would be another option to provide with the reason of, “Everyone’s really busy this time of year and there are the doldrums of February anyway – why not throw the party then when people need some perking up, and aren’t quite so busy with the holidays?”

    7. Hibiscus*

      We always do a holiday breakfast because of distance and scheduling reasons. It’s nice–we meet at 8:30am instead of 8, everyone chats and gets their own thing.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Several companies I have worked for did a New Year office party. I think it worked out as better value, as many hotels/bars/restaurants are booked up in December or charge extra for christmas trees.

        And of course, if it’s early January, you can always say you are celebrating Orthodox Christmas!

      2. vpc*

        We’ve done holiday breakfasts in our office for several years, as early-to-mid-morning tends to be the best time to schedule a 90 min to two hour block before people get tied up in regular tasks. Sometimes catered, sometimes potluck (depends on who’s managing it and which group it’s for) and you can always bring your own food and just eat with everyone if you’d prefer not to participate in the catered/potluck part of it due to diet restrictions or whatever.

        Soooo much better than dinners, because we’re all on staggered schedules and the people who usually leave at 4pm don’t want to hang around until 6 to go out and the people who normally leave at 7pm don’t want to wrap up early AND then get home late. Better than lunches, because there seem to be more options for “everyone’s okay with this shared food item”, and also less complaining about “I’m in the middle of my day and don’t want to interrupt it for two hours to go to this thing”.

    8. Chaordic One*

      Before asking your manager, I would ask some of your coworkers if they would prefer to have a holiday lunch instead of a holiday dinner. If they do, it might make asking your manager a bit easier.

  48. Murphy*

    I always knew it was a possibility for someone at my work to get really mad and complain at me (unjustifiably, just due to my position as occasionally the bearer of bad news) but after 16 months, yesterday was the first time it actually happened. I’m happy to say that he wasn’t actually rude, just very insistent, even though there was nothing I could do. I passed his feedback along to my boss as promised, and my boss was understanding, and handled it quickly. (And he told the guy exactly what I said my boss would tell him.) He also told me to tell him if anyone actually yells at me, because that’s not acceptable. Glad I survived that first time! Could have been worse.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      A boss who backs up their employee. He sounds like a good boss. And he has been very clear with you about how to handle things. That is cool.

  49. AshleyH*

    my job responsibilities have basically exploded in the last two weeks thanks to some realignments and people moving into different roles. They’re hiring another person for my team who will be able to take some of the pressure off, but we’re in the very early stages – still sourcing candidates and doing interviews. Once someone is hired it’s going to be at least two months until they can provide any real assistance and probably four months until they can completely take over about half the work load.

    I told my boss I can handle it, but it’s just a lot of changes (I’m a recruiter, and in the past week I’ve had: new applicant tracking systems, new hiring managers, new senior management, a new big boss for myself, and a new email system. Plus I’m going to be out of the office all next week for a training that I HAVE to attend. And that’s just the easy stuff to describe) and as long as everyone understands that I’m stretched thin and am working as quickly as possible it’s fine.

    But I of course hold myself to a higher standard and it’s all I can do to not freak the heck out about this. There’s really nothing that can be done right now – everyone else on my team is stretched thin as well, we just need more people on our team.

    It’s just a lot. I’m just lucky I actually really love my job and the people I work with or it would be really hard to not cry.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Hang tough. Watch your self-talk, talk nicely to you. People can do sprints, it’s the marathons that are really hard. Good luck!

  50. Frustrated Optimist*

    Does anyone have any suggestions for trying to arrange an informational interview when you’re trying to get into a new/related field, and you don’t have any connections?

    I currently work in one branch of healthcare education in a non-profit setting. I am interested in parlaying my skills into Graduate Medical Education, which is basically working with and coordinating medical interns/residents (and sometimes medical students) in a hospital or large healthcare setting.

    I would really like to speak to someone face-to-face and get some tips on the field, as well as hopefully get myself on their radar screen if they were to have an opening.

    Would it be weird for me to “cold call” the department at, say, an area healthcare system and just ask the receptionist if s/he can think of anyone who’d be willing to speak with me? (Like, speak with me by phone/e-mail first, and then hopefully arrange an in-person meeting.)

    1. SJ*

      Can you look people up on LinkedIn and reach out to them that way? Like, find someone who works in that area healthcare system who has a job you think you might be interested in, look at their career path, and then connect with them/message them with specific questions? As long as you make it clear that it’s just informational and you’re not looking to get a job from them.

      1. Frustrated Optimist*

        That is a great idea; thank you! If I’m “cold calling,” LinkedIn is probably a more up-t0-date way to do this, versus a phone call to the department receptionist.

        I’ve never used LinkedIn this way, but clearly, now’s the time. A cursory LinkedIn search has already shown a couple relevant people in my area; if I dig deeper, I may find a few more.

        Thank you again for your prompt and helpful response.

    2. BPT*

      Definitely wouldn’t cold call, and I don’t generally like people I don’t know reaching out to me on LinkedIn (although I know some people are fine with it). Could you find any conferences you could attend to expand your network? Or any volunteer positions?

      One way I would use LinkedIn is to see if any of your friends or connections on there are connected with people in your potential field. That way, you could ask your friend to introduce you and see if they’d be willing to talk. I think having an introduction would really help.

  51. Anon Accountant*

    When you have an interview do you carry a briefcase or a padfolio? I carry my purse but this week carried a nice folder for my résumé copies but want to invest in something nicer.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I typically keep a plain old paper folder and a notebook in my purse. For my field, a padfolio is a little too weirdly formal in my experience. Idk, I think there are better things to invest in (like interview clothes or pens I actually like or something).

    2. SMT*

      I have a larger purse to fit multiple copies of resumes and writing samples that are in report covers. For my last interview, I only needed two after all (one for me to refer to, and one for my interviewer), but had brought five total just in case anyone else was included in the interview at the last minute. I felt a bit less awkward to not have to have a pile of those things sitting next to me while it was just the two of us.

    3. Audiophile*

      I carry a padfolio I got from a financial company I worked for. Occasionally someone will comment on the company’s name being on it, but that’s rare. I keep all copies of my resume, a few sheets of references, and some work samples in the inside pocket. I also try to keep a pen in there. It has pockets for business cards, which I realized the other day I need to start cleaning out since I had cards from previous interviewers. Also has a pad of paper to write on, which I almost never use.

      The only inconvenience comes from my purse not being big enough to hold the padfolio and so if it’s raining, snowing, or just windy or cold it can become a hassle.

      1. Audiophile*

        Oh, I’ll have to take a look. I was running around a few weeks ago and desperately wished I had a tote bag.

    4. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I carry a small purse plus one of those leather portfolio dealies. They’re suuuuuper ubiquitous in the legal field. I’ve thought about getting a bag large enough to carry it in, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    5. BRR*

      I carry a leather portfolio that I had from back when I was a musician. It was meant to hold sheet music so it’s bigger than 8.5×11.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have a large handbag, which I bought because it would take A4 paper. For interviews, I keep a pad of paper, pens and CVs and job description in a folder inside.

  52. Formerly H&S B**ch*

    Hello incredibly helpful readers,
    How do you respond when one of your superiors (but not your boss) basically asks you to be a gofor for an occasional employee?

    I have a management title but don’t supervise anyone, this employee used to be fully employed but now comes in when we need coverage. I went to him asking if I could help another full time employee with a job function that could easily fall under my job description.

    Should I tell my boss that this happened?

    1. fposte*

      Sure. “Bob asked me if I could do some support for Lucinda; I wanted to check with you that was okay before I agreed” or “I wanted to consult with you because I’m concerned that would eat into my time on the Ludicrous Project but I wanted to check with you that saying no was okay.”

    2. Sadsack*

      Yes, tell your boss. if it is something you’d rather not fo, explain why it would be burdensome. See if she condones it or doesn’t.

  53. Lizabeth*

    Looking for a part time job in addition to my reduced hours full time job. Does anyone have ideas that aren’t fast food or retail chains? Definitely looking for something more off the beaten track…use to be a volleyball referee years ago but would have to go through recertification (too late for this coming season) and there’s not nearly as much volleyball in the NYC region as there is down in DC. You could ref or play seven nights a week down there if you wanted. Moonlight & Misery’s post on cleaning offices got me thinking…

    1. LCL*

      I still think someone could make a decent living doing chore service/running errands, etc, especially around the holidays. However I tried it between semesters in college and failed spectacularly.
      How about dog walking or pet sitting?

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Receptionist at a spa. They have core full-time employees that want to work regular day shifts and they love to have employees who only want to pick up the leftover times- weeknights and weekends.

    3. Karanda Baywood*

      Trawl around Craigslist. There are lots of different categories for paid work that might spark some ideas.

