open thread – November 18-19, 2016

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

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

{ 1,487 comments… read them below }

  1. Anony Mouse*

    I recently received a job offer contingent on background check. When I was in college I did work for a man who’d started his own company (just him and his wife) as a way to build my portfolio. He paid me with cash or by personal check. He was very nice and said I could use him on my resume/as a reference.

    I did when I got my first job out of college without issue. Now that I’m looking to move on I included it again. The problem is my new company insists they need “independent verification” that I worked for him (pay stub/W2). I explained why I didn’t have these and offered his contact information instead. It seems this can’t be that uncommon (unpaid interns, nannies) but they are insisting I need to provide something that meets their criteria.

    Has anyone else encountered this? Do you have any suggestions for appeasing the background check gods? Should I run screaming?

    1. Audiophile*

      Is this a government job?? How many jobs have you had since you stopped working for him?

      I worked a job off the books during college too. I never listed this on any version of my resume and never used this person as a reference. I’m not even sure it would show up in a background check.

      1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

        If this was “under the table” e.g. you failed to report income on taxes illegally, than yeah don’t advertise that.

        Even nannies and babysitters should be reporting their income. Under a certain amount it is not taxable (varies by state) but all income should be reported taxable or not.

        1. Anony Mouse*

          I did report the income but I did it like you would money made as an independent contractor so there’s no way to verify where it came from which is what they want.

            1. Anony Mouse*

              It is but again, I can’t prove where it came from which they’re concerned about. It seems like they think I could have made the money on eBay and then claimed I was working to boost my resume?

              1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

                Weird. I am so sorry you are going through that. Can you speak to the hiring manager?

                I would say if they have such huge trust issues that they will not take a tax return as proof of employment and the reasonable explanation that it was self employment I would take that as a very bad sign.

          1. Gaia*

            Even if you reported the income, it sounds like he didn’t pay his part if he didn’t issue you a 1099. If he had, you’d have received it. You can always try calling the IRS and asking for a tax transcript to see if it is on there.

        2. Amadeo*

          Yes. Even if it’s under the threshold and you may not owe taxes, file anyway, it’s possible there’s a credit available to you.

      2. Terra*

        The job offer is not for a government job but it is for a non-profit and I only have the one job since college.

    2. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      Even if you are paid cash or personal check you should have submitted a 1099 as self employed at the end of the year to pay taxes on that income. I would submit that 1099 in lieu of the W2 and it should be fine.

      1. Anony Mouse*

        They won’t accept that because it doesn’t show where the money came from so I could have made it from eBay and be lying about working for this guy.

        1. Jessie*

          This is really weird. What a suspicious company NewJob seems to be! I’ve never had to verify anything like this. (And I even worked for state government once, which is Bureaucracy of all Bureaucracies!)

          Honestly, this is red-flaggy to me. I’ve had to provide college transcripts before. But no one has ever asked for old W-2s. Companies that did background checks as part of a job offer did it themselves, behind the scenes. Never involved me searching for proof that I did what I say I did.

          1. Honeybee*

            One company did a background check in the background but couldn’t confirm an internship I did for some reason, so they asked me for documentation to prove it. There were a variety of options, including W-2s and pay stubs. Luckily, I’m a paper hoard and I had an electronic copy of the offer letter from the internship even though it was 4 years ago, so I submitted that.

            I’ve saved my offer letter from this current job too, just in case!

        2. Miles*

          If the person is that paranoid about it I’d have second thoughts about what that says about them and their company.

      2. pandq*

        To be clear, it is the business owner who submits the 1099 – not the contractor/worker. It sounds like they did not, so there isn’t this kind of proof and that the OP is suffering the consequences of the former business owner’s actions.
        OP, I hope a conversation with the non-profit hiring manager will clear this up for you.
        And the fact that you did claim it as income even though you didn’t receive a 1099 speaks to your honesty.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think the reason they’re stuck is that unless someone makes less than $600 a year, IRS requires employers to issue a 1099 (if a W-2 isn’t applicable). So if there’s no paper trail, that’s kind of shady.

      That said, I do think it’s ridiculous to insist on paperwork when there might not be any, especially if it’s not your most recent job.

      1. Gaara*

        Like, assuming this isn’t current, why would you still have this information, even if you did receive a W2? I put my stuff into TurboTax and then eventually, if it was a hard copy, it gets lost somewhere in my house or gets recycled.

        1. Amadeo*

          You should be keeping a file of those things, even if you used Turbo Tax. At least 7 years back or more. You never know when you might need it!

          1. YawningDodo*

            Yes, this. I’ve been surprised how often I need to reference my old tax documents (…usually when I’m trying to figure out how to file new ones, but still). The official recommendation is 7 years because iirc that’s how far back you can be liable for an audit, but I personally choose to keep all of them on a permanent basis. It doesn’t take a lot to set up a personal filing system; I picked up a filing cabinet at a thrift shop for $30, and before that I used plastic crates I got from an office supply store.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Come on, it’s the 21st century! :)

            I only get my W-2 electronically now, I don’t even get a paper copy. I save the PDFs forever, though, and I scan in any paper documents that I get (like a very few 1099s, most of those are electronic, too) before I shred them.

            1. Amadeo*

              LOL, perhaps, but there’s a certain security in having hard copies stored away just in case. Hard drives and back ups can fail, but the paper copies will always be there.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                Me, personally, since I’m both an early adopter and an environmentalist, I try to replace paper with digital documents whenever and wherever possible. I also find that it’s SO much easier to organize and keep under control this way.

                Right now I have copies of my tax documents on two cloud storage services, both requiring two-factor authentication, and I keep local copies on 5 different password-protected drives.

                But you do you, Amadeo. :)

          3. One Handed Typist*

            And if something notable happened during that year, keep it longer! We had malware on our rarely used desktop which held digital copies of our tax returns (including the SSN of every member of our family). We knew there was malware because we kept coming to the computer and discovering our tax folders open when we KNEW we hadn’t done it. We reported the potential fraud to the IRS and set up a password for filing, froze credit on my husband and I as well as our minor child, and notified a few different places. We have printed out hard copies of everything to go in the safe and will keep all of that in perpetuity since our socials were compromised.

    4. Jerry Vandesic*

      Just tell them that you don’t have any of this documentation. Give them the guy’s phone number, and then leave it at that. Not much more you can do.

    5. Background Screening Co Employee*

      That’s genuinely weird. They should be able to contact your former employer for that information – Tax documents are normally used as a back up if they can’t get in touch with the employer.

    6. Jessie*

      Unpaid internship is different, because you would not be expected to have any type of tax filing form for the job. But you were paid, so your NewJob is looking for the tax filing. Do you think they might be looking to make sure you did your work legally? Like, you didn’t just accept money under the table without paying taxes on it? It seems like you perhaps did work under the table, so if they are trying to suss that out you may be stuck. But if they just want some kind of written proof that this work experience actually happened, would they be willing to accept a letter from this guy on company letterhead stating that you worked for him? Maybe having it in writing will help them feel they’ve “verified” it appropriately (some companies can just be bureaucratic that way, and like paper in their files!).

      1. Anony Mouse*

        No, I paid taxes on it but submitted them on my taxes as additional income or miscellaneous income? Whatever the term is thus it doesn’t show where it came from (to be fair I may have included some babysitting/tutoring/etc. money in the total).

        1. Jessie*

          Did you get a 1099 from him, and do you happen to still have it?

          Can you ask them what they are trying to have verified specifically so that you can problem solve a way to get them their proof – like, do they care about whether it was under-the-table or not (if so, maybe just show them a copy of your taxes that year) or do they just want something in writing (so maybe letter from him on letterhead)?

        2. Gaia*

          If you ever find yourself in this situation again, don’t report it like that. It was a job, report it as such. He should have issued you a 1099. That he didn’t, indicates he wasn’t meeting his tax obligation and that necessary Social Security, Medicare, etc taxes were not being paid. That isn’t great and it is likely their sticking point.

          1. Anony Mouse*

            It was a freelance/contract job so as far as I’m aware he wasn’t obligated to pay most of that (Social Security, unemployment, etc.) and it was under the reporting threshold on it’s own so I assumed that was part of it.

          2. Jessie*

            Yeah, he should have issued a 1099, but it’s not a crisis that he didn’t. 1099 employers have nothing they need to pay – they don’t pay any FICA taxes. The 1099 employee is responsible for all taxes, including what is normally the employer’s share of FICA.

            So I’m with others who recommend that you just tell the background check company that you do not have a W-2 or 1099. They’ll need to figure out some other way to be satisfied.

    7. Phoebe*

      Would they accept a copy of a cancelled check that you deposited? If so, your bank might have electronic copies.

        1. A Plain-Dealing Villain*

          So they won’t take an employer’s written word, plus a voided check, plus your tax records as sufficient evidence that you were employed? I don’t think there is much else anyone could provide at that point.

        2. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

          Is there anyway to verify that he is associated with his company name? Or would that not be good enough? Because this sounds ridiculous. At this point, I wouldn’t even want to work for this employer.

    8. Gaia*

      Yea it sounds like this was an off the books job where, perhaps, taxes were not paid? I’d leave that off your resume. Many people will have a real issue with that, rightly or wrongly, because it is technically not legal work.

      1. Anony Mouse*

        It was a freelance job so the company wasn’t obligated to pay any with holding or such and I reported it as just miscellaneous income because technically it was below the tax threshold. I can show that I reported X income that year but not the company it came from.

    9. Tomato Frog*

      Is it the hiring company insisting on this or is it the background check company? Because I was in a similar situation with a background check company — they couldn’t reach one of my former employers and they asked me for a W2 or pay stub, which I didn’t have. I just told the background check company that I didn’t have any proof and let it be their problem. They were generally not very competent, anyway, so I felt like this was another sign of their incompetence. Perhaps I was wrong in that particular, but anyway, in the end they just dropped it and I still had the job.

      One can very legitimately not have that sort of documentation from an old job.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Just become someone asks a question doesn’t mean you can’t say “no.”

        So, “we need documentation” can be met with, “I don’t have it. Sorry.”

    10. Eric*

      I had something very similar happen. I was selling software on an App Store. I eventually was offered a job for the company that operated the very same App Store. The background check company couldn’t verify it even though I game them a Schedule C showing the income reported from this business (it was below the threshold for the company to issue a 1099-K). They wouldn’t accept self prepared tax returns (WTF?).

      I eventually called the recruiter and explained the situation. She got an exception for me even though the background company officially reported that they couldn’t verify my background.

    11. nonymous*

      If you reported the income you can give IRS permission to share a tax transcript with your new employer (I just had to do one as part of a mortgage application, it’s form 4506-T). If your employer isn’t aware of this process, you can pull it yourself, there are a few different flavors – look for the “wage and income” transcript.

    12. Moonsaults*

      I think the problem is that you’re saying you were his employee, instead you were an independent contractor and “legally” in business for yourself.

      This should not be on your resume at all, except under “Freelance” work and therefore they wouldn’t request the same background information. Legally you should have a copy of the paperwork he sent you to tell you how much to claim on your taxes, not the taxes themselves, no that’s an accumulation. The actual 1099 form, which if you don’t have a copy on your own files, you can get in touch with the IRS for it.

      If you just added up all the checks and cash and claimed it, without a 1099, you are indeed not going to clear this up. You are best off not claiming him as an employer ever again in case this pops up again.

      They are being difficult but try explaining it differently in the form of freelance and to see if they’ll drop it.

      1. Karo*

        But that would still be on her resume (albeit in a different section), and they would still want proof that she worked with them.

  2. Anonymous for this*

    I’d love input on how to approach my upcoming performance evaluation. I’ve been in my job for nearly two years with no formal training or performance review, and four different managers. Recently I’ve completed some high profile/high cost impact projects and made a few mistakes. I believe these happened for a few different reasons: 1) never trained on how to do said task 2) faster turnaround time meant less time for quality assurance 3) me, not doing a great job of anticipating what might be needed 4) me, beating myself up over a mistake and losing focus, thus making more mistakes (I believe #2 could have been avoided by me doing a better job on #3).

    I think that these past few months have been a huge learning opportunity for me and I know that I can improve going forward. However, I’m unsure of how to approach my evaluation. I pride myself on being the go-to person who gets the job done, so these recent months have thoroughly annihilated my self-esteem. I absolutely do not want to come across as making excuses for my mistakes, but I’m not sure how the conversation should unfold on my end. Please help.

    1. Terra*

      Being honest is a good first step (although you probably want to rephrase #4). Go in with a list (mental or physical) of things you did well, things that could improve, and anything you feel like your manager/the company could do to help you improve.

    2. Grits McGee*

      Was the finished project successful despite the mistakes? It sounds like producing perfect work is really important to you, but it may not be as big an issue to your manager than it is to you.

      Either way, I believe that Alison and other commenters have said that the best way to handle this is to show that you’re being proactive about correcting mistakes in the future.

      For instance, you could say, “Unfortunately because we were rushed for time, we didn’t have a chance to do QA on the teapot spouts and some of our clients had leakage issues. In the future I’ll make sure we schedule in enough time to do more thorough QA.”

      Or, “Unfortunately, we were delayed because I didn’t know to contact [stakeholder] and I needed to go back and integrate her input into the teapot design. For my next project, I know that I need to reach out to her and I’m going to make a point before starting to double check with you that I have a complete picture of everyone that should be consulted.”

      But generally, if you are getting positive feedback/ your manager doesn’t being it up, don’t being it up either!

    3. nonymous*

      Can you identify areas where issues came up and identify process solutions? For some the solution is that you will review formal processes/seek mentorship. For others it may be that you add a QA step (then you can bring up the impact on TAT). For that focus issue, maybe you can describe your (updated) system of tracking your time/priorities.

      This is really a “know your audience” situation – I’ve had some bosses who want evidence that I’m thinking about a systems solution to my errors and others who need me to apologize, but don’t care about the details. The latter is non-productive imo.

    4. One Handed Typist*

      I would focus on how you learned from the mistakes. “On my last project I was tasked with creating a new custom color scheme for the Holiday Teapots collection. The design process went well, but I now know I should have consulted co-worker Fergus at an earlier stage to provide better focus on the scheme. This is something I am adding to continuity documentation and including in my project report so that information is available to others who are either being trained or attempting a similar project.”

      I would also ask for training. “I was expected to use Software X version 9 for this project, but my previous training was in version 7. There were several key changes in the new version that slowed my progress. I found some free tutorials on YouTube that were able to clarify some of those changes, but I feel I would benefit from some more in-depth training. Is that something the company can support?”

  3. Newbie Searcher*

    I have been interviewing to leave my first full-time post-college job and I am hopeful that the recent interviews I’ve had will lead to job offers. However, I have never had to juggle multiple offers before. I think I might be getting a couple offers at once, or I’m going to get an offer from one job while I’m hoping hear back from a job that I’d prefer more.

    So any advice going forward? I’m feeling a bit anxious about having choices (whereas current job was really my only choice), needing to decide one job over the other, and generally being really worried about making the wrong choice. I picture accepting a job that sounds good for me and then another better job comes around when it’s too late. I know every job is a risk but I want to set myself up for making the right decisions as best I can.

    1. Anon13*

      I think honesty (to an extent) is generally the best policy in this type of situation. Most companies realize you are interviewing with multiple companies at the same time and won’t be put off by that fact. Of course, you can’t expect companies to wait too long for a response to their offer, but there’s no reason a company should be upset if you ask for say, a week to consider their offer and let them know you are also interviewing with other companies and you want to make sure you get the best fit.

    2. Future Analyst*

      This is always tough, but once you accept a job, tell yourself that you’ll really give it your all for 6 months (or a year, or whatever makes sense in your situation). I previously accepted a job that turned out to be terrible (and unfortunately, the company that I really, really wanted to work for contacted me for an interview after I had accepted), so it’s possible that that’s what happens to you. BUT, you learn lots of things from any job you take, even if it’s terrible, so nothing is truly squandered unless you don’t take the time to assess what worked and what didn’t work.

      In terms of deciding between multiple offers: a) have a list of things you like and don’t like at your current company at hand when you’re assessing the offers– hopefully during the course of your interviews, you were able to get a sense of ways in which the new jobs and companies are similar and dissimilar to your current role/company, so that you can cross-reference the good and the bad at your current spot with the other places. b) don’t be tempted to look at just the money aspect: more money is usually helpful, but it’s not the whole story. Take a careful look at the benefits offered (I’m a huge fan of spreadsheets to compare and contrast), and take non-tangible benefits (a more relaxed dress-code, summer Fridays, whatever) into account as well. c) Trust your gut: if the company looks great, and the job sound good, but the manager strikes you as someone who wouldn’t quite trust you to do your job, ask more questions (or see if you can talk to one of his/her current reports). Companies may not always allow this, but if you have an off feeling about someone, make sure to acknowledge it while trying to assess the larger picture.

      And for the love, if you’re interviewing and they don’t let you meet the person who would be managing you, RUN. :) Good luck!

    3. MsCHX*

      You are young so you do have some flexibility still. Meaning if you take Job A and it sucks you can realistically move on to Job B within a “relatively” short period of time and not many will bat and eye. But if you go through 4-5 jobs in a few years, that will be bad.

      Company’s should expect that you’re interviewing with multiple places and in fact, may ask if you have other offers. I agree with Anon that you should feel free to express that you are interested in the role but you are entertaining other offers (or another offer). Making the choice is tough but it probably won’t be the 1st time!

    4. nonymous*

      Theoretically, every job offer is one that you’re legitimately interested in working, no? So in a sense you can’t make a “bad” choice. But to maximize the gains of a “great” choice, it’s reasonable to ask for time to consider, and it’s also reasonable to ping the lingering hiring manager giving them a final opportunity to present their offer.

    5. kw10*

      If you get an offer from one job while waiting to hear back from another that you prefer more, definitely let the second place know! You can explain very politely that you wanted to let them know that you have another offer and have to respond by xx date, you prefer their job and you’re wondering when they’ll be able to let you know a decision. If they really like you, they may try to decide faster to have a chance. I’ve been on both ends of this situation (applying and hiring).

  4. ThatGirl*

    Weird thing at work this week. We have monthly food days to celebrate birthdays, and one of my co-workers has been in charge of the emails. She usually puts goofy facts about those fake holidays like “National Cheese Day” or whatever, or pictures.

    This month said CW was feeling depressed over the election and did the bare minimum with just the birthdays and the date of food day in a fun font. It wasn’t hostile, she didn’t mention the election at all, it was just bare-bones. Her manager (who is not my manager) decided that was disrespectful to the people who had birthdays and took the duty away from her. I was just sort of boggled by it all.

    1. Xarcady*

      That seems an extreme over-reaction. I wonder if her manager wanted to take this away from her anyway, and used this one email as an excuse.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Maybe? I mean, I like her manager in general, she isn’t usually prone to overreacting to things (she’s been my manager in the past) but there could be other things going on I don’t know about.

          1. Working Mom*

            I think both people, the coworker and the manager are both overreacting. If the election didn’t go your way, I’m sorry. I know how it feels. But move on. And the manager, taking away a small little “duty” like that because one month it wasn’t as fancy/fun? Come on. Everyone needs to get get a life.

            1. Jessie*

              Agree with neveryjaunty. The CW is allowed to be upset. It didn’t stop her from doing her job. The manager pitched a fit because CW didn’t jump up and down with rainbows shooting out her nose, I guess. CW doesn’t need to “get a life” but manager is an idiot.

              1. EmmaLou*

                But she didn’t do her job. The people whose birthdays are coming up still get to celebrate whether they like the dude about to be in the office or not. They are still worth celebrating. Still worth having fun with and life did not end with the election. The celebratees got short shrift because her candidate lost. That’s not fair to them. If she felt she couldn’t make it as fun or celebratory, then she should have mentioned that. Huge deal? No. But a deal.

                1. JB (not in Houston)*

                  Wait, no, she did do her job. The celebrating is the food day, not the email telling people about the food day. She just adds goofy facts for fun. The email still told people the information about the day and she still used a “fun font.” They got their celebration. The manager overreacted. If someone at a workplace feels like they didn’t get adequately “celebrated” by the coworkers because the email telling everyone about the celebratory food day wasn’t fun enough, then maybe they are the ones taking something too seriously.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  It doesn’t appear that anyone really thought it was a deal except 1) the manager and 2) people who think nobody has a right to be sad post-election. FFS.

                3. tigerlily*

                  From my understanding, the celebration bit hasn’t happened yet. So all those people whose birthdays it is still get to celebrate on the actual celebratory/food day. You’re saying she didn’t so her job because the invitation to the celebration – which included all the pertinent information like the names of the people being celebrated – because it maybe didn’t have a fun fact to go along with it this time around? Again – this is the INVITATION to the celebration, not the celebration itself. I would seriously question the judgement of anyone who got bent out of shape over that.

                  Also, let’s not forget about the fact that this isn’t really work related. It’s celebrating people’s birthdays.

                4. EmmaLou*

                  Time and again, we’ve had on this very site, people’s feelings hurt because they didn’t get the same hoopla as others, for whatever reason. (Not that they are upset for “whatever reason” but that the reason for less hoopla changes.) If she felt like she was going have to do less, then she had the chance to go to her manager and say, “You know, I’m really bummed and worried about the Comb-Over King. I just don’t think I can invest the energy in this month’s birthday announcement as usual. Should we get someone one else, or will no one care?” She didn’t. She just gave it less. Horrible? No. Just not as good. And that can hurt people. So I’m standing by she should have given the same effort everyone else had had, handed it off or at least warned her boss.

                5. Been There, Done That*

                  C’mon already, everybody has a low moment on the job once in a while, be a little forgiving, people. It was an email; it’s not as if CW was in charge of planning the party and only brought in a bag of cheap cookies. And not trying to get political, but this presidential election was pretty intense. A lot of people I know (not just coworkers) felt wiped out the next day, regardless of whether the outcome was the one they wanted.

            2. Observer*

              Seriously?! If she’d been overtly hostile or had commented about it, sure. If she had failed to send the email, yes. But she wasn’t AS goofy as normal? Come on, this election was a legitimate big deal, and it’s not outrageous that someone might be having enough trouble adjusting in the immediately following days, to not be up to huge doses of light hearted goofiness.

    2. Sadsack*

      Wow. I feel bad for her because I found the election depressing, as well…but it didn’t keep me from doing my job. I mean, she did her job, maybe just not as enthusiastically as normal. Seems like taking that duty away from her was a jerk move though. Why not just tell her about it and ask her to be mindful of it in the future? Also, does anyone who was on the birthday list really care about this?

      As you can tell, I am sort of boggled by it all, too!

      1. ThatGirl*

        I very much doubt anyone who had a birthday this month really noticed. Generally they just care about the food, which had a good turnout. :)

    3. Catalin*

      Manager needs to grow up.
      Coworker might be relieved that she’s no longer in charge of this extra fluff work.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I don’t think CW cares much about that particular little fluff duty, but the reaction seemed… extreme to me.

    4. Phoebe*

      I wonder if perhaps they supported different candidates? Still an extreme overreaction, but it’s all I can think of.

      1. ThatGirl*

        From what I know about them, yes – but again, CW didn’t say a word about the election in her email, although it’s possible she discussed it with other people in her area. I’m pretty sure she didn’t discuss it with her manager, though.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I had to read it twice to realize “said CW” meant “the aforementioned CW,” rather than “this month’s newsletter stated that CW was depressed about the election.” Once I parsed it, though, I think it was a huge overreaction.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yeah, it’s not even a newsletter of any sort – it’s just an announcement of when the food day is and whose birthdays are that month. CW just put some fun facts in of her own accord.

          2. ThatGirl*

            And yes, I didn’t word that very well, I can see how you’d be confused – I did mean aforementioned.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Naw, you were fine, I just need more coffee!

              Anyway, definitely an overreaction. It’s like reprimanding someone for bringing in Tootsie Rolls for their candy bowl instead of Snickers.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Agree–and what if she had done a bare-bones one because she was super behind on work? Would that still merit the manager yanking the task? Who cares as long as the announcement went out and had the pertinent info on it?

