open thread – December 23-24, 2016

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

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

{ 1,002 comments… read them below }

  1. Future Analyst*

    Since we hear plenty about horrible managers (for good reason, and sometimes it’s just plain entertaining), I wanted to share an example of a great manager. Last week, a certain group within our company made the executive decision that our team will need to move to another office within two weeks. This was not well-received on our team: for some, it will more than double their commute, and I mentioned last week that for me, it would reduce my take-home pay significantly (extra childcare/gas/etc.). Some of us raised our concerns to our manager, and since then, my manager and my grand-boss have worked tireless to research alternatives and run them by the powers-that-be, as well as advocating on our behalf with the higher-ups. My manager has also been keeping us updated as much as possible: sometimes it’s only “hey, we’re still working on it,” but at least we’re informed.

    The issue is not yet resolved, and I may need to find another job in the end, but I am grateful to have such a responsive and supportive manager team. I really hope that I get to stay on their team, and I aspire to manage like them someday.

    Anyone else have a great manager?

    1. Temperance*

      My boss is really amazing. She secured a significant amount of raises for me this year – my comp will have increased by 50% as of 1/2. The two of us work very closely, and she always has my back. I had an unexpected health issue come up and was out for 5 weeks, and shockingly, it didnt’ impact me at all.

      She also gave me beer as a holiday gift.

          1. Garland Not Andrews*

            I find it very amusing that you are a total beer nerd and use the handle Temperance! :-)

    2. Sunflower*

      My boss is pretty great in the sense that she tries to do as much as she can with what she has control. There’s a lot of work in job that is ‘I know it’s ridiculous but because they run the place, we have to do it’ and my manager can’t control that. But when it comes to schedule flexibility, career growth/education options and generally just always making herself available and being open to listen when I have something to say, she’s great.

      1. AnitaJ*

        Is your boss my boss? That sounds exactly like mine! She’s truly amazing. She spends a lot out-of-pocket to treat her team (even though most people don’t know it’s her money) and make us feel appreciated, she pushes us to reach goals and gives us all the tools we’ll need, she understands that life is more important than work and that we should do what we need to do to take care of ourselves, and most importantly–she works to make sure we feel fulfilled and appreciated. Not just through happy hours or breakfasts or small gifts, but in PTO time and compensation! Also, she’s just a wonderful person. I’m super lucky.

    3. Mimmy*

      I know companies move for a variety of reasons – I get that. But to tell you the move would be within 2 weeks is insane. So glad your manager is advocating for you all! I hope it all works out for you!

      YES – more “good manager” stories please! I want to believe that there is still good in the working world! lol.

    4. Effie*

      When our office gets really and truly backed up (not because of inefficiency or laziness, from sheer client volume), our office director stuffs and stamps our envelopes.

    5. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      My boss and grandboss are the best managers I have worked with in over 20 years in the workforce. They’re fair, intelligent, appreciative and passionate to a degree I’ve never seen before. We were recently bought out by another company that have imposed some terrible changes impacting both productivity and morale, but they have both tried to keep a clear line of communication and do whatever they can within their power to mitigate the changes. Like you, I still may wind up getting another job, but their efforts have made staying here in the meantime bearable.

      1. bibliovore*

        My director gave a rave end of the year review round up to her boss and then sent an email to our home team with a rave quote to let us know. I seriously appreciated this as I know did members of my group .

    6. Sled dog mama*

      How about the boss who said I’ve tried everything I can to get grand boss to make a plan for you after the client you provide services to terminates their contract in six months. I think you need to start looking, here are some options that I saw that you are qualified for, I will be happy to be reference for you. And so you know I’m looking to exit the company too.
      And when I called to tell him I was taking another position said “:sigh: I’m sorry to lose you before the contract is up but not surprised they want you ASAP.”

    7. Elizabeth West*

      My angel OldBoss at NewExJob. Best boss I’ve ever had.

      –No freakouts or crazy stuff (we actually had a conversation about this once and we both had trauma from past managers, so relatable).
      –Accessible when needed.
      –Didn’t micromanage.
      –Trusted me to manage my own time.
      –Would let me go early on days before a holiday and pay me anyway.
      –Did my job for three weeks in 2014 when I was in the UK without complaining; I hadn’t had a real vacation in years and she knew I needed it.
      –Appreciated my jokes.
      –Reasonable when giving correction.
      –Took the time to train me when I first started.
      –Let me know when I did something well and mentioned that to other people.

      I loved her. I will never find another boss this cool. :'{

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I do have a super boss. A typical example: It’s a small thing to many bosses but to me it was a bfd and my boss understood instantly. Life being what it is I had been through some rocky stuff. But, hey. I got my home and my dog, keep going. One day my dog hurt himself. He jumped up to catch a toy, never caught the toy and dropped to the floor crying. I tried to help him in the ways I know how. By morning he was worse. I had to go to work. A friend said he would stop by, check on the dog during lunch and call me. At noon he called, “I have nothing good to say.” oh boy. I turned to my boss and said, “Something is really wrong with my dog…” I never finished the sentence. She said, “Get out of here. Go home.”
      She really knows me. She knew my dog is important to me. She also knew that I don’t mention him having difficulties, so this must be as a bad as I am saying. She also knew that if she really needed me we would figure out something together. (For ex: I could leave and come back later.)
      I called friends for a referral. In an odd turn of luck the veterinary-chiro just happened to be at their house when I called. The doc came here and my little guy was back to his usual bouncy self before dinner time. Although this part of the story had nothing to do with my boss, it made me feel even happier about my boss’ support for my concern. Bosses do have impact on people’s quality of life and never realize just how much impact they have.

      1. Chris*

        This is great! My three dogs are incredibly important to me, and having a boss that is supportive when I occasionally need to take time for their care is a priority.

    9. Central Perk Regular*

      I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful manager who is an advocate for me. This year alone, she has negotiated me a higher pay rate, taken me off a rather annoying project (coworker was bailing on the work because of “home stuff” and I was filling in; it got to be a very frequent thing instead of infrequent, so I asked to be taken off the project), and is recommending me for a promotion next year which (should) come with a pretty significant pay raise.

      She is also kind, considerate of her team having a strong work-life balance, and always celebrates our life choices. She is also hands off (which I LOVE) and let’s me just. do. my work. :)

    10. Chantel*

      At my last job, I had an absolutely incredible manager. It was my first job out of college, and I was working in and industry I had absolutely zero knowledge of, and my boss did a lot to help my confidence in myself and advocate for me throughout the company.

      A couple of months into my time there, we were in a meeting and he asked for suggestions on a project, and I said, “Well, I would say doing something like XYZ would be the best way to approach it,” and he said, “I trust your expertise, let’s go with that.” I was kind of blown away by it and it meant a lot to me! He was also just a generally really good manager, and trusted us to manage our time and do our jobs without a lot of micromanaging. He was always willing to help or get people to respond to us when they were ignoring us, and I just loved working under him. Unfortunately pretty much everything else about that company was awful and I ended up leaving.

      I think in a lot of ways I was spoiled, but I’m also glad that my first job and manager gave me confidence in pushing back on people above me (in a respectful, constructive way), because when I left that job to start a new one, the previous person in my position had had a lot of problems with our team’s manager telling her to do things that later went over really badly with people in other departments. She was never willing to speak up or defend herself, and she eventually was let go because there were so many issues! Now that I am here, and I’m willing to say, “I’m not comfortable doing that,” or “We need to check with Soandso before we make that decision,” it’s done a lot to repair relationships between our department and others.

    11. Anonykins*

      My boss is pretty great, but my grandboss is amazing. He has his moments of being a little inappropriate in telling us things we perhaps shouldn’t know about how he’s doing in his role, but it’s also refreshing to hear that someone two levels above you is struggling – it’s not just the underlings who are having trouble. He also regularly buys treats for the whole team as apologies for things we know he has no control over, and he makes it a point to attend team building events when he can.

    12. TheExchequer*

      My boss is amazing. When I need help, he’s as available as possible. When I don’t need help, he trusts me to do my thing and make the right decision, even in sometimes controversial decisions.

    13. Blueismyfavorite*

      My boss is great, too! He is a hands off kind off boss, which I love. He trusts me to get my job done without micromanaging me and when I do something good he always tells me I’ve done a good job. I’m so happy he’s my boss.

    14. Venus Supreme*

      I took an unpaid internship for an organization I’ve been a big fan of since high school. The internship lasted 9 months and my direct supervisor was due with her first baby right around the time I had finished the job- so basically she was pregnant the entire time I was there, haha. I’m not sure if it was because of her pregnancy or what, but she really became a second mom to me. I entered that internship without the slightest idea what was the norm in our industry and she worked with me SO MUCH on resumes, interviews, cover letters, you name it. She was such a powerhouse and we worked so well together. Since this was a small organization, I actually ended up working most parts of her job once she left on maternity leave- and there were no snafus! I actually had a job offer at another organization BEFORE I left that internship.

      We still keep in touch once in a while, but I 100% owe her to my success as a young working woman. I honestly haven’t worked with a manager/boss/higher up that has as strong leadership skills, time management skills, communication skills, and people skills as her.

    15. ShoeRuiner*

      I have a great boss. Current boss is best boss I’ve ever had. Clear expectations, treating us like humans, advocating for us, giving back to us what she can (comp days, flexible schedules, work from home – she doesn’t have much control over raises), joking with us, never makes us do ridiculous team builders, does appropriate team activities during work time so we don’t have to give up personal time. Listens to our ideas. Rewards us with good projects that we want. Cares about our PD. Will pass on new job opportunities to us when she sees something and she thinks we are ready (in a good way, not in a push-you-put way). I’m so grateful.

    16. The Kurgen*

      Yep! My boss is the greatest! Nearly every week he says or does something that evidences that. Among other things, he constantly praises the team publicly. Personally, he has encouraged me to take on several stretch projects for the department. He invests 150% in the team and backs us to the hilt, even when some have gone over to work in other departments. He says that his people are so talented, he knows it’s just a matter of time that other managers will poach us.
      I’ve never worked for such a supportive manager before. To have his backing means everything to me.

    17. AliceBD*

      My current boss is fantastic. She has changed around my duties so I’m no longer doing some tasks I am good at but which aren’t really under my role, I find very boring and repetitive, and take up a lot of my time — so now I have time to focus on other things. She trusts me to do things on my own and respects my advice in my area of expertise. She’s advocating for me to get a raise (if I don’t get one, it’s not any fault on her part). She knows I’m job searching and encourages it, because neither of us has much of a future at our current company (it’s a decent company, but a very flat structure where everyone stays for 40 years so no place to move up to).

    18. Tilly W*

      My former boss told me that nothing we did at work was more important than family. He told me this after I told him my mom had cancer. For the next year, every other week he would tell me to leave at 3 pm on Wed so I could drive five hours to my mom’s house and on Thursdays, I’d work a half day from my mom’s home and be able to spend the afternoon with her at chemo. (We had every other Friday off.) His flexibility and empathy during that time is something I don’t take for granted. And I feel like I worked harder for him since he was willing to do that for me (it wasn’t a very WFH friendly place).

  2. Ghost Pepper*

    What’s the longest you’ve ever waited – after an in-person interview – to hear back from a job? Whether it was a job offer or rejection.

      1. Audiophile*

        This made me laugh. I’m there right now, interviewed for a job before Thanksgiving, they asked about contacting references and said they’d be in touch in a few weeks.

        I don’t follow up anymore, so I hear from a lot of potential employers never.

      2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Ha. I once received a rejection for a job about 2 weeks after I started in said job. Whoops! Forgot to take me off the distribution list! (In fairness, there were a boatload of applicants.)

        Having done form rejections myself, we would often wait to send them out – both interviewed and not considered – until the candidate of choice actually started. And, yeah, when you are waiting like that and if you have a lot of other pressing deadlines? It does often get put to the bottom of the pile. So sometimes those letters (actually, usually, emails if we could) would go out 2-3 weeks after Candidate started. Not good, I realize.

        I feel like if/when I am in this position again (in my current role I don’t deal directly with this, and even if I did am not in a position to shift policy on this), I would probably push to change this. If someone was a second choice candidate and got a rejection letter, then 2 weeks later got a call to say, “Hey, so that hire fell through, but we also think you are great, what do you say?” it is unlikely to be too poorly received. And I would like to get the list of interviewees from the program so that I could more timely notify those not being interviewed, thanks but no thanks.

        1. KL*

          Something similar happened to me once. I received my rejection notice about 1.5 years later (6 months working and a year after leaving). It was a temp position they were always filling until the project ended.

        2. ali*

          ha! That happened to me in my current job – 4 years ago now. Sounds like it’s more common than I thought!

        3. Chaordic One*

          At one place I worked the new person’s first assignment was to create the rejection letter, type copies with the other applicants names and then it to them.

          I actually accepted a position back in October at “Company B,” but was then told that there was a “hiring freeze” and they couldn’t start me right away. I’ve been bugging them every couple of weeks to keep in touch and the hiring freeze still seems to be in effect.

          Meanwhile, I’ve accepted a short-term seasonal retail job which should last for a week or so more. If the hiring freeze at Company B ends before I find something else, then I’ll go to work at Company B, but if something at least as good comes along then I’ll go for that instead. I’m sure that Company B would understand.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      What Murphy said. I’m still waiting (for a rejection). For a job offer… about 3 weeks, if I remember correctly.

      1. Murphy*

        Yeah, I’m assuming it was a rejection. Were they to offer me the job now, a mere 4 years later, I would sadly have to decline.

    2. Lore*

      My current job, I interviewed in May, never heard back, then heard from them in October asking me to come interview again and was offered the job shortly after that round of interviews. Another one, I had three interviews in July, never heard back, then heard from them in December, apologetically, saying they’d rethought the position and was I still interested? I had one more phone interview after that, then never heard from them again. In March of the next year, I saw the announcement when they hired someone. (So even for that guy, it was four months!)

        1. Lore*

          Oh, yeah, I was ultimately relieved, especially when the company, two years later, was sold, then the sale fell through, then they were sold again to the same buyer that pulled out a year earlier.

    3. AMPG*

      My favorites are the interviews where they go out of their way to emphasize their commitment to transparency and communication during the hiring process and swear up and down that you’ll be contacted whether you move forward or not, and then…nothing. You get zero points for lip service, people.

    4. JHS*

      For the job I just got, I submitted the application in July, interviewed in the middle of August then a second interview a week later, then RADIO silence until the beginning of October and I didn’t get the offer until November! I am starting in January.

    5. Confused Teapot Maker*

      For job offers, my other half had a four month wait a while back. He assumed he’d been rejected and they’d just not told him. Turns out, the recruitment department had just had a miscommunication about who was responsible for keeping him in the loop (to their credit, they were mortified and immediately apologised when they realised how long it had been since anybody last spoke to him). He ultimately turned the job down for a variety of reasons but I also think this didn’t help swing things in their favour.

    6. Mimmy*

      I just got a rejection nearly 2.5 months after applying for a job – I never got an interview but I think that is the longest I’ve waited between applying and hearing *anything*. I can think of only one other time I waited a long time – years ago I interviewed for an office position at a courthouse 2 months after applying. Nowadays that’s probably not long, though.

    7. voluptuousfire*

      For me, interviewed for a job in mid July and removed myself from the process because the job was much different than the job advertised. Got an email rejecting me on December 30th of the same year, letting me know they filled the role. I was in the role I’m in now for 3 months, so I had a good hearty laugh at that.

    8. murray*

      Government job – applied in April, interviewed in May, was offered the job in September and started in October. Bureaucratic wheels move sloooooooow.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s fast! I have a friend who waited 9 months before being offered a gov’t job, and another who waited 1.2 years!

    9. ace*

      No response is really common — honestly, more common than any response, which is sad.

      This year I interviewed for a job in August, and in response to my inquiry in September was told that the manager was likely moving forward with other candidates. I heard nothing more and figured I wouldn’t hear anything more …. Then, this past week (more than 3 months after I got the soft-rejection) I got a email from the recruiter saying “hey, we really aren’t going to hire you.” I’d already written the job off, but getting a bonus second rejection the week of Christmas was particularly frustrating.

    10. Gollum*

      Applied online for a job with the state DoC office in early February, did the in-person interview in the second week of March. The night after the interview, I applied at a local financial institution. That Thursday, I did a phone screening. Following Monday, in-person interview with supervisor and HR, then met with the CEO. Three days later, job offer, starting two weeks later.

      Six weeks after starting, I get a call from the state, indicating they want to offer me the job at basically the same pay I was already making. Turned it down, and I’ve been with the same organization almost four years.

      Given that my state government has yet to pass a budget for almost two years, I think I lucked out!

      1. Amadeo*

        Gee, I think I know which state you live in. I left a job with a state university in May and went to work across the river for the other local university. I could not stand not knowing if I’d be able to keep my job so I peaced out.

    11. AliCat*

      There was a large international corporation that was doing a national drive for regional operations managers. My fiancé applied for the job for his area and was instantly sent a “you meet our requirements please take the an aptitude test in the following link within the next 72 hours in order to still be considered”. So he took that. Two weeks later he got an email saying he passed the test and he needed to fill out the enclosed questionnaire within a week to be considered. The questionnaire was really in depth questions about what he would do in a variety of situations. About a month later he got a response that he had been chosen to go into the interview stage – a recorded video interview where he would have to sign into a program that would give him prompts and he would have to record himself answering them. So he did that. They said they would contact him when someone evaluated his video. Finally they ::gasp:: called him and said they would like to schedule him for a full day interview and presentation session at the nearest headquarters. So he drove four hours to the headquarters (in a different country) and spent the full day in group interviews (with other applicants from other regions) and went through another series of tests. A week later they called him and said that they loved him, they wanted to hire him, but he was going to have to be patient because his region wasn’t a top priority. They explicitly said that it could take up to three months to get the paperwork and that he should shoot the hiring manager an email once a month to get an idea of what was happening or to update her if he had any other offers. That was in March. He’s checked back about four times since then and they are still saying that “he’s on their radar” and “they would love to extend an offer as soon as they can”.

      1. AliCat*

        Oooh I should also mention that in September he got a rejection letter. About 15 minutes later he got a email from the hiring manager saying “please disregard that previous email, it was sent to you in error. We look forward to talking to you about your future at Company X soon”.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been trying to move on right after. Query rejections have been good practice for this. :P If it went well, I’ll follow up in a week or two, but then after that, I pretend they don’t exist.

      1. Trillian*

        I once baffled a friend by saying, “Yes, they rejected me, but they rejected me *quickly*.” Submitting novels has made me grateful for quick rejection.

    13. Sled dog mama*

      Hmm….well if you count some of the positions I applied for straight out of college 10.5 years without hearing anything. Longest between application and actually hearing something was about six months which is an eternity in my profession.

    14. katamia*

      Maybe 6 months for a rejection. I’ve never heard back on the status of the vast majority of my job applications, though, so I still find it a little surprising that so many people here on AAM think it’s such a bad thing when that’s always been the norm for me–I just apply and forget about it.

    15. LQ*

      I had a job. Initial in person interview in I believe July. A follow up in August. Then nothing until another interview in January. (It was the same position not a new one, or they found someone and this was a different job.) Then in February they wanted another interview. I bowed out of the process. Apparently I was their final candidate so they were a little disapointed. (I’d gotten a big promotion to a position I wanted/permanent/etc, rather I was 75% sure I was going to get it and that was more than enough to bow out of the process for that job.)

    16. Anonykins*

      Interviewed in April, got married and changed my name in June, then got called in for training for a parallel role (but not the one I interviewed for) in Oct! A few yrs later started interviews for a job in Feb, went well through March didn’t hear back until mid-May with an offer. I think it’s my industry. I also got offered a job (which I took) with a franchise of a company I was already working for solely on the basis of my resume – no interview. This job then paid for my ticket to the literal other side of the world!

    17. Dzhymm, BfD*

      It took me about three weeks to get a job offer. Turns out that the day after I interviewed the relevant VP took off for a two-week vacation, so nothing happened while he was gone. I went so far as to write that interview off and contacted a headhunter, when all of a sudden the very nice offer came through.

      What was really awkward was running into a couple of the folks I interviewed with at a lunch spot. Not knowing my status (future colleague? pariah?), I offered nothing but a perfunctory greeting.

      I’d definitely do things differently now.

    18. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      My last job I interviewed in February and didn’t hear back for months. I assumed I had been ghost rejected. Then I heard from them in June that I’d get an offer letter soon if I was still interested. I got the offer at the end of June and started mid-July. It turns out that they were dependent on securing a particular project in order to fund the position.

    19. overeducated*

      Not counting the “nevers,” about four months for a form “thank you for applying, but we have filled the position” email from HR after flying out of state for two days and two nights for a lengthy interview. I actually had a missed call from that state about a month later that might have been a more personal rejection, but they didn’t leave a message.

    20. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Longest I’ve ever waited for a job that ultimately delivered some sort of rejection was six months, which is wildly, exponentially longer than hiring timelines ever take at my level in my field. (I teach in K-12.) I applied to one district over two years ago and I do still get mass emails from their HR department that are like, “We do not have any teaching positions that match your qualifications, but we are looking for 10-hour per week support staff.”

      The longest I’ve ever waited to hear back from a job that made me an offer is actually my current job. 7 weeks, 5 of which was silence following a phone screen, an in-person interview, and a demo lesson. I assumed they had moved on and let a call from the principal go to voicemail on my way to another interview, assuming that she must have butt-dialed me by accident.

    21. HRish Dude*

      I got a job offer at Walgreens in 2002. I was to wait for my start/orientation date.

      Haven’t heard from them yet.

    22. Venus Supreme*

      Many were never. One waited about 12 weeks to give me a no. The longest I’ve waited for a “yes” was about 2 1/2-3 weeks between communication.

    23. Red Reader*

      I interviewed for an internal position in early August and got the offer the first week of January.

    24. Pineapple Incident*

      I laughed at the ‘never’ comment, but of the ones I actually heard from, it was about 6 weeks, and only after I emailed saying something along the lines of “I’m sure your team has moved forward with a different candidate- I’m just interested in any feedback you might have for me about my interviews.” I was really miffed at that one- I met 9 people in 4 interviews over 2 weeks for that job, and they didn’t even have the courtesy to send me an email to tell me I was out.

    25. harry*

      2 full months after 2 in person interviews. Sent 3 emails in between. After the 3rd email, I got a response 5 min after that they went with an internal candidate.

    26. Rebeck*

      Interviewed in May 2013. Was told “we’ll be in touch early next week – we really want this job filled”. Never heard from them. Five months later they offered the job, no interview required, to my former manager who had just been fired.

      1. HardwoodFloors*

        One year I interviewed in person in mid-September for a job and didn’t hear anything. I started at a different company in mid-October full time. Then towards the end of December I received a snail mail written rejection for the first job. I almost wrote back ‘what you can’t email me?’ or ‘Duh, I figured you weren’t interested.’

    27. Nic*

      For CurrentJob, I was told there would be a five week period before I heard back due to rigorous background checks. It turned out to be three months. I reached out to someone I knew in the office who let me know that someone had left unexpectedly and they had to fill that position first.

      Turns out to be totally worth the wait, though! I was at CurrentJob within 3 weeks of hearing back and it is a zillion times better than OldJob.

  3. Audiophile*

    Anyone else think yesterday was Friday and find themselves sorely disappointed when the open thread wasn’t there? I guess it was just me.

    I setup an out of office message for the first time in my professional life (yesterday was my Friday) and it was so freeing. I did log into my email server last night to send direct boss a message, but that’s it.

    Finished my Christmas shopping, I’m officially on break!

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      Yes, yesterday totally felt like Friday to me too. Especially since we went to my boyfriend’s team’s holiday party last night. It was such a buzzkill to still wake up at 5:20 this morning.

      But I get to leave early today!

      1. Purest Green*

        Same here! My brain keeps waking up asking “it’s the last day right?” like a puppy excited to go on a walk. And every day I have to keep telling it, no, brain, no. And it gets a deeply sad looks in its eyes and presses its nose against the widow, disheartened.

      2. Michele*

        Seriously. Yesterday when the alarm went off I said something about wishing it was Friday because I needed a four day weekend, and my husband pointed out that I have been saying that every morning this week.

      1. overeducated*

        I agree! And Tuesday felt like Wednesday, which meant yesterday felt like over time :) (Today wasn’t as bad because the last two of us in my division who aren’t taking vacation days teleworked and were granted an early dismissal. That was nice at least.)

    2. TwinCitiesHR*

      Jealous of all of you!

      And I’m still stuck at work today, we are only closed on Monday. : (

      At least its potluck day!

    3. Forever Anon*

      Me!! I’ve been sick with the bronchitis going around NYC (any other cities getting it?) and one of my bosses who never gives clear instructions was in town this week. I’m the only full time staff member at my office and took a sick day last week while I was alone so I couldn’t use another one this week. I’ve spent the last few nights waking up thinking “Yes! It’s finally Friday!!” only be sad when I realized I had a few more days.

    4. Micromanager*

      On Tuesday I thought it was Thursday, but my head got straightened out by yesterday.
      I wanted to reply to your post though to congratulate you on your first-ever out-of-office. I had to call one of my employees the other day because he’s out for 3 weeks on staycation and neither set up his email out-of-office nor his voicemail out-of-office. And his VM is full, and his work-provided cell phone VM isn’t set up. (We’ll be having a chat about how to do that when he comes back.) I can’t have people not knowing he’s out, so yes, I bothered him at home.
      THREE WEEKS! You can’t leave for 3 weeks and not let anyone who might be contacting you know.
      (I’m not in the wrong here, am I?)

      1. Names Are Hard*

        It’s very reasonable to ask that an out of office be set up if someone is out for three weeks. If he can set that up remotely, I think it’s also reasonable to contact him and ask him to do so.

      2. Audiophile*

        Thanks! It was pretty exciting to set that up, though also time consuming because you can only do it through the email server. I’m not even taking a week off, I’ll be back at work on Tuesday. I agree that if you’re taking 3 weeks off, you absolutely need to set up an out of office e-mail and voicemail message.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Yes! Especially as they let us work from home if we wanted to on Thursday (Family Day – so if you didn’t want to deal with a bunch of kids running around the office, it was cool to stay home) and Today (half day at any rate anyway). I got so much done though that Im thinking this move to more work from home that will be happening over the next 18 months will be a good thing.

    6. Jean*

      I didn’t even think about setting an out-of-office message! But I work for a (private) school so hopefully nobody will be expecting me to be around too much.

  4. Sunflower*

    Has anyone taken a step back from their career for a few years to fulfill a part of their personal life and how did that affect your career/job prospects?

    I’m 28(in the US) and have been considering quitting my corporate job to do something that lets me travel more. Last year, I was 3 months away from doing this when I was offered the job I have now. This job was the best next step(in my field, good/large company) and the travel was more of a ‘because I have nothing better going for me’ thing. Now I’m wondering if I really want to stick with event planning and the desire to travel or do something different is enveloping my life. I’m considering either doing temp work in Australia or possibly teaching in SE Asia. I also think working in Europe or UAE would be a good if I wanted to stick with something that relates to my long term goals but will be more difficult to secure a position.

    I’ve always been extremely career oriented and the idea of putting my career on hold to do something that appeals to my personal wants/life is a very different and frightening concept that I never thought I would do. I plan on settling back down after a few years and I had SO much trouble finding a job when I didn’t have one- I’m terrified of leaving this good situation and getting stuck unemployed and depressed. So has anyone been there before?

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Yes, I have. And I am right in the middle of the transition from personal discovery time to the next step– moving into a career that fulfills me. I was a school teacher for some time, quit, and moved to a different state to just see what I could see. I took a job as a dishwasher at a ski resort, volunteered as a mobile game slaughter tech (overseen by USDA), maintained an ancient aqueduct system in the US southwest, and drove the elderly and disabled to appointments.

      Sunflower, I was just about your age when I made this change. I lived on savings from my job as a teacher (yes it’s possible). I was terrified. I was raised in an orthodox Jewish family and you simply did not put happiness before a livelihood. But I did it. It was the greatest move I ever made. I hated my life before. During this transition, I also learned about myself and how very little it took to make me happy. I didn’t need cable, shopping, new clothes. I just needed to be myself. Right now, I’m an intern in a government agency where I connect people to resources they need. I took my time to find my passion and now it seems it’s going to pay off. I’m just right on the edge of having the exact life I want and know that I will never cry all the way to work like I did everyday as a teacher.

    2. the gold digger*

      I have sort of been there and I have to tell you that I think my career has suffered. I quit a great job after 5 years to attend grad school (MBA), then I joined the Peace Corps. It took me 18 months after the Peace Corps to find a job, but, every job I have gotten since then I got because of my PC experience.

      After 8 years at a really good job (I will never see that salary, bonus, and benefits again), I was laid off. I had just met my husband and we decided I would not work, which was fabulous for the few years it lasted, but then he wanted to take a leave of absence from his job to run for office, so I got a job.

      The new job paid less than half of what I was making before I was laid off. Even now, four years later, in a new job, I am only at 90% of my 2005 salary and definitely do not have 20% bonus.


      I know many people who started working the day after they graduated from college and have never stopped. Now, in their middle age, they feel stuck. They never had adventure. They are bored. They have been doing the same thing for 30 years. Even if they have a high-level position (VP, partner at a major law firm), they feel stuck.

      Now is the time to do something like this. The older and more established you get, the harder it becomes. Even though I am not and will never be a VP or even have a door again (sob), I do not regret my two years in the Peace Corps or the time I spent not working. (Not working, if someone else is paying the bills, is the most lovely thing in the world! You get to sleep late and volunteer for causes you care about, like early childhood literacy.)

      1. Future Analyst*

        Yes to everything after “HOWEVER.” I try to balance the things that I want now with what I think I’ll want later, and include “will I feel stuck/hate my life when I’m 45?” I save for retirement, but still spend money on travel/fun now. Life’s too short to focus only on work, and some people work their whole lives in jobs they barely tolerate, only to hit retirement age and realize that they can’t travel the way they always imagined they would be (or worse, don’t live long enough).

        OP of this thread: go for it. Travel/ live abroad now if you can swing it. My husband was in a meeting with his company’s CFO and another C-suite exec, and when asked about regrets for their 30+ year careers, BOTH said they wished they had worked abroad at some point.

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        If you’ve got the urge & the means, do it now. Don’t wait. Life will never again be as simple as it is today and the excuses will just pile up.

    3. Denise*

      In my humble opinion, unless you have something in particular you want to do while travelling, or you can figure out how to make travel a part of your job, I wouldn’t just up and leave–not just to travel. At least not until you have more years of experience that you could fall back on upon returning.

      You know, there has been a rise in the number of companies that allow their employees to work from anywhere in the world. FlexJobs has lists of such companies. They are mostly tech jobs, but they also have roles in customer service, HR, operations, etc. Toptal is an example of a company like that. Looking in that direction might give you the flexibility to go wherever you want whenever you want without leaving a gap on your resume.

      1. Tuckerman*

        Agreed. Or at least, if she is going to up and leave, she should have money for x number of months travel, and x number of months expenses when she returns.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      Think about other personal goals you might have. Do you plan on having kids or living somewhere else down the line? If you loosely intend to start having a family by the time you’re, say, 35, I’d factor that into your decision to leave a long-term gig in favor of several short-term ones. It’s not impossible, but it adds a degree of difficulty to re-entering the workforce if your resume looks a little job-hoppy.

      Is your industry one that values commitment? Is it easy to get back into it after time away, or would you have to start back over at the bottom? Is it possible to work your way up or move to a different company that offers more vacation time?

    5. Emac*

      I did something like that when I was around 31, though my case was slightly different in that I didn’t have what I would have called a career when I left to teach abroad. I had a good administrative job at a major university that probably could have turned into a career, but it wasn’t anything I was interested in long term. I had always been told I should be a teacher, so I decided to combine my desire to travel with seeing how I liked teaching and went to teach English in S. Korea.

      When I came back to the U.S., it was hard to find a steady job, but it was also 2010 and the economy was still recovering I think. And I was also trying to stay in the ELS field here and didn’t know about all of my options. I think if I had been more proactive and networked more, I would have found something sooner.

      But even if it had taken me longer to find a steady job, the traveling was definitely worth it. I sometimes think about how much I would be making now if I had stayed in my job at the university (probably 20-30k more that I am now), but I also wouldn’t have found a field that I’m really passionate about and learned how to adapt and depend on myself in completely new environments. The only thing I would change is to learn how to budget better and about unemployment – I had a good chunk of savings when I first came back, but blew through most of it while looking for a job.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*


      After attending graduate school and spending four years at my first career-track job, I came to a sort of personal crisis at about your same age: I was burned out, didn’t want to stay at my current job, knew I couldn’t move up or even laterally in the (small) organization, and couldn’t see any other work I wanted to do. After a year or so of deliberating, I decided to quit my job and spend a year living at a Quaker retreat center as a resident student — to reset, re-evaluate, and consider a new way of living.

      It changed nearly everything about my life. I moved across the country, lived in a dorm, met my husband, became Quaker. I worked in the kitchen to pay my way (I ended up spending about $10,000 to do this. Most of that went to the retreat center to cover my housing and food; I deferred my student loans and so was just paying for my cell phone. I had inherited about half that earlier that year, and I used savings and a credit card to cover the rest).

      I thought I was going to come out of it with a clearer sense of the kind of work I wanted to do. That didn’t happen, but what I got out of it was even more valuable.

      It did take me about 8 months after leaving the retreat center to get my next career-track job. In the meantime, I temped and had a part-time contract doing work that was sortof related to my background (I got both the temp gig and the contract through family connections; I was super lucky). But in the end I don’t think it set me back at all — my next career job was an appropriate promotion, with a 30% increase in salary from the job I had left to go to the retreat center.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I just went back to read my cover letter and resume from that application. I would have said that I addressed it head on, but it turns out I did the opposite. I didn’t acknowledge the time off at all, and just focused on what I was bringing to the table. I think it helped significantly to have the contract gig on my resume, because that showed me doing semi-relevant work after the break.

          I don’t remember how we talked about it in my interview. I’m very sure we did, even if just in a chatty way.

          In general, my experience has been — about many things in the interviewing process, not just this — that if you’re confident about what you’ve done people aren’t going to worry too much about it. Treating it as a normal, positive part of my story helps others to see it that way.

    7. HR Newbie*

      If I can add a similar question; what has been your experience if you take off a few years (3-6) to raise children and then want to return to the workforce for career minded individuals. Do you have to start all over again? Should you be taking contract positions during this time?

      Sunflower; I’m 26 in HR and I feel like if you are working/volunteering in your field during your travel time (as it sounds like you plan on doing) it won’t seem like a bizarre step to employers.

      1. Clever Name*

        I took 2 years off to have a baby, and I didn’t have to start over in entry level positions, but I have a M.S. in a STEM field. My first job out of school really wasn’t entry level either, I think because I have worked steadily in my field all through college and had a prestigious internship while in grad school. I’ve been really lucky, though.