    4. MC*

      Local theater or club? Movie theater? Sports arena or center like the YMCA? Hotel clerk? Security guard for building or location? If you’re in NYC there are community centers like the JCC that are always looking for part time help.

    5. SJ*

      when I was looking for weekend work to supplement my previously-abysmal salary, I saw a lot of part-time receptionist sorts of jobs that I would have loved to do. They didn’t work for me because I could really only work weekends and they generally needed people during the week AND weekends, but something like that might work for you if you have weekday hours. I found a lot of those jobs on Craigslist.

    6. Mints*

      Uber/Lyft/DoorDash? It’s nice because there’s no minimum nor maximum, but there are some car requirements, and you have to be in a city

  54. Insert name here*

    I’m in a toxic environment that is male dominated and they complain about former employees, mainly women, a lot. My boss went on and on about one woman and while she was good at her job, he didn’t seem to like her personally. He’s passive-aggressive and when he rants, some of the things he says match how I am- the paranoid side in me thinks he is venting about me, but I don’t know. He vents a lot and the other guys do as well- I know it might be like “locker room talk” or stuff like that, but is it a symptom of a toxic work place?

    1. Sibley*

      Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Are they like this because it’s a toxic environment, or is it toxic because they’re like that?

      Find a new job. Just because an environment is male dominated doesn’t mean they get to be rude and jerky.

  55. snowball*

    It’s a holiday and a lot of the outside people we deal with are not at work, so it turned out to be a quiet day.

    So I have nothing to do but meet some Monday deadlines early! I’m 3/5 done with this current task and then maybe I’ll help out with some other boring tasks that will help our bottom line (which is a priority for the end of the year).

    And I should be able to get a free lunch. :)

    1. Chaordic One*

      At my old job, I always dread holidays because it seemed like there were twice as many people and twice as much business to get caught up on when we did get back to work.

  56. Anxa*

    Do you think questions about jobs that may be influenced by the election (federal) would be fair game next week?

  57. Lucy*

    Hi all!
    My manager and I met earlier this week to discuss our growing department. It looks like both of our workloads will grow steadily in the next year. Should I bring up the idea of a raise at my next performance review (January) or before?

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      I don’t think a performance review is a good time to talk about it, since that’s a meeting specifically to talk about what you’ve done over the past year.

      Talk to him before the performance review, and frame it like “With the shift of our workloads, I’d like to discuss my compensation options.”

  58. jsmitty*

    Anyone have book suggestions of good books on “managing up” to your supervisors? Big plus if the book deals with being a technical or IT person working under a non-technical manager who doesn’t necessarily know or have a background in your job and tasks that fall in your role but who can be demanding and a bit difficult? Thanks for any feedback!

  59. Sophie*

    For those who work in IT or know someone in IT: I’m in a male-dominated environment where all the guys have an IT background and are very techie (ie: Star Trek, DD, etc.) They seem dismissive and condescending on their worst days; otherwise they talk to me like I’m 5 years old. Even when I do impress them with my computer skills, I still get made fun of. How do you fit in or connect with a crowd like this? Is there a way to not act around them? Or is it hopeless to think I’ll ever fit in? (Is it worth it?)

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I’m not in IT but I am a giant nerd-woman who has dealt with that type for ages. Just a few insecure glassholes can create a really nasty environment for outsiders, and with that type, women are ALWAYS outsiders. There’s not much to do with that kind of guy – a lot of them internalized some really ugly messages early in life and are operating from a really deep insecurity where all women are that girl who embarrassed them in high school.

      That said, I suspect that a number of the men you work with are just going along with the overall attitude and would be perfectly happy to work with you and treat you like a competent human being. I would suggest not trying to fit in with the crowd, but see if you can connect with those individuals when possible. Do you job, do it well, and know that this is about them, not you. And yeah, it deeply blows to have to put up with that kind of environment.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I’m a woman in tech and I’ve been lucky enough to not have dealt with this. I work for a great, progressive company where this kind of stuff wouldn’t be allowed in any department.
      So part of it is who you work with, and part is who you work for.

    3. Annie Moose*

      This may not help, but know that not all IT departments are like that! I’m very lucky, I’m aware, but at both my current job and OldJob, the men I’ve worked with have been nothing less than professional and respectful. So while this attitude can be more common in IT than in other fields, don’t lose sight of the big issue here: your coworkers are jerks. It’s not that you’re doing something wrong or that you’re too different to get along with them or that all IT departments are like that, it’s that they, specifically, are being jerks.

      It may help to view this as a problem of “my coworkers are jerks and treat me poorly because I’m female”, rather than viewing it as a “I don’t have the right skills, I don’t have the right nerdy interests, I’m screwing up” thing.

      You may also want to consider whether you even want to fit in with these people. It may be a lot less stressful if you’re able to stop trying to make them respect you (which, given their jerk natures, may not ever happen), and focus instead on simply doing the best job you can. I know that’s easier said than done, though.

      1. Sophie*

        That was something else I was thinking of- I don’t know if I even want to fit in. They’re very snarky. Extremely snarky and negative. It’s sad because some of them are 20-somethings, so how do they already have a chip on their shoulder? I guess that I cannot wrap my head around the fact that the actual work doesn’t matter- it’s all social. All that matters are the social aspects, your evals are not based on the actual work you do. Plus, it’s all men! Usually they are not as catty, clique-y, etc., but this group is!!

        1. neverjaunty*

          As you are finding out, men are just as catty, clique-y and nasty as women.

          Not all IT workplaces are like this. Yours is.

    4. Temperance*

      I’m a woman who is a giant nerd, so take this with a grain of salt. Booth is in IT, as are many of his friends and our mutual friends. I’ve occasionally ran into men who are all about geek-checking women because they suspect that you’re a fake nerd, but if you stare them down, they’ll stop. Be polite and professional, they’ll get over themselves.

      A few follow up questions: What do you mean by “get made fun of”, exactly? What do you mean by “fit in”? I don’t fit in well with people who talk about the Eagles or Phillies or local sports, but I’m cool with that and people don’t treat me like a leper, except to joke that Temperance loves the Cowboys. (And I do.)

      1. Sophie*

        Omg, I love the Bones reference. (smacks head on desk) I just got it. (It’s Friday and my brain is fried. Plus I’m babysitting my nephews aged 2 and under)

    5. cobweb collector*

      The biggest mistake people make when trying to fit in with IT people (or for that matter, experts in any field – doctors, lawyers, contractors), is to try and impress them by showing how much you know about their field. Stop. Just do your job and do it well and people will respect you.

      OTOH, if you feel someone is crossing the line, pull them out privately and talk to them. (Never criticize in public).

    6. copy run start*

      Men are just women in disguise. In reality, there’s not a lot of difference if you strip away techie interests and replace them with, say, fashion. But just as not all women care about fashion, not all men exist to regurgitate obscure facts about Star Trek. Just as you may not be the SME on James T. Kirk, there are likely tons of topics they are clueless about that you can share too.

      Try to connect with them on different levels. Do not try to impress them with your computer skills because it becomes a pissing contest. Respect will come with time. Just do what you can, ask questions when you have them, and then listen. Sometimes you’ll get a solid response, sometimes you’ll get mansplaining. Sometimes they’ll be wrong, and as you get a solid rep, you can point that stuff out with a well-formed question. Show that you’re open to feedback and getting help and happy to reciprocate once you’re the knowledgeable one.

      I do work with a mansplainer who is occasionally very wrong and as unofficial teamlead, constantly pushes us to go beyond our job descriptions. Compounding things is that he was in a higher position and moved down for personal reasons, so he personally goes above and beyond daily to great praise, making difficult optics for the rest of us. Finally, we have very different personal values so we don’t bond too much on that level. But I ask after his wife and children, and how his weekend was, and he does the same. And we share our dread of going to Walmart and 4:59 phone calls.

      I deal with him on work topics by letting him get his mansplaining out, then following up with: “Yes, I understand/did X, but Y happened and that is where I am asking for assistance” in a firm but non-combative voice. It seems to work, but unfortunately it is a time waste. When he pushes for me to do things beyond our job description, I push back. It’s not like I’m going to get paid more for that time, or get a pat on the back if I screw something up because I’m inexperienced, and I have more to lose than he does.

      When it comes to nerd stuff, remember that that is personal and not really relevant to work. I know everyone wants to get along, but team bonding comes with time. Our group is really close knit, so there’s a lot of nervousness about a new person. We have common interests and also differ radically in other areas. Even people with radically different tastes can work together. Try to pick one or two to connect with personally and see if you can make a solid connection with that person about something else like dogs or hiking or non-nerdy TV. Or if you’re feeling stuck or frustrated, talk to this person about it. I have one coworker with a $5,000 competitive FPS gaming rig and another still running an XP box at home. (And they both get a lot of well-deserved crap for it!) But they’re more diverse than you think, trust me.