        2. Phoebe*

          Yeah, but a lot of people were really invested in their candidates this time, more so than I’ve ever seen before. So it wouldn’t really surprise me if this were the issue. I’m not saying it’s right by any stretch, but a lot of people seem to take an great personal offence to anything even resembling a negative comment on their choice.

          1. Phoebe*

            Alison, I apologize if my comment above qualifies as forbidden election talk. Please feel free to remove it.

    5. Is it Friday Yet?*

      This made me think of the party planning committee debacle from The Office. Remember when Angela was dethroned?

      1. ThatGirl*

        What’s funny is we do sell office/workplace supplies (way more than just paper, and way more than just office) and there are a lot of references to The Office at times. :) Thankfully the manager I mentioned is no Michael Scott.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      When work birthdays go bad, it’s usually in a spectacular manner.

      Okay first thing. The b-day coordination was not a key component of her job. For example, this is not a case where a boss took all the nursing work away from a nurse, OR a boss took all the accounting working away from an accountant.

      Next. The boss is either going to get sick of doing it herself or she will delegate to someone who will forget.

      Ironically, the manager could stand to look at how she processes her own upset. It sounds to me that Boss expects CW to be Susie Sunshine, when Boss can’t even be Susie Sunshine herself.

      Give it time, I think the job will come back to your CW eventually and your CW will have to decide if she wants it back.

      Personally, I think the boss is assuming people want to celebrate their birthdays and we know from reading here, there a plenty of people who do not. It could be that this year not many wanted to celebrate anyway.

    7. Zip Silver*

      I think it’s incredibly amusing that an election result is depressing enough to affect your coworker’s choice of clip art in an email about food.

      1. TG*

        Some people are genuinely concerned about their future ability to get things like health insurance and whether their children will be safe in the streets. Against that backdrop, things like clip art get really insignificant and I can see her not wanting to bother.

  5. Invoice Monkey*

    Long Story Short: How much am I allowed to push back against new protocol/software that is making my job take a lot longer?

    Long Story Longer: The main focus of my job is to process invoices. This includes updating our records of invoices received and paid. With our old protocol, we had software that was very easy and quick to update with information as the invoice when step by step through the payment process. They have recently updated with new software that makes it easier for gathering all the invoice data, along with other important data, into reports.

    However, this new software has been a real hindrance to me. Whereas it took literally seconds to add in new info on the old one, this one require way more steps to accomplish the same goal. Now I’m down to a three to five minute minimum to update a single invoice, which may not sound like a lot but it’s putting me way behind. It’s not because I’m having trouble with the system, the new software works perfectly and I learned it very quickly; it’s just that it naturally takes longer.

    My direct supervisor said that I should work with the supervisor in charge of the software (who is above me) to streamline it. And I have made suggestions that the software supervisor has implemented. However even with these changes, it’s just not the same. I truly can’t think of anything we can do with this new software to bring it up to speed. The only thing I can think to suggest is for me to continue with the old software, while adding completed payments in the new software at the very end (still time consuming but payments would get out at the previous speed again and still allow them to get the data they need from the new software).

    I don’t want to be the stick in the mud but this new software truly is hindering me at my job. Can I present this problem to the software supervisor to explain that it just doesn’t work as fast as before and it’s putting me behind in my payments?

    1. Dawn*

      Yeah totally! A good software supervisor (and it sounds like you have one since she implemented suggestions that you gave) will want the software to work well and benefit the end user.

      Be nice about it, but point out that in the new software it takes you much, much longer to do a task than it did in the old software. Definitely let anyone and everyone know that you understand the software, that you’re clear on what needs to be done, and that the bottleneck is not *you* but the *software* and be prepared to demonstrate exactly why and how it takes longer in the new software vs the old.

      1. trefoil*

        I’m implementing new software and this is exactly the kind of feedback we’re asking people to provide. If you have concrete recommendations to make it better (ie, don’t make me re-enter this data six times), that will be even better.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        Unfortunately, I’m skeptical that the Invoice Monkey is going to be able to make a case that others will listen to. I hope I’m wrong, however. Where I see this is in my spouse’s work with medical record entry (spouse works in a number of different locations, all of which have different digital data entry protocols, and all of which have been updated in the last 6-18 months). The problem is that NONE of them are developed for the benefit of the person entering the data (or even other medical professionals looking up said data after the fact). They’re all for the benefit of record-keeping (which is important, I realize) in back office functions elsewhere. So, the result is that something that used to take 20 minutes to do, now takes an hour. And everyone is supposed to maintain the same productivity.

        TL;DR: Invoice Monkey may have the best results when things are couched in terms of “lost productivity” AND advocating for entering the data in the system “after the fact.” Good luck.

    2. Xarcady*

      Can you pinpoint the problem areas? I’d go back to the software supervisor and see if she has any suggestions on how to reduce steps/combine things to speed things up. There’s probably someone, somewhere, who really knows the software and what it can do who can fix at least some of the issues.

      If that doesn’t work, then talk with your supervisor again. You can bring up using the old software as a potential solution, but don’t be surprise if that doesn’t fly–there could be some very good reasons why they don’t want to use that anymore.

    3. NW Mossy*

      What you’re experiencing boils down to less of a software failure and more of a change management failure. It’s clear that someone told you why the change was being made (to facilitate reporting), but not why that outcome is important and whether or not those reports are so valuable that they are willing to accept the trade-off of slower processing time. Maybe the reports are vital because they resolve an audit finding or can help with detection/prevention of extremely expensive mistakes, and spending more time on the part of the process you handle is completely fine.

      Instead of going to the software supervisor, you need to go back to yours and say “I understand we’re using TortoisePay now to help with reporting, and I know we’ve talked before about how it’s a slower process to add information. I implemented all the suggestions I got from Fergus and the software works just like it’s supposed to, but it’s still significantly slower and we haven’t been able to come up with an approach that matches the previous speed. This means that I’m not able to process as many in a given day, and I’m concerned that this will result in [insert foreseeable negative consequences here – late payments, missed deadlines, additional charges for fixing these, etc.]. I’m not sure if this was already considered by [whoever decided] and they concluded that it’s OK for us to adjust our expectations to [reasonable turnaround time with new software], or if this is an issue we need to work on before it has a negative impact on [important people]. What should we do to tackle this?”

      1. Beezus*

        It’s not just later payments, either. Invoice Monkey has X hours a day to enter Y number of invoices – that’s her capacity. If her processing time per invoice has slowed from A to B, then the max number of invoices she can process per day is X/B. Those are the variables. It sounds like she’s done what she can to reduce B, and she’s established that B is always going to be greater than A. If B can’t change anymore, then either X needs to change – more time needs to be devoted to invoice processing – or Y, the number of invoices needs to be reduced. If neither of those happens, she’ll continue to get further and further behind.

        So fixing this might involve freeing up more of Invoice Monkey’s time to work on invoice processing, or hiring additional help, or assigning an existing employee to help Invoice Monkey – those are all ways to increase X. Or it might involve reducing invoices, but that’s usually tougher. They might be able to work with suppliers to change up their terms – if they currently get truckload shipments with multiple orders from one supplier, they might be able to get the supplier to switch from one invoice per order to one invoice per shipment, for example, or get a supplier to send one monthly invoice for something that they’re billing incrementally throughout the month.

        I don’t think going back to the old software is a solution – it might get your payments out faster short-term, but the overall entry time per invoice is probably not better (unless the old software autopopulated stuff that Invoice Monkey is entering manually now). Also, there’s a good chance the company doesn’t want to bear the cost of licensing and maintaining two pieces of software for the same purpose. And unless the overall entry time per invoice is low enough for Invoice Monkey to keep up, s/he’s going to keep lagging further behind on entries, which means the data they want out of the new system is going to take longer and longer to appear, and that’s eventually going to be unsustainable.

      2. a.n.o.n.y.m.o.u.s.*

        This. Mossy know what’s up. I’ve been involved tangentially with software implementations, and I have seen this happen before. Sometimes the Powers That Be decide that the benefits a new software brings are worth causing someone else’s job to be more tedious. But it seems like they often fail to communicate that to the people whose jobs have suffered. This may be what’s happening with your job, or it could actually be a software implementation failure. Try following Mossy’s advice first and then go from there.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I agree, this is an issue not just for you but for the company as a whole, as it affects your productivity and slowing you down probably slows down any downstream processes (anything that depends on your invoice work).

      Ask to schedule even 15-30 minutes with the supervisor in charge of the software and go through the invoice entry process in the old software and the new software. They should be able to figure out the best technical solution for fixing the issue, but seeing it in action will make sure that they understand where exactly the problem lies.

    5. One Handed Typist*

      Please let the software supervisor know! That’s his job. But be sure to frame it in quantifiable data. “Under our old software, I was able to process invoices in X minutes. Under new software, it’s now Y minutes. This is delaying me enough that instead of processing 200 invoices each day, I’m currently only processing 75. This is causing most invoices to go out a full week later than normal, which is delaying our payment. While I’m sure some of the delay is simply getting to know the software, the processes are much more cumbersome with New Software and even with expert level processing, I would never be able to reach 200 invoices again.”

      My University switched email/calendaring providers in 2010 and awarded a 7 year contract to the new provider. Apparently there were minimal opportunities for employees to play with the new provider’s software before it was rolled it. Instantly there were hundreds of complaints from benign to severely impactful. I manage a distribution list and I cannot simply update the entries; I have to delete the ENTIRE list and rebuild it. I’m also unable to Map Fields so I have to rename all the fields before I import or I have to manually enter all information. It’s a nightmare. Luckily the University notified the provider that we would NOT be soliciting another quote from them. We are switching fully to Google systems in the next few weeks.

    6. Burn Out*

      You know, I found myself in this exact situation at my previous job and I absolutely could not get my immediate supervisor to recognize the problem. The software supervisor was always apologetic and claiming that someday down the road they would iron out the problems and to just be patient. He was basically useless. The new software provided information that was not recorded by the older system it replaced and it did have the potential to provide benefits to management, but it did nothing for the people on the front lines.

      When I pushed back and brought up the problems, I was portrayed as being a “stick in the mud” and as being “resistant to change”. I was not resistant to change so much as I was resistant to negative change that made my work life a lot more difficult. I fully support positive change, but this wasn’t one. I couldn’t even get my supervisors to recognize how the changes made my job more complex and made me less productive. They refused to reassign any job duties, although every once in a while they’d get someone to help with filing. (That was actually helpful and appreciated, but it was a band-aid on a hemorrhage and didn’t happen consistently or often enough to make a significant difference in my workload.)

      As a consequence of the new software I kept getting nasty emails and phone calls from branch offices claiming that I had not entered certain information in the system. Actually, I had posted the information but the people in the branch offices had no idea how to access it. (There had been a training for branch supervisors, but they never told their underlings how to use the new software.) Of course, the branch people always called when there was no one at the computer help desk and it was always an emergency.

      After having to stop my work and talk several people through how to use the new system to find the information they needed, I typed up a 2-page cheat sheet that provided instructions for them on how to access the information they needed. (It was really quite well done, if I say so myself.) I emailed it as an attachment to all of the branch offices and things quieted down for about 3 months, until someone at a branch office forwarded the attachment to the help desk. Then the entire I.T. department jumped on my back about it.

      Even though I expressly noted that the instructions were subject to change and had dated the document, they were especially concerned that at some point in the future the instructions might change. They were also upset because at some point in the future the information was going to be added to their help screen (although it never was and most people couldn’t even find the help button that would activate the help screen). My supervisors refused to support me and I had to apologize and promise not to provide instructions to people at the branch offices.

      The whole thing turned out badly. I don’t know how you can present the problem in such a way as to make the software supervisor improve the system or to make your supervisor realize that you are no longer able to be as productive as you once were.

      1. catsAreCool*

        You “had to apologize and promise not to provide instructions to people at the branch offices.” This is truly terrible!

    7. Jen*

      I work in product development- this is exactly the info the team that built the software needs. I now run my department and the people under me that are the strongest take input like yours (the user) and use it to tweak the product.

    8. Drew*

      No advice, but I do have sympathy. Several years ago, I used to get a single massive nicely formatted spreadsheet with lots of numbers that I needed to do some forecasting. We upgraded our business software package and everything was fine except that they removed the option for that precise report — now I get two separate spreadsheets, each with about half of the information I need, and both requiring some careful massaging to make the data useful to me. Argh!

      (We contacted the company to ask about having that report reinstated in an update; their response boiled down to “Oh, we didn’t think anyone ever used that, so we just deleted it.” Argh squared!)

  6. Future Analyst*

    Any tips for handling a transition to a new manager if I feel like it’s somewhat of a demotion? I’ve been in my role for about 3 months, and last Friday my current manager told me that she’s going to have another manager handle our department. My current manager is a Director of Teapot Knowledge, and the new manager is at a lower level (Manager of Teapot Manuals Content). Even though it makes sense from an organizational level that someone at the Director level wouldn’t be directly involved with my work, I can’t help but feel like this is somewhat of a demotion. Nothing from either manager has indicated that they think my work is lesser (in fact, in the same conversation in which she told me about the new manager, my current manager said that she’s very happy with my work thus far). Any tips for handling this professionally, and not letting me feelings of being demoted get in the way? I know logically that that’s not the case, but the rational side of my brain isn’t currently winning out.

    1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      Stop thinking of it as a demotion. It’s not.

      I am soon to be reporting to my bosses’s boss due to logistical reasons. I’m not viewing that as a promotion.

      1. Rachel*

        This x 1000. It sounds like this has absolutely nothing to do with you or your work, especially since your position isn’t changing.

    2. Dawn*

      I mean… it’s really not a demotion at all! In fact, I would say it’s a net gain for you, because now you have a manager who can take time to really get to know you and your work, whereas someone at the Director level is going to be juggling so many things that she most likely wouldn’t have time for 1:1 meetings and gaining a deep appreciation of what you do.

      1. Dawn*

        Also hey, you’ll still have a working relationship with the Director which could be super valuable when she goes back to handling mostly Director duties, that’s a plus too.

      2. Nerfmobile*

        Yes, not a demotion. This has been happening a lot in my particular organization lately. Last spring we had a reorg which meant that my VP went from having about 350 employees under her to having over 700. And therefore my director’s org went from about 40 to about 80. And my director decided she couldn’t handle having 12 managers report directly to her so she moved 4 to senior manager roles and the other 8 now report to one of those senior managers. It’s not a demotion for any of the people now under those senior managers, we just needed a new organizational layer to handle the numbers.

    3. NACSACJACK*

      It really isn’t a demotion. Your job title and duties didn’t change. As you point out yourself, a director really shouldn’t be your supervisor. A layer of management was missing. I reported to a director for over two years. That was a nightmare. He had 20-25 people reporting to him and frequently missed 1×1’s.

      That said, transitioning to new manager – think of it as onboarding with a new company or a new job. Be ready for change. Be prepared to ask questions about change. Be willing to accept that this person may not treat you the same as the prior person.

    4. Phoebe*

      Think of it more like adding a layer to the organizational chart of your company. It doesn’t so much push your position down the organizational chart as it does push your Director’s position further up the chart, if that makes any sense.

  7. Moonlight & Misery*

    So the post about the “self-inflicted illness” really hit me last night. I gave blood at Real Job’s blood drive and then got incredibly sweaty, dizzy, and nauseaus. I’ve been giving blood several times a year for almost 10 years, and this is the first time this has ever happened to me! The Red Cross volunteers had me lay down with ice packs until I felt better, but I ended up calling in to cleaning job. Boy, was I read the riot act! Why would I sign up to give blood on a day that I had to work for them? Didn’t I know that they were already short staffed? Was I sure that I couldn’t make it?
    That totally reversed my opinion about that article. I was definitely riding the negative train on the employee who put herself in that position before it happened to me.

    https://www.askamanager.org/2016/11/when-an-employee-misses-work-with-a-self-inflicted-illness.html

    1. anon04*

      I think the difference between what happened to you and what happened to the previous LW’s employee comes down to predictability. You have been donating blood for 10 years with no ill effects so you could not have reasonably predicted that you would feel bad after donating blood this time. However, in the LW’s employee’s situation, the person was barely eating or drinking. It is reasonable to predict that such behavior will produce ill effects like dizziness and lack of energy. I’m not saying the LW should totally drop the hammer on their employee, just that the employee could have predicted the symptoms ahead of time whereas you could not have.

      1. Murphy*

        Yes, that’s how I’d explain it. There’s an illness that was technically preventable and then there’s one that you knew would arise (i.e. you always had that reaction to drawing blood).

      2. neverjaunty*

        Eh. If you’ve been giving blood for a long time, then you know that there can be adverse effects anytime; nobody is immune from “I didn’t know it but I was coming down with a cold” or “guess the years are starting to catch up with me”.

        I don’t think Moonlight & Misery did anything wrong, btw, but I do think it’s a bit silly to draw very careful lines to say “oh but YOU aren’t like that”.

      3. The Unburnt*

        I agree with Murphy on this one in that the difference in the two illnesses is that the OP knew what to expect and you did not.

        Also, to be perfectly honest, the two activities that caused the illness couldn’t be more different. The OP was competing in a body building contest and you were donating blood. Whether it’s right or wrong, I’m more inclined to show lenience to someone out sick because of donating blood, which is a charitable act that saves lives, rather then someone out sick because they chose to partake in a dangerous personal hobby. Not eating or drinking? Dangerous personal choice that will OF COURSE effect your work and personal responsibilities.

        1. Honeybee*

          Well, as multiple people were point out in the comments of that article, maybe the OP’s coworker didn’t know what to expect. Maybe she’d never had that reaction before or it was her first bodybuilding competition. People were making a lot of assumptions about her intent and previous experience that were never mentioned in the letter.

          On the other hand, one could reasonably argue that a person who gives blood regularly knows that there is a possibility they will have a negative reaction to that donation, as it is very common, even if they personally never had one before. (I don’t agree with that argument, but you could argue that!)

          And also, I don’t think we should feel comfortable passing judgment on the nature of people’s physical activities, as that can go south really fast.

          1. GovHRO*

            The bodybuilder could have eaten something, when they started to feel poorly and alleviated some or all of the problem and gone to work. Yes that would have impacted their competition. Instead the bodybuilder moved forward with the restrictive plan and impacted work. Choice.

            In your blood donation–you’re surprised by your reaction, which is the difference. Moving forward I’m guessing you won’t donate before a work shift.

  8. Brigitha*

    My 3 month review is coming up next week. I was on a ‘training’ period up till now, and I’ll hopefully get the previously agreed upon salary bump. I will also be making a number of recommendations including: don’t text people after 8pm, stop paying for expensive apps you can’t be bothered to use properly (and when you try, you text me after 8pm because you can’t remember how to use it), and let’s make an employee handbook so the next person won’t have to learn everything the hard way like I did. Wish me luck!

      1. Catalin*

        Remember the intern who got all the interns fired over a recommendation/petition? 3 months and just out of your probation/training period is NOT the time to be telling people they suck at their jobs and should do it differently. Curb the condescension/entitlement. A lot. Why?
        1) you’ve been there just a few weeks.
        2) you’re already asking for a raise
        3) It reads that you’re telling people who are peers or above that they’re clueless/not as brilliant as you are and you know better
        4) managers never want to hear that you think their clueless

        What can you do? It’s (probably, depending on industry) reasonable to request emergency-only texts after 8 p.m. It’s reasonable to discuss how the late night texts are impacting your work life balance. It’s reasonable to ask about creating a guidebook for new hires (but don’t phrase it as “You were chaotic and clueless when I came in”). It’s even reasonable, if you can do it diplomatically, to ask about staff-wide training on the confusing app.

        If I had a new hire (and yes, 3 months is still new) come to me in the way you’re describing, it would not end well. I’d be deeply concerned about how hire’s attitude is impacting the team and I would definitely remember hire as an immature upstart.

    1. No, please*

      Please don’t! No matter how good your intentions are, three months really isn’t long enough to make policy changing suggestions.

    2. Leatherwings*

      Yeah this is not a good plan. Three months in and just coming off of a training period isn’t the time to be making sweeping “recommendations”

    3. Lily in NYC*

      No no no don’t do this! The only one you can say is the one about the employee handbook, but you should say it very diplomatically and offer to help with it. Otherwise zip your lip.

    4. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      Noooooo. I have been in your shoes and done what you are about to do and it suckkkkked for me.

      The end of a ‘training’ period is not a time to drop truth bombs. You need to wait until the employer wants to hear these things to suggest them. I.e, if they ask you want you think of the app!

      As for the employee handbook, if you are asked how your training went, it’s fine to say ‘I found it difficult to on board without written instructions, is there a way we could collect all the written policies into a new hire handbook?’.

      But yeah telling them how to run their business (by dictating when they speak with folks) or suggesting that they are so technically incompetent that they are wasting money on apps they aren’t using properly (no matter how true) is a great way to turn a good employee-manager relationship sour.

      In all “suggestions” ask yourself, is this the hill I want to die on?

    5. NW Mossy*

      Oooof, that sounds like a not-great plan. At 3 months, you’d be better served approaching this as a new person seeking to understand why things are the way they are, because that’s exactly what you are. You can reframe some of your concerns in that light (“I’ve seen us struggle with using FancyApp – can you tell me a little more about why we’re using it and what we’re hoping to gain?”), but going in guns blazing is likely to tag you not as a motivated problem-solver but a bullheaded newbie who doesn’t have all the facts to make a good assessment.

    6. Jean*

      OMG. This is making my work life flash before my eyes and I see myself doing all of these things in past positions because I thought I was being helpful. Gaaaah. (Hides head under desk.)
      Brigitha, an enormous thank you for educating me with your question.

      1. Tuckerman*

        :-) Or, we could just add to it what we wish we could say at our yearly reviews.
        I’d add: If the company does not replace kitchen sponges more frequently, somebody’s going to get Ebola.

        1. AMPG*

          Just microwave them once a week! It’s basically autoclaving them (make sure to wet them thoroughly first so as not to cause a fire). No need to throw out perfectly good sponges. :)

          1. Tuckerman*

            I’m definitely on board with that. Except. This sponge has been sitting there for at least 6 months, possibly a year (it’s not my department, but a general use kitchen for the whole company).

      2. LJL*

        In that case, it is kind of funny…but you’d be surprised at how many people have actually done that. :-)

      3. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

        ROFL. This is nothing.

        I once made a comment on here about how “A lot of these comments remind me of the movie X”
        Except I forgot the “These comments part” and just posted “Remind me of movie X”

        I got like 40 message patronizingly explaining to me that movies and real life aren’t the same. There are a lot of passionate folks here. Well meaning though.

    7. Grits McGee*

      Yeah, I’m going to echo everyone else and 100% recommend that you do not make those recommendations. At 3 months, unless you are a senior person who has been brought on specifically to give that kind of guidance, your approach needs to be Socratic (“I know that I know nothing.”)

      However, if you are invested in making those changes, there is potentially a way forward. Go to your 3 month review, say thank you for your salary bump, ask if they can give you any feedback on your performance so far, and thank them for that too. After your meeting, write down all handbook-y things you’ve learned, if only for your own record/satisfaction. Focus on doing good work and build a reputation as a reliable, sensible report and coworker.

      Then, after you’ve been there for a while and know the politics and personalities, you can go to your manager and say, “Lucinda, I think it would be really helpful for us to have an employee handbook and I know for me it would have really reduced the time I spent learning how to paint the glaze on tea pots. Would it make sense for us to have something more formalized to on board new staff? I’d be happy to take the lead on that, if it sounds like a good idea.*”

      *I can almost promise you that if you aren’t prepared to take on the responsibility of writing the handbook yourself, it will not be done.

    8. TootsNYC*

      This is the ONLY thing from your list that you should bring up.

      ” let’s make an employee handbook so the next person won’t have to learn everything the hard way like I did. “

      But you need to frame it differently.