    8. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      I took three years off from high-level corporate work to run my own arts-related business full time. When I returned to the workforce, for me personally I had to start over again at a just-over-entry level job. There were just way too many other candidates for higher-level positions that had not been out of the loop like I had been, and I wasn’t able to compete with them.

    9. Mimmy*

      I’ll be following this thread for responses as I’ve sort of been in this quandary myself (see my own thread below). For the past 5 years, I’ve been volunteering as a grant reviewer and serving on advisory councils to try to gain different experience and skills after having no luck finding a new job after some previous missteps. Now I’m trying to get my way back in.

    10. Former Expat*

      My husband and I left to go work abroad for his job 2 years ago. I left a great job, ok pay, but great team and in an industry I wanted to work in. While abroad, I worked at a company in an industry I didn’t want to stay in, and then moved to a job I did want to stay in. This means I had 3 jobs in less than 3 years, and when we moved back to the US, the first question from every employer was – why do you have so many jobs in so few years? (My longest position before our move was 2 years, and I was 4 years out of college when we had moved).

      While this situation isn’t exactly the same, I’d figure out a good road plan now for what to do when you get back. If you’re volunteering/working in the same field that you want to stay in while abroad, that’s a lot more understandable than, I just wanted to travel more. What do you hope to get out of it?

    11. blackcat*

      While I was teaching high school, I lived on like 30% of my salary and spent over 20% of it every summer on traveling around the world for 6 weeks.

      No regrets. I missed out on some professional development stuff and my boss was really displeased one year when suddenly something was SO URGENT in July*, but it was always a great decision.

      *I came back with “My contract says I am 10 month employee. If you want me around for 11 or 12 months, you need to pay me for that.” And the thing was totally not that urgent.

    12. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It honestly depends on your industry and professional goals, Sunflower. I have at least a half dozen friends who worked right after graduation, paid off their loans, saved a ton of money and then took 1-2 years off to travel the world (seriously, one friend just did 500 days of travel). BUT, in all of those cases they were either changing the kind of job they were doing (e.g., moving from the private sector to government) or were changing geographies (e.g., leaving City A, traveling, relocating in City B). Also, most of my friends live in California, where it doesn’t really hurt your job prospects to take a year out to get your “eat pray love” on.

      I have a friend who is super career-oriented, but she still travels internationally 2-3 times each year. She’s great at her job (although way overworked, imo), and she banks her PTO and vacation time and will travel abroad for 10 days to 3 weeks in June, October, and December/January. It’s always worked for her, and her career does not seem to have suffered at all. Because she’s often working 80-100 hour weeks, her supervisors understand that PTO is absolutely necessary to keep her from burning out and that travel is very important to her. So you could also consider blending in your travel time instead of taking a full year or more to travel.

      1. Becky*

        Every other year or so I take a 2-3 week vacation to travel. I’ve traveled to the UK, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. I just keep my team informed and let my manager know super well in advance.

      2. Dan*

        Geeze. I work 40 hours a week and get a 4 weeks PTO. I’ve been taking them all at once, but I’m trying go a little more often for a little shorter period of time. We have flex time, so it’s not hard to take three weeks where two weeks are PTO and one week is flexed.

        I’ve been to 30 countries at this point.

    13. So Many Allisons*

      I stepped away from work to travel for 2 years when I was 26-28. I was a teacher in my early 20s, was ready to transition to a more policy-oriented career and took a couple of years off to travel and ponder what was next. After traveling, I moved to New York City in 2008 (start of the recession) and transitioned to the nonprofit sector.

      I had to HUSTLE when I re-entered the workplace. I was a 29-year-old intern, which was humbling. My nonprofit work was initially low-paying and part-time at first, so I worked a second job bartending and waiting tables for many years (I actually waited on the provost of my university one night – again, humbling). But it all paid off – I’m at the director level now, making 6 figures. It’s been 10 years since I left for my travels, so I’ve been reflecting on it quite a bit – I don’t regret a thing. It was an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. And a solitary experience in a different country or countries really prepares you for anything life throws at you.

      I wouldn’t make the decision hastily, but if you’ve explored worst-case scenarios and are ready to hustle and be humbled when you re-enter the workforce, go for it.

      1. overeducated*

        I would love to hear more about how you got from being a 29 year old intern to a director making 6 figures!

    14. Central Perk Regular*

      I’m following this because I’m interested in the replies. I would like to start a family in the next year or so, and would like to potentially cut back to part-time. I’m hesitate because I have a pretty flexible job with a really cool, laid-back manager. On the other hand, I’m going through “corporate burnout” and looking to do something more meaningful, if that makes sense. I also don’t want to put my child in day care (for numerous reasons) and we don’t have family in the area that can help.

      1. IowaGirl*

        I took several years off when my kids were small.

        This is where you follow Sheryl Sandberg’s advice and lean in Now. Be so good that they want t keep you around part-time or want to hire you back in a few years. (Also save as much money as you can before you have kids, that pot of money will make it much easier to consider taking some time off)

        I went back to my corporate job at the same level as when I left. It can be done!

    15. KR*

      Today is my last day of a job that I’ve been at for years. It’s just about to turn full-time and has increased significantly in pay recently. It kills me inside to turn it down since it’s serious money for someone my age, in my area, and at this point in my career but I’m moving 3000 miles away to live with my husband on a military base.

      Part of the deciding factor for me was that I had serious wanderlust but I knew once I got this job I wouldn’t want to move away from it because of the pay. My husband and I have also been long distance for the longest time and it was starting to damage our relationship and take a mental toll on both of us. I just wanted to be near him and his career doesn’t give him a choice in where he lives right now.

      There isn’t a strong job market where I’m moving and I’m worried about finding a job. It was a hard choice but I’ve made it for better or for worse. I’m young and skilled and there will be other job offers in my life… I have to keep reminding myself that.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      Not career, but I did give up grad school to focus on my writing, rather than academic stuff. I knew halfway through I wasn’t going to go for a doctorate (and they didn’t tell me I needed a master’s IN MY SUBJECT to teach in the state; just let me go in for Education!). I wanted to teach adults not kids, but whatever. So I bailed.

      And wrote three books!

      And am still sitting here without a decent job! So I can’t tell you if it’s a good idea or not. If it could lead you on a career path you are excited about, though, I’d go for it.

    17. Sled dog mama*

      I started teaching high school straight out of college and hated it, stuck with it for a bit and then decided I was miserable and anything would be better. I was very lucky to stumble upon my current career very soon after deciding to leave teaching (and yes I do view it as current because the moment it stops being fulfilling I will be reevaluating).
      Hubby is similar he had no idea what to do straight out of college so went in a direction someone else suggested. He was lucky that a very specific sub specialty of college that career was appealing and fulfilling for a while but three years ago he quit to be a full time stay at home dad and hasn’t regretted it for a second. Now we’re looking at him going back to work and he’s still not sure what he wants to do and he’s almost 40.

    18. Sunflower*

      WOW so many replies thanks! I should note that I 100% am changing cities in my next job regardless of what path I take or if I stick with this industry. I’m leaning towards going towards a sales role in my next position so I may have to start off entry-level regardless of what I chose to do.

      I’m lucky that my parents(and older sibling) are still around and when I return, I am welcome to move back in while I job search(I’d also take on some sort of part-time work in the meantime) so I don’t need to be too worried about basic necessities when I do come back jobless.

      I’m someone who has to do A TON of research before making a decision so I thank all of you for contributing your thoughts and experiences!! Love this community so much and I’m so thankful you for all of you guys!

      1. k*

        Just a note about going entry level at your age…I’m the same age as you and about two years ago quite the job I hated to start over in a new industry, which I’m actually passionate about. It was really scary since I’d put so many years into building my old career. Until I realized that in the scheme of things, I’m young, those years at my old job aren’t really that long, and starting over now isn’t as dramatic as I thought. Much easier now than 20 years from now! So I say go for it and good luck!

    19. Coffee Owl*

      I advise caution and clear direction.

      Background: after spending 4 years in entry level accounting, I spent a year and a half in Francophone West Africa doing the books for a non-profit working with disabled Africans in one of the poorest countries in the world. It was challenging and difficult and worth it, but dear heavens did it screw up my finances and career trajectory and plunged me into serious depression and loneliness. On the other hand, it triggered the chain of events that led to meeting my husband and helped me to understand what kind of things I want to do and person I want to be when I grow up. I wouldn’t have NOT done it, given 20/20 hindsight, but I would have definitely done it differently. I absolutely understand what you’re feeling cause I felt it too, so I’d sit down with yourself and maybe a journal and some tea and ask yourself the following question:

      – Am I truly wanting to Go Somewhere to Do Something or do I just not want to be Where I Am? Note: there doesn’t have to be anything objectively bad or wrong with where you are right now for you to want to be somewhere (someone?) different. It just means that you’re growing beyond the life you have and that’s a great thing! But it also means you don’t necessarily need to completely uproot your life either. There are tons and tons of ways to enact a change that will help to fulfill that itch you’re feeling, like volunteering or starting a side business or taking up a new hobby.

      – On the other hand, if the answer is “YES, DEFINITELY, I really have a passion for X and I really want to go to Y and do Z for awhile”, that is also totally awesome and you should do it! AFTER you do your research. Somewhere on the internet there is someone who has already done Thing in Place and can give you an honest, clear-eyed perspective on exactly what it is like to do Thing in Place and what stuff you need to think about and manage that you didn’t know you would need to think about and manage.

      The rest is details, but they are incredibly important details: what financial obligations do you have and can you cover them if Thing doesn’t work out or you get to Place and discover you hate it? Are you happy in your current industry and plan on coming back to it, or are you looking to make a career change? If you are going to stay, is there industry knowledge or contacts that could stagnate? What steps would you need to take to plunge back in, like continuing education or renewed certifications? After you come back, how long can you stay unemployed before things start to get incredibly desperate? Knowing the answers to these questions before you start planning will significantly help you figure out your trajectory.

    20. Not So NewReader*

      So my first question is this- is there a way that you can get yourself feeling UNstuck and still keep your job?

      I foolishly made a habit of having things that were more important than my career. I think we can do this once or twice but after that we need to focus. Now I am paying a price for that. On the good side, I have had lots of different types of experiences and I have learned a lot that I am not sure I would have learned if I ran on a straight path. Understand that life is trade-offs, we pick what is of value to us. For example, let’s take imaginary person, Jane. She went to law school, got a degree and a job. There were lots and lots of bumps and bruises along the way, it was not easy. But she remained focused and by age 50 had herself a healthy income and the niceties of life. She gave up other things in order to have this. Jane and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I was so not Jane.

      Yes, I envy people who went the straight path and were very focused. BUT. I would not exchange that for all the experiences and learning I have had in my life. It suits me.

      Out of all the mistakes I have made, I offer you this:
      1) Don’t make a habit of prioritizing everything else in life over your career. Give yourself one or maybe two passes and then after that get focused.
      2) Consider that every choice we make has some type of result. Part of choosing our path in life is committing to whatever results we get from those choices. We have to live with the fallout of our own choices. My rebuttal to this concern is to say, “Choose strategically and don’t paint yourself into a corner.” Pick activities that can be leveraged later on to get you to a solid place. If you can’t figure out what that would be then consider which choices would give you the most options.
      Ex. I went back to school and I was torn between a degree in X and a degree in Y. I would adapt to either field and probably do okay. So how to pick which degree. I decided that X would allow me to get two different types of jobs. I looked around for employers that would be offer that type of work and quickly realized the would not be a lot of choices. However a degree in Y would mean many choices and I could use it in a number of ways. So I chose Y. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I had made the correct decision for more than one reason.

      Punchline: Pick what you do with an eye on the future. Commit to it, decide to make it work for you. (Deciding to make it work for you is not always easy and sometimes it can be down right HARD.)

      1. Clever Name*

        I’m curious about what happened that made you regret not making your career #1 in your life. I’ve made the opposite choice. My career is probably about #3 behind my family and my mental health, and I have a really great job with interesting work and great coworkers. And I can’t really complain about the pay either. I learned a hard less on early on (at 17) that for me, family always comes first. Were you making conscious choices to put other things before work or was it more “this is more fun, therefore it’s more important to me right now”?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Life plays out kind of odd sometimes. I ended up on my own with no strong career under my belt.
          Actually my distraction was taking care of the sick/dying parents. Once one goes the rest seem to follow but it plays out over years. I did not realize how the years were flying by and that I could have invested in me more than I did. I finally got my degree and then my husband passed. So here I was trying to launch a strong career in the face of grief. I should have put more effort into figuring out a path for myself years sooner.
          In another odd twist to the story, I will be okay here for a while. But it’s been a life lesson for me and I try to encourage others to have a plan if they were to be suddenly on their own. This goes out beyond having good life insurance, as it is not just about money. It’s important to have friends, activities and your work. There are many aspects to life and it’s only in our best interest to develop as many of those aspects as we can.

    21. James*

      I recommend the book “Two Years Before The Mast”. A lawyer took two years off of school to work as a hired hand aboard a trade vessel going from New York to California and back, back when sails were how ships were predominantly powered. It has some really useful insights on exactly this topic.

    22. nep*

      I worked for several years right out of grad school — all the time increasingly itching to travel to Africa. Went to W Africa with Peace Corps for three years then ended up staying in the region with various jobs for 15+ years. If you have a strong drive to take the leap and fear of the future is the only thing stopping you, I say go for it. No telling what doors will open or how experiences will guide you in new and possibly better ways.
      All the best and keep us posted.

    23. Chris*

      This is an interesting question, and I am enjoying reading the comments. This is not something that I have done myself, but a number of my peers have. My sense is that there is some sort of tipping point where a break becomes too long. Like, 6 months is workable, but 2 years means a setback. Most of the folks I know who have been successful, a long break has been associated with a career change.

      As a hiring manager, most of the positions I have open have a lot of applicants. The pool for a job I currently have open is at 178 and counting (I don’t know how many of them are viable, but we tend to get more “over qualified” than candidates than poor candidates). Folks with recent long breaks don’t often compete in the resume screening. Although, if the break is associated with schooling or volunteerism, that can be a benefit.

    24. Dan*


      I didn’t actually quit a job to “take a break”, but it is fair to say that I did not seek gainful employment in my field of study directly after receiving my BS. (I have a BS in computer science, and yes, the typical path is to go get a programming job.) I never worked as a professional programmer/software engineer. Instead, I pursued careers as a pilot and air traffic controller, before a medical issue sidelined me and I had to go to grad school and get a real job. Even today, while I write a lot of code, I’m not a professional software engineer. I started my first “real” professional job at the age of 29.

      I’m behind my peers who hit the professional work force at 22, or stuck around, got a masters, and hit the work force at 24. I also wasn’t making a ton of money in those years, so my bank account reflects that.

      But… I’m still employed in the aviation field. For every place where I’m “behind” my peers, I’m ahead of them in other ways, few people I work with have the industry knowledge AND technical skills to do what I do. In fact, I get a lot of stuff that everybody else thinks is “too hard”. I *like* what I do, I get paid more than I would if I were a pilot, I get nights off, weekends off, and holidays off. I also get to take vacation when I want to; we don’t have coverage issues, so I don’t have to “apply” (or bid) for it and get rejected. No worries about the senior people always getting the choice days off and me getting stuck behind.

      What I would not do is take a year off “for the hell of it”. If you need to do it to fulfill yourself, or will really regret if you don’t, then I’d say go for it. And sooner rather than later. But just because your bored? Hell no. As an aside, I travel regularly for personal reasons. I really have no desire to quit my job and travel for a year. I’m tired after 3 weeks, I can’t see doing it for a year.

    25. Serendipity*

      Yes, and it was wonderful for us.
      Background: My husband and I went from being DINKs to no income, two mortgages and two children in just over 15 months. I was already on maternity leave from our first child, and just two days before our second child was born my husband was made redundant – told on Thursday, finished Friday, son born on Sunday. We had two mortgages and no income, and the timing couldn’t have been worse.
      Our son was diagnosed with an oesophageal disorder at three weeks, and couldn’t be laid flat, so had to be carried upright 24 hours a day until he was ~5 months old. We moved 3000km to live with my parents, and took it in shifts to care for him. It was hell, and I was so happy hubby had lost his job so he was around to help (him not so much lol).
      When things settled down we went back to the big city, I went back to my job and hubby became SAHD. We stuck it out for two years, but I really didn’t like being so far removed from family, and wanted to come home.
      My husband is a very skilled high level IT tech, and worked as technical lead/network architect for oil & gas companies, but has wanted to be a manager and/or self employed for years. When I said that I couldn’t handle living in the city and wanted to go home he was in negotiations for a partnership in an IT consultancy firm, but he gave that all up for me.
      For 6 months he stayed at home with the kids, with no hope of securing a suitable job. There were just no companies large enough to need his skillset.
      About three weeks ago he was approached and offered a job. An old schoolfriend had also married a girl from my town, and started a business when they moved here. He was Facebook stalking old friends, was amazed that they were in the same town, looked him up socially, found his resume on linkedin and promptly offered him a partnership.

      My husband hasn’t stopped smiling for the last three weeks. He’s now CIO of a rapidly expanding tech company, a partner and on the board. It’s his dream job and he never expected to find it here.

    26. Stephanie*

      Could you do something like PeaceCorps? I looked into it briefly and there was a whole section dedicated to people who were midcareer. I think if you go in with some idea of what you’re doing (and maybe pick up some skills/accomplishments while you’re traveling) and prepare to hustle upon your return, you should be fine.

      If you’re going to do it, now’s the time to do it (iirc from your posts, you’re relatively unattached).

  5. Nervous Accountant*

    This week has dragged onnnnnn but its finally Friday, yay!!! I’m going on vacation and I’m so excited! I will be away from work for 2 whole weeks and I totally plan on NOT checking any emails whatsoever! :-)

    We have our Secret Santa today, and I’m so excited for that! I don’t know how common this is but I am such a sucker for packaging and wrapping up a nice gift, and I love to put thoughts into gifts, even for super cheap ones.

    It’s amazing, 3 years ago I was wondering if I’d ever get to participate in secret santas or office parties. 2 years ago I worked on Christmas day….this year I plan on NOT checking any work eamisl while I’m on vacation. I hope everyone else is looking forward to this time off, and if not, finding something to make them happy! :)

    1. Venus Supreme*

      I love wrapping a nice present too! For our Secret Santa I went all out with a candy cane and a giant and-tied bow and those little dinky tags you have to tie-on. Even when I worked for a department store all the gift wrapping requests would go to me, haha.

      I hope you enjoy your vacation and recharge! It’s so worth it.

    2. Christina*

      I just want to say that this comment is so joyful and really feels like a much needed dose of uplift today. Thanks for taking pleasure in the little things and definitely all the cheers for no email checking on vacation!

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        awww thank you!!!! I’m in a great mood today despite the crappy week (fatigued, lost sleep, my gym was closed this morning so I got out of bed early for nothing etc, busy packing etc). Days like to day I just like to remind myself of how far I’ve come. I used to get very depressed around this time, either because I was going through a rough time in my life or just all around lonely and sad. I’m so happy to report that that’s not the case anymore.

        I can’t promise that I’ll succeed with the emails though :-)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You have come a long way. I think things are turning the corner for you. I am so glad! Congrats. Happy holidays!

    3. Sled dog mama*

      I love wrapping gifts and making them look beautiful, to me it adds to the pleasure of giving. My husband not so much, so I end up wrapping everything except what he gets me.

      1. JaneB*

        I enjoy wrapping gifts too – it’s really sort of meditative if you take time to think about the person and focus on the process. But my sister is brilliant at it (she worked for several fancy department stores and was a gift wrapper several Christmases, plus she got all the neat genes in the family) so my parcels just look OK in comparison. Some years that makes me feel bad, but this year I’m just enjoying the process (and found fabulous paper with little christmas dogs all over it, which adds to the fun)

  6. mrs J*

    I work in a company with a large accounting department. We use recruiters to hire people, which makes it really easy to know how much new hires are getting paid.

    My boss is constantly telling me how great I am and how valuable I am to the team, but I know from seeing the recruiters invoices that people who are getting hired to the exact same position as me, get paid 7% more than me. Annual raises are coming up soon – can I bring up with my boss that I know new hires get paid more than I do and that I want my raise to be more than 7% so that I’m getting paid more than someone brand new?

    1. Jenbug*

      Are you sure the new hires are getting paid more? The amount that your company is paying the agency is not what they are making. For instance, if the invoices are for $15/hour, the worker is probably making $10/hour and the rest goes to the agency for administrative fees, etc.

      1. mrs J*

        Yes, I have access to the contracts. These aren’t hourly employees; they’re salaried, and the contracts state what percentage of their annual salary will be paid to the recruiter.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think it’s worth bringing up. Even with Jenbug’s caveat, I would frame the raise as an equity issue. (But note that they might not be responsible for paying for temps’ benefits, so that may explain some of the disparity in pay.)

      Once I took a job in which I came with funding, but the employer was expected to provide benefits and, if reasonable, top up my salary to market rate. I had previously interned at that organization, so I knew entry-level attorneys were paid the market rate for headquarters, regardless of duty station. During hiring negotiations, I asked my future employer if the baseline salary was the same as their other entry-level folks, and they said no. I asked them to consider bringing me up to parity because I had certain skill sets/experience that no other attorney on the team had, and ensuring equal pay was more equitable, better for morale, signaled that all employees of comparable experience were equally valued, etc. The morale and equally valued arguments were significant because the organization was super small and everyone was pretty nosy/unprofessional (and could easily find out one another’s salaries). The company agreed with me and bumped up my starting salary about $4K. At my one-year mark, they offered an across the board $5K bonus and an 18% merit raise (which makes me think that they had not actually started me at parity, but that’s another story).

      This is a long way of saying it’s worth asking. Alison has a lot of helpful posts on how to frame your request to get at the fairness issue, but also at the issues that are most important to your employer.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Here are links to the posts I was thinking of (some are about entry-level negotiation, but I think a great deal of advice is applicable to negotiating when you’re already in your position):

        What to Say When You Negotiate Salary [the comments are particularly instructive]
        A Salary Negotiation Success Story, With Lessons
        Ask the Readers: Tell Us About Your Successful Salary Negotiations

        You may also like the book, Women Don’t Ask. A mentor gave this to me when I was in my 20s, and it fundamentally changed (in a good way) how I thought about jobs and salary negotiation.

      2. mrs J*

        Just to clarify – these aren’t temporary employees; these are full-time employees that we used a recruiter to hire.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Sorry, I misread! So I stand by everything, minus the comment on whether they’re temps :)

    3. HR Pro*

      In the HR world, it is considered unethical* to use our knowledge of other employees’ salaries to negotiate/argue for higher salaries for ourselves. I’m not sure if the same concept holds for the accounting world. For instance, payroll people know everyone’s salaries; are they not supposed to use that knowledge to argue for their own interest? I have a feeling they are not.

      *Now I’m doubting myself that it’s actually considered unethical — maybe just frowned upon? I’m in HR and I certainly wouldn’t do it.

      1. HR Jeanne*

        Not technically unethical, but definitely frowned upon. However, the best tool in negotiating for a raise/salary is knowing the accurate market value of the position and using that data in your favor, along with your years of experience and ability to excel in the position.

    4. Mary (had a little lamb)*

      Don’t use any specific names but it’s valid to point out that you are not getting market rate or that you are worth more. I tried to do this at Old job where I was in that situation. While they agreed that I was too low on the payscale, they didn’t do anything about it. I ended up leaving for a 20% increase. If old job had given me 10% I’d have stayed.

  7. Generic Username*

    I can’t believe I’ve been job searching for almost a year. Thanks to Alison I’ve been writing kick-ass cover letters and have overhauled my CV, but I have had a grand total of: 10,000,000+ applications, 3 rejections and 2 interviews that I never heard back from. Here’s to 2017!

    1. Xarcady*

      If it’s any comfort, I’m in the same boat. Lots of applications, a few interviews, no job.

      Just keep plugging away. I had more interviews the second half of 2016 than the first half, so something’s changing.

    2. Artemesia*

      My daughter starts a great new job paying much more than her last one in January after a year of searching; hope your luck improves as well.

    3. Sunflower*

      I read somewhere(certainty not here!) that if you apply to 100 jobs, I was guaranteed to have had at least 1 offer.

      No. I mean keep track of your jobs you apply to but that math is no no no not correct.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Good grief I’m not sure I’ve seen more than 100 postings in my field in the four years since I finished school (of course in not counting the ones requiring 10+ years experience)

    4. Justteaformethanks*

      I know its though, but keep going! I started in my current role about 6 weeks ago after searching for more than 6 months and I consider this to be my first proper job for a functional company since I graduated four years ago (lots of temporary jobs in the meantime). Do keep going, no matter how tough, something good will come your way!

    5. SeekingBetter*

      In the same boat as you, but with a lot less applications out! Good luck to you and to a good 2017!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve had two interviews already but one job was all numbers (gee, thanks for being clear about that in the listing–NOT), and the other pays so little I don’t want it. *sigh* Hope things move fast next year and are good for both of us. I won’t have all those tiers of UI this time around so I have to find something fast.

      FWIW, it took me a year to find NewExJob, and despite how it ended it was worth the wait, so don’t give up!

    7. Sherm*

      Major fingers crossed! I had been job-searching for 18 months until I finally found something, but I like the job a lot and seem to be thriving. Now, I wasn’t unemployed, so I was able to afford to be a little picky, but still, I know that feeling of frustration. It does end one sweet day!

    8. Nic*

      My search took the better part of two years, but after a story much like yours I’m in NewJob and so much happier. Best of luck to you in 2017!

  8. Anony*

    After five months at a new job where my function is similar to a project-based, in house web/IT consultant to a department of non technical people (even though the org does have its own IT department) I’ve decided this isn’t the right organization or work situation for me long term.

    I have an interview scheduled with another org — one synced more with my interests and comfort zone — in early January. If I get an offer I may be resigning my current job. If I don’t get an offer, I plan on staying long enough to launch the project they hired me to do in the Fall next year and after that I will be job hunting once again.

    My question: is it ethical for me to job hunt and take the chance of getting an offer prior to the project I was hired for is launched? Or best for me to launch the project first, inform the boss of my plans to leave, and then job hunt?

    My main concern is if I leave without at least finishing this one major project they hired me for and where I am the sole technical project manager I will not only leave the department hanging but also the vendor who we signed up to execute the project. The network of web professionals in our city are interconnected and I am afraid of damaging my professional reputation in that network of vendors and clients if I leave a project hanging for a big, prestigious, well known organization.

    I will also, more likely than not, burn a bridge with my current organization. Is that all worth risking if I am deeply unhappy at my current role and have been since day one?

    I don’t see this changing anytime soon because my unhappiness stems from the way the job and my position is structured as the sole web/IT position in a department of nontechnical people working for a boss who is nontechnical. Basically, day to day, I spend most of my time “managing up” and trying to find effective ways to communicate with people who don’t speak my language. And the project, itself, is grant funded so is not a secure position long term.

    In hindsight I should have seen that as a red flag prior to accepting the position but I was too dazzled by the name and prestige of the organization I did not realize until I was hired how miserable I would be in such a role. I realize now I’d much rather be in my comfort zone of working in a communications, web or IT department of an org with a boss who has a background and understanding of what I do.

    1. IT_Guy*

      As long as you give appropriate notice, people outside of the company will understand. This is part of the whole ‘right to work’, which means they can hire/fire you at anytime as well. It’s a part of doing business that companies don’t like, but they are the first to exploit.

      The only caveat is if you have a signed contract stating that you and only you would finish the project.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Just to clarify, it’s part of at-will employment rather than right to work. “Right to work,” despite its confusing name, actually means that you can’t be required to join a union in order to work somewhere (and is at least as commonly misunderstood as “hostile workplace” is).

        1. union_non_member_anon*

          Alison I have a question about union:
          When I started current job that’s when I realized it is a union represented job and they started taking my “fair share” union dues off my pay check. It’s coming up to $450- 500 /year these days (more if you are a full fledged member) Is this excessive amount for dues? Is it possible to decide not to pay these fair share dues?
          I’ve never before been in the union job and I am not really versed in this, hence my asking.

          1. Turkletina*

            I can’t speak to whether this is an unreasonable amount (partly because I don’t know your field or salary), but you don’t have the option of not paying fair share dues. These are dues that are charged to folks who are represented by the union’s contract but haven’t officially joined the union. The idea is that the fair share fee eliminates the “free rider” problem by ensuring that everyone pays for the benefits that come from the contract.

          2. Damn it Hardison!*

            That’s a bit less than I paid per year when I had a union job. We could choose to not be a union member (and therefore not pay dues) but would still receive the same benefits/employment terms as the union members because it was the position that was classified as union regardless of the person in the position.

    2. Evil_Twin_Mason*

      A job isn’t a marriage – it’s an agreement that you’ll do your best for the company and they’ll do their best for you. If the company was unhappy with you, they’d be looking for someone else. If you’re unhappy with the role, you should be looking for something else. It’s only unethical if you don’t do the work they’re paying you to do or misused company resources or intellectual property (like taking a training when you know you’re leaving the next day).

      1. Artemesia*

        This, but in this circumstance it is super important to keep very good records and create materials that will make it easier for your replacement to get up to speed quickly — more so than in the average job. If you are searching, I would sit down and spend a couple of hours asking yourself, what would my replacement need to know for this to work and what kind of documentation would facilitate that. Keep a couple of file folders with job aids and records so that if you need to make a quick exit you have left them in a good position. And I would also be available for one or maybe two sit downs with the new person, even though you are gone. Perhaps one early on and one more a few weeks in when you can respond to their accumulated questions.

    3. lizardsaremybagbaby*

      Wow, I wrote a letter to Allison that this could almost be a copy-and-paste! I was in the same situation, dazzled by a firm with an extraordinary portfolio and I was looking for a new adventure. I knew almost right away it was a bad fit – not bad people, but I really dislike the management style, how rigidly vertical the heirarchy is, and that the company was really stingy with the employees about compensation and flex time. (Plus they recinded raises for people when the Federal exempt limit was put on hold. Didn’t affect me personally but really left a bad taste in my mouth…)

      After 7 months of trying hard to make it the job I wanted/thought it would be/it should have been, my old firm made me a ridiculously generous offer to return and be leadership in a new office. I jumped. I do feel bad leaving projects undone and work unfinished, but honestly there is never a convenient time to leave.

      My industry is the same – extremely small field and everyone across the country is interconnected by mentor, university, or company ties. I definitely don’t want to burn bridges, so I am focusing on finishing what I can really well and setting up a continuation plan for everything else. They took it better than I expected.

      Try to be graceful about the resignation, have a transition plan already in place to discuss when you tell management, and don’t succomb to “short timers” syndrome. I wouldn’t give extended notice – just the standard for your industry. Everyone but aholes will get over any personal feelings if you leave them in a good place and are gracious on the way out.

      1. Anony*

        Thank you! This is good advice. It always helps to get feedback from those who have been in the same shoes

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Honestly, giving notice should be sufficient, and if they do take it as a sign of bridge burning, then they don’t sound like a healthy/normal employer (i.e., maybe they’ve already charred the edges of their bridge with you). You should not have to sacrifice your emotional wellbeing for their bottom line, and if they want to keep you, they need to do a better job supporting you.

    5. Jerry Vandesic*

      Look out for yourself first. Keep interviewing, and if you get an offer try to make your exit as graceful as possible. Don’t put off doing the right thing for you.

    6. Less anonymous than before*

      Have you tried to address the things that are making your work-day difficult with your manager? Is there anything that could be changed right now that would make staying on until fall to launch comfortable and bearable? If you haven’t tried that route, would you be willing to?

      If not, then, if you don’t think it will be damaging to your resume (not sure if you’ve had a lot of short stints or if short stints are common in your industry and not a red flag) and youre that unhappy and get a new offer that seems better, then just leave professionally. Make sure you leave behind good notes or whatnot and give proper notice.

      1. Anony*

        Thanks! I have tried working it out with my boss. But it got so bad I went to EAP counseling with a psychologist for several weeks to deal with my emotions. I can make it work and it can be bearable. The main difficulty lies in communicating to nontechnical bosses that stuff they want cannot be done for various reasons (because these items weren’t properly scoped for, we have no budget, these new items are surprises I never heard before in scoping, etc). Basically this would be easier to deal with if I were not a one person IT team. But if you are dealing with unreasonable demands and people from people who have little to no grounding in realistic scope and budgeting for it in advance and these are the boss nothing one can do.

        1. JaneB*

          Oh yeah, that’s a bad situation to be in… good for you getting some EAP support to help you manage for now, but also, as long as you leave professionally, it sounds like working on an exit plan now is perfectly reasonable

  9. Partly Cloudy*

    Any advice on how to get your boss to do a really important thing that only she can do (meaning, I can’t do it in her place/do it for her)? I’ve been providing reminders and found a workaround to make the task extra simple, and it’s still not done. And it’s super important to get done by Tuesday morning at the absolute latest. Sorry for being vague but I don’t want to risk being outed.

    1. Sunflower*

      What’s the response you’re getting from her? If you’ve only told her, it needs to be done by Tuesday, it’s quite likely she doesn’t know it’s a priority. Have you let her know you would like it done by X but it needs to be done by Tuesday and can she give you an anticipated completion time/date?

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        She definitely knows the deadline and the consequences* of not meeting it. It’s something she’d know anyway, but I have also verbalized this.

        As far as response, it’s either been along the lines of “I’ll do it tomorrow” and then it gets pushed off again, or, as of this morning, radio silence (we are not in the same location today so I can’t get in her face, so to speak).

        Honestly, there’s probably not a magic solution (although I’m totally open to hearing one!). I’m probably just venting. But I’m at a loss and dumbfounded that this situation is actually happening.

        *Bad, but not on a large scale. Fixable, but 10 times more complicated to fix after the fact than to just get this done in the first place.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If she knows the deadline and the consequences, then all you can really do is:
          * Remind her today, and say, “Is there anything you need from me to ensure we meet the Tuesday deadline?”
          * If you see no progress on Monday, say, “I’m panicking a bit about tomorrow’s deadline. Are we looking okay for meeting it?”

          But beyond that, this sounds like it’s outside of your control.

            1. Partly Cloudy*

              I have pointed that out. I’m not sure if she’s working on Monday but I’m not (our business is never closed, but in my role I follow the federal holiday schedule). My presence or absence, at this point, doesn’t affect her ability to do Task. The workaround I worked out makes it as easy as sending an email, which can be done from a phone, anywhere. I think there may be something going on that I’m not aware of, so I guess all I can do is try not to let it stress me out over the holiday.

              1. Gene*

                At this point you just need to let it go. You’ve pretty much done everything you can.

                Put it out of your mind and enjoy the holiday.