      Worst case scenario, share snack foods. You peel off the IT-ness and you have a typical workplace underneath. Everyone loves food (though some places may prefer salad to Doritos). About the only time someone remembers I’m female is when they start straying into inappropriate territory anyway.

  60. Windchime*

    I thought I would give an update on my situation now that I am safely out of my old, toxic job. For awhile, I was posting as “Not Me” and I was suffering from crippling anxiety and fear as a result of an incredibly toxic workplace. My manager, who used to be my friend, manages by fear and intimidation. I had to take a long FMLA leave at the beginning of summer due to anxiety and, honestly, feeling suicidal over my job. Friends, if a job makes you feel suicidal, it’s time to: 1: Get immediate help (I did) and 2: Start looking for a new job.

    Thanks to the support of my best friend and the rest of my family, I got through it. I found a new job in the Big City that is near me. I have a long commute of over an hour, but much of that is on a train that is very quiet and goes along the water where I see lots of seagulls, eagles, egrets and the occasional otter. People sit quietly and read or doze. It’s heaven. I took a slight pay cut for this job, but the benefits make up for it. I moved from a room with one small window and crappy, stained cubicle walls to a room that has a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows where we overlook the city. The people are professional and nice. Instead of loosey-goosey standards and processes which are constantly changing due to indecision, there is structure. Documentation. Processes that make sense.

    I am in heaven. I feel so, so, so much better. Please believe me when I say there is life after a toxic job. And I especially have to thank Alison, because I took her advice to heart. I changed over my resume to feature accomplishments rather than tasks. I wrote kick-ass cover letters. And I kept in mind that my interview was a two-way conversation and tried to be as honest and “myself” as possible.

    So go out there. You can do it!

    1. MC*

      Congrats and you’re absolutely right. I remember telling a friend “If you are crying at work, after work or because of work that is a sure sign that this is not the right job for you.”

      1. ToxicWaste*

        Or throwing up in the morning before you go to work…. have panic attacks and can’t breathe…. etc.

    2. Rebecca*

      Congratulations! It feels good, doesn’t it? Structure, documentation, sane surroundings, nice people, yes, I think that’s what heaven is like. Maybe more harp music…

  61. NarrowDoorways*

    I’m trying to to get overly frustrated because I’m unsure why I’m getting so worked up about this. Does anyone else use ADP for paystubs? I’ve used it for years and at many different companies without a problem. But all of a sudden I’m getting a problem….

    I was locked out first try last night and it immediately told me I needed to contact my system administrator. Awkward, as it’s the company CEO who has to handle this account, but fine. He sent me a new password this morning, which allowed me to reset/re-choose my own password. But it didn’t log me on; ADP wanted me to re-sign on with my new credentials. Aaaaaand they’re still not working. I feel so dumb! But I JUST reset the password, the username was explicitly laid out in the email from the CEO. So why isn’t it working?

    I checked out with several other co-workers and about half told me they’ve had the same problem where we’re apparently “not authorized” to look at our own accounts (which is the message I’m getting). They all gave up weeks ago because they didn’t want to keep bothering the CEO. I understand there’s not advice anyone can really give me on this, as I’ll just have to talk to the CEO again. But it’s awkward and I really need my paystubs!

    1. Audiophile*

      I worked for a few companies (a staffing agency and a large test prep company) who used ADP for paystubs. I had very few problems, I much preferred it to the in-house system the staffing agency later went with.

    2. WS*

      One of the places I used to work used ADP. I don’t think I ever managed to successfully log in and see my paystubs while I was working there. So, no advice because my issue never got resolved before I left, but I’ve been there and it sucks.

    3. krysb*

      I hate ADP. Our company moved to the ADP system for hourly employees to log in, to enter vacay days, get paystubs, etc. It has been nothing but problems. Oh, and hourly employees working second shift cannot clock out on Friday nights.

    4. EA*

      Our company does, we actually outsourced our payroll to them. Big mistake, we have nothing but issues with them. So much so that we are actually moving payroll back in house. It is costing our firm millions to do so but they actually forgot to take taxes out on one check and this for a company that has thousands of employees.

    5. zora*

      Just started using ADP at the beginning of Oct for the new job, and it has been super unreliable. There are days I have been able to log in just fine and access everything. And then other days it inexplicably doesn’t like my login/locks me out/freezes and crashes my browser, etc.

      One thing I ended up finding out when I was first trying to set up my login was that there are different urls, and I was going to the wrong one at first, so maybe double-check that you are going to the correct page. (There were different “My ADP” pages for different things, and the wrong one wouldn’t recognize my info at all). But other than that, just keep bothering the CEO until it gets fixed, it’s entirely reasonable to be able to access your own paystubs! Too bad if he is annoyed by it, then maybe he will hire someone else to take it off his plate.

  62. Audiophile*

    I have a separate question for the group. I’m seriously considering going back to school for a Masters degree in Communications. My bachelors in more general with a concentration in Communications. I have experience in the field but mostly with nonprofits and not more traditional communications. I was looking at JHU’s program, it’s available entirely online and they also offer a dual degree program leading to an MBA. The MBA isn’t available online and so I’d have to attend courses on campus, which I’d be ok with.

    Has anyone attended and graduated from this program? What’s the reputation of the program? I know JHU is pretty highly regarded, I’m just trying to weigh the benefits. Part of me feels like I need more in-depth and rigorous background in the field and that’s what a Masters is for. And part of me wonders whether it will really help my career trajectory.

    1. Waffles*

      If you had a bachelors in communications, I would question the need for a masters. But having a concentration changes things slightly. Are you eager to gain more knowledge about the field, or is it a concern of being held back professionally by not having that major?

      If you truly think such a program would open up doors that wouldn’t open on your current career trajectory, I would explore the concentrations offered to make the degree more valuable.

      – Someone from the non-profit world with a bachelors in communication studies who has considered masters programs.

      1. Audiophile*

        I’d definitely like to gain more knowledge in the field. But I also feel I am being held back professionally, I’ve worked for a few nonprofits and am really interested in making the switch to the corporate sector.

        My undergraduate studies had no PR and very few marketing and communications courses.
        The Masters program delves deeper into traditional communications and also allows for a one or more concentration tracks such as corporate and nonprofit, digital, health, government and public policy.

    2. MissGirl*

      Just in case you check this, I thought I’d chime in. I have a bachelors in communication and have been told and experienced that there really isn’t a need for a masters in that field. What are you hoping it’ll accomplish? I don’t think it’ll help you move from nonprofit into profit. How you frame your experience will matter more. I’m currently getting my MBA but I’m leaving my industry and field to go into analytics so I’m using the degree to fill in for experience.

      1. Audiophile*

        How would one frame their experience so it’s more appealing?

        Right now, most of my roles have fallen under development but the job title was communications related. I imagine this might be part of the problem.

        1. MissGirl*

          It’s hard to say without knowing your experience and the kind of job you’re looking for. Find several job openings you find interesting or intriguing and see if you can match what you’ve accomplished to what they’re asking. Look deeper than the job title. Have you written press releases or copy for marketing materials? Heck, a flier can be marketing material. Have you coordinated projects or events? Have you sent out email blasts?

          One thing I’ve heard in the MBA world is that marketers don’t really value the degree. It’s helpful to have if you’re looking into director positions or brand management positions but not if you’re just PR or marketing.

          1. Audiophile*

            I’ve written press releases, but I probably could stand to put in somewhere that I’ve written copy for other marketing materials, websites, social media, etc.

            A lot of what I’ve done has also been pretty heavily social media focused. Writing and publishing content across various channels. And I certainly enjoy that, but have found that a lot of agencies and corporate companies want to see your personal social media footprint, which I’m just not comfortable with. Since they seem to be looking for two things: do you have a larger following that they might be able to leverage and who are you following that might be of interest to them.

            I’m interested in internal and external communications and becoming more interested in the employee side of that.

            Either way, I still feel like I didn’t gain enough knowledge as an undergrad to really prepare me for a lot of these roles.

            I feel like it can’t hurt for me to apply, the application fee isn’t that high and I don’t have to attend even if I am accepted.

            Thank you for answering my question though, I was afraid it would get lost because I posted so late in the day.

  63. MegaMoose, Esq*

    I’ve got an interview next week for a job I’ve been trying to get since graduating law school four years ago. There are three agencies in my state that provide this service, and I’ve interviewed with the other two maybe nine times counting second interviews (plus twice with an analogous federal agency), most recently last month. The thing is, I’m terrified that my past failures are going to lead to me sabotaging this new interview. Last month I asked Allison’s recommended “do you have any concerns with my fit I can address now” question, and was told that they keep bringing me back because I’ve always been a finalist and a good fit, and it’s just been a matter of other candidates with particular backgrounds or whatever. That last interview they even skipped me to the second round because they knew me, they were hiring for FOUR open positions, I had a personal recommendation from a friend of the head of the agency, and I still got nothing.