      Make it be a goal you want to accomplish that they should then admire (and reward) you for.

      So: “I’ve been making notes during this period, and I’d like to develop a training manual and procedures sheets. It’ll be useful for me, and also for whenever we might need to train a substitute. Can I have that as one of my projects or goals to complete for next year?”

    9. Chaordic One*

      Yeah, don’t do this.

      But, for what it’s worth “your boss is a jerk!”

      If you’re up to it, you might start typing an employee handbook, so the next person won’t have to learn everything the hard way like you did.

  9. the.kat*

    Favorite pens? What does everyone like to use at work and who pays for it? My company has an account with an office supply store but I’m hesitant to buy my favorite kind of pens because I’m the only one who likes them. I have a penchant for fountain pens and (when I’m taking notes or personal writing) sparkly gel pens.

    1. ThatGirl*

      My favorite are PaperMate, but the boxes are hard to come by around here, we mostly get our house brand of pens which are cheaply made and tend to skip. So I usually make do with what we have lying around and hoard PaperMates if I see them.

      1. the.kat*

        We get branded pens that have the same penchant for skipping and I both hate them and can’t seem to lose them all.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        THIS ONE! Lifehacker rated it their favorite as well. I buy my own and bring them to work because they only give us those annoying uniball pens that refuse to write on post-it notes.

        1. Jean*

          >those annoying uniball pens that refuse to write on post-it notes
          Huh. I love uniball pens! For years I’ve been blaming their sticky-note refusals on something weird with the note paper.
          Not even halfway through the total (so far) of today’s Open Thread comments and I’ve already learned two things.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            And sometimes you can’t write in greeting cards with them either. I guess it’s some sort of coating on the paper.

        1. Sadsack*

          Sorry, forgot to answer that, yes, our office stocks them. We also stock the less expensive ball point pens.

    2. Tempest*

      I have a Swarovski pen where the end is both a memory stick and full of Swarovski crystals. The refills are small due to being half size to account for half the pen being a memory stick so they run out frequently. I paid for the pen and I buy my own refills as I chose to have the impractical flashy pen :) It writes like a dream though and as most of my customers are not the sort to go in for sparkles and crystals they can’t wait to hand it back rather than try to walk off with it!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The only pen I like to use at work is a Pilot Precise, fine-point, blue. Yup, I’m picky. At most jobs I’ve had, the company paid for them. At my last job, I just brought them from home (I had them leftover from the previous job, where I’d worked from home and they told me to keep the pens, folders, and binder clips.) Don’t be hesitant! You’re still going to use them, so even if you’re the only one, it’s not wasteful. Also, in the grand scheme of things, these pens cost very, very little to the company. So don’t sweat it. If you’re feeling really weird, you can always ask the office manager or admin or whoever handles purchasing, but I would bet you wouldn’t be the only person ordering your favorite pens.

    4. Cordelia Naismith*

      I like Uniball Vision Elite and Pilot Precise V5. They both write pretty smoothly and are satisfyingly inky. The office pays for the Uniball pen. I’m not sure if we have the Pilot pens in the supply closet or not. The ones I have at work are ones that I brought myself because I happened to have some.

      1. Sydney Bristow*

        Pilot Precise V5 extra fine in blue is my go to. I have all the colors so I can color code things if necessary but prefer blue for everyday use. I’ve been using them for 20 years. My office doesn’t stick them so I just buy my own. Boxes on Amazon aren’t terribly expensive.

      2. PersistentCat*

        You’re my pen twin!
        Those are my favorites.
        I particularly love the UniBall Vision Elite Extra Fine Needle tips in blue, because then I can use them all over my controlled documents without anyone whining about them not being waterproof.

      3. So Very Anonymous*

        Oooh, I love Pilot Precise V5s but they are the only pen I’ve used that’s leaked after on an airplane. So when I travel I have to make sure to take my V5s out of my pen cases. (I…. have a problem with pens. I have multiple pen cases. And lots of favorite kinds of pens. PaperMate InkJoy 500s, looking at you… oh, and Staedter Triplus. But not for work).

        It’s pulling teeth to get supplies in general where I work (we have the saddest supply area you can imagine) but at some point someone got us boxes of my favorite cheap PaperMate blue medium stick pens and I’ve been hoarding those.

    5. Emi.*

      I like Pilot Precise pens, and my office stocks them. If they didn’t I’d just bring them from home because I never learned to use ballpoints without getting writer’s cramp. :P

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        YES. I’m so used to writing with my Pilots that I can’t bear down hard enough on a ballpoint to get it to write properly. I have a light hand. I also have terrible, ridiculous, horrid handwriting, but that’s a different story.

        1. Kyrielle*

          …I am going to guess that I should never try this pen, given that I have driven the ball *up into* a ballpoint pen more than once because of how hard I push…. (Although admittedly not in years and years, but I don’t buy the type my Dad always had around, and if the office supplies them, I don’t take that kind. I have never done it to the sturdier ones.)

      2. LA Gaucho*

        I’m going to order these write…right now! Fine and Extra Fine.

        I am an office supply junkie. As far as pens go I have (in order of current favorites) TUL fine and med tip, Foray Gelio in medium, Pilot Fine Better Retractable, Zebra Z-Grip Med, stupid Bic in BU3 in 1.0. My absolute favorites are from a drug company whose pens looked like rocket ships. Fun to look at and my writing looked great.

        My agency has a use it or lose it policy when it comes to office supply funding so at the end of the year we always have to order like crazy. I do NOT feel bad ordering the fancier stuff at the end of the year, otherwise we get less money next year and no one wants that.

    6. NarrowDoorways*

      I neeeeeed Pilot razor point very fine red pens. I’m an editor and sometimes there’s a lot of changes to make on a paper, but not a lot of room, so I need the small point. I also need the red color to stand out from the ink of the doc.

      Unfortunatly, though I asked our office manager to get them, the last two times he tried, the Staples we order from delivered Pilot red markers. I HATE them. I’d buy the right ones myself but they’re $20 a box!

      1. Amber T*

        <3 <3 <3 Pilot Razor Point! We stock them in blue, black, red, and green. Purple was discontinued :( (I use purple Papermate Flair which is *similar* but definitely not the same).

        I never cared about pens and the like before I started using these – now I can't use anything else at work without getting grumbly.

        (I love office supplies. My desk is currently stocked with at least a dozen different types of post its, different colors and shapes, different size paperclips and binder clips, highlighters of every color… and yes it all gets used!)

        1. Girasol*

          Oh, yeah, Flair or Pilot Razor Point. The first for being assertive, the second for being precise. I buy my own and take all the fun colors home so I can maintain the illusion of a staid professional character.

    7. Terra*

      I like the Papermate Ink Joy line because they’re the only pens I’ve found that seem to write whenever I need them too without coaxing. Specifically I tend to buy the 700RT ballpoints (white exteriors) but they have a few different kinds including ones with “quick drying” gel ink if that’s more your style.

      1. FrozenUpNorth*

        My absolute favorite. I hoard them, and buy my own. We’re at a nonprofit and I don’t know that we’ve ever bought pens for the staff. It’s a dog eat dog world for writers out there.

        1. Windchime*

          I like the Ink Joy gel pens, too. I was feeling sorry for myself awhile back and found a huge package of them at Staples with all the colors. So now I have them everywhere!

      2. Honeybee*

        The 700RT ballpoints with the white exteriors are my favorite. And yes, I use InkJoy for the same reason you do – they write smoothly from the first mark every time, and they never skip. Also, they are comfortable to hold.

    8. Red*

      I love Pilot G2 0.7mm pens in black. I am not in charge of ordering pens, and I’m not sure who is as we never seem to have any, so I just hoard them as they appear in my life. In a pinch, I brought one from home, but I don’t mind doing that at all. Work had serviceable blue Bics, I just hate those, so I brought my own.

      1. littlemoose*

        Seconded! Those are my favorites. My office doesn’t stock them, but I buy them and bring them in for myself.

        1. Red*

          My favorite coworker does, too! She actually picks on me for steadfastly refusing to use blue pens, but that’s another story!

      2. periwinkle*

        Thirded! Or fifthed? Love Pilot G2s, although my pen of choice is the 0.38 version since my handwriting is tiny and looks blobby with even a normal fine-tip size.

    9. Boris*

      I just pay for my own pens – it’s easier. I use fountain pens almost exclusively (including glittery inks!) and so just keep a good stock of cheap biros around for my light-fingered colleagues! I like writing, I like the sensory pleasure of writing with proper ink and so it’s worth it for me to spend my own money on office supplies.

      1. the.kat*

        Ack! A person after my own heart. I buy cheap fountain pens because I have a tendency to lose them, but there’s just something about the nice scratch, scratch of a fountain pen.

      2. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Yes to fountain pens! I use a nice enough one that is distinctive and guaranteed unstealable. It’s so satisfying to write with.

        1. LavaLamp*

          I enjoy fountain pens, but after someone went to use one of them and broke it and didn’t tell me, I don’t keep them at work. Seriously, I opened the pen and had black. Ink. Everywhere.

          Thusly, it’s Pilot g2 .7 or a Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine.

      3. Aurion*

        Yup! I use a Levenger L-tech 3.0 at work inked with Lamy blue. It’s a thicker line than I would like, but the thickness and the blue makes it pop out against anything I’m writing on.

        At home (not that I write much at home), I write Pilot Metropolitans in Fine (which is like an extra fine).

        I think Mike C. keeps like 6 fountain pens in work rotation. Mike?

        1. Mike C.*

          Oh yeah. Pilot Metros are the “free bag of crack” of the FP world – they’re around $15, look and feel much more expensive, fits lots of different hands and come in a ton of colors.

          I was able to grab a Pilot VP for around 70% off retail on Amazon a while back (blue with gold trim) and that pen is an absolute treat to use. Also, my coworkers haven’t killed me yet for the clicking sound it makes. :D

      4. FiveWheels*

        Boris, any favourite inks? I love Private Reserve Electric DC Blue, and I’m on the lookout for other sheening or glittering inks.

        1. Mike C.*

          I’ve had a lot of luck with the J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary ink series if you’re looking for glittery inks. I’m also a fan of the Noodler’s brand – just be aware that for him it’s sometimes a form of political activism and that he fills the bottles RIGHT UP TO THE TOP.

        2. Dangerfield*

          I also love the J Herbin anniversary inks – Emerald of Chivor is beautiful. The Diamine Shimmertastic range is a lot of fun too. I’ve got Brandy Dazzle, Moon Dust and Shimmering Seas in pens at the moment and they’re beautiful.

      5. Callietwo*

        I’m a fairly new convert to fountain pens- I started with the Pilot varsity, bought a Pilot Metro Pop Retro (not bad) then added a Lamy Safari (fine point tip still seems thick to me). Then I bought a Bexley Imperial. I.am.in.love.

        What inks do you prefer? Glittery ink for my pens??? I prefer the fine point tips, will this ink work?

        1. Mike C.*

          I think you’ll have better luck with a wider nib for the glittery inks. Luckily those are really inexpensive for a Lamy.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          Untrue! I use Lamy ink with a medium nib and it actually rubs off on my hand less than the typical ballpoint. (For that matter, I get more ink on my hands refilling my cartridge than when I write…) Play around with inks and I bet you’ll find a fast-drying one that works for you.

        2. NotVerySinisterLefty*

          I am a left-handed fountain pen user, and I’m here to say it can work. Narrower nibs help (I have small handwriting so I’d use those anyway), and there are dryer inks that can be used. Favorite ink – Diamine Ancient Copper. SO nice. I’d recommend checking out Goulet Pen’s YouTube channel, they have videos galore on subjects like this.

        3. Mags*

          Echoing the others. You just need to use a faster drying ink, and you will be absolutely fine using fountain pens.

        4. Mike C.*

          The guy who makes Noodlers got pissed off at the Federal Bank’s policy of quantitative easing, so he made a few quick drying inks named after Ben Bernake in protest.

      6. Mags*

        Same here. On rare occasions I will use a nice Japanese gel pen. But I have dozens of fountain pens I rotate between. It’s very much worth the expense to avoid the headache of terrible office ballpoints!

    10. Manders*

      This is weird, but I can’t write legibly with anything but Sharpie fine-tipped pens. I’ve tried just about every other type of pen and everything ends up as an inky, messy scrawl. When I work in offices that have one standard type of pen they order in bulk, I bring my own Sharpies from home.

      The only other writing implement I can use and still produce legible writing is a mechanical pencil. I think it has something to do with the size and weight of the writing implement + the amount of pressure you have to apply to write, something even slightly off is just no good for me.

    11. Jessie*

      Pentel EnerGel with liquid gel. Work pays for them. I get red and blue. (I’m left-handed so I usually can’t use wet ink pens or I get ridiculous smudges – these pens are smooth and glide similar to wet ink pens but the gel ink does not smudge. Win!)

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yes! The Pentel EngerGel Needle Tip 0.5 is my absolute favorite. Comfortable to hold and quick drying.

        My work pays for them.

      2. Hlyssande*

        Oooh, thanks for the tip!

        I’ve got purple Pentel RSVP RT’s at work right now, but I’ll try the EnerGel the next time I buy pens.

    12. tink*

      I love the new Papermate InkJoy pens. They write incredibly smoothly, come in great colors, are extremely affordable, and have a comfortable-to-hold triangular body. I’ve had a few people ask me about them when I’ve used one to sign paperwork, etc. while out in public.

    13. HRStella*

      PaperMate Ink Joy Gel 0.7. It’s a nice visible ink with a good line thickness and it’s a fast drying gel pen. It’s wonderful if you can swing the expense. I, unfortunately, have to buy my own, but it’s totally worth it.

    14. MsCHX*

      We’re a small company with a tight fist. I don’t find it to be a bad thing because we are paid REALLY well and have good benefits. So what’s available in the supply room is what’s available. At some point someone decided Zebra gel pens were “it”. We get them in blue, black and red. They bleed like crazy.

      Because I have an office I buy nice pens as they’re less likely to go walking. I like the Papermate gel pens because they don’t run/bleed.

      1. WellRed*

        We are a small company getting really tightfisted. I have a regular monthly task that I need to use mechanical pencils for. We have gone from boxes of the papermate ones to staples brand and the erasers make a huge black mess. I finally complained to the office manager. Her solution? I can use the big gun eraser on her desk. I’m going to have to buy my own.

        1. miki*

          I highly recommend Pentel Hi-Polymer eraser. (I use mechanical pencil 0.9 mm). You can buy it for $0.52 at Officesupply . com or a pack of 4 for $1.47 at Target.

        2. Lore*

          Weirdly, the corporate Staples catalog seems to have ceased to stock the PaperMate mechanical pencils that I rely on. I still have a couple and I guard them with my life, but I’ve been forced to order some Pentels as backups.

        1. Ninja*

          Muji pens are the best. I have a lot of them in different colours. No mess, no running, and a lovely fine point.

    15. I order the pens...*

      Finding a pen everyone likes that is QA acceptable is a pain so I keep 3-4 varieties in the supply closet.

      “Special” orders taken within reason for folks not involved in product documentation. A box of a dozen pens for less than$15 is reasonable and lasts 1 person more than a year if they keep track of them.

      Nope, order your own:
      -High priced single pens (even with refills)
      -Intended use is for anything other than company purposes

    16. Q*

      We have to supply our own pens so everyone buys their own. Most people only keep the one pen they are using on their desk so there is not a problem with pens going missing.

    17. Sibley*

      Please, please don’t regularly have sparkly gel pens at the office. Gel pen – fine. Sparkly – no.

      Unless of course your office culture is really ok with it, but in every office I’ve worked in, you’d be considered immature. Even if you’re not.

      1. the.kat*

        Thanks for you thoughts on this. I am careful to use my most juvenile pens when I’m alone in my office working on things that will have to be rewritten/typed before anyone else sees it. No one gets things from me written in sparkly gel pens.

      2. Callietwo*

        :) Our office culture is that we bring out the coloring pages and pens/pencils for staff meetings and the shinier and glittery the better. We have to buy our own of course, because we’re a state govt office and anything beyond the very basic pen is not on the allowed list for purchasing. Not joining in means you’re a stick in the mud (we have a couple) but it’s fine.

        Supposedly, studies have shown that people that doodle and draw in color retain more information, so it was the powers that be that started providing printed designs to color during trainings and we just took it further.

    18. Trout 'Waver*

      I have noticed a positive correlation between people who have strong opinions about pens and people who excel at their jobs. So go ahead and unapologetically order what you want.

      1. Callietwo*

        :) I am enamored with pens & markers of all stripes- I have a huge box at home for all my different pens and in looking at my desk, I currently have 5 cups scattered on my desk counter. There is one cup which my clients can reach which are filled with generic stick pens.

        My favorites really depend but for general writing, I prefer my fountain pens as I mentioned above. I like the Frixon erasable pens, highlighters and markers a lot too. These babies are amazing and I love the colors. I use these in my bullet journal. Others I like for my journal are Sarasa, G2, staedtler, sharpie, muji, tombow, inkjoy, Faber-Castell, Le Pen, Pigma Micron, Zebra, Uniball. Really depends on what look I want for whatever I’m doing at the time.

    19. JustaTech*

      Uni-Ball Power Tank RT. I need a substantial, reliable water-resistant pen for writing in the lab and these are my favorite. In the lab it’s got to be ball-point ink (liquid ink runs way too easily) and it’s got to be black. I had our lab manager order me a box back when everyone was allowed to ask for specific pens and it hasn’t run out yet!

    20. If My Cat Were a Human*

      Uniball Jetstream. As a lefty, I need something quick-drying or otherwise everything smudges and gets all over my hand. Love, love, love this pen. My office lets me order my own supplies, so I have a box of them all to myself.

      1. Danae*

        The Jetstreams are my favorite! Perfect for lefties and people who get hand cramps while writing. (Also expensive.)

        I haven’t worked for a company that provides office supplies in years, so I buy all of my own pens. If I’m going to spend my own money on pens, I’m going to get the ones -I- like.

      2. Salyan*

        Yes! I worked in an office supply store for a season, and came out loving these as well. I purchase supplies at my current job, so I’ll order these for myself on the company bill – but I guard them jealously. I have been known to chase my pen down when it disappears, and my current one is labeled with ‘Salyan’s Pen’.

    21. AngtheSA*

      I love Uniball Signo, the multi colored pack. My company paid for them (i think it cost them about 15.00 for 10 pens. . I love them!!!!

    22. Applesauced*

      I love super fine point pens – like .4 mm. My favorite is Uniball Signo micro point, but they only make the micro in basic colors, so I have Muji’s .38 for variety.

    23. FiveWheels*

      Fountain pens at home, only, I won’t use anything else if I can help it because of hand pain.

      At work I use a V5 rollerball and it’s amazing how much more comfortable it’s made me. I might start using fountain pens at work too.

      I have several fountain pens, but the two which are most comfortable for long periods are the Lamy Safari and Platinum Preppy. Both cheap, but very very light.

      1. FiveWheels*

        Oh and I buy them myself – I could argue I need special pens for medical reasons, but there would probably be a full on riot if Special Pen Privileges became known.

        1. Mike C.*

          I would love for a company to buy a bottle or two of ink for company use. That would seem reasonable if you worked somewhere with quirky benefits.

          1. FiveWheels*

            I can only imagine the chaos, there would be someone who left a mess, or contaminated the ink, or left the top off so it dried out, or stuck the top on.

            And I can already hear the cries of “FiveWheels, can you fix my nib?” SHUDDER!

              1. Aurion*

                No one touches my inkwell at work. Well, except for that time I just put lotion on my hands and realized that I needed to refill my pen. Then my coworkers can open the bottle for me.

                Otherwise? Mine, all mine! ;D

    24. Mike C.*

      YES FOUNTAIN PENS! :D

      I’m currently packing a TWSBI 540, TWSBI 700 (Blue) and a Pilot VP (Blue/Gold trim). What are you currently using?

      1. the.kat*

        I’m new to fountain pens, so I don’t have a ton, but I’ve gone through two batches of the Platinum Preppy in various colors and am looking for where to go next.

        1. NotVerySinisterLefty*

          Allow me to suggest a Lamy Safari or a Pilot Metropolitan – the Pilots come in many different colors/nib sizes (and Pilot nibs are generally very very good), while the Lamys have easily-swappable nibs, if you want to change at some point, and have a very distinctive look. Both are inexpensive and readily available on Amazon.

      2. Callietwo*

        I splurged (for me!) on a Bexley Imperial in Purple Haze with a gold plated stainless steel nib in fine point. It is amazing!

        But I need to find inks, I am still pretty green on using refillable cartridges.

      3. CA Admin*

        I had a Lamy Studio until this time last year when you mentioned FPN. I have now fallen down the rabbit hole. So, thank you!

        Today I’m packing:
        Pelikan M215 F with Kyonoto Aonibi
        Sailor Sapporo Violet FM with Wancher Silk Road Violet
        Montblanc Mozart Doue M with Montblanc Irish Green
        Franklin-Christoph 45 Antique Glass MCI with Bung Box Omaezaki Sea
        Franklin-Christoph 45 Coco Pearl M Stub with Montblanc Irish Green
        Franklin-Christoph p40 Smoke & Ice F SIG with Diamine Blue-Black
        Pilot Metro M with Robert Oster Blue Denim

    25. Jane D'oh!*

      I prefer ultra fine, so I buy my own. My current favorite is the Pilot Hi-Tec-C gel pen in 0.4 mm.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Uni-Ball Eye for me, although I was a bit sceptical at first as I do a lot of minute taking and like a finger grip.

    26. Talvi*

      I have a profound love for the Pentel Slicci pens. They’re super smooth to write with, and fine-tipped (0.4mm or 0.25mm, which is the best thing ever), which means my handwriting is actually legible and not indistinct blobs of ink!

      1. Photoshop Til I Drop*

        Using the Slicci 0.25 right now and loving it. A lot of pens this size start to rip the page, but the nib on the Slicci is smooth as butter.

    27. Gene*

      uni-ball Vision Elite in Blue/Black

      Work buys them for me by the box. One usually lasts me about a month, so a box is good for a year.

      1. Gene*

        Oh yeah, I also carry a Sharpie Ultra-fine point for things that have to be absolutely waterproof rather than water resistant. Work buys those by the case, not the box. There are lots of things in the lab and plant that need to be waterproof.

    28. LCL*

      Zebra Z-grip max. Available in red, blue, and black. Fat pen, and retractable. This is the kind I order for the office also. The office pays. If someone wants something totally different we will order them a box of whatever, but they have to do the work of looking online at the vendor catalog and snd me the info. There is always the deviant in every group that prefers gel pens or extra fine (shudder).

    29. SophieChotek*

      I love uni-ball gel pens (the waterproof and airplane proof kind).
      I also like the Pilot G2 0.7 quite a bit.

    30. Chaordic One*

      For everyday use I like the PaperMate WriteBros. Medium 1.0 mm with blue ink.

      But there are some tasks that can only really be done with a Sharpie Ultra Fine Point, especially the ones with red ink, but the black is great, too.

      My office does supply us with Ultra Fine Point Sharpies so I bring them from home. When I was let go from Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd., I made sure that I took all my Sharpies with me.

    31. Honeybee*

      My company provides pens along with other office equipment, but I don’t really like theirs so much. I supplement with my own pens that I buy with my own money. I buy Bic Atlantis or Paper Mate Inkjoy pens.

    32. DArcy*

      I use a Lamy Safari fountain pen, paired with quick drying ink since I work outdoors in a city that tends to be rainy.

  10. New Girl*

    So this week, a man in the office suite next to my company’s put on so much cologne that it could be smelled on our entire floor! I ended up leaving work early because I had such a bad headache and was getting dizzy. I really felt for his coworkers.

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      A coworker in the cube next to me does this at the end of the day for his train ride home! Smothers the entire office in smell. I’ve placed a small fan on my cube wall to create a breeze that goes over my head and keeps the air moving in his direction instead of toward me. Helps a little….