            2. Confused Teapot Maker*

              THIS is a very good point. In a previous job where a major part of it was chasing people to stick to deadlines, I lost track of the number of conversations I had with bright, successful people that went, “So, deadline is Tuesday. Excellent. I’ll have it done sent to you by Monday afternoon” “Monday is a national holiday, sir” “…” “…” “…I’ll have it sent to you this afternoon”

                1. Partly Cloudy*

                  No problem!

                  In the meantime, Email has been sent! Wording is not exactly the way it’s supposed to be, so I’m waiting for confirmation from Recipient that it will suffice. Fingers crossed!

    2. 42*

      Is she super busy, or just not feeling the urgency? I feel like “providing reminders” is like leaving post-it notes around, when you should be talking to her directly and pegging her for a commitment on when she will do this before the deadline expires.

      If she’s super busy, remind her that this has been in her plate for a while, ask her prioritize blocking out 30 minutes (or however long you expect this to take) for a meeting, and then sit with her and get it done.

      If it’s the latter and it’s a matter of not feeling the urgency (and not overwhelmingly busy), then go to her office with your workaround, state that you have a hard deadline for this, and ask her to please complete this now/ by end-of-day…whatever works. You been patient and polite, but now you need action.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        My reminders have been in person and via text. It would take literally seconds to do Workaround, which is to send an email. It’s not that Task is time consuming, and with Workaround it’s not even remotely difficult. As I said to my response to Alison above, I think something’s up.

    3. Beezus*

      How long does it take to do? Does she have a time of day that you know is less busy, where you can bring it up and ask her to do it right then? I have the best luck getting people to complete quick tasks by approaching them at a time I know they’re not swamped, and asking them to do it while I wait. It’s hard to ignore someone who is sitting right there.

    4. anonymous reindeer*

      This is my boss on a regular basis, so I’ve tried many strategies to get her to meet important deadlines! Unfortunately, there is no perfect solution. The closest thing to a good solution I’ve found is to do as much of the work as I possibly can and then sit down with her to finish it in person shortly before the deadline. Still, this only works occasionally, since she can easily say it’s not a good time and put off the meeting. Another thing that sometimes helps is offering to take other tasks off her plate–what is she working on that’s preventing her from focusing on Looming Task? Is she using smaller projects that you could be doing as an excuse to procrastinate?

      All that said, the only real answer? Let her fail and receive the consequences. Or, if it’s not the kind of project that can be allowed to fail, let Grandboss know what’s up. Both of these are hard to do (and hard to watch), but you can’t protect her if she’s determined to screw up.

    5. Confused Teapot Maker*

      I may be being waaaay out of line here and apologies if you have also outlined this below and I have just missed it but, when you say it’s super important and the consequences are bad, who do those consequences effect? You or her?

      If it’s not going to impact you, then I think you’d benefit from chilling here a little bit. As one of those people who likes to be in control, I know this can be quite hard to let go off but, ultimately, part of being a boss is shouldering the fallout if the big level stuff all goes wrong and, provided you’re not holding up the work and you’ve given her notice of the timetable, you’ve kind of done your bit. It’s obviously immensely annoying to watch your hard work go to waste because somebody else just couldn’t do one simple task but, ultimately, you’ll be happier if you let it go. Or grab a drink, rant to a friend and then let it go.

      If, on the other hand, it is going to effect you if it doesn’t get done, that might be worth stressing to her. Although you might think it seems obvious, it might not have crossed her mind, so it might be worth pointing out that it’s your workload she’ll be adding to if it’s not done and that, consequently, that will mean you have less time to work on X, Y and/or Z project.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        Disclaimer: she sent the email (as I mentioned above) so the situation is potentially resolved, pending confirmation from Recipient.

        The consequences impact me to the extent that I would have to do some extra legwork and TONS of extra reminding to get the problem fixed. But ultimately, the person who’s actual life would be impacted (another co-worker) would kind of know what happened and I think so would Grandboss, and they would both know that it wasn’t my fault (unless they were to hold me responsible since I didn’t literally tie my boss to her desk and physically force her to do Task).

        I do have a hard time letting go of stuff like this and accepting that I’ve done everything I can. It’s so frustrating because if only I had the power to do Task myself… etc.

        My boss can be really awesome, and can also be really confusing.

        1. Partly Cloudy*

          It’s official – situation resolved, Task done! Now I can fully relax and enjoy my holiday weekend!

          Apparently the solution is: write about the issue on AAM and per Murphy’s Law, the problem will solve itself. :)

          1. Artemesia*

            A corollary of the rule that if you lose something it will be sitting right in front of you if you first kick something, then swear and have a little tantrum that makes you look like an idiot.

  10. Mockingjay*

    The office is nearly empty. Most people are on leave for the holidays. Work has slowed to a trickle.

    I am eating my head off while watching training videos. MUST.STOP. Oooh, but Susie brought in breakfast. Milton is eyeing the fruitcake (no one has been brave enough to slice it – YET). There’s leftovers in the fridge from yesterday – Kay made pulled pork for all.

    All in all, a relaxing, ful-FILLING day! (Hee hee!)

    1. Venus Supreme*

      ooooo, pulled pork sounds so yummy! my birthday is tomorrow and between the birthday goodies and holiday goodies circulating the office I could have sugar for lunch every day until Valentine’s Day!

    2. Arielle*

      Same! Most of my team is actually here, but the office is super empty. I’m babysitting a JIRA board and that’s pretty much it until we get the word that we can leave at 3.

    3. Michele*

      Oof. I don’t even want to know how much weight I have gained. We have a Christmas party tonight and another one tomorrow. People keep bringing in treats to work, and I have no willpower. I get a four day weekend, and all I want to do is run and sleep until my body gets back to feeling normal. My dog loves running, so I am sure that she will be happy to be my coach.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh, the holiday and sitting around with nothing to do! I’ve tried to mitigate this by actually going out and walking even in the cold. Not today, though; it’s raining.

    4. AngtheSA*

      Someone brought Sausage biscuits this morning and 3 other brought different types of cookies, so yeah I am just eating and working.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      OMG, I hear you. I just started a job in an office that EATS, and while I love that about them… man. I lost 3 pounds last week. This week? Pizza. Cookies. Sea salt caramels from a vendor. My own gift basket all to myself from a vendor, filled with goodies. I don’t know if I’ve gained it back or how much I’ve gained back, but dang.

      However. Delicious. My complaints are all just bs.

    6. Sadsack*

      I just ate a chocolate Christmas tree for lunch. After eating cinnamon bun pancakes for breakfast. Yes, the holiday has begun!

      Wishing everyone all the best now and in the new year!

      1. bibliovore*

        My work not only gave us Friday and Monday off, they are rekeying the swipes and there is no entry into the buildings those two days . I am beginning to suspect a conspiracy against the workaholics.

    7. Ayla K*

      I was just complaining to a friend on Tuesday morning about how mind-numbingly slow this week was when we got an e-mail that someone had brought in bagels, pastries, and juice for the office. That helped!

      Other than that, I did f*ck-all this week. I played a bunch of old Flash games online and cleaned up one of my desk drawers, but almost no actual *work*. Happy to have a long weekend now!

    8. CMT*

      I just got a “donuts in the break room” email, but for the sake of my waistline, I think I’m going to skip this one. It has been a treat-heavy week at my office.

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I just started a new job where one of the team traditions is a Christmas food tasting – people bring in different cheese and mince pies from different places – usually the supermarkets and the specialty retailers if you want to try them. The entire floor smelled like cheese for two days because we were testing two different types this year. After I made it through 8 types of brie I almost threw up trying to decide amongst the 13! mince pie options. And that was only taking a bite here and there. Not a fan of the other cheese option I didn’t even have to plow through 10 other bits of cheese.

      I haven’t had much temptation since to break into the tiny mince pies I bought for our own Christmas at home…

  11. Venus Supreme*

    Last week my close friends and I celebrated my birthday with dinner and a one night stay at a hotel room. I got a great deal for a hotel room via my organization since we do a lot of business with this hotel. The night was great- my friends and I enjoyed each other’s company, we didn’t embarrass ourselves, the room was nice, and the front desk clerks were courteous and we didn’t run into any snafus. Now, my (female) friends and I are all in our early 20’s and apparently so were the (male) front desk clerks. They made small talk with me (Oh, you’re checking in via TeapotsTheater? What do you do there?) and my friends and I asked them to take a photo of us. Small talk. Similar conversation that I would have with my coffee barista.

    Well, at 5:00AM, while I was still in the hotel room, I received a friend request from an unusual name, but when I checked out the Facebook profile I realized it was the front desk clerk. It made me feel incredibly icky because we never introduced ourselves, so I know he had to pull up my reservation information. I ignored the request (AKA, Facebook Purgatory). We had one mutual friend who’s also my coworker, and when I asked her about it she said he was a nice guy but their friendship is from school, NOT through an organization/hotel-business relationship. She agreed with me that this situation gave off creepy vibes. Then, since Sunday morning and today, he’s been constantly deleting his friend request to re-request me, giving me multiple notifications (all within the span of midnight and 6AM).

    I do have somewhat of an update: I told my BigBoss what happened and she agreed with me that this was essentially an abuse of information that I, as a client, gave the front desk clerk. She compared it to if a box office associate here met a patron once then used the patron’s information to add them on social media. BigBoss talked with her contact at the hotel and the person over there agreed this wasn’t okay. She was actually surprised to know which front desk clerk it was because apparently he’s been a good worker. We all agreed we don’t want any drastic punishment for this guy, just a slap on the wrist; I personally just wanted him to know from a higher-up that this behavior is unacceptable (because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only girl he’s done this to).

    I’m SO relieved that BigBoss and HotelBoss were on the same page as me; half my friends I told this story to told me I was overreacting and he just wanted to make a friend.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        Yeah. What makes it creepier is the hotel has a bunch of glass doors in the front, so everyone in the lobby can look outside. I always pass in front of the hotel to get to work, so I have a feeling he’s seen me before. I’m not scared of him or anything, but I’m definitely getting some creepy vibes from this situation.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Always trust your gut. We are supposed to have a sixth sense, some type of intuition. It is to help us with our survival. Kudos on catching this one.

    1. Future Analyst*

      Woah. Idk, if it was just the one request, maybe your friends would have been right, but the constant deleting and re-requesting??? That’s straight out of a horror movie. Glad you said something to your boss and his boss had your back… hoping that this will be the end of it.

      1. Chriama*

        So when you first mentioned it, it seemed immature but not totally awful. Some guy thinks you had a vibe, pulls up the check-in info and messages you on Facebook. Major privilege blinders on, but not worth freaking out over. But the deleting and re-sending the friend request? That’s *really* inappropriate. It’s gone from “guy watches too many rom-coms and doesn’t realize this is not cute but actually an invasion of privacy” to “this guy is desperately trying to get your attention and is starting to give off needy stalker vibes”. I’m glad everyone was so supportive of you, and I think whoever told you that you were over-reacting needs to read The Gift of Fear and check out their own socialized assumptions.

    2. AMPG*

      Not overreacting – very creepy. Block him on FB, if you haven’t already. And it’s great that everyone in a position of power had your back.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        Definitely doing this! HotelBoss said she told FrontDeskCreep not to even message me an apology, just to stop contacting me.

    3. Partly Cloudy*

      Eeewww! Constantly deleting the friend request so he can keep making it? Eeeeewwww! Creepy Andy’s got nothing on this guy.

    4. Michele*

      Oh yeah. That is very creepy. That guy could access your hotel room. I am glad that HotelBoss is going to say something to him.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        As a sexual assault survivor, my immediate first thought was “oh my god he’s going to knock on the hotel door…” but luckily nothing happened past the friend requests. And I’m sure I could beat him up if need be. But still– that slight inkling of fear was there!

        1. Artemesia*

          Hotel creeps are the worst. I once took my mother and daughter to NYC but got there a day ahead and so was alone in the room that first night. Some drunk tried to bust into my room and when I wouldn’t let him in he got the hotel night clerk to come up with a key and open the door — I had the chain on but at 2 am it totally freaked me out. I had so much adrenalin pumping that I couldn’t sleep that night. The clerk actually said ‘well did you pay for this room’ as if I had somehow stolen the guy’s room — a total stranger who if he had a room in the hotel, had a different one. The hotel manager did comp the room but that really didn’t make up for the lost night.

          These guys have the key and need to be totally trustworthy; your org uses this hotel and you might be there on some other occasion. Ick. Glad your boss and his boss were so clear on follow up here. One friend request, inappropriate; multiple requests is stalking.

        2. Fiona the Lurker*

          Yeah, this happened to me some years ago in a hotel; my (female) friends and I were at a media convention and got pretty drunk (quietly) in our room. Next thing we know, a member of the hotel staff lets himself in with a pass key – and wouldn’t leave until we told him that one of our boyfriends was in the bathroom (!). Too drunk to identify him in the morning, alas, but after that the chain was always on the door.

    5. Sunflower*

      Ugh that’s extra creepy bc he has access to your room. This happened to me at a car repair shop. I took my sister’s car to get inspected and they gave me a rental for the day. Of course, they took my driver’s license info and the guy FB friended me and then sent me a weird message. And he had copies of all my person information!!!! So beyond creepy ickk.

    6. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      This is definitely creepy. Something similar happened at a gym I worked at right out of college. A new guy who worked at the front desk looked up a member’s personal phone number and called her to ask her out on a date. Awful and inappropriate on it’s own but even more weird was that this lady was married and was always wearing her rings. I mean hello?! The gym was at a church and this lady was also a church member (employee was not) so they took it fairly seriously. He was taken off the front desk immediately and was let go a few weeks after that.

      Sorry this happened to you and I’m so glad that most of the people you talked to took this seriously. In my opinion it’s a serious misuse of work information.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        That’s ridiculous!!! I don’t know why but the added fact that it was at a church makes it extra-creepy. It sounds like some people need to figure out how to get dates better.

        I’ve been in my relationship with my boyfriend for over 4 years now (and we live together) and although I didn’t mention him to FrontDeskGuy, he’s in my profile pic on Facebook…

        1. jamlady*

          But even if he had totally platonic intentions, it’s still not appropriate for all the reasons the 2 bosses mentioned. I’m glad you told your boss and that they handled it so well.

  12. caledonia*

    I work at a university so Winter Break has officially began and we aren’t back until Jan 4th!

    Sadly, Jan-March is our busy period and I have been warned it is crazy mad due to deadlines and getting back to applicants (admissions).

  13. bassclefchick*

    Well, I had my review yesterday and it did not go well. I got “needs improvement”. I was kind of expecting it, but still disappointing. Manager didn’t really give me concrete examples of what I have to do to improve. One suggestion she made I had asked for a month ago. One of the categories is “attitude”. I was told I’m not positive enough. Hard to be positive when you aren’t sure you’re doing anything right. Hope I can turn this around.

    1. JHS*

      You can! I would just take the feedback and let it marinate. Come back after the New Year and try to just have a mental shift and an energy shift. If you believe you can do it, then you really can. You should also consider having a follow up brainstorming session with your manager to say you are taking all of the feedback very seriously and constructively, and try to share some ideas for improvement with your manager and ask for the manager’s feedback. I think it will show a good commitment to improving, although I will stress, you need to have some ideas ready to share for improvement in order to solicit your manager’s feedback. You’ll want to show the dedication and the thought you’ve put into it on your own. Then follow through on your new strategies and your new attitude.

      Also I know it may sound weird to some people, but therapy would be really good for this. A good place to clear your head and raise your thoughts, especially if some of the things at work that are causing you grief are upsetting or if there’s interpersonal problems. A therapist can help enormously with those issues and just generally preparing you to go forward with confidence and positivity.

      Good luck!!!

    2. Future Analyst*

      Can you set up another meeting? Tell her ahead of time that you would really like to improve, but that you’d like more concrete examples/actionable items. If she declines to provide any, you may just be working with a bad manager, and I’m sorry. :(

      1. Sunflower*

        I agree. Is it possible to set up recurring check-ins? My boss and I have check ins every week but we have one every quarter for a general ‘how am I doing/what can I do better’ chat.

      2. Marisol*

        This, and if you can’t get any examples out of her, maybe you can pull a colleague aside and ask for feedback that way.

        Also, I think attitude pertains to how you interact with others, in particular how you respond to others’ requests, so maybe try to observe how you are with that. When boss, or anyone else, asks you to do something, are you pleasant/enthusiastic, or do you perhaps seem put-out or depressed about it? That’s the only way I can think of the concept of “attitude” playing out. If this sounds right, you could consider faking some happiness/enthusiasm and then seeing how others respond to you. Sometimes by playing around with our affect, even though it isn’t sincere and may not feel right in the moment, we can gain insight into ourselves.

        1. Marisol*

          I just reread bassclefchick’s post and I think I may have explained something really obvious that didn’t need explaining because I’m just thinking aloud. Oops.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I had the same reaction as you, Marisol. Sometimes feeling like you don’t know if you’re doing something right telegraphs (in body language and tone) as sullen or Eeyore-ish. It could be that Manager wants bassclefchick to have more of a “can do” attitude, but bassclefchick is currently in a state of uncertainty about how to get the feedback needed to know she’s where she wants to be.

            bassclefchick, I agree with JHS that therapy can really help you shift your mindset and energy. And as FA noted, I think it would be helpful to ask your manager if she’ll schedule biweekly check-ins (or whatever frequency of meetings is reasonable) for brainstorm and feedback sessions to help bring up your marks. Try not to internalize how you’re feeling, but instead, see it as an opportunity to reframe what you’re doing. You got this!

    3. Xarcady*

      Something I learned as a manager is that performance reviews are nothing if they don’t have concrete goals for people to meet, especially if they need improvement.

      Why don’t you take a few weeks to think about things. Maybe set up some sample goals for yourself. Then request a meeting with your supervisor. The focus of the meeting is “How do I know when I’ve improved X and Y?”

      So let’s say one of the things that needs improvement is the speed at which you do X task–you are taking longer than everyone else. Get your data. Currently you are doing X task at 2 per hour. So what would your supervisor consider “meets expectations?” 4 per hour? 20 per hour?

      Also see if you can identify anything that would help you increase your speed, and suggest that. Spending a morning with Sally, who is the fastest in the department, to see how she does things? Is there a computer course you could take? Changes to the physical setup in your workspace that could be made?

      This will show your manager that you are taking the review seriously and really trying to improve.

      But what you really want to come out of the meeting with is some specific, measurable goals to meet.

      As for your “attitude,” I’m sorry. I’ve been in your shoes and that’s a tough one. But maybe if you go into this meeting with a positive attitude that you can improve on that review, that would be a good start.

    4. Tuckerman*

      Ok, regarding not being positive enough. If you don’t do this already, saying thank you regularly to colleagues may be a simple way to improve their perception of your attitude. Like, “thanks for getting that report to me well before the deadline, that helps me out a lot,” or “thanks for catching my error!” I found this was especially helpful when working in a setting where teamwork is essential to daily work. Good luck!

    5. Michele*

      I don’t know about your work environment, but here our boss puts a lot of emphasis on seeing people work. She would rather see people doing things than see results. I have been told that I have an attitude problem because I worked quietly to myself. This is something that I really have a hard time with, but I have observed that you have to make a big show doing work. The main one for me is that I would simply ask people if they needed help. Now I make sure that she knows that I am offering help. I am not doing anymore work or helping people anymore than I have in the past, but she sees it as a complete change in my attitude and thinks that I am working harder.

      1. Artemesia*

        Alas impression management is a big deal especially with poor managers. It is harder to dig out once you are perceived a certain way, but it can help to think very concretely about what kinds of behaviors would create the impression you need to create.

        I once moved into a new department and wanted to create the impression that I was the go to person for certain client problems (for boring and complicated reasons). In the first three months, I made a big show of meeting with such clients. I scheduled lots of meetings and conducted them with my office door open (not the norm) so that virtually all my co-workers could see me doing this. I dropped mention of difficult client issues into casual conversations as in ‘X has been a real challenge but I think after our meeting this morning we are beginning to see some progress.’. I created a sort of to do list for some of the tasks that needed to be done that everyone else did from time to time as a job aid to make their work easier. And I served as a consultant on these issues aggressively seeking out opportunities to be helpful. After that 3 months I probably could have slept in my office every afternoon without dislodging the impression of being terrific at this task. (I didn’t of course)

        For the OP — think about the precise impression you want to make (it would of course help to get more concrete feedback from the boss — but sitting down with the boss and saying, I am working on X and Y but would appreciate some advice on what else I need to do to improve will in itself begin to shift the impression you have made) And then think about the concrete activities you need to ‘show off’ this behavior. If you have not been obviously working hard (emphasis on obviously) what could you precisely do to showcase ‘working hard’. If you have not been perceived as pleasant, what is it the people who are so perceived are doing? Do that. It may be looking up pleasantly and expectantly when people approach you and when they make a request saying ‘Oh I’d be glad to do that, when do you need it?’ or as someone else noted, letting people know you appreciate their efforts. If there are deadline issues, be very vocal about meeting deadlines “Here is the TPM report that is due tomorrow, I wanted to make sure you had it as soon as possible.” If it is about initiative, then try to do some showy initiative thing daily or weekly depending on how big a thing e.g. ‘I am heading for the copy room, can I pick anything up for you’ or [what kind of small improvement would be helpful in your own workplace.]

        A lot of this is small stuff — but the advice to make a show of it is important when you are trying to turn around an impression. And it takes a while to wear down the old impression.

        Good luck.

    6. Bucky Badger*

      I feel your pain. I too got a “needs improvement” on my review with the comments that I need to be more confident and take ownership. That, and this year they really enforced the forced rankings. It’s hard to keep a positive attitude with all that swirling around in my head, and then I wonder if this is the right position for me or not, and should I look for something else. Just a lot to think about during the holidays.

    7. bassclefchick*

      I’ve been so stressed with anxiety (on top of an unexpected funeral to attend) that I’ve been crying way too often. I really need to get to therapist but have neither the time nor the money to do so.

      Boss said I need to slow down because accuracy is more important than speed.

      Thanks for the thoughts. I’m going to take this weekend to reflect on what I can do to set positive goals for myself. At least my attendance is petfect!

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        bcc, do you have access to an EAP program? Or to low-cost counseling services? I’m really worried that you’re not getting the support you need, and I’m trying to figure out if we can help you identify resources that might make counseling more accessible/affordable…

        1. KJ*

          Schools with counseling programs often have low-cost clinics attached to them. You get a green therapist, sure, but they are usually well supervised.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Grief can take away our ability to concentrate. That is one of the many symptoms of grief. And yeah, feeling tired or feeling dejected can be traced back to grief also. You might actually get benefit from grief counseling or grief groups. I call it getting my mind back, but yeah, it’s finding that ability to focus again.

        Grief is an odd thing because it leaks into every part of our lives, even if we try not to let it. Grief is a very powerful emotion. You might benefit from extra rest. I know when I experience a loss I don’t always eat right or hydrate properly so it might be worth your time to put some more effort in these areas also. Take a look at your basics and see if there is something you have been unintentionally ignoring.

  14. Nervous Accountant*

    So one good thing happened this week–my mgr had my back with something and that was pretty awesome.

    Something else on my mind this week. As always, I tried my best to be concise here but…uhm..yeah.

    Here’s a quick background:
    In my company we’re broken up into a small team of support staff and accountants. 4 of us share this staff of 5. Our culture is that it’s very casual, informal and a lot of joking sometimes sarcastic.

    My job as managing this small team is to make sure my team is productive and performing well. Basically if they screw up, I/the other team leads, gets called out for it for not properly delegating work or training our supports.. Fair enough.

    I have one particular support–we get along great as friends and coworkers. He’s bright and smart, but holy hannukah balls, his bad side annoys the sh*t out of me. He has a personality that fits in well with this group. He socializes and talks way too much. I don’t mind it. and I don’t mind talking about non work stuff either, we go for lunch as groups together, and talk etc. That’s the culture here.

    Granted it’s kind of slow right now, but we’re gearing up for the tax season when the performance REALLY matters. I’m mostly confident that he’ll do well..

    I told him quietly, that he may want to ease up on taking constant breaks. He went on the super defensive and pinned it back on me, that I’ve no right to criticize him over something when I do much worse. I chose not to engage in a lengthy back and forth and told him I’m just looking out for him.

    So that day, every time I got out of my seat, he was smirking and kept asking why am I out of my seat and I’m taking so many breaks? I laughed along a few times, but eventually I said shut it down.
    Next morning was a bit of a polite but silent treatment–professional and acceptable.
    I exhibited the same behavior, professional, friendly but not as chatty as before. And he kept asking what’s wrong with me? Is something bothering me etc? If I’m not cracking up or laughing at his jokes (and he jokes A LOT), if I smile and nod politely, he’ll ask if I’m mad or points out that I’m grouchy, grumpy.

    I’m not a busybody; I’ve nothing against socialization and I genuinely like him as a coworker and a person. But, he’s constantly called out by others for being in the break room too often. If he was super slow with tasks and work wasn’t getting done or clients were pissed, then I recognize i”d be in a better position to be upset, but that’s not the case. Since he’s started he’s been called out for taking too many breaks and relaxing and talking. But I dont’ think I came down hard on him at all. If he wasn’t part of my team, I wouldn’t have brought it up but I was looking out for him AND myself.

    What did I do wrong here? We had a good relationship before, and I truly don’t want it to be ruined but I don’t think I did anything wrong or out of line. But I dont’ know.

    1. Confused Teapot Maker*

      I’m a little bit confused about the situation here but it sounds like you have managerial responsibility for him. In which case, I don’t really think you did anything wrong here. In fact, you probably handled the feedback quite well as it was done to one side (rather than out in public, in front of others) and sounds pretty specific about what you needed (i.e. “I need you to stop taking so many breaks as we enter tax season. I know it might not effect your actual performance but people do notice and they do comment.” rather than “I need you to, like, stop chatting”).

      In fact, if you have got managerial responsibilities over him, he is way out of line with his snark and getting defensive.

      I think the situation is a little bit more unclear if you’re not in charge of him in any way. Personally, I would appreciate knowing there were concerns about my performance from somebody on my level before I had to hear it from a higher up but I know not everybody sees it the same way and, if handled poorly (which, I stress, it doesn’t sound like you did here) it can smack a little bit of people trying to grab a leadership role where they don’t actually have one. And his behaviour afterwards sounds like it’s downright petty, to be honest, regardless of your work relationship with him.

      I’m not sure if that helps but for what it’s worth, those are my thoughts.

    2. Someone*

      He’s trying to manipulate you into feeling bad for setting boundaries. You haven’t done anything wrong, he just wants it all his own way. It is also true that when you first try to curb a behavior that has been going on for a while, you will first get more of it. You need to double down and be more firm and more professional. This is a price of being a manager/supetvisor — you can’t always joke around and be one of the gang.
      On a small scale, what he is doing is like a tiny version of the guy telling yo mama jokes a couple weeks ago — he is using humor and the overall casual attitude as away to do what he wants. Be firm.

    3. Nervous Accountant*

      It is a little weird, because I don’t really have supervisory or managerial responsibility over him. Hell, even my own manager says he himself doesn’t have the power to fire anyone, he can only make suggestions to our boss and talk to us (but I think he’s def downplaying it). If I were to describe the heirarchy it’s– higher ups (CEO, CFO etc etc), tax manager (my boss who hired me), assistant manager (the one I refer to as my manager), 2 team leaders (who are more like peers but delegate work), and then “us”…we’re broken into teams. But I was told that if their performance suffers and it’s because we’re not delegating or training properly, it’s going to reflect on us.

      (I would like to be in a leadership role one day, and I’ve been given a few more responsibilities related to that but again I’m not really his supervisor…I can’t write him up, if my concern is serious enough all I can do is take it to my asst manager who could deal with it how he sees fit)

      1. Jesmlet*

        But you’re a team lead right (or am I reading the original post wrong)? So you’re supposed to make sure he’s doing his job correctly. I think I understand his side a bit but I don’t think you did anything wrong. Even if his work isn’t suffering, perception does matter and for his sake he doesn’t want to give off the impression that he’s slacking. The bigger issue is that he doesn’t understand that and that he responded poorly to your criticism.

    4. Soupspoon McGee*

      You didn’t do anything wrong. He reacted very inappropriately to feedback. It sounds like this is an ongoing issues. I’d suggest you next talk to him very directly about both quality of work and perception. He needs to understand that perception matters, fair or not. He also needs to understand that even if he feels on top of his work, he could very well be distracting other people from their work by his behavior. It’s not just about his breaks–his very snarky reaction to feedback creates an impression that he’s not mature and responsible. Something like: “You’ve already been told you’re taking too many breaks. I need you to ___. And your response to feedback about this issue is unprofessional and inappropriate. I need you to accept criticism gracefully and thoughtfully. That means that even if you don’t like or agree with it, you need to acknowledge that you hear and understand, ask for clarification, and suggest concrete strategies to improve. Even if you don’t agree.”

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        It is. When he was new, he was assigned to me, and he had that same attitude. THere was something that I had to remind him about many times, in person, through g chat through email, and it finally stuck when I CC’d my boss (on his advice). He was upset at me for telling him, he said why did you CC him? Why did you even bring it up to manager, I threw him under the bus etc.
        I was told informally by others that I need to be stricter with him, because I”m being too soft and he’s not picking up things fast enough.

        This is the pattern I’ve noticed–
        he says “don’t assign me this work” or when I walk in to the kitchen to get water, “you on a break?” Or whatever.
        The second I stop alughing, he says “OH NA CANT TAKE A JOKE!” He says things and then says OH I”M JUST JOKING!

        If he approaches me, I never know how he’ll act. If I’m not “nice” or whatever enough it’s OMGGGGG

        I thought his attitude had improved, I’m disappointed that it hasn’t and its making me insecure and have doubts about my own abilities.

        1. Jesmlet*

          Wait, this is a bigger problem than just taking frequent breaks, didn’t realize all of that. This merits a much bigger and more formal discussion, and an escalation if he doesn’t respond to that well. When work places are more casual and relaxed, lines get blurred and people often think they can treat coworkers like friends in any context when that’s simply not true. We’re very casual here and we joke around a lot but I’d never do any of that if my boss or even peer asked me to do something work related. Some people just need firmer lines to be drawn and spelled out clearly to really get what’s appropriate and what’s not, especially if they’ve always worked in super casual environments.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            Oh, no, I def continue to assign him whatever work I can. No way do I go easy on him.

            Everything is “omg I was just joking, you take everything so serious, I cant’ talk or joke with u!”

            I don’t fucking know how to stop being so damn soft, I see the team leaders and people take them seriously–they joke around all the time but people take them seriously. I’ve always had this issue all my life.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              N.A. and everyone else — please cool with it with the F-bombs unless one is truly necessary to make your point, since they send your comments to moderation and I have to fish them out. Thank you!

              1. Nervous Accountant*

                Sorry Alison! I made the second comment below bc I didn’t realize this one had gone into moderation (thought I x-ed it out by accident). I’ll cool it :)

          2. Nervous Accountant*

            Yeah, no way do I go easy on him. I ignore his stupid jokes and delegate wahtever I actually can.

            Everything is just a joke, “omg I was joking, you take everything so seriously, I can’t joke around with you.”

            I’m just annoyed that I can never be taken seriously. I see my coworkers, who are team leaders, they joke around and are friendly but people take them seriously when need be. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

            1. Jesmlet*

              Is it just this guy or do you feel like other people treat you this way too? I hate to ask, but could this be a gender or age thing?

              Saying things in passing is one thing, maybe he requires a more formal sit down conversation explaining that there’s a time and place for joking and delineating what they are.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              You’re not doing anything wrong. This guy is manipulating you.

              Tell him, “Okay, fine. It’s a joke. I am asking you to stop joking about this. Can you do that?”
              “If this is a joke, then it is still not an appropriate thing to say. It is not funny and I am asking you to stop. Can you do that?”

              And yes, he will probably make remarks about you having no humor, etc. You can tell him that you enjoy appropriate humor. Or you can alternate with telling him that he needs to focus on work as jokes do not earn money for the company.

              Some people use humor as a smoke screen. They think that if they are joking with the boss/lead that means their job is going along well. You might be able to use something like this: “We are not a comedy club here, our primary focus is accounting/taxes. Our annual reviews are not based on how well we can toss a one-liner.”

              My predecessor for a job had a good sense of humor and could make my boss laugh. This distracted her from the reality that he was messing up the job Big Time. It threw her off course. I have seen others use the same trick. It took me months to clean up what this guy did.

              Excessive breaks is just that, excessive. Maybe there needs to be tighter rules about break times or maybe he just does not have enough work.

              I would watch his work more closely and see what else is going on here. Yeah, this one is going to be a while to get change going on. You might want to loop in your boss as to what steps you are taking this week and what the results are. I think this guy’s game plan is to keep his job by being everyone’s friend in lieu actual work.

            3. catsAreCool*

              Is it just this one guy who isn’t taking you seriously? He might be like that to anyone in authority if he thinks he can get away with it. I think he’s gaslighting you as much as he can.

        2. Nic*

          This reminds me of the letterwriter who had the jerk coworker that she was responsible for divvying work up, and he would respond with calling her slurs. If you aren’t already, it might be a good idea to start documenting these situations.

          The “Oh I’m just joking!” bit especially makes me think that, and having documentation of 19 jokes in 20 instructions may help make it clear if your manager does need to try to push it up the chain.

    5. Artemesia*

      If you are his manager then you don’t joke about his breaks and you don’t let him push you into defending yours. There has to be a bit of a line between supervising and being a buddy. This guy sounds immature and someone who is likely to be a problem when you need high productivity. At the very least a supervisory conversation needs to be clear and not joking and it needs to be clear that the issue is not your breaks or whatever but his behavior and that nothing else is open for discussion.

    6. Marisol*

      He sounds immature, but I’m not sure I see the problem with frequent breaks if the work is getting done. If you’re accountable to management for managing the workload, and everything is getting done, then is it just the optics of frequent breaks?

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I guess that’s what it is, optics?
        LIke I said Im not a busybody, and i agree if things are getting done its not that big of a deal….
        But there’s a limit no? I dont’ keep track or time anyone or joke about it with their crew, like he’s doing to me, but if everytime I look up and I notice someone isn’tthere, then I definitely know my boss will notice it eventually. If that person disagreeor doesn’t care, that’sfine.

  15. Michele*

    Well, two weeks ago, the company where I have been working for the last 14 years announced for the first time that they were issuing employee buyouts and that if they didn’t get enough, there would be layoffs. The whole thing is convoluted because we have grown into such a large international company, and even our Sr Director was shocked by the announcement.

    At our location, they had more people take the buyouts than were needed, so I am unofficially hearing that there won’t be layoffs. Of course, with “international redundancies” there is no way to be sure. I am concerned because every person who applied for a buyout in our department got it. Does that mean there are further plans to get rid of the entire department? My resume is out there just in case.