    I haven’t had permanent employment since leaving law school and I’m just so desperate to start my career. I’ve been practicing interview questions (not to mention having two recent interviews), and even went out and bought makeup for just a little more polish as I get the impression this office is a bit more formal than the other two. I just wish there was a better answer to why I didn’t get those past positions so I could FIX IT, and I don’t want to come across as desperate. How do I keep a good face when I’ve been rejected for (almost) exactly this position so many times?

    1. Pwyll*

      So much luck to you! Fingers crossed!

      I’ve found it really helpful in callback type of situations to address up front what has changed since the last time you spoke to them. So, “Thank you so much for inviting me back, I’m so excited at the prospect of working at Agency. As you know, my interests really are in Teapots and I’ve enjoyed meeting you in the previous interviews. I just wanted to let you know what I’ve been doing since then; I’ve been volunteering to do a lot of work on tea handles with x organization, including [relevant success].”

  64. asteramella*

    * This is not intended to be a political comment. If it crosses the line, Alison, please feel free to delete.

    I am an early-career worker who has always worked at private companies. However, I’m in the process of transitioning into a field that is largely funded by government dollars, and that may be subject to reduction or total loss of funding as new administrations with different priorities roll in and out.

    I knew this when I decided to transition to this field, but I’m struggling with how to really accept the fickleness of the funding, and with how to stay resilient and focused doing work that is so vulnerable to funding cuts. AAMers who work in similar fields, how do you stay positive, focused and motivated when your field’s funding is lean and/or uncertain? I imagine this can exacerbate burnout–are there particular steps we can take to weather the boom and bust cycles aside from the usual burnout prevention of self-care and managed expectations?

    1. automaticdoor*

      Oh, I was going to ask something similar! I do lobbying/advocacy work for non-profits, and as different political majorities come and go, it can be very difficult to get funding from Congress for these domestic programs at times. I need some tips on how to stay positive as well. I’m only about five years out of school, so this is my first administration transition, and it’s just an administration with different priorities than I’m used to working with. My bosses aren’t acting very positively right now, so it’s something that I can’t really look to my superiors for guidance on at the moment.

    2. Anxa*

      I’m hesitant to respond as this may be too political and I want to respect Alison’s wishes, but if this type of discussion is okay, I wouldn’t want to leave it unanswered, because the past few days have left me incredibly anxious about my family’s employment prospects. Plus, I think a lot of what I’m saying has very little to do with the actual politics. Please delete if this is too much! (My own personal questions for next week are related, but come from a different angle)

      Honestly, one way I cope is by accepting that some things are likely just out of reach and that I can still be happy in life without having kids or buying a house. I mean, it’s a huge bummer, but there are other things in life. I think of it as a choice we made, maybe a bit unwittingly, when we chose our majors (as well as a lot of other little choices). We had opportunities in the past to become more employable and resilient that we did not take.

      I’m not sure if you’d consider us early career as we’re in our early 30s. I do. Me, because I still haven’t really started one and my boyfriend because he just got his PhD.

      We both try to work on skills that could transition to industry, but with at least his field, if federal jobs are frozen, of course industry and academia are going to be that much more competitive. So really we are hoping to boost our skills in other areas, too. I’ve been working out to help me qualify for more general labor jobs and entry level jobs in my field (I’m small and female) and he’s working on his writing skills and looking into consulting (although he was really hoping to have more experience first).

      I’m the weaker applicant, but my fields are more closely related to those that may not be frozen (public safety, public health). I think it helps when you’re in a family to try to diversify while also having enough overlap that you can find opportunities in the same cities. If you’re solo you have more freedom to move, but of course no chance to diversify. Also, at the risk of sounding cynical, it may be good to position yourself for something with either bipartisan support of that could work in either climate (not that this has helped me individually, but I have friends who’ve weathered political changes in public health by working in bioterror mitigation)

      We weathered the first rounds of layoffs and slow hiring in 2008 as new grads, the 2010 hiring freezes and other layoffs and have very slowly worked on pulling ourselves back up. I stayed in a part-time job for 2 years in part just to have something steady on my resume and to help recenter me, and he of course went to grad school. It set us back, but we are still here and still have had moments of hope.

      I think one thing that really, really has helped with this stuff is trying to be gentle with yourself on timing and foresight. Back in 2008, I really beat myself up about how stupid I had been in so many choices, but then I’d tell myself that people that were very smart that made a lot of money were also taken by surprise and lost a whole lot of money, so maybe I shouldn’t be so down on myself, an average 22 yo. Now at times I wonder how I could have quit my job and uprooted my life for a federal(ish) job during an election year. But what if I hadn’t? What if we hadn’t? There’s being pragmatic and cautious and there’s letting doubt overtake your whole life. I’m proud I didn’t let doubt keep me in my old situation or prevent my boyfriend from dreaming big, even if we have to break a lease and move back in with parents later.

      Our big issue is that while my boyfriend’s postdoc is actually pulling in private money, that his contract would have to be renewed halfway through by the organization. He’s not a federal employee with all the benefits and such and doesn’t get a W2, so we are crossing fingers that will be a backdoor. We’re worried of falling into a trap where the industry and academic jobs are going to look less favorably on a 1 year appointment than a 2 year, plus he’ll have less he’s accomplished.

      And I think that’s important piece of it. Look into contracting and fellowships and scholarships and internship appointments and try to figure out if they will be immune from freezes. Try to pinpoint other agencies that do similar work or imagine how a private company my be able to fill the void. Could a non-profit offer similar opportunities? I’m sure they will also be strapped for cash in the future, but they will probably have a higher proportion of opportunities for earlier career candidates (since these proposed freezes explicitly keep established employees and prohibit new employees). Is there any state, county, or city level agency that you could work for? What would you have to do to make yourself competitive there? Do you think some states will have more robust options than others? Could you fall back on your previous experience? What can you do to survive one administration and position yourself for one the gates reopen? I know I messed this part up badly. I tried volunteering and staying in contact, but I let a license lapse do to finances (I couldn’t justify the renewal fee when it felt like throwing good money after bad). I think this is kind of vague, but hopefully it helps.

      One thing that helps to mitigate the resentment of having worked so hard to see goalposts moving again and new obstacles pop up if for us to look at the actual work we’ve gotten to do. We’re two adults in our 30s who combined have less than 2 years of the holy grail jobs: full-time with benefits. But we’ve both got to spend a lot of time in our young adulthood doing stuff we love. Stuff that other people don’t get to do. Stuff that probably makes us much less empathetic characters as we struggle to still find a toehold in this economy. It’s frustrating that we can’t find the same types of jobs we had in high school and college and that our experience, education, and work ethic seem to count for less and less every year, but that’s not unique to us.

      Also, having worked in the private sector, you know change is constant. I can’t deny that there’s a huge difference between market forces and a flat-out freeze, but I think you’ll be more adaptable and resilient than you may imagine.

    3. Overeducated*

      I can’t equal Anxa’s fantastic comment for perspective and broad advice. I have not figured out how to stay positive and motivated, especially since I am a pessimist by disposition and I have been all my life. One thing that helps a bit is studying history, especially the amazing things grassroots movements have achieved with next to no funding, and knowing that if I have to switch to a pure pay-the-bills job, there is still meaningful work to be done from the ground up in my field. I don’T know if yours is the same but that’s one way to keep hope alive.

      On a more pragmatic note, I thought my spouse and I would stay in our area until my soft money job ends, since I really want that 2 years in one place on my resume, but I think as funding sources change we are just going to have to follow the money. If that means leaving after one year, I will be really upset, but we need some measure of security. So our job searches are starting earlier than hoped and we will be less picky than we would like. I am also going to work harder on networking, particularly with people in private contracting firms.

    4. DragoCucina*

      I actually taught a webinar on this recently. Funding is one of the things that churns my stomach and I worry about a lot. My local officials haven’t yet passed this year’s appropriations. Somethings don’t change. It does exacerbate burnout.

      Ultimately, regardless of party it’s about constantly building relationships and telling your organization’s story. I lived through a big upset in 2010 at the state level One party swept into control. I lost a big ally. We were expecting funding cuts to continue. Surprisingly the funding cuts were stopped. Our particular organization for the first time ever received discretionary funds. Don’t despair. Sometimes people will surprise you.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I can’t even pretend to get close to the types of things you and Anxa are sharing here.