      1. Phoebe*

        Why would he put on so much cologne before getting into a crowded, enclosed area like a train car? Is he trying to mask the smell of other passengers? Or just trying to get people to leave the car so he can have a seat?

        1. Sydney Bristow*

          I was on a really crowded subway this week and the woman sitting in front of me pulled out a bottle of something scented and sprayed it into her hands several times then rubbed it on her face. At first I thought it wasn’t scented…then was basically slapped in the face with the scent. There was nowhere to escape to! Luckily I don’t really have a bad reaction to fragrance but I’m sure others in my subway car did.

        2. BRR*

          In the summer I noticed a lot of people smelled on the train home. I think walking in the heat in business wear just didn’t work. So maybe he’s trying to combat that. It’s just not effective.

          1. FiveWheels*

            Yeah, for the most part I’d rather smell reasonably fresh sweat, than sweat AND something to cover it up.

      2. DG's gal*

        Is this something you could talk to your boss or HR about? Fragrances are banned in all our offices, and it’s in the handbook as well. I’m one of those unfortunate people with fragrance allergies and I’m thrilled with this rule.

        1. Jean*

          Can we connect offline? I would love to see that page from your workplace handbook (unless it’s propietary!). I don’t have time right now to set up an anonymous email address but I can come back much much later today (e.g. around 10 pm) with that information.

          1. DG's gal*

            It’s under the “Grooming Guidelines” and just says “Use of cologne, perfume, perfumed products (hand/body lotion, etc.), or after-shave is discouraged and if worn, should be minimal and not noticeable by others.” We have had a couple of repeat offenders here in our office though. However, one gal with the allergy had to go home sick because of someone ignoring this rule, their boss got HR involved, so it hasn’t happened again.

        2. New Girl*

          He doesn’t work with me. His company’s office is next to my company’s office. That’s what makes it even worse!

    2. AshK434*

      That’s the worst! People in my office spray so much perfume that they leave a scent trail wherever they go that lingers. That in combination with the crab cakes people heat up for breakfast leave me with a headache all day everyday.

      1. Coalea*

        I love me some crab cakes, but for breakfast? And reheated at work? No and hell no! I’m sorry you have to deal with that!

    3. Artemesia*

      We had a visiting colleague from the middle east who drenched himself in absolutely foul smelling cologne and the whole floor was saturated. I just didn’t feel I could approach him about it as a woman without any sort of management roll vis a vis him and asked the guy who sponsored him to take care of it. He wouldn’t do it for fear of hurting his feelings and because he felt cologne use was a cultural thing, so for 4 months I had to hide in my office with door shut or have a crashing headache. I feel for people who don’t have those offices to hide in. Most colognes for men really bother me unless they are used so sparingly that they are only noticeable up close and guys seem somewhat more likely to overdo it. This is something management should deal with and use whatever excuses they wish e.g. we have colleagues who have chemical sensitivities, or have allergies, or whatever.

    4. Purest Green*

      Ugh! I totally sympathize. A security guard and her scent aura came into my office a few weeks ago looking for someone who called for an unlock. Rather than leaving when she realized it had nothing to do with me, she stood there chatting on her walkie talkie, further miring her perfume into my office. I had to set up a fan and open the window to get rid of it before my sinuses exploded.

    5. DragoCucina*

      Is it an isolated incident or a pattern? I’ve had it happen where I tried a new cologne and it reacted oddly with my body chemistry. The scent wasn’t bad, just much more powerful than the norm. I had someone who unknowingly had a leak in her handbag from a small sample and it smelled. Probably didn’t happen with this person, but unless it’s a more than once problem I wouldn’t say anything.

    6. Bob Barker*

      I had this happen to me too — except it was my boss. with Axe Body Spray. In his office.

      I discovered his new habit by exclaiming in my own space, loudly, “Augh, what is THAT SMELL.” He promptly emerges from his office, smelling like THAT SMELL and does not say a word to me.

      For the record: Axe Body Spray smells like a mixture of acetone, fried electrical wiring, and sadness. In my defense, except for the sadness, those smells usually do indicate a reason to evacuate the building, so I was just being safety-conscious!

      1. LavaLamp*

        A coworker and I were just talking about our scent sensitivities the other day. All I can generally smell in most scents it’s formaldehyde; thusly I’m reminded of my experience seeing a medical cadaver. Not fun.

        1. Windchime*

          Most scents smell like bug spray to me. I always thought I was the only one! Once in awhile I’ll smell something good, but generally I can’t tell them apart. Sometimes they will actually trigger an asthma attack.

      2. Blueismyfavorite*

        I didn’t know adult men wore Axe. I thought only foolish teenage boys were attracted to that horrible stuff!

  11. TMA*

    I’ve started doing some freelance work, should that go on my resume and LinkedIn?

    Also, I started a website (it’s a blog, but it goes beyond, “Look at pictures of my family at Disneyland), should that go on my resume and LinkedIn?

    Are resumes and LinkedIn reserved for purely professional experience?

    1. Anna*

      Well, freelancing is professional if you’re being paid to provide a service you have knowledge of and can do skillfully.

      The blog you might not put on as “professional” because it’s not something you’re doing as work, is it?

    2. Red lines with wine*

      Freelancing *is* professional experience, so yes! Include your blog if it’s related to your industry.

    3. JLK in the ATX*

      I put a short 4-mos freelance gig on my resume and LinkedIn.

      I’m unemployed and while the work is not completely consistent with what I do, as a profession, I wanted to show that I was able to put myself out there (while unemployed) and is hireable, even for a short gig (that was product market research and I’m in non-profit, in data/stats/research)

      If the website is about you and your professiona, yes put it on your LinkedIn. Does it represent your graphic design, website development skills? If that’s the industry you’re in, sure. If it’s a hobby website, probably not.

      I treat my LI as an enhancement to my resume. It doesn’t read exactly the same as my resume. Some people misuse LI for personal (meme’s, family updates, personal rants) but I don’t. LI is only for professional development, whether creating your own brand, being a subject matter expert, or just wanting to be in the professional scene. Keep is business, not pleasure.

    4. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Freelance work yes
      blog – not unless is it is specific to your profession (such as a History of Teapots)

      1. Kimberlee Esq.*

        Eh, I would say that blogs are fine for LinkedIn if you feel they present a good picture of yourself. Probably not resume, but LinkedIn doesn’t have space issues, and a quick thing about a blog seems fine to me.

    5. Anon13*

      I agree with others, definitely include the freelance work, only include the blog if it is relevant, either because the content is relevant (i.e. the history of teapots example) or because the position you’re applying for involves blogging (and, even them, make sure it’s clear why you’re including it).

    6. Kate*

      I think the balance for whether to add something to LinkedIn has to be “does this improve my professional standing”. For example, I work in the financial industry and I also love to craft and have an etsy shop that is doing well and do shows twice a year or so, but that does not go on my LinkedIn profile because it would not improve my professional standing if someone was considering me for a job. So for your blog, I think if it’s mostly about your freelancing, add it, but if it’s something a customer might read and come away with a less professional impression of you then leave it off LinkedIn.

      You can always share the information at a later point in your relationship. All my bosses* and coworkers that are interested know I have an etsy shop. But they also know that’s my hobby and that it won’t interfere with my work obligations.

      *it was disclosed to be sure there was no conflict of interest, but two of the three have asked about it as a “how’s that hobby going” thing since then.

      1. TootsNYC*

        yep–LinkedIn is all about marketing yourself. So if it doesn’t help convey the image you want to portray, you shouldn’t put it up.

        if it does, you should.

    7. katamia*

      Definitely put the freelance work on. I’d say don’t put your blog unless it’s either relevant to your field or you’re looking for work that would somehow involve blogging, though.

  12. Not a manager*

    If you are in charge of a project, but the people on your team are peers (and you are not a manager) is it ever appropriate to say something about a team member’s personal life interfering with their work life and with the project?

    1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

      As a fellow manager not a manager I would say no. I would bump it up to your supervisor that X person is struggling to achieve A, B, and C and let them determine cause or suggest actions.

      1. Not a manager*

        If this project was being overseen by my regular supervisor I would have no problem telling him. But this project is one that our executive management is overseeing, and they are several levels above me. I barely know them and our relationships are formal so I’m nervous about the thought of telling them.

        1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

          Ask your manager how to proceed. He may go to the execs for you or suggestion you speak to the other peers boss or any number of useful ways forward.

        2. MsCHX*

          +1 for still going to your manager about it. You are correct that you should not bring it to the “several levels above you” executive management.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      Yes, but I would talk to the manager about it. I’ve been in charge of training a coworker, and when her personal life issues started interfering with her job, I told our boss. I framed it like “I hate to bring this up, but I thought you should know…”

      1. Not a manager*

        If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get over the discomfort? (if there was any)

        These matters are very personal, and I’m uncomfortable thinking about how I know so much about this team member. If it wasn’t interfering with the project I would just ignore it.

        1. NW Mossy*

          The trick to getting past the discomfort is to focus less on the cause (the personal issues) and more on the impact (not meeting deadlines, failing to show up, poor quality deliverables, etc.). Your interest here is not to judge your peer or tell her to get her life right, but simply to tell her boss “Hey, Lucinda’s holding back the project because X, Y, and Z aren’t getting done. Can you help get her back on track?”

          1. SMT*

            Just seconding this: the issue isn’t her personal issues, it’s that X and Y aren’t being completed on time or up to standard.

            1. Not a manager*

              If the personal issues are actually coming into the workplace and creating problems, how should I frame that?

              (I appreciate everyone’s responses btw)

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                Give specific instances of the personal issues and the specific problems they created. “Ceresi had to unexpectedly spend an hour on the phone with her kids’ doctor, so she was unavailable for an important call from Client X.”

                Frame it as any other issue that is impacting your work. Like the copier being out of service, or deadline that you’re going to miss.

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  Sorry, that sounded colder than I intended. You want to be compassionate towards someone going through personal issues. But you want to frame it as a problem that’s affecting work that everyone would benefit from having solved. Don’t get emotionally involved.

                2. Not a manager*

                  I appreciate your replies. I know it’s what needs to be done. My hurdle is just how personal the things are. I know you are right. It’s just going to be difficult to think of it as another, more mundane issue.

              2. Mongoose*

                Is this a security/safety issue–as in individuals who are not employees/not related to your project showing up at your workplace and derailing things? If so then it’s not a project problem, it is about work place safety. You’d want to do whatever it is your company has put in place about how to handle those things and it’s your security/safety as well that needs to be considered. Talk to your manager, asap.

                If not to that degree, I’d still echo all other recommendations to focus on the project impact vs. personal impact when bringing it to their manager’s attention. I don’t recommend going into the specifics of the personal issues–when the manager meets with the employee to discuss performance, the personal stuff will usually come out to some degree, but that’s not your role.

                1. Not a manager*

                  With going into all the details; this team member had a relationship with someone else who works here in a different division. This other employee’s spouse also works for the same company, at a different location. My team member’s spouse found out and outed the relationship. Both spouses filed for divorce and both are also suing the person their spouse cheated with as well.

                  All of this has brought drama, time off to deal with legal issues and gossip. I don’t know how to bring this up without bringing up all the personal drama.

                2. starsaphire*

                  Ouch. I don’t envy you having to deal with this.

                  As far as the gossip part goes, anytime you run across it, please speak up and shut it down. Redirect the topic to work if it’s during work time; if it’s lunchroom chat, redirect to sports or the weather or whatever, but put a stop to it every time.

                  As far as the work issues, stick to the quantifiable facts. In cases like this, where the office is already talking about the situation, no one will need to ask *why* Desiree took four to six personal phone calls a day for the past week, or why Humphrey’s productivity is down by 23%.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  @ Not a Manager. I think you explained it very well here.

                  Remember you can’t tell a doc that your arm is broken WITHOUT saying that your arm is broken.

                  Honestly, your boss probably knows all this is going on and just wondering how much you will tolerate. Things that people think are so deeply personal, are usually something everyone knows anyway.

                  Just state the facts like you have here and then state how it is impacting your project. “Bob missed the last three deadlines and everyone had to scramble to cover.” or “Bob had 17 errors on his five page report and I had to have someone else redo it. Which took x hours and set us behind because blah, blah, blah.”

                  Remember it is not up to you to cover for other people who fail to carry their share of work.

        2. Lemon Zinger*

          Sorry for the late response. I waited for WEEKS before telling my boss because I wanted to see if my coworker’s behavior would improve. It didn’t; it got worse and made people uncomfortable, and she was making us look bad.

          I just reached BEC level and typed off the email once I’d had enough. I was really concerned about her fit on our small team, and I needed my boss to know to rectify the situation before Jane got comfortable.

    3. Future Analyst*

      Yes, but you don’t have to talk to them about whatever’s going on in their personal life: “Hi Fergus, I’ll need the TPS report by Friday at noon. Is that possible?” and if that’s not happening, “Hi Fergus, as discussed, I needed the TPS report by Friday at noon, and I didn’t receive it until Wednesday at 7. For this next week, do your foresee getting this to me by the deadline? If not, please let me know as soon as possible.”

      After that, it may be necessary to pull in Fergus’ manager/supervisor/whoever. But whatever’s happening in his personal life should not need to be addressed when discussing deadlines. Of course, if someone in his life just passed away and he’s having a rough time, or something similar, you could see if someone else could help ease his portion of the project, but again, I don’t know that you directly need to address what’s happening in his personal life– just address the work.

      1. Not a manager*

        The issue is that personal life is coming into work and interfering directly. So I can’t mention work without the personal coming into it.

        1. AMPG*

          Do you mean another person is coming into the office and interfering with their ability to work? That’s something you can still bring up as a work issue. Otherwise, focus on the outcomes, as others have stated. “Lucinda was dealing with a personal issue and so missed our last two team meetings, and now is behind on her deliverable.” Not, “Lucinda spent all morning on the phone with the principal of her kids’ school and so missed [blah blah blah].”

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Agreed with AMPG and DC.

              “We need you to put the phone down for a while and join us.”

              I am not sure why you keep saying this is coming into work, do you mean they are on the phone/computer arguing? Do you mean visitors are coming into your work area and arguing? Have threats been made?

              Any of these things need to be reported to your boss. I am not sure why you are hesitant to say something. It is not up to you to cover for other people’s choices. Start by saying, “I should have said something weeks ago, I thought the situation would die away but instead it has mushroomed out.”

    4. TootsNYC*

      Even as a manager, I wouldn’t say something about a team member’s personal life interfering.

      I -would- say something about their performance: “You are making mistakes” or “you are needing things repeated too many times” and maybe “you don’t seem to be absorbing the information you’re being given, and then work has to be repeated, and you don’t get started right away.”

      I wouldn’t mention their personal life at all. Nor would I speculate about the cause of their performance issue.

      I would simply say: “Here is the thing -related to work- that you are doing wrong, and I need you to do better.”

  13. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

    Losing My Hair!

    I am so stressed at work that my hair is falling out! I need help determining what my options are.

    I was promoted into a high stress senior position about a year ago. This is an individual contributore “subject matter expert” role and is the first of its kind in the company.

    The role has a lot of the same responsiblities as management, such as project managment, emergency coverage, process documentation and ownership, responsible for compliance with applicable laws and company policies, training new employees on these processes, etc.

    My salary is fair for the role, I enjoy my bosses, love my coworkers, and find my work incredibly fulfilling ….

    The PTO is competely inadequate for how stressful the role is though! I desperately need more time off. Unfortunately for the next 3 years I will only get 15 days off, with 5 mandatory holidays that leaves only 10 sick days and vacation time!

    That’s not enough downtime in this new role. I made it work before my promotion, but I am now getting physically ill due to my stress levels. My hair is falling out, I get sick all the time, I’ve lost weight, and I am generally just not thriving.

    I want to negotiate more PTO, but I am not sure how to approach this. This role is new to the organization, so I think feedback that the PTO policy is not working for it could be well recieved, but I don’t know what I need to bring to the table to achieve this or if it’s even really feasible.

    Anyone out there have advice or ideas?

    1. Emi.*

      I don’t have good advice about negotiating PTO, but do you have an EAP that could help you manage stress apart from that? Also, hair loss is sometimes due to an iron deficiency, so you could try a supplement. I’m sorry I don’t have anything that addresses your actual problem. :(

    2. Dawn*

      That sounds tough! First, HUGS! Second, if you like your boss and have a good rapport with them, sit down and explain what you’ve said here- that you love the work, your co-workers, the company, etc, but that with this new role you absolutely need more downtime so you can continue to bring 100%. Then talk about what you think it would take to bring you back to not being crazy stressed: an assistant? More PTO? Work from home one day a week? Every other Friday off? Flex time? Longer lunches? Etc etc etc.

      Since this is a brand new role your company has zero idea of what the day to day in this role looks like, so YOU can absolutely set that bar wherever you’d like! Be prepared to hear that company HR wouldn’t want to give out more PTO (for whatever stupid reason HR ever does stuff like that) so come up with a few backup plans that might work for you. Example of a backup plan: OK you’re going to take the week off between Xmas and New Year’s unpaid because you NEED a long break right now, and then starting next year you can have as much flex time as you like, so you can schedule regular de-stressing things during the week like massages, fitness classes, meditation time, long lunches, whatever.

    3. Cube Ninja*

      5 mandatory holidays (I assume these are company holidays, not statutory ones) and you’re required to use PTO for them? That’s absurd on the face of it. If mandatory, PTO shouldn’t be required – the company should simply offer those as paid days.

      That said, 15 days’ combined PTO for a senior leadership position is still very … stingy. I think a basic starting point would be “I’d like to see if it’s possible to revisit the PTO allowance for this position. As it stands, after the mandatory days I’m required to use PTO for, I’m only left with only 10 discretionary days for time away from work or unexpected illness. That makes it almost impossible to take meaningful amounts of time away from work to recharge, since I feel like I need to reserve most of my PTO in case I get sick.”

      From there, I’d do some research on what market comparable rates would be for similar roles and see how that stacks up. In my org for example, at a manger level, we have 10 paid holidays per year and get ~20 days’ combined PTO. Directors+ get an additional week or so of PTO.

      1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

        Our leadership gets similar levels, but I am actually not on that “tier” since I do not have direct reports despite having several other management responsibilities. I get the same PTO package as every non-leader in the organization, the individual contributor package.

    4. H.C.*

      Eeek – 10 days PTO for sick & vacation sounds brutal. I would try the options Dawn suggested – flextime, work from home, etc. Failing that, you might have to “buy” your own time off (saving enough to make up for unpaid days – after you exhausted your PTOs) and negotiate enough of a raise next time around to help compensate for that.

      Also agree with Dawn on using your time off on whatever stress-reducing self-care that works best for you, be it yoga, meditation, going to a spa, weekend roadtrip, etc.

      Good luck!

    5. CMT*

      Is there a way you could frame it as asking for comp time? Like, if you have a few weeks where you’re working late every day, you get some amount comp time to use in addition to your regular PTO.

    6. Blueismyfavorite*

      Hair loss is sometimes related to low thyroid function, which can also make you feel tired and cold with dry skin and cause you to get sick more often.

      1. Diluted_Tortoiseshell*

        Yeah. Thyroid problems run in my family. It’s the only thing they didn’t check when I was going into the doctor for this stuff. My yearly with thyroid check up is in Feb so I plan to just wait to test it until then since I have no time off and am super stressed at the idea of trying to make yet another doctor appointment.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Thyroid problems can be tied to long periods of stress.

          First make sure this is a job you want.

          Try to get yourself more PTO if you can. Maybe you can delegate out some responsibilities, or maybe you can get some assistance.

          When it comes to work problems themselves, look for new ways of handling recurring problems. Try to reduce the stress of the job itself. I say recurring problems because things that happen once are not always foreseeable nor preventable.

          But build a personal plan for rest/hydration/healthy meals to help you with the long haul.

    7. Troutwaxer*

      I do a lot of overtime, and sometimes I forget to make good use of my commute time for stress relief. This means I make it a point to turn off the news (and traffic) station, turn on either rock or classical depending on whether I need to vent or recharge, and sometimes call someone on the phone (using a bluetooth device) so I don’t start feeling isolated. I also know people who listen to audiobooks for the same purpose, and I understand that you can also get old-time radio dramas formatted for various audio devices.

      If you’re currently a user of traffic radio, the Waze app is a smartphone app which will give you the best route and navigate you around accidents. The people I know who use it are all very, very satisfied. Using it will free up your listening time in the car and make you able to use car time for stress relief.

      You might also benefit from scheduling some stress-relief activities. Obviously you have raised the stress level of your job, but have you raised your stress-relief game by actively engaging in a stress-relief activity? Even when I’m working lots of O.T. I make sure I make it to the weekly Dungeons and Dragons game, because the stress relief is worth the extra time. (Cleaving Orcs in twain with my broad-axe does wonders for my tension levels.) When Dungeons and Dragons is not available, spending fifteen minutes with a shoot-em-up game has a similar effect.

      One of the things I also benefited from recently is figuring out how to take the pain out of a very stressful physical job I do. The job involved doing some very tricky, fine work which I could not see, underneath a big monitor hanging off a wall, all while standing on a ladder. And I hated these jobs. I hated them SO MUCH! Then one day I figured out that I could bring a couple of six-inch pieces of wood to work and use them to prop up the bottoms of monitors, which hang on a sort of hinge, and then I could see the job, and I didn’t hurt myself, and all the stress went away. Blissfully. Beautifully.

      Are there tasks you can revise so they are less stressful?

    8. IowaGirl*

      I have a very similar job. If you can’t get more PTO, can you arrange to work from home a couple days a week? I find my stress levels to be much lower when I am able to reduce time in the office. Some tasks (documentation) just go better when I’m not sitting under fluorescent lights with random people stopping to ask me questions every 7 minutes. Plus, I find it easier to keep an emotional distance when I’m not physically there. Good luck and Go get your thyroid checked now!

  14. Audiophile*

    Happy Friday! So glad next week is a short week!

    Had an interview this week, which I was late to despite planning, because of the torrential downpour delaying the trains. I think I was able to salvage it though.

    Got rejected for the job I interviewed for last week but, considering the commute I would have had, I’m ok with that.

    Can’t believe it’s almost December.

      1. Audiophile*

        Thanks, I had a phone interview today too. I’d definitely be interested in that moving forward to an in-person interview, but we’ll see.

    1. Terrible Tunnels*

      If they are reasonable, the company you interviewed with should understand. I don’t know what I would do if my team didn’t understand that my commute can vary from 1 and a half to 3 hours door to door. Gotta love public transportation into NYC!

      Props on salvaging the interview, hope all goes well!

      1. Audiophile*

        Yeah this was Metro-North that was delayed and I was interviewing down on Wall St. I was pretty late and had them spring a writing assignment on me, as part of the paper application I filled out. I rushed through it, because I was so concerned with being late and when I was speaking with the first person, they asked about my writing experience. I pulled out writing samples and she remarked about the difference, so I acknowledged rushing and why.

        I won’t be too bummed if it doesn’t work out. But I definitely need to leave my current job and I was hoping I would have done it by now.

  15. Grand Canyon Jen*

    I work for a school district. Today they announced the “Educator of the Month.” The winner is an elementary school teacher. The second sentence in the e-mail singing her praises read, “Hazel works when she is sick.” I believe the underlying message there is “and if you want to be a good employee, you should too.” Ugh.

    1. Anna*

      Too bad you can’t reply, “Hazel works with children and I’m sure if the parents of her students knew she worked while sick, they’d be pretty upset since sick children can really screw with your schedule! Congratulations Hazel!”

    2. AnyPenny*

      That promotes a terrible work mentality and as a parent also ticks me off. It is one thing for my kids to catch an illness from another kid; it can’t always be helped. However, it is something else entirely for my kids to catch an illness from an teacher who knowingly and willingly exposed them to it.

      1. Xarcady*

        Oh, from the school administration’s point of view, it’s great. No having to scramble to find a substitute teacher, not having to pay a substitute.