    We are an unusual company in that a lot of people have been here for a very long time. Most of the people who are leaving were at the top of the department, and the Sr. Director has informed me that I will be taking on additional responsibilities and supervising more people as a result. I need to think about what types of roles I want to take on. I am trying to stay positive about this because she is rather mercurial. If nothing else, I take on more responsibilities now, and if we get shut down, that adds to my resume.

    Wish me luck.

    1. Emmie*

      I do wish you luck!
      I recommend making your decision on the fact that you don’t know whether you’ll be laid off, or be able to stay long-term. There’s great benefit in taking on extra responsibilities – esp. for your resume. There’s also great benefit in job security.

    2. Artemesia*

      keep your observational senses on high — I naively missed unmistakable signs that a place where I worked was going down. It had been in business forever and I thought it would continue forever. The buyouts are a sign to get your resume ready and be thinking about a job seeking strategy even if you don’t launch it quite yet. But keep your eyes peeled for other signs. I am embarrassed to admit it but I didn’t realize that taking an equipment inventory was pretty much the first step in crash and burn.

  16. OpsGal*

    Directs who gave thank you notes to your manager, what did they say? Trying to decide what should be written vs. what should be communicated in person.

      1. OpsGal*

        Just because – she’s been a great manager to me ever since I joined her team and I want her to know just how much I appreciate everything she does for me.

        1. Sunflower*

          I don’t think you need to go in too deep. If you can single out specific things she does, it would be good to mention them. My boss is always making it known to me that I should talk to her if I have any concerns, or want to take on more work, etc. That’s really important to me so I’m probably going to mention something like that in the card I send.

          I’m not great with talking about this stuff in person so a card really works for me. I don’t think you need to communicate any of the overall stuff in person- I usually just tell my boss ‘thanks so much, I really appreciate it’ when she does something that really helps me out or accommodates me.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I actually think it’s totally ok to write just that—that you’ve been so happy to join her team and appreciate what she’s done for you.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed. Get a generic holiday card and write something along the lines of what you have here. She’ll treasure it.

  17. Tuckerman*

    Social media while job hunting: My public profile on social media shows me participating in martial arts, wearing conservative attire (t-shirt, pants). I’m trying to increase my involvement with my martial arts organization, and it’s a big part of my life. But is that something I should hide while job searching?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Replying so I can check in on this later. My social media is literally nothing else except martial arts these days.

        1. Amber Rose*

          It depends on the school and your interest. Some dojos are very oriented towards more experienced students and some are more evenly split, or have more new students, so it’s important to drop in and watch or try a class to see if you like the atmosphere before joining. Arguably, almost any martial art can be done by anyone as a beginner, with the right teacher. Almost every martial art boils down to a few common basic principles, because in the end there’s only so many ways to hit someone effectively.

          Then there’s interest. Are you interested in competition, or more solo/kata work? Do you want to learn how to grapple, or do flips, or do kicks? Do you want to learn how to use weapons? I mostly focus on weapons. I know four of them, and I’m planning on picking up a fifth in 2017. I like the distance aspect, because I’m not really into physically contacting people (I don’t like to be touched). Though I do know a little jujitsu, just by virtue of not being able to avoid classes going on tangents.

          One of my teachers is over 60, he moves very slowly, and he hits like a semi truck. I figure if a guy who can barely straighten his back or use one of his arms can hit that hard, anyone can.

          1. Emmie*

            I didn’t realize there was solo work! I could care less about sparring. ;). Thank you so much for your insightful feedback.

    2. caryatis*

      Martial arts is sort of half exercise, half violence. So I would take down anything that looks too violent (like if you have posts bragging about beating people up or a picture of you kicking someone in the face). But I don’t see a problem with it in general.

    3. just another librarian*

      I guess it might depend on your martial arts organization. I think judo/karate would be acceptable to almost anyone, but I do know some people who are anti-MMA, so that might have some bearing. On the other hand, it might help you weed out orgs you don’t want to work for anyway. So–depends on the discipline potentially and then how bad do you need a new job?

    4. Manders*

      I’ve actually talked about martial arts in job interviews when I was asked about hobbies. I’ve never had it hold me back professionally, and I know quite a few people in high profile jobs who have similar pictures all over Facebook–I think it’s fine to leave the photos up on social media.

    5. Michele*

      I don’t think you should hide it, but if you can post any pictures of working with kids or leading a class, that would help your image. It might be good to stay away from posting pictures of injuries or anything that will generate a visceral response.

    6. CM*

      I think martial arts is generally considered a good thing. It involves discipline, strength, and fitness. I think the most negative perception I’ve ever heard about martial arts is the “sort of half exercise, half violence” comment by caryatis here. If you had a pole dancing hobby, I could see hiding that, but it’s hard for me to imagine anybody objecting to participating in martial arts.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        I agree. I hear way more about the self defense aspect (which is also a huge pro, IMO) than violence.

    7. James*

      It’s personal stuff. It doesn’t violate anyone’s rights or any laws, and it’s common enough that I would be shocked if the folks doing the searching didn’t know a few people doing martial arts. Yeah, it’s violent, but so is football (and actually most martial arts are LESS violent than football, because breaking your hand on someone’s jaw is not fun).

      If it’s an issue you’ll likely never know–they simply won’t ask for an interview. If they bring it up during an interview, say something like “Yes, I enjoy martial arts. It’s a great way to keep fit.” Leave it at that. If they push, they’re asses and you don’t want to work for them.

    8. Nic*

      I was once told by a career counselor to include my black belt on my resume under other skills because it takes years of dedication and hard work to achieve, even if it is not relevant to any other skills for the job.

      Seems like the same may apply.

  18. Amber Rose*

    How do you list a current non-profit volunteer position on a resume and/or LinkedIn? Does it go under its own Non-Profit section, or in other experience, or current jobs?

    I am on the board of our little one, in addition to my full time paying job. I do marketing stuff mostly, which has little to do with my full time job of safety coordinator. I want to job hunt in the new year so I’m taking time now to polish my resume. But I got confused when I updated LinkedIn. Is it employment or an organization or am I seriously over thinking this (probable)?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      List in under Volunteer Work or Community Service. (Don’t call the section Nonprofit, because that will be confusing — since lots of nonprofit work is full-time, paid work.)

    1. Ms Ida*

      If I institute annual performance reviews this year is it going to upset my senior cat? She is 17 and has never had a review. Is it too late to institute changes??? Cat management is hard :)
      The dog will be very open to feedback and will get an exceeds expectations on chasing squirrels.

    2. CMT*

      My cat exceeds expectations in Being the Best Cat in the World but needs improvement in Meowing for More Food When the Bowl is Still Full.

    3. Less anonymous than before*

      Need one for difficult dog who is puking all day due to ripping open a trash bag yesterday and having bits of the bag in his stomach. :-( Not sure what marks he gets.

      1. Sophie Winston*

        What was his performance like the rest of the year? You want to be sure not to overemphasize recent performance, good or bad.

  19. ThatLibraryChick*

    So after three interviews for three different internal positions over the past month and getting rejected for one of them, I found out on Wednesday that I got one of them! I’m really excited because it’s a good position for moving up within my library system without having a library degree. It’s a good bump in salary too plus the location of the new branch is much closer to where I’ll be moving next month. Lots of changes but all good ones!

    We’re doing an all day film fest in the library (closed for the next 3 days…yayayaya) so I’m excited that in a few hours, my job will consist of watching The Force Awakens. Woo.

  20. Red*

    So I was told last Friday that there would be lunch today to celebrate the upcoming holiday. Super exciting, right? Nope! Because I was told on Tuesday that it would be a potluck, as opposed to catering like usual. I was asked to bring a fruit plate. Now, i did my meal planning on Saturday and my grocery shopping Sunday. I did not have extra food to make, time to make it, or the money for a fruit plate ($17). Its the week before Christmas, money is tight and my hourly pay isn’t even close to the cost of that fruit plate! Had I been eating lunch on my own, like any other day, it would have cost about $2. My coworker and I ended up splitting the cost of the fruit plate because she can’t cook, but is there any way I can prevent things like this from happening in the future, or speak up to my boss about it now? This really put me in an uncomfortable position.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      In the future, couldn’t you just decline to participate in the pot luck and bring your own $2 lunch as planned, for the reasons you stated?

      1. Red*

        Only if I want to be asked about it by everyone, which I would rather not. I love all my wonderful, social coworkers, but it’s still A Thing that a co-worker skipped out on an event last year.

        1. Audiophile*

          Ugh that’s tough. I would definitely ask for more notice next year. And if coworker that you split the fruit plate with this year is still there next year, you can ask together.

        2. Partly Cloudy*

          Gotcha. That really stinks.

          If it happens again, could you volunteer to bring the paper plates/napkins/solo cups instead of food? That stuff’s pretty cheap, especially at the dollar store.

          1. Red*

            I totally would have, but by the time they got around to telling me it was a potluck, my coworker had already done that! :(

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Would it be possible to politely raise this issue with your manager or the party organizers in a few weeks? (i.e., after everyone’s back from holidays or settled down) You can say how much you enjoy getting together and celebrating but that you’re not in a financial position to participate but feel uncomfortable sharing that with all your coworkers. If the person organizing has any decency, they’ll make a note of this for when next year’s party comes around.

          1. Nic*

            +1. The discussion doesn’t even have to mention the financial, given the time crunch you spoke of. Just a “Could we get a couple of weeks (at least a paychecks’) heads up in the future to plan?” could probably go a long way.

    2. caryatis*

      It’s completely reasonable to ask for more notice, or ask to opt out of the potluck. You can’t ask your coworkers to refrain from all potlucks because of your tight budget.

      1. Red*

        That sounds totally fair to me – had I known it would be a potluck when I first heard about it on Friday, I could have made it work. That’s why I’m so frustrated. This could have been way less stressful

      2. N.J.*

        This person did not suggest that all coworkers refrain from potlucks. If she were to raise the financial burden issue with magaement in relation to the potluck, that would be reasonable to do, along with your other suggestions. If management decided to stop offering potlucks due to this, that wouldn’t be this person’s fault. I find your comment a bit off-base, as it sounds like the enjoyment of a potluck is more important than not endeangering an employee’s financial health. Yeah, sometimes the result of raising a concern about an activity means that the activity is cancelled, but I think it’s unwise to downplay the potential seriousness of the situation this could have put this person in financially. Raising thst as a concern is valid, even if it means the potluck would be cancelled.

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      $17 for a fruit plate is absurdly expensive! I think next time it would be totally reasonable to push back and say you don’t have time to get the food, or it’s not in your budget but you can buy something that costs $X instead. Or, go for a less expensive fruit plate; buy some grapes, strawberries, stuff you just wash and eat — and load it all onto a plate (do it at the office if necessary).

      1. Red*

        Honestly, I priced out making a fruit plate myself, and it wouldn’t have been cheaper. It’s December and I more or less live in a freaking tundra; there’s no cheap fruit this time of year unless it’s in a jar. Thank you so much for the advice though! I tried pushing back a little, but I didn’t really know how much it was ok to resist. This is my first professional job, so office norms are a new concept to me.

        1. CM*

          If you feel comfortable doing this, you could privately explain to your manager that you have a tight budget and need at least two weeks’ notice to be able to afford to contribute to anything at the office. It might be a wakeup call about events like this that are employee-financed.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I would definitely do this. Matter of fact, I have. There are probably more people in your position and no one is talking about it. Please say something to your boss.

            I am shaking my head. The post office here does a food drive and they some how manage to send notice AFTER I have done food shopping for the week. They can’t seem to send out notice two weeks in advance. I have no idea why people can’t figure this out.

    4. Jen*

      Another option is to offer to help with set up or clean up, possibly, although I think it’s probably likely that once they are aware hopefully they will give everyone more notice next time

  21. Confused Teapot Maker*

    TL;DR Had the last straw with work after I was (sort of) passed over for promotion and need a hug

    Long version: I found out about a week ago I was sort of passed over for promotion, although it’s a slightly odd situation.

    Firstly, I didn’t actually apply for the role. I wasn’t even aware it was on offer, as it was created by changing the way the senior management team works rather than somebody leaving, and I think the person it’s been offered to has been the only one the company considered (i.e. it hasn’t been advertised).

    Secondly, the role itself is possibly not even strictly considered a promotion, but it would have been one I’d liked. I mentioned to grand boss a while ago that it was something I would be interested in and she agreed it was something we can work towards.

    I’m obviously not thrilled about somebody else now being in a role I want but what’s really upsetting me is how it was handled and the circumstances leading up to it.

    If I’m brutally honest with myself (and, no, I don’t like the way I sound with this either), there is an element of entitlement to it. I’ve been told on more than one occasion by senior staff members that I’m on an unofficial fast track for promotion, that they’re looking for ways to give me more responsibility and that they don’t want me to leave the firm. I have, as I will come on to later, had some run ins with one manager but even he has told me my performance is “fine” in general. So I’m a little confused about why I wasn’t in the running here.

    I’d like some feedback on what would make me a better candidate should a similar opportunity come up in the future. And, if there are red flags with my performance I would actually like to know about them. But previous requests for feedback or areas where I can improve have been treated quite dismissively.

    A fairly big part of me feels this is the final straw because there are other problems with the job (doing a job which is different to my job description, having a manager who has on more than one occasion publicly told me off for problems created by his own disorganisation, a firing policy that has resulted in some people being shown the door with little explanation and no notice).

    It’s a shame because I love the actual work and the organisation is a very good name to be at career-wise but, to be honest, I’m not sure how much more I can take and I’m definitely not as sharp as I was, say, four months ago and I’m much more paranoid than I used to be.

    So, that’s it. I just needed a rant really.

    1. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Start looking to move on. No feedback and vague promises of a future but no action or even a plan to get from A to B? Sorry to say but this is the proverbial dangling carrot. I’ve been in that situation and management had no intention of letting me move upwards. Just too convenient for them to leave me where I was.

      FWIW I’ve found the folks who are impressed with a company’s reputation frequently have no clue what it’s like to work there while those who are aware of reality tend to disregard reputations.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Well, I think there are two issues at play, but they’re reinforcing your feelings of hopelessness in your job.

      The first is that you’ve been told you’re being fast-tracked. That could still be true—it could just be that your managers are still trying to help you develop the skills and experience (the latter often takes time) needed to be promoted. This could mean that average time to promotion is 5 years, and they’re looking at moving you in 2-3 years. So I would try to reframe this as “what are the benchmarks/experiences I need to move forward.” When you talk to your managers, ask them very specific questions about what experiences and skills they’re looking for when hiring for managers (or the specific role you’re interested in) and enlist them in helping you create a game plan to reach those goals. Of course, you may have already done this, and it could easily be that they haven’t really thought through these details with respect to your context, or it could be an issue that is not high on their to-do list (which I know feels icky, but is totally reasonable).

      The second issue is that it sounds like you’re not happy at your job because company policies/practices are not transparent, and when they are transparent they’re terrifying. The fact that your manager has told you off, multiple times, for problems he has created is a big red flag. When coupled with a fear of instantaneous firing, I can see how this would be paralyzing. Have you talked to your manager or to a mentor about your fears? Or do you think they’d take it badly? Sometimes managers are just really bad at noticing that their lack of transparency is creating a gaping silence that employees fill with fear and speculation. If you think they know this but don’t care, then part of me really wonders if it’s worth it to stay with them, even if you were promoted. Living under a reign of terror (even low-grade terror) is stifling and bad for business, but it’s especially bad for you.

      Regardless, please good luck, and please let us know how things unfold!

      1. Confused Teapot Maker*

        Thanks for this.

        On part one, career trajectory at our company is a little bit weird in the sense that there’s more than one career path you can take. Career planning is not a formal affair at our company so when I say fast track, I mean more in the sense of “Next time a suitable promotion comes up, you’re definitely being put forward as a candidate” than “We’ll get you into role Y in half the time”. It’s entirely possible grand boss just forgot which career path I said I was interested in and therefore didn’t think I’d actual be all that interested in this role (or at least that’s what I keep telling myself when I need stop myself feeling too disappointed). It’s also entirely possible they *did* consider me for the role but ultimately decided the person they offered it to was more suitable (although, in which case, I would have appreciated some feedback). It’s also entirely possible they’re no longer as impressed with me as when we had that conversation and I’m no longer in the running for anything and am at risk of being fired soon (in which case, again, I’d really appreciate some feedback!).

        I feel that if this was the only problem I had with the job, I could easily go to my grand boss and ask what I needed to do to help shape my career. But previous experience suggests I’ll just be told “You’re doing fine as you are”, before being yelled at again by Fergus and then being fired not long after…

        Which I guess swiftly moves onto part two. I’ve talked to managers before but they a) are convinced there’s no problem/are pretending there isn’t one (“Fergus can’t have said that. He’s a really nice guy. You must have misinterpreted it.”), b) know there’s a problem but ‘that’s how the system works’ so it’s not their problem, c) accept there’s a problem but are oblivious to the source and I’m not brave enough to directly say what, or who, it is or d) are the ones doing the yelling and the firing.

        Thanks for your advice. I feel better typing this out.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Aw, CTM, I’m so sorry. There are only two things worse than being mistreated, and that’s having someone marginalize your experience or having them say that it’s an acceptable way to treat people. In particular, responses a, b, and d range from benign toxic to malicious toxic, and none of that is healthy/ok. I am truly sorry that there’s a lack of leadership at the intermediate (and maybe higher?) levels and that it’s creating a sword dangling over your head feeling/atmosphere.

          On the promotion issue, I’m skeptical of a company that doesn’t have any vision for career development/advancement other than Grandboss trying to remember which of his fave employees want which promotions. It just seems like too much can fall through the cracks, and if they’re just going through the motions on their performance reviews (which it sounds like they are), then there’s also very few internal metrics to measure your success (aside from metrics you set and track for yourself, which I think you should do).

          It sounds like it would not help you to seek more feedback since that feedback seems untrustworthy, so the best you can do is set your own standards/goals, try your best to meet them, and rock what you’re currently doing. But after reading this follow up, it makes me more convinced that it’s worth thinking of an exit strategy, as well. It sounds like even if you were promoted, you’d still have to deal with a culture of complicity and confusion. Even if you stay, I definitely encourage you to start keeping track of your accomplishments, etc., for your own reference in case something opens up down the line. Good luck!

    3. jamlady*

      Somewhat similar to this, I was passed over for a promotion that I never applied for (and it was a long awkward phone call with our horrible manager saying I was too young, regardless of my experience, and clients wouldn’t like it, but please train the new person, thanks!). It was really weird and the company handled it terribly. The whole situation highlighted a ton of red flags about how they handled a lot of things, and I ended up leaving 2 weeks after the new hire started. I stayed with them so long because a) I was very young for my level and it was nice to be seen as valuable (until suddenly it was a problem), so yay for my ego, and b) I really loved the work we were doing. After that whole mess and training the person who was supposed to be my boss (who had less experience and was hired even though my former boss made it clear to the higher ups he couldn’t handle the job), it felt like I’d been trying to find reasons to stay and I couldn’t even fool myself anymore.

      I left, ended up taking a higher level job with a 30% higher salary and 1/3 of the commute, and now I work for an excellent company (and with clients who could care less about my age).

      It’s obviously a lot to think about, but leaving can be a good thing.

      1. jamlady*

        Oh! And regarding your last statement about not being as sharp as you were – I realized my productivity levels declines rapidly and that I had a harder time adjusting to my new job than I expected because of it. I was just really, really tired. And it was the worst.

      2. Confused Teapot Maker*

        Part of me would just like to know why. I wouldn’t even mind if it was a rubbish reason – for example, one stemming from my not great relationship with my problem manager – because at least that way it would be a clear “Yeah, there’s no career path for you here”. Or, if it was something actually workable, that would be even better. It’s the not knowing that I don’t like.

        But, like your old job, this feels like the last straw for a bad job rather than a bad part of an otherwise good job.

        1. Artemesia*

          Getting yanked around is their way of communicating that there is no career path for you there. Believe them when they show you who they are.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          In places like this it is because you were wearing a green shirt on Tuesday. They decided Tuesday morning that they do not like green shirts in the office on Tuesdays.

          I stayed too long in a place like this with their secret little meetings and their random promotions. They would post a job and people would say, “Don’t waste your time applying, they have already decided who they want.” I never did learn who “they” was. I knew it was not the CEO, because he rarely showed up for work. I assumed a power trust formed in his absence.

          If you ask why you will get told whatever random thing pops into their heads, not the real reason. Which puts you back to where you are now.

          My advice is don’t give these people more of your time by thinking about this further. No one is running down the hallway to you to say, “You did not get Nice Job because we want you to do Big Shiny Job over there.” That is everything you need to know for you to plan your next steps.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I honestly think there was no good reason, CTM. As Artemesia noted, by jerking you around, they’re trying to dangle carrots without actually every giving you the carrot. The informality and lack of career development/career path just compounds that process. They might not even be trying to be evil, but the practical effect of what they’re doing is that their management style seems kind of like they’re jerks. The failure to post positions internally also makes me nervous (I mean, it’s normal to do this in many small companies and situations, but in this context it seems like it just feeds the “what is going on!??” feeling percolating through the rank and file).

          1. jamlady*

            Yeah there probably isn’t a real reason. As annoying as it is, whatever reasons they could have thrown at you don’t matter anyway – because they’ve made it clear by their actions that they’re not going to meet your career goals.

            I was in your place 6 months ago, OP. I promise someone else will realize your value and snatch you up!

            1. Confused Teapot Maker*

              I know this might sound odd but I’d like to know the reason, even if the reason is a “There is no real reason. We just forgot what you said/don’t like you anymore” reason. Because, at least that way, I could comfortably say to myself, “Yeah, it’s them. They’re being unsupportive and there’s nothing more I can do at this company progression-wise” rather than wonder “If I just tweaked this…”.

              Ultimately, I know I need to consign this to the “let it go” bin. But, for now, I’m still fuming a little bit.

  22. Waffles*

    I’m currently exempt, but if the new overtime regulations kick in, I’ll become salary non-exempt. The thing is, my non-profit is implementing a flexible schedule system, meaning they only have to pay half time for all hours over 40. However, overtime is restricted unless approved by a supervisor, and they want everyone to work as close to 40 hours as possible… which defeats the purpose of a flexible schedule in my opinion.

    Has anyone else had their company try something similar?

    1. Epsilon Delta*

      I thought flexible scheduling usually referred to allowing employees vary the number of hours per *day* so long as they total 40 hours for the week. So, 9 hours on Monday, 7 hours on Tuesday, and 8 hours the rest of the week. I don’t think it usually carries between weeks (e.g. 35 hours one week and 45 hours the next).

      I feel your frustration on trying to hit exactly 40 hours a week though. Some weeks there is just 40 hours of work, but you are stuck twiddling your thumbs because you are supposed to record 40 hours of “work.”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They can’t legally do that. In order to use the fluctuating work week system for overtime pay, it has to really be a fluctuating work week. If most people are close to 40 hours most weeks, it’s illegal for them to use that system, so you might point that out.

      1. Waffles*

        That has been my understanding, so thank you for the confirmation. I was preparing to say something before the regulations went into effect, though I held off once the injunction was put into place.

        We don’t have HR, but the person handling the communication of the changes is very reasonable. I would be concerned about the higher-ups though. Such conversations are sometimes met with indifference or “don’t rock the boat.”

        This is the same company a few years ago where everyone was exempt, regardless of salary or duties. Hopefully they’ll come to their senses this time around!

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I understand your hesitancy, but I would still bring it up. It’s insane to “not rock the boat” when you’re trying to help them avoid legal liability. The penalties for violating the fluctuating work week rule are much worse than fixing the issue ahead of time, nevermind the cost of litigation if they get sued for doing this.

          1. Waffles*

            Well, I was informed they have dropped the plan and will pay time and a half. I guess they figured it out on their own.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There’s something called the fluctuating work week method of calculating overtime pay. You must be salaried non-exempt and your hours must truly fluctuate on a regular basis. The employer cannot dock your pay when you work under 40 hours (see: salaried) and in exchange, when you work over 40, they pay half time for those hours instead time and a half.

        It’s intended to address truly fluctuating work weeks like, say, landscaping, where your hours might vary dramatically from week to week. It’s illegal to use it if they don’t. Waffles’s comment that “they want everyone to work as close to 40 hours as possible” indicates this isn’t an environment where it would be legal to use this method.

        1. fposte*

          Whoa, I never knew this, and that explains an earlier approach my employer was taking to the change in the exemption ceiling. Which would have been really not right at my workplace either.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Landscaping is brutal work. It’s hot, heavy and unrelenting. This is a huge boon to landscapers/nurseries to pay people half time for over time. I can’t see them retaining help under this method. But I can see nurseries making people work their usual 70 plus hour work weeks at the substantially lower OT rate. This could really hurt people.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Ah, thank you.
              Up here they lay people off except for a few who do snow plow work. It’s either work at 90 mph or no work for many in the landscape arena.

        3. Sophia Brooks*

          This would be perfect for the theatre, where we work 90 hours during tech week, but can get by with 10 or so when the show is up and running. I’ll have to let them know.

  23. rosenstock*

    i started my new job on monday (paralegal at a big firm) and it’s really… amazing. i’m working with a great group of attorneys (who are all kind, interesting, funny, & good managers to boot) and working on really interesting/stimulating cases… i didn’t even know i could have this much fun at a job, holy shit.

      1. rosenstock*

        what i’ve liked the most so far is that my supervisors make an effort to be super approachable and are very encouraging about me/other paras to come to them with questions at any time; it’s a very genial, friendly environment to work in, and it also makes for less mistakes in the long run, i think. i am better equipped to work better/smarter on law projects, i think, when i have a greater understanding of what the case is we’re working on and why we’re doing XYZ. and it’s also great for me because i am interested in learning about the law and love talking about it to attorneys! and at the same time as that, paras (& all support staff) aren’t treated like lower-tier ~support staff~ but like competent adults who are essential to the firm’s operation (which they are ofc, but this was very much not the case at my last firm, so maybe this is typical, but it’s new to me!). so yeah, i think creating a strong support system for paras and having a large amount of respect/trust for them is really working at this firm. and then there’s other things that fall into the good-management advice that Alison gives all the time, like having high levels of transparency & honesty with employees, rewarding good work, etc. :-)

  24. Temperance*

    If you had the opportunity to ask for something to make your job “better”/keep you at your org, what would you ask for and why?

    The reason I ask is that my boss floated this very question to me, in the context of this getting me to stick around at our org longer. I’ve made one request, but it’s pretty open ended. I already have a flexible schedule, reasonable pay, decent PTO, and professional dev opportunities.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      The small stuff: As a fairly tactile-kinesthetic person, my day’s much more pleasant when the things I touch work well. I want them to spring for good pens (Pilot G2, Zebra 301, etc), a keyboard that isn’t offensively anti-ergonomic, kleenex with lotion, decent toilet paper, and a chair that supports good posture. If they want to be amazing, provide good-quality coffee, tea, cream, and mugs.

      The medium stuff: I recently asked to work from home two mornings a week. My spouse and I share a car, and he only works 3 days a week. It’s better if he can rest and stay at home on his days off, and if I can come in at noon, it simplifies his life greatly. It also lets me get more sleep, and have some uninterrupted quiet to work on more analytical tasks.
      Also, software that works. Ours is a bunch of ancient IBM stuff that’s impossible to use. We can’t search our email inbox, for heaven’s sake. And at my last job, $200/mo in decent software would have saved me hours every day, letting me spend my time on the higher-level stuff that can never be automated.

      The big stuff: All the things you already have are incredibly important. I’d add having good challenges to tackle, like “step back and analyze our process to see if we can avoid X / accomplish more Y”.
      Also being trusted, and having management automatically assume I have good intentions, decent insight, and a valuable perspective.

    2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I’m also very happy at my job and am paid/treated well with a flexible schedule and work from home days so my request would probably focus more on receiving additional vacation. I only get two weeks but had received four weeks at my old job (3 weeks of vacay plus all the federal/bank holidays which i don’t get at current job) so that was a big cut for me.

      Otherwise I would ask for more money (because why not) or ask to be promoted a level so I could start receiving free company stock (I only get discounted stock at my current level).

    3. Audiophile*

      Hmm… a decent raise (there’s a possibility of a raise of 3%-5%, 3% wouldn’t even amount to $.50 cents an hour increase, if it was truly written into next year’s budget).

      I’d ask for a more accurate job description. In the five months I’ve been in this position, parts of my job have trickled into my lap. So while my job description said “social media, website maintenance, donor database management, etc.” I’ve actually focused on the database. The social media has finally become part of my job duties, but it feels like too little too late.

      I’d also ask for more autonomy. In my last position, I was largely left alone and trusted to complete my tasks in a timely manner. In this position, it’s largely treated more as an administrative position (i.e. answering the phone, getting the door, collecting the mail, fixing tech computer/printer problems, scheduling meetings, reconciling bills with the bookkeeper.) So now that my direct boss has come on, she’s treating my position as a cross between admin/development associate and it’s clear that’s what she’s used to from previous places she’s worked. While I’m not managing her day to day calendar, she’s expecting me to take on more administrative like tasks. We’ve had several conversations about how she sees the role vs how the role was originally written. There’s a high likelihood she will rewrite my job description in the new year and I’ve kind of resigned myself to accepting it when it happens.

      Beyond these things, I’d ask for more upgraded software/hardware. We could use better computers, better laptops, a better website (it’s WordPress). an actual email client (we don’t have Microsoft exchange server and there’s always issues with the email server).

    4. CM*

      Your “already have” list isn’t so much about your actual job responsibilities, so maybe something in that area: are there career opportunities you’re looking for but don’t have? Projects you’d like to work on? Skills you’d like to develop? Things you’d like to do less of or have taken off your plate? Something that drives you crazy that you wish could be different? If you think of the dreaded “where do you want to be in 5 years” question, is there something you could ask for that would help you get there?

    5. H.C.*

      How about updated equipment (computer, mobile devices, printer/scanner, even software packages)? Then again, I’m in the non-profit world where anything tech-related have to be on its last breath before IT would even consider replacing it.

    6. lfi*

      in no particular order:
      more pto.
      another raise.
      more flexible hours (ie, comp time to make up for all of the long hours/weekends worked)

    7. Overeducated*

      I am grant funded, so…money to keep me around longer would help keep me around ; ) Also employee benefits!

      If both of those were impossible (which they are right now, and I would jump for something better), more time off. I am asked to follow the same PTO rules as entry level employees but I don’t accrue seniority for increases, so if did find a job there after my grant ends, I would be starting from scratch, but employees who were there the same amount of time would get 50% more PTO. I feel like I get all the drawbacks of both self employment and employee status, and none of the benefits of either.

    8. NicoleK*

      better training, opportunities to collaborate with other departments, and regular meetings with my manager

  25. Epsilon Delta*

    Got all the way to work this morning and realized I forgot my badge at home. So I had to turn around and drive half an hour to go get it! Sigh… Happy Friday!

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        So it’s not just me. I’ll be ringing in the new year with a lovely ortho boot on my left leg due to a stress fracture that put the icing on the Cake of Crap that has been 2016. (I broke my right foot early in the year, had a bunch of other health issues come to light because of it – nothing serious, but annoying – and my boyfriend and I both lost our fathers this year).

        Literally almost everyone I’ve talked to about 2016 wants to set the calendar on fire. One person I know is planning on actually doing that.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I am very pro lighting the calendar on fire. Just make sure to do it in a real fireplace or outside. (When I was a student, my friends and I once drunkenly burned something in an indoor fireplace at a bar, not realizing that it was a gas fireplace. It was baaaaad.)

        2. Future Analyst*

          I’m sorry to hear about your terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year. May 2017 be exponentially better!

    1. Jenbug*

      I forgot to plug my phone in to charge last night so my alarm didn’t go off. I managed to wake up in time, but still. Then my ride also missed their alarm, so I had to Uber at the last minute and got here about 2 minutes before I’m scheduled to start instead of the usual 15-20 minutes early to make tea/have breakfast/get settled.

      At least I have a long weekend coming up! Hope you do too :)

    2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      I forgot mine this morning too, but luckily we can borrow guest badges at security when this happens.

  26. Murphy*

    Some of you saw my comment on this morning’s post about not being the only one still in the office who wasn’t invited to an employee’s social breakfast. (If you didn’t, it wasn’t intentional an intentional or malicious thing on the part of my co-workers, just no one thought to invite me until I wandered into the kitchen, which actually makes me feel worse.) The combination of my shyness/social anxiety and the nature of my job (where I’m basically a department of one, and alone at my desk 99% of the time, and my cube is surrounded by empty cubes) make work a really lonely place in general, which has always bothered me. The breakfast just made me feel 100 times worse, and I’m looking forward to getting through today and going on break. Our HR person who is on maternity leave also came by the office with the baby and never even stopped by my desk, and I’m pregnant! I know some of this is on me for being shy/anxious/socially awkward, but it really stings to be alone all the time. /rant session

    1. Emac*

      I’m sorry, that sounds like it sucks. I’ve been in similar situations – not at work because I’ve always worked on teams, but in my personal life – also due to shyness/anxiety/social awkwardness. Is there any option to move to a desk in a more populated area? I don’t think that would be unreasonable to ask for, unless for some reason your work requires you to be in that exact location.

      1. Murphy*

        That’s the only thing I could maybe ask for. I was originally placed here because my manager was going to change and this was so I could be literally right outside his office so he wouldn’t have to go far to find me…then after like 2 months of them trying to figure out who my manager was going to be, I ended up not reporting to him at all, and he didn’t end up taking that office.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I wonder if it’s worth trying to cultivate one “best friend” at work? If there’s anyone you click with more than others, make a point of chatting with them/going to lunch/something? So at least there’s one person who has you in mind?

          In the job where I was always listening to people plan happy hours and not inviting me, I did make one good friend, and that made a real difference.

          Good luck, anyway.

          1. Murphy*

            You’re probably right. It’s just hard to do that, and not just because of my personality. People are very cliquey and only a few people eat lunch in the break room, and no one sits anywhere near me.

            1. Less anonymous than before*

              again this might be them not realizing you would like to be included because they think this is what you prefer. Do you try chatting people up at lunch, or joining a table with people at it? You see it one way and they might see it another when in reality everyone is wrong!! haha. I really hope it gets better for you, it sounds like this really makes you sad and you’re not sure how to change it. You can start small (I’m familiar with social anxiety as I deal with it myself, but I’m not inherently shy, so I am able to force myself to be social and it often helps alleviate some of the stuff that has me pacing in my head once I see it wasn’t so bad) with speaking to co-workers outside of lunch or at the copy machine or whatnot, and again, get that desk moved back into general population. Isolation kills.

          2. Nic*

            I want to second the making one friend thing. I’ve found that while I am quiet and introverted (but enjoy socialization when I have the spoons) having a friend who is a bigger part of the group allows me to find out about and speak up about or ride along on the invitations that I want to and can participate in without having to become part of the group all the time.