      I did have one job for a while that was the inverse of the economy. When the economy tanked we boomed, when the economy boomed then we would tank. So I did experience some yo-yoing on that.
      A few thoughts that I worked with during that time:

      It’s not what happens to us that does us in, it’s our response to it that can make us or break us.
      I gotta be honest. This one ticked me right off. But I found it to be true to some extent so I held on to it. I would much prefer to pound my fist on the wall. However a better response on my part would be to beef up what I was doing so I could remain employed, hopefully.

      Everything cycles. Remember bell-bottom jeans, they’re back, whoops, they’re gone again. Everything cycles. When support for something drops out, a need else where develops. Look around, watch the cycles and see what areas are moving up and what areas are moving down.

      The worst thing that can happen is to be blindsided. A similar company had all it’s employees report for work to find signs on the door “out of business”. Three hundred people out on the street with no warning. And they all got to fight each other for the few jobs that were available.
      If you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and you KNOW it is an oncoming train, you have a moment to do something to prepare. Never take that advanced warning for granted. Ideally, teach yourself to be grateful for the heads up, that heads up might save your butt. (I almost have tears in my eyes thinking about the times I have been blindsided, but I think most people can say the same thing.)

      Last thought. We get cozy and comfy with our routines. It lulls us into a sense of stability. Stability is an illusion. Nothing is stable because nothing stays the same. My wise friend used to say “There is no such thing as staying the same. Things are either getting better or they are getting worse. If you cannot tell if things are better or worse then the default answer is things are getting worse.” What I liked about this rule of thumb is that it says stay sharp so you can navigate what ever comes at you.

    6. Jean*

      Stop me if I’ve said this comment before. I’m sure I’ve already shared my therapist’s comment that “sometimes what we want to happen doesn’t happen.”
      We don’t get to check all of the boxes for marriage / life partner / ongoing relationship / having a child / having more than one child / having meaningful work / having meaningful work that also pays a living, if not comfortable, wage / being able to own a home (be it freestanding single-family house, duplex, or multi-unit dwelling). We also don’t get to choose whether or not to witness loved ones suffer with illness, catastrophe, addiction… or whether or not we have to witness, or be, parents who outlive their children for whatever dreadful reason.
      Not So NewReader is wise to point out that it’s not what happens but how we respond to it. There’s usually a full or partial silver lining somewhere within the disaster. Our ability to find it and put it to good use is what we call resilience.
      Sorry to get so gloomy, folks. I just came home from a masterful high school performance of “Hamlet.” Spoiler alert: Serious subjects are explored. There’s humor, but the work is classified as a tragedy for good reason.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        partial silver lining. I am amazed by how many times in the middle of crisis I see a formerly LOCKED door FLY open. It’s very hard to keep the chin up and keep looking for that opened door, very hard.
        Sometimes we can help ourselves by saying, “If my friend had this problem, what would I tell my friend?”

  65. Nervous Accountant*

    I’m pretty boiling (ok not boiling, more like simmering)…new tale of CC (creepy coworker), that’s more about his actual work than the constant staring and discomfort (which actually has increased 10x but whatever).

    A little background about how my company works. We’re broken up into small teams of 3-5 people. 1 account holder, 3-4 support staff. Each team has 300+ or so clients to take care of. I used to be support staff of CC, but now I have my own team and set of clients.

    I still have one client that “belongs” to CC that I must take care of. It’s not that I’m overwhelmed or unable/unwilling to, but what upsets me is that he refuses and is unwilling to learn this function. My team leader admitted the same thing, that he’s not willing to adn no one cares.

    It’s a collaborative environment and we all help out and I’m no different. I feel like a good compromise would be that I finish up the client but as of 1/1, CC and his team should take care of him. Or, I can take over the client as the new account holder. But it’s just the fact that he REFUSES to learn something is so upsetting to me, it makes me feel like I”m being punished somehow bc of my history with him (I Swear on a stack of bibles I started out wiht best intentions and being the best support staff ever but his creepiness and shit work ethic ruined that).

    Am I wrong to be annoyed?

    How do I push back w/o sounding angry? I feel like I have a good compromise but I’m afraid of being seen as “difficult” or dinged or something.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Decide not to let this guy unravel this job for you. Serious. You are getting closer and closer to losing this job over this guy. I have BTDT. I know first hand this stuff can eat up your insides.

      I am not in your shoes so I don’t know all the particulars. I think I would ask for a raise because I do functions that other people refuse to learn and do. I mean why not? If I have to cover tasks that other people are unwilling or unable to cover that is worth money in my pocket.
      Again, this is more what I would do and other people maybe not, but I would consider telling the boss that CC is still staring at me, the problem has increased substantially and I am going to file a complaint with HR/bigger boss/other appropriate individual. Tell your boss that you want a shelving unit/white board/something as a barrier between you and his staring.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Thank you for your response NSNR! I acn always count on you.

        It’s burning me up inside,everytime I think about it it kind of turns my stomach. maybe I feel too strongly about this but

        A raise isn’t going to happen.

        I’m trying to think of the big picture….be graceful and calm and take the hgih road but its never been so hard. Ugh.

        seriously, wtf? If he can refuse to do this and not get in trouble why can’t I refuse this w/o fear of repuercussions????

  66. Natalie*

    One interesting thing about my boss and I both being new in a smallish business is the amount of weird, not legal crap people just jauntily tell us. We’ve corrected any number of things in the short time we’ve been here, including removing a dozen *explicitly illegal* policies from the company handbook. And they just keep coming. This week:

    – an employee who is receiving a bonus requested I withhold at a specific level “as has been done in the past”. Too bad that’s specifically disallowed by the IRS.
    – a manager mentioned hiring a 65 year old applicant. Apparently this person applied a coupld of years ago, “but you know, we didn’t hire him. I told him we didn’t want to invest time training someone who’s at the end of their working life, and he understood that…” Oy.

    1. Pwyll*

      Ugh. My old firm still includes in its solicitations, “This is an entry level position. If you have grey hair, please search elsewhere.” Small companies are crazy.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      My mind is always blown by what business owners don’t know.
      Employee injured themselves at work? We laughed, called him an idiot and said if he went to the ER then he would be docked pay.
      Overtime? Only team leads get overtime.
      Employees don’t take a lunch break because there is too much work to finish? Well, they know they should take the break, so we automatically deduct the 30 min from their pay.

  67. Raise Confusion*

    I’m at my first post-college job and have a question about asking for a raise. Specifically, I’m an hourly employee and I was hired at $14/hr last December. I received a raise of $1/hr in March. Since then I’ve been routinely assigned tasks several levels above what I was hired to do (for context, I was hired to do Screenings and Level 1 reports, and I’m now given Level 3 reports to write as well. I also get all of the Level 1 reports that require more work to execute properly than standard Level 1 reports. I think I’ve written one Screening in the last three months, as the rest have been passed on to coworkers while I get the more difficult work.) I’ve also been working to bring back an important former client that my predecessor lost the company, and my manager exclusively gives their projects to me over my coworkers.

    I think I have a good case for a raise, based on my manger’s feedback and my work on these more difficult projects. But I’m not sure if it would be acceptable for me to bring this up, since technically I did get a raise back in March and December is only the 1-year mark for me here. I’d like a raise because I could use the extra money, but I’m making ends meet and enjoying my job so while it would be nice to get one I don’t consider it to be absolutely necessary.

    So do I ask for a raise towards the end of the year, after I’ve been here for a year? Or do I wait until after March, which would be a year after the raise I already got? (Or am I way out of line and I should wait longer to ask for a raise because I’m still so new here?)

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Getting a $1/hr raise that fast is really good. Really, really good. Honestly, I wouldn’t ask for a raise anytime soon. I’m guessing that you were given the raise because they expected to increase your responsibilities. Id wait a while before bringing it up again.

      1. Raise Confusion*

        Thanks for the reply! I’ll wait to ask for the raise then, since that seems to be the general consensus here.

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      I would say you could make a case for it early 2017- like after you’ve technically been there a year and close to a year from when you got the last raise. I know a dollar an hour doesn’t sound like a lot- but it does sound like they’re trying to raise your pay to cover your capacity to take on high level work. $1 is over 7% of your hourly pay- take it from someone working in an environment with a seniority-only pay increase policy.

      1. Raise Confusion*

        “I know a dollar an hour doesn’t sound like a lot- but it does sound like they’re trying to raise your pay to cover your capacity to take on high level work. $1 is over 7% of your hourly pay-”

        Thank you for this. I hadn’t considered the raise in terms of what percentage of my pay it was, and that really helps put it into perspective for me!