        And then a bunch of kids get sick and stay home, meaning less work for the other teachers.

        (Please note I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to go to work sick.)

        1. Rob Lowe can't read*

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure my administration would do the same thing. It is damn near impossible to get subs in our district (we’re huge – over 100 schools), but the sub coverage is nowhere near adequate, and they’re expensive besides. We actually have about 10% of our staff on maternity leave right now and it’s wreaking havoc, because all the aides who they might pull to sub in a pinch are covering long-term leaves.

        2. Renee*

          Except that I got static today from the attendance clerk at my kid’s school because this is the fourth day I’ve kept them home. She says they want a doctor’s note. I told her that’s not going to happen because I’m not taking my kid to the doctor for a cold. It turns out that the schools in our district lose $45 in funding for each day the kid isn’t in school. So they’re actively discouraging parents from calling their kids out. I guess they can’t look ahead enough to see that my sending my kid sick results in multiples of $45/day, instead of just the $45 for my kid. But they can go pack sand if they think that I’m (a) going to send my kid with rivers of snot down their face or (b) waste the doctor’s time with a cold.

            1. Renee*

              Nothing. They can’t do anything for not getting a note. They can refer me to the district for an inquiry if overall the absences seem excessive and then the district nurse can require a note for future absences, but the absences aren’t excessive overall. It’s perfectly reasonable that a cold will last more than three days. This seems to be one attendance clerk’s control issue. I looked and there’s no policy anywhere that requires a note based on the length of the absence, and there’s no authority for the clerk or the school to enforce such a policy. All they can do is refer us to the district for review, and I can’t imagine that would go anywhere. Our situation is not the type of situation they’re trying to intercept with the review process.

    3. MsCHX*

      I cannot stand that mentality. I’ve only had one coworker who was really bad about judging anyone who stayed home when sick. At the time I had two kids at home who were 1 and 3. She was single.

      Well lady I am sorry I can’t work and then go home and sleep/rest/relax when I am sick. I cannot function around the clock while I’m ill!

      Grr.

    4. Audiophile*

      Wow, that’s not something to praise. She’s coming in to work sick and she works with children?

      Just no.

      I worked with kids at one point and was chastised for missing many work days. I was getting sick because the kids were being sent to school sick (this school ran group homes up the street) and so I wasn’t going to continue the infection circle by coming into work sick.

    5. Purest Green*

      I was under the impression that many teachers work when sick because it’s easier than wrangling a sub and what not.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Also, sub plans. My sister has been known to drag herself to work sick because she didn’t have any sub plans ready and figured it’d be easier to just go to work than try to do it over the phone/email.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I remember a sub in HS who lectured our entire physics class about how horrible we all were and how we would never amount to anything. (Due to the weird way our class schedule worked, it was the longest class of the day due to how lunch breaks worked.)

          I feel reasonably confident that this was not in the teacher’s sub plans. (She was a laid-back wind surfer.) So, I think that the sub will find something to do with the students. We called it “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Sub.”

          1. Honeybee*

            Yeah, when I was in high school I could never tell whether the subs were executing plans that the teacher gave or whether they were just following their own agenda or a mix of both. I did have one recurring sub for French who was from a Francophone African country (Cote d’Ivoire, if I remember correctly), and he usually attempted to actually teach us French. It was cool because we got to learn French language from a country other than France and learned a bit about African Francophone culture, and we had him so often that my classmates eventually got over the ‘sub day is a free day!’ mentality and allowed him to teach.

            But I had subs from other classes who just put on a video and acted put out if we said a single word, and other subs that considered themselves a baby sitter for an hour and let us do whatever we wanted (chaos usually ensued, although I, being a nerd, usually ended up doing homework).

      2. blackcat*

        Hell yes.

        After my first year, I learned to have a documentary on hand for each unit. Then, BAM, instant plan for sudden sick days. Kids were happy, subs were happy, I was crankily behind, but could recover. My boss approved of this strategy, particularly since I taught subjects that no sub could reasonably teach (high school science classes). If something was really critical (say, review the week before an AP test), the general strategy was to get a coworker to use their prep period. This worked because my coworkers were awesome, and not overburdened. It would not work in most schools.

        But during my first year, I worked sick all the time, because I was perpetually sick. I got all the germs the kids had to share. By my third year, I didn’t get sick once. That first year was rough.

      3. Sami*

        Absolutely true. Sub plans are the WORST. Especially in elementary school. So many subjects to plan for. The worst!!

    6. MC*

      I don’t work in education but I was under the impression that the school gets state and federal funding when kids show up to school. The more kids that are out sick, the less funding. 1. Is that not the case? 2. If I’m right, wouldn’t it make more sense for one person to be replaced than risk having dozens of kids (because buses, siblings, drinking fountains pass on germs) out sick?

      If I’m right – this issue could be brought before the school board as a discussion on the more advantageous position.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Dunno how other states do it, but in Michigan, it’s not tracked on a daily basis–there’s two days every year, Count Day, and the number of students tallied on those days are used to determine funding. (I think absent students can be counted if they’re back in school within a certain number of days afterward.)

        1. deets*

          That’s how the main funding allocations work in a lot of states, but there is also incentive money tied to attendance, and schools can end up with extra oversight if there attendance rates are low. Many states don’t differentiate between excused or unexcused absences for that compliance area (since regardless of the reason, the kid isn’t in school and learning), and often there’s a binary indicator for whether a student is chronically absent – which means that a kid that misses just enough days to be chronic looks the same on paper as a kid that misses half the year.

          So, yes, count days are important for per-pupil funding, but overall attendance is also important.

    7. A Plain-Dealing Villain*

      You know who else went to work when sick: Typhoid Mary. Amazingly, we don’t seem to sing her praises.

    8. pandq*

      Not an educator, but when my son was in elementary school, he won an award for never having been absent (forget what the award was called.) Then, when he had the flu, he yelled and screamed he had to go to school so he could win the award again! Why promote that kind of crap? Poor kid, his mom took him out of the running for winning the award. :(

    9. Chaordic One*

      This is so sad. My mother worked as a substitute teacher and if it were up to her the “Educator of the Month” would be the teacher who left behind a lesson plan of what to do and what to teach. If you’re a teacher who can do that, you’ve really got a lot on the ball.

      Strangely enough, after a couple of years of subbing, my mother had a job substituting where the regular teacher she was filling in for died, so they hired my mother to take over and she taught in that school for 25 years.

    10. Anon Teacher*

      I’m a teacher in a speciality role, and there is no sub coverage for me. If I’m sick, other teachers take my class during their only planning period for a very small amount of pay. They hate this. Some teachers will refuse to do my lesson plans and give the kids free time because it’s easier. Or will tell the kids how mad they are about covering. So, yeah, I work sick all the time. If I don’t, my students lose learning days and my colleagues are verbally and vocally angry. Good times.

  16. not so super-visor*

    So I’ve mentioned a couple of times here that we use a lot of temps (through an agency). We also have a ton of turnover on the temp side. I think that a lot of this could be avoided if I was able to meet/interview the temps before they are placed with us, but currently, I am only able to review their application with the temp agency. This is per the agreement that we have with the agency who feels that they already interview the candidates and we should trust that they are sending me qualified applicants. I wish I could say that I do trust them. Most of the time, I can tell within my first few “tell me a little bit about yourself” conversations on their first day whether or not the temps are going to make it (think the scene in “Parks & Rec” when Ron is interviewing candidates for Tom’s job).
    The one thing that I’ve had to insist on (and won) was the temp agency having to run a background check on their employee before they place them with us. Boy, do they hate that. “It takes too long. The applicant’s loose interest.” Sorry if I seem insensitive about this, but after having 4 different temps pulled from us due to failing the background check (all of them pulled a month after they were placed here and well into training), I put my foot down on that one. I’ve also had to put a ban on applicants coming out of a specific high-churn call center (unless they have other experience) because none of the applicants out of that location would even make it a month… some of them not even a week.

    Anyway, here is my dilemna. Once again, we’re looking for a new temp after another temp found other employement elsewhere (all part of the deal and nothing to get bent out of shape over). The temp agency sent over an application today. It looks great. Then I happen to notice the applicant’s HS graduation date at the bottom which puts him at pushing 70. I immediately have an ageist thought: we’ve had older trainees before, and they’ve never worked out; I need to reject this applicant. The the other side of me freaks out and says “You can’t reject an applicant based on their age. That just WRONG. If he’s qualified, bring him in and let the training process sort him out.” The other side replies, “But it’s so draining on everyone to start training someone who you think from the beginning won’t work out.” Somebody talk me down here. I’m feeling like a grade-A jerk. I don’t want to discriminate against someone based on their age, but without getting to meet the person first, how do you know?

    1. Jessie*

      Uh, so I know you likely wouldn’t get caught here, but rejecting someone because of his age is also just flat-out illegal.

      Please do not do this.

      Listen to the side of you that says it is wrong! Give that side a big hug and buy it dinner later tonight. ;-)

    2. Gaara*

      Just meet them! Just because some older workers haven’t worked out in the past, that doesn’t mean this one won’t. I work with a real loser named Ramsey*; that doesn’t mean that all employees named Ramsey are going to be crappy employees.

      You need to interview them and consider their skills, personality fit, etc. Plus, you don’t want to do anything illegal.

    3. calonkat*

      If you’re doing that much business with the agency, they should have assigned you to one or two individuals to manage your account. If not, request someone. Meet with that person (people) and go over the things your are looking for and the problems you are having. If you have some specifics that THEY can use to prescreen, then that will increase the chances of getting people you want.

      And if (not that I am assuming you are doing this) the agency is feeling pressured to send bodies, then reassure them that you’d rather have quality (if that’s true). It is in their interest to find the people you want/need, but if the message they’ve gotten is “they chew people up and just need bodies to fill slots”, it sounds like that needs to be corrected.

      There’s likely more than one agency in your area, so they know you CAN look elsewhere.

    4. Viola Dace*

      You don’t. You are describing classic ageism, which is no different from any other kind of “ism”. Everyone who discriminates (in any way) always has a rationale i.e., our last few X candidates didn’t work out, so I don’t want to hire any more X candidates. Either accept that you are flat out discriminating based on age, or choose not to.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      Could you find another temp agency? Back in the day, I was with agencies that would send any warm body to jobs. If you managed to show up at the agency, they didn’t care what your skills were, they just sent you out on a job. No interview, no discussion of your work history.
      But then I found an agency that really, really focused on matching the right employee with the right company/job.

    6. NaoNao*

      Well, my first thought here is to take a step back and decide what *qualities* you want, regardless of age, coming from another call center, etc, that you need in a strong candidate.
      You might break them up into skills and traits.
      Skills would be things learned on the job and traits are things like “enjoys fast paced work” “outgoing, upbeat, and friendly”
      So for example:
      Successful candidates have the following traits:
      Flexible schedule
      Strong written and verbal communications skills
      Clear background check
      Ability to quickly learn new software/hardware
      Upbeat, friendly, and customer-focused attitude

      and so on.

      If a candidate is 70+ and still has these skills/traits/etc, great.
      Make it about the traits and skills you need rather than “this job/training/process is draining and no 70 year old will like this or be able to keep up”.

      Also, it is possible to do a “one day training” where the temps shadow a current employee and decide if it’s for them? Or a “3 day welcome training” that’s more like “Hey, here’s what this high-turnover job is REALLY about”

      My personal story:
      I used to work in a legal collections call center. And…
      I’m a college grad with a MA in English lit and a focus on linguistics.
      My previous jobs were in retail or customer service of some kind (nanny, tutor, etc).
      I am female (collections is extremely male dominated, almost laughably so).
      I had no call center or collections experience and was over 30.
      I answered the ad for skip tracing, not knowing it was really going to be cold calling debtors.
      I’m an introvert who is very sensitive and reserved.

      Within 3 months I was in the top 5 collectors every day. Within 6 months accounts that had been skip traced by me were considered “buttoned up” (as in, they were so well researched and documented they needed no further skip tracing, as none really could be done). I started training new hires. I was asked to do “talk offs” (that’s the deal negotiation part of the call) within 6 months, something no other non-manager did. I was the only female collector in the top 5 consistently, and the only female collector who was there for more than 6 months.

      I did it my way (in short, developed a portfolio of “little old lady” debtors who paid me 25-50$ a month for 6 months) and was very, very successful. The owner of the business confessed he took a chance on me since I didn’t present with the collector profile, but he asked me if I could work part time from home when I wound up moving and leaving the company–he really didn’t want to lose me!!
      Perhaps the over 70 set will become your new biggest “best kept secret”! Who knows!! :)

    7. Sunflower*

      Why are you convinced it won’t work out? We used to hire temps around this time. First year at my job we hired a 30ish year old and wow it was DRAMA from day one. Man the stories I have from that. Second year we hired an older woman about 65ish. She was awesome!

      Sidenote- are your expectations for temps realistic? How long are you expecting these temps to stay on? Remember a temp is just that- a temp. They are in this job because it’s easy to get out of it ASAP.

      1. Rachel*

        I’ve had several coworkers at different jobs who were in their 70s. They were generally great! As long as they can do the job, who cares how old they are?

        Also, for at least the last several years, whenever I’ve had a potential temp job, I always had to do at least a phone screen (and many times an in-person interview) with the client company before getting the assignment. I just thought that was the new normal.

    8. not so super-visor*

      Thanks everyone. I’ve already sent an email accepting the application. I just needed the push to listen to the second (clearly more rational) voice.

      1. Jessie*

        If you have any say with which temp agency you use, or if you are the point person for dealing with the agency, definitely see if you can meet with the agency and go over what you are looking for with your temp workers, though, since it sounds like you aren’t getting what you need! Or see if there is something about your job placement that makes it tough to keep people (maybe there is something specific about your job that makes it uniquely hard to fill in the world of temp work, that would be helpful for you to know? Or maybe your expectations aren’t realistic – i.e., your turnover for temps may be normal, or maybe what you pay them generally means you won’t be getting shining stars).

    9. MsCHX*

      If they are qualified, there shouldn’t be an issue.

      I am an HR Manager for a company whose average age is around 57. I have at least 7 people 65 and older. They work full-time and perform their job duties just fine.

    10. Althea*

      I think you need to tell the agency that you need to do interviews, or you are happy to find an agency that has no problem with it…

      I temped, and I interviewed at both places despite going through an agency.

      You need to not discriminate against this person. You are trying to do it because of the exhausting non-interview system, not because he is a bad candidate.

      1. zora*

        This. I have been temping through a few different agencies over the years, and about half of my placements included an interview with the client before starting.

        There are agencies who will listen to what you want and let you do interviews first. You are the client, it should be up to you.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Yeah, given the track record, I’d use that data to push harder about wanting to interview them yourself. Just flat-out refuse to do it any other way–use the leverage you have from being a steady customer. Also, start calling some other agencies to see what they will do for you.

        Another option is to restructure things so that someone works for you a little bit (a week?) before they actually start the training. Have tests or indicative tasks for them when they get there, and then decide you don’t want them. Essentially you’re paying for their time to “interview” them, but it’s probably less damaging overall.

    11. Xarcady*

      I cannot answer to this one person’s ability to do the job at your company, but I’m currently temping at a company that uses lots and lots of temps, both long-and-short-term.

      Some of the best temps here are retired and over 70. Some are over 80. If they are a match for the work, they do a great job.

      And some of the younger temps simply can’t handle the requirements of the work.

      The temp agency does have one person dedicated to staffing the temps at this company, and she does a great job of matching people to the right job.

    12. Rex*

      Other people have already weighed in on the age thing, but on the bigger picture, I would really suggest pushing back and asking for at least a quick phone screen before bringing people on. If they ask you to “trust them” you know have a track record of different expectations to point to.

    13. not so super-visor*

      You guys have brought up a lot of good points about the temp agency process. A lot of them, I’ve also brought up in the past, but I haven’t gotten a lot of traction.
      I’ve also temped at other companies in my past (but not for my current company. I am one of the few people that they direct hired and then promoted). I had to go to interviews for these positions. (One of them, I almost didn’t get after an awkward interview.) It boggles my mind that we can’t interview prospective temps especially since we have such a high turnover rate on temps (not on hired-in employees). I think it just boils down to the past supervisors not caring. The past supervisors where never promoted from within our department (I’m the first), and they had no hand in training temps or new employees. They would just assign them to an already existing employee to train. They didn’t even put together a training manual; it was on that employee to come up with any documents that they thought the temp might need. Then they would dismiss temps for the smallest errors or for having weird personality quirks (one could not pronounce the name of the city that one of our offices was in for the life of her). Now, it kind of surprises leadership that I’m so involved in trying to bring in quality applicants rather than just churning through a large quantity of temps before one sticks.

    14. Marisol*

      I have temped many times over the years and have had a bit of experience hiring temps as well. I have had phone interviews before starting a temp assignment when the client requested them (e.g. for a long-term temp assignment) and had no qualms about doing so. It is totally reasonable to expect to interview a temp beforehand–you are the client and should be able to set whatever parameters for employment that you chose. I don’t understand the constraints of your situation that would make it necessary to work with this temp agency, but they sound uncooperative and unprofessional. I would look for a different company if at all possible, and/or have a very serious talk with the one you’re using.

    15. FiveWheels*

      Eek. That older Tempsford haven’t worked out has nothing to do with whether this temp will work out.

      If he doesn’t fit, then he doesn’t fit AND he’s old. It’s absolutely 100% not that he doesn’t fit BECAUSE he’s old.

      I dunno about the legality, but IMO not properly considering someone because of their age is flat out wrong.

    16. BRR*

      I’m not really knowledgeable about how temping works but is it out of the norm to have a brief interview with someone? It sounds like you might be able to get a lot out of a short phone interview.

      1. Marisol*

        happens all the time in my industry. it should be whatever the client wants, the temp agency will do. your comment makes me wonder if the OP was only considering face-to-face interviews instead of phone interviews. i was assuming a phone interview and yes, even ten minutes can reveal a lot.

    17. Observer*

      but without getting to meet the person first, how do you know?

      Well, that’s the answer to your question. Without meeting someone you do not know whether they are going to work out or not. Period. And, really age has nothing to do with the issue.

      If you really are seeing a real pattern of age related issues, I’m going to bet that the problem is on your end.

    18. Mockingjay*

      My dad is 79 and runs his own business. He can pass for someone in his early 60s.

      Age is just a number.

      Think of the work ethic and the breadth of experience this applicant could bring! Give him a shot. Might be the best decision you ever make.

    19. I Heart Oregon*

      I work for a staffing agency. Note I said staffing, not temp. We mainly do temp-to-hire and shy away from a lot of temp work. We want the right placement for both client and candidate. Your situation is crazy-can’t believe the agency is bossing you around. Almost every one of our clients has a different preference for how we send people and we do whatever the CLIENT wants, we don’t tell them how to select candidates. For clerical positions, our clients always,always want to do an interview in person first. Some even want to do a phone screen before the interview. And they want the background check run and any issues disclosed (according to their acceptable criminal background criteria) before the candidate is even submitted to them. These processes are always clarified with the client during the signing of the contract with us. You should have other choices-there are lots of agencies around. I don’t know if this one was chosen because of the rate they charge being low, but for a little more you might get better service somewhere else.

    20. Girasol*

      I had a problem like that with an older fellow once. Then the next older fellow we got couldn’t even see his screen in the training class. Aargh! And when he got a bigger monitor it turned out that he was fantastic, best guy on the team, outshone the younger folks, made my life easier. I’ve got to remember that paying attention to my gut doesn’t apply when there’s any possibility of prejudice. I agree with others here, though, that you need to interview these folks whatever their ages. A good temp agency will encourage that.

    21. TootsNYC*

      My dad is 85 and has had major, major surgery; he still has a feeding tube because he can’t safely control how he swallows.

      He’s the top part-time associate his Home Depot has.

      So…

    22. Zip Silver*

      You might be ok, considering you’re not hiring them as an employee. Still a crappy thing to do, though.

  17. Temperance*

    I’ve been having a pretty shitty October/November this year in my personal life. I’ve been trying to keep it together at work, but I received some devastating news about a friend on Tuesday morning, and have been pretty miserable since then. I’m doing my job and acting as politely and professionally as I can, but I have no poker face and look miserable.

    How do you handle this?? I feel terrible, look terrible, and am just really sad.

      1. neverjaunty*

        It’s OK to be and look sad. Just let them know “yeah, some personal stuff; I’ll be fine but I’m just feeling a little down. Thanks for checking in though.” And then decline to elaborate if they push (most won’t).

      2. Althea*

        For me it’s best to bring it up so you don’t send signals that are misinterpreted.

        “I’ve had some personal things going on that are really getting me down.”
        “Oh, I’m sorry!”
        “It’s no problem, it’s just hard to talk about at work. How are you?/How’s that project coming along?”

        You can be more specific of course, but people will generally pick up on the subject change in addition to saying you don’t want to talk about it atwork.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Can you take some time off to mourn/heal/take care of yourself? Because that seems like the first best option I can think of.

      1. Temperance*

        I can’t – it’s the busiest time of the year in my industry, and I’m in a two-person department.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Then take care of yourself as best you can now – and let some personal things slide a bit if you have to. Get plenty of sleep and gentle exercise and eat well. And as soon as you can, take a few days off.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Allow extra time for everything. Let’s say Task A takes a half hour. Allot 45 minutes for it. Maybe grocery shopping takes an hour, tack on another 15 minutes. Pad your time all day long so you are not stressed out getting from one task/errand/whatever to the next task/errand/etc.

          Our bodies need three things to cope with stress, good food, plenty of water and extra rest. Try to hit one or more of these each day.

          Cry. Get up a few minutes early in the morning and allow yourself a cry time. Or allow yourself some cry time before bed. You know, I have gone through points in my life where if I had a good solid cry before bed, I slept better and I noticed the next day was not as tough. Remember crying causes chemical reactions in the brain that keep it healthy.

          Find people to talk about this stuff with. Maybe you don’t tell any one person the whole story but you can find people to tell parts of the story to. You found us, you can find more. Don’t let yourself fall into isolation. If church interests you, that might be a good idea. Perhaps there is a support group for people in your friend’s situation, may you would like to join a group like that.

    2. Sunflower*

      Is your work suffering or are you just worried about explaining your appearance/dealing with comments?

    3. SRB*

      Sending jedi hugs your way… I know that feeling too lately…

      If you have the money, talk to a therapist. Sometimes just talking about things out loud to someone – anyone – is really helpful. If you don’t have that option, maybe just try to get up every now and then in the workday and just say a passing hello to friendly coworkers, or make plans with friends outside of work. Nothing big, but it’s helpful to take small steps to get out there and think about all the things in the world that don’t suck right now. And while distraction isn’t a permanent solution, it can help to cut cycles of negative thinking for awhile. I prefer video games or TV shows for that.

      And don’t be afraid to take a “mental health” sick day if you really need to.

      1. Future Analyst*

        To piggy-back: if your company has an EAP, many will cover three visits to a counselor (or even programs that make therapists available via phone/online), so if that’s available, take advantage. Sorry things are rough right now. :(

    4. Merida May*

      Try to surround yourself with stuff you enjoy. I follow funny instagram accounts that show up in my feed. Is there a photo or object you can put at your desk that makes you smile? Make it appoint to take a five minute breather to grab a coffee/tea/hot chocolate/something. Plan to do a hobby or watch a show after work and keep that appointment with yourself. These are little things, but I’ve had moments where I felt like crying and a photo of a dog hanging out by a pool in a pair of giant sunglasses took some of the edge off.

      Also, for what it’s worth, you don’t have to present as totally fine if it isn’t in you. You mention you are getting your work done and acting professionally, you can give yourself permission to not be a ray of optimistic sunshine. Your feelings are a priority here, don’t feel like you have to act a certain way to make the people around you comfortable. If that stems from wanting to be left alone, ‘I’m ok, thanks for asking’ should curb casual inquiries if you’re not up for talking. Best of luck, I’m sorry you’re going through a rough patch.