            I also make it a point to join in on a couple of group things even when I don’t want to, and to say hi to people I pass and make small talk (ugh!) now and again so that the times when I’m quiet are seen as “she’s introverted” and not “she’s antisocial.”

    2. Mockingjay*

      I understand how you feel. In my new job, my team lead has a coffee posse. Every morning he and 3 others gather in the break room for a 1/2 hour coffee klatsch. I was never invited.

      The posse are all long-term employees. I replaced someone who had been here for 11 years. I felt really uncomfortable at first, until I realized that they were just clueless. Things have run a certain way for a long time, and it never occurred to them that a newbie would need an invite to join them. I simply started showing up in the kitchen. I greet them, offer an anecdote, stay for 5 minutes or so. Just a way for them to get to know me. And it is working.

      This cluelessness was also evident in my onboarding; it was almost nonexistent. The team hadn’t had any new staff in 4 years. It never occurred to them that I might need a briefing on the program and its tasks, access to the server, and other stuff, because they’ve had all that knowledge for years. I was talking to another (long-term) team member about it and she said, “be careful, we might ask you to do an onboarding package.” I’d told her I would be glad to!

      It’s hard to be new, no matter how great the job is. Try small approaches over time. I drop into my team lead’s office a few times a week on a pretext. The goal is to engage him and let him know what I can do to support the team. He’s finally asking me for advice on how to implement processes and solve issues.

      And congrats on your baby! Best wishes for a happy and healthy baby!

      1. Murphy*

        Thanks! I appreciate it. I’m not even particularly new. I’ve been here a year and a half. If I had a team, it would be easier.

        1. Less anonymous than before*

          This advice is my advice. Sometimes, shyness be damned, you really do have to make the fist move. Not because people don’t want you or don’t think of you, and not because they’re trying to hurt you, but if they’ve come to know you as distant, not realize you’re just shy, they may think you’re not interested.

          Also, yes, please ask to move your desk back into the population, that will really help. I don’t think things like a regular coffee break with peers need an invite, I think they happen organically so no one thinks anyone needs an invite. You just get up and get in there like they probably did once upon a time and then it becomes normal for you to be there too.

          I think it’s easy to think people aren’t thinking of you when honestly it’s not normal for them to have to ask someone to include themselves, because it just happens.

          I can see, from both comments that I read of yours today, that this is really making you feel blue and I’m sorry to hear that! So I really really hope you ask to move your desk. You’re on an island and the mainlanders don’t even realize you’re actually stranded!!

          Once youre back on the mainland I think it will be easier for you to casually insert yourself, and it will be harder for anyone to forget about you way over there on the island and will really cut down on you feeling left out!!

        2. Chaordic One*

          I hope this doesn’t sound pathetic, but here’s what works for me. I’m actually an extremely shy, introverted and socially awkward person. When I have to “make friends” in a social situation like work, I look for whoever else might be socially awkward or sort of an outcast.

          So I usually end up befriending they only obviously gay guy or lesbian, or the only black person in the room, or the only non-manager person in the room who is over 50, or the somewhat overweight person in a sea of fit people.

          You might try it a few times and see how it goes.

  27. peachie*

    I have to come up with some references soon, and I’m scrambling. I have been out of school for about 4 years — for two of those years, I worked mostly contract, temp, or otherwise short-term jobs that didn’t leave me with any managers that would have anything to say about me. Since that period of time, I’ve been in my current role. I can barely think of one good reference, let alone three!

    Is it ever acceptable to ask current coworkers/managers to be a reference? I’m thinking in particular of a director-level person in another department that works closely with mine — not my supervisor, but someone who knows my work well. Is it worth asking around internally, or is that too risky?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      It depends on your relationship with that person and how discreet you think they would be. In my last job search, I asked two of my then-current colleagues, with whom I worked on several projects/programs, and who I trusted to keep my job search a secret. Both were very receptive to being references, and understood the need to keep it quiet.

    2. Ayla K*

      Totally acceptable! Again, think carefully about how discreet that person will be, but if they can speak to your work quality and dedication, etc, then they’d make a great reference.

      I was in your position a few years ago, and thinking about who to ask without “outing” myself, when an indirect supervisor discretely asked me if I would be a reference for her since she was starting to job search! We ended up leaving around the same time.

      I also used my direct manager as a reference at my last job since he knew I was looking to leave. YMMV.

    3. thehighercommonsense*

      It really depends on your workplace and how they handle long notice periods. Some places that won’t be a problem, other places it’ll get back to your manager in no time, so you want to know that they’re not going to push you out if it does.

      One option–are there coworkers or managers who have left the company that would be willing to speak about your performance? That’s how I did references to get my current position.

    4. Audiophile*

      This can be hard. In previous roles, I had people volunteer to be references, usually as they noticed last minute abscences and saw that I was frustrated with the job.
      In my current role, I told my direct boss and it kind of backfired. She got super anxious, thinking my leaving was imminent and wanted to go to big boss. We had a more serious conversation where I apologized for putting her in a tough spot, basically agreed to stay through a major event, and said I would stop searching for the time being. I think that calmed the waters.

      So it’s very much dependent on office culture and how much you trust the people you work with.

  28. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

    I’m too slow. At everything.

    At my primary job, I’m considerably below the productivity quota I’m supposed to meet. In my side business, I’m vastly less productive than many people in my field. It just takes me a long time to do everything – to think of and organize ideas, to check things for errors, to figure things out. I’m constantly distracted by worries about how slow I am and everything else I need to be doing, so much so that I can rarely concentrate on what I’m doing at the moment.

    I also have a lot of trouble shifting from one task to another, and especially a lot of trouble with complicated tasks made up of lots of little pieces. I feel like I never have enough time or energy to do basic things, at work or at home – I’m always amazed by anyone who has a clean apartment, for example, because almost every space in mine is covered with junk, dust, or dusty junk.

    I feel like the further behind I get, the worse the problem becomes, because there’s just more to worry about.

    Anyone else deal with this and have suggestions?

    1. orchidsandtea*

      I have all the empathy for you — I have felt like that so often. But, I have two important questions.

      1. Are you getting enough sleep, and good enough sleep? Sometimes my brain short-circuits if I’m sleeping poorly, whether because I’m too stuffed up to breathe or because I’m just not getting enough sleep. It really makes a massive difference to my energy and focus and anxiety.

      2. Is there a chance it’s medical? For me, when my ADD is acting up, or my thyroid is out of whack, I get really slow and a bit anxious. And of course, thyroid dysfunction is linked to ADD, which makes my problems worse!

      It might not be either of those things. But sleep is a worthwhile first effort to help it, to the point where it is usually worth leaving things undone in order to rest more. When you’re rested, you’ll catch up way more efficiently than if you dug the hole deeper by staying up to do stuff. And if it is medical, you can catch it now, and work at fixing it with your doctor. Which would make a huge difference immediately, but also in the long run.

      1. Marisol*

        I was gonna say I’m slowest when my ADD is acting up. And yeah, sleep is key. I agree with both points 100%.

        More broadly, Gazebo Slayer this sounds like something that requires some professional intervention. I don’t mean to sound dramatic and I hope it doesn’t sound patronizing. But things like constant worries that prevent someone from keeping a reasonably neat house and attaining reasonable goals is not a small thing. It may seem like more of a nuisance, or an unhealthy habit that you just can’t shake, because you’re used to being that way. But to me what you’re experiencing is a big deal, something that should be addressed directly rather than something to cope with. If I were in your shoes, I’d start looking for a therapist, life coach, and/or medical doctor.

        We ALL have issues like this by the way, some sort of sticking point in our life that we need help with. And in that sense, what you’re going through is not a big deal.

        1. Spoonie*

          I’m certainly slowest when I have a migraine/bouncing back from a migraine. I also feel like I don’t process information as well then, so I tend to overthink, which slows everything down even more.

          I’m also anemic, which contributes to me feeling tired frequently also. It can also make me feel more sluggish as a result. It’s all a very crappy cycle. I might would schedule a check up with your doctor if possible and just see how you are health wise.

    2. fposte*

      Is it worth considering this from the cognitive/psych side? Things like anxiety, depression, ADD, executive function problems can all lead to challenges in this kind of workflow management and may be worth exploring in their own right.

      On the methodological side, methodology. Methodology for *everything.* Talking about my own experience here–the energy sink is in the administration and decision making, so granular to-do lists are key in making a large project manageable. Make the progression of tasks in a day clear and fairly inflexible, since it’s just too easy to stall when you finish task A because you don’t have the wherewithal to decide what task B is. Also mentally preload those transitions–walk to the bathroom while thinking “And now I’ll open up Excel and begin to input the new dates in the Grimaldi file” so your brain is already starting to get comfortable with that. Even on the home front I have what I think of as easily strippable gears :-); shifts need to be gradual rather than abrupt, because a lot of my block is fear of what feels like the unknown, even though it really isn’t. I also talk myself through blocks out loud. “I don’t want to do the annual report because I’m afraid I don’t know what I’m doing and it makes me anxious. What first step could I take anyway? I could look at last year’s report to see the structure and compare it to my notes.” I find my way through a lot of big stuff one step at a time.

      And use tools. I like Home Routines for Home (I keep planning to make an Excel version for work, in fact) and am still figuring out the ideal for work (I want daily, weekly, and monthly goals plus an ongoing schedule that brings up annually recurring elements of ongoing projects, so I’m working on an Excel workbook for that).

      You might also have a look at strategies not just for people who want to be productive generally but especially for people trying to complete dissertations, because that’s a big project that draws a lot of people with process problems.

      I doubt anything will magically make us naturally organized people, but we can manage pretty well; I hope you find ways that work for you.

      1. Damn it Hardison!*

        OMG Home Routines is just what I’ve always needed but didn’t know I needed! I will now spend my vacation obsessively planning. Thank you!

      2. Nic*

        Thank you for mentioning Home Routines! I just looked it up, and it does what I’ve been doing manually! Fantastic! I hope it comes out on android soon.

    3. Lovemyjob...truly!!!*

      I tend to be slow. My job has productivity goals and I was not hitting them. I wrote out a basic schedule for myself for one week and stuck to it. It was really basic:
      8 -8:30 : log in / email / check voicemail
      8:30-10:30: focus on priority tasks (I work with patient data so I would aim to touch three of the patients in the priority task queue).
      10:30 – 10:45 – break (they tell us we have two 15 minute breaks and I get paid for them so I’m taking them…plus it helps me re-focus)
      10:45 -10:50: check email
      10:50-12:00: continue with priority tasks (again aiming for three patients)
      12 – 1: lunch
      1:00 -1:05: check email/voicemail
      1:05 – 3:00: focus on secondary tasks – return any calls that are pressing
      3:00 – 3:15: break
      3:15 – 5:00: work load determines which task I focus on here. It’s usually priority tasks with a few follow up on emails and calls.

      My productivity has increased AND my quality has improved! I think it’s because I know that that I will get to the other things on my list at some point in the day. Additionally, I end my day with creating a to-do list of patient data that I “must” need to touch the following day so I start with those first.

    4. Meghan*

      Total shot in the dark, but have you ever been screened for ADD/ADHD? This: “I also have a lot of trouble shifting from one task to another, and especially a lot of trouble with complicated tasks made up of lots of little pieces.” and This: “almost every space in mine is covered with junk, dust, or dusty junk.” are extremely common in people with ADD/ADHD. Why, yes, I do know this from personal experience.

    5. katamia*

      I don’t know how possible this is in your line of work, but one thing that really helps me (and admittedly I’m mostly freelance right now and can schedule things whenever I want) is to try to do as few things on a given day as possible–on days when I’m doing X work, I try very hard to avoid having to do Y work just because it takes so much time for me to switch over (another ADDer here). However, you probably can’t do that, so, if possible, can you try to maybe reserve certain tasks for the morning and certain tasks for the afternoon? Minimizing email checking (if possible with your org culture) also helps me a lot–if you can disable “new email” popups/chimes/whatever without it hurting your performance, I recommend trying that.

      I also try to automate as much as possible. For example, my job involves a lot of typing with MS Word, so whenever I make a common typo (like “tot he” instead of “to the”), I’ll add it to autocorrect so I won’t have to address it every single time.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I agree with what others are saying about getting a check up. You sound tired and that makes sense, most people would be worn out by facing an uphill battle daily.

      Also look for ways to simplify your life. Possessions/clutter and endless tasks can weigh us down in the ways you describe. I have dear friends who own like five of everything. Because who knows you may not be able to find the scissors, better to have extras. They STILL can’t find their scissors. The clutter and non-essentials around us clutter up our space and our MINDS.

      It’s fine to worry about things, that is normal human stuff. But when faced with repeated worry we have to develop an action plan. We can’t let ourselves sit and stew.

      Think about how you will help yourself. Very few people are great workers, they have grown and developed themselves. Look for ways to help yourself look more efficiently and accurately.

      I used to worry about how slow I was. It tied up too much space in my brain and I had no space left to work on actually getting faster. I finally got faster when I let go of the stinkin’ thinkin’ and analyzed how I was handling stuff. I was not very efficient, I found lots of things I could change.

      It was a while later that I found out I had huge nutritional deficiencies. I was lacking many vitamins and minerals. And when we are low on this stuff it is very hard to make our minds work like they should.
      Look at it this way, if a boss kept telling you all day long that you were too slow and never helped you to find ways to be faster then we would call that boss abusive. Likewise with yourself if you keep telling you that you are too slow, you are depriving yourself of your own help to get you going faster. You owe it to yourself.

    7. Nic*

      I haven’t read downthread yet, so this may have been mentioned.

      I use a LOT of calendar reminders. Clean out the fridge. Sweep. Laundry. I’ve made responding to these a requirement, and I set a specific time frame for it. Once I start laundry, I set an hour timer, and I have time to go do Something Else for half of that hour, and the other half I can use to do whatever (or nothing). Sometimes I’ll space it out: Put laundry in/switch over – 15 minutes of nothing – 30 minutes of something – 15 minutes of nothing – laundry switch. Folding the first load out of the dryer can be part of my 30 minutes of something.

      I’ve also found in practice that setting small intervals (I’m going to do this Thing for 15 minutes, then break for 5 or so) works out really well, because when 15 have passed I’m engaged in Thing and able to keep going. This one is especially helpful in a work situation.

      I hope that this (or something else!) works for you.

  29. LawCat*

    I have a friend who is a staunch supporter of universal basic income. It basically provides a basic cash benefit to everyone regardless of anyone’s employment status. She asked my opinion on the topic, but I said I didn’t know enough about it to have an opinion.

    The NY Times just ran an article about it and an experiment that Finland is going to run a study providing cash benefits to 2,000 currently unemployed people regardless of what they are doing (you get the cash if you find a job, don’t find a job, don’t look for a job, go to school, start a business) to see what they do with it. Apparently, in Finland, a fair number of people won’t work not because they don’t want to, but because, for example, taking that part-time job at a start-up would jeopardize their unemployment benefits, which may actually pay more than the part-time wages.

    I’ll be really interested to see the results of the study and how the recipients of the no strings attached, universal basic income behave in the economy.

    Anyone have thoughts on this topic?

    1. LisaLee*

      I think in the next 15-30 years guaranteed basic income will become a necessity because technology is going to put a lot of people out of work. Once self-driving cars become a sustainable reality, I think long-haul trucking and other transportation-based employment will be a thing of the past and we’ll see a sudden swell of unemployment.

      This might not be the worst thing in the world long-term (I’d love to see a swell of funding for and jobs in the arts/cultural sector–more people with more leisure time might mean better parks and libraries and museums!) but short term people will need money.

      I’m also not really concerned about people staying unemployed purposely, because there are other places that have tried this and they’ve found that most people do have an internal drive for some sort of occupation and will go back to work (whether that is part time or full time or starting their own business or whatever) eventually. I’ve also heard the argument that basic income will drive entrepreneurship, because people can start a business and not fear going into financial ruin if it fails. I’m not sure if I agree with that 100%, but it’s an interesting side to things.

    2. E*

      I don’t know a tremendous amount about this, but Alaska has the closest thing to UBI in the U.S. with its oil royalty fund. Everybody in the state gets a payout of $1-2K every year that comes from oil revenue, and it’s one of the most popular policies in the United States.

    3. Headachey*

      The amount of money to be given as basic income in this study is about$600/month. I can’t see this paying more than a part-time job or an incentive not to work at all.

      1. LawCat*

        Yeah, I think the hope is that it will give an incentive to people to work because it’s the current system that is disincentivizing work.

        It’s not just the money involved, but also the lack of bureaucratic hoops one has to jump through to maintain the income.

        The young woman who taught swim lessons, but lost benefits when she could not find the some of the documentation of her income related to swim lessons is a good example. Since she “lives in fear of derailing her unemployment benefits” because of these hoops, she can make a totally rational choice to avoid work for fear of messing up what unemployment benefits she does have because of paperwork snafus. Untethering the cash benefit from bureaucratic processes potentially takes that fear away.

    4. Emmie*

      IMHO, automation will eliminate jobs here. We’ve failed in some respects at providing jobs to fill those gaps (to my current knowledge), which will increase unemployment. If we do not go to universal income, we’ll have to look at other measures like “what kinds of jobs will fill this gap in our country , or states / provinces?” or “how can we create a sustainable income that allows consumers to purchase goods to keep our economy viable.” I don’t mean to create controversy here. Those are just a few things that we’ll have to look at as automation eliminates jobs.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yes. One thing people were screaming about during the election was bringing manufacturing jobs back from overseas. Well those jobs are gone, and they’re not coming back, because automation is cheaper. But replacing them with low-paid service jobs is not really an answer either.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This touches the discussion of the constant growth model vs the sustainability model. I marvel at the concept that our economy can constantly grow and consumers will spend more and more each year.Will they? How can we be certain this is true?

    5. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Ontario is considering a similar idea. My biggest concern is how the government intends to fund this beast given our out of control hydro rates are driving manufacturers out of the country.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I think they were trying this out in one or two places in Sweden too this year – nurses or something. Or maybe that was a three day week….

      Either way – theoretically it makes sense because well, the future is here isnt it? All that Keynes promised with like a 3 day work week with automation taking care of the rest (supposedly). Do we all really need to be in an office? Would the next great advances in technology and humanity take place because there is a universal basic income allowing people the opportunity to take time out and explore other avenues? Maybe, but at the same time there are many people who tend to revert to the mean and could very well be unproductive, leading to a drag on society and income.

      Scandi is easy to test this stuff out on because while they have a work ethic, they don’t tend to have some puritanical level of insanity like we do in the US. Also – populations are much smaller and more homogeneic. How this would translate from a country of 10m give or take to a country 30 times that size like the US… that would be interesting.

    7. esra (also a Canadian)*

      I read an interesting article that had a small section about guaranteed income. Basically it was a poor native community with casino income. The author was surprised to see how much a basic income improved things for people there. It wasn’t a lot of money, essentially just enough to take the edge off of poverty and keep food on the table. Domestic abuse and crime rates went down, school performance and engagement went up. People were happier, more relaxed.

      Being poor to the point where you don’t have secure housing or food supply is incredibly stressful and distracting. It becomes a hole people can’t dig themselves out of. I’m a big advocate of universal basic income. I see a lot of articles pop up about how young people aren’t taking the same risks, being the same entrepreneurs as the past couple generations, and a lot of that is because we’re all in debt up to our eyeballs (paying off a down payment worth of student debt before you can save a down payment? woof). I think a basic income would allow a lot more people to pursue their dreams, be more inventive, be more artistic! The money is there, it’s just crowded all up at the top. I think we’d have a happier, healthier, more energetic workforce if so many people weren’t worried about Maslow’s basic needs.

    8. Hattie McDoogal*

      It’s late enough that I don’t think anyone will see this, but I like talking about UBI. :) This was tried in Manitoba in the 70s for a few years at least (“Mincome” – link in following comment) and IIRC the only groups that saw decreases in hours worked despite the guaranteed income were new mothers, and high school/university students.

      I see articles about this every so often and it’s often frustrating because there’s always That One Guy who’s all, “Bootstraps! When I was starting out I worked 3 jobs to get by, why can’t these lazy freeloaders these days do the same.”

      1. esra (also a Canadian)*

        That’s what I find so interesting (and also frustrating) about it. People seem to have this intrinsic “waaah, everyone will just stop working and turn into the jelly from I have no mouth!” response, when evidence continually suggests the opposite is true.

  30. Master Bean Counter*

    I find myself being recruited, again. Weird. Not even sure if I’ll take it if offered, but the money is incredible. I’m also afraid of looking like a job hopper. So if I make the switch how long will I have to spend to not look like a hopper? (Do I already look like a hopper?)

    Current job:
    2/1016-2/2017 – I wouldn’t start the new position until March if offered
    Last job:
    Previous job:


    1. orchidsandtea*

      1 year, 3 years, 7 years? If you stay there 2 years I’d think it’s fine, but I don’t do much hiring. If you stayed at the potential new job a year or less, I’d think your next job would have to be 3 years or so.

    2. fposte*

      Once you’re at a job for a thousand years, you’re no job hopper :-).

      Seriously, though, this isn’t a hoppery history. I wouldn’t leave unless I planned to stay for a bit because you don’t want to have a second one-year stint after this if you can avoid it, but you’ve got seven years plus three years (yeah, technically it wasn’t quite but months don’t really matter at that point). That’s not the look of itchy feet.

      1. Confused Teapot Maker*

        +1 to industry. For example, my mum’s CV looks vastly different to my dad’s because her industry is generally still one where jobs for life are still a thing whereas my dad’s is one where you’re practically considered a veteran if you stay somewhere for more than 2 years.

        With that in mind, the thing that strikes me as odd about the lengths is that it goes 7, 3 and then 1. Assuming you haven’t changed industry or you’re not in an industry where it’s common to start shorter consultancy roles the further you get into your career, I might have some questions why you’ve not stayed in your last role for that long by comparison to the other two and that might be something to consider in your new role.

    3. Sualah*

      I’m not in hiring or anything, but after you take the new job, unless you need stuff on your current job, I’d think you could leave the current job off entirely. 7 years and 3 years are very respectable stays, and then if you stay at your new job a year or more, it doesn’t even look like job hopping at all.

    4. Less anonymous than before*

      job-hoppers don’t have 7 years or 3 years on the resume. Job-hoppers are 1 year, 1 year 6 months, 1 year 8 months, 1 year, 2 years, 1 year 4 months.

      You’re okay!!

    5. Jesmlet*

      The first thing I noticed when looking at those numbers is that the time you’ve been at each job has decreased job to job (I’m a little weird with patterns, many other more normal people would not notice this). What I would do is stay a minimum of 2 years at next job so that the trend doesn’t continue, but that’s just little ole’ OCD me.

      1. Master Bean Counter*

        That is exactly what I was thinking! I know some of it can be written off as I moved states between the 7 year and 3 year jobs.

  31. orchidsandtea*

    I’ve spent my first 6 weeks organizing files and email inboxes and shared folders that have been a mess since February, when our department was integrated into another department.

    So of course they’re spinning us out again on January 3rd.

    1. Ayla K*

      Oh gosh that is so frustrating. At my last job, they could not decide which department to stick my team under and we ended up floating around for years looking for a home. I had four different managers in four years. I hope things settle for you soon!!

      1. orchidsandtea*

        My attitude right now is mostly “Well they’re lucky they have me this time!” because my earlier success made me feel like such a badass.

  32. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Three weeks into my new job, and the office is closed until after New Year’s. So I get a nice break. Things are going really well (my coworkers are great, the work is interesting, I’m learning a ton), except I feel like I don’t DO anything yet. I realize this is normal and nothing to be too concerned about, but it just feels very strange. My boss told me things will pick up a lot for me after the break, and that’s promising, but I can’t shake the feeling that I have to be doing something to prove that hiring me was a good decision. I asked my boss if there was anything he wanted or expected me to do over the break, and he said, “No, just enjoy it.” I brought my computer home with me so I could do something useful, like review my notes and keep reading the trades.

    I think it’s mostly a combination of impostor syndrome and last-job PTSD, feeling like I need to constantly be an OMG SUPER ROCKSTAR in order to justify my salary and keep my job. Anyone else ever felt like this?

    1. Emmie*

      Yes! I do usually when I start my new jobs. Close your laptop. Enjoy your break! That mental time off will be super important when things gear up in the new year. I usually end up sick after the new hire period, so I’ve learned that a good break during that time (like what you have) is important to keep me operating at max capacity! Congrats and good luck. This is totally normal.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Heh– oddly enough, I’m not feeling particularly well and I feel like I have a migraine coming on. I guess I need the rest! Thanks for the validation. :)

    2. It takes one*

      Oh I know that feeling. I am not even a particularly ambitious, must-impress-boss, type of person. But when I have free time, I just kinda feel like I must have forgotten something important that I need to do

    3. Rebecca*

      I do! I started 7 weeks ago, and I know what to do, and why, but just not how to do it in my new environment, so I’m slowly learning. My manager sent me a note to tell me she knows I’m bored, but to take the time, listen to how things are done, really dig into the reporting and system, and to enjoy this time.

      I was on such a fire drill for the past 2 1/2+ years it’s been hard to just take it easy and learn. I’m looking forward to a full workload again, and am thankful I have a real manager now, knowing I won’t be overloaded.

    4. periwinkle*

      Perfectly normal, no worries. When I started my current job, I had a major case of Imposter Syndrome. Eventually I decided to believe in a comment I’d read on AAM – they hired you, so they must think you can do the job better than anyone else who applied.

      So. Your manager thinks you can do the job and that’s why he selected you. You’ll prove him right soon enough!

    5. Nic*

      You could be speaking my thoughts! I went from a job where an hour of overtime was minimum just to keep up with the workload, and now I’m in a position with multiple hours of downtime.

      One thing I’m doing is noting things that could become projects, or spots where documentation needs improvement (one of my favorite things!), &c. so that when I have more knowledge I can come back and address them during down time. Not only does this give me a bit to do in the present, but it also is a way I can show that OMG SUPER ROCKSTAR self to the new bosses without coming across as “I know better than everyone!”

      We should both enjoy it, though! Yay for getting out of PTSD jobs.

  33. fposte*

    Some people here doubtless know the Awful Library Books blog; there’s a wonderful post up listing occasions where patrons have blamed the librarian for being a ruiner, frex “I have also been requested to predict the weather over a year in advance more times than I can count. In one instance, it was implied that I would be “reported” to a local Detroit TV weatherman.”

    1. Maxwell Edison*

      My favorite was “I have also ruined the reading experience: because our library chose to use receipts instead of stamping the books.” (because I miss the book stamping)

  34. designbot*

    Just (finally) got confirmation that when I made a career move earlier in the year that it was a good financial move too! I moved from a company known for bonuses being a big part of the compensation–many thought their salary was a little low but it balanced in the end–to one where I didn’t really know the bonus situation. There was of course negotiation around this point and in the end I accepted a salary equal to my last job’s salary + bonus for the last year, knowing that it may wind up being a lateral move if new company didn’t come through on the bonus issue. Well they did to the tune of 7% of my salary! Woohoo! Anyone else feeling pretty good about holiday bonus time?

  35. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Every time I deal with the NYC DOB records request section, I come away with the thought “OMG, that place has good people in it, wanting to do the right thing and the system they are working in is HORRIBLE!”

    Once again, I have this crazy urge to quit my job to get one at the DOB overhauling their records system admin. I suspect it would pay faaaaar less than what I make now (and I’m not rolling in it) but if I pulled it off and fixed the NYC-DOB records retrieval system my job satisfaction would be through the roof and I would tell my kid to have it carved on my tombstone.

    1. lizardsaremybagbaby*

      Wait… You mean the Dept of Buildings? You think anyone short of Superman (or a devastating earthquake) could overhaul the NYC DOB? Hahahahahaha! Sorry, that was mean :)
      But seriously, if you pulled this off, I would PERSONALLY PAY to have that carved on your tombstone with an effigy of you with angel wings and a professional harpist playing forever in your honor! That place is a wreck… better than it used to be but still a wreck.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Yes. The New York City Department of Buildings. All of it. Manhattan. Brooklyn. Staten Island. Queens. Bronx.

        The whole scanning/microfiche/microfilm/paper files/HUB/access to scanned documents database needs a major overhaul to make it easier for people who work there to get this done. And have a safety algorithm to prevent two unique BINs getting assigned to one damn Block/Lot.

        This really calls for a Major Administrative Archivist. But, barring that, I think I could be up to the task. I once got NYCTA and an independent IT contractor who was hired by a completely different company to work together to solve database problems I discovered on a Joint Venture and that had been created by people AND entities who (1) weren’t on the project any longer and (2) did not actually exist as a legally actionable entity. That was smaller, but I was younger and I think I’m better now.

        I just need to find the pathway in. I need authority. And a budget. A big budget. It’ll take a lot.

        1. lizardsaremybagbaby*

          Good luck and godspeed! They do have openings for a Sr Database Mgr and a Senior IT Project Manager right now :)

          If you get a chance to tackle this, there are about 1M+ people in the NYC construction field who will buy you a beer!

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            I’m not IT, just really good at QA/QC and know that database problems are more than “IT”. Given how this stuff plays out, I think it goes right back to the overall database architecture and archival management issues.

            I’ll look for those postings, though, and see what the descriptions are.

          2. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Oh, and I won’t need that many beers. But, maybe, just maybe, I can guilt some contractors into thinking twice before going rogue and doing underpinning w/o filing the full Support of Excavation set?

            There *was* a reason I was at the DOB. Won’t say which borough. But, damn, it pisses me off to no end when people are stupid with excavations.

            Gravity. It’s the Law.

  36. Project Manager*

    I have no plans to actually do anything about this situation, I’m just looking for validation that it’s awkward/uncomfortable: One of my contractors uses her work laptop for personal stuff as well, and when she’s presenting from her laptop, she doesn’t hide her personal stuff. So we see her private calendar, her email, etc. Which is fine, but it’s not like it’s just a subject line of an email to a friend arranging lunch – we can see information about her medical appts/history and her addiction recovery. I am, of course, pretending I don’t see this stuff, and I am not going to actually tell her to hide it, but can we all agree it’s awkward when you accidentally learn private things about your team member (that you yourself would not necessarily share with others) and then have to pretend you didn’t see it, and that when it’s a frequent and repeated situation, it becomes uncomfortable?

    1. designbot*

      oh god. I would probably actually mention it to her, just in a “hey, I’m sure you don’t realize because it’s all stuff you know already, but we can see quite a lot of personal info on your computer when you’re presenting. I feel like I know much more about your medical history than I should, and thought you probably didn’t realize how much was on display and might want to minimize non-work items before presenting in the future.”

      1. ZVA*

        Agreed, but I wouldn’t mention the medical history, at the risk of making either party unnecessarily uncomfortable! I’d modify it to “Hey, you may not realize this, but we can see a lot of personal info on your computer when you’re presenting—just wanted to give you a heads up in case you want to minimize that stuff going forward.”

        1. designbot*

          you’re probably right. I guess I was just looking to convey to her that it’s REALLY personal info that she almost certainly doesn’t realize she’s putting out there. But your way it probably the better starting point.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Totally agreed, and I think designbot/ZVA’s language is really excellent for approaching this person compassionately.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Actually, I think it is appropriate to say “At a work presentation, these things should not be visible. You may not particularly care about hiding them, but they’re a distraction from your presentation. Please do your best to make sure that anything that is not work-related is minimized/not visible.”

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Or even “Anything that is not directly related to the presentation should be hidden or closed.” Even other work stuff would be distracting to me.

        1. designbot*

          yeah at my job we even hide other work stuff because every client should feel like they’re your only client, or at least your most important client.

        1. Project Manager*

          Thanks, all. The reason this stuff is visible is that when she’s presenting her screen, it’s usually at a working meeting, so she’ll be cycling through her browser windows, outlook, onenote, etc., as we go through the products we’re working on, and something will be visible for a minute or two while she finds the right window. So it’s possible the other people in the room, who may not compulsively read everything in front of them like I do, are not noticing this stuff. That’s part of why I’m hesitant to say anything.

          And the last time it happened, what I saw and tactfully ignored was a list of job descriptions…(she doesn’t report directly to me)

          1. animaniactoo*

            I think it still makes sense to shut it down as “Please make sure that you’re setup for the presentation and have all non-relevant items closed or hidden such that it will be easier for you to access the relevant information, and things that aren’t relevant aren’t distracting from your presentation while you switch programs, etc.”

      2. ZVA*

        I agree that it’s appropriate to say something like this, but I wouldn’t go into it assuming she doesn’t care! Maybe she doesn’t realize it’s visible & would be grateful if someone pointed it out.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I think that an important point is to be prepared to hear her say she does not care. Have a response prepared just in case she says that.

    1. Emmie*

      Website: Indeed.
      I would love to hear how people used their network for jobs, or got recruited. I love my job tons, but this fascinates me.

    2. It takes one*

      Website – job street and jobsdb (this is for Singapore).
      I had checked newspapers during the early stages of my search, but it only had openings for professionals one day out of seven, and often with no suitable openings.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Networking. I was introduced to a woman who, before we had the opportunity to speak on the phone, introduced me to my now boss. He invited me to lunch, told me he had nothing available, then decided that he needed a new team member and that I should be that team member. I went through a formal interview process– meeting, presentation to his colleagues, writing samples– but the job was never posted, as far as I know.

      I found my last job on LinkedIn, and the job before that I found on the company’s website. The job before that I also got through networking, but that’s a long, convoluted story from over 10 years ago. :)

    4. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      Current job-my mentor had a contact at the company and that person happened to have a manager reporting to them with some openings that fit my skill set. I went through the full interview process.

      Last two jobs-utilized recruiters that I found through friends/family recommendations.

    5. LawCat*

      Craigslist. Great job, but super random find on my part. The headquarters of the org is San Francisco where I think craigslist advertising is more common than where I (and this non-headquarters job) live.

    6. animaniactoo*

      Network. They used to be my client. When I left my old company I called to say goodbye, they asked for my number and when they had a need for somebody with my skills they called me. From there it’s been all internal promotion as the department has changed/grown along with the company.

    7. Ayla K*

      Temp agency! I quit my horrible last job earlier this year and spent a few months applying through websites, but then decided to sign with a temp agency because I needed *some* income. The first few listings they sent me were not right, but then they reached out with a job listing that was actually a direct-hire full time job, not a temp position. It worked out and here I am!

    8. rubyrose*

      I worked for this company for 7 years and left for 2. I decided to go back on the market and was checking with my references to make sure they would still vouch for me. One of them (from this company) came back and said of course, but we have a open position where the person we offered it to declined it just 48 hrs ago.

      The easiest job hunt I’ve ever had.

    9. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Website:, though there was a bit of networking in play, sorta.