    3. krysb*

      When you started at $12 an hour, that was based on the skills and knowledge you brought with you to the position. You were given a raise after you learned your current job responsibilities, and, from reading your post, doing them well. Being given bigger and better responsibilities doesn’t make you eligible for a raise now, but is a great argument for future raises. But, seeing as you had received your raise, I assume it was the 90-days, now-out-of-the-probationary-period raise? That would make $13 the actual base salary for your position. I also assume that these individual responsibilities may all (regardless of level) be part of your job description outside of the initial 90 days. Are you having a yearly evaluation in December? If so, I say yes, ask for a raise if you receive favorable feedback on how you perform your duties. In my mind, it is acceptable to ask for raises during evaluation periods, during job/status changes, or if you take on duties that are wildly outside of your general job duties (which doesn’t seem to be the case here).

      Does that help?

      1. Raise Confusion*

        This was very helpful, thank you so much!

        (And just to clarify some things: I didn’t have a formal probationary period. My company is small (less than 12 employees, including part-time employees) and my hiring process was very laid-back. I don’t know if the raise was a 3-month, out-of-unofficial-probationary-period raise or if the timing was just coincidental. At the time I got the raise I had completed my first solo project and my manager said it was the best work he’d seen from someone at my level. I also don’t know if I’m having a yearly evaluation. From talking to my coworkers it seems like they used to do evaluations, but they didn’t conduct them last year so no one is quite sure what’s going on this year.)

  68. aeldest*

    I’m considering trying to pick up some sort of seasonal job for the next couple months to earn some extra money, but I have two potential problems: a) I work full time, M-F 8-5, so it would have to be something in the evenings or on weekends, and b) I don’t have a car, so it has to be fairly close to where I live for it to be worth the commute. There’s a Target near me (but it’s an express Target so I don’t think they do a lot of seasonal hiring), and a liquor store, or I suppose I could try for a serving position at a restaurant. Have any of you done anything similar to that? Is it a bad idea to work a seasonal job on top of my full-time job? Are there going to be shifts available that start at 6?

    Other than that I’m fairly decent at writing, but I’m not sure where to start with that. I don’t want to be a full on writing freelancer, since I don’t want to have to spend time drumming up business. I’ve worked for an essay-writing website in the past but I feel a little icky about it, morally.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve worked a second job for 10 years. I work two evenings and every other Saturday. This schedule is just the right balance that I don’t go crazy from too much work.
      You can always apply and ask if your preferred schedule would work. It doesn’t hurt to try!

    2. Xarcady*

      You should at least try the Target near you. Most stores get an uptick in business over the holidays, and they may as well. Or they just might be looking for a part-timer. Evenings and weekends are hard to fill in retail, so being restricted to those hours isn’t a bad thing, either.

      My part-time retail job has closing shifts from 6-9 pm Monday through Friday.

    3. krysb*

      I worked second and third jobs for years, with at least one full-time office job and a part-time customer service gig (and sometimes another full-time CS gig or PT office job). I live near Nashville, where everything is far-flung and public transportation is barely a thing, so I couldn’t imagine working multiple jobs without having a personal vehicle.

    4. Jane D'oh!*

      I’ve worked as a server while working FT regular office hours as well. It will definitely drain you, and you will have trouble getting regular “life stuff” done: finding time to do laundry and go to the pharmacy becomes incredibly difficult.

      It probably depends on your area, but generally I found that evening server shifts started at either 4 or 5 depending on whether it was a weekday or weekend. I had flex scheduling so it wasn’t an issue, but an 8-to-5 worker would probably not be able to work week nights unless it was for a place open very late that started night shifters later. Weekends are prime money-earning time, so expect to have to “earn” those plum shifts over time. That said, serving is notorious for having flaky young employees, so a business-oriented adult willing to serve goes over well with hiring managers.

      Location is very important. I worked at two upscale restaurants near fancy malls (AKA “lifestyle centers”) so the shopping nearby definitely caused an increase in the crowds this time of year. A random restaurant might not have that benefit.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Of the 3 I would try Target first. They might have something from 6 pm on. Or they might give you longer shifts on weekends.

      The liquor store. That can be tough work in some ways. If you are seriously considering this one make sure you do not work shifts alone, especially at night.

      Serving. I kind of liked serving when it was busy, because I like busy. But you go home dog tired.

      Many people work a seasonal job on top of their regular work. Know your limits and state your limits on the interview. They probably won’t listen, but say it anyway. I have worked 2-3 jobs at a time and it’s tiring. Write a budget and stick to the budget. If you don’t meet your financial goals or part way meet your goals working this much can be draining. Have goals and stick to them.

  69. Yet another librarian*

    I’ve been considering other positions, since trying to find a public library position is so difficult. I looked at Prospect Research, but I don’t have experience with Raiser’s Edge or years of fundraising experience. I looked into Genealogy because it might be interesting as well, but I don’t have years and years of experience with it. Is it hopeless? Does one have to be extremely convincing in their cover letter?

    1. Nynaeve*

      A friend of mine got hired at RAND add an AA and moved into prospect research for them about a year ago. So getting into an organization, getting experience, and then getting promoted internally is one option. It depends on your experiences, expenses, skills, and temperament, though…that path isn’t guaranteed and isn’t for everyone. (My friend wanted the job she was hired for and then eventually moved up. I wouldn’t recommend this if you would be resentful of the job you were hired for.)

    2. BRR*

      I work in prospect research and would say those aren’t deal breakers if you’re applying to entry-level positions. I would try to highlight any experience you have managing information.

  70. Anxa*

    I hope this isn’t too vague of a question, but how do you all get to work?

    I am currently job searching from a new apartment in a new state (I moved with my boyfriend who got a postdoc, but that postdoc is now a bit tenuous). I worked up until the day before the move and he’s only had 2 days off since we moved here that he was home for, so our apartment is a mess.

    I have always had an issue with working without any sort of structure. Give me a task and a deadline and I’m fine. Give me some sort of financial safety net so I can focus on my goals and I’m fine. But I’ve been here for almost 2 weeks and I keep getting distracted by unpacking, setting up the apartment, keeping up with my old job (I’m working a few hours per week remotely, which is helping fill my life with small moments of accomplishment, but I find myself constantly worried about getting too deep in any one project lest I miss a request for a session). To be honest, I haven’t applied to any jobs!

    Does anyone else have difficulty with big, long-term projects like a job search without having a dedicated space to it? Or dedicated time (even if you have a lot of time)? You’d think after 8 years of job searching I’d have something figured out, but I feel so fidgety and stifled and sometimes even start knocking on my skull hoping to jostle something loose and relieve the pressure and cut through the cobwebs. I feel so overwhelmed and incompetent. Then I wonder how I could possible do a job if I can’t even handle the application process. But I know that when I’m working for other people, it’s completely different.

    I feel like it’s a Friday and I can’t waste another weekday on cleaning the apartment when I have all weekend and should just apply. Especially since seasonal hiring may almost be over.

    1. Murphy*

      I have to schedule time to do things like that. For my last job search (I was also working while I was looking so I had less free time) I told myself I would look/apply on Tuesdays and Fridays. It was good both because a) I actually did it on those day and b) I DIDN’T do it on the other days, and so I didn’t need to worry about it. I also wrote down everything I did, so I could feel like I accomplished something.

      Also, in general, job searching is the worst. Good luck!

    2. Karanda Baywood*

      Could you create a block of time and say, “M-W-F, I will go to the library/coffee shop at 9 am and spend X hours on my job hunt.” Then go out and do it.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      You know what I would do? I would get that apartment NAILED this weekend. Focus on that–your scattered space is just one thing messing with your head. Once you have that taken care of, you won’t have to think about it anymore. Then next week, you can start focusing on the next thing.

      One thing at a time–that’s all you can do.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh boy, this! The disorganization around you is adding to your cluttered thinking, for sure.

        You may not get everything put away but you can put things in a row or a pile that need to be sorted then get everything else squared away.

        Added bonus, you will sleep better, too, probably. The state of our physical environment does impact our thinking and in turn our actions. Did you see the post waaaay above? A poster was talking about toxic job with tiny windows and crappy walls. Now s/he has New Job with floor to ceiling windows and a nice environment- everyone does their work and is professional. Human beings tend to go in the direction of their surroundings.

    4. MoinMoin*

      I’m kind of in the same boat. Moved for my husband’s promotion, working a long resignation period remotely to help my company through the new year, but then I’ll need to find something new here. Pretty much all my work projects are open ended, low supervision projects with the only deadline being either before I leave or before the new year, so it’s been hard to work up motivation to do anything.
      One thing that’s helped me is writing a “Done” list instead of a “To Do” list (I still have a to do list where I just write everything so I don’t forget, but I more just update it regularly than attach a sense of accomplishment to checking things off, if that makes sense). I write down even the tiniest accomplishments- went on LinkedIn, added a colleague, updated a skill, did a search on Indeed, found 2 jobs I’m interested in, bam I just did 5 things. For me it helps nudge the snowball just a little bit, and usually I get on a roll, get a bunch of tiny accomplishments and then really want another, but the only things left are the actually important stuff so may as well start doing them. Found most recent resume. Updated contact info. Look over those 2 interesting job descriptions for any skills I have not currently represented in the resume. Etc etc. It keeps my morale up, keeps me focused, and helps me break down big tasks into small bite-sized pieces more successfully than when I approach it from the angle of, “I have X project, here are the steps,” and all the steps still end up feeling like huge undertakings.