    5. Lacie*

      Fellow no-poker face here! I find it helpful to tell worried/nosy coworkers a bland but honest version of what’s going on and how I’d like to deal with it– like, “My beloved pet unicorn died last night. I guess you’ve noticed that I’m pretty down, but I’d like to focus on work in order to take my mind off it.” In my experience, people are understanding and don’t push it further.

    6. Marisol*

      when you can safely do so, i.e., when you are home, then let all your misery OUT like a raging beast. Don’t try to “cheer yourself up.” Self care is great but shouldn’t be used to stifle your emotions. There’s an exercise devised by Regena Thomashauer called spring cleaning–find a friend and do the exercise with her: http://www.mamagenas.com/where-women-store-garbage/

      The more you can move through the energy of negative emotion, honoring it and actually experiencing it, the more it will clear and the easier it will be to show up at work in a better frame of mind.

      for the comments from coworkers, you can say something like, “thanks for your concern. I’m going through a rough patch right now, but it will work itself out in time” or something similarly non-committal. If they ask for more info and you don’t want to share, then say something like, “I appreciate that you want to help but I’d rather not talk about it” or, if you do want to share a bit about your experience, then do so–it depends on your relationship with the coworkers and the general office culture obviously.

      If you think they might offer any help or support, then you might come up with a list in advance of ways they could do that–carpool, cover your desk for a few mornings, recommend a good masseuse, etc. When people offer to help, they are usually sincere and enjoy helping.

      I *think* that addresses your question. Hope it helps. Sorry you’re having a bad time. :(

    7. zora*

      I don’t have any advice, but I am also struggling right now, so I’m sending commiseration and jedi hugs. I hope we both feel better soon.

    8. Drew*

      I’m very sorry to hear that you’re going through a rough patch. No real advice that hasn’t already been given. “I’m sorry, I just got some bad news about a friend and I’m trying not to let it affect what’s going on here. Thanks for understanding.”

  18. Folklorist*

    Hi everyone! This is your regular-ish ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!! What have you been putting off?

    I know there’s something you don’t want to do on your list that keeps magically being pushed back. GO DO IT! Then come back and tell us about it!

    You’ll feel better to have that monkey off your back. I, for one, will be catching up on the company Twitter feed and editing Classified ads (shudder).

    1. Emilia Bedelia*

      Ugh….. I’m going to combine 4 giant Excel spreadsheets into one. Do they map in a convenient way to one another? No, of course not :)

      1. New Person*

        Oh that was me earlier this week. A partner who is working with my partner stopped by and said “Oh youre New Person? Yeah I thought we could just put them together but “your partner” sent them to you”. I said that they didn’t exactly map and he goes “oh God no” and walks away

      2. HR Expat*

        They never do :( Is there a unique item on all the spreadsheets where you can use a vlookup to combine them?

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          That’s what the issue was- each spreadsheet lists different types of information for the same group of items, and I needed to put them all into the same spreadsheet so that 1 spreadsheet has all the information for all of the items. But of course, there are multiple lines for each item on each spreadsheet that needed to be combined, and dozens of columns for each item in each spreadsheet, so it’s just a monster in general.

          But more practice with Index/Match is never a bad thing. And now… IT’S DONE!

    2. Anonny non non me!*

      Job search! I’ve been tired. I try to narrow it down to 2-3 good fits a week (since I’m willing to relocate, this is a bit easier).

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Calling the state today regarding assessment letters. Always a pain and they are always wrong. States and taxes do not make Friday fun!

    4. Smiling Everyday*

      The boss wants us to re-organize the electronic filing system because it doesn’t make sense to him. Problem is is that is makes sense to the few who use it on a regular basis and his requested re-organization makes navigation harder.

    5. Temperance*

      I need to call a very unpleasant, mentally ill client to schedule something with her. Ughhhhhhhhhhh.

    6. Anonyby*

      Just filed away statements from transactions I closed out! :D They’ve been building up for a few weeks–I’d close them out but then not have enough time to file away the statements. The statements are the only part where we keep both digital & hard copies.

    7. Hellanon*

      Oh, wow, you are going to make me go back to that report, aren’t you? (Application for a new curriculum – fun stuff, overall, but this is the minutiae side.)

  19. ArtK*

    Instead of stories about dysfunctional workplaces, I thought I’d share one about a well-managed place that I observed recently. Everybody knows that restaurant kitchens are absolute hell-holes, with the chef screaming at people for the slightest mistake. Or, at least, that’s what TV tells us. The reality that I saw at one restaurant was very different.

    For a special occasion, we sat at the “chef’s counter” at a restaurant we love. The kitchen is open to the restaurant and the counter is right there looking into it. There was a prep table immediately in front of us and all of the stoves, etc. behind that. When we sat down, there was a cook slicing dozens of lemons and seasoning meat for the evening rush. When I looked at the name on his jacket, I realized that this was the executive chef — the boss of everybody in the kitchen! From the get-go he was showing that he was part of the team, contributing everywhere. They were catering a large private party and we got to watch the executive chef and two sous chefs plate a dozen meals in a rapid, assembly line fashion. Again, the boss was right there working along side everyone else.

    During the evening, I saw him move through the kitchen, talking to various chefs about what they were doing. Sometimes tasting things to check. No screaming, no cursing. If a meal was sent back for some reason, it was dealt with calmly and quickly. At one point, the executive chef disappeared into the back with a young man dressed in chef’s clothing that didn’t match the restaurant uniform. When he came back later, he explained that he was auditioning a new chef. He expressed a lot of compassion for how much stress that is for the candidate. Clearly, he wants people to succeed.

    At another point, he cooked up a new cut of meat that a vendor had suggested. He tasted it, along with the chef de cuisine and the lead sous chef. He made the decision to not buy that cut, but what I got from it was that he trusted his people and that he showed that trust.

    The whole kitchen ran like a well-oiled machine. There was a level of teamwork that can only happen when it’s both allowed and encouraged by the people in charge. The front of the house is similar — very well organized and efficient. We eat at this restaurant several times a year (it’s an indulgence for us) and have noticed that there’s a very low turnover in the staff. That’s another sign that they value their people and provide a good working environment.

    TL;DR: It’s possible to make even a high-pressure environment like a restaurant kitchen work well without a lot of drama and discomfort. It takes management that cares about the people, not just the food.

    Oh yeah. The food is amazing.

      1. ArtK*

        I’ve spoken to the executive chef, the chef de cuisine and the house manager complimenting them. We also show our appreciation by coming back when we can afford it!

        Another anecdote: We had the same waiter on two consecutive visits. Despite several months (and hundreds of customers) in between, he remembered us and our wine preferences. Sadly, I haven’t seen him the last couple of visits, but he was a young man destined to become the sommelier at a high-end restaurant. Many of the waiters have sommelier training (I think the largest number of any restaurant around), showing that they invest in their people.

    1. Hermione*

      I love this story.

      @Alison, maybe we could do a once-a-month call for stories about people doing things right? Like this, or smaller stories about times when your boss/employee/coworker/company went above and beyond to do great things?

      1. SRB*

        I know before she’s said she doesn’t want to do a “best boss”, because even when bosses do one great thing, they might be mediocre or bad in other respects… but maybe something like “Best Bossing Moments” would be more appropriate. I’d love to see examples of people doing the *right thing* for their employees. It’s good to see “bad bossing behavior” so that we learn to avoid it, but I think it’s equally inspiring to see “good bossing behavior” and try to model it.

        Plus, I know I’d have some good stories to share about my bosses. :)

      2. NW Mossy*

        What a fabulous idea! As a manager, I learn so much from Alison’s descriptions of what “managing right” looks like, and seeing stories from readers in the same vein would be awesome.

      3. ArtK*

        One of the reasons I posted this was to point out something about learning to manage. I could have gone home from the restaurant saying “no cussing or knives thrown, cool” without thinking any more deeply about it. What I did do was ask myself “why?” I try to do the same thing when I see a place that doesn’t work well.

      1. ArtK*

        I’ll even reveal the restaurant. Before I do, and before people search for it and choke on the price, I have to justify just a bit. Good food and Disney are our two big indulgences. We drive old cars and save our pennies in order to afford these things.

        The restaurant is Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian hotel in Anaheim. The executive chef is Andrew Sutton who also heads Disneyland’s private Club 33 as well as the Carthay Circle restaurant in Disney’s California Adventure.

        A bit more on the chef’s table concept if you’ve never run into it. Besides getting a great view into the kitchen, they will build a custom menu just for you. The chef de cuisine talks to you about allergies and preferences and then they come up with something made up of dishes from the current menu or sometimes unique things. We were four at dinner and each of us got a different menu (although a couple of dishes were duplicated between things.) They can do wine pairings as well, based on what’s being served.

        I’ve seen, but not dined at, a similar situation. Commander’s Palace, one of the great New Orleans restaurants has a chef’s table right in the kitchen. It’s on our bucket list but we need at least 8 people!

        1. Honeybee*

          This is good to know! I was down in Anaheim with my husband a few months ago and we had dinner at Downtown Disney – I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was a Mediterranean themed one.

    2. theanagrace*

      I worked as a Room Service waitress in a boutique hotel that was supremely poorly managed (on just about every level and in every way) and the one manager that was any good was the head chef. Out of all the departments (front desk, housekeeping, etc.) the kitchen staff had the lowest turnover. He was so good at keeping everything in order at all times, working hard alongside the cooks, taking an interest in everything. I wish my manager had been even a bit as good as he was, I might have stayed longer than 9 months.
      A good head chef is worth their weight in hand-crafted seasonal gelato. :P

    3. TootsNYC*

      Go read “Work Clean: The life-changing power of mise-en-place to organize your life, work, and mind”
      by Dan Charnas
      The promo line on the cover: “What great chefs can teach us about organization”

      Really amazing.

      1. ArtK*

        Sounds really interesting. Thanks for the recommendation! One of my observations at Napa Rose was in how well organized things were. Everything that each chef needed was close to hand. Clean pans and plates were brought in unobtrusively, but in time so that nobody was waiting on the dishwasher. Sauce was running low? Magically, the chef responsible for the sauces was right there refreshing it. Considering that the sauce takes a lot of time, they must have started long before the chef’s supply ran out.

        (BTW, nice to see you… artk2002 elsewhere in case you hadn’t guessed.)

  20. Berry*

    I just switched my resume from a chronological one to one where my most relevant positions are listed in order. (I had a bunch of internships in a field I want to work in, but am currently working in an unrelated one.) I’m hoping for more success because I’ve been hunting for a while; has anyone else done this and found that it worked for them?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Your resume can still be reverse chronological–just change your section headings to “{relevant industry experience}” and include all those related internships, but then put everything else in an “Additional Experience” section. That will help hiring managers pick out the things that are most applicable to the job you’re applying for. Good luck!

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      YES, when I changed my resume to only reflect my relevant work experience, I started getting interviews where before, I hadn’t. It was huge for me.

      Obviously list your current job on there too, but below the relevant experience. First impressions are everything, and if the first impression is that you’re appropriately experienced, you’re in a good place.

  21. rosenstock (prev. unsettled)*

    hi, i’m the girl who had to bandage her boss’s knee wound a few months ago https://www.askamanager.org/2016/08/open-thread-august-26-27-2016.html#comment-1187136

    happy to report i’ve been job hunting for a month and have two interviews lined up – one at a law firm and one at a nonprofit – one of them is this afternoon! things have only gotten crazier. my boss raises his voice at me daily and my nerves are shot. please wish me luck in leaving this situation.

    1. Blue Anne*

      That was such a weird thing for him to ask of you, rosenstock, and it sounds like a really cruddy situation. I’m glad you’ve got interviews. Best of luck!

  22. NarrowDoorways*

    So wage law update.

    A friend of mine at a nonprofit was upset because the company has a 35 hour work week, but management had started saying that the company was just going to say the extra 5 hours that may happen in a week would be included in that base salary, and time and a half would start after 40. Salary non-exempt, I think Alison called it, which apparently is very normal. It just made them angry as there are current hourly workers at the company who already make time and a half for hours worked over 35 a week.

    Well, that’s not what was officially announced. Apparently the company is changing to a 40 hour work week altogether, but those who were hired with a salary for 35 hours a week will stay at the same salary. I guess everyone is wildly upset, as they view this as a pay cut (and it does also cut how much they’ll now get for overtime), and they’re talking mass quitting.

    To me, yeah it sucks, but if you already worked over 40 a week, at least now you’ll probably make more when you do overtime. I think it’s awful for those people who took the job specifically because of the shorter days and who were able to finish everything they needed to in 35 hours a week, though….

    Anyone else encountered this kind of company change as we swiftly approach the new wage law effective date?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I posted about my husband’s situation a few months ago, and I’m gonna piggyback on this for an update – it’s working out about as well as it can, I suppose. He works at a small private university as a counselor, which is a position that would pay a lot of OT if they moved him to non-exempt, so they’re raising his salary to the minimum but cutting his position to 10 months. He’ll be able to choose 4 pay periods (2 consecutive at a time) over the summer to take off and it ends up being a ~3K net raise (which isn’t quite as good as it sounds since they’d previously gotten paycuts).

      It’s a net gain, since his insurance and PTO and other benefits remain intact, but still seems a bit weasel-y.

    2. Retail HR Guy*

      So the employees are being asked to work the normal hours that everyone else in the country works. However, if they work less than 40, they still get their full salary, and if they work more than 40, they get overtime?

      I’m finding it hard to muster sympathy for these poor downtrodden employees. Of all the horror stories of company’s reactions to the FLSA changes this is by far the least horrific one I’ve heard.

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        Yeah, it’s not the most horrible option out there. I think they’re freaking out because some people accepted the position specifically because of the hours and it’s going to affect some people with travel times and childcare. But I still think they’re coming out ahead because at least they’ll get overtime for their 40+ hours now!

        1. neverjaunty*

          They are not “coming out ahead” because they preferred a shorter week and less pay to a longer week and more pay. The time is worth more to them than the extra money.

      2. Jax*

        First, I don’t think it matters what the rest of the country is doing. These people were hired with the understanding that the work week was 35 hours. And their salary reflected that. Now they’re being told it’s mandatory to work 40 hours a week, but their salary is going to be exactly the same. It sounds like there is no option to work less than 40 hours. I would never voluntarily give my employer 5 hours of my time every week and would be offended if my employer proposed this without bumping my wage up slightly.

        1. MsCHX*

          I totally shrugged off the switch from 35 hours to 40 hours…It happens. Recently I read (on the SHRM forums maybe??) where people were complaining that they were allowed to telecommute and new CEO was nixing it. Well, either work in the office or find another job. Commute or childcare nonwithstanding.

          However, being expected to work an additional 5 hours a week at the same salary — in other words, a 12.5% paycut is so wrong.

          1. Cube Ninja*

            Not to be pedantic, but it’s actually a 14.3% pay cut, since that extra 5 hours is based on 35 hours, rather than 40. :)

      3. Cube Ninja*

        If I’m reading this correctly, they get OT above 35 hours at 1.5x pay but normally work a 35 hour week to get full pay. They’re moving to a 40 hour workweek, which means 5 extra hours at same rate of pay and OT above 40 hours. Since their jobs now require them to be in the office for 40 hours, presumably they may be subject to disciplinary action for failure to work enough hours.

        This isn’t a direct monetary impact in terms of take-home pay (although it could be if folks normally work >35 hours), but it’s pretty lousy on the part of the employer since they’re now requiring 15% more hours while offering nothing to the employees in exchange. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if they had major turnover.

        1. NarrowDoorways*

          Especially as they just hired two new executive positions! So they’re adding overhead leadership with salaries in the hundreds of thousands (nonprofit, so info is listed publicly), but asking those on the ground to take the hit.

      4. One Handed Typist*

        They were hired at a salary for 35 hours. They are now having hours increased to 40, but no change in pay, effectively getting less money. That’s how I understood it, and I’d be pissed if that happened! I switched from a 40 hour week department to a position in a 32 hour week department specifically so that I could take my son to school and pick him up after, without having to pay any additional childcare costs. An 8 hour reduction in salary was still more money than if I had to pay for childcare. If they were to tell me I had to go back to 40 but not give me a raise, I’d likely find a new job very quickly. Very, very quickly.

      5. BRR*

        It’s not the worst scenario but it’s changing the terms of employment in a pretty significant way. Adding an hour a day to someone’s work schedule is a big change. And while many many offices have 40 hour work weeks, we shouldn’t say people shouldn’t be upset if they’re getting screwed over. We should try and wish the best for others instead of saying they don’t have it so bad.

      6. neverjaunty*

        “I’ve heard worse!” is pretty much never a useful or constructive thing to say.

        This is a nonprofit that hired people at a given salary to work 35 hours a week. Now it’s increasing their hours for no pay.

    3. Jessie*

      The new wage law doesn’t have anything to do with this, though. If the company is saying that it does, they are just lying.

      This is simply a company changing its mind about how much it wants its employees to work. It is entirely okay, under the law, for a company to pay overtime for hours worked over 35 – it does not HAVE to, and it never HAD to, but it always CAN, if it wants to. And it could raise the salaries of its people if it wanted to. It just doesn’t want to.

      So, I guess I am just trying to figure out why this is a “wage law update”? It is definitely a “jerky company update,” especially if they are blaming the new law for its own decision to change everyone’s work schedules….

    4. Honeybee*

      It is essentially a pay cut. You want me to work 5 hours for free. If they made $19 an hour (which is a little less than $40,000 a year), 5 hours a week is $95; over the course of 50 weeks, that’s $4,750. $380 a month/$4,750 is not a small amount, and it gets bigger the higher the salaries.

  23. T3k*

    So, I’m probably overthinking this but just wanted to make sure so I don’t accidentally get myself on the blacklist or something. I was scouring jobs at a company I’ve been eyeing for several years and noticed one that only had one big requirement: basic understanding or passion in a field (say, teapot ergonomics). I have a background more in teapot design, but the fields are loosely related and I’ve just recently started to self-teach myself on teapot ergonomics. The kicker: I met one of the senior people in that department 4 months ago when a small group of us did some surveys for them and I got to make small talk during that week, but nothing job related. Afterwards, I sent a connection on LinkedIn but haven’t had contact since and most likely, this position wouldn’t be reporting directly to them. Would I be overstepping boundaries if I sent them a message asking if it’d be worth applying with my teapot design background? And if so, should I do it through LinkedIn or their work email? (I have the latter because they had to send us info for the surveys).

    1. Dawn*

      Ok so if I’m understanding correctly, the person that you met is senior in the department that the job opening is in? If that’s the case, then no I don’t think it’s overstepping to shoot a quick email and ask for clarification of what the position is looking for (“In reading this job description it seems that your company is really looking for someone who can do [X] with teapots, and also has a background with [X] and exemplary skills in [Y, Z]. Is my assessment correct?”. I *do* think it would come across weird if you were to ask if this person you know thinks you’d be qualified to even apply for the job- because then it seems like you’re seeking an endorsement, which the person that you know might not be able to or might not be comfortable giving.

      1. T3k*

        Yeah, they’re one of the senior members of that department. I definitely don’t want it to come off as seeking an endorsement, but was having a hard time trying to word a message to say “I have background in X, but not in Y, would that disqualify me?” without it also coming off as “I want the job!!!” Unfortunately, the job has very little in way of clarifying skills (it only has 3 points, all of which fall under Y) and it sounds like a very entry level job, which I’m ok with if it gets me a foot in the door.

    2. Student*

      If you are interested, just apply for the job.

      At very worst, they will look, deem you underqualified for what they want, and not call you for an interview. They aren’t going to decide you’re underqualified and then blacklist you. They probably wouldn’t go to the trouble of blacklisting you even if you were a 17-year-old with no prior work experience who wrote a cover letter in 24-point italicized comics sans font and emojis in iambic pentameter.

      Blacklist is reserved for the well-known troublemakers, people who gravely insult their interviewers, and such extremes. Many places just don’t have a blacklist mechanism at all. It’s not common. Anyone who employs a blacklist more widely than that is himself a nut and somebody you don’t want to work for.

  24. Mela*

    How to explain not-so-great grades to a graduate school admissions committee?

    I’m applying for a graduate school program and the only part of my application I”m worried about is my grades from about 3 semesters. I had a stalker and sort of shut down academically. I did the schoolwork I enjoyed but I ignored work that took too much effort because I didn’t have the capacity at the time. So my transcript from those semesters is particularly confusing because it’s a mix of A’s/B’s, a couple of C’s, 1 D and a few F’s. The rest of my transcript is all A’s, B’s and 2 C’s.

    The program I’m applying to has room for three additional documents that you want the admissions committee to see, so I am definitely writing something separate from my personal statement. But I have no idea how to go about writing an explanation of my grades. Is it a letter? essay? what would something like this be called? Any ideas or suggestions? I hate feeling like I’m making excuses, but my transcript really doesn’t reflect my academic abilities or work ethic.

    1. Maya*

      Are the C’s, D’s and F’s in courses that are related to the field you’re interested in studying in graduate school? Are they back to back? If you’re applying for grad programs in STEM fields for example, it may not be hard for the admissions committee’s to overlook low grades in humanities subjects as long as your science and math coursework is good.

      As for how to explain, I wouldn’t get into a sob story. Just state what was was going on, be frank and honest, and demonstrate that how you’ve improved. You say your transcript doesn’t reflect your academic abilities or work ethic, so you just have to prove that. You’ll need to emphasize extra curriculars and relevant work experience.

      1. Mela*

        No, they’re in a different major (I switched afterwards). I have 2 semesters of good grades, 3 semesters of bad grades, and then 4 semesters of good grades in my field, so I’m not sure if that’s proof enough, but I had lots of relevant internships during those last 4 semesters and have worked in the field for the past four years, so I’m hoping that will mitigate most concerns.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      Ok. So, as a graduate admissions director, I’ve got a couple question you should consider.

      1. How selective is the program? Are you fighting for a seat or just having to meet admissions requirements.
      2. How long ago was college? Did you just graduate or was this more than a few years ago

      If the answer to #1 is not selective and your cumulative GPA meets the requirements then I would necessarily worry about it. However, you could consider addressing it in your essay.

      If the answer to #2 was a while ago, then I wouldn’t necessarily feel the need to address if you have a solid resume and other supporting docs. If it was last May, well, maybe.

      I think it really comes down to what program and where. If your program of interest is very selective, I would absolutely address it. If the essay is free form, you could do it there. If not, I would do it separately and maybe address it as how you’ve grown as a person due to said events. But do it lightly.

      1. Mela*

        Thank you! That is really helpful. The three semesters in question were in 2007-2009, so it was a very long time ago and I can point to academic and professional success afterwards, but I still want to explain it! Maybe it’s just the perfectionist/nerd in me? Oh, it’s also because those years were at a European university, the only one I attended, and I don’t want any subtle association that I can perform well in a US institution, but not a European one (the grad program is at a European university).

        I actually have no idea how selective the program is. The “Eligibility” page doesn’t list any grade requirements. I’d say it’s a mix of academic and professional type of grad program, but the lack of grade requirements makes me think it leans more toward a professional grad program, and I know experience counts more than grades in those cases, but I’m still not sure.

        If I can’t integrate it into the personal statement, should I just write a simple paragraph explaining the situation? It seems too far away to integrate into a personal statement, as I have so much more that I want to talk about in which is more relevant to the degree/my career.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          Ok, my advice? Call them and ask about their selectivity. When people ask me about my programs, I tell them they only person they are competing against is you. It’s not a fight for a seat and that’s not secret information really. Most places are really proud if they are super selective. I don’t know a ton about European institutions but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

          2007-2009 was a really long time ago. So a very short paragraph in a separate document or even an email would be fine if it’ll make you feel better.

        2. One Handed Typist*

          Have you met with the Admissions counselor? That would definitely be helpful. They can tell you how competitive you are, how best to approach the deficient semesters. Even if it is via email, it’s helpful for the admissions counselor to have interaction with you prior to the application submission.