      I had initially applied for a job within another part of the company and was one of two finalists. They ended up going with an internal candidate. A few months later, I saw another job open up in a different part of the company and applied to that one. The HR person remembered me and fast-tracked my application to the new hiring manager.

    10. Central Perk Regular*

      My current job: company website. I work for a Fortune 200 company and it helped that I knew like, five, people that already worked here and I could put them down as references. I applied for the job in late April and started at the very end of August, so it was a pretty long interview process.

      My previous jobs: local industry-specific website. I work in marketing/communications and our city has a very active job listing site. 90% of the jobs posted on this site are “legit” too, unlike some of the marketing jobs that are posted on other sites.

    11. Tris Prior*

      I got my job, and nearly every job I’ve had for the past 15 years, through networking, which I find kind of hilarious because I’m an introvert, pretty antisocial, and don’t have a wide circle. I’m in a narrow field where everyone knows everyone and moves around frequently, though, so that’s probably why. I’ve been really fortunate.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      OldExJob: the state Career Center website.
      NewExJob: the company website.
      I do look on Indeed and Glassdoor a lot. Craigslist and Careerbuilder are worthless (but I still check).

    13. NW Mossy*

      Got in the door via the company website, and have since been promoted internally a few times. The last person I hired was an internal lateral (and she’s amazing), but I definitely want to check out external candidates for the next opening on my team.

    14. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Grapevine for both offers.

      Contract was coming to an end and my internal boss helped me network internally to find a new role. At the same time when I was on vacation a friend from job who had since moved on to be an executive at a competitor emailed me saying that he had overheard that such and such was looking for XX (what I do), would I be interested? I was and they fast tracked me through that interview process so fast my head spun.

      Both offers the same day, took the second one because the first was knocked down from full time to contract. So far? Best decision I have ever made.

      Prior to this job I got the last one because of a LinkedIn posting. I have also had some luck with recruiters, but my background isn’t as competitive in this market for what I do, so I go make my own opportunities.

    15. Red Reader*

      I originally got in at my company being cold called by a temp agency. Like, I walked in on my first day half afraid I’d totally been scammed and my identity was on a black market somewhere. When the temp contract ended, I had another one lined up, went to tell my manager, and she started pulling strings to get me hired permanently into a department that would use my full qualifications (I was grossly overqualified for what I was doing for her), which worked.

      My specific current position was a new tier of management being created where there hadn’t been positions before, and they invited anyone interested in the department to apply. I was one of the new leads selected.

    16. Julie*

      Website- Indeed. I had a bad day at work, tried a few keywords, found 2 relevant jobs and submitted applications on my lunch break. Never heard back from one, started at the other within the month.

    17. Danae*

      Dayjob: applying through LinkedIn.

      Nonprofit part-time job: Through the grapevine, sort of. The former director of one of the nonprofit’s programs basically contacted the ED of the organization when this job came open and said, “you want this person for this position. Trust me on this one.” (She knew me because I was a graduate of the program she’d run, and I’d helped her on and off with computer things.) The ED invited me to apply, and I’ve been working for them for a few years now.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      Friends that I met through various groups I belonged to told me about a couple openings. The jobs were part time but the work was interesting so I took the jobs.

    19. PseudoMona*

      I found the job posting on the company’s website, and applied online. I then did some Internet sleuthing to identify the hiring manager, and sent my CV and cover letter directly to him as well.

    20. Sophie Winston*

      Over the last 15ish years: Newspaper (printed!) help wanted ad, internal, recruiter, temp agency, internal, internal.

  37. Hey there*

    I’ll be having my first official performance review meeting soon; what should I expect? My boss has indicated that he is highly satisfied with my work, so I am expecting a positive review, but want some insight into how these meetings are run. What happens? Will he do all the talking? How long do they last? Etc.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I’ve found this varies greatly. I’ve had reviews that are more like casual conversations, I’ve had reviews that are my boss reading a scorecard to me, and I’ve had reviews that are somewhere in between. The best way to alleviate your concern about the unknown is to ask your boss how he typically runs these reviews, if you need to bring anything with you other than your own thoughts about your performance, etc.

      1. Confused Teapot Maker*

        +1 Mine have varied so best to ask what’s expected in advance. I would do that even if there is a company policy as even then the actual format can change from manager to manager

    2. Sophie Winston*

      Third for it varies widely by manager. Do you have any coworkers who have had reviews with your boss in the past? They would be a great resource. If this is your first review ever, everyone will understand it’s anxiety producing and won’t be at all surprised by the question. It’s also appropriate to ask your manager, either in person or by email. I think Alison has wording somewhere…

  38. Mazzy*

    Going through annoyance now with newer and younger workers only being interested in “higher level” stuff instead of day to day stuff. I just don’t get it. Our office culture clearly incentivizes people who master the day to day stuff. Why does everyone feel that giving a presentation on high level issues is what impresses management? Or is what they want? Or that they even have he ability to do the work well? And most importantly, why do they assume that the management level issues are so cut off from or different than the issues they’re working on? It’s not like we save the interesting stuff for management.

    1. Emmie*

      IMO, this comes from three places. People want to feel important. Entry-level folks have high, sometimes out of wack expectations for their first job (I did too.) People want to do interesting work.
      If you can manage expectations, reward performance for job mastery (seems like you already do), convey how important the work is that they’re doing, and provide stretch opportunities for visibility for highest performers then you might address some of the issues.

    2. Jurney*

      So interested. I have always hated higher level work because my brain doesn’t think that way. I just wish I could stay in my little area with my details and be left alone. But I feel an intense pressure from my peers/social circle to always be striving to get promoted and go higher and higher and I’m something of a failure for not wanting to advance.

      I would love to be in a culture if I were incentivized to master the day to day! I wish I knew how to find that company.

      1. Mazzy*

        I’ve seen many of the biggest successes in my field come from the bottom. Someone who does so and so paperwork and transactions so well that they can sniff a worrisome trend or a way to improve things from a mile away. One day they’ll come across something that no one else has visibility to or they will have an ah-ah moment that confirms a trend that others could only speculate about. And if they take ownership of the issue, that is fodder for career growth. A thousand times more valuable that making a powerpoint that shows that between 75%-80% of customers prefer dark chocolate teapots.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Newer employees (I mean new to the workforce) often have the mistaken assumption that being “higher up” on the org chart means your work is somehow more interesting. Usually “high up” jobs are just categorically different, but regardless, they require mastery of day-to-day stuff. If possible, it would be helpful to let them know you have to master basics before moving up. If you want to become a Michelin chef, you don’t just show up in the kitchen and start throwing things together; you have to learn specific techniques and the underlying reasoning in order to understand how to break it apart and rebuild it.

    4. overeducated*

      Because they’re concerned about having “accomplishments” to put on their resumes and show “leadership” when they inevitably have to get a new job to get a raise and/or advancement, based on general advice from their elders/career centers/the internet? And they don’t have an accurate reading of your office culture or what actually impresses your management? Clearly they’re getting the balance wrong and but those could be potential sources of the misunderstandings.

    5. Jesmlet*

      I think going to school and thinking about your future career, you spend a lot of time thinking about the higher level stuff and that’s what you become invested in. Then when you get an actual job and you’re doing stuff you may consider basic, you overestimate your abilities and underestimate the importance of the basics. They should grow out of it eventually.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Speaking for my own stupid self, I did not understand boundaries. I did not realize that people at various levels were appointed to certain decisions. I did not understand when I had stepped out beyond the scope of my own particular job. I would think, “This needs to be fixed, so I should work to fix it.” I ticked a few people off until I got into the swing of it. Then I learned to ask if I had the authority to handle x or was someone in charge of y, etc. those types of questions would keep me in line with the what my area should be. It was like pulling teeth to find this stuff out sometimes. One place I worked was totally convinced that everyone was thoroughly trained and knew this stuff. In reality, their training program consisted of “Go observe everyone and in a few weeks we will give you something to do.”

      For me my over-reaching did come from a sense of obligation where I felt that I would be held responsible in some manner. It bothered me that I was trying to be responsible and people would tell me “oh you just want to pick the important jobs and don’t want to do your own”.
      When I started training people I made sure I clearly stated what was within their job title and when they needed to touch base with someone else such a boss or shift leader. I did not wait for the employee to embarrass themselves just because they did not know.

      If you have a bunch of people who are over-reaching I’d be willing to bet my last chocolate donut that no one is telling them the scope/boundaries of their jobs, but everyone is assuming that someone else has done so.

  39. Blue Anne*

    Earlier this week I was having a tough time on a big project for a new-ish boss who is hard to please. He has a habit of yelling at people when they don’t do things exactly how he wants them to be done and has been short with me a couple times on this project, although not out of line. We went over everything and at the end of the meeting, I told him that i apologized if it seemed like I’d been having trouble focusing on the work – it seems like there’s been a prowler snooping around outside my windows a few times in the last week and it has me feeling a little freaked out.

    He was really nice about it and encouraged me to file a police report (which I did the next day, after I noticed new footprints in the snow outside my bedroom window) but now that I’m out of the pressure of the meeting I feel stupid for having brought that into the office. I’m kind of embarrassed.

    Can I get some outside perspective? Was that appropriate to mention?

    1. MWKate*

      I can’t speak for every manager, but if my employee told me this I would 100% understand and be concerned about their well being. As much as you can try to keep your work and personal lives separate – there are things that cross over, and I think being concerned that someone is peeking in your windows and jeopardizing your safety and privacy is one of them.

    2. Spoonie*

      I second that — if I mentioned it to either my direct manager or my department manager, they would be understanding and probably tell me the exact same thing. Former Manager would probably have offered for me to come stay with her. As much as I also try to keep work and home separate, sometimes they do unavoidably overlap. Good managers (and even questionable managers) are understanding of that.

    3. Marisol*

      I see nothing inappropriate about that whatsoever. The subject of a prowler isn’t personal. Topics too personal for work include things like explicit details of your medical history or intimate relationships. The only reason to avoid discussing something like a night prowler would be if your boss is such a bully that showing any weakness results in abuse, and that wouldn’t make the subject inappropriate per se, just an unwise political strategy.

      I might be extrapolating too much here, but I wonder if this is an opportunity for you to explore your sense of boundaries and the degree to which you are able to assert yourself. As I see it, you have a “right” to discuss mundane events in your life without being shamed. Don’t let this guy’s bad behavior cause you to doubt yourself, or to doubt your sense of what’s normal.

      1. Blue Anne*

        That’s actually a good point. I’m always really hesitant to share anything at all about my personal life because I’m an actively poly person in a very Christian office. Mundane details like “I saw a movie with my boyfriend over the weekend, how was yours?” could be problematic.

        1. Marisol*

          Ah…as a creative-type person working in a corporate asset management company, I think I can relate to that general mindset. It becomes difficult to suss out what is ok to share and what will alienate people.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Please don’t be embarrassed. If an otherwise awesome employee suddenly seemed distracted, I would appreciate having a head’s up as to why. And I would really want to know if it were a prowler, because that’s stalking-ish behavior, and I would want to know so I could protect your safety at work (to me this is analogous to knowing if someone is under a restraining order). I’m also really glad your manager was supportive and encouraged you to file a report.

      You shouldn’t feel embarrassed; the bad actor in this story is the prowler, not you. I’m also so sorry that you’re going through this, and I’m sending you strong wishes of support and steely spine-y-ness.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The boss was okay with it. And the way you can assure yourself is by his reaction you said he was nice and he encouraged you to file a police report. This is not what an annoyed boss does.. at all. An annoyed boss says things like “get over it” or “don’t bother me with this stuff”. Additionally you were not saying something like the dog threw up or there wa a mouse in the kitchen. Footprints outside your window is not mundane, ordinary stuff.

      I hope this story helps to give you perspective. My father lived in a very rural area, His nearest neighbor was about a mile away. Well some people escaped from a prison north of where he lived. (This was in the late 1950s.) One was a known murderer. My father told his boss that in all likelihood the boss would be the first one to realize my father might be in trouble because my father had not reported for work. The boss agreed to calling the police immediately if my father was late and my father did not call the boss to say he would be late.

      The same holds today. For some people their work places are the first to know that they are in trouble. Even if we have people we live with there is still the possibility of an accident on the commute to work. Family/roommates would not be aware of such an accident. I don’t think there is anything wrong with letting the boss know that something unusual is going on. And it sounds to me like your boss did not think so either. We are all human beings first and foremost and that has nothing to do with rank inside a company.

  40. Emmie*

    What are your favorite sources for business news, and professional growth?

    Outside of SHRM, and AaM of course!

    1. Morning Glory*

      I’m personally a fan of reading HBR

      And this is not so newsy, but I just finished The Power of Habit, which I found really interesting from a prof dev perspective.

    2. NW Mossy*

      On Alison’s recommendation I started checking out Manager Tools (they also have a sister sub-site called Career Tools) and I love it – it’s been massively helpful in giving concrete examples of how to manage well.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Can second HBR. Also McKinsey puts out something monthly I think, if you are more interested in strategy.

      Otherwise I make it a habit every morning to quick check the daily city financial rag as well as the WSJ (we have a personal subscription). Time permitting I try to page through the Economist once a week on Friday (its on the newsstand in the office) and possibly the FT if its around. I also read a lot of broker reports where necessary which helps financial and strategic understanding as well.

  41. Morning Glory*

    How can I correct someone else’s intern without being overly critical or micromanaging? Her supervisor is hands off and not good about giving feedback – I support him on a few things including his internship program.
    Mainly the intern’s emails to high-level execs for requests like signing a form either are missing information or have way too much information that confuses the issue. She either omits the action item or is too aggressive about demanding the executive do something. It’s puzzling because she’s a grad student intern who’s a couple of years older than me and has some amount of work experience.
    I’ve tried some direct feedback with no signs of changes, but I don’t want to press too hard on this because she’s not my intern, and I don’t want to overstep. Recently I gave up and asked her just to send these things to me and I would get the exec to handle – but this isn’t really supposed to be my responsibility. Any advice?

    1. Fabulous*

      That type of email communication definitely has a learning curve… Maybe try creating a template for her to use with these type of requests? Here’s an example:

      “Hi Jane! I noticed you’ve been having some trouble getting actions from some of the execs and wanted to share something that’s worked for me in the past. When I need something from Fergus, I’ll include the following information in my request to him: Item Description, Missing Information, and Specific Action Needed. Hopefully this helps you too!”

      1. Morning Glory*

        I like framing it this way, it gives less room for mistakes than the more general feedback I was giving. Thanks!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Why not give the feedback to his manager? “I’ve noticed Fergus struggles with X and Y. I’ve given him some feedback about it with no signs of change, so I figured you’d want to stop in and coach him more there.”

      1. Morning Glory*

        I could try this! I’m not sure it would have a big impact though.

        Her supervisor is a high-performer as an individual, but new to managing people and seems to struggle a great deal in that area. He’s not great at giving feedback. Example: he once told me he hoped another intern ‘would just know’ not to apply to a full-time position so that he wouldn’t have to be the bad guy and reject her. He had never given her feedback on her weak areas, and had previously talked about hiring her for this position, so that would have required true ESP on her part. Perhaps my question should have been on dealing with the manager :)

        He’s much higher-level than me though, and while I feel like I have limited power to address his management issues, I also feel bad standing back and watching his interns make mistakes.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I was going to say the same thing as Alison. But based on your response, her supervisor seems kind of self-centered (which normally could be fine, but not when it means shirking your managerial responsibilities), or perhaps his role is such that it’s not a great use of his time to have him doing intern supervision.

        I wonder if, after clearing this idea with your colleague, he would be open to simply telling his intern, “When Morning Glory gives you feedback re: X, I expect you to incorporate it. If you are confused or feel like you want a gut-check, you can always bring that feedback to me.” Of course, you would still run feedback past him or cc him on it.

        But I might be wrong on this; everywhere I have worked has had a culture/expectation that anyone can speak to interns when they are messing up because that is part of our commitment to professional education and to supporting one another as coworkers. I have certainly had interns who refused to listen to anyone except “their boss” (and of course they decided the highest level manager was their boss, even if said big boss told them to report to and listen to mid-level boss or receptionist), and it did not go well for them.

    3. NW Mossy*

      If you let the intern be, what would happen for you? If the impact is likely to be small and/or if it’s clear to the execs that they’re dealing with an intern who’s learning, I think you can reasonably consider your part complete if you’re giving feedback as you see examples and keeping her manager in the loop on her performance. If the execs are likely to hold you accountable for the intern’s performance, you may want to push harder and/or talk to them about what you’re doing to coach her.

  42. Mimmy*

    TL;DR – not getting anywhere with the regular job hunt or networking and thinking I should start my own business or do freelancing.

    I got the official “the department went with another candidate” email from my university for the job that I had applied to in October. I didn’t even get an interview – but I figured it was a long shot since I was probably overqualified.

    Yes, I sheepishly admit that’s the only job I’ve actually applied to. For reasons that are hard to explain, I’m in that black hole where I’m either overqualified because of my masters or under qualified because of lack of experience plus no interest in management. I will readily admit that I 1) don’t know how to describe what I’m interested in and 2) can’t let go of the idea that you don’t always have to fit 100% into a job’s listed qualifications.

    I keep hoping my volunteer activities (grant reviewer, advisory councils) would bolster my qualifications, but alas… Plus, one council I’m on has been unsatisfying. When I was appointed in 2014, I was really excited because it was squarely in my area of interest, and I assumed I’d rack up a lot of terrific project experience. But dysfunction and appointment issues blew that to heck. We finally got a bunch of appointments through recently; yet, MY appointment expires in 4 months, and re-appointment will likely take awhile.

    I’m beginning to think I should just strike out on my own but is that doable if I have zero business experience??

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It depends on what specifically you’d be striking out on your own to do, and whether you can credibly pitch yourself to do that thing (and have a specific plan for how you’d get clients).

      But can you really conclude that your job search isn’t working if you’ve only applied to one job?

      1. Mimmy*

        You got me there Alison *blush*. Suffice it to say that I need to get out of my own way.

        I have been working with a VR counselor (I have a disability) who has expressed a genuine interest in helping me get something I’ll be successful in. But she said she’s been very busy, presumably for end-of-year reporting (I’d emailed her after not hearing from her for a month).

        I’m trying my best to not depend on her help and looking on my own. That’s where I’m faltering. It’s hard to explain this to people who don’t know me or my situation. My sister has been incredibly helpful in this respect though :)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I will say that if you’re struggling to motivate yourself to job search, freelancing is definitely not the way to go — for most people the work involved in getting clients is a lot more than the work of a job search, unless you’re starting with a built-in client base (which doesn’t sound like it would be the case, but I might be wrong).

      1. Mimmy*

        Maybe the grant reviewing – I’ve been doing that since early 2012 as part of a local United Way panel and a county-level advisory council. I can see myself reviewing and advising on grants or other types of proposals, but I probably need experience in a wider variety of proposals first.

        Also: I’m very interested in disability accessibility (e.g. the ADA, providing accommodations or assistive technology) and would love to advise on these as well.

    2. BRR*

      I’m not clear on your work history but if you have zero experience and a masters, it’s possible you’re not overqualified for that many positions. Some hiring managers might be concerned you’ll be bored but a masters in many fields doesn’t place you at a higher starting position.

      I’m not sure what field you’re in but it can be difficult to start out as a freelancer because you don’t have a track record. Starting your own business isn’t an alternative to finding a job. In a lot of fields it’s harder because you’re not only doing the work but also have to do more administrative functions like marketing yourself.

      1. Mimmy*

        Alison said essentially the same thing – I figured that’d be the case. Very solid points.

        My general fields have been in human services and disability advocacy. Without too much identifying info, here’s a bit of a snapshot of my work and educational history:

        Got a BA in the ’90s. After a few years of entry-level office work, I decided to pursue an MSW; while pursuing this, I had separate internships at a nursing and a medical rehab facility. I was slowly but surely becoming confident in direct services in rehab and disability.

        Got the MSW in 2007. Later that year, I began work part-time providing information and resources at a nonprofit. This lasted less than a year.

        2009-2010: Had a good 2-year run at a professional association, first as a volunteer, then as a part-time temp.

        After several opportunities that didn’t pan out, I began the volunteering I mentioned in my initial post. In addition to the grant reviewing, I’ve been actively involved in disability advocacy, e.g. one group at my local Center for Independent Living discusses accessibility issues at local businesses, such as accessible parking, ramps, etc. This really got me interested in accessibility on a broader scale. Not so much the architectural aspects (you practically need an engineering degree!) but more programmatic access, e.g. providing ASL interpreters at a conference or making sure college students have appropriate accommodations.

        I know that was probably more info than you were asking, lol.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It sounds to me like you need to throw yourself into a serious job hunt. What you’ve described here doesn’t sound likely to be a strong background for building up a client base right now. The thing to do now is to focus on getting a solid work history in there, and that could set you up to possibly freelance later if it’s still something you want to do down the road. You said you’ve been slacking on the job front — I’d make that your #1 priority for the next few months.

    3. katamia*

      That’s basically why I started freelancing. I think it depends a lot on your personality/how you work. I only work “when I feel like it,” but I can make myself “feel like it” pretty easily and love the flexibility that comes with being able to work at 3am or 3pm and not have it matter–I have ADD and some minor chronic illnesses that aren’t as well controlled as they could be, so it’s always been really hard for me to stick to a 9-5 schedule. (Which is not to say I’ll never give it a shot again for the right kind of job, but I’m definitely at a disadvantage.)

      If you’re US-based, you could look up SCORE (link in a followup comment), which does business mentoring. A friend thought about doing it (and decided against it), but I just emailed them because I want to take my freelancing to the next level but have no real business experience either, so I’ll see how that goes.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I would encourage you to plan out a more comprehensive job search and apply to more jobs before striking it out on your own. Starting your own business (including freelancing) often requires a mix of the following: high levels of motivation, an ability to doggedly work towards building your job, a level of scrappy-ness and comfort with risk, and an established professional reputation with a strong network.

      Right now, I get the impression that you’re feeling unmotivated/unsure, and I think that’s a dangerous emotional place to work from when trying to build something completely new. Also, running your own business is a ton of work; as a friend jokes, “The hours are great—you can work any 24 hours you want to.”

      I would also encourage you to consider positions that may not fall within the direct services/advising branch of social work (I’m assuming the MSW is a Masters in Social Welfare?). For example, policy think tanks, private foundations, advocacy organizations, etc., will often want folks with your life experience, etc., who can advance ideas/policies around big picture disability rights work. Given your prior experience in grant review, you may enjoy working at a regional foundation, for example. Aiming for a slightly different market may also amplify your network if you later choose to go into consulting.

    5. Jen*

      I’ve worked both freelance (research, grants) and full-time for non-profits. I know it’s industry and location dependent but where I’m located a MA of any sort isn’t overqualified – it’s really more about the paid work you’ve done, the training itself isn’t enough to prepare for the job unfortunately. Also, volunteer work has less applicability to paid work than paid work experience does because even if the standards are the same (arguable in some cases) the amount of work and the responsibility is less than paid work so you might need more paid work under your belt before freelancing is doable. I also had the same experience Alison mentioned where finding clients (and maintaining the relationship) was a lot more work than a regular full time gig.

  43. Murphy*

    I work for a university and we always have a food truck or two on campus. There’s definitely one on the schedule today, but I saw after I’d walked about halfway there in the cold that there was no food truck. And the cafe on campus is closed, presumably because the students are gone. Now I am stuck without lunch.

    1. babblemouth*

      Our office canteen was closed yesterday. A bunch of us ordered pizza together. Can you do something like that?

        1. Murphy*

          That’s just what I did! I didn’t have much to do anyway, and there’s thankfully no reason I can’t work at home.

    2. caledonia*

      We had minimal heating because no students….even though we are in an office building where students rarely venture.

      1. Chaordic One*

        This is why I always had my little electric plug-in space heater hidden in the back of my desk’s lower file drawer.

  44. Fabulous*

    I was chosen to cover someone’s maternity leave at work because of my great track record and Excel skills.

    I’ve worked marginally in Finance before but never directly, although I’ve wanted to bridge that gap… But in the coming months, I’m going to be learning the ins and outs of a lot of the financial reporting our company does. Exciting!

  45. Emac*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to show an interest in financial or budget analysis in a cover letter/resume?

    I’m applying for a job that sounds awesome (and is a 15 minute walk from my apartment!!!) but a large part of it is doing budget preparation. The qualifications don’t require experience in that (though it is preferred) but just an interest in it. I’m just not sure how to show that when applying since I don’t have any direct experience doing budgets (beyond my own).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You love numbers, find making your own budget balance highly satisfying, and are excited by the opportunity to work on much larger-scale budgets in a professional setting. (Assuming those things are true. Don’t say them if they’re not.)

      1. Emac*

        Thanks! I was also thinking of saying something something about budgets being an integral part of non-profit projects and since I’m interested in program/project management, it’s something that’s very important to me. Does that make sense? This job is for a project coordinator for on section of a very large healthcare nonprofit.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, but but make sure you stress the numbers/budgeting thing itself too (you don’t want it to come across like “I’m interested in X because I care about Y” when it’s X they want you most interested in). Mention the Excel thing from below — that’s good.

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      Do you have a background in accounting at all? Are you skilled in Excel? Both can translate to a love of problem solving and balancing numbers. That’s what a budget is all about.

      1. Emac*

        Thanks! I don’t have any accounting experience, but I love Excel! That’s one of the reasons that I’m applying for this job – I just did a big Excel project at my current job (not involving numbers though, but lots of formulas with other kinds of data) and realized that I want to be doing more of those kinds of things more regularly.

    3. Fabulous*

      “I don’t have any direct experience doing budgets (beyond my own)”

      That’s exactly what I would mention in your cover letter! Explain how you use budgets in your own life and love everything that goes into balancing at the end of the month. How you use analysis to decide what to set your budget as, etc. That it’s a fun activity you enjoy doing. Not many people can say they genuinely enjoy budgeting!!

      1. Emac*

        Well, I don’t know if I can genuinely say that I *enjoy* doing my budget, but it is satisfying to figure out how long it will take me to reach my goals and maybe try to find ways to shorten it. But I do love setting up the spreadsheets and things for myself! (I know, it’s weird)

    4. thehighercommonsense*

      Are you interested in the processes that surround budgeting? I’ve done program budgeting and finance and transitioned into it from a totally unqualified role. The two biggest things that helped were 1) emphasizing that I was good with/ not afraid of numbers, as others have said, and 2) showing that I was interested in what budgeting can *do* for an organization and how it supports operations. So, in your example above, rather than focusing on program/ project management, I’d focus on how you think it’s really important to provide program/ project managers with easily accessible and clear data that helps them make the best decisions for their org.

      Also, in my government world, one of the biggest issues I’ve come across in my fiscal departments was folks not understanding the data and driving factors behind costs, and not accounting for them properly. If you are able to emphasize an interest in obscure and mind-numbing details, which you use to look at the big picture, that may help (at least, it was one quality that was getting me poached to a budget department with little experience).

      1. Emac*

        ” I’d focus on how you think it’s really important to provide program/ project managers with easily accessible and clear data that helps them make the best decisions for their org.”

        Thanks, I think that’s a good way to frame it. For your second paragraph, I’m not sure I understand – do you have an example?

        1. thehighercommonsense*

          Oooohhhhh yes. So many. One of my recent pet peeves:

          I work for an entity that has a lot of service contracts which have to be competitively bid, and the bids are always, always, ALWAYS over budget for very specific customers who don’t plan. Why are they over budget? Because while service contracts are usually fairly stable (it’s not hard to predict approximately how much you’re going to use in cleaning supplies for a given building, for example), they are very sensitive to 1) mandated increases in wage laws, because the staff are typically paid very low and are riding the legal minimum (this is less of a problem in contracts for specialized occupations, where the wages are way above minimums, so you’re just watching inflation and market rate) and 2) the “mix” of bids on any given solicitation (so, you might have bidders that bid unusually high, or you might reject a bunch of bidders and end up with one that’s higher than you bargained for and be unable to negotiate down, etc etc). And most of the contracts are fixed-price (in our state procurement code) so there’s no escalation across years (well, the bidders build it in to the fixed price, but that’s another story).

          A good budget department would 1) watch the labor legislation 2) watch the market to have a sense of what those services are going for in their area 3) budget some “float” to allow for the bidding environment 4) budget in escalations according to CPI, Davis-Bacon, BLS, or other reliable index. A bad budget department will 1) do none of these things 2) act surprised when their contract price increases by 40% because the minimum wage is doubling that year 3) take the last contract price and slap a 3% escalation on it, leaving them with a budget of whatever the 3-year price of the last contract was, and way behind on inflation alone. (No, I’m not bitter, why do you ask?)

          Sorry, that was kind of involved, but that’s the kind of thing I mean–you need to have a head not just for numbers, but what goes into the numbers and makes your costs likely to increase or decrease.

          1. Emac*

            Ah, I get it, thanks. I think that is something I’d be aware of since I’m now on the other side – working for a nonprofit that relies on government and private foundation grants. It’s always fun to have our budget stay the same or even be cut and then try to figure out how to not cut our services too much given that things cost more from year to year and it wouldn’t be great for morale if managers were always decreasing everyone’s salary at review time instead of talking about raises!

            1. thehighercommonsense*

              Exactly! Being able to say “here’s how my program experience would help me draft realistic budgets and understand the hard choices re: funding” would probably help a lot.

  46. MWKate*

    I just sent in the last of 2 grad school applications last night. There are some organizational changes happening at work, which may or may not offer me some upward movement – my boss has hinted to me there will be opportunities, but nothing concrete.

    So now I’m in a waiting game – do I get accepted to this last school (got in to 1 so far, but it’s really expensive) and go off to do what I’ve always wanted, taking on more debt and going into a career that will probably pay ok but not great. Or – do I get a good enough offer from a job that I find entirely uninteresting where I would likely end up better financially.


    1. Tuckerman*

      If you know you’re discipline enough to save money while working, I think it makes sense to take a blah job. Having money in the bank will allow you to pursue other opportunities that may not be as financially appealing. Having significant debt, and worrying about money, is extremely stressful, and can take away a lot of the pleasure you have in things that usually make you happy (e.g., because you’re constantly second-guessing whether you should have spent money or you wish you could attend a wedding and you cannot afford it). The key is to keep your expenses low, so you don’t stay in an unsatisfying job just because you have to make that much money to support your lifestyle. Finally, sometimes jobs may seem unappealing on the surface, but something interesting comes of it. You may be assigned to a project that spurs a passion in a new area. Good luck!

      1. MWKate*

        Yeah – that’s kind of where I am at. My job is blah – and truthfully, I find this industry in general blah. If I made enough to do things I enjoy outside of work, I would probably be willing to stick with it but I don’t know if I’ll get a promotion to bring me to that level. I’d want to know that before making a decision not to go to grad school over it.

  47. babblemouth*

    (warning: wall of text!)

    I have been working at Teapot, Inc for almost two years. It’s been fantastic, but a bit hard at the same time, as my role was a new one after it was made clear that there was a big gap in the Teapot Coloring area. After 2 years of me and the rest of the team working in Coloring, the role has evolved and now been split into two – a Coloring Strategist that works closely with clients to make sure we find the right colour for their Teapot target audience, and a Coloring Manager who organises the process of making sure we get the right pigments to make that happen, orders them from suppliers etc.
    Teapot Inc is a fairly process heavy place, but the ones in place for Teapot Coloring are not great – that’s because it’s a fairly new function, and there is a very competent manager (Reginald) currently working on finding the right processes and making us work well with the rest of the company. However, it will take time, and in the meantime, we still need to sell teapots, so everyone kind of has to pitch in and do things that might not actually be their role.
    I am a Coloring Strategist, and I work closely with a Coloring Manager, Fergus, who has no been here for very long. He’s been dealing with a steep learning curve, and has overall worked his butt off to make it work. However, I have noticed that Fergus gets very very annoyed by small process points, and I am worried he does not really see the forest for the trees. For instance, we recently had to work with Wakeen’s team to send them the color details for a new teapot coating we’ve been working on. Now, Wakeen’s team isn’t the easiest to deal with, but Fergus seemed to get stuck in things that could have been solved very quickly – such as “why is Felicia asking me to share the color code for these new teapots, when she’s the one who approved it and should be passing it on?” Fact is, there is no one “officially” in charge of passing on the codes to Wakeen’s team (that’s the kind of processes Reginald is working on), and while Felicia approved the color, she doesn’t know the technical details of it. Also, it would take about 15 seconds to send that email, considerably less that it takes to get annoyed at Felicia.

    There have been many other small instances like this that made me think he was getting worked up over not much. There are much bigger problems in the role, but he really only seems to pick up on the details. I’ve tried to softly guide him, saying something like “why don’t you just send the email to Felicia, and then mention to Reginald this would be nice to have clearer roles and responsibilities in the future on this topic”, and while it solves the immediate issue, Fergus will get annoyed at some other small thing soon later.

    I’m not sure what to do with this – I’m not Fergus’s manager, but I do have a very close working relationship with him. I do understand his frustrations, and I share some of them, but I worry his attitude to fixing them isn’t very good. I have a good relationship with Reginald, and I’ve thought of approaching him about this, but I’m not sure it’s appropriate.

    Thoughts? Ideas?

    1. Mazzy*

      Maybe he needs to be explained that people coming to you for information is a good thing. You are seen as an expert and reliable source of information. Also, if you cede control of the little items, others might get the impression that you don’t control the bigger ones either. Also people might be asking you for I follow they’ve gotten from others as a safety check or for verification, not because they are against going to others.

    2. fposte*

      Is it possible this doesn’t need to be fixed? Some people just work huffy, and you haven’t identified anything that’s actually hurt his work. If this is a problem in your working relationship with him, I’d address him directly, but if it’s not, I’d let it go, and I wouldn’t try to guide him, either. As long as he gets his stuff done, it’s his call if he wants to spend the interstitial time steaming.

      1. babblemouth*

        That’s true, and I’ve been wondering if I should just leave it alone. I am concerned on two levels though:
        1) Fergus is good at his job, but I worry that if people who interract with him only see him getting annoyed at small requests, they’ll get the wrong impression and it will hurt him in the long term;
        2) It is a wider reflection on our team and department. I am very image conscious (maybe overly so? that might be my proble here…) and I want the rest of Teapot Inc to see us as highly dependable partners.

        I think I will leave it alone for a month more, and see how things evolve.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It could be he is not getting enough sleep. Or it could be he has a family concern going on. Or it could be this is who he is.
      In the past I have said stuff to people like, “Don’t let the small stuff eat ya.” Sometimes the quickest way out of something is not to show people the error of their ways but to go in the opposite direction and find reasons to agree with them. This gets their attention when we agree/empathize with other people. Then you can say what it is you want them to understand. So this could look like, “Yeah, that is annoying because it seems like too much handling for one little piece of information. There’s lots of things like this here that can get under your skin if you let them. Try not to let this stuff bother you, they know it’s a problem and it will get better.”