    5. DaniCalifornia*

      I set timers. When I clean I give myself 15 mins per room/area. It’s less distracting for me because I tend to walk one item to another room and then start cleaning there and before you know it the entire place is in turmoil.

      You could try to do the same for job hunting/applying. Sit down for 30 minutes and search for job. Shorter increments help me a lot. Then do something different like clean or unpack one area. Go back to job search and apply for 2 positions. For me it’s all about the little baby steps.

    6. Overeducated*

      This is a huge transition, you don’t necessarily have the mental space to do it all at once, and that’s ok. Some people can’t focus without good work space; I am one of them. Get your apartment in order, get out of the house so you don’t feel so stifled, and get back to job apps in a week or two when you’re ready.

      Ps I hear you on tenuous funding situations. I have had trouble focusing all week due to anxiety over how that could affect my family. So that is another barrier to getting to work.

    7. Anxa*

      So, I think I have an idea: I went through my time logs for work, and I’m going to block out two hours per day where I’m unavailable to work for my old job. I think when I first got here I was worried that being unavailable would lose me clients, but at this point I feel a lot more confident that those who would have been lost during the transition are lost and those that aren’t are going to find other times to meet. I think it just felt so wrong to make myself unavailable for work, but I really do need to dedicate time to that with no other distractions!

  71. City Gov Worker*

    I desperately need advice. I’m currently working provisionally in a City government position that aligns with my career goals. Because the City is moving to convert all of its provisionals, I had to take a civil service exam. I did it, scored well, and was placed on a list. I had hoped that my agency would be able to pull me off that list, but my manager told me that the minimum salary for that title is too high. He can’t make the jump. He encouraged me to consider the agencies that would call me in for an interview. I did, and I recently received an offer. It’s 40% more than I am making, but it’s in a totally different field. I’d be moving from communications to HR.

    This money would make a world of difference to me. My salary, based on prior earnings, is supremely low considering my years of experience and education. My manager has indicated that this would be a good way to bump up my salary, and – if I didn’t like my new position – I could use that in as a bargaining tool to get a higher paid communications position.

    Government is a strange beast. Does anyone have any advice? Is a 40% raise – in a City where everything is so expensive – incentive enough to leave my chosen career path?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I think it depend on how much you think you’ll like the job and the city. I wouldn’t count on using it to jump back to a comms role alone – let that be a plus if it happens rather than a deciding factor.

    2. LCL*

      You have an offer to permanent status and a serious raise? Take it take it take it! You can always move around after you have been there for awhile. Unless you are in one of those cities that is having bankruptcy and pension issues, doesn’t sound like that is the case.

    3. Jean*

      A few thoughts: A new path may give you unexpected ways to continue your interest in communications. Perhaps you could do so directly by bargaining as per your manager’s suggestion. (Disclaimer: I’m no career counselor! You’ll have to use your own observations and intuition when or if such an opportunity arises.) Perhaps you could pursue communications within the field of HR. Or perhaps a 40% raise would allow you to join or donate to a communications-related organization as an investment in your future, or the future of other rising professionals.

      If you have government colleagues or connections who have also zig-zagged from one field to another, I’d ask them about their experiences.

      Good luck to you. In one sense, it’s a blessing to have such a problem.

      1. City Gov Worker*

        That is true – it is a blessing. After years of struggling, it’d be nice to take a breather. And, as you point out, I’ll be able to donate more to causes that I support. A definite plus! And who knows? Internal communications might be an option with some HR experience. It would open new doors. You’ve given me something to think about. Thanks so much!

    4. Girasol*

      Does it have to be your final decision? Might it be a detour where you could go learn something new for awhile, make better money, and come back more skilled when your old job matures more and pays better?

      1. City Gov Worker*

        You’re right. I shouldn’t be thinking of it as a final decision. Although I couldn’t go back to my current role, I know that my manager would recommend me to other agencies if asked. I just have to hold on to that and have trust.

    5. City Gov Worker*

      I’m so appreciate to all who gave their advice and insight. You’ve given me a lot to think about, and I’m feeling more secure about taking on this new role. It’s just helpful to hear from someone other than my friends and, well, my mom. Thanks so much!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good choice. I have worked in municipalities a little and there is a lot of hopping around. That is fairly normal. Get to know as many people as you can. Keep learning who does what. This will be a tremendous help to you to be familiar with names and occupations.

  72. louise*

    I recently started a new contract position, just a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, recently I had a death in the family, and missed 3.5 days of work for that, and following the “when rains, it pours” idiom, I contracted strep throat from my nephew while I was with family. I went to the doctor yesterday, who said to avoid work until at least Monday to allow my contagious period to pass. I’m working from home, but I’m wondering – should I have handled this differently? From emailing with my managers, I get the impression they aren’t happy that I’m missing more work. I want to get off to a good start, but with things happening out of my control, I feel like I’m not creating a good impression that I’m a hard worker and willing to learn. Am I blowing this out of proportion, or can I still fix it?

    1. Murphy*

      I’m not sure what you could have handled differently. A death in the family and a sickness like strep are both completely understandable reasons to be sick. Plus, you’re working from home, so you’re still being productive! Have they given you any reason to think that they’re upset with you or are you just assuming? In either case, you didn’t do anything wrong. No one reasonable would think so. When you return, I’d just apologize and say how happy you are to be back at work.

      1. Karanda Baywood*

        Apologize for a death in the family and getting sick?

        I wouldn’t. I’d say, “Thanks for being so understanding about the death in the family and my subsequent illness. I’m glad to be back at work.”

        1. Murphy*

          I find apologies can often diffuse a situation, even if you didn’t actually do anything wrong. I would phrase it as “I’m sorry I had to be out” and then pretty much what you said. Not apologizing for being sick, and certainly not for a death in the family.

    2. Rincat*

      I’ve had this happen to a couple of new hires in the past. However the difference between them and you was that they didn’t prove themselves later on to be good employees. With one of the hires, she had the exact same situation – death in the family, and then got sick. We were very understanding and gracious to her when that happened, but in the following weeks, she did other things that annoyed us and caused us to question her work ethic – things like randomly rearranging her schedule without approval (to do things like go shopping), frequently leaving work early, etc. The other guy had a hospital stay right after he started, and again, we were understanding, but then he did things like frequently come in late (like an hour) without telling anyone, watching TV in his office, and was also just a bad worker.

      What happened to you is out of your control, but it sounds like you’re being conscientious and want to do your best. They might be a little annoyed at the situation, but just do your best and show that you’re dependable, and it will be fine!

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry! That’s a tough way to start a new position, but there is NOTHING you could have done differently. If the company has a problem with you missing work for those reasons, they are idiots.

      And remember, most people are aware that strep is highly contagious and NOT a good thing to bring to work. I got strep after my first week at my current job and I was so, so worried my boss would be angry. Nope! She told me to take all the time I needed.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      No there is nothing you could have done differently.

      If you want to, bring them a doctor’s note. You could say, “I know you did not ask me for a note, but I wanted to bring you one to show you. I have not been here long so you have no way to know that is NOT my norm. I am very sorry about the loss of time so soon after starting a job. I appreciate that you are supporting me on this as I realize it is a setback in your plans for me.”

      I think you will probably be okay. I started a job, I was there 3-4 weeks and I got into an accident. I was out of work for 6 weeks because I was pretty banged up and scraped up. I hobbled in to see them, so they could see ME. (I looked like Michelin -spelling?– woman.) As I am suggesting to you, I started the conversation, I did not wait for them to open up a discussion about concerns. I apologized for missing time. I let them know that I liked the job and I wanted to keep the job. They were very appreciative of the extra effort on my part.

      Just say you realize it does not make a good impression, you are a hard worker and you are very happy to have this job.

  73. Jules the First*

    So I just finished filling in the forms for the background check for my new job and I’m astounded – it took me an hour and a half just to give them the bare minimum they asked for. I’ve never had to do something like this before (creatives are so trusting), so I’m wondering…is this normal for an associate director level role, or should I be seeing this as a sign that they’re unnecessarily bureaucratic?

    1. Leatherwings*

      I just finished my own background check, in which I was required to provide the last four years of tax docs (W2s and returns). I’m not in a particularly senior role nor am I managing finances. WHAT? It took me a few hours to track down those forms.