          My University is well-known for its nursing program. The “Eligibility” page states the minimum qualifications (3.0 GPA in all pre-requisites as well as others) but the admissions counselor will swiftly point out that unless you have a 3.75 GPA, you simply aren’t competitive. There are too many students with straight A’s in the pre-reqs applying for limited positions. It’s a highly impacted program. But it’s also Undergrad, so the course load and admissions process is different from your situation.

    3. Anna*

      I think it’s a brief explanation in a letter. The tone should be positive, but it doesn’t have to be a long explanation and you don’t have to spend a lot of time reassuring them that you’re over it and everything is fine and nothing to worry about! In fact, the explanation here slightly expanded would be a pretty decent outline of why your grades are confusing and what you were dealing with.

      1. Mela*

        So maybe a short (less than half a page single spaced) letter addressed to the admissions committee? My main question is how to frame it. Dear Admissions Committee, I’m writing to address the issue of my poor grades….?
        In addition to my other application materials, I’m hoping this additional context regarding my academic performance….? Once I get started I know what to say about the actual issue, I just don’t know how to start it.

        1. Anna*

          Actually, that sounds pretty good. Except maybe don’t say “poor grades,” say something like inconsistent performance during the 2014-2015 Academic year. :)

    4. Jessie*

      If it helps, when I applied to law school, I used my personal statement to discuss a particularly horrible personal thing that happened to me, in way that both addressed early problems in my transcript and illuminated why I wanted to take the step I was taking in life (i.e., why I was motivated to go to law school now). Like you, my later semesters were good but I definitely had problems earlier in my transcript that I felt I couldn’t just have sitting there without explanation.

      I applied to 3 programs – the 2 programs in which I used the essay to talk about Horrible Things accepted me, and the 3rd program, where I used a different essay that didn’t mention Horrible Thing, rejected me. All 3 were competitive.

      Explaining makes a difference! You’re a person, let them see who you are. :-)

      1. Mela*

        That makes me feel better about wanting to explain! I actually could integrate it into my career path, as the initial issue is directly related to the first internship I took which clarified my interest in the current field I’m in. But then my career path had one more evolution (all within the same wider, massive field), so I’m not sure if I’ll have space to fit it all in.

        1. Grits McGee*

          You could probably mention it briefly as part of an intro about how you became interested in the field. (Ex-“After being a victim of stalking in my [__] year of college and weathering the turmoil of that experience, I became really interested in [field] and as a result did an internship at [____].”)

    5. Nye*

      I’d suggest writing a clear, simple explanation, probably in the form of a letter. Say you know your grades slipped for a while, explain the situation, and mention what you did to overcome it – pointing out that grades before/after this period were more reflective of your abilities and work ethic. Be as explanatory and un-emotional as possible – you don’t want this to be an excuse, just an explanation.

      Also (if applicable):
      Ask one of your references (if they ask for reference letters) if they’d feel comfortable addressing this. It would probably have more impact that your own letter to have a professor who knows your work well explain the situation from their perspective, especially if they feel that you are a good student who generally performs at a high level.

      Is this a program where you get accepted into a particular professor’s group/lab? If so, get in touch with them! This is great to do generally in a lot of grad programs, because having someone on the inside who wants to work with you can do a lot to move your application past arbitrary grade screenings/cutoffs.

      Does your program require a standardized test score? If so, do whatever you can to DOMINATE that test. Many grad programs care more about these scores than about grades, since they are less arbitrary than school-specific grades.

      1. Mela*

        Thanks, your wording is super helpful! No test scores or acceptance into a professor’s group, but I have to provide 2 references and a third is optional. I initially was going to provide 2 professional ones, since they’re more recent and super relevant to the grad program, but I do have a professor that I clicked with in my major (same as the grad program). Should I give her all this context and ask if she can write a reference? It’s also weird because the application procedure requires me to personally upload scans of the references, so I’m not sure if she’s be comfortable with that coming from an academic background.

        1. Nye*

          Definitely ask your former professor for a third letter! Even if she’s not comfortable specifically referencing how your personal situation affected your grades, it should help to have an academic reference speak highly of your abilities as a student.

          If she’s willing to write a letter, I doubt she’ll care how it’s delivered. Just make sure she knows up front that it comes to you for scanning/uploading. (I’ve occasionally had academic references send me a copy of their letter even when they submit it directly to the university.)

          Good luck!

          1. Mela*

            Thank you for this kick in the butt! I emailed her after I saw your post and literally 4 hours later I have an amazing reference letter all set to go for my application. I had completely forgotten that I kept in touch with her a lot after college, and she had seriously wonderful things to say about me. I’m still worried about my grades, but at least I know now I’ve done everything I can to mitigate it.

            1. Nye*

              Oh, that’s wonderful! Way to go for getting in touch with her. You must have made a great impression on her, that sounds like a terrific (and really helpful) letter.

              Fingers crossed for your application – best of luck!!!

        2. JustaTech*

          It’s quite common in academia to have the professor (or whoever you’re getting a letter of recommendation from) to ask *you* to write the letter about yourself, but speaking as the professor. I think it’s super weird, but apparently that’s how things are done.

          1. Talvi*

            You know, I keep hearing about this but I’ve never actually had that experience (and I’ve had to request tons of reference letters, for everything from applying to grad programs to applying for internships). It makes me wonder if my department is just really unusual somehow!

            1. Mela*

              I haven’t either but my Mom worked for executives back in the 80’s and she said that’s how it was done. So maybe if you have a super old-school professor?

            2. Honeybee*

              I don’t think so. I’ve only been asked to do this once, and I’ve also requested tons of reference letters. I don’t think it happens as often as people think it does, although it’s certainly not uncommon either.

              And honestly, the professor who asked me was actually a younger professor on the tenure-track. She was just one of those scatterbrained professors with poor time management skills (Excellent otherwise, but it is what it is.) My old-school professors always wrote their own letters.

          2. Nye*

            I think that really depends. I’ve never run into that myself, but have had friends in the awkward situation of writing multiple letters about themselves for different references. I think it might be more common if the professor gets a ton of requests for letters, for example if the letters are for undergraduates. (Though it definitely still happens for graduate students and postdocs.)

            I did once draft a letter on behalf of my PI for an undergraduate intern who had mostly worked with me, but he used it as a starting point for his letter and as a training exercise for me. (He pointed out what he was changing/adding and why, which has been very helpful as I give my own references for students/interns.)

      2. Honeybee*

        This was going to be my suggestion. I had a downturn in grades one semester because I was suffering from anxiety and depression, and I had a professor I trusted address it in her letter of recommendation. I didn’t write anything in my personal statement. I had great success in admissions.

        I wouldn’t say that most grad programs care more about test scores than grades, though; I think it depends on the program, but grades are indicative of a long-term pattern of success in closely-related fields and is more akin to what the student will be doing in the graduate program. Test scores are performance within 3 hours in a pretty artificial setting. In my field, test scores were used as a sort of gatekeeper, but after a certain threshold they didn’t really matter anymore.

    6. Audiophile*

      This is timely. I’m in the process of applying to graduate school and my transcript isn’t stellar, no Fs but 2 Ds and 1 or 2 C-s. My GPA is also below the usual 3.0, but not very far below. I’m an 08 grad, so it’s been long enough I feel and I’ve worked in the field (and related fields) that I hope it’s enough.

      How many programs are you applying to?

      1. Mela*

        So far just the one program. The application deadline is so early and I’ll know if I get in by the end of January. If I don’t get in, I plan on applying to 2-3 other options, but their deadlines are in March.

        Your situation seems much more common that I’m sure it won’t be an issue in a professional degree program. A few eh grades almost 10 years later? I’m sure you’ll be fine, good luck!

        In my case, because I transferred, the bad grades aren’t reflected in my GPA calculation (which I guess is lucky/good?), but the admissions committee still sees them on the page.

    7. Marian the Librarian*

      I had roughly the same experience (terrible grades in a former major before switching due to events in my personal life), and just wanted to reassure you that I was able to get into my first choice graduate program. Your internships will definitely help you, as I’m sure that’s what tipped the scale for me (as well as the fact that, like yours, my grades were excellent in my eventual chosen major). Good luck!

  25. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I got the job!!! After a few meetings, a written analysis, a presentation, writing samples, references… I got a full-time job. It’s tangentially in my field– my primary focus has been teapots, but this is coffee pots, so while it’s still in hot drinks that people consume, it’s just a different type– so I’ll have a lot to learn, but I’m looking forward to it. I will be supporting the president directly in a newly-created role. The company is small but has been around for 30 years, most of them seem to like each other, and while it’s not a “cool” place, I’m looking so forward to working there. The one not-great part is that I took a big cut in base pay, but they’re making up for my asking base (which was already a $10k cut) with a sizeable year-end bonus, so it all evens out. My last job didn’t offer medical or dental and this one does (100%), so I won’t be spending $6500 out-of-pocket, after taxes, on my healthcare next year.

    I’m staying at my retail gig through December (commitment, a little extra cash, big discount on great products), so it will be a very busy month, but I am so, so relieved and excited. Thanks to everyone who listened to me whine these past few months!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Mostly! I am also willing to take this cut because I’ll get much more flexibility, a slower pace (it was described to me thusly: “Compared to other jobs you’ve had, I think you might find it… leisurely”), a better office environment, the opportunity to learn something new, reasonable expectations (12-18 months to master the role, as opposed to 3 months with no training), and a boss who seems to care about being a good boss. He also said flat-out that in a couple of years, if we end up moving somewhere (my partner is a doctoral student), that he is completely open to remote work. It just feels like a much better fit for my style and personality, and for that, I’ll take the cut.

        Also, not for nothing, my past salaries were based around NYC rates, and I live somewhere with a much lower cost of living.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Thanks, everyone! This will be an interesting couple of months, and I’m looking so forward to it.

  26. Dave*

    Started my new job this week! Hooray!

    A couple of questions I thought I’d throw out here.

    1) In my offer, it specified that I would receive 3 vacation days and 1 personal day to be used by the end of the calendar year. Because I started in mid-November, that’s not a lot of time to use them. I’d like to use them around Christmas, but I am not sure when it is politic to ask my manager for a day off. I feel as though I am entitled to these days, but I also think it’s strange to just start and immediately request time off. What do you all think?

    2) One thing that’s… concerning is that I haven’t received any training whatsoever. I had an orientation session with HR but it was all about benefits, getting a tour, and so on. My manager’s been largely absent this week (I assume for good reasons) but I’ve been given no real tasks to perform or any instruction as to how I fit into the organization or anything like that. Now I have a project meeting this afternoon, but I am not sure what is expected of me in the meeting. It’s a bit strange. I emailed my manager yesterday to ask to touch base before the meeting, but she is working from home today and hasn’t responded.

    1. Emily the Analyst*

      For the first question I would request off today. Holiday slots fill up quick and you don’t want to miss out.
      Question 2. I have also recently started a new job and they said training happens during peak times (quarterly), but I was encouraged to do all of the corporate training and policy review.

      Good luck!

    2. MsCHX*

      It is really tough to take time off when you’ve just begun a new job.

      I would ask your manager for their suggestions; or if it’s feasible to carryover the 3 vacation days (or use 1 personal, 1 vacation and carryover 2). 4 days off, in what equates to about 28 ish days, is a lot…even if it is okay with the company. If they insist it’s okay and you take the 4 days, you’ll probably have to take what you can get.

      Many companies have really poor onboarding processes. I am sorry this is happening to you. Ask to shadow someone on your team. If you don’t have anyone, attend the meeting, take notes, etc. Hopefully your manager is ready to get you going next week (which, IMO she probably should’ve started you next week).

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      For the meeting, sit tight. Wait and see. They all know you’re new. Take some notes, but don’t go in there thinking you’ll have to say much. I’ll bet your manager will get back to you beforehand– at least, I hope she will!

    4. Poster Child*

      For the vacation days, confirm that you cannot roll them over to next year and must use them this year (it sounds like you do but a lot of companies will allow you to roll over some number of hours or days). If you do need to use them, then you should talk to your manager about it. She might prefer to give you some vacation time off the books after the new year instead, or it might be that business is very slow around the holidays and it’s perfectly fine to take them this year.
      Your second question is concerning because for any hiring manager with a new employee, the priority in their first week should be onboarding you: training/orientation to the department and job duties/setting goals and expectations. If the hiring manager has personal or work reasons she cannot be there, she should delegate some of the training to a senior team member. Are there any other colleagues you can ask for help or that also report to your manager and can tell you what is typical?

    5. Sibley*

      1. Ask your manager what’s typical. “hey, I was told I’d have this time available to use, but I know it’s mid November and I’m brand new. How is this handled?

      2. If you don’t hear from your manager: show up, be polite, attentive, take notes and if you have a clue what’s going on and have something pertinent to contribute, do so.

    6. zora*

      Just ask for the days! As long as you make it clear you are asking, not demanding, it is then up to them to say no. The vast majority of people in the US are expected to take some days off around Christmas, this will not be a huge, weird surprise to your company! ;o)

      I would say something like: “Hey boss, I’m thinking of taking my 3 vacation days on 12/17-12/29, if that works for you. Or I’m flexible if there are different days that are more convenient for the department.” If you work for a decent boss, they will be straightforward about letting you know whether that is okay with them. This is part of your compensation, you are entitled to at least ask when you can take them! Don’t feel guilty!

  27. Maya*

    A little over a month ago, I had a phone interview for a job that I thought went pretty well. But unfortunately, I wasn’t considered further after that. This morning however, I see the exact same position posted and now I’m wondering if it would look crazy of me to throw my hat in the ring again. Should I bother? I kind of want to reach out to the hiring manager directly but I’m not sure what to say. Help?!

    1. Leatherwings*

      I wouldn’t. They already interviewed you once and decided you weren’t a fit right now. I think it would come across as a bit naive to apply again, but more importantly I think it would be a waste of time.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I would personally let it go. They interviewed you, they decided you weren’t the right fit, they moved on. They haven’t forgotten about you. Presumably they would have reached out if they wanted to reconsider anyone they had previously rejected.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Sorry, if it was only a month ago I wouldn’t do it. It was recent enough that they would call you about the new position if you were a top candidate last time.

    4. MsCHX*

      Don’t do it.

      They didn’t choose you and in my own experience, the one time I worked for a company that didn’t initially choose me was literally the worst experience of my entire professional career.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Oh, I don’t know – that’s just one experience! I was the second choice for a job and the woman they hired only made it two weeks before they fired her. They asked me if I was still interested and I jumped at the chance and it ended up being the best job I’ve ever had, by far.

        1. MsCHX*

          OP wasn’t the 2nd choice. If OP were the 2nd choice they would have called her when choice #1 didn’t work out.

          1. Honeybee*

            I know other people who have gotten a job on the second or third time they applied and had it work out well for them. Two of my current coworkers are in that situation. It entirely depends on the situation and the company’s culture.

            Also, you don’t know that she wasn’t the 2nd choice. The exact same position being posted a month later doesn’t mean that #1 didn’t work it – it could mean that another coworker gave notice just recently and left, or that they finally got approval for another head in the department.

      2. Audiophile*

        As someone who’s working a job where I was initially rejected (actually ghosted on) a year before I reapplied, it can definitely be a blessing in disguise. I’m glad to have a job, but they definitely did me a favor when they rejected me a year ago. It’s been insane since I started during the summer.

  28. Gandalf the Nude*

    Suggestions for addressing abuse of the High Importance marker on email? This person (colleague, not subordinate, slightly senior) doesn’t use it on every single email, but it’s a close enough thing.

    To be fair, this guy tends to inflate the importance of things in person and over the phone too. I just don’t think he has very good judgment on these sorts of things. So this is probably more symptom than anything, but I know at least a couple of us have started slipping into de-prioritizing his messages when they come in, so we might eventually miss something that is urgent, boy who cried wolf style.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Unless you are his boss, I would just let it go. Just use your judgment and prioritize how you see fit.

    2. NW Mossy*

      It would be a kindness to the guy if you say, “I noticed that almost all of the requests we see from you are marked as urgent, and I wanted to talk about it. When you use it that often, it makes it hard for us to understand what order you’d like us to tackle them in, since it’s not possible to do them all first – ABC, BCA, CAB, and CBA all could be possibilities when they’re all marked urgent. Is there another method we can use to help make sure we’re meeting your expectations?”

      The problem here is that he’s not applying any judgment beyond “everything is urgent,” leaving you to guess at his priorities. It’s totally fair of you to call out that issue and solicit his help. If he then doesn’t change, you can remind him that if he doesn’t prioritize between his requests, you’ll do it for him and he may not agree with the choices you make.

      1. E*

        Adding to this, suggest that he include a proposed deadline in the subject line instead of using the flag every time. “Budget Update – Due by COB Friday” is much clearer than just an urgent flag.

    3. Sadsack*

      I wouldn’t change how his emails are handled by your email system. I would just choose to ignore the high importance flag if it isn’t warranted.

    4. Hallway Feline*

      A rule of thumb in our company culture: Only use High Importance flags if it is important TO THE RECEIVER. That means while it may be high importance to me, maybe it’s not to the person I’m sending it to. The only reason to use it outside of that context is if an emergency/fire popped up (ex: biggest client suddenly wants their project moved up 3 weeks).

    5. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I never really found a way.

      I told the person politely “(urgent overuse makes it hard to determine what is truly urgent, and I don’t want to end up missing something critical. ‘House on fire and has to be completed today’ is my rating for the urgent mark. Please use sparingly.”).

      Then, after I got too annoyed, I just made an outlook rule that said “if from X and marked URGENT, mark regular importance”.

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        Y’know, I think that might actually be the way to go. It will stop me from stressing about it, which is probably the most important thing right now. If it’s not marked High Importance, I’ll won’t be distracted from prioritizing it appropriately.

    6. Nanc*

      “You keep using that !. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

      Yeah, since you can’t type in an Inigo Montoya accent that probably won’t help.

      1. TootsNYC*

        oh, wouldn’t that be a great font?

        Someone needs to get on that–specialized fonts that, when you click on them in an email, then say the typed words in the appropriate accent.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      “Bob, you mark so many things as urgent, I have to tell you, that people are starting to ignore things from you marked as urgent.”

      Then let him figure it out.

      There is a deeper issue here. He probably covertly feels that people will not answer him if he uses a normal pace/tone. Yeah, you could be looking at a problem with deep roots.
      So you could try saying, “Bob, you don’t have to mark everything as urgent. We will answer you, we will not ignore you, I promise.”

  29. Franzia Spritzer*

    I have attended a two-year graduate program and graduated with a terminal degree. Midway through the program I determined that the program and I weren’t an ideal fit, my advisors pushed me to create a thesis project I wasn’t into (and I don’t think is good enough to “publish”), and I was unsupported in the work I wanted to be focusing on, I was told to do that work you want to do as an afterthought if I had time, but focus on the thing they were advising me to follow. I did the work they asked me to do and I’m not excited about it. I kind of feel like an advanced degree and the project that I earned said degree with are going to cost me an arm and a leg, I should at least be excited about it. I may be out of line here.

    I stuck with the program, and my advisors because I tend to have crippling swings of “Am I doing the right thing?” with a dash of my grandfather’s voice telling me about how disappointed he was in my dad for never finishing anything, as a result I finish things, everything. One thing I cannot be accused of is quitting, perhaps to my own detriment. So here I am with a mediocre unpublishable project and a deep sense of making an expensive mistake.
    I also did the work I wanted to make and I’m very, very proud of it and wish like crazy that I had the two years of this program back so that I could be making more work like that project, writing more about that kind of research and theorizing on the things related to the work I am interested in doing, it’s profound, contextual and really gets at something important in my field.

    In my field an advanced degree is essential for professional development and hireability, where one gets said degree is marginally important, the type of program you get the string of letters from is more important. Applying for the work I want, I have found this to be brutally true. Applicants are expressly required to have type A terminal degree (practice) especially excluding type B terminal degree (theory/practice) with a list of examples, mine is on that list, (sometimes these lists don’t make any sense, as if they’re antiquated requirements). I have type A bachelor’s and type B master’s degrees. I really like theory AND practice! Go figure.

    Because of my lingering deep dissatisfaction with my terminal degree, and my sense that it is blocking my professional goals I’m wondering what my options are. Enroll in another program to get the right kind of degree, get an additional degree, (I’ve been interested in a PhD since day one, so it’s not too far fetched), or just make the most out of the degree I have, make the work, do the research and publish the papers outside of the academy? I feel I’m at a crossroads of, ditching the time and effort of my degrees and my beloved field just to be working at all, or keep pushing on in the academy.

    Unfortunately I’m not independently wealthy.

    1. A Plain-Dealing Villain*

      Honestly, I’d suggest making it work with the degrees you have. I’m not sure the education pile on (PhD) would be helpful to you at this point. Publish your work independently, then tailor your resume for each job. If you want work in A, focus on your bachelors degree and related work. If you want work in B, focus on your masters. You didn’t mention if there are any jobs that do crossover work related to both, but it may be something to look into.

      1. self employed*

        Agreed. Is if a creative degree (MFA)? If so, do the work you want to do and hustle to get it published. That’s what counts.

    2. Overeducated*

      I could have written your post, except substitute “master’s” with “phd” and “expensive” with “opportunity cost.” I would not recommend going for a PhD if practice is important for your field. I wish i had more applied experience, and that can also open up publication opportunities. Without more details I can’t really advise, but don’t rush into a phd program foR at least a couple years.

    3. Annby*

      Do not enroll in an unfunded PhD program! If it’s something you want to do and you can get a stipend/fellowship/research assistantship/teaching assistantship/whatever to support yourself, that’s a different story. But there’s no sense (IMO) in going into debt while also pushing your professional goals even further into the future.

    4. Student*

      Ok, so – the dirty secret of job listings is that they are all poorly written garbage. They have a lot of copy-paste from older job descriptions. They have a lot of filler from middlemen who feel like they must contribute some word salad even though they won’t interact with the applicant professionally. They have crap that is meaningless, misleading, or mistaken.

      Nobody actually expects you to meet all the exact requirements. Lots of people apply to and get jobs when they only meet about half the requirements – this is not even counting the nice-to-haves.

      Just apply for the jobs you want, and continue to rack up real-world experience in your field. It only takes a year or two to get enough real-world experience in something that nobody cares about your exact degree. It takes longer to get the PhD most of the time. The key is being able to explain how you can relate your degree and experience to the things your prospective employer cares about. Anticipate a question about your degree not matching exactly and explain why that’ll be okay – you understand the gap and are working to bridge it, or you’ve already bridged it in such a way in your current/past work. THEN tell them that your slightly nonstandard background give you these other insights/experiences that they will like, to offset the bits they feel you are missing.

    5. Gay Babe*

      I think it’s a bad idea to go further into debt for more graduate schooling right now. I would advise one of the following options:
      1) Enroll in a *fully funded* PhD program. These are competitive, and, depending on your field, possibly far-flung. If you are unable to move for school or you don’t feel confident that your performance thusfar will impress a selection committee, proceed to 2.
      2) Get work experience in your field. Progress as far as you can without another degree, and get as close as you can to the research/theory/practice you’re excited about. When/if you hit a wall progress wise, revisit the matter of further grad schooling.

    6. Honeybee*

      Unless you want to do something highly specific that requires a PhD – usually something research- or evaluation-related, or if you need licensure to counsel as a psychologist or something – a PhD probably won’t help much, especially if applicants are usually required to have a practice degree.

      Are there certifications that you can get that can help you move laterally into a type B master’s required job? Or is there work that’s at the crossroads of theory and practice that can help you move that way after some networking?

  30. Mustache Cat*

    I feel as if every year, starting from November and ending in February, I get hit by a huge amount of seasonally-correlated job regret. This has been true in two different jobs that I generally enjoyed, but where I spent wintertimes fantasizing about animal-related professions.

    Because I can’t seem to convince myself of what I already know, which is that these feelings will blow over soon, does anyone have ideas for how to transfer into a more zoological line of work? I already volunteer, and I don’t have much more time to devote in that direction. Should I go back for a masters?