  48. It takes one*

    Has anybody ever experienced this? You are offered a job and a starting day a month later… but your boss wants you to “volunteer” to do some unpaid work in the meantime. Help out in the project and such.
    I recently was faced with this. The company seems to be mostly green flags – good work life balance, meaningful work, good office location. It’s just this one weirdness that stands out.
    Is it just the boss wanting me to get up to speed fast? Or should I be weary of this boss’s antics?

    1. It takes one*

      Just to further clarify: this is not a two hour session where I contribute a design sample, or do a quick policy proposal. From what I had learnt, I will need to join occasional meetings, contribute ideas, and write up part of the report.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Is there a reason they didn’t want you to start right away, or you didn’t want to? Because I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just move up your start date. I don’t like this. They might be clueless, or they might be shady, it’s hard to tell. At my last company, the CEO was always saying things like, “Call the new guy and ask,” before said new guy had started, and I always resisted– you want people to work, you pay people to work.

    2. Grits McGee*

      This isn’t a nonprofit, is it? IANAL, but it seems like every time this has come up at AAM it’s been 100% illegal.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Did you do due diligence on investigating culture and the manager before accepting the job? How much do you know about how they operate, and how this manager in particular operates? You want to put the request in the broader context of what you know. And if you realize you don’t know that much about them, that’s worth taking note of.

      As for how to handle this, it’s totally reasonable to say you’re going to be swamped with tying things up for your old job and have promised to do a ton of work for them before you leave.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I really meant did you already do that before accepting the job? If you didn’t, it’s probably too late to be doing it now, unless you’re seriously considering rescinding your acceptance of the offer (which I wouldn’t do over this unless you already had other red flags).

          1. It takes one*

            I had a discussion with an existing employee who is a good friend of mine. And from what she said, the organization is generally very good with work life balance, and don’t make a habit of asking it’s employees to work in the weekends. I had applied for the job largely because of this, but I was as surprised as anybody when the request came in.
            This request is probably the only red flag I have seen out of the whole job process though, so I am guessing it will be okay if I go ahead with it.

            Thank you very much Alison and everybody for pointing out that it IS indeed a weird request though. I asked my friends about it, and some people had suggested that it is just one of those things job applicants need to do in this tough economic climate, and that every company does it.

            1. Less anonymous than before*

              No. No free work. They want you to work, they pay you. This is not something every company does.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is dangerous and frankly sounds illegal. It is not appropriate to have someone “volunteer” to complete work activities that are comparable to what you would pay someone to do (this is why so many companies have gotten hit with having to retroactively compensate interns that they used as “free staff” labor).

      Of course, don’t go into this sirens blaring “PROBABLY ILLEGAL!” I would just find a polite way to decline while affirming your enthusiasm to be joining the team and coming on board next month. Or, if you’re willing to start earlier than the date agreed to, you could offer to start earlier.

  49. Myrin*

    I mentioned before that I took part in a LaTeX course which has ended by now (it was super cool, btw). I had to think about AAM several times during it, most notably once when the teacher said we’d get a certificate after the course is over. He then said it would be worded something like “XY took a LaTeX course of QZ hours” and one other participant was all “But can’t you just leave the amount and just say ‘took course’? Because then I can pretend during a job interview that I know more than I actually do!” and I’m just here like: Well, either it’s relevant for getting the job to know LaTeX or it isn’t. If it isn’t, you needn’t exaggerate. If it is, that means it’ll be used in some capacity as an actual job duty, meaning that they’ll either test for it at the interview stage or at the latest find out you exaggerated once you need to use the program on the job and aren’t any good at it. Jesus Christ, some people. I just rolled my eyes but man.

    1. Marcela*

      Not only you should not need to exaggerate, but if you do it, it will be discovered pretty fast the first time you are asked to write something in Latex. Really serious and professional documents in Latex are not as easy to write as documents in a wysiwyg editor.

  50. Grits McGee*

    Any other federal employees here? How are your agencies coping with the plan to freeze federal hiring (potentially indefinitely)?

    Officially we are not panicking, but unofficially it sure looks like they’re trying to hire as many people as possible before inauguration day.

    1. Boaty McBoatface*

      No, but as a contractor with no plans to stay a contractor for the next four years (if funding stays around), this sounds like a great time for my colleagues and I to pivot towards the private sector.

      1. jamlady*

        I’m a contractor who’s mostly funded by a private company who sends money to a federal agency who sends it to my private company. If/when they pull the project, I might need to make a similar decision. :/

  51. Life after HR*

    Does anyone have any experience in switching from human resources to another field? I’m looking to change fields after four years in HR/recruiting and I’d like to hear others’ stories. Nothing that I’ve done/seen/read about in this field interests me and I’m starting to get burned out.

  52. KR*

    It’s my last day at my job. Boss is throwing a pizza party with my small department. I didn’t document my job for the next person as much as I wanted to but I helped someone find a Quickbooks backup file that they really needed today and yesterday around sunset our crew went to the cupola of one of our historic buildings for the fun of it. I’m really sad to be leaving but my boss is being really awesome about it and I’m excited for what’s ahead.

  53. milton*

    Ever since I first started this job I keep hearing colleagues and managers outrightly say fire me within earshot without directly addressing me, but my lead thinks I’m doing great. I passed probation but I keep getting these snarky disrespectful comments even during xmas. I have done lots of unpaid overtime for free too on my own due to the short timelines to do a large amount of work. I’m a good worker and a nice girl, but a doormat. Why am I always treated like Milton from office space? How should I respond next time I hear this? Please help.

    1. Rebecca*

      “I have done lots of unpaid overtime for free” – are you a non exempt worker? If so, the company needs to pay you for the hours work, you shouldn’t be working for free. As far as colleagues and managers making these comments, but your lead thinks you’re doing great, would you be able to sit down with the lead person to discuss what’s going on? This has to be very uncomfortable for you.

      1. milton*

        I sort of talked about it indirectly and my lead acknowledged some folks here are mean and told me to ignore. If it wasn’t for my lead I would have quit. I also am in a dying field and don’t have the skills for the now changed new kind of jobs in my field. I’m stuck. I hope economy gets better and more jobs for my skill level opens. I’m studying for new skills but no experience doesn’t get me hire. I’m suppose to get paid but no budget so I get comp time. But in reality I don’t get to take it that often or I fall behind. Why do nice guys loses all the time?

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Well, they don’t lose all the time, and I would strongly recommend not adopting that framework/identity as you approach your future prospects because it’s going to result in you limiting yourself. Your responses indicate that you’re really talking yourself down and feeling hopeless. The world is rough enough without you beating yourself up, too, milton! I know this is a hard thing to do, but if you can get yourself into a place where you can still see possibility (instead of inevitable obsolescence), then I think that will help you tackle the nonsense coming your way.

          It’s absolutely unacceptable (and unprofessional) for your coworkers to be making snarky comments or saying you should be fired, particularly if other managers are saying those things. And it’s also unacceptable for your company to allow you to work overtime without compensation. I’m really concerned that your lead has just said people are mean, as if the level of vitriol coming your way is normal in the workplace. It is not, and it’s not a sign of a healthy work environment that people think it’s ok to behave this way.

          Do you know why they’re being so nasty? Is it just how they treat new people, or people in your role? Is it feasible for you to start looking for other employment? I don’t think you’re going to get fired, but no one should have to work with toxic people.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              If you are hourly, employed in the private sector (i.e., not state/local government) and based in the U.S., then they are not allowed to compensate your overtime hours through “comp time.” The overtime compensation for an FLSA-covered employee, in those circumstances, can only be paid through money wages, and that pay must conform with other record-keeping and payroll requirements. And if this is a violation of the FLSA, it’s a major one.

              milton, I’m really worried—it sounds like they’re exploiting you, and combined with the toxic work environment. I know you might not be at this place, but everything you’re describing makes a massive neon light reading “get out!!!” flash before my eyes. Would you be willing, or is it possible, to start formulating an exit strategy?

            2. Rebecca*

              I totally agree with Princess Consuela Banana Hammock’s assessment. Milton, this isn’t right. This employer is taking advantage of you. Please start to look for another job so you can get out from under this.

        2. Less anonymous than before*

          Comp time is NOT pay for hours worked, and it is not legal. You work overtime, your contribution is rewarded in your next paycheck, period. Not some bank of hours you don’t even get to use. You cannot pay your bills on comp time.

    2. ToxicWaste*

      Leave. Find temporary work, work retail, get 3 part-time jobs if you have to. I was in your position and it was absolute h*ll. I was their scapegoat and the things that they said and did were outright nasty. From what you say here, you sound like a hard worker and it’s really great that your lead is supportive of you, but everyone else is out for you and in my experience it will only get worse. Maybe they wanted someone else in your position, maybe they’re just mean, who knows. It wouldn’t matter if you did know because you cannot change people like this. If you do stay, you’ll have to develop thick skin and start calling them out on their comments- if they say”Milton should be fired,” you should respond, “Why do you say that, Fergus?” or “Wow, Mary.” and just walk away. You’ll have to show them that you can roll with the punches, so to speak. But in the end, your health and sanity come first, so I would still be checking out job postings and networking.

      1. milton*

        Economy is not good and I don’t want to have a short stint in my resume to look bad. I think I will try to say that to them next time to see if I can stand up for myself. I needed to know what to say. Thanks. They know it will be hard for me to find another job because there’s nothing to apply to at the moment.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I know it’s hard–I’m job hunting right now too, but you do need to start. They suck and they are not going to change.

          Also (after you leave if necessary) I would consider reporting them so you can get the pay you’re entitled to. Save your timesheets or whatever so you can account for those unpaid hours. If you’re not tracking them, start. They can’t do that.

        2. Nic*

          If/when an interviewer brings up the short stint and asks about it, it is very easy (and understandable) to explain that you were not being paid for hours worked, and needed to find a place where you would be.

    3. anonymouse*

      I find sarcasm extremely helpful in situations like this. These bullies are doing in on purpose to provoke a reaction, or to deliberately make you feel bad. If you lose your s–t and yell at them, it will make you look like the troublemaker.

      But sarcasm can be your friend. Next time, say something like:

      “boooo, I veto this” or

      “but I don’t want to go back to eating dog food”

      in the most deadpan, sarcastic voice. Pretend you’re a real life Daria from MTV… or Audrey Plaza. Humor is a great way to undercut awkwardness, aggression, weird vibes.

  54. Feeling Christmasy*

    A recruiter scheduled an interview for a communications opening with an electronics firm. When I got her confirmation email, things got confusing. The email said the interview was set for the afternoon PST time (the HR person is on the West Coast; I’m on the East Coast) so I figured no biggie. But the job title was completely different, so I figured just to speak with the HR person and see what happens.

    Here’s the end result:

    – The interview was actually for an EST time not PST (the recruiter was out and her assistant emailed and called me to find out what was going on).
    – The recruiter sent my resume to more than one job (which I don’t know anything else about) and this was more of an IT role.

    A few days later, the recruiter explained that she had mistakenly submitted me to a different position and was sorry for the error. She wants to still work with me to find a role for me at this company. Should I still work with her?

  55. buffty*

    Much to my disappointment, my newish office (I’ve been here for almost a year, but it’s my first Christmas here) either doesn’t know or doesn’t care how tacky gifting up is. Not only did multiple emails come out requesting contributions from hourly staff to an unnamed gift for the two salaried managers, but the email included a list of who had given towards it. Almost everyone else has been here for years longer than I have, so I didn’t rock the boat by protesting, but I didn’t give and I don’t feel bad at all. I think the motivation here was half-nice and half-brown-nosing, but these managers drive far nicer cars than the rest of us and I’m quite sure they don’t need anything from us.

    I did however give to the fund for a gift card for the kind, elderly people who clean our office at night, and I was pleased that there was no public recognition for that. I suspect that gift received a lot more funding, as it should have.

    1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      My group doesn’t do anything as egregious as listing who gave what but I definitely dealt with the awkwardness of watching everyone else give their manager gifts, either individually or as a group, while I didn’t buy either of my managers anything. I did give them both very nice cards that received an emotional response so I think my job is done. I still felt awkward though and even second guessed my decision to do so but in the end I think I’m going to be glad I stayed out of the gift exchange.

  56. DietCokeHead*

    What is a manger’s role in career development? In 2016, I set goals and took on new responsibilities related to developing technical and process related training materials. I had some success but it was really hard to get adequate support and help especially from subject matter experts. Now I find out during a company wide update that they are creating a new position for education. I feel like this is going to take away the one area where I could grow in my current role. When I spoke with my manager about this new position, it went terribly. Now I feel like I don’t have a development path in this company. According to my manager, it’s all my responsibility to develop my path and the fact that I didn’t develop more content shows that I didn’t take enough ownership of this goal. Am I crazy to want more managerial support in my career development? I’m talking about things like setting up the new process together or setting a clear expectation of what constitutes success.

    1. OpsGal*

      You’re not crazy, your manager should be helping you develop. But some managers are more hands off and content to leave everything in the hands of their directs – and it sounds like your boss might be one of those.

      1. DietCokeHead*

        Thanks. I’m feeling nutty. My background is in software support and training which fits in well for the learning platform I support. I can reset a password like a mofo! But my position is in the HR department and my manager is the head of HR. The new position will be in the field support department. So I feel like if all the training needs are going to be met through the field support, then where does that leave opportunity for me?

    2. NW Mossy*

      Managers should definitely be supporting their directs in their development and asking questions like “Where can I be the most helpful here?” However, it helps tremendously when you’re working with your manager to be as explicit as you can about exactly what kind of support you’re looking for. Did you need your manager to recruit resources from other teams? Get you into meetings? Notify you ahead of time about this education position and coach you on the skills you’d need?

      One other tack to take is to ask your manager about the business’s goals for the upcoming year and see if you can find a match between what you want to do and work that’s needed towards those goals. The easiest development path to walk is seeing where you can merge onto a road that already exists, and it’s a good way to show that you’re thinking about what the business needs and aligning yourself to that. One example for you might be if there’s a new product/service in the pipeline that will require documentation/training – you can put yourself out there for that aspect of that initiative.

      I can tell you from experience that development’s really hard to do when you want to go in a vastly different direction – it can happen, but you have to work much harder to build the case for why your development goal adds the same kind of value as you putting work into pre-existing priorities.

      1. DietCokeHead*

        Thanks! That’s really good advice about being more specific on my needs. I definitely would have liked to have known about the education position ahead of time and talked about what I would need to advance into this position.

        I really don’t feel that the area that I want to advance into is that big of a stretch. When I was hired, my primary responsibility was to implement a new learning platform and migrate content, users, and transcripts over. My background is in IT/software support and training. Now that the migration is complete, my role is to support the platform which is pretty easy. The platform is good and there’s not a lot of turnover among the managers administering the online training for their users. The area where I would like to advance into is developing new materials and training content for the platform. But since I’m in the HR department, I never participate in the meetings of our field department.

        I’m trying to keep an open mind but with no HR background, I can’t see myself taking on any HR responsibilities nor do I want to. What I want to do is work with our field department and use the platform that I support to distribute training materials and increase the knowledge amount the folks in the field. Can I do that and still stay in HR, reporting up to an HR manager?

        1. NW Mossy*

          It really depends on how your organization is structured whether your desired function would roll up under HR or not. In mine, it wouldn’t – you’d be looking for a learning & development position within a business line. Yours may be different though, so I’d pay attention to where that education position lands on the org chart. Best-case-scenario, you have some kind of relationship with the manager of that role and can pick his or her brain about it.

          One other avenue is to build on relationships you may already have with people (and managers in particular) in the field department from your migration work and talk to them about what they want from the new platform in the future. I’m not sure how territorial your boss is so you may need to plan the politics delicately, but assuming she’s not, you can tell her about your intentions to have those chats and report back on what they say. You can even say “We talked about my taking more ownership of my development, so I’m planning to….” to put it in the context of responding to what you were already told.

        2. periwinkle*

          Training & development is often considered an HR function (human resource development), so it’s a natural enough transition. I was an HR coordinator but moved into HRD via a masters in that field. My division is housed under corporate HR and we support learning for all functions in the company.

          Caveat: knowing the technology to deliver content is not the same as creating content. Our department is busy revising a lot of courses developed by people who were experts in the topic but not experts in adult learning science. They’re assumed for a long time that all that fancy stuff doesn’t matter because anybody can create training if they are experts in the topic, right? (short answer: no) Two good resources for you are the Association for Talent Development and the eLearning Guild.

          So why not talk directly to the people in Field Support to express your interest in moving over?

          In my org, one’s manager might or might not work with you on development. It’s a cultural thing here to take charge of your own development; there are lots of resources available if you know where to look, but often you have to dig for a while to find them. I learned quickly to sniff out opportunities and invite myself onto projects!

  57. The Solo Admin*

    Hi all,

    I’m the only admin in a small office of about 12 people. My job can often be stressful and thankless, but my employer has tried to keep me happy by increasing my salary a handful of times during my tenure here (my pay has increased by 25% over the past 18 months). While this is certainly a plus and being paid well has many benefits, I still find myself feeling unappreciated and overlooked for a number of reasons. However, yesterday I returned to my desk after running an errand to find this note:

    “Thank you for all your hard work and dedication throughout the year. Nobody in this office could do their job without you. You are appreciated.”

    The note included a generous gift card as well, but the message is really what hit me. Turns out this was left for me not by my manager but by another coworker. He is a manager but does not manage me and is in another department. I was very surprised by his thoughtfulness and it really touched me. I felt great throughout the remainder of the day and still feel pretty awesome now.

    The whole reason I am bringing this up is because I know there are managers who can’t necessarily give their employees big perks or raises, but sometimes a small “thank you, you are appreciated” can go a long way. I understand different things work for different people, but many of us need affirmation and praise from time to time and it sucks when you don’t get it. I know my manager appreciates me but she doesn’t often say so, and the fact that this other manager took the time to do this for me meant the world to me.

    1. Less anonymous than before*

      This is very nice! Your manager (if I read correctly) has tried to show her thanks by making sure your pay reflects your worth.

      This other manager has given you words of affirmation, which mean a lot to you. Everyone’s “love languages” are different, in how we receive and in how we give. I definitely think it is important as a manager tho, to work on affirmations to your staff, whether thats how you like to to give/receive or not.

  58. Jurney*

    I just changed my job within my company, and I’m struggling. I know I need to give myself time, but I’m going from being micromanaged at every step to a job where I’m given no direction and the team likes to fail fast and see progress. That sounds freeing, but it’s so hard for me because my brain hasn’t had to think that way.

    Additionally, my experience in the previous department seems very lacking. My previous department was completely disorganized, has had leadership changes every 8-12 months, and does everything the “wrong” way. So, I don’t feel like I know the right way to do anything, and I’m not bringing much value to the new team. The new team has added several other members prior to me, and they are all firing on all cylinders. I’m just floundering.

    I know that deep down, I have capacity, but it’s not surfacing. I feel like I always say, “I don’t know” when asked a question, and end up just serving as a messenger for projects instead of the expert who has knowledge.

    Any types on how to stay sane and more importantly, learn?

    1. Less anonymous than before*

      Speak up!! Talk to you manager, ask for check ins on how you’re doing thus far and how you could improve. Set goals and bring those to the meeting, and then ask if you goals are on target or if there are others that you should focus on and then ask for direction if you need it. Once you feel more comfortable you’ll likely be able to direct yourself well, but if you’re having this much doubt then asking for some direction can’t be bad. They hired you for a reason, so let go of the imposter syndrome and come up with a plan that loops in your managers direction and advice.

  59. katamia*

    I’ve been low-key considering library school for a few years now. I’m not ready to commit to applying right now (read: I’m not looking for comments on the pros and cons of going to library school), but I want to start preparing in case I do decide to go. So, for people who have gone to or are in library school, what do you think prepared you really well for it? What do you wish you’d done before you went? And, for people who are already out of school and working as librarians, what preparation do you think was useful? Anything you wish you hadn’t done because it wasn’t worth it?

    1. Jean*

      I didn’t realize–when I did my MLS–that in some parts of the field climbing the professional ladder meant changing geographic locations. Thus I recommend that you investigate various career paths to see if this applies in whatever areas of librarianship most interest you (or seem most realistic, given your other skills, experiences, and/or other geographic considerations). Read interviews in which librarians describe how they got to where they are now. Do some information interviewing in-person. Good luck and don’t take my advice as the last word on the subject because I am not a typical MLS person. Before starting grad school I read “What Else You Can Do With a Library Degree” by Betty-Carol Sellen. My professional life since then has been a whole lot of “what else,” mostly non-lucrative and not directly related to libraries.

    2. Ant*

      Library school is an academic experience like any other. Lots of reading and writing and a few projects. If you haven’t written or done research in a while, you could brush up.

      The surprise for me in library school was that it was less about how to be a good librarian than it was about becoming an advocate for libraries. It is not enough to want to work in a library helping people find information… you are expected to take up the mantle of making sure libraries continue to exist.

      Once you have your degree and are out in the working world, it’s really your choice as to whether you dedicate your efforts to your community, to the cause of libraries, or both. But during library school, expect to embrace advocacy.

      1. katamia*

        Hm, that’s interesting about the advocacy bit. What I’ve read so far and some of my friends’ experiences (different focuses, though–they’re all children’s librarians, which I have no interest in) have made library school sound really technical.

    3. Ant*

      Also, volunteer in a library. Having context will help you with your studies. It might also create an environment to test the things you are learning.

      1. katamia*

        Thanks! I’m actually volunteering at my local Friends of the Library bookstore right now (I know it’s not the same as a library, but it’s definitely gotten me to think a little more seriously about it than I was before I started volunteering), and my first job as a teenager was as a library page. And, since I’m freelancing and have a lot of scheduling freedom, I actually wouldn’t mind being a library page again for a bit, both for the extra cash and for the experience.

    4. Insert name here*

      Having a job where you would get more money/be promoted once you obtained your degree would be beneficial and something that I learned, even though I did have library experience. There is also a Library Technical Assistant certificate, which I wish is something I looked into first before I jumped into grad school. I also wished I specialized in something, like either going into archives or school librarianship. (You need to be certified in these areas.) In this day and age, I would have also done more technical classes and maybe gone into Information management or computer science. The market for growth is low because people aren’t retiring or if they are, they may not replace that position or they are making it into 2 part-time positions so they don’t have to pay for benefits. Join ALA and other library organizations in your state or field, attend an ALA conference, talk to more librarians or people in the field that you are interested in, look for internships if you do apply for grad school.

    5. Marmalade*

      Up your tech skills. Having some knowledge of scripting, metadata, etc, will set you up really well.

    6. Alice*

      If you want to be an academic reference librarian or do any kind of liaison role, try and get some experience teaching. Teach anything to anyone. So many new librarians are really afraid of that, so some comfort with that will set you apart.

      1. katamia*

        Thanks! I already have a teaching certification (not a degree and I’m not certified to teach in public schools in the US, but it’s a relatively well known alternative cert), so it’s good to see something I already kind of know how to do, lol. Academic reference is one of the areas I’m interested in, although I’m still trying to figure out what I want my focus to be.

    7. dear liza dear liza*

      Go to a library jobsite, like ALA Joblist, and look at the range of job offerings. While the job postings will always change, you can start to see trends as to what kinds of librarian positions are most often available, what the range of salaries might be, what are the most common required and preferred qualifications, and what areas of the country are hiring.

      I’m shocked and a little perturbed at the number of recent MLS grads I run into who have no idea what the job market is like BEFORE they pursue their degree. It’s good that if you’re interested in academic reference, you’re open to teaching. There are very, very few reference positions in higher ed that don’t require some instruction, and yet each year I meet new grads who want public service jobs- but don’t want to teach!

    8. SC Anonibrarian*

      Think hard about what type of library jobs interest you, and whether you are wanting to find joy and fulfillment in your actual library job, or in being a major voice in the many library associations and organizations that exist like ALA, various state organizations, and groups for special interests or certain types of libraries. If you DO want to be a mover and a shaker in the library world, you need to choose a school based on their good reputation and their activity in that larger scene and the identity of the mentors you’re trying to cultivate, regardless of what your actual job desires are. If, like me, you just want to have a job and not really be super involved in high-level committees, then go for the cheapest/easiest degree option you can, and try to get actual job experience in your preferred area to learn about the actual situation on the ground. Please be aware that this is not, and probably will never be, a generally-lucrative field, and people often work til they die, which often means hiring and advancement in the ranks can take a heartbreaking or mindbendingly long time.

  60. Central Perk Regular*

    My husband and I want to start a family next year. I’m currently the “breadwinner” (I hate that word) in our household but I really, really would like the option of working part-time or being a stay-at-home mom at least for a couple of years. I’ve been working in a corporate environment for the last several years and working professionally for at least 10 (I’m in my early 30s). Does anyone have any advice for how they a.) navigated their career during this “transitional” time, b.) how hard was it to return to full-time work and c.) how did you handle childcare arrangements? I know you can’t plan for every scenario, but I’m just trying to get some ideas for the future.

    1. overeducated*

      I stayed home with my child for 7 months while finishing grad school and then worked part time for another year until I went back in full time. It was hard financially and involved passing up a couple of potentially great career opportunities, but a few months in to full time work, I’m so, so glad I had that time with the kid and I sometimes wonder about doing it again if/when we expand the family. We’re not in a place to do that right now, financially or career wise, but it meant a lot.

      One of the best ways to do this is by consulting or working as a freelancer/contractor on individual projects, if that’s an option in your industry, so you can keep your resume current. I can’t speak to what it is like to leave a full time corporate job and try to re-enter because I timed the birth for a transitional time in my career as it was.

      I know a few people who were able to work from home while their kid napped or played quietly, but I was never one of them. I had a baby who didn’t sleep for long, woke easily, preferred to be held, and required *constant* supervision when awake because he was so active. So don’t rely on that. Nanny shares or babysitting coops seem like the best solutions for part time work; depending on where you live, some day cares may offer part time, but the days might not be up to you depending on how their slots are filled.

      Good luck!

    2. NW Mossy*

      One other option to consider is staying full-time but looking for a lateral move to a role that offers good balance. Right around the time I got pregnant with my first child, my company did a big reorg and I used that as a chance to move from a customer-facing role to an operations one. That ended up being a great fit because I had a regular 9-5 schedule and less stress. It also had the plus of diversifying my experience, which helped my candidacy for a promotion when she was about 3 1/2.

      The first few months back to work were tough and I started to think about quitting, but my husband wisely advised to wait a few months before deciding. Turned out that what was making it so hard was chronic low-level sleep deprivation, and as soon as the baby started sleeping through the night regularly, things evened out and I was glad to be working.

      I live far from family, so I went with center-based daycare for both my kids. It can get a bad rap for being impersonal, but there are some great people at the center I use and I’m happy with the care they provide. As a working parent, I strongly recommend a child-care arrangement that is reliably available all the days you’d normally work – it will dramatically ease your stress not to have to scramble to cover when your regular caregiver is unavailable. Centers are great for this because they have lots of staff and don’t have to shut down if one person is sick or on vacation.

      One other thing to point out is that part-time paid childcare is generally not very much cheaper than full-time. This is because it’s hard for the caregiver to line up two families with complementary care needs (like a Monday/Wednesday/Friday and a Tuesday/Thursday), so you basically end up paying to hold the slot open all the time even when you need it part of the time.

    3. Serendipity*

      If you want to see how it goes, then “trial” it now.
      My husband and I decided to start a family, and from that date 100% of my income went into a separate account, and we lived off my husband’s income. I was the primary earner like you are now, and it took some serious adjustment to living on ~40% of our previous income! We stopped eating out, bought only in thrift stores if it was absolutely necessary and were very tight with money. But, we figured that if we couldn’t adjust now we’d be in trouble with all the additional costs of a newborn.
      That was the wisest thing we could have done in hindsight. Two days before our son was born my husband lost his job. We also had a sick child who required constant care for 5 months.
      Without the buffer of my savings to fall back on we would not have coped in that time.
      The other thing that I want to mention is that if you wait to be financially ready for a child, you’ll never have one. Somehow, you’ll adjust, and cope, and if you’re like us you’ll wonder where all of that money you used to earn went!
      All the best

  61. Frozen up north*

    I’ve got a question about an off-hand comment from my manager. I don’t know where to sit on this issue, or even if there is an issue, and it’s been bugging me for a few weeks now, so I just want to get outside perspective.

    At work I received a phone call from another coworker about a program we offer to clients that’s going to be cut. It’s a great program, and I personally know several of the folks that will be affected by it’s removal. I’m not sure what I said in the moment, but apparently it contained the word god. I know this because later my manager pulled me aside and requested that I “Not take the lord’s name in vain while on the phone with other people.”

    For context; I’m not, in anyway, a religious person. My manager is Catholic. I, of course, don’t want to offend people with my language, but I also don’t want to be ordered to follow (what I see as) an arbitrary rule from a religion I don’t ascribe to.

    Like I said, I’m just looking for outside perspective on whether this is a perfectly reasonable thing for me to be asked, or if it’s over stepping. Thanks guys! Long time lurker, and I appreciate all of the brilliant minds and opinions I’ve come to know here.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it’s overstepping, unless it was framed as “a lot of our clients would be offended by that, so please be thoughtful about that when talking to them.”

      1. Frozen up north*

        It wasn’t really framed as anything. She just said it really quick, and then moved on to asking me to edit some copy. I just, don’t want my personal feelings of “don’t force me to abide by your religious preferences” to accidentally translate into offending people. Because I honestly don’t want to do that.

    2. fposte*

      Some of this will depend on what you actually said, but overall, it’s reasonable for your employer to ask you to avoid language that would offend co-workers. It’s not really relevant that it doesn’t offend your own religious beliefs, because those aren’t the only ones that count in shared space. (You can, of course, decide that the job isn’t worth those restrictions to you.)

      But I think if what you said was “Oh, God, really?” as a response to some unpleasant news, it’s a really common locution and it’s weird that it was both reported and followed up to you about. I might ask your manager further about whether this is a company policy and how far it goes, or whether this is a co-worker with particularly strong beliefs that you’re being asked to respect.

      1. Frozen up north*

        We’re in an open office, so she overheard me on the phone so I wasn’t reported by anybody for offending them, and knowing myself, I can’t imagine it was much more than an “Oh, god, really?” since, you know, I’m at work and in a very public/employee facing role. I deal with people, all day long, and have excellent rapport with all of them.

        So, I suppose maybe I offended her. Though, it’s worth noting that later in the day she walked passed my desk and blatantly used the f-bomb. Same day. Not even kidding.

        1. fposte*

          Well, none of this is logical :-). But even without the f-bomb this is weird–either she’s the one who’s offended by the Lord’s name taken in vain, in which case say so and ask on your own behalf, or she doesn’t care but worried about this use on the phone, which is too mild to worry about.

          So I think she’s out of line and loses points for laying it on the phone thing when she really just wants a personal preference–and it’s one that unconscious habit means it will be tough to honor.

        2. Venus Supreme*

          In my opinion, I feel like the “Oh God, really?” comment would be okay; in my circle we say “Oh my God” so often I forget how often it’s said. However, if it was framed as negatively describing someone like “Those Catholics are a bunch of God boogers” (you get the gist) it could be seen as Not Okay… Kinda sounds like it didn’t happen that way based on your description though.

        3. Sadsack*

          I hear ya…Earlier today I saw a person aggressively cut someone off while flipping him off (there must have been an earlier altercation between the two that I missed). Farther down the road, the flipper-offer pulled into a church parking lot. Merry Christmas, I guess.

    3. katamia*

      In most organizations I think it would be overstepping. Maybe not if you worked for a church or very religious nonprofit, but I think being asked not to say “God” is in a very different category from asking people, for example, not to swear or talk about sex or gory murders or something in the office. Personally (this is not advice, just how I would react), I’d probably ignore it/forget about it if it never came up again, but if it were either harped on by my manager or if there did turn out to be some sort of official policy about it, that would be enough to get me to look for another job. I have no interest in following the rules of a religion I’m not a member of.

    4. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      I have said Jesus H (the rest of the expression) in front of a person I knew to be a religious Christian and if the floor could have swallowed me for the rest of all time I would have been happy. I don’t even use that swear much at all, and of all the people, I could have died.

      If it was really casual “oh god, really”, I think she’s overstepping. If it’s any form of god as a curse, scolding is not okay but requesting you not to, I’d respect that.

      1. Very, very anon for this*

        Been there done that also including devoutly wishing that the floor would swallow me.
        FWIW it’s probably also a good idea to avoid saying “Oh, lord!”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I kind of like “Dear Baby Jesus on a tricycle.” “Rat finks!” is also good without being irreverent.

          One time I started to say “Godd*mmit,” and realized I couldn’t as it was coming out my mouth, so it turned into “God–” *sings* “BLESS AMERICA!!” And everybody cracked up.

          1. Frozen up north*

            Have to admit, I do say “God bless America” quite a bit. Nobody’s complained about that though.

      2. CMT*

        Is the rest of the expression “Christ on a Popsicle stick”? (That’s one of my many favorite lines from Fletch.

        1. Frozen up north*

          My grandma famously always followed it up with “Christ on a crutch”, but she was full of colorful sayings. Most of which I use with abandon. Just, not generally at work. Though I can remember one time I referred to another employee as “useless as tits on salt-pork.” Grandma was creative.

    5. Frozen up north*

      Thanks for the opinions everyone! I’m positive that I didn’t say something egregious, as I try very hard not to offend people in general and carry myself professionally at work. So I’ll just chalk this one up to she was squicked out by what minor thing I did say and maybe handled it poorly by trying to pass it off as my being offensive.

      I’ll just carry on with Business As Usual since I’ve been here for four years and this is the first time this has ever come up, I have to imagine that BAU is totally acceptable behavior.

      It is good to hear that I’m not totally crazy pants on this though and there was some minor level of what the actual.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Reading through here, I would tend to say that if it comes up again, an appropriate response is “Excuse me. I just wanted to address this – I don’t share your religious beliefs, so my language is appropriate to my own beliefs. If I am speaking to you personally, I will refrain out of courtesy for you, but that is the limit of it. I hope that you can understand, and I totally support *you* in never saying something yourself that offends your beliefs.”

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I grew up Catholic. Yes, exclamations of “oh God!” were not acceptable. Same with phrases involving Jesus’ name. THEN, we got this long list of other unacceptable terms: Gosh, golly, gee, jeepers, jimminy, cripe- the list went on you get the gist of it. These were all references to God and Jesus and therefore unacceptable. I particularly loved (NOT) the part when I was informed that when I say “gee” I actually mean “Jesus”. I stared at the nun, “you are inside my head and you know my every thought?” I had no clue that gee meant Jesus, I wondered who wrote these obscure rules. And yes, saying “oh God” is more offensive than an f-bomb. Go figure. I don’t get it, except maybe these are rules from the middle ages and people did not use the f bomb?