      From my end, I do know that HR in particular is bureaucratic, yes.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      It’s all relative – I once had a three-month job helping someone ELSE complete a background check! Admittedly, the job they were “applying” for was federal judge, which is about a bureaucratic as it gets.

    3. cobweb collector*

      Background checks have gotten more and more invasive and common over the years. It’s less about your level and more about the industry your company is in. It’s one of those “look we’re doing something” things that doesn’t actually make anyone safer but it makes people feel better, so they continue to do it.

  74. ITChick*

    Just a rant. My company is just now flipping out about the OT change and getting people changed over to non-exempt where they don’t meet the salary requirement. That’s enough to make me shake my head because we’ve onlyl known about this for months, it’s not like we had time to plan or anything. I work closely with HR so I’ve been in some meetings with them working out various scenarios for how to pay special groups of staff. But I sit there shaking my head because managers are fighting a $1-2 pay increase for some people that would make them exempt and complaining about budgets. Even when they are shown the math of what would happen if these people worked overtime and had to be paid for it, their precious budget argument goes up in smoke after just a couple instances of OT. They keep asking for other options but it’s at the point where there are none. It’s X or Y, deal with it!

    1. krysb*

      I wonder how many of those in the currently-salary positions work more than 40 hours a week… because it might be cheaper to just raise them than have overtime back on the table.

      On a side note: I don’t think my company would be dumb enough to allow me access to overtime pay. Just at my normal working levels, they’d lose out much more than they’d ever gain by doing so. I’ve been given word that they plan to raise me. I don’t work with dummies.

      1. ITChick*

        It absolutely would! That’s what we showed these managers and their response was that they would just tell their employees they couldn’t work OT. And that’s all well and good, but some of them take off hours call and that cannot be helped. At some point they are going to be called in. They are going to work and get OT. This is a completely illogical situation and we’re kind of just sitting back and waiting for the managers to figure out they can’t do the thing they want to do.

  75. Happy Thread!*

    Tell the AAM commentariat something good that happened to you in your job (or job search) this week. (Hopefully this isn’t a duplicate – I searched for “happy” and didn’t find anything – but even if it is, we can always use more happy.)

    I moved to a new bonus structure a couple months ago and got my first payout today. I didn’t know it was coming, so it was a very nice surprise.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I started a new job this week! I’m so thrilled to be back at work, and I have a great space and team.

    2. burnout*

      Well, I was re-classified to hourly due to the upcoming Dec 1st DOL regulations, which in a way is a bummer but then again, is not. I have a situation where I am having to take quite a bit of time off and now I at least don’t feel guilty for being paid or feel like I have to somehow make it up to my boss because he is quite the money mizer.

      In other news, I am still searching for a new job and I applied for something fantastic and challenging locally, so fingers crossed that I at least get to interview!!

    3. Windchime*

      Part of my new job is that I meet with each member of the team and they give me education about things specific to our department: Here is how you fill out your time sheet, here is how to use this new tool or how we use Skype in our office. Stuff like that.

      One of the last things on the checklist was “Points of interest around (our) building”. So a coworker walked me up the street, showed me an awesome place to get lunch that I would NEVER have discovered on my own. He told me about the food trucks and what the schedule is. Pointed out how to get back to the office without getting wet if it’s raining.

      It just felt so welcoming to have this as part of the new staff orientation.

    4. Crylo Ren*

      My manager shared a roadmap for 2017 and while it’s a bit overwhelming to see what’s going to be on my plate next year, it’s also really exciting and I’m more than ready for the challenge. Particularly gratifying is that she included a lot of my suggestions – so our thinking isn’t as at odds with each other as I thought, which is a relief because she’s so hard to read sometimes!

      Also, I shared an elevator with the CEO and he introduced himself to me. I’m still cringing a little (I was on my way to a scary appointment, so was pretty flustered to begin with), but I will say he seemed very kind and sincere, if that doesn’t sound odd to say from a 1-minute conversation.

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I got a lot of kudos for being an anal-retentive accountant and tracking the bejesus out of a process that screwed up royally last month and making sure we a) ran it correctly b) had everything documented and c) didn’t lose any more money.
      Not related to my job but my husband finally stopped undervaluing his contributions and knowledge and decided to fight for what he is worth.

    6. Rincat*

      I had an in-person interview this week for a job I really want, but didn’t think they would call me for an interview! The interview itself went alright, I’m still not getting my hopes up, but it would be really nice. It’s the type of work I want to do, I really liked the interviews, and it’s for another department at my university, so I can keep all my benefits (which includes a butt-ton of vacation time). The only downside is that my commute would lengthen about 15 minutes, and they don’t do telecommuting, but I’m okay with that at this point. Here’s to hoping they call me back!

    7. Red Reader*

      This has kind of been ongoing for the last month or so, not just this week, but our director (my grandboss) handpicked me to represent our division at a rapid improvement event next week, so in preparation for that I’ve been undergoing some of the basic LEAN process training so I know what’s going on. And my boss has been throwing leadership trainings at me hand over fist, and both boss and grandboss keep plunking me down in events where I’m getting face time with our executives, and basically prepping me in any way they can for when I finish grad school (working on a dual MBA/MPA) and am ready to continue up the org chart.

    8. Temperance*

      A lot of my coworkers are using their anger about the election to turn around and do good. So we’re helping more people, which makes me happy.

    9. Bad Candidate*

      I had a recruiter contact me via LinkedIn yesterday. Only the second time that’s ever happened to me. We set up a time to chat on Monday.

    10. Stellaaaaa*

      I have a job that requires a bit of talent and skill, but from the outside it can look like I don’t do much. This week they increased my job duties in a way that makes me sure that I can stick it out here until the 3-year mark (my goal for this stint at a small business – I’d like to move on to something more stable). It’s mostly cleaning up other people’s work but I don’t mind.

    11. Caledonia*

      I feel like I answered some queries well (I’m only a month into a new job) and there was lots of chocolate in the office.

    12. Christy*

      I got an outstanding rating and I’ll get my first bonus ever! I’ve been with my US government agency for 8 years now, and 1.5 years ago I moved to my current office and I’m just pleased as peaches to be there.

      Plus! I have a new boss as of last week and he’s scary-good at being a manager. I’m feeling really motivated to work under him.

    13. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I thought someone who sucks was going to cover my teammate’s maternity leave (starts on Monday), but as it turns out someone who is awesome is going to cover it instead. I’m psyched!

    14. Hillary*

      A bit over a year ago I was an external hire brought in to deal with a difficult situation where a payment process wasn’t being managed correctly and vendors were on the verge of cutting off credit. Less than 5% of the transactions on my accrual are now more than 5 weeks old (which is better than normal for my area) and my vendors are back to good relationships. My department’s meeting and exceeding goals for the first time in ten years. And in an hour I get to go home and sew.

    15. DragoCucina*

      I was contacted by a publisher about writing a book for a professional series.

      My webinar this week had been rescheduled from another month due to low registration. I ended up with about 60 registrants. A bit overwhelming.

    16. periwinkle*

      I had a meeting with a key person for one of our internal customers; this customer had not been interested in engaging with our team before except to treat us like order-takers. We had a great talk about how we could collaborate in ways that would benefit her division. “Really, your team can do that?” She invited me to drop by next week to do some brainstorming. Progress, finally!

      Also, I heard about some communication issues in my group… which reinforced how fortunate I feel to have a manager who is good at being transparent and communicative.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      My boss and I had a great conversation about our jobs. I can’t go into it here, but it was a feel good thing. Then she gave me her old dog’s sweater. It’s a really nice sweater, it fits my guy perfectly and he likes it. Life is good.

    18. Shayland*

      I got my first paycheck!
      I also had a chat with my mom about it because it was a literal check so I don’t have what I need to make sure I’m being paid for the last half hour of the work day, or to see how much is coming out of my taxes. And because this is the second pay period where my boss messed up my check (hence it being a literal check) I can’t tell if I was paid for that FIRST pay period either.
      But yay! First check! I cashed my first ever check!

  76. Stop policing women's expressions*

    I promise that I tried but couldn’t find what I was looking for before I asked here: scholarly or “serious” resources on telling women to smile and/or the policing of women’s expressions at work. A supervisor has never heard of the stop telling women to smile movement and just can’t comprehend why I got mad when he made fun of me in front of a large group for not smiling. Instead of tearing his face off, I’d like to present some information he might take seriously. TIA.

    1. burnout*

      A quick google search of “telling woman to smile” brought up several articles from valid, trusted news sites and magazines. Can you start there?

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      There’s plenty of evidence out there. Tell him if he needs a scientific study done on it, he’s welcome to fund one.

    3. Sadsack*

      Might he not take it seriously if you seriously say that your face is what it is and that you don’t appreciate his pointing out in front of others that your face is not his liking?