    1. Wild at Heart*

      If the place you volunteer with is zoological, I would ask the staff there for recommendations. Even if you’re not interested in turning that particular volunteer position into a career, they can probably give you some guidance.

      Not to play online diagnosis but do you think you might have that seasonal depression disorder? A friend of mine has it and during those same winter months, she gets really depressed. Usually not about anything specific but perhaps, if you might have it, your depression is being channeled into and expanding on some small job insecurities you have inside. Just a thought!

      Good luck!

      1. Cathy*

        +1000! I found that my annual ‘holiday letdown’ is actually SAD*. A super simple way to combat this is to either go outside for 30 minutes a day – if you can’t do that, do what I did. I bought a full spectrum plant light and put it in my office. Worked like a charm!

        *I find it supremely satisfying that the acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder actually spells out the main symptom LOL

    2. Dealthwiththis*

      Hi there, as someone who works in an animal care field, I can tell you that a masters is probably the worst thing you can do to get into this field. Volunteering is a step in the right direction. Since these careers are typically paid so low, seeing that you have a masters would probably make most hiring managers immediately pass you over for those that are coming out of school because they will assume that they can’t pay you enough to have you stick around for long. Animal care experience is valued much more over education in this field.

      Unpaid animal care internships or volunteer opportunities are your best bet. If you can’t do that, get a dog and train it well and then put that on your resume.

      If you know it will blow over, I suggest taking a visit to your local Zoo and hanging out in the petting zoo for a few hours until you’ve got your fix. :) This line of work is tough, you usually don’t have weekends or holidays off and you are working outside in the heat and cold. That might make you appreciate your current job :)

    3. Zip Silver*

      I know the feeling. I really regret not doing a stint in the Army. I’m young enough to still do it, but I have to much debt to do it :/

  31. Manders*

    I’ve been extra cranky this week. My company is slightly outgrowing its office space, and people got shuffled around so I’m now in a small room with two people who have to be on the phone most of the day. The problem: I work on content writing and other tasks that require concentration, and in order to do my work without getting distracted I need to put earplugs in, then put noise-cancelling headphones over that, then blast music to drown out the noise. The headphones aren’t very comfortable and I’m getting headaches from wearing them all day. People also walk in and out of the office to chat during the day and I’m having a hard time resisting the distraction.

    There is one spot in the office I could move to, but it would inconvenience my grandboss, who was planning to move there. I’m also not sure if this is the hill I want to die on right now. I was told when I interviewed for this job that they only expected people to stick around in this position for a year or two, and I’ve now passed the year mark. I could put up with this for a few more months, but it’s not something that’s tenable for another year. If I don’t speak up ASAP, grandboss will take the one available space and there will be nowhere for me to move.

    What would you do in my position? Make a fuss and try to get moved, knowing it will inconvenience someone higher up the ladder? Put up with it quietly and job search? I hadn’t planned to start looking until mid-2017, but now I’m thinking I should speed up that timeline.

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      They said they didn’t expect people to stay for more than a year or two? WTH? Could you try asking to work from home occasionally? I’m basically in the same boat as you, but can fortunately find the occasional free conference room to focus when everyone gets loud.

      1. Manders*

        I actually did appreciate the fact that they were upfront with me about how long employees in my position usually stayed. This is a nice entry-level position for my field, but it’s a small family-run company and there’s no path to promotion because there’s no position to get promoted into.

        Working from home is not allowed at this company, period. And I have a desktop computer, so I can’t move into a conference room to work. I want to be a good sport, but I can tell that my work is suffering, it’s so hard to proofread when you’re distracted.

      2. CMT*

        I think there are actually quite a few jobs like this. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, and it’s actually good when an employer is upfront about it.

        1. Manders*

          Yeah! They’ve been kind to me and have invested quite a bit in my training. I’m feeling guilty now because I know I’m not doing my best possible work in this situation.

    2. Future Analyst*

      I think you should ask to move. Worst case scenario, they say no, and you start your job search. Best case scenario, they say yes, and when you leave in mid- to late-2017, your grandboss would still have access to the space.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I would do all of it.
      I would push for an office space. It’s not up to you to protect your grandboss, she can protect herself quite well. If you can use the space ask. They will tell you no if they need to.

      And I would start the job hunt now. By June of next year you are going to feel worse than you do now. Start now. Maybe you will get out by March, let’s say. What you have going on does not sound sustainable even for six or seven months.

    4. Honeybee*

      A and B. I’d speak up and voice the need for a quiet place for writing and concentration. Then, regardless of the outcome of that, I’d start looking for new employment.

  32. Camellia*

    So yesterday was my birthday and I got a bit retrospective…

    Things at work that don’t bother me anymore:

    Violations of the dress code. I just don’t care if you wear flip-flops or leggings or printed t-shirts or scruffy khakis or whatever.

    People on their phones in the restrooms. Sorry, just don’t care anymore if the person on the other end of your call can hear me peeing. If they were actually IN the restroom they would hear me, so what’s the diff? And no, gender diff doesn’t change my don’t-care-ness.

    THAT’S NOT FAIR!! This was my cry when I first started in the professional world. I came from a blue collar world and naively thought that white collar would be different. Thirty years later, I don’t care if you or your team is enjoying an ‘unofficial’ perk that my team cannot have right now, due to our stick-up-his-@$$ manager. I won’t complain because the only probable result is that it would force someone official to notice it and then it would be taken away from everyone. Instead, I’m actually glad someone gets it and, hey, managers don’t always stick around forever, so maybe the next manager (or the next group I go to) will be more flexible.

    People who waste time doing anything but work. I don’t even care if it is affecting my work. I have enough to do that, if I’m waiting on you for something, I’ll just switch off and work on something else. It all gets done eventually. (In all fairness, I think this works in CurrentJob because we have daily status meetings, so no one can slack off for TOO long.)

    Other stuff:

    Gossips: I am a very private person and very closed mouth. I don’t gossip. Period. This has lead to a surprising number of people trusting me with confidential information. They get to vent/share/whatever because they know I won’t tell anyone, and I get sometimes surprising insights into the political and personal workings of a company. Of course, there are those who just want to dish the bad about other people and don’t warm up to me because I don’t reciprocate, but, dare I reiterate it, I don’t care.

    So, am I just getting too old or have I actually made progress as a human being?

    1. Confused Publisher*

      Or, we’ve all been reading AAM, know how much worse it could be, and you’re now wise enough to appreciate where you’re at. :)

      Also, belated happy birthday.

    2. Kai*

      Sounds like progress to me! It can be such a relief to decide that you just don’t mind certain things anymore.

  33. rosenstock (prev. unsettled)*

    (posted again because the first one didn’t post – i apologize if this double posts!)

    hi, i’m the girl who had to bandage her boss’s knee a few months ago – askamanager(.)org/2016/08/open-thread-august-26-27-2016(.)html#comment-1187136

    happy to report that i’ve been job searching for about a month and i have two interviews lined up – one at another law firm and one at a nonprofit – and one is this afternoon! things have only gotten crazier. my boss raises his voice at me daily and my nerves are shot. please wish me luck in leaving this situation.

    1. Mimmy*

      Your original post probably went into moderation – this occurs when you include a link (i.e. the link to your post in a previous open thread). Once Alison sees it, she releases it from moderation.

      Good luck in your interviews!

    2. FiveWheels*

      No, never. If they want me they can leave amessage or send a text. If there’s no message, the message is they don’t want a call.

  34. Librarian Ish*

    OK silly phone etiquette question. If you miss a call and someone doesn’t leave a message, do you call the number back?

    1. Camellia*

      Hate to say it, but it depends. My daughter’s generation doesn’t leave phone messages – if you see they’ve called, they are expecting you to call them when you can. Also, for me, if I don’t recognize the number I won’t return the call.

      1. Honeybee*

        That’s only if you know the person, though (I’m assuming you are talking about millennials?). If I get a call from an unknown number I expect them to leave a message.

    2. Leatherwings*

      I usually google the number, and if I can figure out who it was (like my apartment building or a work vendor or something) I’ll call back. Otherwise I just figure they’d leave a message if it was important.

      1. Audiophile*

        I do this all the time. This is the easiest solution I’ve found. You can usually figure out if it’s a corporation or a if it’s just a sales call.

        Rarely, if I’m actively searching, have I had employers NOT leave a message.

    3. Kelly L.*

      Nope, unless I can tell who it is and they’re either closely connected to me (relative, boss) or I was expecting the call. On my personal phone, if I don’t know the number, I assume it’s not legit unless there’s a message explaining. At work, I assume that they changed their mind or asked someone else. If they wanted me to respond, they’d leave a dang message.

      1. Talvi*

        Pretty much this. If they didn’t leave a message, I assume that it’s either a) not important, or b) they’ll try again later.

    4. Anna*

      Nope. If they don’t leave a message and just magically assume I’ll call back, I’ve got better things to do than try to figure out who they are. To the point about certain generation not leaving messages, I work with 16 to 24 year olds and I’ve never had one who called me not leave a message if they wanted me to call back. They know what voicemail is for and how to use it.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yeah, I’m 30 – an older millennial, but still a millennial – and I leave messages on my friends’ phones when I call them and they leave messages on mine. I do have some friends who don’t leave messages, but only for people they know in their personal life. They would still leave a message for professional contacts.

    5. Manders*

      I do on my cell phone, because I have a sick relative and you never know if it’s a call from a hospital or something. Most of the time it’s just phone spammers, though.

      My work phone system doesn’t have any way of telling me if someone called and didn’t leave a message, so if there’s nothing on voice mail I’ll never know it happened.

      1. LCL*

        Me too. I have to follow up on calls because of my relative.
        I will check before I call if I am close to a computer. I don’t delete junk calls, I save them in my directory as ‘spam’ so I know I can ignore that number if I get a repeat call.

    6. tink*

      Only if I recognize the number. Otherwise… nope. If it’s important, leave me a message or follow up in an e-mail or something.

    7. Annie Moose*

      Nope. If it’s important for someone to talk to me, they can leave a message (or text me, which is my preferred method of communication anyway). If it’s not important enough for them to leave a message, then it’s not important enough for me to call them back.

      Exceptions are made for family members. If they called me instead of texting, it’s probably something time-sensitive or that needs to be discussed “in person”. (e.g. a family emergency)

    8. Lia*

      In my office, YES. That is the default “call me back” here for our team.

      I find it incredibly annoying but I seem to be the only one.

    9. MC*

      If it’s an unrecognizable number or trunk number no. If the number is 212 555 1000 then it’s a trunk number and you end up calling a receptionist or switchboard and saying “someone from this number called me” and who ever is answering the phone likely can’t help you.

      If it’s recognizable, especially if it’s a stored number in my phone – yes I will call back.

    10. Jennifer*

      This is an “it depends” question. Some people just use that as their version of leaving a message and some don’t.

      I don’t actually want to call you back if I don’t absolutely have to, so if you don’t tell me somehow what you wanted, I’m not going to bother. Especially if it’s some strange number that’s probably a telemarketer call.

    11. katamia*

      I usually don’t, but then I hate the phone and everyone who knows me knows that email is the best way to reach me. I’ll often Google the number, though, and see if it’s anyone I might want to talk to. In my case it never is, but in your case it could be.

    12. emvic*

      Depends on where you are on the Globe. AFAIK, Europeans usually tend to call back, at least more than Americans do. Where I live people call back unknown numbers, my guess being that we don’t really have that many vendors trying to sell by phone. Unlimited plans help also. I called back several times what proved in the end to be vendors, and each time they either didn’t answer but called back, or rejected my call and called back immediately.

    13. Evergreen*

      At work my MO is something like this (we all use mobiles so know who has called pretty much always):
      – if you’re probably calling to discuss a particular urgent issue, I’ll call back
      – if you’re perhaps calling to discuss something you perceive as urgent (but I don’t agree) I’ll send a short email outlining my availability to discuss by phone
      – otherwise no (including if I don’t recognise the number or if it’s a bolt out of nowhere). And never on my personal phone (unless I’m waiting on a delivery, or application or something)

    14. EmmaLou*

      Only if it’s a parent, and since they are all gone now except one of my husband’s, if one of them calls, I am calling right back! Otherwise, I’m going to assume it’s not important because you didn’t leave a message.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      This is funny. We have had other threads with people complaining about people who call back even though there was no message left.

      I do not call people who do not leave a message. I very seldom check my caller ID unless I am waiting for a SUPER important call. This means maybe once every five years I check my caller ID.

      The nature of my work is such that people tend to call me back with or without a message. They more or less have to call me back. I find that an amazing number of people do NOT have their voice mail set up and yet they will leave messages for me to call them back. These voice mail-less people also do not answer their phones. Personally, I wonder why they even have phones if they do not use them.

      I would say that easily half of these voice mail-less, non-answering people DO call me back just from the caller ID. It’s very funny to watch.

  35. plip*

    Interviewers looking at their watches constantly – anyone else find this unnerving? Interview went ok I would have said but for all the interview panel frequently checking their watches while I was talking!

    1. MsCHX*

      That is annoying. I would say they should have one timekeeper (because it IS important to stay within the allotted time) but everyone checking is rude.

    2. BRR*

      I wouldn’t like it but I could see being an interview and wanting to make sure I’m done on time so as not to hold up the process if there are others after me and also to make sure I have asked my big questions.

      1. BRR*

        I would say though if I was an interview that I’m checking just to make sure we keep running on time and apologize because it comes off as rude.

    3. Formica Dinette*

      That is super annoying. We recently had a candidate in for interviews with several of us in succession (as opposed to a longer group interview). I don’t know what the other interviewers did, but because the schedule was very tight, I sat in easy view of the clock and warned the candidate up front that I would be keeping an eye on it near the end of our session.

  36. Rob from NYC*

    Hey all, I posted here on an open thread a while back about a person at my company (it’s a big company and we don’t work together so I don’t call her a co-worker) who keeps making advances on me.

    I followed some of the advice I got on here: I mention I have a girlfriend whenever she tries to start a conversation with me, and I even get up and walk away whenever I’m working and she sits down for lunch right next to me (our company has an open plan office).

    But that stuff hasn’t done anything. She keeps coming in down to stare at me or approach me, and a few times she’s started touching me. The first time she did I shouted “Hey! Personal space!” But she said “I don’t know what you’re talking about” and everyone else looked at me like I was a weirdo.

    I went to HR after this, because she basically grabbed my butt. HR says they did an investigation and didn’t find anything so nothing has happened except for me feeling like an office pariah.

    I’m thinking about quitting over this, but I also want to give my boss an ultimatum about it. Or at least tell him that if nobody does anything about this he’s going to lose a good employee. Is it worth bringing this up with him, not in a “if you don’t get herfired right now I’m going to quit right now” way but a “she’s gone beyond being a creep, this is now sexual harassment, and how this is handled in the immediate future is going to define how my stay at this company goes” way?

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      You should call the police if she assaults you, which it sounds like she did.

      Definitely talk to your boss and say how unacceptable this is, and that you don’t feel safe in the workplace.

      1. Rob from NYC*

        I feel like my company is the type that’d fire someone for doing that. It would look horrible for them, but I’d be the one out of a job and my name would be plastered all over the media and search engines. Hate to be negative, but I feel like “She’s sexually assaulted me, according to the employee handbook that’s what this was. If we’re not doing something about this right now, I’m quitting” would probably be better. And it’s a bad idea.

        (Sorry for the late reply. I don’t use computers much over the weekend!)

    2. One Handed Typist*

      Have people been treating you differently since you went to HR? Has she backed off since you went to HR?

      Ultimatums are never successful; not in a meaningful way. Having a conversation with your boss is well worth the effort, especially if you explain to him that the harassment has you considering leaving the company. Frankly, I think this is a double-standard. If you were a female reporting this, they would take it seriously, but because you are male, they just think you are overreacting.

      “Feeling like an office pariah” isn’t good after a trip to HR but is it based on actions or your feelings? As in do you feel uncomfortable or do their actions make you uncomfortable? It’s a hard conversation to have with yourself but it may help you release some stress. If the office is changing their behavior around you because of this, then that is definitely something your boss needs to be made aware of.

    3. Audiophile*

      Oh no, that’s not ok at all.

      I’m female and I had a coworker do this (we were all from a staffing agency). So I reported it to my direct supervisor from the staffing agency, who laughed as I told him what was going on. After that I went to the client, and specifically the manager of the department I worked with, because it was really making me uncomfortable and they took action, largely because they were afraid I’d sue (they were a large financial company.)

      Since it sounds like you’re a direct employee, I would definitely speak to HR again. But I would also say to the aggressor, and it sounds like you’ve done this, “stop touching me.” I know the double standard exists, and I think it’s horrible, but that doesn’t mean you need to put up with it. Definitely push back.

    4. BRR*

      This is definitely something to bring to your manager. A good or even reasonable manager would be horrified this happened and would want to know. Take a look in your employee handbook because it’s probably addressed there and you might be able to cite the policy. I would say something like “Jane sexually harassed me. I reported it to HR but they did not find anything after an investigation. ” You can also go back to HR and say “this has been going on repeatedly, what will be done about it?” I wouldn’t phrase it as an ultimatum though.

      I would make sure you have written documentation of reporting the harassment to your manager and HR and HR’s reply. And follow up with an email with a subject like “Sexual Harassment Complaint” where you can say you’re documenting or following up your conversation so it’s crystal clear and bcc yourself to a non-work email.

      Always remember that you did nothing wrong, she did. Is it possible others are taking their cues from you about it or that your perception is off which commonly happens in these types of situations?

    5. neverjaunty*

      1) You should also talk to a lawyer in your area who specializes in representing employees. A lawyer can help you plan your exit from this crappy company.

      2) Don’t just talk to people. Follow up in writing any time you get something verbally, and print copies of any communications. (So, for example, if an HR person told you verbally “we didn’t find anything”, then email her: “Hi, Jane, I was just confirming that I understood you correctly. When we spoke this morning you said that you had looked into my report that Grabbinia has been harassing me and actually touched me inappropriately last Friday. You told me that you had done an investigation and couldn’t substantiate my complaint. Please let me know if I misunderstood you.”

      (There are two reasons for #2. One, so that you have written documentation of your efforts to go through channels. Two, because any half-sentinent manager will realize that you are about to be All Done and are creating a paper trail that is not going to lead anywhere happy for them, should they continue to coddle your harasser.)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t give ultimatums unless you are prepared to be jobless.

      To me worse than being jobless is to be so disrespected.

      Being on a tight budget myself, I think I might check with the Department of Labor as opposed to getting a private attorney. Get something from them. Go back to HR, your boss and say “oh, Look. This is what the DOL said.”

      I have to say that this ticks me off to the nth degree. If a guy did this he would be bouncing out the door on his butt. Why the different standard for women?

      Meanwhile, keep a written record of every time she comes near you. Just to be safe, keep a copy of the record at home.

    7. LizB*

      I don’t have any advice to offer, but I wanted to say I’m so sorry this is happening to you. This woman’s behavior is completely unacceptable, and it sucks that the rest of your company isn’t backing you up.

    8. ginger ale for all*

      In addition to the suggestion of speaking to your boss about it, would you be comfortable talking to an office friend about this? The possible scenario I thought of is when she starts pawing you, you tell her clearly to stop and you could have a witness for this. Another way it could go is that you and your friend both tell her to stop.

  37. Camry*

    I’m severely introverted and a new employee starting sharing my office on Monday. I’m struggling with this because I’ve been by myself for 6 months and I need some help being assertive for my own sanity.

    Some of the things he does:
    * Stands so close to me that I can feel his breath on my face. He’ll also stand close and if I move at all I brush against him. For the record I don’t get the impression that this is creepy behavior but more of him not having any boundaries. I have intentionally brushed him or given him side-eye when he stands too close.
    * He belches, snorts mucous, hums and talks to himself all day. I may have a little misophonia so I put on my headphones. He still tries to talk to me while headphones are in.
    * We have a cubicle separating us plus a panel with a half window. If i’m talking with someone in my cubicle he will lean back and stare/join in the conversation while staring at me through the window. I will ignore him and pretend he is not there but it’s bothersome. He also stares through the window when he talks to me (will just blurt out stuff while I’m working) or will scoot his char into my cubicle. Sometimes he will do this and not say a word – just sit there and stare. I have asked him, “Do you need something?” and he’ll say “I have a question,” etc.
    * We share an office with my cubicle seated beside a window with a large windowsill. Sometimes he will come over, push my things aside, and sit down on the windowsill. He has also been taking things off my desk and when I told him that we had a supply cabinet he said he knew.
    * He interjects in my conversations and tries to assert his authority/knowledge when he doesn’t yet fully understand his position.

    I’m sure a lot if this is petty but as an introvert it causes me a lot of recurring anxiety. How can I transition into having someone in my office without losing my mind?

    1. Catalin*

      “Please don’t do that.”
      Him: “I’m not doing anything”
      You: “I prefer my space/please don’t move my things/don’t use me as a supply closet/I feel like you’re staring at me/(Whatever he does you don’t like)
      Per the rude interjections, sarcasm might be your friend.
      Per unreasonable requests for you to do something beyond your scope (where he shouldn’t give you any direction because he’s not superior or a solid peer), my catchphrase is a painfully dry, “Yeah, Ima get right on that”. *This is a power tool for combatting mansplaining and misplaced condescension*

    2. Annie Moose*

      Gah, that sounds awful. That is totally not normal office-sharing behavior. He’s a weirdo who is way outside norms. It might help to come up with a script for each of those scenarios, even though there’s a lot of them… just be firm and consistent about it. And practice them so you’ve got them ready to go when the time comes. And repeat them constantly until he gets tired of it and knocks it off.

      e.g. he stands very close to you: “Could you step back? You’re REALLY close to me.”

      e.g. he talks to you when your headphones are on: “When I have my headphones on, it’s because I’m focusing on something. Please [IM me/email me/knock on my desk] to get my attention instead.” And feel free to ignore him when you have headphones on until he contacts you through your preferred method, just pretend you have your volume up so loud you can’t hear him.

      e.g. he takes things off his desk: be SUPER CLEAR about this. I know you shouldn’t have to, but clearly this guy is out of control, so tell him explicitly. “Do not take things off of my desk. If you need [office supply], get it from the supply closet.” “Do not move things on my windowsill, you have a chair to sit on.”

      It sounds like he’s taking advantage of your niceness/totally reasonable desire to avoid conflict to get what he wants. Definitely push back!!

    3. Rex*

      Ugh, sharing an office with someone with no boundaries is the worst! You’re going to have to be more direct with him.

      “You’re standing too close, please back up a little.”
      “I can’t talk right now, I’m under a deadline.” (Keep your headphones in and do your best to ignore the noises.)
      “If you need something work-related, please just come over and ask.” (Alternatively, can you block the window
      with something?)
      “Please don’t take my XXX, I need it.”
      “Excuse me, I was talking. Please don’t interrupt.”

      It is not petty, it’s okay to say these things.

      1. Drew*

        +1 to blocking the window. “I realized I wanted to put my calendar there where I could consult it but it wasn’t always in my line of sight.”

          1. Drew*

            Nthed. This guy is at best clueless about his behavior; I’d be more inclined to think he’s just a jerk.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Uh, actually, because OP has not told him NO he is just going to keep doing this things and adding to his repertoire of annoying habits.

        OP, there are people out there who do not take hints. It could be that they can’t read hints. It could be that they choose to ignore them. I think he is choosing to ignore them.

        By remaining silent you have basically told him, “It’s okay to walk all over me.”
        Your choices here are, a) speak up or b) watch this get worse.
        Unfortunately, speaking up is a skill you will need for the rest of your work life. So start cultivating that voice now. It will only benefit you in the future.

        Remember the rule of three. You see a behavior three times and you have a pattern. When you have a pattern that is when you speak up.

        “Bob, I have noticed you stand to close to me. I have asked several times for you to stop. Now I am telling yo