        But anyway, this is where it comes from. Personally, I would never tell anyone not to say “oh God” or “gee”. I just don’t see it as a big deal. However, I did get it drilled into me that some people cringe at these expressions. If I am talking with someone I do not know well, especially if they are older, I try to avoid these words. Just because if they are busy cringing then they are not listening to what I am talking about. Usually the person I am talking to uses one of these words and then I just stop thinking about it.

        Try to chuckle about it at some point. You might stop saying “Oh God” but there are going to be 100 people in your place who are saying it. I have no idea how your boss will cope with that. Your boss is going to be busier than a long tailed cat in a room full of rockers, rounding up all these folks and correcting them. She will exhaust herself. If you stay with this boss for a while, you will probably see in years to come that she has given up on this mission.

        Yep. I say Oh God! and I do not believe I am cussing.

  62. overeducated*

    Hey all! I’m just trying to get through my job for at least a year at this point. I’m only four months in. There are some good points and interesting challenges, but a lot of frustrations with how the organization works.

    One issue I’m thinking about a lot is what this experience will look like on my resume when I’m searching. My work is very, very collaborative, to the point that I am often joining meetings to advise others on how to approach my area of expertise, trying to improve communication between divisions, or editing others’ documents and scheduling speaking opportunities for them, but not leading any projects or creating many deliverables myself. I thought I’d be developing more of an independent portfolio, but that’s not how it’s going. How do you talk about that kind of thing on a resume in a way that shows accomplishments? The job is basically a science communication sort of position requiring a PhD in a subject field as well as communications experience, so I really don’t want this role to make it sound like i’m an entry level assistant or admin, but I have a more indirect role in the actual science communication than I have ever had in any of my previous jobs, and it worries me sometimes.

  63. Blue Skies*

    So, I have my last day on my job on December 9th. As I knew my boss hadn’t found anyone to fill my critical position (even though I gave 30 days notice and she never even posted the job on any of the well-known job boards in our field/location or even our website, just word of mouth with her considerable network) in my last meeting with her I mentioned that she could contact me if something urgent comes up and she was in a bind. I was a director level position at a non-profit with small staff, so I had no one under me besides volunteers and a lot of duties critical to the success of the organization. It seemed a professional and personal courtesy to offer my assistance if they were truly in a bind. I had no desire to burn the bridge and have nothing but good wishes for the organization and the small staff is like family.

    However, this manager has turned into a raging psychotic! I already knew this on some level, as her management of the org was one reason I decided this wasn’t a good fit for me. But she’s been abusing my offer to lend assistance by sendinge emails and texts every other day and into the evening about mundane things that she and the could easily get done without me. Things like “do you know if we still have xxx for the program tomorrow?’ when my first order of business when I started the position was to organize the chaotic mess of supplies and everything is now clearly labled. Had she just gone and looked at the shelf she would have found it in minutes. That’s just mildly irritating. The real kicker is that she has been asking me to do things or turn things into her after the fact. The things she needs are reasonable, but they should have been done during the 30 day notice period. Had I known them, I could have easily completed them. But she never scheduled any meetings with me to go over transition, didn’t have me do an exit interview, and seemed to ignore most of my questions if we weren’t face to face (she often works out of the office, so email, phone, and text are common). I was left to do and prepare transition stuff to the best of my knowledge. I left way more instructions and files than my predecessor. The truly psychotic part of the story is that two days ago after I didn’t get back to her email right away with a file she wanted, she texted me around 8pm this:

    “So…. should I be feeling a little frustrated that I have not yet seen XXX nor communication about them. In good faith I sent through your payroll when maybe I should have held it until all necessary things were done. Please MY NAME, I’ve given a lot of grace and I’m hoping that you come through.”

    There are so many things wrong with this. 1. She could not have legally withhold my payroll. 2. She never asked for that file until after I left employment. And it is not even a critical or confidential file. 3. I am not in her employment and don’t have to answer her emails anyway. I had planned on it but jeeze….Two days later and she blows up?! It’s the holiday season and O just moved. I’ve got a life outside of answering minute questions from a bad ex-manager.

    Moral of the story….How do I get rid of her?! I’ve already pointed asked for her to stop requesting my assistance on non-critical issues. But I know this isn’t the end. And IS there anything she can do to hurt me other than giving bad info should someone call her while I’m job searching? Or generally badmouthing me…She does have that huge network I. Our field in this area.

    1. thehighercommonsense*

      It’s been two weeks and you gave a 30 day notice period. It is more than reasonable for you to cut the cord, especially since many of her requests are non-critical. I get the risk to your reputation, but honestly my guess is that most people are either familiar with her attitude. Just stick to the facts (I gave a 30 day notice and was available two weeks afterwards for questions).

      I’d be very, very clear with her, and then block her number and refuse to answer any other calls, emails, or texts: “ExBoss, I was happy to be available for critical issues for a couple weeks once I left, but now I need to focus on my move/ new job/ whatever, and I can’t answer those questions any more. I won’t be responding to your emails/ calls/ texts. Good luck in the candidate search, I hope you find someone great soon!”

      Alternatively, you can feign ignorance “oh gosh, I’m afraid I can’t remember the details of that anymore, I’d suggest you ask Other Person/ I’m sorry I can’t be of more help,” but if she’s that bad, I’d think the clarity would benefit you both in the long run.

      Don’t fuss about her threat, since 1) you have your last paycheck, yes? So what’s she going to do about it? 2) as you point out, there are laws against that kind of thing. (If she DOES still have your last paycheck, I’d frame it as “The law in State requires that the employee’s last paycheck be delivered by X date, so when can I expect it/when would you like me to come pick it up?”)

    2. fposte*

      I think you already know the answer. Say no, and then do what you say. “Lucinda, I worked hard to provide transitional assistance during my notice period, and now that I no longer work for Teapot Research Org I ‘m afraid I won’t be able to answer day to day questions any more. I’m sure you’ll have somebody great in place soon to handle it, and I left good information for them.” And then don’t answer the emails.

      I’m assuming you’re not using her as a reference, since you didn’t say that; I wouldn’t let nebulous fears of her networking stop me, but a reference would be trickier because you actually want something from her.

    3. babblemouth*

      She burned the bridge, you didn’t. Just decline to to do the work, over and over again. Don’t pick up the phone, write a standard “as I’m no longer on payroll, I am not able to fulfill these tasks for you” email that you use over and over again.
      To give yourself good conscience and help the mission of the non-profit (not her!), offer to have one phone call with the person they hire to replace you once they start working to give some guidance, but beyond that, just ignore her.
      She might have a big network, but you don’t know if maybe half of the people in said network don’t already consider her to be a piece of work. I’m “in the network” of plenty of Bad Managers, and would not pay much attention to them badmouthing anyone.

    4. animaniactoo*

      “Lucinda, I wish that you had prioritized getting these things done while I was still there and working to create transition files and documentation for the person who will replace me in this role. Unfortunately you did not advise me of the need until after I had left the position, and my availability for urgent issues is limited to advising you where to find information when you need it, if I have the time to do so. Best of luck, I hope you find someone for the position soon.

      P.S. Please note, you could not have legally withheld that final paycheck as you are required by law to pay employees for the time they worked, we did not have an “upon completion of work” contract. I mention this because I would truly hate for you to make a mistake and get into trouble over this kind of misunderstanding about payroll.”

    1. KR*

      My cat woke me up entirely too early today. She’s not doing well. I’ll give her a break because we’re driving cross country soon and it’ll be so traumatic for her I’m not sure she’ll ever recover.

      1. babblemouth*

        Boyfriend drove our cats to our new house earlier this year. It was a ten hour drive. They Did Not Like It, but within two days were back to their old selves.

    2. AnotherAnony*

      My cat has been put on a PIP- he has suddenly developed a horrendous hairball issue. The winner was the present that he left all over the tree skirt for me this morning. (On a more serious note, I hope he is okay because he never had hairball issues, but he sees the Vet in a couple of days.)

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      In the 360 review I held for my two cats, we discussed the provision of food and how that has been impacted by vet visit results earlier in the year. Feline Resources lodged several complaints during the fall about the lack of endless free food, which had previously been a longtime office perk. Developments in the veterinary sector required a switch to once-a-day feeding, which felines interpreted as stinginess and lack of empathy for their very difficult working lives. Although this change was non-negotiable, I was acknowledged for my efforts in rescheduling chow time to coincide with Human Bedtime; the resulting quiet during early-morning hours has been a win-win situation, imo. The seasonal use of heated blanket in the living room chair and heated mattress pad in the bedroom have also been mutually beneficial. On their part, the cats have increased snuggle time to a very productive degree and have represented the household well in candid photo opportunities. We will continue to work on the younger cat’s tendency to crowd the front door during humans’ entrances and exits. However, overall performance is above average and will be rewarded with a holiday bonus of gushy foods and a heated cat bed.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      If Pig were still here, I would do it thus:

      –Exceeds expectations for cute meet-at-the-car engagement, as substantiated by video, when I arrive home from work. Well done.
      –Needs improvement on getting to the back yard for mealtimes in hot weather. I should not have to escort you from the neighbor’s yard or the front culvert pipe when it is time to eat. Stop dawdling.
      –Satisfactory rating for actually eating.
      –Needs improvement on cuddliness.
      –Needs improvement on sitting still for brushies. Yes, I’m very sorry I clonked you on the head, but you moved.
      –Exceeds expectations on conversation through the kitchen window. Extra points for adorable rolling around.
      –Written warning for belly trap shenanigans. Continue and we will have to put you on a PIP.

      RIP, ya little jerk.

  64. Stressed McMess*

    Starting in January, I’ll be transitioning from Office Manager to a Lead role on one of the company’s larger client projects, where I’ll be supporting the PM and another senior Lead.

    Right now I’ve received close to zero onboarding, training, or discussion regarding my transition, besides being told that I’ll be training my replacement starting Monday, Jan 2, and that I may just be ‘thrown into things’ with the new role. It’s all internal rearranging, so the person I’m replacing is also moving to a new position and won’t have time to train me either. The PM I’ll be working under has sent me a general overview of the job duties, but I don’t even know what my title will be, what a typical day looks like, or what the expectations are. Our company is relatively small and is a Portland startup, so you can imagine what kind of structure we have as far as management – our boss has been out of the office all week and since he makes all the decisions, I have no idea how Jan 2 is going to go. I’m worried that I won’t be able to train my replacement while getting trained myself and adapting to this (super-technical) new project.

    Is this how normal companies handle promotions / transitions?? I am relatively young (22) and have only worked for my university before – which was a highly structured, academic work environment that was great for my numerous issues with anxiety. Would I be out of line if I requested a meeting with the Lead I’m replacing? Is it up to me to schedule that? Do they all know something I don’t? Frankly, I feel out of the loop and too naive to know what I SHOULD know and what I should be asking for help with.

    This is less of question, I guess, and more of a desperate bugle.

    1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      Wakeen’s was pretty terrible at these kinds of transitions for a long time. No real excuse other than we were small, transitions weren’t an organizational competency and PTB (which includes me) had to see things go pear shaped X number of times before we got the message that we needed to change. Also: we overvalued “fly by the seat of your pants!” wayyyyyyyy too much. I roll my eyes at my younger self.

      What worked at Wakeen’s was when the person in your spot was proactive about getting the help and guidance she needed. I’d absolutely request a meeting with Lead. If you can, with a positive spin, put forth everything you’ve said here, you will hopefully find someone eager to assist, just not proactive about having planned it out for you.

      oh and P.S. we’re still not awesome when people transition to areas we don’t have a lot of organizational experience in. If we create a new area and throw somebody into it, the person thrown in has to take the lead in asking for what she wants and sometimes making us nail down what our expectations for her and the positive outcomes are. See: managing up.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          I cringe so hard at how we thought throwing people in and “seeing what they can do!” was some smug sort of Super Value. O.o

          Yes, PTL I ‘ve seen the light.

  65. Dr. Doll*

    My most troublesome group member, the one who’s late or absent much of the time and has a huge problem with follow through and correct work, gave me an expensive Christmas present. Sigh.

    I have never, ever, once, ever indicated in any way that I expect or welcome presents.

    In 2017 we are still going to see some behavior changes. I’ve asked for A Plan, not just “I’ll do better.”

    1. IngridInbox*

      Do you think the expensive Christmas present is a way to get you to forget, or be less annoyed, with his/her bad work behavior?

      1. Dr. Doll*

        This person is not…consciously manipulative, so if that’s the case I’m sure it’s not on purpose. But the thought crossed my mind. She’s also started speaking in kind of a high, childish voice when talking to me about anything that might be bending rules a bit (like leaving a tad early yesterday, our last day before hols), so I think she is sort of trying to make nice. Again, not on purpose.

  66. Laura the Librarian*

    To the Librarians here,

    Are there any of you who have left librarianship for another career? If so, what was it and how did you get into it? Here’s my story. I’ve been a librarian for the past 13 years and my career is basically stalled. I started out in a public library, worked at a law firm and I currently work in County Law Library. There is no mobility at my current job and due to county budget issues, my wages are stagnant. (We went without raises for several years, and when we got them, they maxed at 1.5%.) There are two library schools near me, so the market is saturated. I don’t have a JD or any academic experience, so college or university libraries are a no go.
    At this point, I feel like I need to make a career change so I’m not living paycheck to paycheck the rest of my life, but I feel my skills aren’t easily transferable. My undergrad is in English and I don’t have archive or web design/tech skills. If anyone has any ideas, I’d greatly appreciate it!!

    1. Once More with Feeling*

      I’m not a librarian, but your situation sounds a lot like my boyfriend’s. We live in a city with a library school, where he got his Master’s, and another in a nearby city. This is the biggest city in the state, so the market is flooded. He worked in public libraries for a few years and then worked at the County Courthouse law library . When his boss left, she wanted him to apply for her role, but he was offered a position at his part-time side job at a large law-firm who is headquartered here. He makes a pretty decent salary with good benefits working to fulfill research requests for the lawyers and manage their law library.. He just graduated last year, so this is entry-level and there is room to move up there and at many other places. That former boss I mentioned has a library type role at a different organization and makes 6 figures. So, if you are interested in legal librarianship, seeking out private law libraries at large firms could be an option for you too.

    2. Insert name here*

      I ended up in Records Management, but it’s more clerical/office work, so I don’t know if that would interest you or not. Others on this site suggested Prospect Research or Genealogy work. You could also look at editing positions-with your background in English. Not all universities and law offices require higher degrees, so you might want to check if there was anything that you could do- even if it’s working with records or in an office.

    3. Tabby Baltimore*

      Consider the following: intelligence analysis (look at and intelligence, business analysis (I have no industry-specific recommendations, but in addition to the usajobs site, you might also look at your state’s and county’s employment sites for openings) and data science/data analytics (no recs, sorry). You’ll probably have to finagle the search terms a bit, since terminology varies (“intelligence research specialist,” “intelligence analyst,” “business analyst,” “financial analyst,” “data scientist,” “data analyst,” etc.). Do a skills inventory on yourself, and then, to figure out what kinds of jobs your skills would qualify you for, search job sites by skill type rather than by job title. Searching this way might turn up jobs you’d never even considered. Best of luck!

  67. Mae*

    Here’s one: What percentage of the population actually retires successfully? Meaning, just how does one acquire all the funds over time to do so? I’m only in my early 30s, so I’m far from retiring, but projecting out another 40 some-odd years, I don’t see how it will ever be possible to have enough to live on for the rest of my retired life. I’m fortunate to not be in debt, but I’m not rolling in dough, either. It’s hard to stay afloat in my area, and many my age are struggling greatly. Do some of us just have to accept that we’ll need to work until we drop dead?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That, and if you’re putting money in retirement investment accounts now, the idea is that it will grow over time more than if it were just sitting in your checking account.

      2. Mae*

        Sort of yes, to both. I work in non-profit. That might explain some of my fears. I have been gradually putting money into retirement investment accounts, but it feel like a slow process.

        1. fposte*

          It is a slow process, but it gathers its own momentum; the earlier you start the better (even if you stop putting in money, early investment pays off more than late), so it sounds like you’re ahead of many. Also consider that there might be LCOL areas that are perfectly pleasant to retire to and make your HCOL savings go a lot farther.

        2. Not Karen*

          I work in non-profit also. Maybe you’re just working for the wrong nonprofit.

          More importantly, similar to what fposte said, if you can lower your COL you won’t need as much in retirement savings. The 10% rule of thumb assumes you need the same income in retirement that you do now. Do you? Can you lower your COL in retirement? Are there expenses you have now that you won’t have in retirement but aren’t considering, like childcare, business wear, transportation, a mortgage?

    1. overeducated*

      I think we might…many in previous generations budgeted for pension plans and Social Security that aren’t there, and real wages have stagnated since the 70s, so what we earn today pays a smaller fraction of our cost of living than it would have been in our parents’ days. I really wonder about what proportion of the current retirement-age population (or even those close but not there yet) could actually live on JUST their savings and investment income, which seems to be the expectation for us.

      Sorry to be so doom-and-gloom. I max out my IRA every year and try to save what I can, but I’m in my 30s and I’ve never had an employer-sponsored 401K, match, or pension option, so I’m really wondering how we’re supposed to do it as well.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am in my fifties I know I can never retire. (Basically from paying off medical bills.) My father, who would be 90 plus if he were still alive retired with an adjusted gross income of 25% of his working income. I have no idea how he made that work.
        I know people who do get a pension check but their plans are so poorly managed that the people may have to return to work. No, they can’t withdraw their portion and put it in a safer place, that’s not allowed with their plan. They have to sit there and watch their accounts get squandered away.

    2. CAA*

      It’s hard to give much advice without knowing more about your situation, but yes, some people will have to continue working long after others are retired. You can increase your odds of being able to retire by staying out of debt; living below your means; maxing out your 401K contributions; maxing out a non-deductible IRA or Roth IRA contributions; saving even more in after-tax accounts; etc. If you have a goal to be able to stop working at age 67, then you have to plan for that 35 years in advance and keep working towards that long term goal.

      There are lots of online communities and blogs where people talk about this stuff and can help with links to calculators and tools that you can use to figure out if you’re on track. I hang out at, where the participants are much like the AAM commenting community and people tend to take a middle road towards saving and spending with most having goals of retiring between 50 and 65. Some people like Bogleheads, which focuses heavily on the details of finance and investing; or Mr. Money Mustache, which is more about extreme frugality. There are also a couple of sub-reddits on finance and saving for retirement, but I haven’t done more than take a quick glance at them.

    3. NW Mossy*

      I work in the retirement industry, and one of our big themes in working with employers and their employees is that starting small is always better than not starting at all. The industry’s big on different retirement plan designs and products that encourage people to start by making contributing opt-out rather than opt-in and nudging people to keep increasing the amount they contribute. A common set-up is to start someone at 3% of their pay and bump them up an additional 1% each year.

      The other big key that’s emphasized somewhat less is that once you put the money into a retirement account, leave it alone. Many offer the option to take a loan or a withdrawal for certain purposes (like buying a house), but if you can at all avoid it, don’t touch it. Taking money out has basically the same mathematical effect as starting later, and it can end up holding you back a lot as you near retirement.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I would say that something is better than nothing. So even if it seems hopeless from today’s standpoint, putting some money away regardless is a LOT better than just saying “screw it, ill just spend it all now cause I will probably die before I can stop working anyway”

      Last year my partner decided to take it upon himself to finally open the investment funds I had been talking about doing for several years and just never got around to doing. He informed me that a little after a year of monthly deposits at steady rates we already had a substantial amount saved up. This is on top of our normal employer retirement plans and honestly, I didn’t even miss the money once we made it a part of our budget line. Note: we live in an extremely high COL city that has a nasty housing market at the moment – so we still rent until we see which way the political winds blow.

      To me, having different lines of savings -either from maybe a state source, a 401K, personal investments, and some flexibility will be the key to a successful retirement. I hope that when we get there we are still doing things we enjoy that are able to bring in some side income to help the monthly investment payouts. What I don’t want is the “traditional” retirement of my grandparents and their generation where the last one standing now is just hanging on with social security and a tiny pension. Mr MoneyMoustache is a good place to see people retiring on very small sums – some in the 3000 or 400K range, though they own their own house in a low COL area. It can be done, it just depends what you want. And who knows how the next 40 years are going to pain out :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have to smile. 1971 my grandmother was sick and dying. My mother and aunts looked over grandpa’s retirement health care policy. My grandmother’s nursing home would be paid in full under that policy.
        Those days are gone, gone, gone.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It is a slow plod, and much of the compounding won’t be noticeable for years. Try some retirement calculators at bankrate dot com, they have some great tools for things like that.

      Also, some good frugality blogs were mentioned — you don’t have to be able to retire comfortably, you might just be able to retire and watch Netflix and go to the park or the library whenever you want, if that sounds like a nice retirement to you, for very little money. Or you might work a few hours a week in order to afford to go out to eat somewhere nice once a week, and that would be something you could stop at any time without having to worry about it; to me, that’s a form of retirement!

    6. Regina 2*

      I have no idea, but from what I’ve read over the years, it seems like it’s a smaller percentage than we’d like, and will get smaller with future generations. I have no idea how we’re supposed to save for retirement, a home, college for kids, insurance, and health care on the generally meager salaries we make. It really, really bums me out. I’ve been more fortunate than others in that my parents set up some mutual fund investments for me as a kid that I haven’t touched. I was late to the retirement savings train myself (started doing a decent job by maybe 28 or so), and it’s only in the past couple of years I’ve tried maximizing my 401(k). It feels paltry, and yet I’m luckier than most.

      I have no idea how it’s going to work out. It keeps me up at night!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      One thing that I would like to mention is watch how you handle the inheritances you get. It’s easy to go out an buy a new car or whatever. But if you are worried about retirement then maybe the best gift you can give yourself is banking that inheritance or paying down debt so you can retire.

      The few inheritances I have gotten in my life, I tried to be careful with how I used them. I was surprised by how a little care goes a long way.

  68. NotNewtoAdminButConfused*

    Does anyone else out there have “dailies” as part of their administrative tasks? And if yes, what does it mean/entail for you? I switched offices of a large union and the “dailies” here are a completely new concept to me.

    Daily correspondence is filed under Dailies with one folder per month and all the daily correspondence for that month in it. This is with no regards to the subject or the client to which it pertains. Then they also file a paper copy in a folder or a binder.

    I’m so confused by this: I would save the letter under the client file!

    1. Less anonymous than before*

      Is this a system or a process that you could maybe (once you’re in there for a bit) change or improve upon to make better (if you can make it better or more efficient this is good resume stuff!)

      Your system, filing wise, sounds a lot better to me, and maybe nobody has ever brought up changing it? I think the begin with you should learn and do it the way it’s always been done, but if there is room to change it, then I definitely would bring it up.

      Maybe ask your manager or whoever you support if it a strict system that can’t be changed or if it would be okay to change the filing system to one that works better for you? (and maybe the whole office?)

    2. ProFiler*

      I think it depends on how people need to access the information later. I’ve worked in some places where it was more common to be asked for things related to a time period rather than a specific client, so that’s how we filed things. If you are more likely to be asked to provide all correspondence relating to a client however, it doesn’t make sense to me that it would be filed all together by date.

      A chance for you to shine by suggesting an improved filing method perhaps?

  69. c in seattle*

    Who else is a paper hoarder??? I still have things like notes I took in interviews 4 years ago.. anyone have a great system for getting rid of paper/filing?

    1. Less anonymous than before*

      *raises hand sheepishly*

      I had to rip the band-aid off and just purge a lot of stuff, but recently things I think I will always want, I’ve been putting into a large binder and organizing it neatly.

      Another option might be to scan stuff so you have a digital copy if it’s important to you for posterity or just to remember and getting rid of the paper version/ It would be a project that you’d have to complete over time, but is an idea.

    2. babblemouth*

      I recently moved desks, and had to put everything in boxes. It surprised my how much stuff I accumulated in a short time! I decided to leave it all in the box until I actually need something. Everything that is still in a box 6 weeks from now will be thrown away.

      1. ZVA*

        The 6 weeks thing is a great idea. I’m a big one for ripping the bandaid off & just dumping everything in the trash but if that’s too much for you, c, I would suggest putting everything you think you might want to throw away but can’t bring yourself to get rid of yet in a box in your attic/closet/whatever & promising yourself that if you haven’t touched it in a certain period of time (3 months? 6 months?) you will throw it away. And then honor that promise! I guarantee you won’t have touched it & it will feel amazing letting it go.

        1. Nic*

          I did something like this after moving. I tossed stuff as I was packing, and then six months after moving I checked the boxes that hadn’t been unpacked just to ensure I wasn’t going to accidentally throw out something important (birth certificate, for example), and tossed them. It’s a lovely feeling!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Oh God, me. Mostly at home; I’ve since purged a lot of stuff–old school notes, a file of articles I ripped out of magazines (from the 1980s!), and a huge pile of cookbooks I never use (they went in the donation pile).

      NewExjob did everything digitally, but I saved a ton of files. Every six months or so, I would go through it and delete stuff I didn’t need anymore.

  70. IngridInbox*

    I can’t tell if I’m being overly sensitive, so I’d love to get feedback:

    I have two contractors in my department. One was recently hired. They have both bonded over their shared talent of speaking multiple languages. Unfortunately, all they do is speak non-English when they talk to one another. We have a semi-open office space so we can hear their conversations loud and clear. I think it’s really rude since I know they’re not talking about personal stuff (I have a beginners level understanding of the language). I know it’s something my mom would do in public to talk about people in the same room which is why I’m especially heightened to how rude it seems. Should I let my manager know how I feel?

    1. Morning Glory*

      Are they speaking their native and most comfortable language, or are they native English speakers switching to a second language?

      I couldn’t tell by the phrasing.

      1. IngridInbox*

        I know one of the contractors is speaking his native language and the other contractor isn’t. But should it matter? We are a US based-company in the legal department and we conduct all of our business in English.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s actually illegal in the U.S. to tell employees they have to speak English at work, unless there are legitimate business reasons for that (like safety or collaboration).

        2. Morning Glory*

          In terms of intent, I think it matters if they’re making a special effort to exclude by speaking a non-native second language, or just not making a special effort to include by speaking a non-English native language.

          This sounds like it falls somewhere in between, but more toward the second.

    2. fposte*

      Are they otherwise good colleagues? Are you still getting all the work information you need? If yes to both, then I’d let it go. They’re not doing it to talk about their colleagues, just to talk in a language that works for them.

      1. IngridInbox*

        They are ok colleagues, but they have really insulated themselves from the group. While we work pretty independently, there’s still a level of collaboration that our department requires. It just makes it hard to approach them with questions/feedback – it feels like I’m intruding!

        1. fposte*

          Can you think through why it feels more like you’re intruding on them than on other people who are talking? That might give you a workaround. Maybe it’s hard to tell when they’re pausing or devolving into minutiae, whereas you could easily tell that with people who speak your native language; you could just outright say “Guys, I can’t tell when it’s a bad time to interrupt you–do you want an IM alert or can I just storm right in?”

        2. ZVA*

          I agree with fposte—I would ask yourself why it is that you feel like you’re intruding. If it’s because you can’t gauge how important their convo is, for example, can you just say something like “Hey, do you have a minute to talk about X or should I come back later”?

          If there are other ways in which they’ve insulated themselves from the group—ways that are affecting your ability to work with them, say—I think that’s a bigger issue than what language they’re speaking. But if it’s just that their speaking a non-English language feels rude to you, I do think you should let this go—and I definitely don’t think you should speak to your manager about it. From what you’ve told us, it sounds like the issue is more with your perception of them than with anything they’re doing.

    3. Stephanie*

      I run into this a lot in grad school due to the large number of international students (primarily the Chinese students). More than likely, they’re just more comfortable conversing in their native language and the subject matter is innocuous.

    4. babblemouth*

      I work in an international office, and only one person speaks my native language there. It is so nice to be able to speak it from time to time! We are not the only ones in that situation, and even though English is the working language, we hear lots of different languages everywhere. As long as it doesn’t interfere with the work (i.e. someone being left out of a conversation they should be able to follow), leave them be.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Had this on my team with two native French speakers in an open plan office. Yes, in some way it isolated them, but it was a language they felt they could most quickly communicate in but they could also instantly switch to English if you needed to barge in with a question. Also, they didn’t realize that some of the rest of us had some French language skills and could also understand (to an extent) what they were talking about. It was almost 100% project related questions.

      I didn’t think it was rude but we had a high level of foreigners speaking a range of languages on that team (including Afrikaans!) either professionally or personal phone calls. I think if you brought this up to your manager it may come off as overly sensitive, especially if it isn’t necessarily impacting your day to day work. If you were having meetings with the and they would switch back and forth and you couldnt follow that would be one thing, but a colleague discussion between the two of them that stops when a non-speaker comes by I should think wouldn’t be that rude.

  71. Shawna*

    I know this is a politics-free forum. But I keep thinking about AAM readers who might be affected by recent cabinet appointments and how changes in government affect people’s careers – state level, federal, even local. There’s so much talk about entrenched government workers and how they stick around forever – are they unaffected by changes in administration? Is it understood that if you work for a particular branch of government (Department of Teapots, let’s say) is it understood that you’ll have to change jobs when a new Secretary of Teapots is appointed (or I guess Teapots Commissioner at the State level?) How much influence does an incoming Secretary have on the day-to-day life of a staff person, generally speaking? If you’ve prepared all your life for a career as high-level leadership role in Teapots policy, what do you do when the administration changes? Maybe we can keep this strictly Teapot-focused (perhaps thinking of past experiences with government transitions) and keep politics at bay. I’m really curious.

    1. Mimmy*

      I’ve been wondering about this as well. Additionally, I would imagine any drastic changes in teapot policy could also affect teapot organizations in the private sector.

    2. CMT*

      I’ve been wondering about this, too! And I don’t want to get into the politics, but it also seems (to me, from the outside) a bit different this time because of various promises made that would completely get rid of, or change the direction of different departments.

    3. LCL*

      Actually, I am kind of hoping the regulatory agencies for my industry get some of their powers curtailed. We need regulation, but some of the minutia required and fines levied for paperwork problems are over the top, and don’t do anything to help the public. The perception in the biz is the federal government wanted to punish the whole industry for the actions of a few corrupt entities.

      1. Alice*

        I don’t know if anyone wakes up and says “hey, let’s punish these bystanders!” Perhaps what you’re seeing is an absence of trust between regulators and industry. I’m sure it’s frustrating when your organization didn’t do anything wrong, but maybe this level of minutia and attention to paperwork problems will he’ll level the playing field between the bad actors that had been cutting corners and the good actors like your org.

          1. LCL*

            You are 100 percent right that there is an absence of trust between the regulators and the industry. Their was one company that became famous for their corruption, and I think the perception became that we are all like them.

    4. H.C.*

      I think this varies considerably depending on level of government, the changes/vision of the new leadership and any labor protections in place for the workers, but generally layoffs are a last resort. Typically agencies will try other means to cut costs first incl. eliminating open positions, hiring freezes & buyouts. Of course, there are exceptions, such as positions that are reliant on a particular funding e.g. research grant for scientific roles or if it’s well-known that a worker’s views clashes with the new leadership, where layoff or termination is inevitable.

      As for career options for longtime civil servants, they can apply for similar positions in other levels of government, do consulting/policy work for think tanks and lobbying firms and if they are politically well-connected, tap into their network to see what’s available to them based on their experience & skill sets.

    5. Phlox*

      Challenging to keep this politics free. But what I’ve heard from friends is many senior folks are taking early retirement rather than remaining on the job for another 4-5 years. And hesitancy from entry level folks to apply. But no personal experience, just one of the many commenters who lives in DC.

    6. Overeducated*

      In some agencies there are a lot of planned retirements of high up leadership as new administions come in, and new leadership can really change the direction of an agency and how the permanent civil servants focus their efforts. It depends on the agency and how much its work overlaps with changing political priorities though.

    7. LQ*

      I’m working at a state level for a federal program. I’m a tiny bit concerned but my program isn’t one I’ve even heard hints of being on the chopping block so I’m not that concerned. The worst thing that could happen to our program would be that it would shift to being federally run rather than state run. (It would be great for some of the states that aren’t so well run, but we are the top 1-5 program on nearly all metrics so it wouldn’t be good for us, and that would make me lose my job.) I think that is unlikely. I do think some things will come up, especially if the economy takes a hit (which, statistically we are overdue for one) which will impact me more at a state level. But coworkers in other areas are looking for private sector jobs. It makes me sad that the best people are fleeing government work. Don’t we want good people doing work in government? But I understand their concerns very well. For me this will be the first presidential power transition working for government, the people who have been here a long time at state level aren’t even batting an eye, which makes me much more comfortable.

      (It is a very different perspective than someone working for the federal government directly. But wanted to share.)

    8. Alice*

      I don’t work in government but people in my field anticipate two types of changes – decrease in funding for scientific research and decrease in funding for the Census and all the other surveys that businesses and researchers (as well as the government) use. Something similar happened in Canada a few years ago.

    9. copy run start*

      I used to work at the state-level for a program. I went through a transition, but it was the same political party. Still, the Governor and Commissioner did change, and some things did change with it. I would say changes affect the public more than they affect staff, though staff may feel excited/disheartened by changes depending on personal feelings. That will greatly impact morale. In my program, we were all basically on the same page politically; obviously someone against the program likely wouldn’t apply for it or last long in the role. There is a sense of “this job will be here when their term is up” and that you can ride it out. “Everything comes full circle.”

      The Commissioner doesn’t directly influence the way things are done at the lowest level. In my experience, they’ll pick a special project or two, or a specific focus for their time in office (“initiatives”). However the star of certain programs will wax or wane depending on that person’s attitude towards it and how it aligns with their goals. And that will flow down the chain into the budget process and administrative process over time.

      Personally, I left that job partly because I disagreed with the changes that were coming in processes and procedures we would need to follow. I did not feel like they aligned with the stated goals of the program and erected barriers to successful participation for those who needed assistance the most. Those things weren’t really coming from the Commissioner though, moreso from the state and federal legislative branches. But I didn’t feel like I could be a part of that or enforce those changes, and I am way too young to be riding a job out until retirement!

      I also felt like the program was moving to obsolete my position, but it being government, I doubt they would have laid me off. Our office used to have 3 people manning a switchboard full time, and staff did not have direct lines. Over time, those 3 people retired/quit, and the phone system was upgraded to allow direct calls to staff to reduce the need for someone to answer the main line. The one remaining person had their role reworked so they didn’t lose their job. Similar deal with the reception position — it was dedicated once but as it turned over, it was turned into a job share amongst another position. That was the stated alternative to refilling my role when I left, though staff successfully lobbied against it. (There’s only so many roles you can share on a group of people… this would’ve brought the total job sharing up to 1/3 to 1/2 of their weekly hours I think.)